Blueprint for a world-class education system unveiled by ASCL

25 February 2015

A blueprint to create a world-class education system and boost the life chances of every child was today unveiled by the Association of School and College Leaders.

With 70 days to go until the General Election on 7 May, ASCL’s blueprint sets out a vision which would enable the next government to “unleash greatness” in our schools and colleges.

It proposes a system in which government would step back from micro-managing schools and colleges and in which the teaching profession would step forward to lead development - creating a culture which would be constantly self-improving.

Out would go the relentless cycle of centrally driven change which has had mixed results over the past 30 years and which has too often been poorly planned and overly bureaucratic.

It would be replaced by a system which would champion professional learning; where curriculum change would be introduced in a managed way, based on evidence rather than political whims; where inspections would focus on outcomes rather than processes; and in which schools and colleges would be properly financed by a national fair funding formula.

Peter Kent, president of ASCL and headteacher of Lawrence Sheriff School in Rugby, said: “The blueprint is a message for the profession to step forward and lead the education system and for those who make policy to step back. There is a strategic role for government in clearly defined areas such as funding and providing infrastructure, and in monitoring standards, but school and college leaders are best placed to understand how the system works and drive forward progress.

“We believe that the best way to take our education system from being good to great, and to improve the life chances of every child, is for it to be led by those who best understand it.”

Brian Lightman, general secretary of ASCL, said: “For as long as we can remember governments have been implementing different initiatives with varied results. What we now need is a shared vision to develop the education system in a way which allows all young people to have the best possible education.

“We have been delighted by the level of engagement in the development of our blueprint from those in the education system and from government. We are now looking forward to working with government to shape the vision we have set out here.”

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “At the heart of our plan for education is our commitment to supporting schools to be in the driving seat of school improvement and professional development, working together to spread best practice, knowledge and experience.

“We know that many of our best leaders believe strongly in a school-led approach to improvement and are already working to achieve it.

“I am pleased that ASCL is playing this leading role in working towards a self-improving system. Their blueprint – drawn from wide-ranging conversations with school leaders and others in the sector – is a significant contribution to the debate.”

Schools Minister David Laws said: “The ASCL ‘blueprint’ is a timely and intelligent contribution to a crucial debate. It argues that sustainable improvement will come from school leaders and teaching professionals stepping up and taking a strong lead, with government playing an important supporting role.

“This is something I am firmly committed to. This is why we have recently announced our intention to support one of the core elements of the blueprint: a profession-led, fully independent College of Teaching.

“The blueprint also calls for an independent body to be given responsibility for areas including curriculum and qualifications. I agree. Which is why my party’s manifesto will contain a plan to establish an Education Standards Authority to reduce political interference in education.”

Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt said: “The next phase of education reform in this country must begin with an unprecedented devolution. That means government letting go of some of the decisions that traditionally have been made in Whitehall and Westminster.

“That is exactly what the Labour Party is offering and we look forward to working with ASCL and others to deliver sustainable and meaningful changes that will improve education for all children, in all schools."