Government urged to slow pace of schools reform

Published on Friday, 02 May 2014 09:33
Written by Govtoday staff

Almost three quarters of parents believe that introducing too much change into schools too quickly damages their child's education.

In a survey conducted on behalf of the NAHT, 73% of parents said pressures on schools to implement new initiatives in a short space of time would harm their child's education. NAHT has been calling for a slow down in the pace of change in schools which, heads say, compromises overall progress. Now, the school leaders' union says it appears that parents share the same fears.

Parents also believe that politicians should trust the profession to make the right choices for pupils (69%). Meanwhile, the majority are not convinced that current government direction is boosting school standards. Of the coalition government flagship policies on assessment and school structure, 62% of parents believe that the introduction of 'tougher' exams will either make no difference or make standards worse and 71% believe that academies and free schools will not raise standards.

At the NAHT's annual conference in Birmingham today, delegates will call for a rigorous analysis to establish why teachers and school leaders are leaving the profession early. They will also ask the union's national executive to continue to lobby government to trust teachers and school leaders to do a professional job and to stop micro-managing the system.

Members have also asked for a break in the Ofsted inspection regime to give schools time to introduce and bed-in changes.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT, said: "Our education system is not perfect and most school leaders recognise the need for reform. They want that reform to be planned well in advance, focused on the highest priorities and scheduled sensibly throughout a parliamentary term. Government initiatives would get more support and better implementation if they appeared to be better planned.

"By autumn this year, schools will have introduced new safeguarding advice in staff recruitment, ensured their practices are complying with new freedom of information policies, made decisions on new pay policies, adopted new codes of practice for special needs pupils, introduced an entire new curriculum, redesigned assessment and ensured that every primary school is ready to offer free school meals to infants regardless of existing kitchen facilities. Many will also be building new classrooms to meet pupil demand or keeping up with Ofsted's changing guidelines. Some of these new initiatives are sensible ideas, but all at the same time?

"There are no silver bullets in education reform, no bright ideas that will transform everything overnight. Getting the basics right in every school, doing a few things consistently well over an extended period of time - these are the only 'secrets'.

"This is why NAHT members are also calling for the next government to create an Office of Education Responsibility. Just as every new initiative should be independently costed, proposed education reforms should each be audited against the evidence for what works and for the capacity of the system to implement them. A stable five year plan of action, with a few key reforms each year, would win wider support and would result in far greater impact."

Source: NAHT

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