Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

SHA's good to go...

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While the big news at SHA's September Council meeting was the possible name change, representatives were equally keen to get down to business on TLRs and the 'new professionalism' for teachers.

It's finally official - at the end of December, SHA will cease to exist. At the extraordinary general meeting held on 22 September during Council, members voted, by 88 per cent of the ballots, to change our name to the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

The new name will take effect on 1 January 2006 and in the next few months, we will be working hard to make sure all members are aware of the change.

Talk of a name change started over a year ago amid discussion about the future of school and college leadership. We strongly believe that 21st century schools and colleges need empowered leadership teams, with members who share concerns responsibility and decision making.

The role of heads and principals has changed enormously in the last decade, and it will continue to evolve as schools and colleges receive more autonomy, extended schools come into being and collaboration becomes more necessary. With so many external pressures, heads and principals will need to delegate more authority for the day-to-day running of their schools and colleges.

Council feels that SHA should be leading the way in championing leadership teams and the importance of deputies, vice-principals, assistant heads, business managers and others with whole school responsibility. However it was difficult to do that wholeheartedly with the name 'Secondary Heads Association'.

In fact, only one-third of our membership are heads; about one-third are deputies, one-third are assistant heads, and a rapidly growing number are school business managers and bursars. As well, SHA has for many years included members in sixth form and FE colleges, but these numbers will not expand as the perception remains that the association is for secondary schools.

The name change does not mean that SHA will be moving into the primary sector - that would take a major change of our constitution. We will remain the only association exclusively representing leaders in the secondary and college sectors.

This is a momentous occasion in the history of our association and we hope it will be just the start of bigger and better things to come.

Extended schools

Extended schools are growing in number and the government has published its prospectus for the scheme: Extended Schools: access to opportunities and services for all.

SHA welcomes the concept of extended schools but Council raised concerns about the huge potential for extra workload and bureaucracy that extended schools could have if not managed carefully. John Dunford will continue to raise the issue in his talks with ministers.

The government is quick to stress that it will not create a template that schools will be expected to use for this gradual but enormous transformation. SHA feels that members will very much want access to models and examples of good practice.

Public and parliamentary committee would therefore be grateful if members would send information about:

  • experience they have, good or bad, of extended schools in their area

  • examples of good practice

  • pitfalls to avoid

  • anecdotes about early Ofsted experiences with regard to the five outcomes

  • implications they have encountered for workload and staffing structures

Please email any information you have to gillian.rawson@sha.org.uk with 'extended schools' in the subject line.

SIP concerns

The public and parliamentary committee discussed problems with the way school improvement partners are being appointed in many LEAs. Several members reported that LEAs are either duplicating the role of SIPs by keeping their own advisers in place, or subverting the process by appointing their own link advisers or renaming them something similar such as 'school improvement professionals'. These people have not been through the training and are not accredited SIPs.

This issue will be raised as a matter of urgency with the DfES.

Regarding initial testing for potential SIPs, the DfES and Capita have taken on board SHA's concerns. The initial test needs to be restructured so this it is more representative of the role and less weighted on data. We are also pressing for a longer time period during which the test can be taken.

New professionalism

The pay and conditions committee and professional committee met jointly to consider the 'new professionalism' for teachers. The STRB has announced that it will be developing a set of written expectations for responsibilities and roles that teachers should take on at various stages of their career and SHA has been invited to contribute our ideas. Pay and conditions consultant Stephen Szemerenyi stressed that this is a good opportunity to influence policy before government has put plans in place.

Committee members said that, for the new professionalism to work, CPD must be funded fairly across the country. They also pointed to specific problems in implementing this at UPS 3.

Members felt that it would take a significant culture change in schools to move from the current 'something for something' mentality to agreed expectations. However they also thought that many teachers, especially newer ones, would welcome such standards. Expectations should be phrased as 'can do' statements, rather than 'can't do'.

It was pointed out that such standards would have been helpful to have in place before TLRs came into effect.

The professional committee agreed to look at the expectations at various career points before the next Council meeting and come up with a professional development matrix, while pay and conditions committee will address the appropriate pay scales for each stage.

Data collection and PLASC

Chris Nicholls, Chelmsford, chair of the Implementation Review Unit (IRU), said that the IRU has raised concerns about data collection through PLASC. While the government says it is trying to reduce the data collection burden on schools, it will now collect PLASC data three times a year.

In addition, the government is attempting to add questions to the PLASC, including such inane requests as pupil transportation and the height and weight of every child. Tim Andrew, Buckinghamshire, pointed out that many schools don't have online systems that can automatically extract data so for many schools the additional PLASC will mean more time-consuming manual work.

The IRU has successfully campaigned to have many of the extra questions rejected and it will continue to campaign for less data collection, and only in those areas that are relevant and useful for schools.

An issue was also raised about schools getting very different outcomes from the Fisher Family Trust and PANDA data, sometimes the difference between being in the upper and lower quartile. This is especially worrying as both analyses start with the same input data. Schools that are experiencing problems with this should contact SHA headquarters.

Debate on TLRs

As well as being the subject of much committee discussion, TLRs were the topic of a plenary debate. The general consensus was that, in principle, TLRs and restructuring are moving schools in the right direction but that for most members it is a very difficult process, compounded by the short timescale.

John Morgan, Stockton-on-Tees, speaking on behalf of the funding committee, expressed frustration that the government and other organisations were insisting that this is a cost neutral exercise. Many members reported facing potential cost increases, especially in the three-year transition period, for instance if a staff member were to leave unexpectedly.

Staff morale was also a major concern, and many members were finding it difficult to manage staff expectations and relationships.

John Dunford reminded members that part of the timescale issue is due to the STRB report being delayed by several weeks in the spring. He also stressed to members that being part of the social partnership and thus part of decision making, even when decisions are a compromise, is a much better position than having no input at all.

NASUWT and ATL also had to make compromises as part of the agreement, and they acknowledge that some of their members will lose money.

John said that SHA is pressing individual cases with ministers for heads in new schools and those schools with circumstances, such as an impending inspection, that make it difficult to complete the restructuring process on time. Any member who finds him or herself in this position should contact SHA immediately.

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