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The White Paper on Education: Are School autonomy and Parent Choice the Answers?

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Presentation on theme: "The White Paper on Education: Are School autonomy and Parent Choice the Answers?"— Presentation transcript:

1 The White Paper on Education: Are School autonomy and Parent Choice the Answers?

2 The 2005 White Paper on Education “Higher Standards, Better Schools for All: More Choice for Parents and Pupils”. Context: Presented the 25 October 2005 Internet links: Goals:  Improving educational standards in state secondary schools.  Promoting a greater social mobility.  Encouraging schools both independently managed and strongly distinctive offering wholly new choices and options Beliefs:  Choice and greater autonomy can improve standards.

3 Key government proposals: Increasing school autonomy. Giving schools greater independence from Local Education Authorities (LEA). LEA will be less involved in the day-to-day running of individual schools and more in "driving up standards“. Independent schools will:  Set their own admissions (within the national code of practice and with no return to selection by ability).  Appoint the majority of the governing body.  Vary the national curriculum.  Experiment with teaching... Willingness to see private companies, charities, parents, community groups and faith groups set up independently run, but state-funded, "trust" schools.

4 Key government proposals: Promoting « parent power » and parent choice. Parents will be able to ask for new schools to be set up to reflect local need and demand. Parents will be able to form Parents Councils to influence school decisions. E.g. call for a new head teacher, get involved in the curriculum, or school dinner policies. Parents will have an access to a new complaint service in Ofsted and a National Schools Commissioner will take action where parental choices are frustrated.

5 Is a greater autonomy for schools the answer? Fear that the school control of their admission policy will be a "perverse incentive" to exclude children with special educational needs to improve their exam results an attract more pupils. * Schools would have to operate accordingly to the code of practice. But how to make sure that schools follow non- enforceable rules? *Does a mere suggestion that school should have a good social and ability mix is a sufficient incentive for schools to do so? Possibility of serious implications for societal integration. Is it appropriate to have particular opinions emphasised above others within a school? E.g. Fundamentalist schools.

6 Is parent power the answer? Is there any evidence that parents want to take control of their local schools? Is it desirable that parents get involved into the running of a school? Do they have the ability to do so, and to do it better than the teaching profession? Risk to have parents only concerned with their child's interests, and not the child who has just been excluded, or the child down the road who was never offered a place. Would parents approve of the plan to use banding to ensure a spread of ability within a school? Spectre of short-term interests.

7 Is parent choice the answer? Does it encourage a greater socio-economic integration in schools? Would middle-class parents be willing to spend hours complaining about the running of a school, while they can afford private education? Is the restriction of parental choice a mere authoritarian solution? Could not it prevent children from advantaged backgrounds from leaving state schools for private schools, and thus make sure that you have a certain level of parental interest in every school?

8 The alternative Shaping the Education Bill – Reaching for Consensus

9 “The fundamental concerns of many colleagues centre around the potential for pupils from poorer areas being disadvantaged as popular schools expand, and wealthier and better informed parents are able to set up their own schools operating their own admissions policies. There is also concern that local education policy should remain democratically accountable.” Shaping the Education Bill Reaching for Consensus, 2005, Introduction.

10 Shaping the Education Bill – Reaching for Consensus The concerns in the alternative white paper centre on the potential consequences of these four proposals: A new approach to admissions policy The governance of schools – creating Trusts Developing the Local Authority role The expansion and contraction of schools See ‘comparisons and compromise’ table handout

11 The Trusts concept must be more fully developed. A clear definition of fair access and admissions criteria. Local Authorities should monitor and ensure compliance, and coordinate admissions process for all schools. Local authorities should be empowered to refuse or restrain expansion of schools where their expansion would not be in the interests of pupils in the area. There must be a genuine choice of governance models with no inbuilt financial or other bias in favour of Trusts and against community schools. Recommendations from the Alternative White Paper

12 What’s so complicated about providing quality, full stop? “What people want is quality public services available locally not false choices” Are choice and competition distractions, or do government providers need the same incentives – eg, competition and user choice – as providers of other services?

13 What do you get when you’ve got no choice? (Denmark) “A former headteacher of mine used to tell a story about an English family who went to live in Denmark. When they asked at the education office which was the best local school, the official's response was that he did not understand the question, as any school that failed to meet the desired standard was given the support and resources to bring it to the same level as other schools.”

14 What do you get when you’ve got no choice? (UK) The architect: “But we KNOW what should be done!” The politician: “I was genuinely convinced I had a new answer… Heaven help me, [it was] high blocks” “… disaster, disaster”

15 Who chooses who chooses? SEU: The socially excluded tend to be poor at negotiating the service system. Will choice cause them to lose out? Hattersley: The schools white paper "would allow the self-confident and articulate section of society to elbow the disadvantaged and the dispossessed out of the public service queue” Kelly: “What Roy describes is [already] happening.” The middle class already exercise choice –the poor lack it

16 Giving choice to the poor - Milwaukee Parental Choice Prog. Little evidence that voucher students are doing either better or worse than before Rising tide lifts all boats?

17 Milwaukee Parental Choice Prog. Lack of skimming – No sharp-elbowed middle class to compete against/for – May have been most problematic students who left – Limited funding for most US private schools Minority ethnic parents tend to support school choice – 60% of minorities support vouchers – 87% of black parents aged and 2/3 of blacks aged support vouchers – Minority support for school choice is 20% higher than general public support

18 Help where it’s needed most “The acid test of this package of reforms for anyone on the centre-left is how they help the poorest kids and the weakest schools. I am prepared to be judged against that test.” Ruth Kelly

19 Group activity The Government is holding consultations and is seeking views from the following stakeholders on reforming the education system: Parents - middle class pupils Parents - poorer backgrounds Teachers Local Education Authority Officials In your groups, take 20 minutes to discuss your concerns and come up with a 'mini- white paper' with polices which you would like to see in place in the education system. Each group will then have a couple of minutes to present their arguments and proposals to the rest of the class. Questions to consider: Does choice necessarily have winners and losers? Are there losers in your proposals? Advantages and disadvantages of choice and competition in the education system? Is it politically viable to restrain parental choice? Is it desirable that parents get involved in the running of a school?


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