Another one bites the dust…..

June 6, 2010 at 8:36 pm Leave a comment

by David Price
It’s been another week of upheaval in schooling. Michael Gove has abolished his third quango – this time the General Teaching Council – in less than three weeks. The reaction to the bonfire of quangos (and the scrapping of national teaching strategies) has been decidedly mixed, which is probably better than Mr Gove would have hoped for. And he must have been encouraged by the absence of weeping and wailing from teachers, especially. The knee-jerk response to change is often protest, but the profession itself has been quiet, which must be a little dispiriting to BECTA, QCDA and GTC.

Offering yet more encouragement to our new Secretary of State have been the initial expressions of interest, from schools judged ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED, in fast-tracking to academy status. Over 1,100 could be out of local authority control, and OFSTED inspections, by September. Both relaxations potentially carry collateral damage. Local authorities offer valuable coordinating services, and to lose a significant chunk of budget is bound to have an effect on their ability to support all schools. But it looks like some are preparing for the inevitable: I heard from a senior colleague, in a major city council, that they have been advised to expect between 15-25% cut in budget and  are strongly encouraging all of their schools to form clusters, whereupon their budgets will be devolved to them.  

There has also been some disquiet that releasing schools from inspections risks, not only complacency, but also the prospect of ‘two tier’ schools – sheep and goats, inspected and approved. Whatever one might think of these changes, whether good or bad, they’re not part of the blight of incrementalism of recent years. Some bold experiments are taking place. Risky, for sure, but there does seem to be a good deal of support from schools. Which makes it all the more depressing to hear the NASUWT complain that ‘one academy is one too many, and we shall be campaigning to seek to stop schools that have expressed an interest in becoming an academy’. 

Come on, academies are going to be with us for the foreseeable future, and what the system desperately needs is some innovation. More academies, more alternative models of schooling (free  schools, et al), might give us all some innovation outliers that we can all learn from. The trick will be to ensure that what works in some of the imminent experiments is systematically shared throughout the system, and that ideological opponents don’t adopt conservative attitudes, just for the sake of it.

Posted via email from etc : education, technology and culture


Entry filed under: Education & Children's Services.

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