Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Welcome to the 'new relationship'

Schools will start to feel the impact of the government's new relationship with schools this autumn as the single conversation, new Ofsted framework, and changes to data collection come into play. Feedback from the pilot schemes has been generally positive and the latest developments are outlined below.

SHA will continue to keep ministers informed of any concerns we hear from our members. We have several avenues through which to contribute and help shape developments: John Dunford is on the new relationship with schools steering board, and council member Marcia Twelftree is part of the Implementation Review Unit, as is Chris Nicholls who chairs the group.

We recognise that the timescale for TLRs remains a concern for members and we will continue to remind ministers of the pressures this creates.

School improvement partners

The 'single conversation' begins in 27 LEAs this September. LEAs will select school improvement partners (SIPs) from the 270 who have been accredited through the training and assessment programme and allocate them to individual schools.

Over 1,000 people - mainly serving or recent heads - applied to be SIPs. There were problems with the accreditation process, in that there was a very short time for people to complete the online task. It also seemed, in SHA's view, to concentrate too much on data manipulation and to have too much of an inspectoral feel to it.

It was also of concern that priority was given to applicants in pilot LEAs, when we expected the vast majority of SIPs to come from outside the area of the school where they were working.

Capita and the DfES have responded to the concerns we expressed and a full review of the accreditation process will be held before the next round of applications. We will keep members informed of the changes.

The target is to engage 700 SIPs for the full national programme starting in September 2006. SHA members, both serving and recently retired, are encouraged to apply for training and accreditation. The support of the chair of governors should be secured before applying. For more information on SIPs, see the article on proceed with caution.

Inspections

Ninety trial inspections were carried out by HMI in the autumn and spring terms, with an additional 90 led by contracted inspectors (and monitored by HMI) in the summer term. These 180 schools have almost all responded positively to the new framework.

Over 1,000 secondary schools will be inspected in this academic year, with the vast majority being led by HMI.

SHA members are strongly advised to sign up to receive the termly online newsletter Ofsted Direct. The summer issues contained an exemplar completed self-evaluation form (SEF) and a completed pre-inspection briefing. Go to www.ofsted.gov.uk/ofsteddirect

The new inspection framework is also covered in greater detail on Getting under the skin.

School profile

The school profile replaces the governors' annual report and the statutory annual meeting for parents. The regulations for the school prospectus are being slimmed down, so that the only obligatory information is now on SEN and disability provision.

At the time of writing, the design of the school profile has not yet been determined by ministers and data for the pre-populated part of the profile (ie examination results data, completed by the DfES for each school) will not be available until November and not fully validated until after Christmas.

Members are therefore advised not to write their profiles until the spring term.

Data

PLASC will be replaced by a school census to be completed by secondary schools from 2006 and six surveys are to be dropped. SHA supports the principle of collecting data only once. The timing and extent of the new data collection are still unclear, but SHA is working to ensure that the data collection burden on schools is truly reduced.

The Fischer Family Trust contextual value-added data will continue to be available to schools and a plan is being tested to replace the PANDA and the Pupil Achievement Tracker (PAT) with a single value-added database.

An important part of the new relationship is to reduce to a single plan the many plans that schools are currently required to produce when they apply for different pots of government funding. We will continue to monitor this.

Performance management

Validation of performance management processes is to change and, from this September, light touch validation will take place. SIPs will be trained to do this as part of the single conversation.

For schools not in the 27 LEAs, the external adviser will continue to fulfil this role until March 2006, when external advisers cease to operate. The head's performance management is included in these arrangements.

It is likely that, from 2006, the process of re-designation for specialist schools will be merged with the Ofsted inspection and single conversation processes.

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