CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
Time to settle the Bill An overhaul of the SEND system, changes to childcare, and the requirement that all local authorities have a ‘virtual school head’ to champion the education of lookedafter children, form the backbone of the new Children and Families Bill, published in February. The Bill will have a significant impact on the lives of many people, said Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the NAHT. “This Bill contains important changes and will be wideranging in its impact on children and parents,” he said. “Those in the profession will doubtless have insights and suggestions for best practice as it moves through Parliament. “Although there is much that can and must be done to improve our support for the most vulnerable, children with special needs should not be the focus of cost-cutting. “We will watch carefully to ensure we are able to continue to provide the highly skilled and talented support
their parents expect. There are concerns in this regard with the revision of statementing, for example.” The old SEND statement system is to be replaced by a new plan that covers people’s education, health and care needs from birth to 25. Parents will be offered personal budgets to give them greater choice and control. The Association is looking forward to debate over the Bill, the General Secretary said. “We need to unpick the details to see how its contents will work in practice,” he said. “Any recommendations the Bill makes will need to be properly resourced and funded, and nor are we clear how legislation can bridge the cultural, procedural and structural gaps between education and health which have consistently hampered joint working in the past.” The Bill also covers issues relating to family justice, parental leave, flexible working and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.
Wellcome Trust leads new work on school governance The Wellcome Trust is working with school leaders, governors, the National College, DfE, Fisher Family Trust and Teach First on a recommended code of governance for schools. It is also looking at how to provide better data for governors. It is piloting the code in 21 schools over two years (from November 2012). The schools selected are a mixture of school types, have different Ofsted categories and are from various parts of England. Spokeswoman Lalage Smyth said: “We hope schools will use the
recommended code to effectively set strategic direction, to ensure the school governing body is working effectively and to allow the governing body to hold the school senior leaders to account for performance. “In terms of performance data, it may be abundant, but governors can sometimes find it hard to interpret. Also, its supply is typically controlled by the school management with the risk that information may not always reach governors.” • To read the recommended code of governance, please visit: bit.ly/ZqW25A
NEWS IN BRIEF SPORT IS A WINNER Two thirds of schools are good or outstanding in PE achievement, according to Ofsted. Its Beyond 2012 report found that boys, girls and SEND pupils all made similar progress and that they enjoyed school and achieved more when they could train as playground buddies or junior sports leaders. However, it also found that a ﬁfth of pupils could not swim 25 metres by the end of Year 6. TA AND NCSL MERGE The Teaching Agency and the National College for School Leadership will merge at the end of March. The new body will be responsible for promoting high-quality teaching and leadership. The new organisation must maintain its focus on leadership, said Russell Hobby, NAHT General Secretary. “It’s hard to overestimate the driving force of an inspirational leader and almost impossible for schools to succeed without one.” PENSION SCHEME CHANGES Teachers will need to contribute more to their pension funds in the next financial year, the Government announced. This shows that it has failed to listen to the concerns of the profession, said Russell Hobby. “In particular we are concerned that school leaders in their early 40s will decide to opt out of the scheme completely,” he said. MARCH/APRIL 2013 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS 9
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Leadership Focus March/April 2013