Tags: Gifted and Talented | Headteacher | School Governance | School Governor | School Improvement | School Leadership & Management | Self-Evaluation

A new report evaluates the New Relationship with Schools (NRwS) in trial local authorities and schools.

The NRwS was first announced in January 2004 after schools (and the DfES) had highlighted bureaucracy as an ongoing issue for both primary and secondary schools, with a need for a closer alignment of local and national priorities.

The findings, based on a questionnaire to headteachers focused on four school reform strands: school self-evaluation; school profile; the single conversation; and the school improvement partner (SIP).

Self-evaluation Although many schools already had good self-evaluation procedures in place, the report found that NRwS provided a ‘new impetus’ for this work, with greater emphasis on seeking the views of parents and pupils. Ninety-four per cent of respondents agreed that the SEF (self-evaluation form) had an ‘important’ part to play in their overall self-evaluation. However, many reported that the SEF placed a greater burden on school staff and did not find it ‘quicker to compile’ than previous documentation.

Many G&T coordinators valued the SEF when used in conjunction with the newly published Quality Standards. Additionally the number of coordinators or subject heads involved in self-evaluation prior to the NRwS rose from 55% to 81%.

SIP Although generally positive, marked differences were found between primary and secondary school respondents. Secondary schools found SIPs to be ‘more challenging’ and more of a ‘critical friend’ than previous local authority links. Primary schools, however, were less likely to be satisfied with the level of challenge.

Respondents said that SIP partners should have a background in school improvement and prior school headship experience.

The single conversation A lack of clarity was found about this strand – what was the Single Conversation meant to be? Several found the name inappropriate as they were conversing with both their SIP and local authority.

At the same time there was evidence that school practices had been ‘sharpened’ and schools were being more effectively challenged.

The school profile
Many schools reported that putting the profile together was easier and less burdensome than the annual report for parents. The more succinct format and pre-populated data was seen as being the key development.

Overall impact
Some respondents could not identify any major impact of the NRwS and others felt that some of the changes described would have happened without the NRwS. Impact on senior staff was seen to be significant, but the impact on pupils and parents was seen as ‘negligible’. However, many agreed that bureaucracy had been reduced.

You can order a copy of the report New Relationship with Schools: Evaluation of Trial Local Authorities and Schools from 0845 60 222 60

This article first appeared in Gifted & Talented Update – Feb 2006

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