'Heed our advice and we should get along just fine, Michael'

14th May 2010 at 01:00
John Dunford, general secretary of the ASCL, writes an open letter to Michael Gove

Dear Michael,

Congratulations on your appointment. You have just started the best job in government, with the future of the country literally in your hands and a workforce with the strongest possible commitment to the life chances of every young person.

Writing on behalf of the leaders of that workforce, I ask you to work with us. We would particularly ask you to remember the following ten things:

1. Pass fewer education laws and do not over-regulate schools. Put in place just enough regulation to ensure that one school's success is not at the expense of another.

2. Maintain the direction of change from the culture of competition that existed in the 1980s and 1990s to the culture of collaboration and partnership between institutions that has developed strength in recent years.

3. Continue to increase in real terms the proportion of the national budget spent on schools and colleges. Young people should not have their education jeopardised as a result of an economic crisis not of their making.

4. Over time, improve the distribution of that funding so that young people are not disadvantaged by their postcode.

5. Continue to prioritise the renewal of the schools with the worst buildings.

6. Strengthen post-14 qualifications by introducing a general diploma with a broad core of knowledge and skills.

7. Strengthen assessment by building a cohort of chartered assessors - senior professionals externally accredited to carry out in-course assessment to external standards - and use these assessments as a proportion of final grades in all external qualifications.

8. Engage parents more strongly in the education of their children - and recognise that they don't want to run schools.

9. Introduce intelligent accountability for schools and colleges. Make it robust, fair and proportionate. Make quality assurance and self-evaluation the centrepiece of the accountability system.

10. Only through our work at school and college level can your policies become successful, so make sure that all these policies are rooted in the reality of implementation.

With every good wish for your tenure as secretary of state. May it be longer, more effective and less interventionist than the average of your predecessors,

Yours sincerely

John Dunford.

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