ASCL Cymru challenges education minister to devolve decision-making to school leaders

27 November 2014

ASCL Cymru will challenge the Welsh government to follow through on its commitment to devolve more decision making to schools at its annual conference this Thursday and Friday in Cardiff.

More than 80 per cent of secondary school leaders in Wales say they have capacity to offer support to other schools, according to a survey of ASCL Cymru members, showing that heads are ready to take on the Welsh Government’s challenge of leading school improvement.

The Welsh Government’s Qualified for Life document sets out as one of its four strategic objectives: “leaders of education at every level working together in a self-improving system, providing mutual support and challenge to raise standards in all schools.”

However, at the conference this Thursday in Cardiff, ASCL General Secretary Brian Lightman will warn that for a self-improving system to work, ministers must devolve more decision-making to schools. He will say:

“We welcome the government’s commitment to put school leaders at the heart of a self-improving system and the strong principles which underpin its plan.  Nevertheless, the actions in the timeline rely too heavily on external bodies and do too little to empower school leaders.

“The definition of a school-led system is that decisions are put into the hands of school leaders. We know that this is a great a challenge to schools and to government but we are willing and ready to rise to it. We will be making that commitment publicly at our conference.

“Education will always be a political priority because of the amount of public money spent on it and because it is the key investment in the nation’s future. We do not believe education should be de-politicised. However, we do see a more strategic role for government and the consortia. Their role is to remove obstacles and create the conditions for a self-improving system. And this will need to involve a commitment from politicians to rethink their relationship with the profession and make room for schools to take a leading role.

"We all want to see schools continue to improve but for this to happen everyone must play their part. This includes school leaders, the Welsh Government, local authorities and consortia.

“A self-improving system is the right solution because it is the best way to improve our schools, but it is not a cheap solution. Schools supporting other schools sound like a low cost way of getting improvement, and undoubtedly there are some important elements that can be delivered without extra resources, but there are other crucial elements that simply won’t work without an injection of cash.

“Without investment the risk of failure is great. This would be a huge embarrassment for a government which has so clearly and correctly identified where improvement is needed and pledged to support school leaders in delivering this.”