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Unfreeze our pay

Unions call for a “significant increase in pay”


Nick Wright takes a look at education in France


Mike Hardacre takes Michael Gove to task

BULLIED AT WORK What can you do?


Pat Glass on the UN Millennium Development goal

WORKING INTERDEPENDENTLY John Pearce maps out a new approach for independent consultants






The 30-year shift from pay to profits Ian Benson sees some virtue in the latest iteration of the Adonis academies vision


David Smith reviews Vicky Hutchin’s book on the role of practitioners in the EYFS

Esther Pickup-Keller reveals that parents trust teachers − not ministers

visit our website at

Claire Dent on child ratios Education spending Job evaluation Wales middle tier Children’s poverty Whistleblower wins reinstatement

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01226 383428 | |


Regulars 04





NEWS Education spending |








BRITAIN NEEDS A PAY RISE The 30-year shift from pay to profits



Job evaluation |Wales middle tier | Children’s poverty |Whistleblower wins reinstatement




UNFREEZE OUR PAY Unions call for a “significant increase in pay”





HISTORY IN REVERSE C’est l’histoire n’est rien de plus qu’un tableau des crimes et des malheurs demande Mike Hardacre





bullies are not the only problem Millennium goal


01 New Terrain – New Models of Education and Children’s Services Delivery

Improvement is the quarterly magazine from the Aspect Group of Prospect. No part of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior permission of the Aspect Group. The Aspect Group cannot accept any liability for any insert or classified advertisement included in this publication. While every reasonable care is taken to ensure that all advertisers are reliable and reputable, the Aspect Group can give no assurance that they will fulfil their obligation under all circumstances. The views expressed in Improvement are the contributors’ own and do not necessarily reflect Aspect Group policy. Official policy statements issued on behalf of the Group are indicated as such. All information correct at the time of going to press.

Nick Wright takes a look at education in France


trust teachers, not ministers. Esther Pickup-Keller analyses the latest YouGov survey

virtue in the latest iteration of the Adonis academies vision


WORKING AT PLAY David Smith reviews Vicky Hutchin’s book on the role of practitioners in the EYFS



Claire Dent on child ratios

John Pearce maps out a new approach for independent consultants

02 Improving Children’s Services: Lessons from European Social Pedagogy

03 Learning – The Key to Integrated Services

Improvement magazine is published by the Aspect Group of Prospect in partnership with Archant Dialogue Ltd




Archant Dialogue. Tel: 01603 772521 Email:

04 National Standards for Educational Improvement Professionals

05 United Minds, United Purpose: A Charter for Modern Professionalism in Children’s Services


Woolley Hall, Woolley, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF4 2JR Tel: 01226 383428 Fax: 01226 383427 email: website: FRONT PAGE: UpFest 2013 – Europe's largest live urban arts

festival, with more than 250 of the most groundbreaking graffiti artists from all around the world. Southville, Bristol. Paul Box/Report Digital

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Freedom, devolution and collaboration or competition HAILED BY STEPHEN Twigg as the three pillars of

“What happens in the classroom determines how well children learn, and a well-motivated, well-supported and properly valued teaching profession is at its heart”

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Labour Party education policy, has this trio been worth the wait? Are they more than warm words? Is there some real policy flesh on their bones? On balance, I would answer yes. There are certainly many welcome and positive elements in the statement. But these sit alongside some vague references which are perhaps designed to not frighten the Daily Mail horses rather than shed too much light on what life under a Labour government would be like. But let’s start with the positive. Unlike Michael Gove, who believes that creating academies accountable only to him is a necessary condition for a successful education system, Stephen Twigg clearly recognises that meeting the nation’s educational needs is a rather more complex and demanding exercise. Collaboration and partnership between schools constitutes a more effective route to success than competition. The weight of evidence is that an atomised system does not drive up standards across all schools. Therefore, requiring strong schools to partner weaker ones as a condition of securing an outstanding rating from Ofsted is a sensible nudge in the right direction. Alongside this, a commitment to “stronger local oversight”, “local support to drive up standards” and “a clear relationship” between schools and their community could together breathe new life into the role of local authorities. We look forward to engaging with the work of David Blunkett on how to build a “stronger local accountability framework”. As we have pointed out before, Michael Gove has no credible plan to deal with academies that fail. Giving more responsibility to local authorities could be the answer, but responsibility without resources is a recipe for failure. So, while David Blunkett would be applauded were he to call for local authorities to have a full and effective educational improvement role, he must acknowledge that they are currently being stripped of the necessary resources before he does it. One of the most disturbing findings of the Academies Commission concerned the ways in

which admissions criteria are being manipulated to skew the intake. Let’s hope that greater community involvement and changes to the admissions code will nip this unsavoury practice in the bud. Fair admissions are central to a fair education system. There is a long overdue recognition of the value of professional qualifications. More than 5,000 of those employed to teach in free schools do not have a teaching qualification. This is a reckless gamble with the needs of children and Stephen Twigg is right to insist upon qualified teachers in every classroom. He’s also right to want to deal with any performance weaknesses via training and support from high-performing teaching colleagues. What happens in the classroom determines how well children learn, and a wellmotivated, well-supported and properly valued teaching profession is at its heart. Efforts to improve rather than punish underperformance are more effective. I’m less certain of the course Stephen Twigg wishes to set by his constant references to “freedom”. This is a very loaded word and is easily hijacked by those who believe that individuals or corporations should be able to secure taxpayer’s money to establish schools wherever they can and teach whatever they want by whomever they choose, free from any kind of local authority oversight or management. The commitment to end Michael Gove’s policy on free schools – that is: ‘the more, the better’ – is welcome, but parent academies could end up as free schools by another name. The challenge will be to ensure that freedoms at a school level do not frustrate effective national policies designed to ensure access to a good school for all children. Clearly, no-one wants the need to manage, plan and regulate to stifle or frustrate innovation and the ability to create high performing schools, but neither would we want its opposite. So, a welcome speech from the Shadow Secretary of State for Education which includes much that we would support. The real test starts now. Leslie Manasseh

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Osborne cuts one per cent Government spending on education is reduced with a headline cash increase to the DfE budget of £57.7 billion that, in effect, represents a one per cent cut in the value of funding. A proposal to institute a compulsory national schools funding formula will further reduce local authority discretion over spending. Fragmentation of the school system will continue as a new tranche of 180 so-called free schools will capture funding. Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board Chair David Simmonds said: “The government’s promise to protect school budgets has been undermined by this disproportionate 20 per cent cut to the vital support they receive from councils.” This would hurt services aimed at helping schools improve at a time when education standards watchdog Ofsted was calling on councils to

keep a closer eye on schools to ensure their standards do not slip. Existing academy schools face sharp decreases in the level of funding as the government – in its own words – works “to drive down the central costs of the programme, delivering savings of around £150 million”. NAHT leader Russell Hobby welcomed the schools funding decision, but said that the increase in free schools meant “an inefficient use of a limited capital budget” as experience showed they were not necessarily in the areas where places were most needed. The NUT’s Christine Blower said: “The Government’s plan for a national school funding formula and redistribution of already limited resources will simply shift funding problems around the school system. Its attacks on local authorities will deny schools access to essential services.



The union has commissioned employment experts Income Data Services (IDS) to research the job evaluation schemes used by local authorities to integrate education and children’s services professionals into unified grading structures. Aspect Group Secretary Leslie Manasseh told the union’s National Council meeting in Glasgow that existing job evaluation schemes appeared to be weighted in favour of occupational groupings that carried financial management or staff supervision responsibilities and undervalued professional expertise, qualifications and experience. “Typically, the kinds of professional judgement, independent working and critical decision-making that characterises the work of many of our members are undervalued. “This does not reflect any criticism of the schemes in operation in as far as they evaluate the work of our colleagues in managerial and administrative jobs. We want to assess how the schemes might be tailored to reflect the complexity and specialist professionalism of much of the work carried out by our members,” he said. IDS will gather evidence and model job roles based on the content and levels of key grades, including Educational Improvement Professionals, Senior Educational Improvement Professionals and Leading Educational Improvement Professionals.

The Aspect Group in Wales has warned against the fragmentation of the school improvement service. In evidence to the Welsh Assembly Government Review of Future Delivery of Education Services, the union says a lack of clear guidance to local authorities on the nature of newly-established regional education consortia has meant a fragmented development of regional services. Don Martin, the union’s Wales Officer, said: “The establishment of the school improvement consortia is in too early a stage to make any realistic judgement valid. “The manner in which the regionalisation agenda was set up and implemented has been a object lesson in rushed and disjointed project management by the WAG.” Central to the union’s concerns are a fear that there is no broad understanding among stakeholders of what is leading practice in school improvement and no understanding of the critical role of the ‘middle tier’. The union has criticised the unquestioning adoption of a ‘monitoring and challenge’ approach from England’s SIP model, ignoring the best practice of international examples and the failure to secure acceptance of the existing Welsh Standards for School Improvement.

Prospect probe

“The Chancellor’s announcement of an acceleration in the free schools programme follows the huge waste of public money on the academies programme. Instead of wasting more money on free schools, we need properly targeted and planned capital spending to respond to the huge increase in school places we need as the pupil population increases.” BACKGROUND


Institute of Fiscal Studies

Aspect Group warns of weakened middle tier in Wales “There is an unrealistic expectation of the school making up for all the socio-economic factors that can determine a child’s performance in the education system,” said Mr Martin, “and a reliance on narrow scoring systems for judging attainment when other factors such as employability, progression, engagement in education or training, self-confidence and social awareness are key issues.” The union warns that the exit through redundancy of secondary subject specialists in mathematics, science and IT threatens outcomes. “Aspect Cymru stands for a locally-based and democratically accountable middle tier, with sufficient expertise to be able to work against the Welsh National Standards for School improvement to monitor and challenge schools and also provide sectorleading support for all the key curriculum areas,” said Mr Martin. WAG REVIEW: publications/guidance/futuredelivery/ ?lang=en ASPECT EVIDENCE:

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News in brief Add it all up Aspect Group Wales Officer Don Martin reports that an Aspect Group member in Wales has seen his redundancy payment more than tripled after union advice. It was decided that, under the Redundancy Modification Orders, the member was entitled to redundancy pay based on the total of his continuous service in local government and teaching rather than just the most recent post. Therefore, although his hours had been reduced to a 0.6 contract, he was still entitled to receive close to the higher amount.

Sacked by phone Davey Hall tells us of a union member who received a phone call at home from their employer advising them that they were being made redundant with 28 days pay in lieu of notice. When asked if a female colleague who holds the same role, same job title and same pay scale had also been considered, the employer replied that they “needed a female worker”. When asked if the standard criteria for selection for redundancy – knowledge, skills, experience – had been used, the employer refused to be cross-examined! Our member appealed the decision, arguing that the employer had failed in their obligation to advise at the earliest opportunity, had failed to provide detail, reason or need for redundancy, had not given the opportunity to be consulted about alternatives or steps to avoid redundancy and had failed to advise about rights to appeal and for our member to be accompanied at an appeal hearing. Refusing gardening leave and arguing for a proper appeal, our member reported for work – only to find the locks were changed! The union’s man in the North says this one looks like it will be going to an Employment Tribunal if the employer refuses ACAS arbitration.

Suck it and see James Dyson has warned that Ofqual’s structural changes to GCSEs will put too much emphasis on “exam cramming”. The world-famous industrial designer said: “When Dyson design engineers launch a machine, they’ve spent years testing, mulling over results and perfecting. Inventing something worthwhile takes time spent persevering in labs and workshops, not under exam conditions in a smelly gymnasium.” Under Ofqual’s plans, coursework will disappear from English, Maths, History and Geography GCSE assessments and, from 2015, will be reduced to 10 per cent of marks.

Keep it personal Stockport kids are set to benefit from a pioneering new education project run by Stockport Council, reports Kate McCann. The council is working towards all pupils having a one-page profile – featured in the Winter 2012/13 issue of Improvement – and is the first local authority in the country to commit to this approach.


Children’s poverty set to increase TIRED AND HUNGRY A survey of nearly 3,000 school support staff reveals growing poverty among school children. The survey by UNISON shows that: 87 per cent say children are coming to school tired 85 per cent say children are coming to school hungry 80 per cent see children coming to school without proper uniforms or in worn out clothes 73 per cent believe that poverty has a negative impact on the education of the children in their school 57 per cent see the children in their school in poor physical health 55 per cent believe that some children at their school appear to be suffering mental health issues as a result of rising poverty levels 55 per cent have seen an increase in the number of children who rely on breakfast clubs in this school year Jon Richards, the union’s head of education, said: “The impact of poverty blights the life chances of children even before they walk through the school gates. Education is a vital route out of poverty, but our survey exposes the very real fears of school staff for the physical and mental wellbeing of the children they see every day in class.”

More than half a million more children will face poverty within two years because of fiscal policies and tax changes introduced by the government, according to a report published by the Children’s Commissioner. Child Rights Impact Assessment of Budget Decisions was published alongside Chancellor Osborne’s June budget statement, which heaped further welfare and benefit cuts on the poor and jobless. Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “We commissioned a team of experts to analyse the impact of benefit changes and fiscal measures in accordance with my statutory remit to promote and protect children’s rights. The result is the most comprehensive and accurate analysis we have to date on what exactly is happening to the poorest and some of the most vulnerable members of society.” The report is based on a detailed quantitative analysis of the cumulative effects of cuts in public spending and tax and benefit changes. Families with children are hardest hit – losing on average £41.07 a week. Single parents and those with disabled children suffer most, with single parents losing 7.8 per cent of their income. Further changes (including to Universal Credit) that are due to come into force after the next election will offset some of the effects, but will fail to compensate for the losses accumulated since 2010. The report says that, measured against the government’s international obligations and its stated commitment to reduce child poverty: “The government has not complied with the obligation to implement children’s rights to the maximum extent of the resources available to it.” Child Rights Impact Assessment of Budget Decisions: including the 2013 Budget and the cumulative impact of tax-benefit reforms and reductions in spending on public services 2010 – 2015

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Tackle child poverty as a priority A new survey shows that 82 per cent of people in Britain want the government to tackle child poverty as a priority. An opinion poll commissioned by the End Child Poverty coalition – which includes the TUC – shows that 92 per cent of Labour voters, 80 per cent of those planning to vote for UKIP, 80 per cent of Liberal Democrats and 77 per cent of Conservatives want urgent government action. Also, 64 per cent of people think the government should be doing more. The TUC says that these are important results because voters who take child poverty seriously are going to be very disillusioned by the government’s performance. In May, the Institute for Fiscal Studies forecast that child poverty in Britain will increase by 2021 – reversing the gains made in the 10 years prior to 2011. On the headline measure, the IFS forecasts that the number of children in relative poverty will increase by 1.1

million between 2010-11 and 2020–21. Without the government’s tax and benefit reforms, child poverty “would actually have fallen”. The Department for Work and Pensions 2011/12 Households Below Average Income statistics – the government’s annual poverty publication – published in June showed that, while the number of people in absolute poverty went up by 900,000 from 2010-11, this overall figure includes 300,000 children. These figures refer to a period when the great majority of benefit cuts had not yet been implemented. Changes such as the benefit cap, the bedroom tax and the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill didn’t come into effect until this April. The June 2013 Households Below Average Income (HBAI) figures found no change in the number of children living in relative poverty and a two per cent rise in the number of children living in absolute poverty to 3.8 million (after housing costs).

