End of school year update from GOVAS- July 15th 2018
HMI Anne Seneviratne gave a highly thought provoking and very well received presentation on Ofsted's latest thinking on the curriculum at the GOVAS AGM and Summer term meeting held at Priestnall school earlier this month. Slides from the presentations are available -here-.
Anne began with a summary of the Ofsted report on " Key Stage 3: The Wasted Years", and then moved on to summarise the progress Ofsted had made to date in rethinking its approach to the curriculum for all schools , in part in preparation for the anticipated new inspection framework for schools, to be introduced in September 2019.-click this link for details-
Amongst the key messages was the central importance of "mutually respectful" primary- secondary partnerships, which required strong headteacher leadership and commitment and an associated professional understanding of pupils prior learning in KS2. Governors. She said "some North West LAs" ( Stockport included) have been actively seeking to support and challenge leaders to develop and deepen their focus on transition, in particular around pupil learning, and that Ofsted itself is focussing more closely on this and looking for evidence at secondary level of KS3 being given high priority by headteachers. Governing Boards need to be involved in this.
For a while now, the new Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman (HMCI) has been stressing the importance of a broadly-based curriculum , and this message came through very strongly in the second half of the presentation, reflecting Ofsted’s ongoing work on the inspection framework. “The curriculum is going to be massive”, Anne said , stressing that the September 2019 new inspections will have “…at their heart …[the] school’s curriculum”. Literacy (especially),“ The gateway to all learning”) and mathematics remain fundamental, but rote learning is to be avoided and the links between subjects emphasised. She added that findings from Ofsted’s recent school curriculum survey had shown weaknesses in curriculum knowledge and expertise, a narrowing of the offer to pupils, ‘teaching to the test’, and real concerns about social justice. This latter point was a theme throughout the evening, with pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds more likely to be heavily reliant on school input, rather than from family and friends. Some secondary schools decision to reduce KS3 to 2 years was a real concern for Ofsted we were told, raising issues of “…equity, entitlement, and [premature] student subject choices.” Schools continuing to opt for a 2-year KS3 can expect heavy scrutiny in any inspection.
Rather than a “ broad and balanced” curriculum discourse, perhaps we should be thinking of it needing to be “deep and rich”, and considering the knowledge we wish children to acquire.
In responding to questions, Anne acknowledged the difficulties many schools were facing in teacher supply, especially in the secondary sector, and that the renewed emphasis on foundation subjects and cross curricular themes creates challenges for subject leaders, especially in the primary sector. Indeed governors need to consider exactly what being a “subject lead” means in practice and how leads can be appropriately supported to make the role “real”, as it needs to be. She concluded by leaders and governors need to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of their curriculum offer- “ is it doing what you set out to do? “
GOVAS Committee Update
One new member was elected, Dayan Atenyam (Norbury Hall Primary school),and
Andy Kent, Ian Ritchie, Jurgen Roling, Anne Trafford and Robert Twigg elected for a further 2-year term of office. There are still vacancies- please get in touch if you are interested in becoming a committee member and supporting us in our work.
GOVAS Meeting with the Local Authority 11th July
GOVAS continues to meet with the Director at least termly. At our most recent meeting ,issues discussed included :
- The implications of the Carillion liquidation on capital projects. We were told that new arrangements are proceeding, but it is not yet clear if there will be a hold up on some projects, including those underway. The main immediate concern is the possibility of not being able to proceed with scheduled works on school sites over the summer holiday period. If this does happen, any school affected will be notified. Hopefully, this will be avoided.
- The LA setting of term dates and holidays- consultation and process. As detailed in the LA mid term update for governors , some community and controlled schools had chosen to amend the 2018-19 dates, something the LA has not agreed and is unlawful. It would be fair to say the LA is not happy about this, and won’t be backing any school that encounters any complaints, or incurs additional expenditure, for example relating to transport contracts. GOVAS’ s request we be formally included in the consultation process for 2019 onwards was agreed. There is an LA expectation community and controlled schools will apply the LA dates for 2019 onwards. More on this by the start of next term.
- GOVAS has asked for an update on the LA plans for the Director of Educational Services post and expressed the view that schools will want the position retained. GOVAS has also asked for an opportunity to contribute/participate in any process for appointment in parity with any such arrangement for headteacher consortia. We are awaiting clarification on both points.
- Stockport National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) secretary Jim Nicholson attended at his request as NAHT wished to raise a number of issues of concern about headteacher- chair/governing board working, the aim being to seek to explore and find some common ground supportive of all. This was an interesting and constructive exchange, which I will return to in more detail at the start of the new school year.
- Next year’s GOVAS Conference, in partnership with the LA, has been pencilled in for Saturday March 23rd ( 9am-1pm). We will advise as soon as this is confirmed .
Our next scheduled meeting with the LA is on 18th September.
Best wishes to all governors and trustees for an enjoyable and restful summer break.