Education is for the common good. Our vision is to build an education system in which all children and young people achieve.
ASCL believes that the key to making our schools and colleges world-class is a culture of trust and respect between politicians and the profession. School and college leaders are absolutely committed to raising standards and want to lead a world-class education system with world-class schools.
ASCL’s vision for a world-class, self-improving education system, and the actions needed to achieve this, are set out in Leading the Way: A Blueprint for a Self-Improving System. This is ASCL’s overarching policy document. As part of the implementation of the blueprint, we are working to achieve the following:
Key to making our education system world-class is a culture of trust and respect between politicians and the profession.
Schools and colleges are more effective than they have ever been, most are good and outstanding. While there is more to do, the improvements of the last decade should be recognised and commended.
School and college leaders are committed to driving improvement and raising standards. This should be publicly recognised by politicians and political parties.
School and college leaders welcome change that is in the best interests of young people, when it is strategically planned and well communicated.
A five-year vision for the education system – the duration of a government – would help to ensure that change is planned, properly resourced and coherent.
The government’s role in the education system should concentrate on four areas: equitable, sufficient and sustainable funding; a slim, smart and stable accountability system; ensuring a good supply of teachers and promoting the status of teaching; and a fit for purpose capital buildings programme.
Other aspects of education policy should be led by independent experts and practitioners. This is a hallmark of a self-improving system.
ASCL will continue to work with school and college leaders and government to create the conditions for a self-improving system, so that ministers and officials feel able to step back and trust practitioners to drive improvement.
Skilled, well-qualified graduates are crucial to the UK’s long term economic growth. Education is a long-term investment in our nation’s future success.
A priority must be a new funding formula for schools that is equitable, sufficient, sustainable and weighted towards students with the greatest need. Some schools will gain, some will lose, so a three-year transition period is important.
Post-16 funding in colleges and schools has been drastically reduced to a level that threatens to compromise quality of provision. This urgently must be put right.
A five-year budget freeze (flat cash settlement) for schools with ages 5-16 is also putting pressure on the ability to provide a high quality education.
Inspection should be part of a slim, stable and smart accountability framework.
A new model of inspection is needed that can make reliable and credible judgements and has the trust and respect of the profession. It should encourage innovation and a growth mindset. Currently schools and colleges feel under pressure to conform to what they believe inspectors want to see.
The inspectorate should have the power to inspect groups of schools in trusts and federations as well as individual institutions.
Inspection should focus on outcomes rather than processes. ASCL would like to see a yearly review of each school that considers a range of outcome measures agreed by the profession. If these are secure, there would be no need for an inspection visit.
It is not appropriate for inspectors to make judgements on behaviour or quality of teaching as these are subjective and more likely to be unreliable.
Education should be for the common good; every child should be given an equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of background.
School and college leaders must be bold and courageous about developing a broad and deep curriculum that will suit their students’ needs.
This would be made easier if performance measures were not overly reliant on qualifications, and if an agreed progress measure were in place for at least the term of government – five years.
Accountability measures put in place by governments to influence curriculum and assessment decisions and ways of teaching often stifle innovation and lead to a narrow curriculum offer.
A core curriculum framework should be set by an independent panel of experts, which includes practitioners, and reviewed and updated once every five years – the term of government.
Further vocational qualification reform is needed so that they are consistently high quality and on a par with academic qualifications.
Quality of teaching is the single biggest influence on outcomes. Teachers and leaders should constantly challenge each other and themselves to develop their own practice and professional learning.
We need the highest calibre of staff entering and developing their careers in schools and colleges. Government can support this through a national supply model to ensure there are enough teachers in each subject and region.
ASCL supports a College of Teaching, independent of government, to set teacher standards and support teacher professional development. An endowment fund from the government would help enable this to happen.
Read ASCL’s publication Leading the Way: A blueprint for a self-improving system