What does the 2012/13 academic year hold for school leaders?
For many school leaders who worked hard last year to meet a 1 September deadline for academy conversion, this year will no doubt start with a flourish of rebranding.
Whether it’s new signage, a rebranded prospectus or getting used to a new email address, staff in many schools will be looking to their leadership teams to see what difference being an academy really makes.
Of course, September is an optimistic time in schools – academy conversion or not. There are new staff, Year 7 pupils who want to please, and exam groups who are just that bit older and wiser. That’s not to mention staff refreshed by being parent, tourist and reader, instead of ‘Sir’ or ‘Miss’.
Every member of staff needs to be aware of the content of the Teachers’ Standards
So, what are the national issues facing you as a school leader this year?
Teachers’ Standards and new PM and capability regulations
I’ll put money on a discussion of the Teachers’ Standards and new performance management (PM) and capability regulations having been part of your training day plans. Every member of staff needs to be aware of the content of the Teachers’ Standards, and most schools are likely to link PM targets to them.
Teaching unions have published their response to PM and capability changes; the unions mostly focus on a distrust of the two being linked and the abolition of the originally confusing three-hour observation limit.
If you haven’t done so already, you may like to consult with staff on your revised PM policy, and discuss what it means for those who have been used to existing PM arrangements. The governors need to understand the implications too.
It might make best sense, when deciding on your whole-school PM objectives, to link them to the Teachers’ Standards:
- good staff will be able to readily demonstrate their effectiveness
- Ofsted will see you as a school leader setting the highest standards when you discuss your PM reviews with them
- underperforming staff can be challenged in a fair and transparent way, if their underperformance is linked to the published standards.
Changes to exclusions
This September, there are some changes to rules regarding exclusions.
Most of the existing regulations for permanent exclusion from state-funded schools, including the justifications for exclusions, are unchanged. Changes apply, however, to:
- the review of the decision
- children with SEN and disability.
Independent review panels
The independent appeal panel is abolished
The independent appeal panel is abolished. Local authorities (for maintained schools) and the responsible body (for academies) must now set up an independent review panel (IRP).
The main difference is that the IRP cannot order the reinstatement of an excluded pupil. It can:
- accept the exclusion
- recommend that the governors reconsider, or
- overturn the decision.
If the IRP overturns the decision, the governors’ committee must reconsider the exclusion. If they uphold it, then the IRP has the power to levy a contribution of £4,000 towards the pupil’s further education.
Children with SEN and disability
For an excluded child with SEN, if the parents request it, a local authority (for maintained schools) or the responsible body (for academies) must appoint a SEN expert to advise the IRP considering the exclusion.
Parents of a child with a disability now have the right to make a complaint to the first-tier tribunal about an exclusion. The tribunal has the right to make any reasonable order to deal with direct or indirect discrimination.
For more information, see the DfE website.
Prospectuses and school websites
From September 2012, schools in England no longer have to publish an annual school prospectus.
While you are thinking of rebranding though, consider the changes to the law on what must be included on school websites, as detailed in The School Information (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012.
Although you probably already have a very detailed website, the new rules add some specific new requirements.
New requirements for websites
Consider the changes to the law on what must be included on school websites
From September 2012, all maintained schools must include on their websites:
- the name, address and telephone number of the school
- the name of a person to whom enquiries should be addressed
- a statement about the school’s ethos and vision
- the school’s behaviour policy
- information on admissions, including any selection or oversubscription criteria, and an explanation of the process of applying for a school place
- a link to the most recent Ofsted report
the school’s most recent Key Stage 4 results, as published in the school performance tables on the DfE website. These must include:
– percentage of pupils achieving five A*–C in GCSEs or equivalents, including English and maths
– percentage of pupils achieving the English Baccalaureate
– percentage of pupils making expected progress
- the content of the curriculum for each subject and a way for parents to get further information (presumably a person to contact or a link to an exam syllabus)
- a list of the courses running at KS4 alongside any qualifications they lead to; the law requires separate lists for GCSEs and ‘other courses’
- Pupil Premium – details of the past year’s expenditure and this year’s intended expenditure and its impact
- a report from the governing body on special educational needs, including admissions of SEN pupils and access facilities
- the school’s charging and remissions policy.
The new Ofsted framework takes effect this month.
If you are a member of ASCL, have a look at a helpful guidance paper on the ASCL website.
Changes from the January 2012 Ofsted framework
To be rated outstanding, schools must have outstanding teaching
- To be rated outstanding, schools must have outstanding teaching.
- Four grades remain (3 = requires improvement; and 4 = inadequate, which can be serious weakness or special measures).
- Schools will have ‘short notice’ of inspection, which means they should be notified the afternoon prior to the inspection.
- A new category of ‘requires improvement’ replaces the ‘satisfactory’ category for schools that are not inadequate but not yet providing a good enough standard of education. These will be monitored and reinspected within two years.
- ‘Notice to improve’ is replaced by the category ‘serious weaknesses’.
- Parent View has replaced the Ofsted parental survey. Inspections will also expect to use a school’s own surveys of parents and pupils.
- Inspectors will check anonymised information on performance management records.
Finally, September 2014 creeps nearer, and with it the changes to the courses that ‘count’ towards performance tables. Your curriculum design for this year will need to consider this, along with the end this year of Year 10s starting on modular courses and the changes to GCSE.
Good luck to all readers for the start of this new academic years.