Saturday, February 28, 2009

Blindsided? 21st Century Schools: A World-Class Education for Every Child / A School Report Card: consultation document

Some home educators went to a Capita conference yesterday about Children Missing Education, which sounds like it turned into a bit of a Nuremberg Rally against Elective Home Education. I am grateful that we have people who are willing to attend these things, or we'd never know.

Delegates were urged to respond to a consultation called 21st Century Schools: A World-Class Education for Every Child / A School Report Card: consultation document which seemed to be "something about schools having a responsibility to provide for all children in their areas."

I've come across a similar statement recently. Will have to run a search on my own blog to find it though. Yes, it was in this post, when I was exploring the Statutory guidance on inter-agency cooperation to improve well-being of children, young people and their families:

Statutory Guidance: Children's Trusts

The school also shares a commitment with others to promote the well-being (including educational achievement) of all children and young people in the area, not only its own pupils.

And I said: "Where did that come from?? Complete broadside. More investigation required."

Looks like that time is now.

So I'm now reading the consultation document: 21st Century Schools: A World-Class Education for Every Child [opens Word.doc] and I'm highlighting any statements that particularly jar:

· ensuring greater collective accountability for outcomes for children and young people in the local area.

This sounds like schools might be blamed for 'failing' EHE children like my sons, who have no GCSEs but are already running their own business. Yes, warning bells are sounding already.

Both the National Challenge and our coasting schools strategy are part of this.

I know what 'coasting schools' are - ones that stay the same regarding performance and don't keep improving. But I don't know what the National Challenge is and have made a note to find out.

1.14 We need to ensure that the resources in the system are deployed to the best effect to improve outcomes for children and young people. Our ongoing review of the Dedicated Schools Grant will ensure the funding system acts to promote the delivery of the vision of the 21st century school.

So, what, they're going to bribe those schools who go along with this by giving them extra cash? Sounds about right.

1.15 Our intention is to publish, in spring 2009, a White Paper on 21st century schools, which will cover the key actions we intend to take; and the ways we will need to work in partnership with others to realise our vision. The responses to this consultation will help shape the White Paper and we will work with a wide range of stakeholders to develop the proposals.

This will be legislation then.

enables schools to identify and help to address additional needs

Gathering information on individual pupils for the ECM stuff, one assumes.

There follows a lot of points about schools, and a lot of 'all children' rhetoric.

I'm scanning through to find something that might relate to us, and I come across:

engages with parents to create a supportive home learning environment;

- which made me smile, but is about school pupils I think.

· providing a range of activities and opportunities to enrich the lives of children, young people, families and the wider community, offering opportunities to take part in a range of sporting, cultural, learning, play and recreational activities, designed in consultation with them; working with a range of partners to provide access to the core offer of extended services (including where appropriate through co-location); and contributing to wider local community objectives, raising the aspirations and prosperity of communities and promoting cohesive and sustainable communities.

I wonder if they are planning to merge the schools, children's centres, sports centres and libraries etc., after all?

This looks like it might try to sweep us in:

. In this system, schools will work with colleges, universities, employers, local authorities and the full range of children’s services to offer, between them, a comprehensive, highly responsive and personalised service which focuses on what every child and young person needs in order to succeed and makes sure it is put in place.


2.9 This 21st century school system, which is beginning to develop, will look and feel very different to the one we have been used to. It will be one in which, to achieve their core mission of excellent teaching and learning, schools look beyond traditional boundaries, are much more outward-facing, working in closer partnership with children, young people and parents; other schools, colleges, learning providers and universities; other children’s services; the third sector, the private sector and employers; and the local authority and its Children’s Trust partners. It will be much more common for governance, leadership and services to work across more than one school; and we will set out in the Children’s Plan One Year On document how we will further incentivise co-location of wider children’s services on school sites. Better use of the opportunities provided by modern technology will enhance all of the dimensions of a world-class education system.

This is still the main bit that worries me though, having come across it again in point 2.10:

· ensuring greater collective accountability for outcomes for children and young people in the local area.

My answers: 1. No, and 2. Yes, the freedom of EHE: i.e. the parent's duty to ensure educational provision, as per Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act.

Here's another hint at the source of potential trouble for us:

Schools will: ...
· take responsibility for improving outcomes for children and young people in the wider community as well as those on their own roll. This could mean, for example, schools which have had more success in improving children’s outcomes working with others in the local area to help raise standards across the community.

They are still on about personalised learning. (Someone said they weren't.)

3.4 Personalised teaching and learning..

It features quite heavily throughout the document, with talk of individual and personal tutors, 'tailored input', etc.

My answer: Leave them alone to make their own choices, then it might feel to them like a real and fair partnership.

