Too early to say?
The new duty on schools to secure access to independent and impartial careers guidance only began in September 2012 . The government believes that it important that sufficient time is allowed for the duty to bed in before any firm conclusions are drawn about the effectiveness of the new arrangements. Lord Nash recently indicated in the Lords (22 April) that ‘We are evaluating the impact of the new duty in a range of formal and informal ways.’
The Government have also commissioned Ofsted to carry out a thematic review of careers guidance, which will report this summer.
In addition, according to Lord Nash, the government is ‘publishing education destination measures to show the percentage of students progressing to further education or training in a school, further education or sixth form college, apprenticeship, employment or higher education institution. The measures provide us with evidence of how effective schools are in supporting pupils to move successfully into the next phase or their education or into sustainable work, including through the provision of independent careers guidance.’
Ministers and officials meet and correspond regularly with a range of stakeholders on issues relating to the delivery of careers provision in schools, says Lord Nash, which is true, but Ministers are not taking on board what stakeholders and the experts are telling them. No independent report from a reputable source on government reforms to careers advice and guidance in schools has endorsed government policy in this area and international evidence suggests that school based advice is the least effective (see the research from Professor Tony Watts and OECD). There are grave concerns too that only limited access to face to face advice is being offered to pupils which may have a negative effect on the social mobility, access, skills and inclusion agendas. Evidence suggests that the most appropriate form of advice for disadvantaged pupils is face to face advice from an independent fully qualified professional.
The government defends its policy by saying that it trusts in school autonomy. Schools themselves must make these decisions. But schools are not as autonomous as the government would have us believe. The government through its individual funding agreements with academies, for example, prescribes what schools have to do in certain areas . And if schools believe that they are autonomous when it comes to the way they use their extra funding for disadvantaged pupils, through the pupil premium, then they ought to look very carefully at recent speeches from the schools minister, David Laws and Sir Michael Wilshaw of Ofsted.
Lord Nash is confident that the government has detailed enough evidence ‘relating to the effectiveness of school-based careers guidance to inform future improvements in the quality of provision,’ while concurrently telling us that there is not yet enough evidence to gauge whether the new school- based service has bedded in. You dont need to be a rocket scientist to work out that schools, under budgetary pressure, will go for, the most part, for the cheapest option, and that is not face to face advice.
It will be particularly interesting to see what Ofsted has to say in its thematic review. However, there are no plans to make a specific graded judgement on the quality of careers guidance in respect of the school inspection framework and the common inspection framework.
The Academies Act 2010 granted academy trusts exempt charity status, making them exempt from registration with and primary regulation by the Charity Commission, from 1 August 2011. The definition of an exempt charity is one that is ‘ not regulated by and cannot register with, the Charity Commission.’ So, they have this status because they are regulated by some other body. The Secretary of State for Education is now the principal regulator of academies and oversees their compliance with both charity and education law. But the education secretary has handed over the role of funding distribution and compliance for academies to the Education Funding Agency, which is an executive agency of the DFE. The Academy Trust signs an agreement (The Funding Agreement) with the Secretary of State , and so is accountable to the Secretary of State, not the local authority.Indeed independence from local authority control and bureaucracy has been regarded as one of the attractions of academy status.
But what happens if an academy, autonomous from the LA, is under performing or failing? This is an area where local authorities in the past have played an important role, (some, of course, more effectual than others), in spotting early potential problems.
Elizabeth Truss MP, the junior education minister, made it clear recently in a Commons question that ’ it is not the role of local authorities (LAs) to intervene in underperforming academies. Academies are autonomous from LAs and their performance is a matter for the Department through the Office of the Schools Commissioner. If a local authority (LA) has concerns about an individual academy, we expect the LA to raise these concerns with the Academy Trust in first instance. If the LA feels that the Academy Trust is failing to take sufficient action concerns can be raised with Ofsted or the Secretary of State.’
Two questions then arise-if LAs no longer have the powers or budget to oversee academies, how are they, within an autonomous school system , supposed to spot potential problems with schools? And who, apart from Ofsted, is there to fill this accountability gap?
