Monday, 27 June 2011

Some Wise Advice from Sir Tim Brighouse!

Assuming you cannot resist, there are five dos and don’ts.

My colleague and friend Sir Tim Brighouse offers us all some wise advice as we struggle to come to terms with the new learning landscape of Academies and Free Schools and the changes to almost every aspect of the learning infrastructure in the search for excellence!

"Assuming you cannot resist, there are five dos and don’ts...
Don’t go alone
Find partners: for some rural and suburban schools that might be a secondary school and its partner primary schools. For others, their faith grouping may represent an attractive umbrella. The emerging co-operative trusts seem to offer principled support and low overheads and may be the answer for most.

Fair admissions
Make sure your group is committed to principles of fairness of admissions and sharing ideas on school improvement and professional development.

Chain warning
Beware the siren sounds of the new “chains” of schools, especially if they have ambitious plans for expansion. All the early evidence is that they are likely to be more “controlling” than the worst of the local education authorities of 20 years ago. And in some instances their overheads are too high and their relationships with profit-making companies too close.

Clear rules
Be clear about the rules of your partnerships. What are the purposes and who leads on what? What are the success criteria? What are the financial arrangements for partnership activities?

Your focus
Do not lose sight of teaching and learning as your focus. It will be all too easy to be distracted. So knowing where best practice is nationally as well as locally will be an imperative for your group.

Final thought
Of course when somebody realises that the secretary of state has too much power and there aren’t enough checks and balances in the system, some form of local democratic accountability will be re-introduced and the curious mixture of nationalisation and privatisation reversed. So keeping close to those who guard the interests of the whole of the local community – local government – might be a good idea too."

Professor Sir Tim Brighouse is visiting professor at the Institute of Education in London and a board member of the 21st Century Learning Alliance.

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