Members present:

Mr Barry Sheerman, in the Chair
Mr David Chaytor
Valerie Davey
Jeff Ennis
Paul Holmes
Ms Meg Munn
Jonathan Shaw


Memorandum submitted by Professor Tim Brighouse

Examination of Witness

PROFESSOR TIM BRIGHOUSE, Chief Education Officer, Birmingham City Council, examined.


  1. Can I welcome Professor Tim Brighouse to our proceedings and to say before we commence our questioning that we have certainly had a most enjoyable week in this fair city. The original idea was to roll up our sleeves and really get to know the local education authority and its area. We took some considerable time before we decided on Birmingham. I think all of us would agree that we decided on the right place to come, not only because of the way in which everyone we have met has been anxious to open doors, to talk to us frankly, and to share their knowledge and their insights as well as their concerns and everything else, but also because here is a city which I think someone on the Committee said only on Wednesday, "You can read about how big education is in Birmingham, but it is only when you have been to half a dozen schools and moved around the city for a few days that you realise this is an enormous undertaking." Thank you very much, Professor Brighouse, for putting so many facilities at our disposal. To come to this morning, if you felt you wished to, would you like to say a few words to open the discussion we are going to have with you?
  2. (Professor Brighouse) That is kind and you have wrong-footed me straightaway because I was expecting to undergo a grilling! I merely say I have given you a statement which outlines the urban challenge. In that statement I gave you there is a paper on secondary education - which I intend to give at the end of the month and I do not mind cross-questions on that but for obvious reasons I do not want it in the public demain before I give it because it is a bit unfair to the people to whom I am presenting the paper - and I also gave you a paper where I outlined various points that it seems to me worth emphasising, things like birth to five, things like under-achieving groups, and my getting to grips with that I thought rather later than I should have done, and I have outlined what I think about all of those. One thing with the benefit of hindsight I wish I had said in all the written material is around transition from primary to secondary school. I know that is your focus. It seems to me that in large metropolitan urban areas, the larger the place, the easier the transport arrangements, the bigger the problem, then the transition from primary to secondary school is a huge issue, made large by the fact that, first of all, there is the simple logistics of so many children from different schools going into a receiving secondary school, so that that militates already against links that you could reasonably propose to make between primary and secondary. That is one issue connected with it. The other issue is that it is really, really difficult in a very large metropolitan area - and I suspect that may be shielded from other metropolitan areas by having lots of small authorities - to know exactly where all the children have gone. It always haunts me and it has haunted clearly my predecessors if you look in the archives - and I do mean right the way back in history - as to in these very large conurbations there are children who are in most challenging circumstances where there might be a collusion between the home and the child not to get the child to school at all. So there is both the problem of the figurative loss of children with children figuratively not being at school once they get to secondary school and then there is the real issue of children who may not actually be at school. The difficulty is that up to now we have never been quite sure whether they are not at school or whether they have merely moved, as hard as you chase it with welfare officers. There are frequently cases where they genuinely have moved but occasionally you come across cases where they have managed to elude, as it were, our responsibilities and the parent has colluded in failing to get the child to school and children do not get a fair start in life. There is a haunting sepia echo of the Dickensian world in that description. I want to raise that point of primary to secondary transfer because I think it is a really key issue. I think there are lots of things government could do. The Government is going to do something around introducing, I think, some fairly obligatory - and I would make them mandatory - units of transfer in terms of the curriculum between primary and secondary. But I think there are lots of other things that could be done such as the way secondary schools organise themselves in year seven in order not to figuratively lose children in the early months and years of secondary education. That would be my extra point beyond the ones you have already got.