The difficulty in giving a straight answer to both these questions explains why the debate continues on whether or not some form of intermediate tier is required between the SOS and schools, as part of the ‘intelligent’ accountability framework.
Sir Michael Wilshaw , the Chief Inspector,told the Education Select Committee on 13 February that local authorities should be able to “identify under performance in academies “They have a powerful part to play in local authority schools, those schools they control, and those outside their direct control,” Sir Michael said.“They identify under-performance in academies. They should be writing to the chair of governors and the sponsor of that academy and contacting the academy division at the department.”He also said that he wanted Ofsted to inspect academy chains and is in talks with the Secretary of State on this issue.
Christine Gilberts think piece on accountability in a system with autonomous schools
Key is school led accountability in a self-improving system Comment
Research suggests a link between positive outcomes and school autonomy but only if combined with sufﬁcient accountability (OECD, 2010; 2011). Drawing on evidence from 22 evaluations in 11 countries, the World Bank (2011) highlights the importance of the following for better pupil outcomes
: — information to strengthen the ability of students and their parents to hold providers accountable for results — schools’ autonomy to make decisions and control resources — teacher accountability for results
The role of local authorities in the increasingly autonomous landscape is unclear (we have previously looked at arguments over the need for a middle tier-see also Robert Hills report for RSA). Christine Gilbert in this new think piece asks the key question- how should the current accountability system evolve to support a more autonomous and self-improving system?
Gilbert says know that, in any system, it is the difference in teachers – most particularly the quality of their teaching and the relationships with their pupils – that makes most difference to children’s learning. Teachers themselves have to be at the centre of a self-improving system. They have to own it and drive it. Recent research (Isos, 2012) also indicates there is no single strategic response from local authorities to a more autonomous system. It is likely that a range of models will begin to emerge with a sharper focus on the local authority as a commissioner, shaping and raising aspirations for learning and education. Gilbert argues that it is time to re-balance the current framework by giving greater emphasis to school-led accountability that is rooted in moral purpose and professionalism.
This will require:
a shift in mind-set and culture so that accountability is professionally owned rather than being seen as externally imposed — a greater emphasis on formative accountability as an essential complement to summative accountability — capturing the beneﬁts more fully of within-school and across-school collaboration, in particular peer review, for challenging and developing the work of teachers and the learning of students — realising the value of governance more effectively within and across schools — new approaches to inspection in support of a self-improving system — exploring the changing role of local authorities as champions for children and commissioners of services for them — using school-led excellence networks to develop capacity and ensure support for all who need it.
The secretary of state has made clear his commitment to a self-improving system and to creating the conditions to enable this to become established. Many school leaders have shown they are willing and able to develop a culture and practice of reﬂection and enquiry within and beyond their schools that underpins self-improvement. No school has all the answers and the very best schools are eager to do better still. When all schools are challenging each other and using that challenge as a support for better practice, accountability will be seen as a positive and practical tool to raise aspirations and accelerate improvement.
One is reminded of Andreas Schleicher’s viewpoint. Schleicher, the chief education adviser to the OECD, reflecting on his experience of different education systems, said ” Modern education is about enabling professional autonomy within a collaborative culture”
Independent schools and support for state schools
The Government wants the independent sector to support Academies
But the mood music needs changing
A leading think tank hosted a lunch seminar this week on the developing relationship between independent schools and state schools against the backdrop of David Cameron’s recent very public encouragement for independent schools to support state schools through the academies scheme . Indeed there was a Downing street meeting recently on this very issue. Lord Adonis the architect of the academies scheme has long championed greater support from the independent sector for the academies scheme and used emotive language to get the point across-referencing the Berlin Wall, apartheid and so on. He even claims that independent schools have a moral obligation to offer such support. Adonis in a 2011 speech said “ Successful private schools ought to be prominent among the sponsors for the next wave of academies. Everything about academies is in the DNA of the successful private school: independence, excellence, innovation, social mission. And the benefit is not only to the wider community, it is also to the private schools themselves, whose mission is enlarged, whose relative isolation is ended, and whose social engagement, beyond the families of the better-off, is transformed.”