This bit, surely, is not about us:

3.13 Schools also play a key role in spotting vulnerable children and children who might be at risk, including those who are persistently absent from school. Co-ordinated support and services across different agencies, focused on the needs of the child, are vital to safeguarding children effectively by ensuring that problems are identified and addressed at an early stage and prompt action taken to protect vulnerable children where needed.

3.15 As Children’s Trusts develop, many areas are developing models for early intervention, with schools supported by locally-based multi-agency teams, using approaches such as the Common Assessment Framework and assigning Lead Professionals where a child needs support from a range of different services.

- It wasn't difficult to see this coming.

We believe that, if schools can be put in a position to identify and tackle problems in children and young people’s lives, then these problems can be tackled more quickly and more effectively.

I'd like to see an exact definition of 'a position to identify and tackle problems in children and young people’s lives'.

Paragraph 3.17 is this bit:

3.17 An effective system for early intervention depends on:
· every child or young person having someone within the school who knows them well;
· school staff (not just teachers) being trained to identify additional needs accurately;
· schools offering the right teaching, pastoral and family support approaches to meet emergent needs themselves, with good support and advice readily available from wider services as needed; and
· schools being able to access support from multi-agency teams – teams who will support more complex cases as appropriate, co-ordinated by a Lead Professional.

And my answer would be that I don't have a problem with that - for school pupils.

Warning bells again:

As schools are based at the centre of local communities, they are ideally placed to help local people make the most of opportunities to take part in activities for fun, learning and development. By doing this, schools can contribute to improvements in the whole community, not just for the pupils on their roll and their families.

3.20 Schools are a vital resource for the whole community in a local area and have a key role in shaping the society we want to build for the future

Ahem! The society who wants to build for the future?

3.21 The core offer for extended services includes providing access to a varied range of activities outside of school hours; childcare from 8am-6pm, 48 weeks a year for primary schools; parenting support, including family learning and community access to facilities including adult learning, ICT, play, recreation and sports facilities. Over two-thirds of schools are already working in this way.

So it's a done deal anyway. This is just dotting the i's and crossing the t's.

My answer: they need to be supported in their understanding that it's the parents duty (not the school's or the Local Authority's) to ensure educational provision, as per Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act. Free time spent with the family at home is immensely valuable to a child. Official intervention is often very damaging to children and families.

3.25 Partnership with parents to support their child’s development is a key element of personalised learning. Parents’ engagement in their child’s learning is the most important influence on their child’s achievement.

What about parents who don't need or want such partnerships? Are they free to choose?

In the future, schools will instinctively seek to work in partnership with each other and with other providers and services, in order to offer a greater range of provision, to learn from each other and to take collective responsibility for improving outcomes for children, young people and families in their local area.

- Will the exact meaning of this ever become clear?!

Here we go. This probably is about us:

3.30 Stronger partnership working will support improvements in outcomes through:
· ensuring greater collective accountability for outcomes for children and young people in the local area, including those children in alternative provision, and as children move between the different phases of education.

My answers:

a) I don't care, as long as you don't try to impose anything compulsory on elective home educating families.
b) Ditto.
c) Ditto.

There are few incentives for schools to take in their full share of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds or take wider responsibility for improving outcomes for children in the local area who are not on their roll

Translation: They are going to bribe them to interfere with us.

My answer:

An arrangement to check that children's, young people's and parents' autonomy is not being compromised by these new rules and regulations.

My answers:

Understanding the limits of their remit and respecting people's liberty and human rights.

Same answer to a) and b).

Wow, one light in the darkness:

· whether it will be necessary, in the White Paper, to make proposals for clarifying the rules around the use of the DSG, for instance in relation to the purposes of the school and to funding services that support children at other schools;

Yes please, confine your plans to children attending this or that school!

My answers:

9) No, you've already published enough guidance to wallpaper the moon with, should anyone ever want to.

10 a) No, I think a 21st century school could just be a school in the 21st century, couldn't it? It doesn't have to get all totalitarian and big for its boots. Or you could be really radical and completely remove the whole concept of compulsion in education. Then people of all ages might really want to learn things.

10 b) Human rights, civil liberties, and Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act.

11) Well, if you want a nation of sheeple, carry on. But if you - mad idea, I know - actually wanted young people to develop integrity and real, independent, critical thinking, you would stop trying to pull them all into the same dull, bland, excruciatingly, mind-numbingly boring system of qualifications, accountability and your own, very skewed ideas about what constitutes success.

That's the end of that document [opens Word.doc]. But there's more:

A School Report Card: consultation document [opens Word.doc].

