DIY community review published
Even designated community schools were not convinced that the Office for Standards in Education fairly assessed their community work, according to Phil Street, director of the Community Education Development Centre which published the guide last week.
The CEDC's self-review approach could be used to demonstrate a school's achievements and help them to involve parents and business even more, he said.
Tony Gelsthorpe, head of Thomas Estley community college in Broughton Astley, Leicestershire, was concerned that his school is subject to three inspection systems - one by OFSTED, one by the local authority to cover adult education and the youth service, and a third for FE work.
"All this needs to be brought together for an institution like ours - as a community college we go from cradle to grave. Hence the importance of self review and evaluation as they can make local coherence out of a system of national incoherence," he said.
David Wilson, head of Oulder Hill school in Rochdale, which has 1,600 pupils and 6,000 adults using the site every week, said his OFSTED inspection took place in early 1995 "when the office had not yet got to grips with community education". He found to his dismay that the first draft of the OFSTED report had community education as a "bolt-on" whereas it really permeated the whole ethos of the school.
"We have the most extraordinary arts and sports facilities: a professional 700-seat theatre which is also our school hall, huge sports facilities, two bars, a dance hall. We are open all hours and almost all year."
Mr Wilson is convinced that OFSTED has now taken the community education concept on board, but he welcomed the CEDC initiative. "Every head will tell you that schools have a duty to serve their community charge payers. We are all community schools."
The guide is available from CEDC, Lyng Hall, Blackberry Lane, Coventry, CV2 3JS, price Pounds 9.95