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our school system - the way ahead

11 June 2018

Round table

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the start of the ‘self-improving school system’ concept we are at a cross-road for our schools’ system. Do we continue to have a desire to develop a genuinely school-led system or do the tensions that exist between the professional independence of school leaders on one hand and the desire for centralised control on the other lead us in a different direction?

Read the full report from the roundtable discussion here



We hope that the publication of this report – which is extremely timely in respect of the Secretary of State’s recent announcement on accountability and consultation this Autumn - will contribute to the discussion about the way ahead for the self-improving school system and stimulate further serious debate about how to support our schools to deliver both the knowledge and skills our children and young people will need to thrive in 2030 and beyond.

Within the report we make a number of recommendations including:

  • as a priority we need to go back to first principles and establish a national consensus for the vision for our education system, perhaps through a national commission. Whatever the method, the vision needs to articulate the purpose of the education system, who it serves and what it will deliver
  • urgent work is required to articulate and implement an effective model for system governance
  • school and system leaders need to be more vocal in challenging the barriers to the development of a truly self-improving school system so that the benefits of a highly autonomous system as envisaged by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) can be realised
  • recognising that ‘autonomy’ has become a loaded phrase, the sector needs to redefine and create a consensus as to what is meant by autonomy and what it is for. This should make clear that autonomy should be exercised on behalf of, and in the best interests of learners. Similar to the concept of the ‘servant leader’, the concept of autonomy in our schools system should not be about protecting the rights of adults and institutions
  • the range of school intervention tools need to be reconsidered as there is now an appetite for a formal arrangement whereby schools can be supported on their school improvement journey without permanently joining a MAT. Perhaps some of the concepts from the Accredited Schools Group programme dropped in 2010 could be revisited
  • MAT leaders and the professional/ industry bodies that support MATs should consider how they can support the creation of greater integration and networks between MATs with the intention of benefiting all schools in the areas they operate and not solely the academies within their MATs
  • the curriculum offer should be based on a broad consensus on the needs of the whole person providing breadth and depth in order to prepare young people for the future
  • on the issue of teacher supply, recruitment and retention, this needs to be a co-ordinated national strategy where the DfE has meaningfully engaged with the sector, employers and business about what they want when determining the routes into teaching
  • we also need to look at providing a model for different career pathways that will meet the well documented challenges faced in recruiting and retaining staff

Read the full report from the roundtable discussion here

 round table

Browne Jacobson would like to thank the key education sector stakeholders who attended our latest roundtable discussion:

  • Nick MacKenzie (Chair) Partner, Browne Jacobson
  • Debbie Clinton Acting CEO, Diverse Academies Learning Partnership
  • Leora Cruddas Chief Executive Officer, FASNA
  • Rowan Ferguson Head of School Policy, Church of England Education Office
  • Christine Fischer Assistant Director and Head of Legal, Catholic Education Service
  • John Fowler Policy Manager Local Government Information Unit (LGiU)
  • Richard Greenhalgh Chair, United Learning
  • Alice Grimes Policy Advisor, CBI
  • Steve Hodsman Chair, Delta Academies Trust
  • Emma Knights Chief Executive, National Governance Association
  • Malcolm Trobe Deputy General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders
  • Les Walton Chair, Northern Education Trust
  • Philip Wood Solicitor, Browne Jacobson

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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