  3. Thank you for that. Can I start the questioning proper by asking you what may seem a rather mundane question and that is what do you feel about the importance of a head, the qualities a head? We have seen some extraordinary heads of schools as we have moved around the city this week. How important is that head? And how important is a head when you have got a difficult school and for all sorts of reasons - changing population, close to the city centre, all the things that we know about - it is a difficult to manage school and then along comes a superb head who is able to turn it around? What should a head put into operation to make sure that when that head moves on to a new promotion or job or even retirement that that school stays in a good position?
  4. (Professor Brighouse) Could I just with a preliminary say that I think there are things that we can do systemically and a lot of those are covered in the second half of the paper that I have given you. That is to say I think secondary schools on their own in heavy metropolitan urban circumstances can do so much, and they do a great deal - and in the circumstances you describe (and I will reflect on the real direction of your question) do extraordinarily well - but I do think that schools on their own cannot do it all. Clearly, I mean that both in respect to other services that need to give support and the impact on employment and housing in an area where there may be challenging circumstances, but I also mean in terms of collegiality, of schools working together. Coming back directly to your question, headteachers and the leadership of a school is important in any circumstances and in the circumstances which you describe it is crucial and they need an extraordinary degree of the characteristics and habits and skills of leadership which you would identify anyway in any school circumstance. We could have a long discussion about what those characteristics are, but it certainly would be to do with energy, certainty, hope, purpose, moral endeavour, a remarkable gift of relationships, and a huge energy. Certainly energy is the quality that I think is present to a remarkable degree in Birmingham and it has been deliberate to foster that energy. I have always believed that there are energy creators and energy consumers. If you said optimists and pessimists or half full and half empty or silver lining and cloud, "how we could" or "why we can't", you get an impression of what I mean. In an urban circumstance where there are huge challenges, the energy creators are important. If the head has not got that in those circumstances - and it is very difficult to describe what he has to have and he has to have that genuinely - then the link is lost. You have seen one or two of those characters in your visits. What I think they could do, irrespective of my point about collegiality, is to grow leadership in the school. That is tremendously important. I always regret that there are so many good ideas that we have never carried out. The one simple good idea that if I had my time over again I would want to say, "This should not remain a good idea, we should do it", is when a person is appointed to a headship, the next day after the governors make the appointment, they should be invited to go to, before they take up the position, three schools in very comparable circumstances so they have an indepth look at what three other places have done. I do not mind whether it is well or whether it is badly, but they definitely need that comparative information before they come into a school they take over. The second thing I would do, which we do not do for these systematic changes, is give them a leadership coach. I have been immensely impressed as the years have gone on by the subtlety of coaching and its power. I have used two coaches during the last ten years (and I did not use them before) for myself and for my team. I think coaching is important. If you appointed a coach when a new head came into such a situation, the coach would be growing leadership not of that person who has taken over the role but throughout the school, whether it is at the crucial middle level, which in a secondary school can be absolutely appalling, or whether it is or lower down. I would want those two things to happen. I have noticed that whether it is intuitive or deliberate, those schools which survive the departure of a really successful head have done that, they have grown leadership throughout the school so, as it were, it has got a momentum that will carry on, and it has created a postion where in more favourable socio-economic circumstances they can survive less inspirational less energetic leadership. It is almost as though the conductor has left the room and the orchestra can continue to play, but not for long. What I really want to say is that however much you grow the leadership, if that central leadership is not still providing the same value system, acting as a commentator, story teller, seeing the wider horizon and making good judgments, in the end it will start to fracture.

  5. Of course you know what I am going to say next and that is you are moving on. It is very evident that is like a head moving on. Are there similar lessons that you just told the Committee that a head should learn about how to pass on what he has bought to a school or she has bought to a school? Do you think you have been successful in putting all that in place for what happens here in Birmingham after your departure at the end of this month?
  6. (Professor Brighouse) First, a caution. The first thing to say is that it is not a school and what I was describing was a school. It is slightly different and the influence of a local education authority over what happens in schools is less powerful than the influence of a headteacher. I would think it is less powerful than the national influence now because what people wake up to on Radio 4 or Radio 5, or whatever they are listening to, I must be careful, affects their climate as they are going into school each day, and how teachers go into school each day affects how children learn. If they are going in in the morning and they are in not in a "can do" frame of mind, it affects children's learning. There is no doubt about it. The national scene affects that. What we can do locally is try to affect it and try to provide services and perhaps provide an example of talking about teaching and learning and school improvement and all the things that you know are going on in good schools. We have done that. The second thing to say is, yes, there is remarkably good leadership, indeed there has had to be, throughout the services in Birmingham to overcome the deficiencies, and there are many deficiencies, in my leadership and my management. There is in all people's leadership and management. It is a question of being realistic about where your weak suites are and trying to make sure that they are recognised and you are recognising them and you are trying to get people in to make sure that they do not cause serious damage.

  7. Thank you.
  8. (Professor Brighouse) There is a super successor as well by the way. I am fond of saying he is the Bob Paisley to my Shankly.

    Chairman: I must comment in passing that I also think that what a teacher listens to on Radio 4 and Radio 5 in the morning is very important, and very often the best decision I make is not to go on it at all!

    Jonathan Shaw

  9. I do not know if they are going to have some memorial gates outside the Council House.
  10. (Professor Brighouse) I trust not for a while!