WHAT IS POVERTY? The statistics provide three measures of poverty: material deprivation, relative poverty and absolute poverty. Richard Excell from the TUC says that the material deprivation figures show a minor reduction in poverty, but the small print cautions that the figures “may not be significant in view of data uncertainties”. On relative poverty (having an income below 60 per cent of the median) for that year, the figures show very little change – a small reduction, if anything. Absolute poverty means having an income below 60 per cent of the median in a reference year. For the last government, this was 1998-99; for the current one it is 2010-11. This is where the huge increases have been. page=hbai

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Whistleblower wins reinstatement Laws that protect workers who raise concerns about professional practice are being tested, reports Roger Kline A self-employed independent reviewing officer sacked by a South London borough has won his job back. Sutton Council terminated Jon Fayle’s contract in January last year after he raised concerns about the authority’s policies and practice with looked-after children. Independent reviewing officers play a critical part in ensuring that the rights of the child are protected and that the performance of local authorities responsible for their care are kept under scrutiny. The Adoption and Children Act 2002 gave councils the statutory duty to appoint IROs to review children’s care and protect their wishes and feelings. The then Labour government, concerned that IROs were failing to challenge poor practice by local authorities, used the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 to strengthen their role in protecting the interests of the 50,000+ looked-after children in England. In 2010, independent reviewing officers gained extra powers. After losing his job, and with Aspect Group advice, Jon Fayle – who is chair of the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers (NAIRO) – made an application to an employment tribunal on the grounds that the council had terminated his contract after he raised criticisms about its work in relation to a number of looked-after children. Sutton Council denied that this was the reason for his sacking, but eventually reached an agreement that includes an offer of reinstatement, the payment of compensation for loss of earnings and injury to feelings and an apology that states that his work was of high standard. The Council also acknowledged that independent reviewing officers, both on selfemployed contracts and directly employed, enjoy the protection of laws framed to protect whistleblowers. Jon Fayle said: “I am pleased that the outcome of my case has demonstrated the point that IROs, and particularly self-employed IROs, appear to be protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act from arbitrary dismissal or other forms of detriment – for example, bullying and intimidation.” He added: “This protection for IROs is essential for the wellbeing of children in care, whose welfare IROs are seeking to protect and promote.” The independent reviewing of looked-after children by Sutton Council was severely criticised in an April 2012 Ofsted report.

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INDEPENDENT REVIEWING OFFICERS The statutory duties of the IRO include monitoring local authority performance of their functions in relation to the child’s case. They participate in any review of the child’s case to ensure that any ascertained wishes and feelings of the child concerning the case are given due consideration by the appropriate authority. IROs promote the voice of the child and ensure that plans for looked-after children are based on a detailed and informed assessment, are up-to-date, effective and provide a real and genuine response to each child’s needs. They identify any gaps in the assessment process or provision of service, making sure that the child understands how an advocate could help and his/her entitlement to one. They offer a safeguard to prevent any ‘drift’ in care planning for looked-after children and the delivery of services to them. They also monitor the activity of the responsible authority as a corporate parent in ensuring /books/Book238690 Paperback ISBN: 9780857256898 – £25.99 Hardcover ISBN: 9780857258472 – £75.00

that care plans have given proper consideration and weight to the child’s wishes and feelings and that, where appropriate, the child fully understands the implications of any changes made to his/her care plan. DFE ON THE ROLE OF IROS:


Roger Kline, who leads on social care for the Aspect Group, is speaking at the NAIRO conference in September 2013 along with: Mr Justice Peter Jackson, Family Division Liaison Judge for the Northern Circuit; the Rt Hon Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice; Roger Morgan, Children’s Rights Director; Matthew Brazier, Lead Officer for Ofsted Thematic IRO Inspection; Professor June Thoburn, Emeritus Professor of Social Work and Maxine Wrigley, Chief Executive of A National Voice.

A practical guide to staff duties £10, free to Aspect members

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Britain needs a pay rise Pay matters TUC leader Frances O’Grady has launched an imaginatively titled campaign named ‘Britain needs a pay rise’. The TUC points out that the British economy has seen a steady shift in the way national income has been distributed for the last 30 years – away from wages and towards profits. The poorer half of the population have borne the brunt of Britain’s shrinking wage pie and now receive just 12p of every pound of UK GDP – a 25 per cent fall since the late 1970s. When even the International Monetary Fund reaches out for the light, then we know that our economy will not recover from recession unless people have money in their pockets. This is acknowledged by all wage and salary earners. In this issue, we detail by exactly how much the pay of school improvement and related professionals has depreciated and what the union proposes.

In close formation The secular and revolutionary traditions of our nearest neighbours in France can be contrasted to our own – in education as in much else. Nick Wright shows that, while we start from different principles of

DOWN BUT NOT OUT Our apologies to users of the Aspect website. We were subject to an attack which rendered the site unusable and we have taken it down while it is reconstructed. A thorough review of the Aspect Group’s e-communications is underway and during the next period – as the Aspect Group is harmonised with Prospect – members will gain access to the full range of the Prospect website and the resources it contains.

statehood, we share some of the same problems of elitism and inequality.

History in reverse An avalanche of academic and professional opinion – including withering criticism from history teachers and advisors – has compelled Michael Gove to make a humiliating U-turn over his history curriculum. In doing so, he vindicates much of Mike Hardacre’s trenchantly worded piece.

Child ratios and EYP status Claire Dent, who leads the union’s work with Early Years Professionals, has worked carefully with the EYP national committee to craft a strategy for raising the status of our members in this critical and fast expanding sector. Here, she outlines the compelling arguments on child ratios in childcare that have resulted in another change in policy.

Education is a human right The Convention on Human Rights established the right to a basic education in the years of hope following the end of the Second World War. MP and former education professional Pat Glass wants to make this pledge a reality.

Don’t be bullied It is not only playground bullies who are the problem. Professionals face a range of less crude but equally damaging threats. Our case study shows what can be done and points the way to further help.

Working interdependently One of the effects of the austerity agenda is the departure of hundreds of highly experienced and well-qualified professionals from local authority school improvement. However, the need and the demand for this kind of expertise continues to exist.Wise and farsighted school improvement providers, in both local authority and private sectors, are keen to recover their services. Our CPD associate John Pearce – who has great experience in providing training for independent working – here maps out a new approach to collaborative working and mutual support.

Trust Nearly 60 per cent of school parents trust heads and teachers, but just six per cent trust Michael Gove. Esther Pickup-Keller analyses the latest YouGov poll which suggests that, while he may command a parliamentary

majority for his innovations, the secretary of state has lost the battle for hearts and minds.

Beauty in the eye of the beholder Ian Benson sees some virtue in the latest iteration of the Adonis academies vision. In a sympathetic review of the latest book from the former Labour minister, he argues that academy status enables schools to forge cooperative rather than dependent relationships with their councils. Not the least controversial assertion is that every successful private school and private school foundation should sponsor an academy or academies and transform themselves into state-private school federations.

Working at play That the early years are most critical in shaping later educational and social progress is more often accepted in theory than it is put in practice.Vicky Hutchin is a longstanding Aspect Group member who has written a key text which outlines the role of practitioners in supporting children’s learning and development and examines the importance of partnership with parents. David Smith reviews it.

Britain needs a pay rise The 30-year shift from pay to profits has speeded up since the response to the 2008 Banking Crisis placed the burden for the bailout on working people, pensioners and claimants.

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Unfreeze our pay call from unions

Unions call for a “significant increase in pay”


he officers’ side of the Soulbury Committee national negotiating body has prepared a new pay claim and awaits a response by the employers. This follows a one per cent offer for other local government staff and a three year pay freeze for staff represented by the Aspect Group, the Association of Educational Psychologists, youth and community officers NAYCEO and the NUT. The union claim calls for a significant increase on all Soulbury pay scale points and the London allowances from September 1, 2013. On conditions of service, the unions want the restoration of the Essential Car User Allowance where travel and work patterns justify it. There is also a call for a new Soulbury workforce survey to highlight the effects of job losses, outsourcing and changes to pay and conditions. Aspect Group Secretary Leslie Manesseh said: “Underlying our claim is a recognition that our members and their employing local authorities are fighting the same battles. Government attacks on local authorities’ funding and responsibilities generally result in cuts to Soulbury officers’ employment, pay or service conditions. “We share the view expressed by the Local Government Association when it described the position as ‘the toughest... in living memory’. “Local authorities face the loss of 26 per cent of their funding in real terms over the next four years on top of the cuts in grant funding already imposed.” CHART 1: PAY AND INFLATION 2005 2006 2007 Soulbury pay rise (%) 2.95 2.95 2.47 Retail Price Index 2.7 3.6 3.9 Consumer Price Index 2.5 2.4 1.8

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2008 2009 2010 2.75 1 0 5 -1.4 4.6 5.2 1.1 3.1

2011 0 5.6 5.2

2012 0 2.6 2.2

“ Income Data Services’ roundup of forecasts by City economists suggests RPI inflation is likely to continue at between three and 3.5 per cent until June 2014 and above three per cent until 2015.” Councils with education responsibilities face particularly acute problems, as the Government’s academies programme undermines their ability to maintain services for the remaining family of schools. Soulbury officers have experienced a sharp reduction in the value of their pay in recent years. The last Soulbury pay increase was in 2009 when pay was uplifted by one per cent, but that only applied to some Soulbury officers. There were no pay increases for September 2010, 2011 or 2012. The Coalition Government has proposed to cap public sector pay to an average increase of one per cent for 2013-14, 2014-15 and – following the Chancellor’s March 2013 Budget announcement – for 2015-16. Although this pay cap applies directly only to the civil service and those workforces with pay review bodies, the unions fear that the local government employers will follow this example as they did with the local government pay negotiations this year.

What inflation means for Soulbury staff Measured by the Retail Price Index, inflation was 4.6 per cent in September 2010, 5.6 per cent in September 2011 and 2.6 per cent

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SOULBURY in September 2012. RPI inflation is estimated as likely to remain around the three per cent mark until autumn 2013 at least. Although CPI inflation is usually lower than RPI, it too has remained high across this period (CPI was 3.1 per cent in September 2010, 5.2 per cent in September 2011 and 2.2 per cent in September 2012). In total, over the period since 2010, RPI inflation has gone up by 13.3 per cent and CPI inflation has gone up by 10.8 per cent.

How Soulbury staff pay is falling behind If Soulbury pay had risen in September 2010, 2011 and 2012 in line with the RPI inflation, Soulbury pay rates would have been significantly higher. The shortfalls in pay at particular points of the Soulbury pay scales are set out below:

EIPs £4,312 (Educational Improvement Consultants at point one, the bottom of the EIP pay scale) £5,357 (EIP at point eight, minimum point for EIPs) £6,151 (EIP at point 13, minimum point for Senior EIPs) £7,138 (EIP at point 20, minimum point for Lead EIPs)

EPs £4,523 (EPs on point one of Scale A) £6,103 (EPs on point eight of Scale A) £6,103 (EPs on point three of Scale B, minimum point for Principal EPs) £6,919 (EPs on point eight of Scale B) £2,905 (trainee EPs on point one of their scale)

YPCSMs £4,472 (YPCSMs on point one) £4,914 (YPCSMs on point four, minimum point for Senior YPCSMs) £5,365 (YPCSMs on point seven, minimum point for Principal YPCSMs) In addition to the real-terms cut in pay, Soulbury officers also face increases in their LGPS pension contributions as a result of the proposals for a revised LGPS (to be implemented from April 2014). The increased pension contributions for most officers will lead to actual cuts in take home pay, not just cuts in the real value of pay.The pay losses above do not take these higher pension contributions into account.

WORKFORCE SURVEY The unions want a workforce survey undertaken without delay to focus on which posts have been lost, the extent to which posts have been affected by outsourcing and traded services and changes to pay and conditions including increasing workloads for those posts that remain within local authority employment. The last Soulbury workforce survey in 2011 did not provide the depth of information that both unions and employers wanted due to the time it took to complete, the low response rate and the pace of change then taking place in local government. “It is vital to secure accurate and up-to-date information on the Soulbury workforce. Since 2001, when the Institute for Employment Studies undertook work on data issues for the Soulbury Committee, both sides have accepted the need for regular, reliable and consistent data collection and workforce monitoring,” say the unions.

PAY GAP WIDENS A big pay gap is developing between leadership level teachers in local authority schools and Soulbury staff According to the latest DfE Statistical First Release School Workforce in England: November 2011 (SFR 06/2012), which was published on April 25, 2012, the average gross salary for leadership level teachers in local authority maintained secondary schools was around £60,900. According to the 2011 Soulbury Workforce Survey, the average full-time salary for Soulbury EIPs in England and Wales in 2011 was lower – around £50,059. For EPs, it was £45,331; and for YPCSMs, £44,380. The unions argue that this pay gap hinders recruitment and retention to those Soulbury functions which require comparable experience. The unions argue that the current Soulbury London allowances are inadequate and that they act as a further obstacle to recruitment and retention in London or simply result in the use of higher scale points than elsewhere. Comparisons with London pay differentials for school teachers are stark. The current Soulbury Inner London allowance stands at £2,903, while experienced school teachers in Inner London (those on the Upper Pay Scale) earn between £7,316 and £8,244 more than similar teachers working elsewhere in England and Wales. The Soulbury Outer London allowance is £1,914 compared to an Outer London pay differential of £3,677 to £3,418 for school teachers. The Soulbury London allowances should also be increased substantially.

DEFENDING PAY PROGRESSION Prospect research and communication head Sue Ferns has defended public sector pay progression under attack from ministers. Writing in the Guardian, she said: “The reality is that in many jobs – public and private – pay progression supports skills acquisition and advancement, provides a clear indication to staff that their contribution is valued and motivates their continuing development. Attracting and keeping a knowledgeable body of experienced staff is key to maintaining organisational and operational capacity.” “The challenge is not just to design better systems, but to ensure fair and transparent implementation. It's much easier to catalogue what doesn't work than what does.” Feedback from Prospect branches, she said, provides some useful pointers to best practice. These include managers who make time for continuing dialogue and support, agreement on achievable objectives within an individual's control and managers having trust in staff to collect evidence and calibrate their own performance. “The government clearly isn't short of higher priority issues to address, but whether it genuinely wants to lay the groundwork for a sustainable reward system remains open to question,” she said.

