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INSPECTIONS

LAs could face the Ofsted test will determine whether an inspection is required, such as the proportion of children who attend a good or better school, attainment levels across the local authority, children’s rates of progress in relation to starting points, and the volume of qualifying complaints about schools in a local authority area.” Steve Iredale, the NAHT’s President, described the proposals as ‘bizarre’. “Local authorities are having their wings clipped, their powers reduced and their funding removed, yet they’re still expected to support schools as best they can, with reduced numbers of personnel,” he said. Failing authorities do not necessarily equate to failing schools, he added. “Just because LAs are failing to deliver support to schools, it doesn’t follow that schools are not delivering value.”

STEVE SMETHURST

Local authorities’ (LAs) school improvement functions will be subject to Ofsted inspections if the agency’s proposed new framework comes in to force. Sir Michael Wilshaw, HM chief inspector, said Ofsted would get involved where was evidence that authorities were failing to demonstrate effective leadership or to fulfil their statutory duties. “If England has any pretensions to be a worldleading education system, we must have higher ambitions and be absolutely committed as a nation to doing something about the wide variations in standards across our country,” he said. “Ofsted is proposing to focus inspection where it is needed most, meaning that not all local authorities will be inspected within a prescribed or regular interval. A number of indicators

NAHT PILOTS ‘ASSURE’

Schools and academies can now access payroll, human resources, property, and health and safety services through the NAHT’s new Assure programme. The scheme, run in partnership with Strictly Education, will provide support that is no longer available through all councils, said Bernadette Hunter, the NAHT’s Vice-President (pictured). “We’re pleased to be able to offer a range of services to colleagues in schools and we’re looking forward to seeing how our pilot schemes work out,” she said. “We’re conscious that there are parts of the country where the local authority is unable to provide these facilities any more. Offering this will help to ensure that schools have quality provision for essential services such as health and safety.” Steve Iredale, NAHT President, added: “We encourage schools to look beyond their localities as funding cuts cause local services to decline. We can reassure schools that there is an alternative that is equally secure and which could offer better value for money,” he said.

GCSE REGRADE

No regrade for GCSE papers, judge rules Thousands of students who missed out on a C grade in GCSE English last year will not have their papers regraded, a judge ruled in February. Lord Justice Elias found that Ofqual had done the best it could with a qualification which was structured unfairly and although the alliance of

school leaders, teaching unions and councils was right to bring the case, the grades would not be revised. The alliance, which included the NAHT, brought the judicial review before the courts after a shift in grade boundaries meant young people who sat GCSE English in the summer needed more marks for a

C than those who did the exam in January. The result was ‘disappointing’ but the NAHT was right to bring the challenge, said Steve Iredale, the Association’s President. “It may lead to reforms in the system, so maybe we’ve been a catalyst for change, but I’m still frustrated by what’s happened,” he said.

Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the NAHT, added: “Grading decisions were unfair and an injustice was done to many thousands of pupils. “While boundaries have not been restored, we hope this action will demonstrate to Ofqual and the exam boards that they should not act like this again.” MARCH/APRIL 2013 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS

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