  11. You mention children not going on to secondary school. We visited the Women's Academy and we met a young woman who when she was 13 did not go to secondary school because her family would not countenance the idea of her going to a mixed school, and so it was not until she was able to go to the Women's Academy that she was able to get the qualifications that she has now and she is in employment. Do you see that as a particular issue for particular Muslin communities in terms of youngsters dropping out of school because of family pressures? Are you referring to particular ethnic groups here?
  12. (Professor Brighouse) I think we are referring to a religious group and the complication of faith, religion, nationality and race are extremely intricate and sensitive. There is no doubt at all that Islam has brought to the city a great wealth of new mutual understandings. Its culture has enriched the city. It is a culture I have been delighted to work with. I am pleased that we have got two Muslim ladies' schools. I regret that in 1940 we did not take religion out of the school system but I am realistic, it is within the school system, and, frankly, in a city where 20 to 30 per cent of the primary and secondary population would claim that they came from a Muslim background, it seems rather odd that we have not got more aid in schools. Historically we have inherited a position where there are other major faiths represented. That is one thing. The other thing to say about Islam, and there is a lot to say, is that it is a less coherently organised religion than the other major faiths, so that each mosque and each imam has a considerable amount of independence from another mosque and another imam. So there is difficulty in talking to those who represent that faith. When I say there is a difficulty, there is that difficulty but that should not excuse the fact that most people have some Islamophobia and are not very clever at wanting to learn about Islam. Within Islam there are lots of different cultural assumptions that are rooted in national and even sub-national traditions. If I said to you Al-Hijrah is a co-educational Islamic school, which it is, and that it teaches girls and boys separately but they are within one school community and organised as one school community, there you have one tradition. There will be people within the Islamic tradition who say that is wrong and that it should be entirely separate. There will be people within the Islamic tradition who would say it needs to be co-educational. Pragmatically within Birmingham we have the problem, which must appear to be very odd to Islamic eyes, that in those parts of the city which are not Islamic there are high numbers of girls only places. They beat a track to the doors of those schools so that proportionately they have found what they want in those schools but overall, and the same is true of Islam as it is of any other faith or national population - when you ask parents what they want of secondary education, in a free vote, as it were, in an urban area - nobody would think of this in a county or rural area and it is another difference between the large metropolitan urban areas - 60 per cent will say they want single sex education for their girls but they want co-education for their boys. This leads to an imbalance and it does prove that in the large metropolitan urban areas - and I really will say it is the large metropolitan urban areas I am talking about - what you have got is an imbalance of boys to girls within the co-educational schools. If you look at OFSTED evidence, it is a much steeper task to create a successful environment in an imbalanced co-educational school. Whether that is to do with the maturation of boys and girls during adolescence and the habits and traditions of boys and girls - I suspect it is and that is why I am speculating about the issue. There are some children who I suspect are not in school for that reason, although less than when that 13-year-old was a 13-year-old because there are lots of independent schools as well as Al-Hijrah and I suspect there will be more Muslim aided secondary schools.

  13. Is it inevitable that there will be more maintained schools?
  14. (Professor Brighouse) If we are to have faith secondary schools it is desirable that there should be. It is intolerable that there should not be if we have faith secondary schooling. I am parking on one side as to whether I would have faith secondary school.