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FRENCH EDUCATION Youths play football in Clichy Sous Bois one year after the deaths of two teenagers, whose deaths during a police chase ignited riots © Jess Hurd/

Liberté, égalité,

fraternité? 12 | Improvement | summer 2013

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Nick Wright takes a look at the French education system


he new government of Francois Hollande – with ambitions to lengthen the school week, drop the midweek day off, set a reduction in the school day by three quarters of an hour against Saturday morning classes and shorten the summer holidays – is encountering resistance from both parents and teachers. Even experienced education union activists find it hard to disentangle the elements of this. Attempts to rationalise outmoded aspects of the system are mixed up with objections to a policy that some suspect is grounded more in austerity measures than moves to modernise. Although the French education system performs well, and especially well for some groups of children and students, its overall performance is falling behind. For some children – working class children predominantly, Arab and African children especially and boys generally – there are mounting concerns that the highly uniform system is not coping well with diversity. Watching the two English-born daughters of friends growing up in France provides a benchmark against which comparisons between the British – more precisely, the English – and French education systems can be made. The elder, now immersed in preparations for her Baccalaureate exams, made the transition from an English school at primary level and is now wonderfully fluent in the two languages and well on the way to fluency in Spanish. The younger started school in France soon after arriving and, for the first term, sat mute in class. Understandably, the class teacher became alarmed and school called her anxious parents to a crisis meeting. In the systematic French administrative manner, a remedial programme was agreed. The long summer holidays passed and, on the first day of the new term, the sixyear-old strolled into the class speaking perfect French with the distinctive accent of the Languedoc and a formidable command of the local argot – thus providing a powerful lesson in the role of teacher and parent expectations in children’s learning and, simultaneously, demonstrating the limits of adult intervention.

In France, linguistic skills are prioritised from pre-school, with a tradition of a firm national syllabus for two- to five-year-olds that stresses memory, speaking and listening skills and the basics of numbers and letter recognition. My impression is that innovation around these approaches is more common at pre-school and primary levels, but is not replicated as children progress through the system, with a classroom regime at secondary level that seems more based on an instructional model. This is rather confirmed by wry comments about the persistence of a ‘charismatic’ style of teaching, with some teachers and school leaders more concerned about achieving the targets than adapting to individual children’s needs. It is suggested that there exist unresolved contradictions in teacher training and powerful cultural and political drivers that buttress an older teaching style. An experiment to dissolve the existing teacher training centres and ‘train’ teachers in school through a mentoring system is highly controversial and, as yet, unproven.

“A distinctive feature of France is that public state education is superior to that generally on offer in the private education sector” But to our living example. Today, the two children gossip together in a teenage vocabulary that is as impenetrable to French parents as it is to the English – and switch unproblematically between the two – although the younger will speak English with the reflexive verbs and the distinctive contractions of one whose mother tongue is French, while the older will struggle to match the painfully acquired grammatical rigour of her written French with her less expert English. Behaviour and comportment are quite distinctive in France. Children conduct themselves with a mature measure of discretion and manners that would be surprising in Britain. An example: as a primary school child, the younger one deeply impressed the chef in a local restaurant when she sent back her steak, expectantly ordered as saignant but disappointedly delivered à

point. However, every primary age French child will sit down at lunch for a properly structured meal of several courses, and it is not unusual to see a parent critically evaluating the week’s menu posted on the wall of the school. These norms may be breaking down (especially in urban areas marked by a public debate about teenage values and behaviour and worries about a new drinking culture), but the comportment of many French children in public, the easy intimacy of young men with each other and the comparative politeness of intercourse between generations is still quite distinctive. The French education system is in something of a crisis – much of it, of course, related to the systemic and financial problems that affect all developed European countries, but some that are specific to France. Class sizes seem rather large, although well-resourced. Working with top juniors in an English language exercise, I was struck by the robustness of the mixed ability regime, with highly structured materials and a wellorganised approach by the teacher. Even children with poor French, recent arrivals from North Africa, were drawn into the activity and all clamoured to answer questions; a classroom assistant worked with a target group and the class teacher maintained a firm grip on the whole lesson despite high excitement by the children and clear disparities in comprehension and attainment. As children progress through to junior collège and senior lycée, they are marked against a common grading system where those who fall furthest behind are compelled to repeat a year. This is where the surface appeal of republican values begins to mask the reality and where rigidities in the system act as the enemy of innovation. Co-existing with the public principles of liberty, equality and fraternity – principles which still have some power to shape public policy – the harsh realities of austerity and the deeper certainties of class privilege, religious exceptionalism and elitism continue to exercise a powerful effect. These now mesh with market imperatives that some attribute to Anglo-Saxon influences, but are more rooted in the gradual mutation of traditional French dirigism to EU free market norms. The tradition of the secular school open to all with a national curriculum and a presumption that all can rise through the system is very powerfully entrenched in the public mind, but is challenged from different directions. In recent years, a socialist and radical republican attempt to deepen the secular character of French education sparked a surprisingly strong movement of the right, mobilising sections of Catholic and religious

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FRENCH EDUCATION opinion and energising far-right elements that have now found a new cause celebré in the controversy over marriage for all. A distinctive feature of France is that public state education is superior to that generally on offer in the private education sector. This is not to say that it is of the same standard everywhere. Although the inspection regime and the school improvement system is geared towards achieving equality of outcomes in most areas, some families will send their children to private, church-affiliated schools (usually Catholic). Even here, for most private schools at least, the national curriculum is in force and teachers are paid by the state with fees at a low level. Higher fee paying and more exclusive private schools are for a very small sector of the very rich. Anti-Arab racism plays a part in the decisions of some parents to send their children to church schools, while in others it is said that some, especially middle class parents, will send their less able children to a church school and pay for private tuition. Nevertheless, the stratified British system is regarded as a dysfunctional anachronism – even by some in the elite. However, not all state schools are of the same standard and the Parisian and provincial elites will attend state

FRENCH SCHOOLS Increasingly, children (often of working parents) are sent to a variety of pré-maternelle or très petite centres. Children can attend ecole maternelle or nursery school from age three, but compulsory primary education at the ecole primaire begins at six. This is highly structured compared to British practice, with reading introduced in the last year of ecole maternelle. It is in the first year of ecole primaire from age six – the cours préparatoire – that great emphasis is placed on developing reading, writing and comprehension skills. From age 11 to 15, children attend collège and, until age 18, a lycée.

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schools that are nominally equivalent to others but, in practice, rather exclusive. The existence of an elite, especially in public administration and in business, media and science, drawn almost without exclusion from the ranks of those who won places in the Grandes Écoles – highly selective higher education centres, derived from republican institutions created by Napoleon and refashioned since the war – is, in recent weeks, a public controversy. The system is topped by the École Nationale d’Administration (ENA), from which the political class and the leading figures in finance, industry, public administration and higher education itself are drawn. ENA is rivalled only by Science Po, described by my world-weary trade union journalist colleagues as an institution for transforming teenage Trotskyite students of political economy into aspirants to high office in whichever party looks likely to form the next government. But ENA is supreme. A clutch of recent prime ministers and presidential candidates are énarques. President Hollande is one, the mother of his children and rival Ségolène Royal another, and three living former presidents are énarques too. This is a country where, even when the impeccably proletarian French Communist Party enters government, as it did under Mitterrand, its ministers are likely to be ‘énarques’. Such students are immediately enrolled as established civil servants, paid more than ¤13,000 a month and follow a sandwich course schedule that combines practical experience with a testing academic curriculum. A top graduate of the ENA can expect direct entry into the higher echelons of the state and a fast track career. These centurions of the elite, just 100 each year, are ranked according to their examination performance. Their very existence works to signify a set of values and a model of advance that seems a universe away from reality in the local lycée. Nevertheless, some features of the education system as a whole are shared. Most particularly a focus on logical reasoning, often grounded in a strong emphasis on grammar and confident speech and buttressed with an easy familiarity with abstract thought. An example: in discussion with a young activist in the post and telecoms section of the Confederation General du Travail, the main trade union federation, a postman with a standard secondary education pushes the argument into the realms of linguistic philosophy, semiotics and feminist theory. Another example: a youngish marketing assistant working in the local wine cooperative knows Latin American poetry and liberation theology. A third, a chimney

maintenance man, is familiar with globalisation theories and controversies among leading economists. Our teenager in the final stages of her Baccalaureate tells me she is asked to look at the founding principles of the Republic, to measure them against contemporary reality, to look at competing models of political economy and evaluate her own practice and personal morality against these and abstract principles. The public debate on school improvement has largely centred on the overall performance of the system as a whole. This reflects the fact that the school system is highly structured and uniform throughout metropolitan France, with a firm national curriculum and a high degree of centralisation. The Ministry of Education has powerful resources at its command. Accordingly, there is a comprehensive collection of data reflecting and distinguishing both individual student performance in teacher-conducted tests and the effectiveness of the system. Education is administered at regional level, with a highly structured school inspection system closely integrated with school improvement. The regional structures – académies – deploy a substantial team of inspectors who have an advisory and support brief. The académies also have responsibility for continuous professional development and in-service training. Even with one inspector to every 300 primary teachers and one per 750 secondary teachers, there is some criticism of a lack of support. This is inevitably strongest in the more highly-stressed urban areas, where the regional educational administration can designate ZEPs (or Zones d’Education Prioritaires) which access a higher level of support including measures aimed at wholeschool improvement. Predictably, some school leaders feel constrained by these measures – most particularly the role of the conseil de zone, which brings together parents, teachers and

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FRENCH EDUCATION responsables from the department and regional administrations. Some teachers are also unhappy about the system of individual assessment of teacher performance by the inspectors. One big controversy centres on the failure of the system to keep all children in school – this debate centres on teacher expectation and the recognition by many young people, especially those from the urban banlieue and most especially Arabs and Maghrebian, that their employment prospects are poor. Bernadette Groison of the main teachers’

trade union, the Fédération Syndicale Unitaire, reports that up to 140,000 young people over 16 (17 per cent of the age group) leave education sans valider de formation. One result of these failures has been a new emphasis on class and social data collection by the ministry. Another, the controversial publication of school rankings on the English model. Thirdly, there is an interest in alternative models of teaching and school organisation, including a growing interest in more child-centred approaches.

AN INSIGHT INTO THE FRENCH EDUCATION SYSTEM french-education-system-nurseryschool-high-school OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS le-bulletin-officiel.html

PARIS TEACHERS The minister of education in the Hollande government elected last year faced a testing time in his first year in office. Ninety per cent of Paris teachers walked out on strike in January this year in protest against plans to restore the four and half day week. The main primary school union SNUIPP-FSU organised a ‘national day of questioning’ about the needs of the school for the coming year.

promise, the bill won both praise and criticism for a mixture “not only of good intentions that are a clean break with the Sarkozy presidency, but also of measures that are a perfect continuation of Sarkozy’s policies”.

“We aren’t opposed, in principle, to this adoption of the four-and-a-half-day week,” said Sébastien Sihr, the general secretary of the SNUIPP-FSU. “But this issue must not conceal those needs made visible in the global picture. We’re demanding a review of the curriculum, a reworking of the set-up for evaluating pupils and the rehabilitation of the Network of Specialised Aid for Failing Pupils.”

Among the welcome proposals were a pledge to create 14,000 new primary teaching jobs over a five year period to deal with failure at fifth grade – where 15 per cent of pupils are falling behind. There were measures to halt the trend to transform kindergartens into ‘an antechamber’ to primary school and restore under-threes provision, which was sharply reduced under Sarkozy, and a series of measures to rehabilitate teacher training deconstructed under Sarkozy including the creation of higher schools of teaching and education for the 2013-2014 school year.

In this climate of heightened debate, the minister, Vincent Peillon, presented the cabinet a bill intended to “reorganise” the school system. Designed to fulfil a key Hollande election

It is teacher training – which crystallises competing views of education and the role of the teacher – where Peillon was anxious to avoid being seen as restoring the 1989 ‘university

institutes of teacher training’ set up by previous Parti Socialiste premier Lionel Jospin. At the heart of the controversy lies the contradiction between the sense that the teacher is at the centre of the transmission of knowledge and the notion that the student is the principal agency for the building of their own knowledge. This debate intersects with other differences over the curriculum and on the role of the central state. Vocational training and orientation – a hot button subject in France, where youth unemployment is rising – was to become the responsibility of the regional government in partnership with trade and business groups and chambers of industry and commerce. “You get the impression that Vincent Peillon tried to find a mix between the 1989 Jospin law, which put the child at the centre, and the Fillon law that adopted the utilitarian logic of the Lisbon strategy,” argued Gisèle Jean, the director of the Poitiers University Institute for the training of teachers.

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f we assume, as Voltaire wrote, that history is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes, how should we judge Michael Gove’s contribution to the delivery of history in our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and globalised society? The secretary of state – who paraded himself around the tribal gatherings of teacher trade union Easter conferences before the last election as a man whose decision-making

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would be based on evidence-led, informed decision-making – has come a cropper. His new history curriculum has been stalled for a major revision that will give renewed emphasis to a broader view of world history while previously ‘mandatory’ requirements will become ‘advisory’. Primary age children will now be introduced to a range of modern figures like painter LS Lowry, astronaut Neil Armstrong,

web inventor Tim BernersLee and US freedom bus rider Rosa Parks. But it is not just the examples of the eminent that will inform children’s history lessons. Darwin and the rudiments of evolutionary theory, Islamic history, colonialism and immigration get more of an airing, while 1066 becomes the end point rather than the Act of Union in 1707.

