Monthly Archives: June 2016

The passing of the 2015 Academies Act

C11 In the School Revolution, it is the pace of constant change that proves that the more it changes, the more it stays the same – in terms of spin and rapid movement toward a new system. And with an increasingly totalitarian aspect in the imposition of change. This note records what the DfE claimed was the result of the passing into last Bill in February. Students of George Orwell will note the reference to the crude black and white thinking which recalls Four Legs Good, Two Legs bad of Animal Farm. TF

A response to the passing of the Education and Adoption Bill, February 2016

Another day, another press release. On the morning in February that the last Bill passed into law, the DfE released a statement announcing the passing of the Education and Adoption Bill which represented this Government’s thinly veiled disregard for research that challenges the dominant ideological position that Academies are Good and Council-Run schools are Bad:

The bill will see more schools becoming academies – transforming the education system by giving power and responsibility to teachers on the front line, empowering schools themselves to spread excellence everywhere.

Academies operate under the strictest possible system of oversight and accountability – more robust than in council-run schools – and are challenged to bring about rapid and sustained improvements when they do not reach the high standards we expect.

Why does this matter? We think there are two major, related problems with this.

First, this Bill, with its ratcheting up of the academies programme, is an ideological rather than an educational matter. There is still no conclusive evidence that reducing local authorities’ role in supporting schools in favour of academy sponsors has significant and consistent effects on improving education. This isn’t a new or a surprising development, as the Conservatives have long been proponents of transferring the running of schools from councils to academy sponsors — the 2010 Academies Act demonstrates this quite clearly.

Second, and connected to this, the Bill is a key milestone in the march towards the privatisation of public services. We know the story in relation to the NHS, but for some reason, in education, there is a lot less urgency in acknowledging that this is happening and subsequently challenging and resisting such shifts in how provisions are organised and who has ‘control’ over them. Academies and their sub-types are state funded, but not state controlled — private interests are central to how the academies programme has been developed. The accountability that the DfE is keen to tout in the above press release is built on sand. Yes, all schools are accountable to parents and the government through Ofsted inspection. Yet when the running and support for local schools is forcibly taken out the hands of local councils and given to academy sponsors, that accountability trail peters out in many ways.

Private academy trusts receive millions of pounds of tax-payers’ money, but are not directly inspected by Ofsted as unitary organisations. Parents, teachers or school staff may not choose Trusts’ board members or vote them out, and there is a strong tendency for private interests to have a majority say on academy governing bodies and through that, school leadership.

What connects these two points and is particularly unnerving in this newest legislation is not just the complete removal of consultation with parents and local communities in the conversion process, but the requirement for Councils’ and governors’ compliance. So, academisation is to be literally ‘forced’ upon the teachers, students and parents in schools that are identified (by the government, obviously) as either ‘failing’ or ‘coasting’ and there isn’t anything anyone can do about it. Indeed, stakeholders who might previously have dissented are now required to make it happen. This is a further manifestation of the increasing totalitarianism pervading the education system and its leadership.

So we should not be surprised, only dismayed, that parent consultation has disappeared from this newly intense vision for an academised system. Indeed, the Bill instead assumes logically that the public should have no say in a private, or privatised matter. The passing of the Bill was a dark day for public education in England.

Dr. Ruth McGinity and Dr. Steven Courtney

Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester

B5 The White Paper analysed

The appearance of the 2016 Education White Paper in the March budget speech took the media and everyone by suprise. As the 2015 Act had only passed the Royal Assent the previous month, the fact that the government had been planning new measures was a revelation, including to Tory M Ps who suddenly had to defend compulsory Academisation which they had not been prepared for. The U turn that was not then took place and convinced 38 Degrees and other media that the government backed off. In reality Nicky Morgan is a lady not for turning – or those in the cabinet or beyond who make the decisions. As Michael Bassey’s analysis shows, this is a government which does not consult (no Green Papers), want the ideas of others, or has anything other than a will to impose its will. TF