    Ms Munn

  15. I want to come on to this issue about leadership and heads and your role. You seem to be saying that you feel that the local education authority role in terms of how they work with the schools is perhaps less influential than the national scene. What was very clear to us is that not only did the heads that we saw have a lot in common in the way they are, exactly as you describe - inspirational, full of energy, very purposeful - but also ,without exception, they talked about what you had provided to them in terms of creating the culture and creating support. We had three headteachers who sat there and said, "On my first day in the job Tim Brighouse was there." The fact that you are within the schools a lot gives a powerful message. This is a huge authority with a lot of the educational establishments and you were walking the job, as they say, and getting out and doing that. What were you not able to do, making the assumption that you gave that priority?
  16. (Professor Brighouse) I gave that priority but there were lots of things I could not do. By the way, one of the reasons I am going is because I cannot keep up doing that. Once you have been a leader in a single position for a long time it is very, very difficult and because your lines of obligation become so extended and so many people have calls on your time, it is hard to keep up with the little things. You have to work flat out in order to win the credit or have the influence that you know you ought to have. It is partly because I have run out of that that I ought to go. Exactly the same happened to me within Oxfordshire. It might be age but I think it is both age and length of time in the job. What did I not do? First of all, do not under-estimate the fact that you can do two or three or four things at once. It is one of the things that is a quality of a good teacher anyway. That is a quality I hope I have taken on into other activities. Using time twice or three times over is a clever thing to do. For example, if I write a note to schools commending something that they have done, which I might do quite a lot - you probably heard I do quite a lot - I always to try to mention somebody else that has told me about it because then you are reinforcing the position of the other person. Are you with me? While you are about schools you can ask questions that help in other regards. If you plan it well enough you can be doing other things things while you are about it. If you get up very early you can be in school before most people are in work because most of the heads are in school, so you could meet a whole staff of a school and a head and apparently intensively be there and be in the office by quarter past nine. It is a question of using time cleverly and doing more than one thing. But very early on I did say that it seemed to me that I must spend all my time in schools (which I did) partly because there are things about the organisation of the place that I did not like. I thought it was too reactive to crisis. The same is happening in one of the other major departments and we are gradually getting that right, I think. It was too reactive to crisis so rather than be in the office I was out doing things. I thought somebody else can handle the crises. You know how it is! We wanted to get out of crisis and into being proactive, and I also wanted restructure the place a little bit. Most people fall into a mistake or the right thing - and in my case I think it was the right thing. I inherited a matrix management right across the department. I cannot handle that. I do admire those who can. The whole of our advisory service is now run on a matrix system and is brilliantly run but I cannot handle it, so I wanted to change it because I have not got the skill to do it. So for the first six months I was spending my time in schools. As it turned out, all sorts of things were happening in that first six months which rebounded to my advantage. I did not realise I was doing it. For example, all the people I was meeting were members of political parties. I was not conscious of this but I could not have thought of a better thing to do because there was a political message going back as well as an educational message about what was happening. I was also blessed with a political colleague, Andy Howell, who I think you have met, who I got on instantly and effortlessly with, and he was taking care of a lot of things and would joke and slightly tweak me about, "Where's Tim? You never see him", but we were meeting in the evenings over meals and we worked in very close partnership and he was taking care of a lot of the things, including the crises, thank heaven. But that is what we did.

  17. So what did you not do?
  18. (Professor Brighouse) I did not do a lot of the central stuff for the first six or nine months.

  19. What are the implications of not doing that? What I am trying to get at is if we are to look at lessons and things that we can learn from an authority which certainly has not got everything right ---
  20. (Professor Brighouse) --- There are loads of things we have not got right.

  21. --- But it has got a lot right and there is a lot of improvement going on, so should we be saying effectively to other local education authority chief executives "Get out there"? Is that the right message? Were there real down sides to not doing some of those central things?
  22. (Professor Brighouse) No, I do not think there were because I had a really good partnership with the politicians, the political leaders. Local democracy is hugely important. The quality of that leadership is hugely important. I have been remarkably blessed by the quality of the political leadership I have shared. Therefore it becomes a partnership and you can cover for each other. If you take Andy Howell, Sandra Jenkinson and Roy Pinney (?), they can talk persuasively and with feeling about educational matters. Are you with me? The teachers and the school community like it, so you can start to be supplementary and complementary. What you have got to do is cover the lot and decide when to take risks, when not to take risks, and where you are with the key issues that might foul you all up. You recognise this scene. It would not be a good idea to be out in the schools if you were not doing the right things when you were in the schools. I can think of people, if they went into school I would rather they did not. So it would depend on what your skills were. I have seen local education authorities make a remarkable difference to their schools without doing it in the style in which I have done it. So they can make a difference. I have just remarked that more recently because of a combination of central control and prescription and the media, you begin to argue that that central influence on the schools is much greater than it was 15 or 20 or 25 years ago.

