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The LA is still in the process of finalising its response to the Trojan Horse reports and getting it approved by Sir Mike Tomlinson, the Birmingham Education Commissioner, and Nicky Morgan. These initial comments are on version 9 – the version that has been distributed to headteachers and the unions.

The Plan does not just apply to schools involved in the Trojan Horse reports. It is a plan for education in every school across the city, and it involves many issues which do not stem directly from the Trojan Horse reports’ recommendations, as well as some that do.

A key question running through the whole document is how will its provisions apply to academies and free schools? What will happen if academies and free schools fail to apply them?

All BCASE comments are in blue.

Contents of the Plan

1. Introduction

2. Context
2.1 The Changing Landscape of Education

3. Our Vision for Education in Birmingham
3.1 Vision
3.2 Impact and Outcomes
3.3 Strategic Aims

4. Managing Delivery
4.1 Key Deliverables
4.2 Reporting and Accountability

5. Action Plan
5.1 Safeguarding in Schools
5.2 Strengthening School Governance
5.3 Our Leadership of Education
5.4 Improving Our Schools
5.5 Local Leadership & Accountability
5.6 Alternative Delivery Models
5.7 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
5.8 Education Infrastructure & Participation
5.9 Early Years Provision

Extracts and BCASE comments

Introduction extract (p3)  Brigid Jones

Its development has involved schools, communities and staff. It has been underpinned by the work of the Children’s Society and the Innovation Unit both of whom have ensured the voice of children, young people and the community have been heard.

To what extent have teachers, unions and representatives of communities been involved, and how – and specifically after the Trojan Horse reports were published?

3.2 Impact and Outcomes

  •  All children and young people in Birmingham who attend a maintained school will be a good / outstanding school by 2018

At present the figure is 81%.

  •  Improve performance at key stages 1 and 2 (L2 and L4) to the national average by 2016
  • Maintain our performance at above national average performance at KS4 and KS5
  • Improve performance of children with special educational needs and disabilities at KS1 and KS2 to national average performance for children with SEND
  • Close the attainment gap of children on free school meals to within 5 % of Birmingham average by 2017

The more appropriate measure would be the Pupil Premium – that is what schools are judged by.

  • Close the attainment gap of looked after children to within 7 % of Birmingham average by 202
  • Close the attainment gap of underperforming Districts of the City to within 3% of the Birmingham average at key stage 4 by 2018
  • Achieve national level attendance at both primary phase and maintain performance above secondary phase average
  • Perform within 5% of the national average of expected progress made by ‘most able pupils’
  • Achieve national average for ‘good level of development’ for Early Years Foundation Stage

For all of the above we need more specific information (without naming the schools needing to make more progress). For each category and target how many schools are involved, and what type? Presumably the principal source of support will be other schools, brokered by the Birmingham Education Partnership. The process of support needs systematically monitoring and evaluating. How many schools are providing support? Are the hundred or so schools currently not subscribing to the BEP providing support? What forms of support are being provided? What are the improvement strategies? How is their effectiveness being evaluated? What are the outcomes? We would suggest a public report with a six monthly interim report, both presented to the Education Scrutiny committee.

  • Increased confidence in the local authority from schools (this will be baselined and tracked through a survey)
  • Improved culture based on openness, transparency and working across teams within council services to schools (this will be baselined and tracked through regular survey)

Who will participate in this survey? Will it include teachers, support staff and governors, or just headteachers? (One option would be for staff or union groups in each school to make a collective response.) And what consultation will take about the formulation of the survey?

4. Managing Delivery

4.1 Key Deliverables

Key Deliverables

Term 1 Autumn 2014

  • Strategy and improvement plan and budget sign off
  • New whistle-blowing policy and procedures
  • Appointment into key positions – safeguarding officer; resilience officer; monitoring officer
  • New process for appointing LA governors
  • New code of conduct and guide for governing bodies
  • External review of governance in TH schools
  • Baseline confidence survey
  • Model policies and guidance

Term 2 Winter 2015 (i.e.Spring)

  • Completion of training requirements for 21 schools
  • Relaunch of head teacher induction
  • Extended SACRE contract with wider monitoring role
  • Statement of respective roles and responsibilities between LA and schools including those relating to safeguarding
  • Define values and behaviours for new culture
  • Audit of safeguarding practices begins
  • Review of policies, procedures and guide for governing bodies
  • Capacity building within a specified team
  • Expectations and offer on information management
  • Monitoring quality of referrals from schools including number that are TH related

Term 3 Summer 2015

  • Creative event celebrating Birmingham
  • Pilot model of district working
  • All maintained TH schools judged RI/Special Measures deemed as good
  • SACRE led debate on expectations on attending a Birmingham school
  • Testing of self evaluation approach for school governing bodies
  • Information on good practices available via BEP and BCSB
  • Report into risk in out of school provision
  • Launch of data exchange system
  • Underpinning school improvement processes and systems in place

Term 1 Autumn 2015

  • WRAP training to all heads and chairs of governors completed
  • Channel embedded as mechanism for managing risk
  • District structures in place
  • Process review and improvement for statutory duties
  • Evaluation data on all systems deployed in year 1
  • Launch of BEP governor support offer

Term 2 Winter 2016

  • Begin transfer services to BEP and S4E
  • Commission independent follow-up review
  • Appointment of district coordinators

Term 3 Summer 2016

  • Continued transfer services to BEP and S4E
  • Follow up review reports
  • Early years model go-live

 How realistic are these aims? What are their implications for teachers?