Given that the seminar operated under Chatham house rules I cannot give the source of the following comments and observations but the seminar attracted some leading heads from both independent schools and state schools, including Academies .
What is clear is that there are divisions in the independent sector over what, if anything, to do to support the state sector. Many schools already have extensive links with neighbouring state schools and around thirty independent schools provide some form of support for an Academy. What has caused resentment is the hectoring tone of politicians telling independent schools and the governors and trustees what to do. It is after all their decision as to how they will deliver public benefit. Support for Academies is certainly one option but there are a range of others –bursaries, specialist teaching support, access to equipment and facilities, advice on governance, curriculum advice and support , exam method, summer schools, pupil swaps, community support etc. The feeling was that the tone of the debate and perceived hostility from most political quarters towards the independent sector hardly establishes a context within which a constructive debate can take place, rather it encourages a siege mentality (particularly given the additional antics of the Charity Commission.) One point rammed home at the meeting was that one of the key reasons for the independent sectors success was its independence, and , specifically, independent governance. So called ‘ autonomous’ and ‘ free schools’ are not actually free in the same way as independent schools are and are still subject to significant bureaucratic restrictions , constraints and stipulations in their funding agreements. However, it was also pointed out that governance was a key area where independent schools really might help ‘autonomous ‘ state schools-ie how to use their autonomy effectively and what it could mean in practice so harnessing the aspirational ethos of the independent sector . There could also be more exchanges between governing boards, so independents have state school Heads on their governing bodies and vice-versa.
But it was also clear that most independent schools are keen to have greater meaningful contact with state schools and there can be demonstrable shared benefits from such contacts. Every independent school that has an arrangement with an Academy agreed that this relationship brought mutual benefits. And state schools can offer expertise and know- how in particular areas-not least in adapting to big resource challenges, encouraging leadership at every level-adding value and getting the best out of challenging pupils and so on. Indeed, one independent Head said that much of the really innovative thinking going on was happening in the state sector, suggesting perhaps, some complacency in the independent sector
There seemed to be agreement that the real problem with our education system is not the fact that a relatively small percentage of pupils are educated privately but in the long tail of significant underachievers in the state sector, ie the bottom 20-25% cohort. They are the big challenge and a drag on the system and there seems to be an assumption that Academies are the answer to addressing this problem, although evidence is not yet clear on this.
It was also remarked that rather too much is expected of the independent sector based on wrong assumptions. It educates just 7% of the school population and most schools operate on tight margins, with small surpluses. Large endowments are limited to a few. So the idea of supporting an academy just on practical grounds with limited resources is daunting and hard to sell to fee paying parents. There was a suggestion that those organisations responsible for representing the sector ISC,HMC etc might provide centralised support to schools wanting to get involved with Academies but it is clear that thinking in this area is undeveloped and these organisations have ,as yet, shown no indication that they would want to get involved. (joint approaches and action from these bodies is rare).
It was agreed ,though, that the aim for any academy engagement must be for it to be cash neutral. You cant ask hard pressed fee paying parents to fork out additional money to support engagement with the state sector, whatever its perceived merits. Raise funds separately so that the support operation is ring- fenced. And ,of course, don’t rule out pro-bono support because, it was agreed, some of the simplest most straightforward advice can pay the biggest dividends in return.
My view is that most independent schools want to knock down perceived barriers between the sectors and agree that there are mutual benefits at stake but this is a view that is not always reciprocated in the state sector. Support for Academies is certainly one mutually rewarding route and maximises public benefit in a way that bursaries clearly don’t. (indeed by removing the brightest from a state school you can damage that school) But Academy engagement carries some risks, reputational and otherwise, and is by no means the only way that schools can fulfil their public benefit requirement. Academy engagement will suit some schools but not others. If the government seriously wants more independent schools involved it should help them more in practical ways, for example by providing a matchmaking service, rather than hectoring them claiming that there is a moral imperative involved, which is entirely counter-productive and just bad politics.