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in reverse Mike Hardacre takes Gove to task

Key Stages 2 and 3 children study a world history topic and local history alongside British topics. A world history topic is required at KS2, including the possibility of studying ‘early Islam’ or the culture of Benin in West Africa, while the Crusades is an option at KS3. Naturally, there are conflicting strands as to the importance of history in the curriculum, what the syllabus should contain and the pedagogical methods employed. Thomas

Carlyle suggested that history was merely the biographies of great men and this appears to be the approach Mr Gove favours. This version of history is best described in the subtitle of Sellars and Yeatman’s historical spoof 1066 and All That: A Memorable History of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 Good Things, 5 Bad Kings and 2 Genuine Dates. History is one of the great humanities and one of its great

purposes is to expand our understanding of how we have arrived at, and created, the society we now inhabit. How, then, do Gove’s recommendations help us to ensure that young people can develop that understanding? Sustained criticism of Gove’s syllabus came from such centres of subversion as the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society and the Historical Association. They centred on a narrow Anglo-centric approach to the

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CURRICULUM CONTROVERSY curriculum. The Professor of Modern Cultural History at Gonville and Caius has suggested that Gove’s syllabus fails to provide a balance between social and cultural approaches to history as well as the political. He said: “We need to know the history of family life, economic development and class formation, not just a list of prime ministers, admirals and treaties.” Gove had a team of advisers to work on the content of the history syllabus. One of them – Steven Mastin – commented that the final version bore “no resemblance” to what had been proposed by those advisers. In a letter to The Observer, he wrote: “…the details of the curriculum have been drafted inside the DfE without any systematic consultation or public discussion with historians, teachers or the wider public.” Gove’s approach is symptomatic of the dirigiste approach not only to content, but also to the destructuring of education over which he presides. The term dirigiste in the study of politics refers to a government that has taken control of the economy at the centre. The irony, of course, is that this government is dedicated to rolling back the power of the state and allowing unfettered competition in commerce and industry but, at the same time, is offering a curriculum of control upon schools. This is all done without reference to a real world that has changed out of all recognition over the past half century. Mr Gove is notoriously rough on his critics, charging them with a failure to share his prejudices. His first offering of the new history syllabus

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was but one example of the complete turnaround in action from his promises of opposition. In opposition, he promised dataand information-led decision-making that implied actually looking at all the evidence. His actions show a disregard for the historical method of examining the available evidence and coming to a considered conclusion. Mr Gove does not develop an argument through to a logical conclusion – he comes to a conclusion and then plays ducks and drakes with the evidence to justify it. Robert Shrimsley, writing in the Financial Times, describes thus: “The fact that we English have jolly well tonked everyone at one time or another and should be dashed proud of having done so appears to be the driving sentiment behind the new English history curriculum proposed by Michael Gove…”. This original syllabus was so full of data, spellings, facts and rules that there would have been no time for students to grasp the idea of weighing evidence, assigning meaning to that evidence, coming to an understanding of what has happened and why, and being able to articulate that – either orally or in written form. I recognise his approach to the history syllabus because it evokes the experiences of history I received nearly 60 years ago in the heyday of Attlee and Churchill. Its effect is to cement our place in history as the world’s greatest nation, whose influence and power created the world as we know it. This is clearly not a view subscribed to by anyone with a working knowledge of European or world history. One really does wonder what kind of education Mr Gove received at his private school and Lady Margaret College. The first two aims of the published history syllabus set the scene for the pot-pourri of jingoism that follows. Pupils were to be taught to “know and understand the story of these islands; how the British people shaped this nation and how Britain influenced the world” and secondly to “know and understand British history”. Europe and the world came third, but only as “broad outlines”. In Key Stage 1, the only specified subject content was “the lives of significant individuals in Britain’s past who have contributed to our nation’s achievements – scientists such as Isaac Newton or Michael Faraday, medical pioneers such as William Harvey or Florence Nightingale, or creative geniuses such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel or Christina Rossetti.” So much for the world impact of Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, Pasteur, Enrico Fermi, Rousseau, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein... The Key Stage 2 curriculum followed a chronological methodology from Stone Age through to the 1688 ‘Glorious Revolution’.

It concerned itself with the Roman Empire only insofar as it affected life in Britain. Then followed the invaders: Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and the Normans (who were, of course, French Vikings by lineage). I presume Mr Gove believes that these invasions have been so well-integrated into the fabric of British society that they have become honorary Britons.

“We need to know the history of family life, economic development and class formation, not just a list of prime ministers, admirals and treaties.” Ireland didn’t get a mention. France did, but only in the context of the Hundred Years War. The Renaissance is Shakespeare and Marlowe (for whom a good argument could be made that they are post-Renaissance, but that’s possibly too subtle for Mr Gove). The Reformation took place in the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward and Mary. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that there was a Reformation in Europe, but I imagine from Mr Gove’s curriculum concept that they copied it from the marital and succession problems that faced the Tudors. Key Stage 3 offered even more excitement for the Little Englander, as Prussia turns up at the Battle of Waterloo (where we once again gave France a bloody nose) and then, 100 years later, has disappeared to be replaced by Germany. Italy now reappears, having not existed since it was the central province of the Roman Empire. How can any of this possibly help pupils to understand our place in the world? Gove’s history syllabus was symptomatic of the approach that the present government has taken to educational change. This is a government which is anti-evidence, antiexpertise, anti-consultation and wedded to a world in which those who rule us know best. Dr Hardacre was trained as an historian and is a former president of Aspect.

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Don’t be bullied Playground bullies are not the only problem


llyson liked her job. The hours were long, but her patch was interesting. The schools ranged from the leafy former grammar, with pretensions to a medieval heritage, to a go-ahead community school that, under capable leadership and with a good measure of support, had improved beyond recognition. In between were the usual clutch of struggling primaries and secondaries. Along came a new chief officer, new budgets, a predictably bodged restructure to obscure the reality of cuts and an arbitrary decision to change her mix of schools. Allyson challenged the decision and found herself on the end of a sustained campaign of sharply worded emails, challenges to her diary keeping, instructions to carry out tasks that disrupted her existing diary commitments and denigratory comments in team meetings. Her response changed from spirited rejoinders to weary acceptance of the new regime, followed by a depression that began to affect her enthusiasm for the job. She began to fear that her performance was suffering and that, with a redundancy programme in the offing, she might be being set up as an ideal candidate for the push. This is not an atypical example of a growing problem. A TUC survey of safety representatives showed that one in five (20 per cent) of all safety representatives identified bullying as a problem in their workplace. However, it was the fourth most common problem in education, with more than a third (35 per cent) of representatives identifying it. In the voluntary sector, this figure rose to 42 per cent. According to a 2006 survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in association with MORI and Kingston Business School, one in five employees had experienced some form of bullying or harassment over the preceding two years. The TUC defines workplace bullying as offensive, intimidating, malicious, insulting or humiliating behaviour, abuse of power or authority which attempts to undermine an individual or group of employees and which may cause them to suffer stress. It can include competent staff being constantly criticised,

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having responsibilities removed (as in Allyson’s case) or being given trivial tasks to do. The range of tactics employed by workplace bullies can include shouting at staff in front of others or in private. But not all bullying is so crude. Among all categories of workers, but especially among professional workers, it can include blocking promotion, excluding them from decisionmaking fora and/or from interaction with colleagues. With cutbacks and reorganisation, it is not uncommon for people to be set up for failure through overloading them with new and impossible tasks or by setting impossible deadlines. Allyson’s experiences – she could not face work and became ill – demonstrate that there are greater risks of ill health and underperformance beyond the normal stress that a high pressure and responsible job entails that will affect the quality of work and service delivery. For the person on the end of these processes, ill health risks become the norm. Typical symptoms including anxiety, headaches, nausea, ulcers, sleeplessness, skin rashes, irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, tearfulness, loss of self-confidence, various illnesses of the organs and even thoughts of resignation and suicide. But, driven by impossible demands imposed on them from on high, senior managers can find themselves trapped in a cycle of counterproductive conflict. In Allyson’s case, life itself presented a solution – her manager moved on to cause chaos in a neighbouring authority. But, before that, she sought advice and support from her friends at work and the union, and let it be known that she was up for a fight by openly challenging her manager in a staff meeting. She kept a diary of events and talked openly about the problem. She is convinced that it was this that led to the bully making her escape. Workplace bullies and serial harrassers hate exposure and survive best in private encounters with their victims. The union’s recent local representatives training day focussed on the problem. The Aspect Group has a range of support measures available for people experiencing bullying or harassment at work. The union has a valuable guide to dealing with the issue. Our negotiations officers based in the regions can offer expert advice

and back-up and, in extremis, the union can call on our legal team who can put the frighteners on the bullies and make their bosses aware of the likely consequences if the problem is not sorted.


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Education for all: let’s make it a reality The United Nations Millennium Development Goal is to provide universal primary education by 2015. Pat Glass shows how schools in Britain can help


ixty-five years ago, the Convention on Human Rights pledged a free primary education for all. But, for many children, particularly those living in the developing world, this is as far away from becoming a reality today as it was 65 years ago. Even in those countries where children do get some access to primary education, millions do not complete their primary education or leave schools with limited skills and poor reading and writing levels because the quality of teaching is variable to say the least. Women and girls, as usual, come off worst, with less than 50 per cent of girls making it to secondary education in some African countries. Across the world, women make up almost two-thirds of the 796 million adults without even the most basic of literacy and numeracy skills. The United Nations Millennium Goals committed to providing universal, free primary education for all children by 2015 and yet we are short of 1.8 million teachers to deliver this. One million of these are needed in the sub-Saharan African area alone. For those children who do manage to go to school in the developing world, many face learning in very large class sizes, poor teaching from inadequately trained and skilled teachers and a lack of resources such as textbooks – and yet they still come. In some cases, they walk miles every day to and from school – such is their thirst to learn and drive to escape the poverty of their lives. Good quality, free primary education should be the right of every child.This, more than anything else, has the power to transform lives.This will help economic development and poverty relief, and it will contribute to social stability and promote global health. We know that children of mothers who receive five years of education are 40 per cent more likely to live beyond five years of age.

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Crowded classroom in Sierra Leone

The recent Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign has highlighted that malnutrition is the biggest root cause of child deaths around the world and that tax evasion and avoidance robs poorer countries of an estimated £102 billion per year. Providing universal primary education across the world would help to end hunger and would cost a fraction of this amount. Yet powerful global companies are failing to recognise that they need to be accountable to broader society if we are not to see more terrible incidents like the recent collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh. Hundreds of lives were sacrificed in the name of cheap, throwaway clothes in the developed world. For all of these reasons, I have been proud to sponsor Early Day Motion 149 in Parliament, which highlights the initiative by the Steve Sinnott Foundation – Sinnott was the General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers – to promote an ‘Education For All Day’ in British schools. Through teaching and learning activities, the foundation is drawing attention to the UN Millennium Development Goal II to provide universal primary education by 2015. There are only two years to go and yet some 60 million children around the world are still not in school. The foundation intends that ‘Education For All Day’ should become a feature of the school calendar in a growing number of schools in 2014, 2015 and beyond, and is encouraging school leaders to adopt the initiative with enthusiasm so as to provide

pupils and students in Britain with a greater understanding and awareness of the cause of education for all. Sometimes it feels that we had greater aspirations and hopes for our children and for ourselves back in 1948. At that time, we were living in a time of austerity. Britain was practically bankrupt and was saddled with massive debts after fighting total war for five years, but we had ambitions for ourselves and for others. We created the NHS, a welfare system with a safety net for the poor and a free compulsory education system for our own children, as well as a commitment to providing the same for others. We find ourselves in similar circumstances today, but for different reasons. So what better time to rediscover the same ambition, aspiration and courage we had in 1948 and secure the universal free education for every child that we have been promising for more than 60 years? Before she became Labour MP for North West Durham, Pat Glass was an education adviser specialising in special needs education and Assistant Director of Education in Sunderland and Greenwich. EDUCATION FOR ALL Please visit:

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FdA Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)


University of Derby in conjunction with the Aspect Group of Prospect his highly relevant and up-to-date course has been developed with employers in the sector to develop key skills and knowledge. The course features several different pathways that enable specialisation in areas that are particularly relevant to your work and interests. It will develop you as a confident, knowledgeable and effective practitioner suitable to work with children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities and their families. It places emphasis on the knowledge and skills you will need to work effectively with this group of children and young people in ways that will bring them positive outcomes. You will study core modules and optional modules, and you will be able to specialise in SEND in Education or Health and Social Care. You will be able to reflect on your practice and enhance this through the theory you learn. Your work setting is used for work-based projects, activities and research, so everything you study will be relevant to your everyday work. Your tutors are knowledgeable, have academic and practical experience in the field and will support you on your journey. The course is flexible to suit you. You can study during the day, in the evening and at weekend study days, although some routes require you to attend specific days for specialised lectures. You’ll study a mixture of theory and practical work.


The development of your practice in your workplace Applying theory to practice and applying practice to theory Multidisciplinary working Reflective practice, attitudes and values Continuing Professional Development Policy and legislation

At Stage One, you will study these core modules: STARTING TO STUDY

An introduction to learning at university – study skills, selfmanagement, being critical, reflective practice, learning with others and academic writing. INTRODUCTION TO SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS AND DISABILITY

The historical context for SEND, different ways of understanding special educational needs and disabilities and the relevance of these understandings to practice. HUMAN GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT 1

An introduction to theories of human development (physical, social, emotional, sexual, identity, psychological, intellectual). ATTITUDES AND VALUES

Understanding the relevance of your own attitudes and values on your work with children and young people with SEND and their families.



Safeguarding, policy and practice. At Stage Two, you will study these core modules: HUMAN GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT 2

Developing a deep understanding of theories and research on human development (such as Bowlby, Erikson and Levinson) and applying these to practice. ACTION RESEARCH

Small-scale action research within your work setting to support you in tackling a problem or issue. WORKING WITH PARENTS TO SUPPORT THE LEARNING OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE WITH SEND

Empowering parents and families, the implications of legislation, theories of participation. You will choose from these optional modules: SUPPORTING CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE WITH SEND

Exploring how specific learning difficulties and disabilities are understood and responded to.


Professional skills (management of case work, communication, interpersonal skills), roles of professionals, working with other agencies.


Evaluating the diagnoses, treatment and responses to mental health problems among children and young people with SEND. INTRODUCTION TO SPEECH, LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION

An exploration of competing theories of language development, developmental diversity in language development, interventions to support language development. ASSESSMENT OF NEEDS AND TRANSITION TO ADULTHOOD

Policy and practice as this relates to employment, continuing education, social inclusion and participation. ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Our entry requirements are usually 80 UCAS points from A Level or equivalent qualifications such as a BTEC National Diploma, Scottish. Higher etc. You should already be working in the sector for two days per week, have a relevant vocational Level 3 qualification and be doing two days voluntary work in the sector. You will need five GCSEs including Maths and English, but we also accept Key Skills, Functional Skills and Higher Diploma Qualifications as the equivalent of GCSEs.

summer 2013 | Improvement | 23

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Developmental Dyscalculia specialist works with children from St Richards with St Andrews C of E Primary School, Richmond. © Philip Wolmuth/

We will also consider all the information that you have included in your application. We will also want to see that you’re enthusiastic and motivated to take this course, and that you have the potential to benefit from coming to university. HOW TO APPLY

UK/EU students Part-time students should apply directly to the University. FEES AND FINANCE

Fees for 2013/14 (This is a classroombased course). UK/EU students: Currently £965* per module (you usually take 12 of these modules in total). *These fees apply if you are starting this course between September 2013 and August 2014. We recommend

24 | Improvement | summer 2013

you check fee details with us, as they can change. Costs can increase each year. HOW YOU WILL LEARN

You’ll learn through reflective tasks, work-based activities, presentations, tutorials and using online resources. There are no exams and you’ll be assessed using your work-based activities, creative presentations, essays, discussion papers, case studies and portfolios. CAREERS AND EMPLOYABILITY

There’s a growing demand for highly qualified practitioners working in a range of sectors with a deeper knowledge in Special Educational Needs and Disability, so you will be well-placed to get a job when you graduate. You’ll have the knowledge,

understanding and professional skills to progress in your practice and bring positive outcomes to children and young people. After completing this course, you will have the opportunity to progress to Stage 3 of an honours degree (either a taught course or through a work-based online course). You can then progress onto other professional courses such as the Early Years Teacher course or take an initial teacher training qualification. In recent years, graduates have: moved ahead in their vocational field in senior roles, leading practice and settings; continued on to achieve BA Honours degrees in Child and Youth Studies, BA Honours degrees in Early Childhood Studies, BA Honours degrees in Education Studies (SEND pathway), Joint Honours with

Science or Health and Social Care; and continued on to teacher training. Please contact the Aspect Group of Prospect for details of workshops. Discounts are also available for groups and for upgrading onto higher levels. We have introductory workshops running throughout the year for those interested in undertaking any of the above courses. For further details, application forms, or if you are interested in forming a local authority group to undertake any of the above BTEC programmes, please contact Cheryl Crossley, either by email ( or telephone on 01226 383428.

