Archive | April, 2014

Effective governors walk the learning talk

24 Apr

I           Why learn or train?

If an organisation is to survive if not flourish – whatever the work it does – it has to be a learning one.  This is more the case in a school, academy, college and university where the primary function is to promote learning.  The key recipients of this provision are, of course, the pupils and students.  However, young people in the charges of the governors, headteachers and staff must see the latter model what they expect of them, to spur the learning for the pupils and students. In such a milieu, governors – like the staff which they oversee – have to take their own learning and training seriously and invest time to improve their knowledge and practice of good and outstanding governance.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is not a staff monopoly at a school or an academy.   It has to encompass all the adults associated with the institution – including governors.  Modelling apart, training is necessary to improve the quality of governance so that governors become better critical friends and make decisions which aid in their effectively developing strategy and promoting accountability.  Continue reading

Free meals for Infants: Kitchen Crisis

24 Apr

From 1 September 2014 all primary and infant schools will provide free meals for pupils at Key Stage 1, i.e. those in the reception, year 1 and year 2 classes.   However, the government has come up short in ensuring that they are fully equipped to do so.  A number of schools are bereft of sufficient cooking facilities.   Over 2,700 schools in England will need to upgrade their kitchens if the provision of free meals for these youngsters is to take effect.  Altogether, 1,700 schools have no kitchens at all.    The government’s advisers had estimated that £150 million would be needed for this purpose.  The finance provided is inadequate and it is likely that some schools will have to find resources within their budgets.

Careers guidance in schools not fit for purpose, allege colleges

24 Apr

A survey carried out by the Association of Colleges (AoC), published in April 2014, reveals that schools are failing to give adequate careers guidance to students about further education opportunities.  In fact, several appear actively to be obstructive, stopping students from contacting Further Education (FE) colleges in an attempt to hang on to them for sixth form studies.  Since September 2012, it became a legal requirement for secondary schools to provide careers guidance and advice to their students though the government did not give them with any additional resources.

FE lecturers averred that schools had stopped them from speaking to the students and refused to distribute college prospectuses and/or display information on the provision they offer.   Continue reading

Scaling down inspecting good schools

24 Apr

On 21 March 2014, Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools (HMCI), announced that he was proposing to see the number of Section 5 inspections for schools deemed to be “good” reduced. Addressing the conference of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) in Birmingham, Sir Michael said that this would mean that Ofsted inspectors will visit these schools (60% of the total in the country) once every two years for one day.

“In my view, good schools no longer need to be subject to routine inspections in the way that they are now,” he stated. “Instead, they should have more frequent but light-touch visits every two or three years by an HMI, whose job it will be to engage in professional dialogue with senior staff. Only when inspectors see a steep decline in a good school or, conversely, great improvement, that a full inspection will be triggered.  Even if HMI does see some problems in a school, a full inspection may not be required as long as school leaders are tackling problems effectively and have the capacity to improve the school.”

In an interview, he told BBC’s Radio 4 (see here): “There is little point in school inspectors turning up once every four or five years to confirm what a good school already knows and what the data already says.  We would much rather use inspection resources – particularly HMI resources – in schools that require stronger intervention: in schools that are in special measures or that require improvement.”

He added that he was keen to ensure more inspectors were directly employed by Ofsted.  “Inspection, as far as I’m concerned, is just too important for Ofsted to simply have oversight of third party arrangements.”

School Teachers’ Review Body’s recommendations accepted

24 Apr

On 13 February 2014, the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, presented Parliament with the 23rd report of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) together with his response to the report’s recommendations by way of a Written Ministerial Statement.

The STRB, an independent body, makes proposals to the Secretary of State on school’s teachers’ pay and conditions in England and Wales.   It receives the views of stakeholders, carries out analysis, reflects on it and writes its reports which are then presented to ministers.

On this occasion, the STRB made three recommendations to the Secretary of State. Continue reading

Changes to Governance Regulations

24 Apr

The Secretary of State consulted in the Spring Term 2014 on proposed changes to the structure and procedures of the governing body. The consultations, launched on 13 January 2014, closed on 14 March 2014.  Regulations were laid before Parliament and come into force on 1 September 2014.  Three primary changes will take effect. Continue reading

Children and Families Bill 2013

24 Apr

The Children and Families Bill is making rapid progress through parliament and likely to receive the Royal Assent in the summer of 2014.   The provisions take forward the Coalition Government’s commitment to improve services for vulnerable children and support families.  The bill reforms the systems for adoption, looked-after children, family justice and special educational needs. It will encourage growth in the childcare sector, introduce a new system of shared parental leave and ensure children in England have a strong advocate for their rights.  Continue reading