The following story narrowly missed publication by Private Eye recently. I think this follow-up to a diary article which ran in my Guardian education column last year is something the public should know about, so am publishing it here.   It puts a new spin on voluntary work. Last year, I was told that the chief executive of a group of academy schools was doing so on an unpaid basis. Now, it has emerged, following the publication of the chain’s annual accounts, that a company of which he was a director was paid nearly £80,000 for the year. The Chapel St chain stands by itsRead More →

Ok, blogging again on this site after another break. I’ve been hoping to have the article below published somewhere, but haven’t been successful, so thought I’d just post it on here. Please read on… The Government is handing privately-sponsored academy trusts funding which could approach £1 million per school to take over the running of struggling former local authority primary and secondary schools. The Department for Education is making the cash available from this month to support the capital and running costs of local authority schools converting to sponsored academies. Critics say the move appears to undermine the principle of a “level playing field” forRead More →

Wednesday, October 31st A response from Ofqual to a Freedom of Information request, published last week, offers fresh insights into this year’s GCSE English grading controversy. Followers of my regular blog on the NAHT’s website will need no reminding that I’ve been taking quite a close interest, having posted several lengthy pieces on this and the related issue of Ofqual’s “comparable outcomes” policy for controlling apparent grade inflation. Ofqual itself is due to publish its final report on this year’s problems on Friday (November 2nd). This latest set of correspondence has been released under FOI to blogger and tweeter Antony Carpen, following an earlier requestRead More →

Friday, October 12th, 2012 I’ve just caught up with a very interesting Radio 4 documentary on “free schools”, which aired last night. The piece prompted quite a few thoughts, but I was particularly taken by comments by, I think, Jeremy Rowe, the head of Sir John Leman school in Beccles, Suffolk, about the possible long-term impact of a new school – a “free school” – which opened in the town last month to make two secondaries there. Mr Rowe’s concern was that although Beccles Free School has so far struggled for pupil numbers, in time it might take pupils away from Sir John Leman andRead More →

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012 OK, hands up: I haven’t been updating this blog in the last few months. This is for a couple of reasons: the demands of childcare and work pressure during the time I am not looking after our daughter. Anyway, enough excuses. I still do hope to be posting on here from time to time in the coming months. And, given the importance of the current controversy over GCSE English results, I wanted to post a blog offering some observations not already put down elsewhere. What follows below is a mixture of some facts I’ve come across over recent days about OfqualRead More →

…what, exactly, is the problem?  Monday, October 17th, 2011 Education policy-making is in a very strange place at present, with politicisation very much to the fore and reform proposals, though often successful in winning headlines for ministers, sometimes having a superficial quality. This means they often do not bear up well against detailed analysis. The latest examples came in a speech last week by Michael Gove to Ofqual, the exams regulator. While I have no problem with Mr Gove looking closely at the exam system and proposing changes, this new foray was, to this observer, remarkably unfocused. I was left unclear not only as to the detail ofRead More →

Friday, October 7th Exam boards are facing fines from the Government’s qualifications regulator after a string of errors in this summer’s GCSE and A-levels. Ministers are to propose an immediate change to the law to allow Ofqual to impose a financial penalty – capped at a certain proportion of an exam board’s turnover – if they make mistakes. But the move was questioned by a head teachers’ leader, who said any fines would simply be passed on by the boards to schools, adding to already large exams bills. The boards themselves believe the move, to be introduced in an amendment to the education bill currentlyRead More →

 Friday, 22nd July, 2011 The contradiction is, to this observer, breathtaking. Last week, the Government said this: “Too many of our public services are still run according to the maxim ‘the man in Whitehall really does know best’…The idea behind this view of the world – that a small group of Whitehall ministers and officials have a monopoly on wisdom – has propagated a lowest common denominator approach to public services…” “People should be in the driving seat, not politicians and bureaucrats,” said the Government, in its “open public services” white paper. On Wednesday, it announced new decisions on what is to count in schoolRead More →

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 Well, I said at the end of the last blog that I’d be writing something imminently on the relationship between the Bew assessment review and the government’s ongoing national curriculum review. Here, slightly earlier than planned, is what I had in mind. This week’s Government response to the Bew review into primary assessment could be redundant within just over two years. That is the implication of comments made by a leading figure within the test regulator Ofqual at a conference on the national curriculum I attended on Friday. Stephen Anwyll, Ofqual’s head of 3-14 assessment, said the long-term future of testing wouldRead More →

 Monday, 18th July, 2011 This is just a quick reflection on union reaction to the Government’s proposals on the future of assessment at Key Stage 2. Ministers published today their response to last month’s final report by the Bew inquiry into this subject, the review which itself was triggered by last year’s Sats boycott by the National Association of Head Teachers and National Union of Teachers. The unions’ reaction is interesting: four different associations produced arguably, three or four different positions in response. This could be viewed as surprising, given that, for all the changes put forward in Bew, the fundamentals of the high-stakes testingRead More →