Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Its Academic

The Coalition is wasting no time. Today all Heads received a letter from Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, that they can now, if they choose, look to become independent of the local authority.

As a school governor and Chairman-designate of a local school, this is music to both mine and the Head's ears. Last night, the Governing body met to discuss a new 10 year vision for the school. The three words are Community, All-Round-Excellence and Different. Our biggest aspiration is to be far more adventurous with the curriculum. We want our children to learn and pass exams, sure, but we don't want to be restricted to formats which actually hold many of our children back. We want our children to THINK, to interact and learn how to function. We want proper links to companies, to people in our communities. Schools have become cordoned-off. Even Councillors need 'safeguarding' training to be allowed near the place. In pursuit of safety, we have lost trust. We all aspire to a different future.

Key to this is throwing off the monkey of our local education authority. This is an expensive adjunct to our system that sucks away money while adding very little value that I can see. All that I as a Governor see are documents written by expensive people which we have to `pass' as a committee. Well, I am sorry, Eton doesn't work like that so why should my school? Myself and the head want to take the school into a new place, one free of local authortity nonsense. My own party is more enthusiastic about the role of LEAs. I do not share this view, unfortunately. I see a commissioning role and that's that. Ten people max, not the current - which runs into the hundreds.

Full Council tomorrow. With a shocking financial settlement it will be interesting to see how things are shaking out. Everyone is bought into `doing thing differently'. But nobody has a clue what that means. What I think it means is everyone working a lot harder, faster and with less of the usual faffing about. And all for less money, a smaller pension and less time allowed for sickness.

Welcome to the real world, comrades.


Joe Roberson said...

Wow, this has got to be a hopeful thing. People say that the Welfare State was never invented to meet the needs of today's society. I would say the same about the Education system in this country. I'm looking forward to seeing what daring change this heralds!

Anonymous said...

I don’t understand why doing away with local authorities is so often held up as the solution to schools problem. It is a red herring dreamt up in the rarefied world of Westminster.

I’m a governor of our local secondary school and if we didn’t have the local authority we would have to spend lots of time and money getting external advice on HR, legal advice, managing suppliers etc. etc. As it is now, we can get this from the local authority. I’m quite happy with this because it means that our head can lead the school and our teachers can teach.

I don’t object to academies or greater freedoms, I just don’t think that they are the solution. Whether you are an academy, a community school, Eton or otherwise, it is good leadership, good teaching and a high quality learning environment that makes the difference. If your school isn’t good enough then you shouldn’t blame the local authority, you’ve got bigger problems than that.

Craig Dearden-Phillips said...

Hi Anonymous, As a Governor have you any idea of how much the local education authority and LA' services are costing your school? Or how much money that would free up if it came directly back to you? Perhaps not? Sure you would have to source your own HR etc. But I can bet you my mortgage that you could get all of this for a third to a half as much. Leaving you a lot more to improve teaching standards and create the standards to which we all aspire?

Anonymous said...

... Sure, money can be saved at local authority level. I don't deny that. I'm sure the valuable services that they provide to our school could be delivered more efficiently. But that isn't really what I was getting at.

Your post seems to be blaming local authorities for holding back schools. I think this is an excuse for failings elsewhere.

For example, the fact that your school is 'cordoned off' isn't the local authorities fault. Good heads, involved boards and imaginative teachers build links with the community. Blaming your lack of links on the local authority is like blaming the bank holiday rain on the Lord's Test Match.

You are barking up the wrong tree.