    Valerie Davey

  23. I would like to take that up in a different context. National government is very keen to see children's education improve. That is obviously the absolute raison d'etre of all that you have done. One of the key elements in that has been setting targets, but when the Government talks about setting targets and when you talk about setting targets there are fundamental differences. Can you explain that to us again. I know you have written about it. Can you explain why it is so important in your estimation that the Government changes?
  24. (Professor Brighouse) It would be worth your reading, by the way, if you are going to carry on with the secondary review, a paper by Paul Black and Dylan William from King's College London which is around what they would now call "assessment for learning" or "formative assessment". I will try and get a copy of the paper and get it to you via the Clerk. Basically the best form of assessment in schools is where the teacher shares the map of learning with the children and an individual child and so it is really well-directed, and where the children therefore know where the next steps of learning are in a quite finely-tuned way. I could show you the marking of children's work where the teacher in the marking of the work is inviting the children to reflect on that practice, to share it with another pupil, who would then comment on the children's work and the first pupil would come back again and the teacher reflects again. This is taking some of the work out of it by engaging other people in the assessment process. The teacher will set the target for the next bit of work for the child to learn. That is setting targets and it is about pace, it is about improving against your previous best and, with the best teacher, it could produce a paced learning. It is formative assessment or assessment for learning, as it would now be called. That is where it starts. The clever teacher with a group of children actually harnesss that as a group and thinks of it as a team effort and promotes the team effort in order that collectively they try to achieve the same things. Some of our secondary schools, incidentally, have done that so well that when it comes to the vexed issue of setting - and we assume you are not streaming - they have shared the definitions of the levels so well that the children are invited in year nine and year eight to set themselves, ie which group is your next bit of learning in, and, lo and behold, the children have set themselves, overcoming the dangers of another person putting you down. In other words, the kids have done the assessment. Such schools are very few and far between but it seems to me they are on a very important track. In all of that in Birmingham, at the beginning, we knew we had to overcome "what more can you expect from children with a background like that", on the one hand, and parents saying "school never did me any good, so just keep your nose clean" and who now say "there is no job for you anyway, so forget about it", but would have said "there is a job for you at the works". Instead of a culture of being resigned, which historical inheritance would have had us do, we should say how do we get the thing moving? So we started with a primary guarantee. That was the big debate and very significant and hugely important because we talked about targets of input, targets of experience and targets of outcome. The words "primary guarantee" are important because people disputed the guarantee and said how can you guarantee. The fact is you cannot. We had a long debate about the guarantee. We had endless debates about when you do not get what you guaranteed. We start thinking of buying stuff and it has got a guarantee and if it goes wrong what do you do. We made a pledge together of what we were committed to do. Firstly, there were targets of input, about resource, about improving our services, about bringing our schools into contact with national and international expertise, trying to increase learning targets for the teacher (ie, unless they are learning --- the example I was mentioning). Secondly, there were targets of experience. We had only five in Birmingham for primary kids. Firstly, they should take part in a public performance. Secondly, they should have a residential experience. Thirdly, somebody should identify with them what they are good at in the expressive arts and give them an experience or a chance to develop that within the expressive arts - music, whatever it might be. I am thinking of music. A fourth would be designing together and planning and producing a book or a multi media for another age group and then critiquing it. A fifth would be the issue of in the last year of primary taking on an environmental project, where they would be involved in the scientific method and survey and get at issues that are of common concern. At the moment we are being inspected. I approached this morning as, "Oh my God, this is another inspection" but you are being, I think, very kind so far! Just at the moment we have got a comprehensive performance assessment and they witnessed a great debate about rubbish in the city. It is a matter that anybody in a metropolitan area will understand. Environmental sustainability issues are crucial to the metropolitan urban areas so them taking part in an environmental project is important. Then there were targets of outcome and they were around literacy and mathematics. There is no doubt that an incoming Labour Government looked at what we were doing and decided they would do something similar but instead of pitching it in the round, the message get lost nationally. This is perhaps where I am contradicting much of that. That is to say you cannot have that debate that we had with thousands of teachers where I would say when it comes to setting targets for literacy and numeracy, of course you have good years and bad years, but set ambitious targets and set modest targets but always set the ambitious ones because you never know and you will learn from setting them. That is bottom-up not top down and what they have done is top down. Sir Michael Bichard, who I understand is a great friend of yours -


  25. We are a friendly Committee.
  26. (Professor Brighouse) He came to Birmingham before the Government won power in 1997 to see what we were doing and he said, " I cannot imagine central government ever being able to set targets." I should have kept a note of that meeting because it all looks very odd now. But that is how we saw it and still see it and that is why you find schools not afraid to set aspirational targets because on the whole I will not write letters to them cursing them for not hitting their targets, even if I am being cursed for not hitting my targets.

    Valerie Davey: Can I just add I think your self setting of targets and assessment leads to a whole different aspect of the assessment in OFSTED but I will not enter that. If that can be said.

    Jeff Ennis

  27. You compared yourself earlier with Bill Shankly. Bill Shankly's most famous quote was: "football isn't a matter of life or death; it is more important than that".
  28. (Professor Brighouse) I echo that.