B5 ANALYSIS OF 2016 WHITE PAPER : “Education Excellence Everywhere”

OCCURRENCES OF ‘WE WILL’ IN THE OPENING CHAPTER

Michael Bassey

Using a search facility I have identified in the opening chapter of the White Paper 76 “we will” statements and these are set out below. The actual intent of some of the statements may need reference to the document itself through the paragraph numbers given here. Some of these “we will” statements, like “we will continue to set unapologetically high expectations for all children”, are no more than pious expressions of ambition, but 61 of them are statements of intended action, like “we will replace the current ‘Qualified Teacher Status’ (QTS)”. Such statements are underlined in this analysis.

It is right to have “high expectations for all children” but to believe that this will be achieved by this set of 61 Government intentions is highly questionable.

Extracts from Chapter One of “we will …” Statements of intended action are underlined

we will continue to set unapologetically high expectations for all children. … we will focus on intensively tackling areas of the country that have lagged behind for too long. …We will do more to support communities where underperformance has become entrenched … We … will set out more detail about our plans to protect children’s safety and promote their wellbeing, and to prepare all young people for adult life, later this year. (1.11)

In 2010, we started an historic devolution of power from local and central government to the best school leaders. … Over the next five years, we will continue that devolution of power (1.15)

we will do more to strengthen the school-led system (1.24)

we will both empower our best leaders and do more to set them up for success (1.29)

leaders, teachers, sponsors, members of governing boards, and parents. In the coming years, we will work with them to transform the lives of children in every part of this country, for good. (1.30)

the demand for teachers in some subjects is rising even faster. So we recognise that the challenge is increasing, and we will need to improve continuously the proportion of each graduating class that is attracted to teaching. (1.34)

we will reform the National College for Teaching and Leadership, … we will create simple web tools that enable schools to advertise vacancies for free and a new national teacher vacancy website (1.36a)

we will reform our allocation of teacher training places so that ITT is delivered by the best Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and school-led providers where new entrants are most needed, where places are most likely to be filled, and where training is most likely to be delivered well. We will also continue to increase the proportion of ITT offered by the best schools (1.36b)

we will strengthen ITT content, … We’ll ensure discredited ideas unsupported by firm evidence are not promoted to new teachers (1.36c)

we will replace the current ‘Qualified Teacher Status’ (QTS) with a stronger, more challenging accreditation based on a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom, (1.36d)

we will help ensure the best teachers and middle leaders work in the most challenging areas by developing the new National Teaching Service (1.36e)

we will ensure there is a sufficient supply of high-quality CPD provision … We will also introduce a new Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development to help schools improve the quality and availability of CPD. We will examine the feasibility of incentivising teaching schools to publish their research and CPD materials on an ‘open-source’ basis (1.36f)

[we will continue] to address some of the main issues that teachers tell us cause them to leave the profession, including workload and unnecessary bureaucracy, stripping back unnecessary requirements and helping schools understand where they can avoid gold-plating (1.36g)

[we will support] the establishment of a new, independent College of Teaching (1.36g)

We will continue to work in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation (1.36g)

We want to put more power into the hands of the best school and system leaders, and to extend their reach. …. So we will ensure these leaders are set up well to exercise the new responsibilities they are offered (1.37)

we will convene leading headteachers, MAT CEOs and other experts to design new voluntary National Professional Qualifications for each level of leadership (1.37b)

we will rebalance incentives in the accountability system so that great leaders are encouraged to work in challenging schools and areas. We will emphasise the progress that pupils make, and will introduce an ‘improvement period’ during which schools won’t be inspected by Ofsted,. … we will implement fair national funding formulae (1.37c)

we will introduce the National Teaching Service to support strong middle leaders to move to work in some of the nation’s most challenging areas (1.37d)

[we will launch] a new Excellence in Leadership Fund (1.37e)

