Hoping for Change in 2019 (Blog 8 2018-19)

If nothing else Headteachers’ Roundtable is an eclectic bunch of school leaders.  A simple challenge; what are you hoping for in Education in 2019; 100 words …. go!  Here’s the first set of thoughts with more to follow in a couple of days.  What would you have said?

Binks Neate-Evans – Headteacher

For schools to be run for the children in their community meeting the diversity of need locally. When this is done well, there should be genuine recognition of these schools, their teams and leaders who are truly inclusive. They should be fully funded to further develop successful practice and to share this in their locality.  This practice should not have to fit a prescribed model but suit the context. Conversely schools who reject children in favour of overall outcomes should be identified and robustly challenged so that ultimately the UK can have an education system where no child’s needs are left unmet.


Caroline Barlow – Headteacher, Heathfield Community College

It all starts with funding – Core Funding, SEND funding, Post 16 funding, Capital Funding and salary and employer costs funding.  This funding would allow us to reduce contact time and offer paid career breaks if needed, or professional qualifications to enhance retention.  And finally, tell the electorate the whole truth and take education out of the political cycle; cross party agreement, on all the above, for 10 years would be even better.


Chris McShane – Headteacher Focus Learning Trust Wilton Campus

I would like to see some moral leadership at the top of our profession and create a system where young people are once again at the centre of everything we do. If we have to have it I want a braver inspection regime that ensures schools are doing the right thing for their students in the academic and cultural setting of the school.

Finally I wish to see a system wide engagement in developing an education eco system fit for how our society is moving and will move very rapidly towards in the next twenty years.


Dave Whitaker – Executive Principal, Springwell Special Academy & Springwell Alternative Academy and Director of Education (SEN & AP) Wellspring Academy Trust

Enough is Enough!  We just can’t continue to run our schools without more money. A society should be judged by how it looks after and supports its most vulnerable. Special and alternative provision (PRUs) schools are at crisis point. They are tirelessly working to meet the needs of children with limited resources, often in poor quality accommodation and paying minimum wage salaries to staff who are expected to work above and beyond their contracted conditions. How many other industries rely on its staff’s goodwill just to operate? There is nothing more frustrating, as a school leader, than knowing what works, understanding what needs to be done but not being able to afford to do it.


Duncan Spalding – Executive Headteacher Aylsham Learning Federation

My one wish for 2019 in the world of English education would be for the list of 300 prolific off-rollers to be published. Get it out there in the open. If big prestigious MATs are implicated then so be it. Everyone needs to be held accountable equally for the leadership decisions they have made.


Long-term school improvement cannot, will not, and must not be built on playing games with young people’s lives. The publication of the list of 300 schools should also be accompanied by tighter monitoring of elective home education and changes to admissions codes that put children off-rolled for home education for reasons of poor attendance or behaviour back on the roll of their original school. From there a proper plan can be initiated that protects both children and schools


Helen Keenan – Headteacher, Brownhills School, Walsall

I would like genuine recognition from the DFE, Ofsted and the RSC that schools in challenging contexts need support and additional funding not to be labelled as RI or SM. The reliance on external data and snapshot inspections does not give enough weighting to context. The collateral damage of hounded out Headteachers or “recycled” leadership is not conducive to a healthy profession. Furthermore it makes the recruitment of new Headteachers for disadvantaged schools very difficult because it is a poisoned chalice. Schools in challenging contexts need the best leaders but the constant threat of a poor Ofsted grade, or poor results leading to the sack deters applicants. If we truly want to improve schools, we have to change the punitive system of accountability that currently exists. Sadly I can only see the new Ofsted obsession with curriculum adding to the punishment of these schools.


Helena Marsh – Principal, Linton Village College & Executive Principal, Chilford Hundred Education Trust

I’d like to see a more intelligent approach to accountability in 2019 with schools no longer being crudely compared and pitted against each other. My wish is for the removal of divisive league tables. Education is rich and complex: individual schools serve different communities and face varied challenges – they also experience huge inadequacies and discrepancies in the resources that they have to do so. Ending the damaging ‘compare the market’ style approach to educational performance and instead encouraging schools to work together for the benefit of all children would be a welcome shift to value education more holistically.

3 thoughts on “Hoping for Change in 2019 (Blog 8 2018-19)

  1. jameswilding December 29, 2018 at 9:26 am Reply

    First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
         Because I was not a socialist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
         Because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
         Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    Martin Niemöller’s poem is the starkest reminder of just how complicit we all can be in permitting government to misbehave by not speaking out and holding them to account. The choices made by this conservative administration to cut back everything funded communally in the hope that trickle-down economics and a ‘big society’ can pick up the slack is a monstrous outrage on our most vulnerable. By all means let’s focus on education, a out

  2. jameswilding December 29, 2018 at 9:29 am Reply

    …about which we are professional experts, and of course stand up for the NHS, but let’s not forget the police, the legal aid system and the prison/probation services, which coupled to social care provision have been utterly blighted.

  3. David Phillips December 29, 2018 at 10:39 am Reply

    David Phillips – Headteacher, Chilwell School, Nottinghamshire.

    For education to recognise the importance of accountability to its locality and the communities it supports. The laissez-faire attitude and appalling lack of overall systems that have happened over the last ten years has led to our most vulnerable being off rolled, our communities losing a voice in their institutions and local authorities powerless to insist that collective responsibility is in place for local children.

    Funding can be siphoned from local communities through large MATs to subsidise schools outside areas where the funding is intended to be directed. Local and central government need to ensure that this is halted.

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