  29. You have obviously got a passion for education and that passion has rubbed off on all the heads and teaching staff and other staff we have met this week. There is obviously a range of factors or issues that inhibit individual performance amongst children. Have you ever sat down and tried to rank them in terms of severity in inhibition of their personal performance? Which is the most important factor or is it not possible to do that?
  30. (Professor Brighouse) Until you got right to the end of that I was not quite sure where you were heading and I did not know how to answer, therefore if I have got it wrong tell me. I commend you again to look at a document that Young Minds produced about children's and adolescents' health, and mental health in particular, and they ran into a set of risks and resilience factors. I think that we should be much more focused on what the risk factors are with children and what the resilience factors might be. This is a debate that were I still going to be working I would want to promote particularly in urban areas - and we have floated these ideas amongst lots of heads - which is you would say, "Yes, if you pick up that model, which I found invaluable". They talk about genetic issues, and there are some, but they are about ten per cent of the issue." 90 per cent of the issue is social and economic, so if you looked at summer born and being a boy it is a disadvantage to being autumn born and a girl. Both those factors matter. If you look at some of the class systems then some of the languages from the Asian sub-continent are related to caste and therefore if you know that, this is where you do need deep cultural knowledge, you would say if a child is speaking a certain heritage language perhaps we ought to be on the watch for that child. That child will be amongst their peer group thought not so well off as another language. I am not going to because this is a public record go into which those languages would be. So there is that as well. Perhaps if I were a secondary school and accepting kids perhaps for the intake in year seven, I would be thinking of how many primary schools have they attended? Are they from a background where education has not amongst the family gone beyond 16 before? What has the child's attendance record been at primary? What is the genuine view of their "at risk" worry about the kids making it in the secondary environment. You remember my first point about figuratively lost and you know what I am getting at in terms of making the transition - all of those, plus the issue of special educational need, plus the issue of race and ethnic origin. All those are issues which you would want to take into account to make sure that you were looking at the risk analysis of particular kids. Then in terms of resilience factors, you would say what are the interventions we can make with those kids which would make a difference? Some of them will be extremely simple. I do know schools that having done that will amongst the whole staff say, "You have got Fazana and you have got Jane and you have got Huroon and that means that you, David, when you are coming into school or when you are in corridor or when you are on lunch time could you try to strike up conversations with those kids?" Some do that but there are lots of other things you would do like residentials and aiming high, etcetera.


  31. You did not specifically mention parental involvement.
  32. (Professor Brighouse) That is hugely important. I thought you were talking about the school. Parental involvement is crucial and we have not done it very well in Birmingham. We got into it late, but we certainly brought out the Inspire programme which is really, really good. With particular kids with barriers to their learning, the more you can involve the parent the better.


  33. That is very good if there is a parent and certainly a parent who wants to be involved. One of the teachers we met only yesterday after we have had all our formal presentation came up to me and said, "I must say this to you: part of my job is liaising between our children and the parents and a big deficiency" - these were particular children who had difficulties at school - "is they do not have parenting and the parents do not have any support. They do not know how to be a good parent and they are not helped to be a good parent." But, interestingly enough, you talked earlier about transition and how you were particularly interested in and concerned about that transition from primary to secondary. One of the things we picked up from Birmingham from a lot of the teachers and heads is this transition from 16 into the rest of life. There was a very real concern that we picked up here about what happens. After a good education, even a good educational experience with some qualifications at the end, they say, "We have not got any remit to find out what happens to the people we put so much work into. They go off. If we are not careful they will go home, close the door, turn the television on or go to bed and will not emerge again and we know there are so many of them who do not go into the next stage of education, who do not go into employment, who do not go into anything." It got members of the Committee afterwards discussing this. Perhaps we are waiting for Connexions to do this but at the moment who tracks our young people when we leave them at 16?
  34. (Professor Brighouse) I think the answer to that is, first of all, you have put your finger on an area - you know you were asking me what did I not give priority to - which I have not given priority to properly and that is post-16, and I should have done. It is partly because the indicators suggest we are not doing too badly at 18, but we were not doing well earlier, and if you are going to make an effort you are going to focus on that. That is the first thing to say. The second thing to say the answer to your question straightforwardly is no-one. When Connexions is in place the likelihood is that someone will, but at the moment I think the transition at 16 is poor, although not as poor as it used to be. More and more are staying on. More and more are being counselled by their schools and worried about by their schools to make sure they have some further full-time education or a job. When you take further evidence it would be a good idea to pick up on this issue, not using the Birmingham experience. I do not think you have taken evidence from the Careers and Business Partnership which will turn into Connexions. They would say to me, "You are on the board, you should know, you should have told the Select Committee that each year you get a tracking document. You should have told them about the work we do to try to track the kids who are outside the system", which they do. I am telling you but I am saying I think you have put your finger on something that is worrying in an urban circumstance, probably not as worrying as the year eleven. I have given talks about "Mind the gap" because the gaps are really very hazardous. Whether it is the long summer holiday or whether, frankly, for some kids it is the hours between 4 o'clock and 9 o'clock the next morning, the gaps are hazardous.