We will continue to help governing boards to recruit skilled people … We will provide all governing boards with clearer performance information about their schools, to help them discharge their role. We will also establish a database of everyone involved in governance and we intend to legislate to enable us to bar unsuitable individuals from being governors of maintained schools (1.39)

We will take new powers to direct schools to become academies in local authority areas which are underperforming (1.42)

we will support the establishment of new schools to drive up standards and stimulate competition. We will build upon the success of the free school programme to open at least 500 new schools by 2020 – and will strengthen the university technical colleges programme (1.48)

We will engage MATs, sponsors, academies, dioceses and the wider schools sector to ensure that the legal framework for academies is fit for the long term. (1.50)

To support these changes, we will empower pupils, parents and local communities: We will put children and parents first and establish a clearly defined role for local government. (1.51)

  • we will launch a new online Parent Portal (1.51a)
  • we will provide guidance on handling complaints… We will also make it simpler to escalate complaints beyond the governing board to the DfE, and beyond that to a public service ombudsman (1.51b)
  • We will seek views on a number of changes to the school admissions system to make it simpler and clearer … we will seek views on requiring local authorities to coordinate in-year admissions (1.51c)

[we] will consider how parents may be able to petition RSCs for their school to move to a different MAT (1.51d)

we will also designate teaching school alliances to develop networks … we will continue to appoint more National Leaders of Education (NLEs) (1.53)

We will focus on ensuring there is extra support and challenge in areas of the country where too many schools are falling behind (1.54)

  • we will set up every school, wherever it is in the country, to access support, collaboration and best practice … We will use a new, more sophisticated approach to designate up to 300 more teaching schools and 800 more NLEs where they’re most needed, … We will put in place the right incentives and brokerage to ensure that the work of teaching schools, NLEs and SLEs is more focused and reaches the most vulnerable schools. We will also better target school improvement funding to where it’s most needed, funding system leaders to help build capacity and engage with schools most in need of support, and RSCs to commission the turnaround of failing and coasting schools (1.54b)
  • we will establish new and better means of brokering school improvement to help schools find the partners and support they need without needing to depend on local or central government (1.54c)
  • we will ensure there are enough strong academy sponsors from business, charitable organisations and existing strong schools available to transform schools that need their support, particularly in the toughest areas. (1.54d)
  • we will focus our programmes on areas of chronic, persistent underperformance …. We’ll target a wide range of our interventions toward these Achieving Excellence Areas (1.54e)

We will embed a knowledge-based curriculum as the cornerstone of an excellent, academically rigorous education up to the age of 16 … we will monitor its implementation and increase support for teachers to help them deliver it effectively (1.55a)

we will embed the existing changes [in assessment] to these gold standard qualifications and ensure the vast majority of pupils study the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) (1.55b)

we will introduce more support for schools to expand the range of evidence-based, character-building opportunities they provide to pupils and make available funding so that it is easier for 25% of secondary schools to extend their school day to include a wider range of activities, such as sport, arts and debating. We will expand the National Citizen Service so every pupil has the opportunity to take part. We will also work with a group of leading headteachers and practitioners to produce an action plan for improving personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) provision. (1.55c)

we will also focus on boosting the attainment of four groups of children neglected by the previous curriculum and accountability system (1.55d)

we will embed existing reforms to primary, secondary and 16-19 accountability. (1.59)

  • we will work with Ofsted to ensure inspection is fair and increasingly focused on underperformance (1.59b)
  • we will publish new performance tables for MATs (1.59c)
  • we will increase accountability to parents and governors by providing them with the right information – in easy-to- navigate formats (1.59d)

we will introduce new, fair national funding formulae to allocate school and high needs funding (1.60)

we will continue the pupil premium, and improve its effectiveness (1.60b)

We will take a more differentiated and proportionate approach to financial oversight (1.60c)

We will ensure that the bodies responsible for school buildings get a fair share of funding according to their needs We will continue to rebuild and refurbish schools in the worst condition across the country (1.60d)

MB 7 June 2016

Can England staff its schools?

