Memorandum from the National Association
of Headteachers (SQE 06)
1. In its initial response to this report,
the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) welcomed the tone
of the report. The Chief Inspector notes the contribution to rising
standards of teachers and Local Education Authorities (LEAs),
governors and parents, and the trend of improvement in the quality
of teaching. It is also pleasing to note reference to those aspects
of a school which cannot be judged by objective measures. These
are the features of a school which are evident to those working
in or visiting the school, which cannot be measured in an objective
way, but which make an important contribution to the learning
of the pupils and students.
2. Of course, the celebration of success
does not preclude the highlighting of areas in which further work
is required. The report highlights a number of areas where inspection
evidence indicates concern. We now look at some of these points.
3. The report notes the insufficient progress
of some pupils at Key Stage 3. This stage of education
has received much attention in recent months, and there are concerns,
in particular, about whether the timescale set for implementation
of the proposals is practical.
4. Last year's report identified discrepancies
between levels of funding across LEAs, and between the
primary and secondary phases. This year's report repeats those
concerns. NAHT has for some years advocated the introduction of
a National Funding Formula as a way of addressing these discrepancies,
and continues to argue for this. There are still too many examples
of schools working in similar contexts receiving varying levels
of funding, as a result of differences in the funding arrangements
of the LEAs which funds them.
5. The Association notes the improvement
reported by the Chief Inspector in LEA support for school improvement.
Where this support is of high quality, it is very helpful to schools.
However, there are still too many schools which do not have access
to high quality support and advice from the LEA, which puts them
at a disadvantage in the school improvement process.
6. The Chief Inspector raises the question
of the supply of teachers, and the recruitment of heads
and deputies. This is a problem that has been developing over
a number of years, and is not restricted to inner-city areas.
Indeed, schools across most parts of the country are now facing
difficulties in appointing teaching staff, and in finding suitable
supply teachers to cover for those who are absent through sickness
or on training courses. The report notes that of those schools
undergoing a full inspection, most were adequately staffed. The
Chief Inspector can only report on the basis of the evidence provided
by inspections during the year under review, but it is likely
that the evidence from the following year will show that the issue
of teacher shortage is more widespread.
7. The point about non-contact time to undertake
monitoring and evaluation of teaching is very valid. The view
of NAHT is that non-contact time should be made available to enable
staff to carry out tasks that must be performed during the school
day; monitoring of teaching clearly comes into that category.
Many primary schools do not have the scope within the budget to
all non-contact time to staff. This puts a lot of pressure on
primary deputies in particular, who have to carry out their deputy
head duties as well as a full class teaching responsibility. A
further group who are under huge pressure in this area is the
heads of small primary schools. These heads often carry a substantial
teaching commitment, have few staff to whom duties can be delegated,
and have to carry out all the tasks of the headteacher as well.
Time for monitoring teaching and learning is very hard to find
for these heads.
8. Schools welcome the recognition in the
report of their contribution to the rising standards seen in recent
years. However, they also accept that there areas in all schools
that can be strengthened and developed. Many of these areas have
already been the subject of discussion with DfEE, TTA, QCA or
OFSTED, as appropriate. It is also now important to consider whether
improvements can be made to the inspection process itself. NAHT
has raised a number of areas in which the Association feels the
inspection process can be improved, maintaining the rigour of
the process but ensuring that inspection gives a more accurate,
longer term view of the progress the school is making. These have
been discussed with the Chief Inspector, and we look forward to
further discussions in coming months.
National Association of Headteachers