    Mr Chaytor

  35. This week OFSTED and the Audit Commission have published their report on LEA schools improvement from 1996 to 2001, and the report concludes unequivocally that "good LEAs have a beneficial effect on some aspects of performance of pupils and schools, but the effect is not great. There is no proven relationship between the quality of an LEA and the overall standard of attainment. The expectation that LEAs should have a major effect on pupils' standards appears unrealistic." This was published before Birmingham was inspected. Do you think that they will need to revise that judgment when they assimilate the Birmingham inspection into the future report or do you think that that judgment remains valid across the board?
  36. (Professor Brighouse) You have had witnesses earlier in the week and you will have asked that question of OFSTED themselves. You will have read their report and you will know, therefore, whether they feel they need to revise their judgment. From my point of view, I believe that you need to read that document as you have read it. That is to say that they are not denying that some LEAs in some respects can have an influence. When it comes to a school that is in trouble, there is no doubt an LEA has an effect. If it did not, heaven knows what would happen to that school. Somebody has got to intervene. I have tried to impress that you can, by very hard work and reasonable organisation and creating a climate, diminish the likelihood of things going wrong and marginally increase the likelihood of things going right. I would have wanted to write that a bit more carefully than it has been written, but even in the way it has been written if you lined that up with what I said earlier about the national influence and the media, then it would appear to be on all fours with what you are describing there, would it not? I do not want to over-claim the influence of an LEA. I think it is hugely important and I would not want it any other way. I have described the democratic political interface that was crucial, and you seem to think, and so does OFSTED, that we have made remarkable progress. Therefore, the LEA appears to have had an impact. Across the country only they can judge whether that is replicated elsewhere.

  37. In your experience here, do you think that is an under-statement of what is possible?
  38. (Professor Brighouse) Yes, it would be an under-statement. Indeed, if you read their OFSTED report of this LEA you could not come to that general conclusion. In fairness, they have come to a general conclusion and it is carefully written. I could have wished that they would have described the case studies that illustrate the exception to the general conclusion in order that from those case studies other practice would change. The issue that I regret deeply is our equality gaps. You could say to me why have you not given prominence to the good practice in Regent's Park, in Cherry Orchard with Afro-Caribbean children, in Hamstead Hall and in Moseley? Because we have not got to those case studies early enough to give them the prominence they undoubtedly deserve because other schools will beat a path to their door to learn from their practice and indeed are doing within Birmingham. It is always incumbent on all of us, whether we are OFSTED or LEA, to describe where things are going well rather than give too much prominence to general conclusions, which might depress the energy. What I want to do is to raise the energy and say we are within a touch of cracking the issue of under-achievement of particular groups. I believe that to be true. I could almost believe that the same could be said of LEAs if they learn from each other's good practice.

  39. You are looking for OFSTED to publish a handbook of good practice?
  40. (Professor Brighouse) I would love to see it.

  41. In terms of the relative influence of LEAs and national government and the individual school, how would you put a figure on that in percentage terms? What is the balance of influence?
  42. (Professor Brighouse) It is really rather like saying, if we played around the issue, which I think you should do in your visits and in looking at secondary schools, of the relative weights to put on, shall we say, Gardiner's different forms of intelligence - spacial, musical, kinesthetic, literacy and numeracy. You would weight more important the literacy and numeracy skills as a platform for achieving in other areas. If you were marking out of ten, that the weighting I would give to the influence of the school is something like a factor of eight. If you then said the national weighting, it would be round about four and the LEA weighting round about three. In other words, the school is a disproportionately important unit in terms of whether it thrives or does not. The national weighting is about half that. The best schools simply ignore what is happening nationally, quite rightly so; they simply get on with what they are doing. The LEA just marginally less. In our case you might argue marginally more. Are you with me? Because of the example of good practice.

  43. In terms of the impact of national policy you have got here in Birmingham a hugely fragmented and hierarchical system of secondary education. Do you think that government policy in terms of admissions and diversity and the differential institutional responsibilities at post-16 is helping or hindering you bringing coherence and stability to the 11 to 19 age group? Which aspects of government policy on admissions, diversity and post-16 are most helpful and which are least helpful?
  44. (Professor Brighouse) Admissions needs substantial attention, and they are giving it some attention but they really do need to examine the criteria for admissions and they need to make sure that there is some body that is insisting that those criteria for admissions are observed so they need to take a view on what are the correct criteria for admissions. They ought in large metropolitan urban areas insist on the clearing house system. The presence of independent appeal is good. Let me say, they have moved further in this direction, in fairness to the Government, than the last Government did, but they do need to be firm of purpose about stipulating criteria for admission and co-ordinated admission arrangements and about the issue of children who are excluded and then placed in another school because, as I have indicated to you in the document I have written, the tendency is for the most highly-rated schools to kick children out when they are kicking over the traces, but then not accept others. That is another issue of a very large metropolitan urban area compared to smaller metropolitan urban areas, where you can probably get people to take in each other's children in such circumstances. I have to be very careful here. I am not suggesting that everybody can be taken in because probably a group of schools will need a unit to help kids who cannot take advantage of the school system. So I think admissions is very, very important indeed. Do you want to pause and come back on admissions?

