Our school has been selected to participate in a review of Excellence in Cities. I am just coming to the end of my first year of headship here. What should I expect?
EiC is a targeted programme that brings extra resources to schools in urban areas. It increases provision for students and encourages collaboration between schools to raise standards. There are six key strands: learning mentors, learning support units, city learning centres, beacon and specialist schools, education action zones and gifted and talented programmes. It is unlikely that your school will have benefited from all of these strands. Each has a separate funding stream attached to it and each is governed by different spending criteria. Some EiC initiatives have been running since 1999. Therefore it is now time for the Department for Education and Skills to calculate the effect of this initiative and decide on any changes for post-2006 when the existing funding streams expire. You will already know which strands of EiC affect your school.
The first thing you need to do is to invite someone from your EiC area to bring you up to speed with the history of these initiatives and how they were strategically introduced. Ask who decided which school received what and how these decisions were made.
The review will ask several questions.
* How effective has the leadership, management and implementation of EiC been at area wide level and at individual school level?
* Has this initiati5ve been successful in raising standards?
* Has it increased collaboration between schools?
* Has it provided value for money?
To ask the questions you should expect a team from the DfES, possibly supplemented with one or two local headteachers. There will be a number of in-depth interviews with key leaders and managers centrally before members of the team (possibly in twos) pay their visits to selected schools like yours. You should expect them to be in your school for a whole morning or afternoon for about three hours. They will want to divide this time up between talking to you and the strand managers in your school. So, for example, they may spend an hour with you asking for the evidence to show that the money ploughed into your school through EiC has raised standards.
Next they will want to find out from, for example, the co-ordinator for the gifted and talented programmes, how this strand has been managed and if there is evidence that the most able have achieved more than they might have without EiC funding.
To prepare for this visit you might like to consider: gathering school data, speaking to your strand managers and examining carefully the records of all money given to the school for EiC and how it was spent prior to your arrival at the school.
Another tack to pursue is to account for any other money that your school put towards any of these strands so that you can demonstrate how the EiC funds had to be supplemented from the school budget. Also, are there any qualitative measures that are important for your school that should be highlighted? Average points scores, value-added and attendance figures are only one set of measures. What about things such as increasing staff confidence in working with the most able or increasing collaborative work across departments and schools? What about any increase in area-wide strategic planning that now involves all heads? As a school and as an EiC area, are you now in a position to advise this team where any new funding post-2006 should be spent and for what purposes?
Schools have been very grateful for EiC. I am sure that you will want the team to go away with the impression that they should extend the funding well beyond 2006!
Pat McDermott is head of St Joseph's Catholic college in Bradford.Do you have a leadership question?Email email@example.com