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School management: Tories claim DCSF 'swamp' schools with guidance

Original paper headline: Tories: Labour hath begat a Bible's-worth of guidance

Schools were e-mailed 1,269,000 words of guidance by the Department for Children Schools and Families in a year - one-and-a-half times as many as are in the King James Bible - the Conservatives claimed this week.

But the Government said its fortnightly guidance notes contained links to webpages and left it to schools to decide what they read. There was clear differentiation between what was statutory and what was not.

The Tory study looked at what was sent between April 2008 to April 2009, with examples including `The School Food Trust High School Musical Campaign', and guidance on `Reducing Data Burdens'.

The Conservatives counted 23 consultation and survey documents. They also said there were 37 different statutory polices that schools had to follow although the Government said the party had confused legal responsibilities with communications to schools.

Michael Gove, shadow schools secretary, accused the DCSF of "swamping" schools with a "tide of paper" of which heads would only be able to read a fraction.

ASCL general secretary John Dunford said: "The huge number of regulations and guidance papers landing on headteachers' desks presents a major problem. They cannot read it all and they certainly cannot implement it.

"The Conservatives promise a completely different approach. If they prove to be the first government for several generations to reduce central prescription and resist the temptation to legislate, we shall be delighted. We shall hold them to it."

A DCSF spokesman said: "The email to schools summarises items of interest. It is a flexible way of making sure that schools only order what they need. The number of subscribers has been growing steadily."

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