Report focuses on importance of system leaders for a self- improving school system
Recent research by the NCSL studied system leadership development and school-to-school support, particularly the leadership skills required for these roles and the level of interest in them. In this report, Educational Consultant Robert Hill comments on some of the key lessons learnt from this research and its relevance to the schools white paper agenda. System Leaders are those who work beyond their own school to support others across the system. Hill finds that improving school to school support starts from a strong base. There is varying understanding of different system leadership roles. School leaders are motivated to undertake system leadership roles by a strong sense of moral purpose. Becoming a professional partner is a good way into system leadership. There are substantial levels of interest in taking on the more demanding system leadership roles. Experience of being a Headteacher, communication, presentation, interpersonal skills and strategic thinking ability are seen as the most important skills to fulfil system leadership responsibility. Once these Heads take on a broader role they are likely to sustain that commitment and the role of the National College in support of these leaders was said to be valued. The main factors inhibiting school leaders taking on broader roles are fear that it will detract from their role as Head and a lack of experience. Hill concludes that given the positive experience of existing system leaders it would make sense to use them to champion the broader system leadership roles and address concerns and reservations. And to ensure development support is available to school leaders to encourage and equip them to take on broader responsibilities including providing opportunities for them to observe and be mentored by other system leaders. Obstacles include the reluctance of some governors to allow their heads to take on these executive roles and a lack of executive heads positions in their area. The aim is to establish a ‘self- improving school system’ but this requires a critical mass of school leaders who are willing and able to take system leadership roles
Campaigners seek to save Admissions Forums
Currently, all local authorities are required to establish an Admission Forum. This is a vehicle for admission authorities and other interested parties to discuss the effectiveness of local admission arrangements, to consider how to deal with difficult local admission issues and to advise admission authorities on how arrangements can be improved. Their key role is to ensure a fair admission system. In the White Paper preceding the Education Act 2002 Act the (Labour) Government said that school admission forums had played a valuable role in making sure admission arrangements served the needs of local children and parents and they were made compulsory in the Education Act 2002. The current School Admission Code identifies the role of the School Admissions Forum as– to provide a vehicle for admission authorities and other key interested parties to discuss the effectiveness of local admission arrangements, consider how to deal with difficult admission issues and to advise admission authorities on ways in which their arrangements can be improved. Their main focus is to consider the fairness of arrangements in their local context. Admission authorities of all maintained schools and Academies, when exercising their functions, must have regard to any advice offered by the Forum. The forums bring together school governors, parents, churches and local authorities in a statutory body to monitor admissions in their areas. Current regulations stipulate that membership is to be no more than 20 with at least one representative of community, voluntary aided, voluntary controlled, foundation and academies and CTCs in the relevant area, representatives of each of the religious bodies involved in any of the local schools, at least one parent and at least one community representative. School representatives must be heads or governors but not local authority governors. The school white paper said that legislation would remove requirements for local authorities to establish an Admissions Forum and provide annual reports to the Schools Adjudicator. Instead the Government want local authorities to set up arrangements that work best for their area. The white paper also said that the Schools Adjudicator will focus on specific complaints about admission arrangements for all schools, including academies and free schools.
The Admissions Code will be simplified to make it easier for schools and parents to understand and act upon, while maintaining fairness as the Code’s guiding principle. So, the abolition of the forums, is envisaged in the Education Bill currently before the Commons- Clause 34(2) Admission Forums. Clause 34 seeks to make a number of changes to the school admission provisions contained in Part 3 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. The requirement on English local authorities to establish an Admission Forum for their area would be removed. The powers of the School Adjudicator would be restricted by repealing section 88J of the SSFA 1998 so that the School Adjudicator’s remit is limited to direct complaints about an admission policy. Currently the Schools Adjudicators, upon referral of a specific matter concerning a maintained school’s admission arrangements, is required to consider whether it would be appropriate for changes to be made to any aspect of those admission arrangements in consequence of the matter referred. They can also consider whether any other changes to the arrangements are appropriate. The requirement under section 88P of SSFA 1998 for local authorities to provide to the School Adjudicator reports on admissions to schools in their area would be removed. The power of the Secretary of State to make regulations prescribing the content of such reports is also removed, and the Explanatory Notes state that instead the School Admissions Code will contain the requirements for reports on school admissions in their area.
