Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Bid goodbye to bidding

When the New Relationship with Schools (NRwS) was first established in January 2004, those of us on the Implementation Review Unit (IRU) were very excited that this could lead to a reduction in the overly bureaucratic systems existing between schools and government departments.

As the years have progressed, one of the real gains has been some reduction in the amount of bidding that schools have been asked to participate in.

For example, we welcomed the reduction in the bureaucracy of the specialist schools redesignation, and the simplification of the Sportsmark award, which is now granted as a result of examining outcome data and a simple checklist.

The IRU has also tried to persuade the Arts Council to reduce the unnecessary bureaucracy of the Artsmark award. All the schools I have consulted welcome the Artsmark as a splendid recognition of excellence in the arts.

The scheme proposed by the IRU would be based on evidence from the school's self-evaluation form (SEF) and school development plan (SDP), with possibly a small annex form.

Unfortunately, the Arts Council have decided to carry on with their existing application, which involves a substantial bid. They have said that they believe the process is welcomed by schools because it helped them to audit their provision.

The IRU strongly disagrees with this view, as schools have told us that they find the process time-consuming and unnecessary. At the moment, it is not even possible to make a bid online.

We were extremely disappointed with this response, which hardly helps us to move forward in line with the NRwS. The IRU feels strongly that there is a huge amount of data available on schools and certainly plenty of evidence to validate the work that schools are doing in the arts.

The same is true for the international award. I recently attended a meeting at which a gigantic folder was produced to show the sort of evidence that the school had collected to apply for the international award.

Whilst fully understanding the autonomy of schools and their wish to apply for these awards, I believe we should be putting pressure on government departments and partners in the delivery chain to change their procedures so that these bids do not detract us from the real business of managing schools.

All schools now produce the SEF and the SDP, which should clearly summarise evidence of the school's achievement and the direction it is moving. Surely if the NRwS is going to work in our schools, these two documents must provide the evidence needed for entry into the department's programmes.

  • If you would like to lend support to or comment on the stance that the IRU is taking, please email the IRU at iru.panel@dcsf.gsi.gov.uk

  • If you wish to discuss the issues raised in this article personally, my email address is twelm001@rbwm.org

Marcia Twelftree is head of Charters School, Ascot and member of the IRU

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