Archive | August, 2013

“Hole in the Wall” Guru to develop Cloud Schools

27 Aug

Dr Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University, is the winner of the 2013 TED prize of $1 million (£670,000).  He plans to build seven ‘Schools in the Clouds’ – five in India and two in England – to enable children to explore and learn from one another.   (Read more here.) Professor Mitra believes that children can teach themselves using the internet and that this can trigger vast improvements in a number of areas, including English comprehension.    “We must not assume that the only way they can learn to read is the way they are learning now,” he avers.   “Maybe they can learn to read by themselves.”

This is a development from his “Hole in the Wall” venture where he installed an internet-connected, child-height computer in a Delhi slum. Children worked out its functions by themselves which spawned his theory of the self-organised learning environment (SOLE). Continue reading

The Commons Education Select Committee releases July 2013 report on Governing Bodies

27 Aug

The Education Select Committee published its report on The Role of School Governing Body on 4 July 2013.  See the report here.

Its recommendations are as follows.  Continue reading

Ofsted turns its guns on Nurseries

27 Aug

The Standards of Education (Ofsted) watchdog will be bringing nursery schools under a more powerful microscope with tougher inspections.   Underperforming maintained and private schools will be closed if, when placed in special measures or given a notice to improve, fail to improve rapidly.  Also, nursery schools requiring improvement and failing to improve within a timeline of two years will be placed in special measures and could, if bouncing along at the bottom, be closed. Continue reading

Assessment of pupils’ achievements and progress grows in complexity

27 Aug

I           School developments

At an institutional (meta) level, it is a self-evident truth that information on pupils’ progress and achievement is essential when embarking on an exercise to improve the quality of educational provision at a school.  Teachers use performance data  (and there is lots about) to set challenging targets as well as contribute to future planning so that they encourage pupils to exploit as fully as possible their potential.

School governors have three sources of data:

i.            RAISEonline (see here and here) –  a mass of information issued by Ofsted and the DfE in the second half of the autumn term – which analyses the results and progress of the pupils over the last few years setting the data out in a national context.

ii.            The Family Fischer Trust (FFT) analysis (see here), which sets out how well the pupils at the school are currently doing and what they should be attaining at the end of the key stages.

iii.            Ofsted dashboard (see here), where governors can access a summary of the data that are presented in RAISEonline.

A health warning about Ofsted’s dashboard at this point is apposite.  The website is a summary of end-of-key-stage results and does not provide detailed information about the progress that pupils are making year-on-year, something that inspectors scrutinise when they visit schools.  For this, governors rely on their headteachers to provide information so that it can be clinically scrutinised. Continue reading

Clerking – the Key to Governor Efficiency and Effectiveness

27 Aug

I        Preamble

Because Local Authorities are shrinking, schools increasingly have to rely on their own initiatives and know-how.  In this milieu, the clerk to a governing body, who plays a critical role, becomes even more pivotal to the efficiency and effectiveness of the governing body.     It is no more a role where the post-holder is expected merely to send out the agenda for meetings, take minutes during them and distribute the minutes following the meetings, important though these functions may be.

Clerks have the responsibility of operating professionally not unlike that of company secretaries.  A clerk has four overarching responsibilities.

(1)        First, the clerk must provide efficient and effective administrative support to the governing body.

(2)        Second, she/he has a responsibility for managing governance information well –recording, storing and retrieving it with felicity.

(3)        Third, the clerk is the governing body’s legal adviser.

(4)        Finally, the clerk has a responsibility for governor development. Continue reading