The abolition of admission forums will, critics say, reduce direct parental involvement as parent governor representatives are part of the required membership. Importantly parent groups come to the meetings of the forum to make representations. It is regarded as easier in the first instance for parent groups to attend a local forum than to approach the Adjudicator. Additionally if the role of the Adjudicator in changing admission criteria, following what may be a parental complaint is reduced, this too will result in a reduced parental role in the system. The White Paper said that instead of the current provisions local authorities’ role will be to make the process as fair and simple as possible for parents and pupils, setting up local arrangements which work for that area. The White Paper claimed that making changes would ‘end the bureaucratic requirements’ on local authorities. There is not much evidence either way on the effectiveness of these forums although anecdotal evidence suggests that some are more effective than others. An NFER report in 2010 surveyed LA admission officers on the whole process of admissions, and views on admission forums were mixed but positive comments appeared to outweigh negative ones. Campaigners from ‘Comprehensive Future’ are lobbying MPs to save these forums. Evidence is strong, they claim, that schools that are their own admission authority do not take the proportion of children on free school meals represented in their communities. That some schools, deliberately or through failing to be aware of the legal requirements in the Admissions Code, have failed to admit children from disadvantaged backgrounds, has been evidenced by research (for example from the Sutton Trust 2006 and listed in Allen, West and Coldron for a DfE Research Report in 2010 ). This makes effective local scrutiny even more important.
Note 1: Clause 60 of the Bill amends Chapter 1 of Part 3 of SSFA 1998 to allow School Adjudicators to consider and to determine eligible objections or referrals relating to the admissions arrangements of academies, as they do in respect of maintained schools
The Government will shortly launch a national consultation so that parents and other interested parties can respond to its proposals to enable a simpler, fairer and more transparent admissions framework.
Rudd.P, Gardiner C and Marson-Smith,H (2010) Local Authority Approaches to the School Admissions Process (LG Group research report) NFER
GOVERNING BODIES AND SCHOOL GOVERNANCE
Important role but rarely appreciated
Government wants to replicate Academy model of governance
Our school system relies heavily on volunteering governors to enable it to function .If you want to see the ‘Big Society’ at work, maybe its worth looking at what the army of volunteer governors do, day in day out. The recent White Paper described School governors as “ the unsung heroes of our education system”. There are some 300,000 school governors, which makes them one of the largest volunteer forces in the country. A report published by CfBT Education Trust (The ‘hidden givers’: a study of school governing bodies in England, University of Bath 2010) found that school governors give an enormous amount to the education system in England, though their contribution is largely hidden from public view. It also found, reinforcing the message that governing bodies role is vital, that ‘the lack of a capable governing body is not a neutral absence for a school; it is a substantial disadvantage.’ Good governance and leadership at school level is regarded by the Government as a key driver in achieving better educational outcomes. They look to the Academies model to provide examples of smaller, high-powered governing bodies that can demonstrate rapid improvements in standards. It is interesting though, as the CfBT Education Trust report found, that ‘Notions of ‘challenging the headteacher’ and ‘calling the headteacher to account’ did not match the practices of the governing bodies studied for the report. The focus, instead, tended to be on scrutiny – of information, decisions, plans and policies. Indeed the report found ‘The governing task was only rarely described in terms of ‘performance’; it was always talked about in terms of the ‘school’. It continued ‘The extent to which the governing body focused on the performance of the school and how performance was considered varied under a range of influences.’
