Promise of off-the-peg prospectus for parents

26th March 2004 at 00:00
William Stewart expects minister to announce to heads that a school profile will replace the labour-intensive governors' report.

Parents will be offered new "easy-to-read" portraits of schools under proposals designed to cut heads' workload.

David Miliband, schools standards minister, is due to announce consultation on school profiles today in Harrogate in a speech to the Secondary Heads Association. He is also expected to praise heads and teachers in a speech to counterbalance Education Secretary Charles Clarke's earlier this month in which he described teaching and learning as "almost hit and miss" in too many schools.

The first of the Easter teaching unions' annual conferences this weekend is also expected to hear the Conservatives proposing immunity from prosecution for teachers on school trips and the Liberal Democrats suggesting schools should consider mergers with further education colleges.

Standardised profiles, proposed by the Government, would include statistics on academic achievement, with added value figures presented in graph form.

Schools would be compared like with like and Ofsted reports would sit alongside the school's self assessment.

The information would be printed from national databases, relieving heads of the burden of having to compile it for themselves. Schools would then fill in their own comments.

The profiles could replace the school governors' annual report, seen by many as cumbersome and time-consuming, and could also be used on school websites. Consultation on the idea will run until June 18 with profiles being introduced as soon as September 2005 Mr Miliband is also expected to praise teachers for being in the driving seat of reform and school leaders for being the "linchpins of our education system". "There are plenty of people ready to run down what you do every day," he is expected to say. "Today I want to stand up for what you do, for the good things happening in schools around the country, for the difference you are making to the lives of students."

Tim Collins, Conservative shadow education minister, is expected to call for greater legal protection for teachers taking school trips.

"We want to get to the position where, unless there is prima facie evidence that an individual has to set out to endanger someone's life, a teacher should have legal immunity," he told The TES this week. Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat education spokesman, is expected to warn that with surplus secondary-school places at 7 per cent of overall capacity, closures and mergers are a genuine possibility.

Talking of the need to adapt to the new 14 to 19 agenda, he will say: "It is not only mergers with other schools that should be considered but mergers with the FE college down the road or in the next town."

John Dunford, SHA general secretary, predicted his members would want to question Mr Miliband about the number of schools being failed by Ofsted's new inspection regime.

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