A different prospective

TeachYesterday I was in Norwich for a seminar hosted by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) and the Norfolk Integrated Education Advisory Services looking in depth at Norfolk’s approach to the changing landscape of school provision that is emerging. Like Suffolk, Norfolk schools and Norfolk County Council have come in for some pretty stiff criticism from OFSTED and both systems find themselves in the bottom quartile of school league tables. Both have some great schools and both have others that need to dramatically improve. The key questions posed yesterday was how does a local authority support and drive forward the improvements we all want to see.

Yesterday opened somewhat appropriately with a lesson, a history lesson, in which I learnt that the current state of flux is not new, in fact looking at the various layers of Education Acts going all the way back to the 1870 Schools Act gave a context to how schools has been delivered since the Victorian age and interesting the state of flux that exists now with Free Schools, Academies, Technical schools, Church Schools and fee paying schools, has in essence always been there!

So the day was spend looking at what is emerging and how does a local authority react to the changes and drive up the standards across the schools system, redefining its relationships with its schools as they themselves seek more autonomy from the Local Education Authority. Yet despite the national rhetoric of being freed up and unleashed from ‘the Council’ to reach for the skies, both the 1996 Education Act, still very much in place, and indeed residents expectations of the local Council, education is rightly in my opinion seen as a part of a Local Authorities remit and responsibility.

In truth, standards in our schools has always been about Leadership in the actual school rather than support services in whatever guise or form, from the Local Education Authority. I for one would welcome what Public Exchange has called for the completion of a process of making every school an Academy or similar.  I think the Schools Commissioners are a work in progress as is their remit, yet we know from the limited number of staff each has, they can’t replace the Local Authority nor indeed can OFSTED for that’s not the role of the inspectorate. I personally certainly do see a role for Local Authority Schools Improvement Services as a traded service and rightly completing with other organisations offering similar services, that bit is called being a Conservative.

However none of this in any way diminishes the role of the local democratically elected Council and Councillors, there to champion high standards in our schools and to hold schools to account, be demanding of their OFSTED reports and their pupil’s actual results. In short clarity of the role to hold to account and be demanding of the sort of improvements we want to see, every child deserves a good school and a good education.

About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal anything I write is promoted by Kerry Buist on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Unit 8, Swan Lane Business Park, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7FN

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