Giving more power to heads key to proposals for school changes

THE previous Education committee wanted decisions about life in schools to be driven more by head teachers, with reduced control from officials at Sir Charles Frossard House.

The president of the former Education, Sport & Culture Committee, Matt Fallaize with members, clockwise, from top left, Peter Roffey, Mark Dorey, Richard Graham and Rhian Tooley. Deputy Roffey was re-elected to the States in October's general election. Mr Graham did not stand. The others lost their seats.
The president of the former Education, Sport & Culture Committee, Matt Fallaize with members, clockwise, from top left, Peter Roffey, Mark Dorey, Richard Graham and Rhian Tooley. Deputy Roffey was re-elected to the States in October's general election. Mr Graham did not stand. The others lost their seats.

The draft proposals were drawn up before the general election, and later shared with all of the former deputies, but time ran out to get the huge shake-up through the States.

The 161-page document was leaked to the Guernsey Press, and it reveals a vision for sweeping reform to the culture and educational attainment levels.

It covers everything from improving special needs provision to strengthening anti-bullying policies, plus free school meals.

At its core is the belief that the existing 1970 Education Law is outdated and fails to capture the duties and powers of a 21st century government.

One of the key suggestions was that there should be devolved governance to governing bodies, so that schools were empowered to take decisions on important operational matters, such as recruitment.

This was based on the concept that head teachers are valued and trusted and know where money needs to be spent in the classroom.

There would still be checks and balances to hold the system to account.

The current set-up of centralised governance and accountability was regarded in the report as giving little flexibility for heads to target resources to meet needs.

‘Instead decisions are currently made at a central level, away from those best placed and most informed to do so.

‘To achieve the committee’s vision of extending opportunity and excellence and to secure better outcomes for more learners, it is important that school leaders have greater freedom to deliver what the children and young people in their care need, and to enable decisions about a student’s learning to be taken as close to them as possible.

‘In order to achieve this, it is key to deliver a system where schools are accountable for delivering excellence and equity, with greatly enhanced leadership support available from the Education Centre.’

In the 2012 Mulkerrin report the lack of devolved governance was identified as a significant weakness.

The crux of good governance is said to lie in the interaction between the governing body and the senior leadership team, and in the competence, integrity and constructive involvement of each individual governor.

The analysis set out what governing bodies should be:

‘Seats of challenge and inquiry that add value without unnecessary interference whilst supporting the leadership team to be more effective.

‘A governing body will only mature if it is competent, co-ordinated, collegiate, and focused on an unambiguous goal.

‘It is not possible for a governing body to simply evolve in this way, it must be built, directed by a vision through continuous improvement, which means that a governing body must return to the same questions about purpose, resources and effectiveness.’

The role of director of education would also have to change under the proposed reforms.

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