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Thinking of going independent? The union has provided high quality support and training for more than 1,000 members in the last year through its highly-regarded course for members. Thinking of becoming an independent consultant?


f you are ‘thinking’ in the current economic climate, you need to consider:

The professional context for independent consultancy Credibility from new skills and approaches to effective consultancy Marketing your unique contribution The practicalities of setting up a new business e.g. record keeping and financing an office Quality assurance, accounts, tax, insurance, professional indemnity, contracting and invoicing


1.The very popular national

course – covering the topics above (and more) THIS TAKES PLACE ON:

September 20, 2013 − London £245 + VAT for Aspect Group members £295 + VAT for non-Aspect Group members 2. A bespoke in-house course for groups of colleagues in a local authority, or coming to the end of limited contracts – costs negotiated. 3.The Thinking of Going Independent programmes are overseen by John Pearce, one of the union’s longestserving and most successful independent associates. Typical comments from participants on recent courses include: “The day really provided what I was hoping for!”

“A very useful and productive day with excellent facilitation.” “Useful content with clear ideas for follow-up work I need to do.” “Challenging scenarios.” “John answered questions I didn’t know I needed to ask!” “I appreciated the coverage of really practical issues and now have the bones of a business plan!” “Excellent day. Inspiring, practical and entertaining, made me think.” ASPECT’S BTEC QUALIFICATIONS

The Aspect Group of Prospect’s BTEC Professional Advanced awards and certificates have won great credibility across the range of children’s services. At the core of the professional development programme is the union’s highly-esteemed BTEC Programme of advanced service training and professional career development for children’s services. The study programme provides an opportunity for reflection, review and assessment of your professional role. The portfolio is a great opportunity to focus on your achievements in your job, asking others for informal and formal feedback and gathering the evidence to show that your professional contribution makes a difference. Creating a persuasive and wellevidenced portfolio that demonstrates your effectiveness and impact is of great use during performance management reviews, SPA 3 assessments, job reviews, recruitment interviews and re-organisations. The programme provides a chance for teams to work together on what matters most to them, and confirm the impact they are having.

Local authority children’s services teams have found that building portfolios together enables them to create a persuasive and comprehensive account of their work, their skills and the impact of their interventions. For some, this can also mean that a whole team portfolio, which is useful during reviews, audits and inspections, is produced. Employers, partners and client organisations are coming to realise the potential of the BTEC accreditation process as a useful quality assurance mechanism that enables individuals, teams and organisations to demonstrate the range and level of their professional skills, and to identify and work with other professionals with similar profiles and qualifications. The BTEC Programme now offers progression pathways from Level 3 to Level 6 in Governor Services and from Level 6 to Level 7 in the Children’s Service Development (relevant to working at Masters Degree level). The first group of candidates for the new Advanced Professional Certificate in Improvement in Children’s Services, which is particularly designed for those who work in the multi-agency context, started last May and attracted interest from team leaders and other senior local authority professionals. The Aspect Group of Prospect’s BTEC Programme provides a powerful process that can make a significant contribution to demonstrating your competence, effectiveness, achievements and impact. More than 100 candidates have successfully completed one of the four courses available.


BTEC Professional Award and Certificate in Education and Children’s Service Development – Level 6 BTEC Advanced Professional Award and Certificate in Improvement in Education and Children’s Service Development – Level 7 BTEC Advanced Award in Governor Services in Education and Children’s Service Development – Level 3 BTEC Professional Certificate in Co-ordinating Governor Services in Education and Children’s Service Development – Level 6

For further details, application forms, or if you are interested in forming a local authority group to undertake any of the above BTEC Programmes, please contact Cheryl Crossley at Tel: 01226 383428

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Coaching and mentoring


A national qualification in coaching and mentoring is in your grasp

rofessional practice in education and children’s services entails a synthesis of training and experience with strong elements of developmental psychology and of child and human development. There are discrete areas of expertise and professional boundaries command respect but, at the same time, there is a developing consensus around the theoretical foundations and core assumptions of the sector. Flexibility and innovation are at a premium as a core cadre as many thousands of practitioners adapt to a new organisational framework that is emerging from a challenging terrain of sharp reductions in funding and a precipitate reduction in the middle tier of local authority services. At critical points in their career, education and children’s services professionals are compelled to draw on deep reserves of experience and understanding as they face greater responsibilities. It is in this context that the Aspect Group’s highly rated professional development programme is able to offer a range of innovative courses that are tailored to aid people in shaping both their own development and that of their professional colleagues. In partnership with training providers xué, the Aspect Group has developed two coaching and mentoring programmes of special value aimed at developing the professional skills of those who use coaching and mentoring in their work setting or who intend to establish an independent coaching practice. The courses are validated through the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), which is the UK’s premier management organisation, and xué is an Approved ILM Centre for the provision of coaching and mentoring programmes and qualifications. The qualifications are nationally recognised and part of the QCF (Qualifications and Credit

26 | Improvement | summer 2013

Framework). Thus, the credits obtained on successful completion of the programmes contribute towards other nationally recognised awards offered by other bodies, including universities, and are a valuable resource for further professional development. The aspect group is currently offering two programmes. At postgraduate level, the ILM Level 7 in Certificate in Executive Coaching and Mentoring (which can be extended to the Diploma). Exact dates depend on the participants, but this course will start in Autumn 2013. At first degree level, the ILM Level 5 in Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring (which can also be extended to the Diploma). Again, additional coaching hours and an assignment are required for this course, which will be starting in October 2013. Sue Harrison of xué leads the Coaching and Mentoring Programme. xué – pronounced “sh-way” is Mandarin for ‘to learn’. She says: “We aim to provide holistic, wrap-around support and development to aspiring, new and experienced coaches and mentors as well as working directly as coaches with individuals and organisations. We support individuals, teams and organisations facing change to clarify exactly what they want and then to achieve it with integrity. We all have a deep well of untapped potential, which we can unlock to enable us to achieve our goals.” She argues that the challenging environment faced by people working in the sector means they need to deepen their ability to manage change while developing their individual capacity to control their own learning and professional development. “It is also about growing as an individual. We believe you become an effective coach by experiencing excellent coaching and mentoring yourself, which is why we ‘coach’ on all of our Programme rather than ‘train’,” she says. Firsthand accounts from people who have followed the courses are a testament to the potential that can be developed. Sara Weech, who has nearly completed the Level 7 Diploma in Executive Coaching and Mentoring

Programme, says: “Sue is a passionate, knowledgeable and experienced coach with the highest of integrity. I am gaining so much personally and professionally from the Diploma course in Executive Coaching that she runs. It’s coached every step of the way – not just theory – and you experience its impact from the start.” Mike Fleetham, who has just finished the first module of the Level 7 Diploma Programme, comments: “It is the most effective CPD I’ve had in 19 years in education because coaching and mentoring is role modelled throughout the Programme – you learn about excellent coaching by experiencing it.” Tracey Sharkey, who has successfully completed the xué ILM Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring, says: “I just wanted to feedback on how useful the programme has been. I am an experienced NPQH coach, but this programme developed my expertise hugely. “The course was very challenging and required a lot of deep self reflection, and – as a result – I know my coaching has improved enormously. Sue Spencer Harrison and the xué team were fantastic throughout. “I am now at the point where I am developing my coaching business and wanted to say many thanks. “If future programme groups would benefit from any input from an old hand, then do not hesitate to ask.” Sue Sanford is very positive about the small group study format. “Having undertaken the Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring with xué over the last twelve months, I’d recommend it to anyone who felt that coaching and mentoring might be for them,” she said. “Studying in a small group with xué was a very positive and enabling experience with great coaching skills modelled throughout the taught elements. Quite apart from wanting to develop coaching and mentoring as a formal part of what I offer, I found that what I learned through the study has been invaluable in improving the way I work anyway in terms of supporting colleagues in children’s services to innovate and improve. “The support from xué throughout the modules and after has been brilliant,

and I look forward to continuing to work with xué as I develop my coaching practice.” For further information, please contact cheryl.crossley

HOW THE PROGRAMMES ARE CONSTRUCTED Element 1 –Programme introduction and preprogramme preparation Element 2 – completion of and feedback on a diagnostic/ assessment tool chosen to support each participant to gain personal insights and growth Element 3 – face-to-face full day modules supporting skill development and practice spread across the Programme Level 5 Programme – five days (typically spread over nine months) Level 7 Programme – six days (typically spread over 12 months) Element 4 – live coaching and/or mentoring practice, supported by a coaching diary Element 5 – coaching/ mentoring supervision by a trained supervisor Element 6 – personalised learning, supported through access to online materials Element 7 – completion of a Personal Learning Log Element 8 – completion of three written assignments. This element is supported by tutorials Element 9 – Personal Interest Study (for those taking the Level 7 Programme)

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Professional Indemnity Insurance for Consultants in Education or Children’s Services • Preferential terms for members of Aspect & Prospect

• Retroactive cover includes all previous educational or children’s welfare consultancy work

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ASEND offers specialist support, advice and training to schools around SEND and other barriers to learning. We also provide interim SENCo’s and other roles. In order to expand our top-class services we are looking for experienced SENCo’s and Autism, Behaviour and Dyslexia specialists. If you are committed to improving outcomes for children, call me or email to discuss free-lance consultancy work.

Barbara Ball, Director

ASEND, Building 3, North London Business Park, London, N11 1NP

Tel: 0203 668 1529 Mob: 07787 125 261

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Working interdependently


28 | Improvement | summer 2013

John Pearce maps out a new approach for independent consultants


he shift to independent working poses new challenges to the many Aspect Group members who now face a new reality of diminished local authority teams and widespread contracting-out of services. It also poses challenges to the union itself of how to meet the needs of this fast-expanding sector and how to preserve the best of collaborative working and mutual support. I was disappointed when we offered an ‘Independent’s Day’ briefing and sharing materials event a few years ago and only seven people expressed an interest! Perhaps we should be relabelled interdependent consultants? We might collaborate more then. Today, there is a more powerful need for such an interdependent approach. We have run more than 300 of the union’s ‘Thinking of Going Independent’ courses over the last eight years and I have lost count of the number of colleagues setting up as sole traders or limited companies.

Some courses were provided nationally or in specific local authorities for colleagues facing redundancy. There is still a steady demand for the day course, although I still meet colleagues who didn’t know the course existed and have managed to miss the CPD section of Improvement. See pages 23-26 for up-to-date details. We dealt with the danger of a lack of direction in the ‘atomised education services’ and a need for a renewed commitment to common moral purposes across the plethora of bodies and individuals working in public services in an earlier issue (Improvement – Summer 2011). This is especially true for independent consultants who, by definition, work mostly alone. Thus, in October 2012, the Wakefield and Kirklees Network of freelance education consultants – a lively collection of like-minded professionals who meet on a termly basis to discuss key issues, share ideas and keep each other up-to-date – ran a workshop on the theme ‘Clarify the values and moral purpose within the work of education improvement professionals’. One useful approach, which raises important issues about professional responsibility and the ethical framework in which we work, is bound up with the concept of a Pedagogical Oath for teachers which mirrors the Hippocratic Oath for medical doctors. We used it in the workshop, together with a set of real-life case studies facing freelance advisers, inspectors and consultants. That workshop led to the drafting of a first ‘Consultant’s Oath’, setting out the values and consequent behaviours that underpin the best of our work. I circulated that draft and a follow-up discussion with the Wakefield and Kirklees Network revealed that they liked it. Changes have been made and the latest draft (see panel) incorporates suggestions from other colleagues after the day. I know that colleagues are now using it as part of their introductory contracting and several are using it to market their approach on websites. It does attract comment and is a useful reference point during initial discussions with clients. It’s also a great starter for discussion among those working on school improvement because not all agree with the implicit values. I’d love to discuss this approach to school improvement with Sir Michael Wilshaw and Michael Gove!