The Government, though, sees the arrangements for academy governance as a means of improving outcomes ,allowing for greater levels of flexibility in the number and category of governors than in maintained schools, while ensuring that essential groups, such as parents, are always represented. Which is why it is legislating through the Education Bill, now in the Commons, to allow all governing bodies to mirror the academies model in requiring to have at least two elected parent governors and the head teacher, unless the head teacher chooses not to take up his position as a governor. Academy governing bodies have built-in safeguards to prevent particular categories of governor from dominating the governing body; for example, staff governors cannot exceed one third of the total membership, and charity law prevents those connected with local authorities from having more than 20% of the membership of a governing body. The CfBT Education Trust report found, in respect of LA representation on governing boards , that the role of the local authority governor is ‘ unclear and in some ways can be unsatisfactory’. It added ‘There was very little evidence for instance of the responsibility or the link with the authority being used in any productive way’.
Evidence points too to the need for Governing bodies to clearly set out the Strategic Direction of schools. In the White Paper, “The Importance of Teaching”, the Government set out a series of 10 key questions for governors to ask to assist them in setting their schools’ strategic direction and holding them to account:
What are the school’s values? Are they reflected in our long term development plans?
How are we going to raise standards for all children, including the most and least able, those with Special Educational Needs, boys and girls, and any who are currently underachieving?
Have we got the right staff and the right development and reward arrangements?
Do we have a sound financial strategy, get good value for money and have robust procurement and financial systems?
Do we keep our buildings and other assets in good condition and are they well used?
How well does the curriculum provide for and stretch all pupils?
How well do we keep parents informed and take account of their views?
Do we keep children safe and meet the statutory health and safety requirements?
How is pupil behaviour? Do we tackle the root causes of poor behaviour?
Do we offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities which engage all pupils?
The WP also said ‘ Parents, governors and the public will have access to much more information about every school and how it performs’ and ‘the Government will help governing bodies to benefit from the skills of their local community in holding schools to account.’ It continued, ‘ The Government will work with ‘the Education Employer Taskforce, Business in the Community, the Institute for Education Business Excellence, the School Governor’s One Stop Shop, and others to encourage business people and professionals to volunteer as governors.’ The Education Bill, which has just received its Second Reading in the Commons, allows for the establishment of smaller governing bodies, with appointments primarily focused on skills. From early 2012 the Government will ‘ allow all schools to adopt this more flexible model of school governance if they choose to, while ensuring a minimum of two parent governors. Schools which currently have a majority of governors appointed by a foundation (often faith voluntary aided schools) will continue to do so.’
ARE NEW ACADEMIES A RETURN TO GM SCHOOLS ?
Baker sees a return of GM-but is it the same?
Mike Baker in a comment piece on the BBC education web site sees the Coalition Governments Academy scheme as a return to the Tory GM schools initiative that ended in 1998.
Ed Balls has labelled the Coalitions Academies scheme as a perversion of the Labour initiative (invoking the GM model) introduced by Tony Blair which was targeted almost exclusively at disadvantaged areas. He claims that that fast tracking outstanding schools to Academy status is against the philosophy behind the last Governments Academy scheme and is in effect shifting the focus and resources away from the most disadvantaged . The central allegation made against GM schools was that they cream skimmed the best pupils, badly affecting neighbouring schools many of which ended up as sink schools. This is what seems to fuel Ed Balls opposition to the new Academies scheme. The irony of course is that Balls himself has been criticised by many in the Academies movement of perverting the ’Blairite’ Academy vision, by re-establishing Local authority influence over academies, so undermining their independence, a crucial element of the Blairite vision, articulated by Andrew Adonis.
Academies developed out of previous Conservative Governments’ City Technology Colleges (CTCs) established in the mid-1980s, and city academy programmes. CTCs, which were established under the Education Reform Act 1988 were the first state schools to be free from local authority control. That Act also enabled local authority maintained schools to opt out of local authority control by becoming Grant-Maintained (GM) schools. The Labour Government’s School Standards and Framework Act 1998 overhauled the categories of school and brought GM schools back into the local authority maintained system. The Learning and Skills Act 2000 made provision for the creation of city academies, subsequently renamed academies under the Education Act 2002. The 2002 Act permitted academies to be set up in any area, not just in urban areas. The first academies opened in 2002, with just over 200 now up and running.
