The Big Question: schools are over-regulated; what could they do without?

Each week, we speak to the people who count, people like you, and post their opinions on the big issues in the education world. Read it and comment to make it a lively and insightful debate.

Schools are over-regulated and ministers should spend time in schools to reduce unnecessary regulation, said Dr John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, at the union’s annual conference.

Last year, a parliamentary committee disclosed that schools were on the receiving end of more government regulations than any other public body. Dunford recommends that no education minister should be in post without first serving as a teacher for a month, head for a month, and take responsibility for implementing all documents from the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

With school experience under their belts, ministers would be less likely to propose unnecessary new initiatives, polices and regulation on schools.

See TES article Schools are hit by more ‘ministerial fiddling’ than any other public body


Schools are over-regulated so what could they do without? Here are some views from the education community:

“Academies are divisive and a real retrograde step. Some schools have unnecessary amounts of taxpayers’ money showered on them for becoming academies while the others in the area are deprived. The academies also use overt and covert selection forcing the maintained sector to take the ‘rejected’ children and then the academies exclude as many children as they want again overloading the financially deprived adjacent schools. In some areas, the academies have reverted to a 1944 Butler Act system where there is a lead academy, a de facto grammar school, a secondary technical and finally a 3 - 18 school on a deprived estate to ‘address the needs’ of the estate - in other words a ‘sink’ secondary modern.

“League tables need to go. In some areas where grammar schools and selection exist there is no parental choice, it is the schools that choose children, so what is the point of a league table? In other areas those schools that play New Labour’s game and apply to become academies are showered with money to the detriment of other schools.

“SATs must go. They are a waste of time and opportunity to educate children.”
Alan Watkins-Grove, deputy head of English, Secondary school

“School league tables would have to go. I fully support the notion of accountability and schools should indeed have open doors, but league tables? So what if a school has more level 4s? What does it really tell me about what goes on in there? Need I say more?
Jo Woodhead, assistant primary headteacher

“What needs to go? Excessive use of risk assessments which prevent out of school learning happening regularly, those damned league tables at all levels of education, constant evaluation of data and performance …””
Susan M Coles, Creative Ways, Arts, Creativity and Educational Consultant

Please share your views below.


Previous Big Questions:
How long should it take to train as a teacher?
Why are teachers shunning citizenship training?
Should trainee teachers spend more time with special needs children?
Does teacher training need to change?
Is £10,000 the answer to teacher retention?