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“Perhaps we should be relabelled interdependent consultants? We might collaborate more then” THE INDEPENDENT’S OATH – OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU As independent education improvement professionals, our values inform our behaviour. As we work alongside you to identify, clarify and respond to your development need, we will: DEVELOP A SHARED MORAL PURPOSE

We believe in integrity, trust, accountability and honesty. We are fair and ethical in our dealings. We show respect and earn it by building effective relationships – the foundation of all sustained improvement. We promote simplicity, clarity, innovation and reflective practice. WHAT WILL HELP


Discussing the proposal and contract openly and honestly

Hiding elements of our intentions

Creating an agreed written programme of work and providing you with a specific contract

Unclear or non-negotiable contractual arrangements

Having measurable and meaningful outcomes for both content and process

Unrealistic expectations or vague aims, leading to unintended consequences

Being explicit about principles and ethics (Clarifying WHY prior to WHAT and HOW)

Over-emphasising ends to the detriment of means

Communicating a transparent approach to fees and charges

Hidden costs and unexpected charges at the invoicing stage

Offering simple guarantees

Complicated contractual arrangements


We know our best work will be collaborative and tailored to your needs. We recognise we are not a permanent part of your workplace and that you know your circumstance and culture best. We will bring our experience, knowledge and understanding of leadership and learning to support and challenge you as you develop or sustain improvement and progress. WHAT WILL HELP


Our inclusive and co-operative mindset

Only responding to individual perspectives

Listening to you and your colleagues first

Offering solutions that work elsewhere

Being role models for those we work with

A mismatch between what we say and do

Selecting bespoke and appropriate interventions Using ‘one size fits all’ and ‘off the shelf’ approaches

summer 2013 | Improvement | 29

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PROMOTE LEADERSHIP AND LEARNING We believe the best leaders are learners who look at what they do with a view to doing it better next time. We also know that the best learners are leaders too, because they are willing and able to collaborate and inspire others in their endeavours. We thrive in working interdependently, making connections, networking and openly sharing ideas, materials and strategies. WHAT WILL HELP


Picturing the whole workplace as a learning environment (having a system thinking approach)

Only working in one area, or focusing on one piece of the jigsaw to the detriment or exclusion of others

Building a community of practice where success is celebrated and failure studied

Looking to champion and emulate success and denying, or ignoring, lessons from failure

Seeing everyone linked or involved with the workplace as learners and potential leaders

Working only with individuals or the willing and motivated, thereby missing key perceptions

Working interdependently

Working independently

Building in monitoring and self-evaluation

Just doing the task at hand

I am working with the Aspect Group’s team of negotiating officers to fashion this ‘Oath’ or ‘Values Statement’ in support of independent consultants during 2013 and beyond. We hope this will sit alongside legal advice and networking opportunities. John Pearce is a senior associate with the Aspect Group’s team of CPD professionals. He writes and delivers a wide range of CPD programmes including the union’s Thinking of Going Independent course. For more information, please visit Wakefield and Kirklees: For information about their programme of events, contact John Smith at or Julie Bowdidge at

30 | Improvement | summer 2013

“ It also poses challenges to the union itself ”

THINK LONG-TERM While our work with you will be limited, our focus will always be on the long term for you and your workplace. We are practical, imaginative and energetic about ways to build your and your colleagues’ capacity to make and sustain improvement. We will look for short- and mid-term gains, but will always keep your overall vision and purpose in focus. WHAT WILL HELP


Helping you clarify your long-term vision

Concentrating on the urgent, not the important

Keeping the bigger picture in mind

Focusing only on the here and now

Being persistent in identifying need

Jumping to conclusions

Looking to develop existing strengths

Seeking change for the sake of change

Seeking strategic and capacity building approaches that sustain improvement

Looking only for quick fixes or short-term remedies – treating symptoms, not causes

There’s more to rewarding than fluffy pencils – as our most progressive schools know. Vivo is a fully-customisable recognition and rewards platform now used by over 550 schools in almost every local authority in the UK, which can be tailored to match a school or college’s ethos and objectives. Progressive schools are using Vivo to improve not just performance and motivation but also to drive positive behaviours, extended learning and improve staff-student relationships. Here are just some of the innovative ways Vivo is being used:

Positive behaviour for learning Positive Behaviour programmes need to be implemented at every level from staff room to classroom, right through to home life and require reliable reporting and lots of data. Many schools use the Vivo platform to set goals and manage positive behaviours at an individual, house and group level.

Closing the gap and Pupil Premium (PP) Vivo is a cost-effective way for schools to meet their PP objectives and provides simple tools for tracking and reporting on the progress of disadvantaged pupils. Vivo can save schools money spent on expensive behaviour interventions. 4/5 Vivo schools report improved attendance and 96% report improved academic performance.

Collaborative and extended learning “ I allowed all the staff to have double their normal amount of Vivos for a period to really promote good manners…” The result? “A noticeable change in attitudes and manners. Pupils now look behind them when going through doors, hold them open and say, ‘Thank you’.” Deputy Head, Kingsway Park High School, Rochdale.

“ We recently received a letter from the Deputy Prime Minister congratulating us on our Pupil Premium student performance and there is no doubt that Vivo is one of the tools in our toolbox which has helped us to motivate and encourage all of our students.” Vice Principal, Duston School, Northamptonshire

improvement in motivation*

improvement in performance*

Vivo promotes collaboration and trust between students, teachers and parents and improves performance. Teachers can give real-time feedback, peer mentoring can be recognised and rewarded; while parents can track their child’s progress and get involved. 2/3 schools say Vivo has improved feedback to parents and has stimulated Extended Learning.

E-learning platforms Vivo can dramatically increase usage of other e-learning platforms such as SAM Learning and Frog when integrated with login, helping schools to maximize their investment in technologies.

Promoting financial awareness In tough economic times students must be prepared for the real world. Schools like Park View in Haringey have adopted Vivo as the school currency and award “weekly wages” to students who take up school roles. Students monitor their Vivo accounts and can work out what to spend them on, donate them, top up or save for the future.

Healthy competition and qualifiers Many schools use Vivo league tables and award individual or house achievement in assembly, promoting healthy competition and collaborative goals. Vivos are also used to qualify students for “privileges” such as a ticket to the prom or a free place on the school trip. Introducing a league table for teachers and praising “top rewarders” also drives results. Discover our education blog at

improvement in attendance (by 1–7%)*

improvement in behaviour*

*(% of Vivo schools who reported positive behaviour change)

To find out more about VivoMiles and the Vivo platform, or to book a demonstration please call us on 0800 043 8486, or email

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POLICY Primary school pupils with their parents, leaving school near the end of term Š John Harris/

32 | Improvement | summer 2013

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A question of


Parents trust teachers, not ministers. Esther Pickup-Keller analyses the latest YouGov survey

ducation professionals share a common focus on outcomes and this is emphatically not the product of the testing regimes introduced by this or previous governments. It comes from the natural human impulse of all who work with children and young people to delight in their progress and, equally, from a professional pride in accomplishment. In this, we are at one with parents. Not surprising, then, that ministerial rhetoric circulates endlessly around outcomes. What, then, do we make of the powerful survey evidence which shows that parents have confidence in the people who teach their children, but little in government education policies? It is tempting to attribute this truth to the unfortunate manner in which the secretary of state polemicises. When the man in charge of our children’s education appears to focus more of his efforts on securing political advantage in his party’s succession battles than on solving problems in education, it is not surprising that he forfeits the confidence of parents. The recent YouGov poll shows that nearly 60 per cent trust heads and teachers, but just six percent trust Gove. The policies do no better than the man. Just one in 12 parents think the government has had a positive impact on the education system and 44 per cent think its impact has been negative, while a third think it has made no difference. On the government’s flagship academies policy, more than half (55 per cent) think

academy status does not improve educational standards, while a marginal 14 per cent think it does. There is deep distrust of the trend to introduce profit mechanisms into education. Opposition to Gove’s apparent desire that state schools could be run for profit runs at 84 per cent. Less than one in five support the academies and free schools programmes.

“ It is tempting to attribute this truth to the unfortunate manner in which the secretary of state polemicises” In an interesting echo of the debates around health (where some people hold a range of negative views about the NHS as a whole, but have highly positive views about their local hospital and/or GP and have positive experiences of both), parents have a positive view of their children’s education but express concerns about the national curriculum. This raises an interesting challenge for all who hold that high quality education for all


Fifty nine per cent trust teachers and heads Six per cent trust Gove


Fifty nine per cent say teachers should be allowed to exercise their professional freedom within a prescribed national curriculum Two per cent agree that politicians should be able to prescribe what teachers teach


Seventy three per cent of parents of school-aged children rate the quality of teaching highly, 27 per cent rate it as excellent and 47 per cent rate it as good


Twenty one per cent of parents agree that the DfE scheme for a three-hour end of course examination, lacking coursework and assessment, is the best way to judge progress and achievement


Eighty five per cent of parents want a “broad and balanced” secondary curriculum, including both academic and vocational content

summer 2013 | Improvement | 33

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POLICY of our children is best delivered by an integrated and comprehensive national education service. How is it that most people in Britain are fiercely attached to the idea of a comprehensive national health service, but that the idea of personal choice in education has gained some traction among some parents even though the reality is that such choice is practically absent for the overwhelming majority? It is here that some useful parallels can be drawn. For the parents of both primary and secondary children, there is a strong

THE SURVEY DEMOGRAPHIC The survey gained responses from 2,018 people SCHOOL YEAR

Nursery Reception Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10 Year 11 None of these

10% 10% 11% 11% 12% 14% 13% 13% 12% 13% 13% 14% 15% 2%

Primary Secondary

63% 54%


State primary school State secondary school State middle school Private primary school Private secondary school

57% 51% 6% 4% 4%

State Private

94% 7%


Single parent Married\Living together Living with partner WHERE

East of England East Midlands West Midlands Yorkshire and the Humber London North East North West South East South West

34 | Improvement | summer 2013

28% 57% 15% 9% 9% 11% 10% 15% 5% 14% 19% 9%

attachment to the idea of a good quality local school. We can surmise that, at one level, this represents a convergence of the idea that every child should have an equal chance of a good education (and perhaps that educational privilege is unjustified) with a sense that the direction and management of education is a local matter amenable to local pressure and accountability. These may be large assumptions, but they are broadly supported by evidence and experience. Interestingly, survey support for the idea that academy status improves standards was highest – reaching almost a quarter – among parents who send their children to private schools (children who, by definition, will not be subject to this experiment). Survey results always generate controversy. This one was conducted by YouGov, which has a high reputation for impartiality and jealously guards its reputation for objectivity. The survey was commissioned by the National Union of Teachers but, unlike earlier NUT/YouGov surveys, it measured parental attitudes rather than those of union members. The survey gained responses from 2,018 parents drawn from every part of England. Eighteen per cent of respondents had a child or children aged four and under; 65 per cent from five to 11 years old; 53 per cent from 12 to 16; and 24 per cent had children over 16. The picture is clear: the academies and free schools programmes – government flagship policies around which ministers have built their political appeal and which have garnered disproportionate amounts of money and resources – are widely distrusted and parental trust is strongest in people professionally engaged with education. On a wide range of issues that influence outcomes and underpin school improvement, parents display attitudes that conflict with the direction and tenor of government policies. Where opinion is tested more deeply on the direction of policy (for example, on whether primary schools should become academies), only one in 20 parents think that central government should decide. More than three times as many think local authorities should have a role. Nearly three quarters of parents describe the quality of teaching in their child’s school as either good or excellent. In contrast to the utilitarian flavour of much government rhetoric, parents exhibit a strong attachment to the idea that school should be fun and a pleasure. More than nine in 10 (93 per cent) primary parents think reading for pleasure is important, with much the same proportion thinking that there should be time for fun and learning through play. On the key primary school gate issue in which parents take an especially active

“ Survey results always generate controversy. This one was conducted by YouGov, which has a high reputation for impartiality and jealously guards its reputation for objectivity” interest, parents are uncertain about the value of the Year One Phonics Check. At secondary level, 60 per cent think GCSEs provide a good breadth and depth, while slightly more (61 per cent) oppose government plans to end coursework and instead rely solely on an end-of-course exam. For school improvement professionals, the findings highlight the need for a more informed public debate about the realities of school funding, management and direction. It is clear that people see education as an arena where common values and standards should ideally apply, where key expertise is concentrated and where decision-making should be local.

Dig deep into the data Full survey results: document/3xah64ycrs/YG-Archive-NUTparents-survey-180313.pdf

NO GO FOR OFSTED Junior schools minister Lord Nash – founder of Future, which sponsors Pimlico Academy and Milbank Academy – told the Academies Trade Association that academy chains do not need to be inspected. “We don’t see at the moment the need for Ofsted to inspect academy chains. We already get all of the data on how their schools are performing… We know all of the academy chains well and meet them on a regular basis.” he said.

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For three decades, there has been a steady shift in the way national income is distributed – away from wages and towards profits

needs a pay rise E

conomists are scratching their heads. More people appear to be in work, but economic growth is flatlining and productivity is falling. One answer to the conundrum is that many of the ‘new’ jobs created are part-time, ‘zero’ hours or minimum wage. TUC leader Frances O’Grady says Britain needs a pay rise. For the last thirty years, the British economy has seen a steady shift in the way national income has been distributed – away from wages and towards profits. The poorer half of the population have borne the brunt of Britain’s shrinking wage pie and now receive just 12p of every pound of UK GDP – a 25 per cent fall since the late 1970s. But the super rich continue to see their incomes soar. Boardroom pay has continued to rise above inflation, while the downward pressure on wages for lower and middle earners continues. Since the 1980s, some top bosses have seen pay rises as high as 4,000 per cent. The average chief executive now earns 145 times more than the average wage. A pay rise for the British people would mean a stimulus for demand, a rise in consumer and investment confidence and a reduction in government spending as people begin to spend wages and pay taxes rather than draw unemployment benefit and welfare payments. The truth is that the real value of pay for working people in Britain has sharply declined since the 2008 banking crisis. As any observant shopper trailing through Britain’s ailing high streets can see, rock-

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£52 BILLION PAY CUT A TUC analysis published to launch its new campaign ‘Britain Needs a Pay Rise’ showed that the country’s overall pay packet was £52bn smaller last year compared to the eve of the recession in 2007, with total pay across some regional economies shrinking by 10 per cent. The TUC analysis of official figures showed that on the eve of the recession in 2007, workers across the UK were earning a total of £690bn (in 2012 prices). Despite rises in employment, the total pay packet has fallen by 7.5 per cent over five years – a real-terms annual cut of £52bn in 2012. Professionals working in education and social care have proven particularly vulnerable to the effects of reducing public sector funding – in particular, through job losses in the critical middle tier of local government and the shift to short-term consultancy at the expense of secure full-time jobs. The TUC argues there are three main reasons for the sharp fall in total pay and these strike a familiar note to people working in our sector. Firstly, wages are failing to keep pace with inflation. Secondly, there has been a shift towards reduced working hours, including part-time work. Finally, middle and relatively

well-paid jobs, particularly in the public sector, are being replaced with lower paid jobs in the private sector. The Trades Union Congress, in its authoritative economic review, reports that average total pay (which includes bonuses) has risen by 1.3 per cent and, although this is still below inflation, it initially looks as if it is an improvement when compared with the May 2013 figure of 0.6 per cent. “However,” says the TUC, “this is deceptive, as it seems from the data that bonuses were delayed to avoid the 50 per cent tax rate. When bonus pay is included, the rate of annual increase jumped from minus 2.6 per cent in March to plus 15 per cent in April. In finance and business services, the rate rose from minus 2.6 per cent to plus 22.5 per cent. As this is a one-off factor, average weekly earnings will fall back in next month’s figures.” Regular pay for employees rose by 0.9 per cent, which confirms that the squeeze on real wages continues with RPI at 3.1 per cent and CPI at 2.7 per cent. The TUC analysis finds that real wages have been falling for 40 months in Britain; the last time average wages grew by more than inflation was back in November 2009. The country is now in the fourth year of falling real wages, something that has not happened since the 1870s.

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AUSTERITY BRITAIN provision in particular, are beset with big structural problems that recent government efforts barely tackle and which have perverse side effects.

Children are the first to suffer in Austerity Britain. Increasing child poverty – documented in this issue of Improvement on pages 6-7 – is a key factor in failing attainment at school. Childcare generally, and early years

The 2013 Budget allocated £200 million to the universal credit system for people whose working hours are great enough to qualify them for the childcare subsidy. However, Chancellor Osborne also announced that £750 million would go towards tax-free childcare vouchers. Experts estimate that

eight out of 10 of those benefiting would be in the top 40 per cent of earners – a measure that is of limited use to the children of the poorest working families. Meanwhile, a 10 per cent slice off of child-care tax credits hits low income parents – most especially single parents. Sure Start children’s centres, many of whose key staff are members of the Aspect Group, are closing – 400 have shut since the removal of ring fencing from local authority budgets.