4.2 Reporting and Accountability extract p8

  •  An Education and Schools Board that will be made up of key stakeholders including schools to provide challenge and advice.

Who will these stakeholders be? Will teachers and unions be represented? Will governors? Will there be community representatives?

 5. Action Plan pp9-28.

The document lists specific actions for each of the 9 headings. They are too detailed to be addressed here, but the list of Deliverables above summarises the intended outcomes.

5.1 Safeguarding in Schools

Safeguarding training

Including WRAP, forced marriage/FGM, LGBT

Information for Schools

Embed resilience through a sound safeguarding framework

WRAP training is likely to be provided by the police. In addition there is input by Tapestry DIE group. But these are issues which should be integrated into the mainstream curriculum, not just one-off bolt-on extras by external providers. Developing a critical understanding of issues of conflict in the world should be part of every pupil’s education, appropriate to their age. It should include anti-racist and anti-sexist teaching and SRE. For all of these, what input is there to be by teachers? What space is being created in the curriculum? What CPD is being made available? What provision is being made for input by communities? What monitoring will take place of provision? How will the effectiveness of provision be evaluated? What will happen to schools that don’t fulfil their responsibilities, for example in relation to SRE?

5.3 Our Leadership of Education

Being clear on our offer to schools

Includes induction programme for new heads. What input by communities, to ensure that heads are aware of community issues and concerns?

Management System

Performance and Management Information

Our Culture

For all of the above, what role is there for the unions? How will they be consulted?

5.4 Improving Our Schools

Support to the maintained ‘Trojan Horse’ schools requiring improvement / in category

School Improvement Strategy and Method

Essentially this means brokering support from schools and increasing staff of the School Improvements and Standards team. (An extra £1million is being allocated for next year – see Schools Forum document 13 November.)

How will this apply to academies and free schools? Each of them will have a ‘link officer’ and there will be a termly meeting with academy sponsors and free schools. Why just academy sponsors – shouldn’t this be all academy heads as well as sponsors? Will the outcome of these meetings be published? What will happen if academies and free schools fail to conform to LA plans?

Curriculum

Including:

  • Work with BEP to provide information to schools around new broad and balanced curriculum requirements.
  • Commission SACRE to lead discussion across Birmingham on what children and families should expect from attending a Birmingham school including spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

Both of these raise fundamental educational issues, including what teaching ‘British values’ means, and should involve in-depth and inclusive discussion with teachers, parents and communities, not just ‘information’ from BEP. What plans are there for this? Why should a discussion on what children and families should expect from a Birmingham school be led by SACRE? As its title says, it is a Council for Religious Education. This is only a What a Birmingham school should be expected to provide in terms of ‘spiritual, moral, social and cultural development’ extends far beyond religious education. And the majority of people in Birmingham are not actively religious. It would be more appropriate to establish an independent and inclusive body and framework to be established, that is not seen to be dominated by religious interests, to enable this crucial discussion to take place. The discussion should include the place of ‘faith’ in schools (as recommended by Mark Rogers, CEO, in his talk at the Lunar Society public meeting on 8 September).

5.5 Local Leadership & Accountability

 Including:

  • Establish District Leadership and Commissioning Groups for each of the 10 Districts. These will include headteachers from each school within the District and representatives from the local authority.
  • Create an Education and Schools Board is created [sic] to oversee the work of the Districts and co-ordinate City wide strategies and plans.

Why is there no mention of participation by school unions and by community representatives (in line with the council’s policies on local democracy and community empowerment) in either of these?

 5.6 Alternative Delivery Models

 Including:

  • Managed phased transfer of majority of services

The LA is drastically reducing its role to only carrying out statutory duties. The rest will be outsourced to the schools through the BEP and to S4E, an external trust which at present largely consists of the Music Service but will now greatly expand its role. What implications are there for staff? And for democratic accountability by the LA? What are the cost implications for schools?

5.7 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

We will add comments on this section shortly.

5.9 Early Years Provision

This is about a new model of provision, which is likely to mean removing non-statutory EY provision from the LA. According to the Council’s Budget Green Paper:

Further review work in this area will include a transformation plan for services for young children and families, to deliver savings through better outcomes, accompanied by a programme of service closure. The scope will include the role of early years’ services, children’s centres, nurseries, the Think Family programme, and the opportunities provided by the transfer of health visiting services to the city council. (Green Paper p17)

And according to the School Funding Update and Developments document at Schools Forum 13 November:

KPMG has been commissioned to undertake a study into the costs being incurred by EY providers who deliver provision to 2, 3 and 4 year olds. (p2)

There are serious implications here in terms of privatisation and its consequences for quality of provision, charges, and staff pay and conditions.

 6. Budget p29 extract

Total   2014/15       £1,400,000
2015/16       £4,114,000
2016/17       £3,322,000

These are the proposed increases in the education budget. Where is the money coming from?

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