Radical vision of the future school

17th September 2004 at 01:00
The schools of the future could be managed by people with no teaching experience, according to Wales's chief inspector of schools.

In an article in today's TES Cymru, Susan Lewis makes the case for longer school opening hours and more flexible staffing and working arrangements to ensure learning opportunities are more readily available to local people - both adults and children.

But she questions whether the head would continue to take the senior manager role in such an "open-all-hours" institution providing for learners of all ages.

Ms Lewis is expected to expand on her ideas in a speech today to the annual conference of the National Association of Head Teachers Cymru in Llangollen.

She told TES Cymru: "Can we consider the structures that prevail in many public-sector bodies - a chairchief executive model? Can we consider looking inside and outside education for our leaders and managers?

"Wherever we look we will need talented people with flair and vision who can lead a diverse team - people who are creative, strategic thinkers who can operate in a new kind of establishment with many functions which provides an exciting range of activities.

"This may challenge some perceptions of the traditional responsibilities of teachers and heads. But these challenges, rather than diminish or threaten teachers, could empower them. They could make the best use of teachers'

expertise, help to share resources efficiently and provide a flexible workforce that would be able to respond appropriately to the needs of learners in the future."

Brian Rowlands, secretary of the Secondary Heads' Association Cymru, which contributed to Welsh Assembly discussions of the "extended" school model, said managing such an institution would be hard for an individual.

But he added: "Any head would wish to be the team leader of a group of people responsible for organising the extended school. We welcome discussions on this."

The Westminster Government is already developing the concept of "wrap-around schools" where days are extended to include breakfasts and other after-school activities to help working parents, as well as "extended schools" with more opportunities for youngsters and others in the community.

The Welsh Assembly government is also keen to encourage community-focused schools that provide a range of services and activities beyond the school day. But it said: "Any new activities must not add to the workloads of staff without their agreement."

Opinion Cymru 23

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