Britain is hurting. Too many politicians have no idea just how tough life is for the many. Prices are rising while wages are held back, service cuts are biting hard and getting tough on cheats is used as an excuse to cut vital benefits and tax credits for millions who have played by the rules. Throughout June 2013, the TUC Austerity Bus toured Britain linking up with local union campaigns and helping people tell their own story about life in Britain today – gathering the evidence to convict government policies. See more at:

bottom consumer demand means a dispiriting spiral of decline – with cash-strapped consumers unwilling to buy, workers fearful of job loss saving as much as they can and reducing debt wherever possible, private sector employers fearful of investment and banks hoarding cash piles while investment and productivity are falling.

For public sector workers in particular but for all workers in general, government pay policy has driven down consumer demand and is a major factor in the continuing decline in the real value of pay. Adjusted for inflation, the real value of pay has fallen by seven per cent since the start of 2008. At the end of 2012, the real value

of wages was more than £50 billion a year lower than in 2008. There has been a real-terms fall in consumer demand of five per cent, to a level lower than that in 2001. Adjusted for inflation, the real value of public sector take-home pay will fall by £7 billion by 2015.

summer 2013 | Improvement | 37

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Beauty in the eye of the


Ian Benson sees some virtue in the Adonis academies vision

The work to secure a world-class education system is an attempt to hit a fast-moving target. Twenty five years ago, when England had 30 per cent of its school children getting good GCSEs (five at grade A-C, including English and Maths), France had 33 per cent and Singapore had 41 per cent. Today, England has reached 59 per cent, yet France is at 66 per cent and Singapore is at 82 per cent. In his latest book, Andrew Adonis proposes a target of 90 per cent for England – reached today by only 28 of 3,000 non-selective schools. He suggests that the way to achieve 90 per cent is signalled by the 446 schools surveyed by Kevan Collins, sometime education director of Tower Hamlets, where children from the poorest backgrounds achieve above the national average GCSE score. Much of his book is an account of the sponsored academy programme as his preferred response to this challenge, but he also discusses the implications for local authority services. As an author of Labour’s 2015 Election manifesto, Adonis provides insights into how a Labour government might continue the Gove reforms.

“Adonis provides insights into how a Labour government might continue the Gove reforms”

Haringey Save Our Schools demonstration saying no to forced academies – North London © Jess Hurd/

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The gradual introduction of academy schools has been controversial ever since the first three academies opened in 2002-3. On one side of the debate, there are fierce supporters who passionately believe that increased autonomy will sharpen the incentive for all staff to do better. It will allow schools to pursue innovative policies that drive up the educational attainment of their pupils. On the other hand, there are fierce critics who campaign against the policy of academies because they believe that it will not work and that they are a way of implicitly privatising the education system in England – leading to increased social segregation. Academy status by no means writes local authorities out of the script. They retain important responsibilities:

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ACADEMIES school improvement, support services and collaboration. Academy status enables schools to forge co-operative rather than dependent relationships with their councils and local councils continue to have a role in regard to academies – championing the interests of parents, ensuring sufficient school places and organising provision for children outside mainstream education. They also play a key role in commissioning new academies and free schools. Furthermore, most primary schools are unlikely to go down the academy route in the near future so, even if most secondary schools become academies, local authorities will continue to play a direct supervisory role over a large proportion of schools in each locality. The pressure on local authorities and governments to improve the performance of school systems is acute and unrelenting. It ultimately stems from the evolution in world labour markets brought about by accelerating technical change. New technologies enable the UK’s clerical work to be automated and outsourced across the globe, while advanced manufacturing processes – embedded in software systems – are relocated away from Britain in facilities close to emerging markets. Compared to the recent past, the result is an ‘hourglass’ economy – polarising jobs into the extremes of low-skilled work or senior managerial and professional jobs. The premium earned by the highly educated will only rise in the years to come. Over the next decade, the biggest increases in employment in the UK are expected to be in these higherlevel occupations – at least two million jobs. It was not surprising, then, that the City and technology sectors, first to encounter these global forces, were the first to respond. Margaret Thatcher appointed Kenneth Baker Minister for Information Technology in 1981 and Secretary of State for Education in 1986. His 1988 Education Act permitted government to form education partnerships with the private sector and he actively encouraged public-private schools to deliver education. The first batch of this new type of school were City Technology Colleges (or CTCs). The academy school programme is a continuation and development of

the CTC scheme. Ten of the original 15 CTCs sponsor more than 30 new academies, which is typical of the more than 50 academy chains that sponsor more than one academy. But can he find sufficient sponsors? Adonis argues that part of the answer lies with the foundations that provide England with the largest private charitable school sector in the world. Every successful private school and private school foundation should sponsor an academy or academies and transform themselves into stateprivate school federations. As centres of excellence, private schools are much more significant than is suggested by the numbers alone: half a million students compared to eight million in the state sector. These schools educate 18 per cent of fulltime students over the age of 16 and win one in three of all A level ‘A’ grades in physics, chemistry and history.

“There are real risks in systems organised around test results that schools and teachers will game the system” A quarter of the converter academies have joined academy chains to enrich their networks and improve their support services. More than 30 universities now sponsor academies. Adonis argues that every university and Oxbridge college should sponsor at least one academy, and the selective universities and every Oxbridge college should become an active proponent of Teach First. Universities need to become intensively engaged in the reinvention of the bottom half of the comprehensives through Academies and Teach First, and should regard this enhanced engagement as a central, not secondary, part of their missions. In addition to convincing educational charities to do more than simply ‘sell privilege’, Adonis argues that successful academies should themselves sponsor other academies, in particular by attempting to ‘clone’ or leverage

successful state schools to provide new or replacement schools. In the past, this task was left to local council bureaucracies, which by and large did it badly because they lacked expertise, commitment or passion. The potential is immense for educational transformation that is led by the best of the thousand or more converter academies. Adonis’ is a heartening tale of engagement across the Chinese walls that divide the tertiary from the secondary and the private from the state sectors of education. Yet there is a lacuna at the heart of his analysis: it does nothing to address the weaknesses of a system organised around statistically-normed examinations. There are real risks in systems organised around test results that schools and teachers will game the system – for example, by weeding out weak pupils or by teaching to the test to produce cohorts whose knowledge of their subjects is ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’. It is ironic that the ascendancy of scientific management principles, league tables and targets in education is happening at just the time that these principles are being superseded where they were first conceived in factory design. The real challenge for local authorities seeking to improve the performance of the long tail of primary schools is to go beyond scientific management. For more information about the Academies debate, please visit: 2012/nov/02/education-reformingschools-adonis-review

Education, Education, Education Reforming England’s schools Andrew Adonis Biteback Publishing, 2012 304pp ISBN13: 9781849544207

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Working at


David Smith on effective practice in the context of the revised Early Years Foundation Stage Education professionals working throughout the age ranges find insights gained from working with young children useful. Vicky Hutchin, in explaining the 2012 revised EYFS areas of learning and development, considers three ‘characteristics of effective learning’. These can be seen to underpin all the themes developed in the book, so that the reader understands from the outset that the priority is how children learn rather than what they learn. It explores, in detail, the role of practitioners in supporting children’s learning and development and examines the importance of partnership with parents in supporting their children’s learning and development. Also, it very usefully details the observation, assessment and planning cycle, with a particular focus on the statutory summative assessment: the ‘Progress Check at Age Two’. The book is built around case studies taken from a range of early years settings, often related to comments from practitioners as they reflect on and develop their practice, to ensure the best support for young children’s development, learning and wellbeing. There are also numerous photographs, whose value becomes clear as the reader works through the text. Each chapter makes reference to relevant research, and most include ‘top tips for effective practice’ and/or points for reflection. These could be used constructively to create a development plan by any setting wanting to reflect on current practice, or for systematic professional development discussions between practitioners and their managers. Vicky Hutchin makes due reference to the 2008 guidance material and to the 2011 Tickell report, which heavily influenced the 2012 statutory legislation.

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A considerable body of relevant information on this is on the DfE website, but this book is much more sensitively presented than that in showing how practitioners carry out their critically important role of helping the youngest children to learn about learning and about relating to other children and adults. It shows how practitioners in all settings can approach the task with a good understanding of their own role in supporting and sometimes – but definitely not always – in leading learning.

“It is children’s interests that motivate them most, not what an adult wants” The book launches quickly into illustrations of self-initiated learning. It becomes immediately clear that ‘play’ is often actually ‘work’ when young children commit themselves to exploration of materials and become able to talk to others about what they have discovered. Teachers of much older children would learn a lot from reflecting on the relevance of this to their own approaches. Hutchin’s analysis of the characteristics of effective learning makes the reader acutely aware that, if we invariably got learning and progression in the Early Years right, the rest of education – for everybody – would be easier and less fraught. Maybe it would help to overcome the slowdown in KS3 that Ofsted recently criticised? She quotes the 2007 Primary National Strategies: “When we receive encouragement for our efforts and our ideas are valued, our feelings acknowledged and our discoveries

recognised, we come to see the world as a safe place and ourselves as competent and capable agents within it.” This is true well beyond the EYFS, and into adult life. The author emphasises the critical importance of persistence in early learning, and how to encourage and support it. Some of the most important skills children need for the future are the meta-cognitive skills, which involve them reflecting on their own learning: “Awareness of oneself as a thinker and learner is a key aspect of success in learning” (Tickell, 2011). When children are asked to say how they solved a problem, they learn more than when they are simply given positive feedback on solving it – again, also true into later life. Helping children to structure their own learning is about what Hutchin calls “co-construction”, requiring a balance between child-initiated and adult-led and including careful conversation that encourages further thinking. She stresses the need for settings to provide indoor and outdoor environments that are rich and stimulating, tidy and uncluttered, and with different types of material available – not all of it specialist or expensive. An excellent illustration of this can be seen in the Primary National Strategy training DVD Questioning Everyday Practice, where a group of Year R children construct an ‘aeroplane’ large enough for them to sit in using lengths of wood and cardboard fruit boxes, then prepare to ‘fly’ it using a map cut from a travel brochure. Another group learns a lot from a box of semiprecious stones “bought from Asda”. A crucial part of the EYFS discussed in chapter three is the partnership between practitioners – especially the ‘key persons’ – and parents. Setting up such partnerships is far from easy. It needs time and commitment, on both sides, to educate parents and carers on what to look out for and how to respond. It is harder in settings with part-time practitioners and with parents who have low parenting skills. The book could maybe have spent more time on this area of concern. Writing this review, I watch a threeyear-old boy playing alone for about 30 minutes by the sea, engrossed in mixing water and sand. His father, previously obsessively texting and telephoning, suddenly goes to him, kneels and, taking his little spade and fork, begins to give the child a first lesson in military architecture –

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EYFS building a sandcastle, with towers and a moat. The boy, uninterested and uninvolved, goes off to his mother 20 yards away. I reflect on a learning opportunity wasted by a parent who no doubt felt he was educating his son. Despite ministerial confidence that parents know what is best for their children, incidents like this suggest that they do not – but perhaps could with some training. As a nursery teacher says in the book: “it is about seeing something happen with a child... and you begin to work out how you can intervene appropriately.” It is children’s interests that motivate them most, not what an adult wants.

A strong reflective element characterises this book. Within its short span, it also includes considerations of PSED, communication and language, physical development, literacy, mathematics, understanding the world and expressive arts and design. The last two chapters are about ensuring pupils’ progress through assessment and planning (scope for an entire book there) and using the revised EYFS to evaluate practice in all settings. The book’s subtitle is “An Essential Guide”. ‘Essential for whom?’ is the obvious question. Foundation Stage managers might feel that the book

offers them no more than a summary of what they already practice, although observation suggests that not all longexperienced early years practitioners have yet absorbed all that this book has to offer. They, student teachers, those new to early years working in a range of settings (including childcare) and certainly parents might well find that Vicky Hutchin’s slim volume opens their eyes to new understandings and new wonderment. Vicky Hutchin is an early years consultant and a member of the Aspect Group. David Smith is a governor in two primary schools in deprived areas and a former local authority officer.

Effective Practice in the EYFS: An Essential Guide Vicky Hutchin Open University Press, March 2013 176pp £15.99

Children playing with a treasure basket at Dulverton Children’s Centre, Somerset. © Paul Box/

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Largely written for an American readership but noting similarities and differences with practice in the United Kingdom, the book offers a concise guide to fostering, what to expect as a foster parent and immediate practical solutions. It outlines the different stages of a fostering relationship, raising issues commonly encountered at each stage and offering the means of tackling them. It also explains the impact of trauma on the child, how this can show itself through challenging behaviour and how to respond to it. The book discusses the skills and knowledge required to support the needs of children in foster care. Noting that foster parents go through seven major stages during the time they spend with each foster child, the book aims to “provide stepby-step guidance to some of the difficult choices and issues” facing a foster carer. Motivational: This chapter invites the prospective foster carer to be clear about the reasons a child is taken into care and the motives for

ABOUT THE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION GROUP The Early Childhood Education Group comprises senior local authority early years advisers and independent early childhood consultants, working across the breadth and length of England. Its work involves supporting, advising, mentoring and training for all early years managers, headteachers and practitioners, including Professional Status (EYPs) Practitioners and Early Years Teachers across the whole Early Years sector – maintained, private, independent and voluntary providers. A number

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offering to be a foster carer. Goals of foster caring are summarised. Planning: The chapter covers the importance of planning and of knowing whether foster caring ‘is for you’. It discusses errors commonly made within the foster family, and offers the means of avoiding heartache and regret later on. Welcoming: Just how do you welcome a sad and frightened child into your home? How do you manage the child’s transition into your home while protecting your own family? Displacement trauma: Understanding the child’s displacement trauma, and how foster children always find their own way of coping. Adapting: Understanding the different behaviours to be expected from a child or young person newly in care, and devising strategies for managing them. Education: The many facets of foster caring, and parenting strategies that have been found to work with foster children. Empowering and disengaging: The most painful part of the process is letting the child/young person go; the potential for maintaining a collaborative relationship. The final pages of the book include a list of resources available in the United States, Canada, Australasia and the United Kingdom, along

of the group also work as Ofsted inspectors. Within the union, the Group forms the strategic lead for early years pedagogy and practice. The Group is committed to continuous quality improvement and welcomes government initiatives that are designed to raise the quality of the qualifications of the early years workforce as it knows that this will impact on the quality of provision for young children. It believes that quality practice and provision have a significant impact on children’s life chances and success in later education, as demonstrated in The Effective Provision of Pre-School

with a full bibliography and an extensive index. CONCLUSION

A potentially useful and practical book, asking key questions and discussing many issues related to fostering. Based on the author’s extensive clinical experience in the United States, there is – as she puts it – “a bias within this book”. For the most part, though, the content of the book relates to all foster carers. Suitable links are provided to alternative information where the law or school systems are under discussion.

