Tags: CPD | CPD Coordinator | Headteacher | School Leadership & Management | Standards | White Paper

The government has announced ‘a radical new school system’ in its white paper Higher Standards, Better Schools for All released on 25 October.

Launching the white paper, education secretary Ruth Kelly said: ‘These reforms are the next essential step in changing forever the education system for the better… The underlying principle is simple – freedom for schools and power for parents equals better standards for all.’

In this system: i) academies will be at the heart of the programme ii) every school will be able to acquire a self-governing trust similar to academies, which will give them the freedom to work with new partners iii) independent schools will find it easier to enter the new system

iv) a national schools commissioner will drive change, matching schools and new partners, promoting the benefits of choice, access and diversity.

There will be ‘improved choice and access for all’ involving: i) better information for all parents with dedicated choice advisers ii) extended rights to free school transport

iii) introduction of banding into admissions policies.

Parents and pupils will be ‘fully engaged in improving standards’ so parents will: i) receive regular reports ii) have the chance to form parent councils iii) have a better local complaints procedure and access to a new national complaints service from Ofsted iv) have access to more and clearer information about local schools, how to get involved and how to lever change

v) be able to set up new schools.

Education will be ‘tailored to the individual’ so there will be: i) targeted one-to-one tuition in English and maths where needed ii) more stretching lessons and opportunities for the gifted and talented iii) extended schools offering opportunity to learn beyond the formal school day iv) more grouping and setting by subject ability

v) a national training programme to enable each school to have one leading professional to help develop tailored lessons.

There will be ‘much tougher rules for failing schools’. This means: i) schools in special measures, and where no progress is made after a year, will be subject to a competition for a ‘new provider’ ii) schools receiving a notice to improve from Ofsted will enter special measures within a year if progress is not made iii) competition will be required for new schools and replacing failing schools in order to bring in new providers iv) all new schools will be self-governing foundation, voluntary aided, trust schools or academies

v) parents will be able to urge Ofsted action or request new providers.

There will also be ‘lighter touch’ inspection for ‘good schools’ which will be able to expand and federate with other schools; increased access to learning mentors; on-site and off-site pupil referral units; and potential fines and parenting orders for parents. Local authorities will be commissioners, not providers.

Chris Keates, general secretary of NASUWT, said the personalisation agenda could have a negative impact on workforce remodelling: ‘It will be crucial for the DfES to engage in detailed discussions about the introduction of “more personalised learning” to ensure that gains already made in workload reduction are not undermined.’

Carol Adams GTCE chief executive doubted the proposals could provide better standards for all children: ‘Although some schools in challenging circumstances are improving fast, the most disadvantaged pupils in those schools are still lagging behind. For these children further structural reform may be at best irrelevant and at worst leave them further disadvantaged as better placed parents benefit from the choice agenda.’
Steve Sinnott, NUT general secretary said: ‘parents do not want to control schools. They want to know their child is happy, safe and learning’.


Implications of the white paper for CPD – editor’s comment

The prime minister made clear that that this white paper is a ‘pivotal moment in the life of this parliament and this government’ and that he expects the changes proposed to be ‘irreversible’. There are, however, a number of issues that will impact upon CPD. i) Schools have been encouraged to form networked learning communities. How will joint professional learning survive an environment in which the ‘successful’ will eat up the ‘failing’? ii) ‘Successful’ schools may find life more difficult if forced to absorb the intake of the ‘failing’ schools. iii) Increasing the number of learning mentors and one-to-one tuition decreases the human resource available to work in the ordinary classroom and places pressure on the pupil:teacher ratio, thereby increasing the problems that have to be solved by more individual teaching. iv) Tailoring learning to the individual may see more use of learning style packages that were found by the Coffield Report to be virtually worthless. v) Undergoing such drastic structural change while coping with, for example, workforce remodelling, the extended school and revised national standards will make great and stressful demands upon the CPD leader. vi) The pressure not to fail will make for less adventurous teaching, learning and assessment: teachers under such pressure cannot afford to experiment.

vii) There are bound to be considerable differences between the learning experiences of children attending different schools and as the curriculum changes so does the CPD.

And that’s just for starters.

This article first appeared in CPD Update, Nov 2005

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