Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders


Praise for international baccalaureate

Simon Danes' letter (July 05) on the lack of religious studies as a hindrance to schools taking up the international baccalaureate diploma is not true any longer. From this year a standard level course, World Religions, is available to all authorised IB schools, including the 68 in Britain.

The course began life over 25 years ago at Atlantic College in Wales as an authorised school based syllabus, but is now on general offer. The college felt the same as Simon does now about the importance of religious studies.

The IB's system of school based syllabuses allows schools to offer subjects which reflect local expertise and enthusiasm. Externally validated, these subjects often grow to become available to all, and allow teachers to be involved in curriculum development in a positive way.

Atlantic College, which abandoned A level in favour of the IB in 1972, offers two further school based syllabuses, Peace and Conflict Studies, and Political Thought, a course taken up by King's School, Wimbledon.

Other IB schools around the world offer standard level school based syllabuses in, for example, electronics, human rights, art history, Chinese studies and world politics.

Gareth Rees
Vice Principal of Atlantic College, South Glamorgan

A short, sharp shock...?

Everyone who comments on the new 'shorter and sharper' Ofsted inspections says they'll be less work and less stress, and this, apparently, is what has come out of the pilots.

It certainly doesn't seem like that to me now, especially with the chief inspector telling us the inspections will be tougher and that Ofsted is "laying down a marker".

The SEF certainly kept us busy this summer and, combined with TLRs - as John Dunford stressed in the TES recently - ensured us our busiest August ever. I'll be surprised if the SEF doesn't spawn a whole level of paperwork in most schools.

As for less stress, the combination of uncertainty, lack of control and how much is at stake is a strong psychological cocktail (consult any text on mental health). Ofsted has hit three in one. The impact on school leaders, and their recruitment, is potentially huge. Of course I might be wrong about all of this, but looking around, I don't think so.

Tony Barnes
Head of Park High School, Middlesex

Thank you to SHA

As I retired on 31 August, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere thanks for all the valuable support and advice that SHA has given since I joined. The magnitude can perhaps best be measured in that I received far more useful information in my first SHA mailing than I had ever received in the previous 15-year membership of 'another organisation'.

I have also been thinking that the end of a teaching career should not be the end of an interest in professional issues, particularly if one is involved in training and consultancy activities.

SHA publications would be particularly pertinent in keeping abreast of current thinking and access to the 'members area' of the SHA website is very useful. To that end, has SHA considered a reduced rate subscription for (ex) colleagues in my situation?

Neville Jones, Oxfordshire

Editor's note: As it happens, SHA does offer an 'associate' level of membership for retired colleagues. For details contact membership@sha.org.uk

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