December 2015

The know zone

  • Preventative measures
    The new Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 places a significant responsibility on schools and colleges and leaders need to ensure they have plans in place to help carry out their duty, says Anna Cole. More
  • Outstanding performance
    Expecting parents to show up out of a sense of duty to your open event no longer cuts the mustard. Every classroom has to be an ‘experience’ and the head’s speech must be a show-stopper, says Carl Smith. More
  • Laws of attraction
    The government has pledged to train an extra 17,500 maths and physics teachers over the next five years. Here, ASCL members share their views on what would work best to make this happen. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • Know your options
    Stephen Casey explains the new laws on freedom and choice in pensions and highlights what you can do to boost your pension at retirement. More
  • A common purpose
    Much of the philosophy of ASCL’s Blueprint applies to both independent and state schools so we should join forces to deliver it, says Barbara Stanley. More
  • Quick CPD wins
    Ten top tips to help you plan and refresh your continuing professional development (CPD) curriculum for staff. More
  • Providing direction for the next generation
    Careermap is a leading new website for 16–24 year-old’s looking for a pathway into apprenticeships and early careers. Since its launch earlier this year, the website is rapidly becoming the go-to place for young people seeking new opportunities in all career sectors. More
  • Professional Learning
    When describing your school’s professional learning, how many of these points can you say yes to? More
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Much of the philosophy of ASCL’s Blueprint applies to both independent and state schools so we should join forces to deliver it, says Barbara Stanley.

A common purpose

"You can mandate adequacy; you can’t mandate greatness. It has to be unleashed” – Joel Klein This quote sums up the spirit of ASCL’s Blueprint for a Self-improving System (see and it is applicable to everyone in education, regardless of sector.

While there are aspects of the proposals in the blueprint that are relevant only to maintained schools, the underlying educational philosophy – a desire to engender high standards of teacher professionalism, pedagogy, learning, and school management and governance – are as important to the independent sector as to the maintained sector.

There is both a moral and a practical imperative for the independent sector to become involved. We all aspire to make our education system as great as it can be and give the next generation of young people the best possible opportunity to become the rounded, well-educated and fulfilled adults our country needs.

Here’s how both sectors can work together to deliver the blueprint:

Element one: Teacher professionalism

This is directly applicable to all educators. The aspirations in this section of excellence in a world-class education system, belief in the moral imperative of teaching, possession of a strong sense of energy, a feeling of collective purpose and professionalism should resonate with every independent school leader as representing exactly what we aspire to and work hard to achieve.

It is as important to the independent sector as to the maintained sector that there is a large enough pool of highly professional teachers who undergo career-long continuous professional development and learning (CPDL).

If the two sectors do not join forces, formally or informally, to promote this great need in our profession, we will be missing a golden opportunity and the whole system will be the poorer for it. Some excellent independent and state school teaching partnerships have already grown up.

This is a two-way street. The maintained sector needs to be prepared to act positively towards its independent colleagues, as well as vice versa. It behoves us all to work together to ensure that the proposed College of Teaching and Foundation for Leadership in Education are inclusive and supported by both sectors.

Element two: Curriculum, assessment and qualifications

This is close to all our hearts and here we have great common cause. We can all consider ourselves almost equally at the mercy of politicians at Key Stages 4 and 5; or we can work together, using the example of the freedoms enjoyed and utilised by independent schools, up to the end of Key Stage 3, to help create the vision set out in the blueprint.

At Key Stages 1 to 3, many independent schools have relished their freedom not to use levels, and this is something we could share with our maintained school colleagues who are starting down this road.

We could and should work with the maintained sector to encourage the best-quality courses nationally – remembering that ‘quality’ and ‘quantity’ are not the same thing. The independent sector has taken the lead in challenging some dubious elements of the current qualification system, such as quality of marking, and strong backing and involvement from ASCL will strengthen the challenge.

Element three: Funding and governance

Independent schools may not be able to identify with the financial aspects but the vision for governance rings many bells. Indeed, I see a role for the independent sector in both participating in and helping to develop high-quality governance.

Element four: Accountability

This may not immediately appear to give a great deal of scope for direct independent sector involvement. However, underlying philosophies, such as ’the highest form of accountability is the individual’s professional accountability’, and governing boards developing measures of performance for strategic priorities, once again have a very familiar ring.

Both sectors have high accountability. Both put great store on CPDL. There is not only a basis for mutual understanding but surely potential for dialogue with government as well as within the profession?

For example, the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) may be separate but its peer review principle of rigorous inspection by practising professionals is one that we know many ASCL members favour.

So let’s make the most of the opportunity to work together to ‘develop a bold curricular vision’ to ensure that all of our young people grow up with the wide ‘range of important skills and qualities’ essential for their future – and, as a result, for our future, too.

Your professional development

Book your place on our Information Conference for Independent School Leaders on 5 May 2016 in London. See here for more:

Barbara Stanley is ASCL Independent Schools Specialist