Heads demand quango 'scrappage scheme'

30th April 2010 at 01:00

Headteachers are to call for the Government to introduce a "scrappage scheme" for education quangos, and pump the money saved directly into cash-strapped schools.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), technology agency Becta and the General Teaching Council are to be singled out as time-wasting organisations, filling headteachers' recycling bins with unwanted initiatives.

Alan Cornwall, head of Anlaby Primary near Hull, will tell the annual conference of heads union the NAHT these quangos "seem more concerned with advertising and marketing than actual substance".

He said schools were drowning in cascades of shiny spiral-bound folders, DVDs and colourful paperwork with proposed schemes for school improvement that ignore the reality of school life.

"We would love to have the luxury of closing the school for a year to bring in some of these well-meaning initiatives, but we don't," he told The TES. "It's all totally unrealistic in terms of the time it would take to implement," he said. "The DVDs tend to get used as coasters."

Mr Cornwall will complain that schools are bombarded with impossibly positive case studies of schools which have successfully implemented the suggested schemes.

"They all seem to be teaching around eight children in an aircraft hangar and have every bit of support going," he said.

The case study schools, he said, also benefited from extra cash to make changes, not something afforded to their peers.

Mr Cornwall's comments follow a recent announcement by Schools Secretary Ed Balls that up to #163;135 million would be cut from the budgets of Becta and the TDA.

The right-leaning Centre for Policy Studies think-tank recently calculated that #163;633 million could be saved if it axed at least eight quangos, including exams regulator Ofqual.

The Tories have already promised to dispose of the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency.

The NAHT conference in Liverpool this weekend will also debate reported "confusion" around the introduction of the A* grade at A-level.

A motion on the new grade, which will go live this summer, calls for reassurances that it will "not impact negatively on equality of access to higher education".

On Sunday, the conference will hear an address by outgoing general secretary Mick Brookes, who will accuse the Department for Children, Schools and Families of being "fixated with structures and systems" while neglecting what actually happens at school level.

He will also express concerns that the job of headship has become perceived as impossible, with many potential leaders scared away.

Speaking before his speech, he said: "The leadership that is required to quality assure those processes is under threat because there are so few people applying for headship."

The NAHT leadership is also expected to reveal research into widespread problems with decaying and out-of-date IT equipment, largely in primary schools.

And although the subject is not on the programme, the event is expected to be alive with chatter about the impending boycott of the key stage 2 Sats tests in English and maths, which are due to start on May 10.

A widespread rebellion against the boycott is expected, although leaders say they could achieve their goal if only 4,000-5,000 take part.

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