For schools, the new School Report Card will: ..
§ recognise the value of schools’ work for all children and across all outcomes (but only hold schools to account for those outcomes they can influence);

- Not us then.

10. The new School Report Card will use existing data and will see no increase in burdens on schools.

- Definitely not us then.

And that's reiterated here:

26. By working closely with other schools and other services, and being active partners within their local Children’s Trusts, schools both take greater responsibility for all children and young people within their areas, and make a more active and effective contribution to improving the full range of outcomes for them. Although it is not reasonable to hold schools to account for outcomes over which they can have only limited influence, they should be accountable for their impact on the partnerships in which they engage.

Here's a question though:

19. Do you agree that the School Report Card should: · cover all maintained schools, including special schools, pupil referral units and alternative provision, in due course?

- which needs a big, fat NO.

That's that. There's nothing else relevant to us, as far as I can tell. I don't even know if this consult is open to parents, but might stick in a response along the above lines anyway. The closing date is Tuesday March 3rd - three days from now.


Blogger Tech said...

not directly related to this post, but have you seen these? Taken with the review - badman's interests and NSPCC..

1:56 pm, February 28, 2009  
Blogger R said...

A school near me in it's propectus asks that parents and community support them so that the young people of their school
"and the surrounding community may have the best
possible conditions for their journey from childhood to maturity." So they are already talking like this. The school happens to be *failing* so lets hope my children don't get caught in their net!

2:18 pm, February 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They could offer to allow EHE children to sit exams for free, that'd be nice.

BUT, we know how this government plays things. First it's an offer, then once the majority have taken up the offer it becomes compulsory. I just don't trust the bar stewards!

3:40 pm, February 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for looking at this GIll.

I thought there must be something in it about us, from what was said yesterday.

4:11 pm, February 28, 2009  
Blogger Ruth said...

My feeling is this is all going to take a lot of money they don't have and will be unworkable in any context.

Ruth ( one of the other ones lol)

4:49 pm, February 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

National Challenge schools are those in which fewer that 30% of children achieve 5 A*-C grade GCSEs, inc. English and Maths.

I walked out of my final job as a performance manager in a LA children's services directorate, because I couldn't stomach the hypocrisy anymore.

I spent way too much time asking the questions you are about "policy" documents such as ECM etc and getting blank (or shocked) responses.

Keep at it.


6:06 pm, February 28, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Tech not yet, but will check them out in the morning. Thanks :-)

Raquel, pity they don't realise that "the best
possible conditions for their journey from childhood to maturity"
is often at home, isn't it? Or perhaps they do, and are not letting on..

Ruth, yep, something's afoot, that's for sure.

Anonymous, (Julie?) you're welcome, and it's so hard to tell, isn't it? The language isn't precise enough IMO.

Ruth, I think they'll find the money, because it's one huge job creation scheme, amongst other things.

Lisa, wow, you gave up for that reason? Brilliant! I am in awe of you for that.

6:36 pm, February 28, 2009  
Blogger Ruth said...

Ruth, I think they'll find the money, because it's one huge job creation scheme, amongst other things.

Yes I expect they will. I am just hoping it will become so convoluted ( well it is already)it will be unworkable and cost more and more to run but the government does seem to find money for its latest pet projects. I wonder if another party will implement it if Labout get booted out?

10:19 pm, February 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I'm going to start going by a different name, this is getting FAR too confusing! :-)


10:54 pm, February 28, 2009  
Blogger Ruth said...

Oh I thought you really were firebird lol

2:35 pm, March 01, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Capita Conference for CME link no longer works. The CME conference has been deleted from forthcoming conferences, Education category. Older conferences from the 23rd and 24th are still showing.

The CME conference is still listed on the home page and the main Forthcoming Conferences page, but the link is inactive. I couldn't find a "past conferences" listing.

Google still has the CME conference listing cached here.

And the conference brochure can still (so far) be found here.

I have also saved both to my hard drive.


4:14 pm, March 01, 2009  
Blogger Xenia said...

ARCH published today the results of their research into the whole issue of data and what age a child can give consent for it to be shared. "Protecting the Virtual Child" can be downloaded from here:

9:13 am, March 02, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Ruth, sadly my answer to that would be "Yes."

Firebird, well, it *is* a lovely name!

Suze, yes I had to find it from the cache too. Thanks :-)

Ann, thanks very much for that. I've got it open and ready to read, hopefully later today.

9:39 am, March 02, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm worried about the children on the covers of these documents. There's a whole bunch of them in a playground with no parental supervision and with unrestricted access to a building site, and another two at the top of unsupported ladders. These documents should be reported to the Health and Safety Executive forthwith!

6:01 am, March 05, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...


7:43 am, March 11, 2009  

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