System Up and Running by September
Ministers believe that arrangements for the management of academies and free schools will be enhanced by the collective expertise and wisdom of eight regional schools commissioners, supported by their head teacher boards.
Two RSCs are already in place and the other six start this September. DFE have also strengthened the guidance for local authorities on intervening in maintained schools, and ‘inspections are undertaken using a risk-based approach, with more frequent inspections for those schools not performing well.’ Critics suggest that the system, though better than before, when the SOS was directly responsible for all schools, simply establishes another layer of bureaucracy without significantly improving accountability.
David Blunkett, who produced a report for Labour, says that he wants to have between 80 and 150 directors of school standards, all supported by their own bureaucracies. Tories argue that many of these will simply be recycled local authority people. Certainly in terms of school improvement, local authorities historically, have a very mixed record. The Tories are keen on encouraging the emergence of regional multi-academy trusts, which are proving particularly effective, they believe, in delivering both accountability and improved outcomes. But MATs, as recent Sutton Trust research shows, vary in their impact on student outcomes and most schools, of course ,are not part of any Trust.
The actual cost of running the regional schools commissioners system will be something in the order of £5 million. Tories claim that the Blunkett proposals have not been properly costed and will, in practice, be much more expensive.
The newly appointed regional school commissioners are as follows:
- North: Janet Renou, currently Executive Head, Skipton Girls’ High School
- East Midlands and Humber: Jenny Bexon-Smith, currently Executive Principal, Tudor Grange Academies Trust
- South West: Sir David Carter, currently CEO, Cabot Learning Federation
- North East London and the East of England: Dr Tim Coulson, currently Director of Education, Essex County Council
- North West London and South Central: Martin Post, currently Headmaster, Watford Grammar School for Boys
- South London and South East: Dominic Herrington, currently Director of Academies Group, Department for Education
- West Midlands: Pank Patel, currently Headteacher, Wood Green Academy
- Lancashire and West Yorkshire: Paul Smith, currently Executive Principal, Parbold Douglas Church of England Academy and Teaching School
The Commissioners take key decisions regarding academies and free schools in their Regions, on behalf of the Secretary of State. Each RSC will be advised by a headteacher board (HTB) made up of four elected academy headteachers and experienced professional leaders, to provide sector expertise and local knowledge.