Foster Parenting Step-by-Step – How to Nurture the Traumatized Child and Overcome Conflict Dr. Kalyani Gopal
 Foreword by Irene Clements Paperback: £9.99/$17.95 
ISBN: 978-1-84905-937-4

Name Title of your current post Local authority (where applicable) Workplace address

Postcode Tel Fax Email Home address

Education (EPPE) project and the current Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE 16+) research. The Group is committed to improving ratios and is strongly opposed to any increase in ratios of children to adults, as it knows the importance of the adult’s role in the early years in providing emotional support as well as good communication models for young children. Research around Attachment Theory highlights the importance of adults in children’s lives, and anything that threatens the quality of relationships between adults and the children and their families is strongly opposed.

Postcode Tel Fax Email Date of application Main areas of responsibility, enthusiasm and interest

When completed, please return to the Aspect Group membership department, Woolley Hall, Woolley, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF4 2JR. For more information, please go to


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Ministers should consult Public pressure has forced a U-turn on childcare ratios, but concerns about the status of early years professionals still need addressing, argues Claire Dent


he government’s climb-down over increasing child ratios has been welcomed by early years professionals. Sense has prevailed, as politicians have recognised the importance of high-quality professionals and the impact they have on the lives of children. Every parent wants the best for their child. Early years professionals also want the best for children, and that means the quality of the childcare provided. Quality would be undermined by increasing the number of children they are responsible for by the ratios in More Great Childcare. Children need to form a secure attachment, have a safe, stimulating environment and enjoy the opportunity to play. Let’s not forget that the smaller ratios are also in place to protect the safety of children. They take into account the stage of development that children are at for each age group and allow their individual needs to be catered for, while recognising the capabilities of any one adult to supervise the children, keeping them safe from potentially harmful situations and giving each child the attention he or she requires. This is not the end of our struggles, though. The Aspect Group of Prospect remains concerned about the continued march towards changes in qualifications from Early Years Professional Status to Early Years Teacher without any evidence that this will benefit service users (children and parents) or increase the status of the profession. Cathy Nutbrown, the government’s own expert, has opposed re-badging the profession, saying that improved status cannot be achieved simply by changing ‘the name on the tin’. At a recent meeting with Prospect’s Early Years National Committee, Department for Education officials suggested that the education landscape had changed in relation to the academy agenda within schools and Nutbrown’s comments were, therefore, irrelevant. We disagree, and are worried that that the focus in early years will be all about education rather than nurture and building

secure attachments. Existing EYPs will not have to do any further training. EYTs will meet the new EY teaching standards, which are similar to the existing ones but focus more on ‘teaching’ as opposed to early years pedagogy.

“Early years does not need to be subject to further ‘schoolification’. It is the most precious time for building relationships and learning about the world, without any pressure to meet targets or goals.” A GCSE in science will be required for new applicants to early years teacher courses, in line with other teacher training. However, graduates in early years will not hold Qualified Teacher Status and will not have access to pay scales enjoyed by other graduate professions such as teaching and nursing. Early years does not need to be subject to further ‘schoolification’. It is the most precious time for building relationships and learning about the world, without any pressure to meet targets or goals. You can’t ‘teach’ the under threes – it should be about a deep understanding of child

development and how to scaffold learning. There’s no point turning up at work and setting a target for all your one-year-olds to learn to walk in the first half term! Recent history has shown that, if politicians consulted the experts – those who actually work at the coalface – before any change is implemented, the need for policy U-turns may be avoided. Never underestimate the power of the collective voice. Changes in policy across every section of society have come about because people have come together and voiced their concerns. That’s why we encourage early years professionals, parents and others who are concerned to write to their MP and tell them why they think EYPS should continue and what an important job these professionals do. Early years settings could also invite their local newspaper or radio journalist to come and see the difference a highly-trained professional makes to the lives of children. Raising the profile of the profession is not just about changing the name; it’s about letting everyone know how valuable EYPs are and how children benefit from their input. There is strength in numbers, and joining a professional union enables EYPs to gain access to decision-makers. Prospect’s Early Years Professionals National Committee will continue to be outspoken. We know how theory relates to practice because our members work on the ground with babies and children, and understand first-hand what is needed. Proposals set on paper may look achievable, but we would challenge ministers to spend a day in an early years setting to really understand the needs of these children. Claire Dent is the Aspect Group’s negotiations officer leading the EYPS National Committee

DFE CHILDCARE QUALIFICATIONS OVERHAUL childcare-qualifications-overhaul

summer 2013 | Improvement | 43

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Win a case of wine!

Sign up a new member to the Aspect Group of Prospect and you are entered into a draw for a case of wine. Your new recruit gets a case of wine too! expert negotiators across the country are on hand to represent them. They will be joining a union with an unrivalled pool of knowledge and experience with a pioneering track record on policy, contacts unrivalled in our sector – in government, children’s services and education – and links through Prospect with professionals working across the public and private sectors. The Aspect Group’s programme of continuing professional development and its highly competitive professional indemnity cover are there to lend a real sense of security.

What to do!


rofessionals working in education and children’s services are facing unprecedented problems – shrinking budgets, vanishing jobs, burgeoning workloads and a pay freeze. We need the strength of our union more than ever. Professionals working in our sector need individual advice and support.They need individual protection and the collective protection that only a trade union can provide. The union protects the interests of thousands of professionals who are playing vital roles in shaping and influencing the lives of millions of children and young people in unprecedentedly difficult circumstances. The Aspect Group’s range of members is constantly growing and now includes

2013 ASPECT GROUP PRIZE DRAW Name of new member Address Name of recruiter Address Post code Phone Email

✁ 44 | Improvement | summer 2013

directors and managers of children’s services, school improvement and early years advisers, education welfare officers, youth service managers, early years professionals, 14-19 coordinators, social workers in education, heads of Sure Start, social care professionals, Ofsted inspectors, specialist foster careers, parent partnership staff and self-employed consultants. You will know many of these people through your work and professional life. Ask them if they are a member of the Aspect Group of Prospect. If they are not, sign them up! You are an ambassador for the union in the work environment and individual members are often the most effective recruiters of their peers and colleagues. For those who do not immediately see the value of membership, you can let them know that the union’s

Recruit a member. Join Aspect Group forms are downloadable at www.aspect. Alternatively, contact 01226 383428 or email for a recruitment pack. Attach this to the completed application form.

REASONS TO JOIN THE ASPECT GROUP OF PROSPECT expert support and representation on salaries, contracts, conditions of service, workloads, pensions and other workrelated issues access to the Group's free 24-hour legal helpline discounted rates on a wide range of Aspect Group training courses specialist career support services a no-strings attached tax health check informative publications, including a quarterly magazine and regular digest of key educational and children's services reports highly competitive professional indemnity, public liability and employer's liability insurance cover independent financial advice excellent package of financial services from Unity Trust Bank reductions on gas, electricity and hotel accommodation a tax refund service

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Specialist help and advice Aspect Group regional and specialist officers GLENN JOHNSON



London/Southern England and East Midlands

London and Southern England






South West and West Midlands

Head of Professional Learning




North of England

NE England, Scotland, Northern Ireland

Social Care

Aspect Group National Council – Regional and Sector Representatives MIKE WOOLER


Region 1 North East

Region 11 Northern Ireland



Region 2 Yorkshire and the Humber

Region 12 Scotland



Region 3 East Midlands

Self-employed Educational Consultant Sector





Region 5 East of England NIGEL HOLMES

Region 6 South East REGION 7 SOUTH WEST



Region 8 West Midlands

REGION 9 WALES vacancy


Region 10 North West

Private Education Company Sector LEN HAMPSON

Voluntary and Voluntary-aided Sector KATE HALL




Friday November 8, 2013 The biennial general meeting of the Aspect Group of Prospect will be held on Friday November 8, 2013 at the Leicester Marriot Hotel at 2pm. The general meeting is open to full current members of the Aspect Group of Prospect and is an important event in our calendar. The meeting will receive information about activities undertaken in the previous year and will receive and vote upon motions which will help shape the Group’s policies. If you are interested in attending the meeting or would like to receive further information, please email or telephone the Aspect Group of Prospect on 01226 383428. ASPECT GROUP COUNCIL

Nominations are now open for the position of Vice-President of Aspect Group Council. The Council includes as voting members representatives from regions in England and Wales, representatives of Welsh and Scottish members and members in the North of Ireland. In addition, a number of specialists and observers attend meetings along with officials and staff. If you are interested in nominating a colleague for this post, please contact Jayne Clark on 01226 383 428 or email for further information or to request a nomination form. Closing date for nominations is Friday September 13, 2013.

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School improvement: job round up ADVISER/INSPECTOR March 22 – Devon Primary Advisor £47,719-£54,000 March 22 – Redbridge School Improvement Adviser – Primary 25-28 £58,741-£61,827 March 22 – Newham Learning Adviser 15-19 £51,406-£55,872 April 19 – Cambridgeshire Adviser: Networks, Partnerships and Commissioning £44,674-£56,877 April 19 – Redbridge Inclusion/SEN Advisor – Early Years £36,306-£38,961 April 26 – Merton School Improvement Inspector 23-26 £59,641-£62,652 April 26 – Estyn Her Majesty's Inspectors of Education and Training £54,500-£66,800 May 17 – Kensington/Chelsea Lead Adviser – School Standards £47,600-64,400 May 31 – Merton Primary Learning and Teaching Adviser 10-13 £42,649-£46,152 June 14 – Tribal Freelance Early Years Inspectors June 21 – Education London Subject Advisers (English and Maths)

CHIEF/PRINCIPAL March 22 – Co-op Trust Director of Education April 19 – Arch Diocese of Birmingham Director of Education £80,000 May 3 – Cambridgeshire Service Director, Learning £90,200£101,150 May 24 – Hillingdon Head of Education Policy and Standards £88,515-£110,644 May 31 – Camden Assistant Director, Raising Achievement/Aspiration £100,000 June 7 – Haberdashers' Aske's Federation Director of Training and Curriculum Development £70,000-£90,000 EARLY YEARS May 2 – Tinies - Finchley Nursery Nurse/EYPS £17,000-£20,000 May 2 – Caleeda Ltd – Reigate Early Years Professional/Graduate £18,000-£19,000 May 2 – Caleeda Ltd – Romford Nursery Nurse/Deputy Manager with EYPS £18,000-£20,000 May 2 – Salmestone Primary School Early Years Practitioner £26,000

May 14 – Caleeda Ltd – Poole EYPS Lead £15,500-£17,500 May 14 – Tigerlily Childcare Pre-school Room Leader £18,000-£20,000 CONSULTANTS April 26 – Surrey/Babcock4S Primary Consultant April 26 – Surrey/Babcock4S Primary/EYFS Consultant April 26 – Hartlepool Teaching and Learning Consultants (Literacy) 9-12 £41,491-44,899 May 24 – York City Primary Teaching and Learning Consultant (Maths) 8-11 £40,192-£47,269 May 24 – Capita School Improvement Consultant OTHER March 22 – Achievement for All (Charity) Achievement coaches April 2 – Baptist Union of Great Britain Safeguarding Officer £36,288 April 2 – United Reform Church Youth and Children's Work Programme Officer £35,232 April 19 – Guernsey Education Department Education Development Officer – Secondary £46,960-£57,934

April 19 – Doncaster Service Manager, Engagement and Behaviour 21-24 £54,679-£57,705 April 19 – Newham Quality Assurance Officer (Inclusion) April 19 – Ten Group Group Strategic Lead English/Literacy £45,505-£49,682 April 19 – Redbridge Team Leader Early Years Childcare Improvement £38,961-£41,610 April 26 – Ten Group (Norfolk) Group Strategic Lead English and Literacy £45,505-£49,862 April 26 – Powys Primary School Improvement Officer 16-22 £49,620-£55,658 April 26 – Merton Casework and Assessment Manager £46,908£47,850 April 26 – Merton Team Leader – Children with disabilities £40,716£43,368 April 26 – Merton SEN Case Work Officer £30,390-£32,607 April 26 – Birmingham Curriculum Leader – Languages and Culture £32,117-£35,374 April 26 – Birmingham Head of Standards and Performance £35,374-£40,654 April 30 – Poole Team Manager – Child Health and Disability £38,961-£41,616

April 30 – The Hyde Group Youth Development Co-ordinator £28,000 May 10 – Strictly Education Ltd Education and Technology Services Consultant £37,500£43,500 May 24 – Charlton Athletic Community Trust Head of Education £45,000 May 24 – Ealing Primary Education Leader – English 21-24 £57,582-63,684 May 24 – Ealing SEN and Inclusion Leader 21-24 £57,582-£63,684 May 31 – Worcestershire Team Manager – Integrated Services – Looked After Children £40,518£43,696 June 7 – Gloucestershire SEN Casework Manager £41,931£45,091 June 7 – Kent Catholic Schools Partners School Improvement Panel Members June 14 – Pickwick Learning School Improvement Associates SENIOR April 19 – Redbridge Head of School Inclusion and Behaviour 17-20 £52,563-£55,468 April 26 – Brent School ImprovementLead (Primary) 29-32 £62,876-£66,016

April 26 – Brent Commissioning and Systems Manager 19-22 £52,969-£55,658 April 26 – Diocese of St Albans Deputy Director of Education £42,244-£44,586 May 3 – North Yorkshire Assistant Director of Quality and Improvement Services £85,000 May 10 – South/East Wales Education Achievement Systems Leader 20-26 £53,554-59,749 May 10 – Warrington Advisers 16-19 £48,985-£55,495 May 10 – Derbyshire County Council Assistant Director (Schools and Learning) £80,000 May 17 – Newport Deputy Chief Education Officer 40 £74,702 May 17 – St Helens Advisor 22-28 £55,658-£61,827 May 24 – Aberdeenshire Quality Improvement Manager £57,528 May 24 – Ealing Primary Education Adviser 27-30 £63,684-£69,974 May 24 – Ealing Principal Adviser Inclusion 32-35 £68,919-£75,432 June 21 – St Helens Adviser 22-28 £55,658-£61,827

Need expert legal advice? Call the Aspect Group’s 24-hour legal helpline on 0161 830 4511

Please have your membership number to hand, as you will need it for identification purposes Russell, Jones & Walker, part of Slater & Gordon Lawyers

46 | Improvement | summer 2013

Have you or one of your family been injured in the last 3 years? The Aspect Personal Injury Line, run on our behalf by Slater & Gordon lawyers (formerly RJW), could help you. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the Aspect Personal Injury Line offers: Help for injuries at work, on the road or at home Specialist legal advice on personal injury matters No win, no fee Help on any claim, large or small.

Slater & Gordon Lawyers have been representing Unions and their members for over 85 years. Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

To speak to an expert personal injury lawyer call free on:

0800 916 9018

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Summer 2013 Improvement  

Magazine of the Aspect Group trade union for education and children's services professionals