Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders


A poisoned chalice?

If I were still in active headship, I would be more than a little concerned about the way that the concept of the school improvement partner (a concept that SHA first put forward) is developing.

A recent TES advert for a 'national coordinator - school improvement partners' states: "You will have oversight of the initial assessment and training programme for SIPs and their continuing professional development and will be responsible for the work of regional SIP coordinators who will be part of the national strategies regional structure."

These are the same national strategies that have already employed a rag, tag and bobtail army of advisers and coordinators whose job has been to harass LEAs to ensure that they will harass schools who will find weezes to enable a few more kids to jump through hoops so that the DfES and Downing Street can claim that they are continuing to raise standards.

It does not take much imagination to guess what kind of messages the SIPs will receive in their 'training'.

So, just at the point when, we're led to believe, there's light at the end of the Ofsted tunnel (though it now appears that we once again have a chief inspector who shoots his mouth off without bothering to examine the evidence), schools will have to deal with a Capita-trained national strategies-owned SIP who will provide 'challenge and support'.

People who should know better appear to have overlooked the fact that LEAs have statutory responsibilities for school improvement, responsibilities that they will not be able to carry out simply by employing a SIP. Don't be surprised if people from the LEA, and other parts of the council, continue to pester you.

Single conversation? Intelligent accountability? It looks as though they've disappeared as rapidly as Clarke and Miliband.

Phil Taylor
Secondary Headteacher Adviser, Tameside LEA

A load of balls

Thank goodness there's folk stout enough to raise the concern regarding appalling behaviour in football, appearing nowadays to be a platform for increasing loutishness.

Whilst the assumption is there's little prospect of the time of broadcast changing - which would, by the way, allow the continuance of such undesirable behaviour - rather, the association might heed your ringing of the alarm bell and clean up their act!

Lets not hold our breath though.

Andrew, Wiltshire
(name and address supplied)

No heckling please

Life is full of surprises but little did I realise what I was letting myself in for when I submitted a question for Ruth Kelly at our Brighton conference. It was a simple one about how she could possibly feel that she knows better than the Tomlinson committee and education professionals across the country.

After we heard how we should be working with parents and running breakfast clubs or after school sessions, I had also to point out how patronised I was feeling and colleagues clearly agreed.

Despite our collective displeasure as an audience, we remained quiet and acknowledged her words, however inappropriate, with some polite applause. There was just one spontaneous increase in volume which could perhaps be described as a jeer when she said that we had been provided with the funding for workforce reform!

However, absent colleagues could be excused for imagining scenes more reminiscent of the industrial unrest of earlier decades from the Saturday headlines and accounts in the press.

As for me, I returned to work after conference to find in my local evening paper, a photograph of myself under the headline 'Head Heckles Schools Chief'. The article goes on to describe how I "led a chorus of angry shouting". Does anyone remember me doing that?

Anyway colleagues...after three...one, two, three: What do we want? Full implementation of Tomlinson! When do we want it? Now!

David Peck, Head, Moseley School, Birmingham

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