B4 Can England Staff its Schools?

Key issues in the supply of Qualified Teachers in the light of the Education White Paper 2016 – a Scrutiny Seminar 4-6pm Monday June 6th 2016.

The Education White Paper 2016 makes bold claims for the supply of teachers in English schools and the future training of qualified teaching staff. The key thrust of the paper is to shift the balance of teaching into schools, asserting that existing moves to schools level, notably School ( Direct, have proved notably successful. Involvement of universities (HEIs) is to be limited to a few ‘top’ universities, while standards would be set by headteachers in a few elite training schools.

But are the proposals in Chapter 2 acceptable? Given the widely reported claims of teacher shortages, have the current systems proved successful? And will the proposals improve or damage the supply of Qualified Teachers? How do they relate to the ongoing policy of academisation, with the intention of allowing all schools to employ unqualified teaching staff?

It is a fundamental contradiction that schools following the plans outlined must apply a lengthy, variable accreditation process for qualification – without Qualified Teacher Status being granted – but academies can employ unqualified staff in the classroom.

The Scrutiny Seminar will examine three key issues in the light of the overall thrust of the paper and the ongoing debate on teacher shortages in English Schools. These are

* the implications for teacher training/education in English schools through accreditation at school level

* the role of school based training notably Schools Direct

* the effect on individual subject provision, with mathematics as a case study, with the definition of a mathematics teacher and the current drive through bursaries and adverts to attract staff suggesting specific and general issues with supply.

The speakers will be

Alison Ryan of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers on the implications for schools

Professor Tony Brown of Manchester Metropolitan University on the latest research on School Direct provision

Dr Sue Pope of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics on the case study of supply of Mathematics teachers

The meeting will be chaired jointly by Lord Watson of Invergowrie and Trevor Fisher of SOSS

The seminar will take place in the House of Lords.

Sponsored by the Symposium on Sustainable Schools (SOSS)

B4 Can England Staff its Schools?

Key issues in the supply of Qualified Teachers in the light of the Education White Paper 2016 – a Scrutiny Seminar 4-6pm Monday June 6th 2016.

The Education White Paper 2016 makes bold claims for the supply of teachers in English schools and the future training of qualified teaching staff. The key thrust of the paper is to shift the balance of teaching into schools, asserting that existing moves to schools level, notably School ( Direct, have proved notably successful. Involvement of universities (HEIs) is to be limited to a few ‘top’ universities, while standards would be set by headteachers in a few elite training schools.

But are the proposals in Chapter 2 acceptable? Given the widely reported claims of teacher shortages, have the current systems proved successful? And will the proposals improve or damage the supply of Qualified Teachers? How do they relate to the ongoing policy of academisation, with the intention of allowing all schools to employ unqualified teaching staff?

It is a fundamental contradiction that schools following the plans outlined must apply a lengthy, variable accreditation process for qualification – without Qualified Teacher Status being granted – but academies can employ unqualified staff in the classroom.

The Scrutiny Seminar will examine three key issues in the light of the overall thrust of the paper and the ongoing debate on teacher shortages in English Schools. These are

* the implications for teacher training/education in English schools through accreditation at school level

* the role of school based training notably Schools Direct

* the effect on individual subject provision, with mathematics as a case study, with the definition of a mathematics teacher and the current drive through bursaries and adverts to attract staff suggesting specific and general issues with supply.

The speakers will be

Alison Ryan of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers on the implications for schools

Professor Tony Brown of Manchester Metropolitan University on the latest research on School Direct provision

Dr Sue Pope of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics on the case study of supply of Mathematics teachers

The meeting will be chaired jointly by Lord Watson of Invergowrie and Trevor Fisher of SOSS

The seminar will take place in the House of Lords.

Sponsored by the Symposium on Sustainable Schools (SOSS)