Here is just a small selection of the meetings and lobbying activity that senior ASCL officers have been involved with on your behalf and, in particular, we have highlighted areas where ASCL has had a direct influence on policy. Expand
Here is just a small selection of the meetings and lobbying activity that senior ASCL officers have been involved with on your behalf and, in particular, we have highlighted areas where ASCL has had a direct influence on policy.
Interim General Secretary Malcolm Trobe and Funding Specialist Julia Harnden met with the DfE Funding Team working on the national funding formula. They emphasised the difficulties that schools were under because of the significant cost pressures on a static budget. They also made clear that the principles of the ASCL Funding Policy (see www. ascl.org.uk/policyfunding) around sufficiency, equity and sustainability should be driving the new funding formula.
Malcolm attended a meeting of the Education Funding Agency (EFA) Advisory Board where he made similar points about the cost pressures on schools and colleges. He also asked that specific issues were tackled, including forward planning for schools and colleges affected by the latest floods and cost pressures around private finance initiative (PFI) contracts.
Education and Adoption Bill ASCL has successfully lobbied Parliament on the Education and Adoption Bill 2015–16, to effect changes to the regulations defining ‘coasting schools’ and possible interventions. The amendments include:
- The Regulations on Intervening in failing, underperforming and coasting schools will be subject to affirmative procedure (formal approval of both Houses of Parliament) before becoming law.
- The Secretary of State must put in those regulations the definition of a coasting school (rather than merely having the ‘power’ to do so).
- Schools must be notified if caught by the coasting definition (previous wording here was vague). The response to the consultation on the definition and coasting criteria is still awaited. ASCL Parliamentary Specialist Anna Cole has led on this work. Our response to the consultation is here: www.ascl.org.uk/Intervening
In our response to the government’s consultation on the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) (see http://www.ascl.org.uk/ebaccconsult), ASCL made a number of crucial points.
We strongly believe that a school’s curriculum should be determined by school leaders and governors. All schools need a challenging curriculum if all of our students are to be able to compete globally. ASCL supports the principle of core academic subjects being crucial to a young person’s future and the equality of opportunity this offers. However, we believe there has been a conflation between what is a core academic curriculum and the narrow range of subjects in the EBacc. We believe that the proposed set of subjects set out in the EBacc are important but not sufficient.
Following the reform of GCSEs there are other equally valid, rigorous and beneficial subjects that young people could study that would also improve life-chances and maintain broad options post-16. ASCL has had a direct influence on several specific proposals within the government’s EBacc consultation. These are as follows:
- The consultation document states an ambition for 90 per cent of students nationally to be entered for EBacc. We argued strongly that this should be a national ambition and not a requirement on individual schools – the expectation is that some schools will have higher entry and some schools in more challenging circumstances may have lower entry.
- The consultation proposes that school leaders will be able to decide whom they put forward for EBacc entry. While certain groups of students are named in the document as possibly groups for whom EBacc may not be appropriate (complex special educational needs (SEN), new arrivals and so on) heads/principals will have absolute discretion. We made a strong case for school leaders to have this discretion.
- In terms of accountability, the consultation document proposes that EBacc entry and EBacc achievement (EBacc average point score) will appear in the headline measures alongside Progress 8, Attainment 8 and percentage of students achieving a good pass in English and maths. Although these measures will appear in the Ofsted framework, it is proposed that they will not be a limiting factor (that ASCL argued for) on the basis that ‘no single measure can determine the outcome of an inspection’ (the consultation document uses our exact wording). It is proposed that the floor standard will not be linked to EBacc – a point that ASCL pushed strongly for.
The Education Select Committee quoted ASCL’s written evidence in its report into Holocaust education (see http://tinyurl.com/jzl8qru ). In our evidence, we shared examples of the good work that schools are doing to educate young people about the Holocaust. We said that a good approach would be to continue to raise awareness and promote Holocaust education, provide high-quality resources and share good practice.
We highlighted the importance of recording survivors speaking of their experiences and those of their families and friends while the opportunity exists to do so and making these recordings available more widely online.
We also emphasised the importance of allowing schools and colleges sufficient leeway to develop approaches that suit their particular circumstances and the need to ensure that they are adequately resourced to do so. See our evidence online: www.ascl.org.uk/Holocaust
ASCL Vice President Sian Carr attended the first evidence session of the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy with its focus on Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG). Sian emphasised the need for a sustainable and consistent model for delivery that spanned a greater length of time than the five years of a Parliament.
Constant change in strategy and policy does not support the high-quality CEIAG that our young people deserve and need. Such a model should have three strands (as set out in our evidence to this committee): a curriculum-led approach that would need to be fully funded, further development of employer engagement that ensures equity in coverage and a national framework agreement of CEIAG providers.