Initially, it is true academies were established to replace poorly-performing schools, but subsequently the programme included new schools in areas that needed extra school places and in this latter period there was less focus on whether or not an Academy was being set up in a demonstrably disadvantaged area. So, Balls outrage and accusations about social engineering looks, in this context, somewhat contrived and overblown.
Baker points out that the political philosophy behind GM schools was to recreate the recipe for success that existed in the private sector – autonomous institutions led by confident and entrepreneurial head teachers. And the stark difference between Labour’s academies and the new version lies in the underlying philosophy according to Baker. The former were about central government intervention to rectify the problems of market failure. (although its hard to see how the schools system at the time could be described as a ‘market’) They rescued children who were left in the schools that few parents would choose. By contrast, the new generation of academies are about releasing market forces in the belief that autonomous schools responding to parental choice will raise standards. But the important point about this new initiative the Government argues is that it is seeking ultimately to offer Academy freedoms to all schools. The idea is that it is permissive rather than coercive. No school will be forced to change status but they should all ultimately be given that opportunity. But, crucially, they will not be disadvantaged by not changing their status, and certainly not financially. Indeed the Government has indicated that it doesn’t believe that most Primary schools will take up the autonomy offer and is easy with that. If the GM initiative could be accused of not fully taking into account the possible impact on neighbouring schools, which some critics argue was the case, the Government counters by saying that new academies will be expected to support weaker neighbours, and indeed this is written into the funding agreement . Before a free school is established there will also be an assessment of its possible impact on neighbouring schools. Academies will have to comply with the national admissions code, and the pupil premium will give extra aid to schools in deprived areas. Indeed on SEN support the Government argues that changes brought about by the new Act will ensure that pupils with SEN will be better protected and supported now than they were under the last Governments Academies legislation.
Baker takes particular exception to the perceived lack of parental involvement in decision-making over status change. There is one important difference between the old GM schools and today’s new academies he says - the former required majority support in a secret ballot of parents, the latter do not even need a show of hands at a parents’ meeting. “With GM Mark II, it seems, the parental voice has been forgotten.” However the Government has made it clear that a school wishing to change status must consult with ‘appropriate’ interested parties and have explicitly stated that this will include parents. For free schools anyone wishing to establish a free school must demonstrate that there is a demand for such a school in that particular area. Of course one can quibble about the detail of how this will be done but one has to trust school governors and yes parents, often one and the same, to make these kind of judgements and if we really want decision-making from the bottom up rather than the top down this seems a good enough place to start.
ACCELERATE TO HEADSHIP
Fast track leadership scheme seeks to attract successful managers to Headships
Accelerate to Headship is an intensive leadership development programme run by the National College for School Leadership for ‘ outstanding individuals with the ability and commitment to follow this accelerated route to becoming a headteacher’. There are two main routes through the Accelerate to Headship programme. First, Tomorrow’s Heads. Teachers, former teachers and other non-teaching professionals who have the drive to lead primary, secondary or special schools in England should apply through Tomorrow’s Heads. If you’re not a qualified teacher, you’ll need at least two years’ suitable management experience to take part in Tomorrow’s Heads. So, Non-teachers could be taking up heads’ positions in primary and special schools within just four years. Classroom experience will not be a prerequisite for those participating in this new fast-track course, being developed by the National College. The NCSL also wants people to apply who have experience of working with children, perhaps as a business manager or governor, or have worked in children’s services. About 170 people a year will participate in the programme, which is made up of one-to-one coaching and residential courses.
The second route is through Future Leaders. Current or former teachers committed to managing a challenging urban secondary school in London, the North West, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, Bristol, or on the south coast are advised to apply for Future Leaders. The first route prompted a shock Daily Mail Headline this month ‘Managers with no teaching experience will be given headteacher posts’. The policy of putting non-teachers in charge of schools was kicked off by a Government-commissioned study into school leadership three years ago, which suggested that splitting the tasks of administrative head and head of teaching and learning would make the job of school leader more feasible, as well as enabling the senior teacher to focus on their role as lead practitioner.
The National Association of Headteachers, however, has campaigned against appointing school leaders with no classroom experience. Mike Welsh, NAHT vice president, claimed the course was an attempt to ‘cut corners’. He said: ‘Those who are not trained teachers will not be able to raise standards. This is a way of having a “chief executive” style role, which is wrong. ‘It’s all in the name “headteacher” – they should lead teaching and learning. Recruitment difficulties are a separate issue and the best way of solving that is to give heads more support and make the job more attractive.’ Both routes are described as ‘ intensive, demanding, three-year leadership development programmes, which will give you all the knowledge and experience you need to apply for the National Professional Qualification in Headship (NPQH), the mandatory qualification for headship.’
On completion of NPQH, they will then be eligible to run a school – and as the NCSL puts it ‘change thousands of children’s lives’. Applicants who apply have to pass cognitive ability tests, a one-day assessment process, give personal references and submit an essay. They will also need a reference from a head. Those selected will then spend three years training, supported by a “leadership development adviser”. They will receive one-to-one coaching, work experience in outstanding schools and residential courses. Both programmes are built around individuals personal development needs, with an emphasis on school-based activity, learning on the job, and coaching and mentoring. Throughout, individuals receive one-on-one support from their own personal leadership development adviser who will act as a ‘critical friend’ and coach.
This is the first attempt by the National College to run a fast-track course since a previous version ‘Fast Track Teaching’ was dropped two years ago. Fast Track was a programme developed and funded by the then Department for Education and Skills (DfES) (eventually becoming the responsibility of the NCSL) and sought to identify, develop and retain talented individuals from within the teaching profession by offering an enriched professional development route to early positions of senior school leadership .Although evaluations of this programme determined that it was broadly meeting its objectives, it was nonetheless judged to be too expensive – costing £43,000 per participant. Tomorrow’s Heads will cost around £11 million a year. About 170 people a year will participate in the programme.
- CRACKDOWN ON EXPLOITATION OF INTERNS
- PAYING FOR RESULTS-CAN IT HELP RAISE PERFORMANCE- OR DOES IT CORRUPT THE LOVE OF LEARNING?
- PROSPECTS JOINS MUTUAL JOINT VENTURE TO DELIVER PUBLIC SERVICES-GOVERNMENT KEEN ON EMPLOYEE OWNED MUTUALS DELIVERING PUBLIC SERVICES
- PROFESSOR TONY WATTS RESIGNS FROM THE NATIONAL CAREERS COUNCIL
- EDISON LEARNING AND THE NAHT UNION LAUNCH A SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVE WITH DFE BACKING
- THE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF ACADEMIES-WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE CONCERNS?
- PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE REPORT ON ACADEMIES-SOME CONCERNS OVER FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
- CAIRNS OF BRIGHTON COLLEGE BACKS ACADEMIES
- IS CAREERS ADVICE IN SCHOOLS EFFECTIVE OR IS IT TOO EARLY TO SAY?
- LEMOVS TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION -TOP TECHNIQUES USED BY THE BEST TEACHERS
- THE PUPIL PREMIUM AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS
- EDUCATION EXPORTS-NEW GOVERNMENT STRATEGY IN THE WINGS?
- Careers advice and Guidance
- Charity Status
- Charter School
- Coalition Education Policy
- Conservative policy
- Discipline and Truancy
- early years learning
- education market
- education quangos
- education reform
- Free schools
- higher education
- Home Education
- independent schools
- primary schools
- Public Services Reform
- published letters
- Pupil Support
- quality assurance
- quality assurance and inspection
- school governance
- secondary schools
- Secure Estate
- SPECIAL NEEDS
- teachers and teaching
- Think tanks
- us education system
- Youth policy