  45. I would like to see what you say about the other things, about diversity and post-16.
  46. (Professor Brighouse) If I come to diversity of schools, then I presume they face the dilemma of were they going to abolish specialist status and the money that went with it or were they going to capitalise on it and expand it. I believe that every school should be a specialist school and they ought to have the resource that goes with it because there is a huge danger at the moment that the pecking order means that those who are higher up the pecking order under the rules of becoming a specialist school get the extra resource. They already, if you look at the data, have the most advantaged children because of the pecking order system. That does not help the issue of social justice and every kid getting a fair chance of developing their talents, so the sooner it is directed to all schools the better. To introduce a further rung in what is called a ladder seems to me to start the process all over again, and I think they need to move boldly to create groups or circles of schools where each is a school in its own right but where children at 11 choose to join a school and another educational body, a collegiate for the sake of argument, and the collegiate will be made up of the group of schools and would offer before and after school programmes and occasional inset and share their intranet and share their professional development, and where that collegiate would have its results published as a collegiate as well as individual schools, but where the resourcing of any individual school would depend on the results of each of the schools, to encourage collegiality. For instance, inspection would be of the collegiate rather than the individual school, rather as they are doing on the 16 to 19 area-wide inspections where they have tried to overcome the over-competitive nature of colleges and their too great autonomy to the disadvantage of the common purpose. I think they have got to have the courage to move in that direction quickly if we are not to have serious consequences of under-achievement and social difficulty in large metropolitan urban areas.

  47. And the third part of the question was the post 16.
  48. (Professor Brighouse) My federation or collegiates would, I believe, also incorporate the university presence in those large metropolitan urban areas. Do not forget I have been saying large metropolitan urban areas because I think there are different considerations in both the large town or the small city and in county areas. There you have got disproportionate provision of further education and universities. If in Birmingham, instead of there being 75 schools, there were, for example, 15 collegiates, just for the sake of argument, it would not be impossible to have a bespoke relationship, indeed a partnership with or an associate involvement with both a college and a university. You could then start to be on a virtuous circle of expectation, achievement and shared expertise.

  49. Do you think the division of responsibility between the LSCs and local authorities and the Connexions Service -
  50. (Professor Brighouse) It is unhelpful, and it is likely to lead to incoherence.

  51. Can we come back to the admissions point in more detail then. What specifically, if you were framing new legislation on admissions, would you like to see in that legislation?
  52. (Professor Brighouse) I would like to see it being determined that in certain areas there is one co-ordinating admissions agency. I would say let it be the local education authority but I do not feel that passionately. It is an administrative task and it needs to be done fairly. If that were something that was done by another agency with everyody agreeing, because after all the authority itself is an admissions authority, so it may be possible to create an arm's length body to do that, that would be acceptable. That is number one. We definitely do need that. The second thing for me would be to examine the criteria for admissions. They have done it in the past. I would personally always give priority to children in public care because they get the worst deal of the lot; children with special educational needs; I think I am persuaded about siblings. My next priority would be that every parent should have a prior right over another parent to get into the school that is nearest to them. That is different to distance. I hope you are all aware of that. We can have endless discussions on that. What I am really saying is if I live here - and I have got in terrible hot water in the past by doing things other than orally in a select committee - eight miles from the school and my nearest school was eight miles distant but the second person lived two miles from that school but one mile from another school, I would give the person who lived eight miles a priority over the person who lived one mile because they live two miles from another school. I hope this comes out well in the transcript! But you follow me. I think that is a terribly important principle. I would have that as my fourth. Now you are going to say how about co-ed, selection and faith. You do have to say wait a minute, if you have selective and independent schools, independent schools have the right of declaring their own admissions' arrangements, and I cannot see any government changing that, and as long as you have got selective schools they should declare within selection those same criteria, but if they are over-subscribed I would use selection but then moderate it by the issues that I have described too. If it were faith I would again introduce the faith element, I suppose. That is an interesting proposition because in Northern Ireland, as you probably know, there is no priority given to faith by faith schools.

  53. Is that right?
  54. (Professor Brighouse) Forgive me if I say you had better do your homework!. I was an adviser to the Burns Report and when they said that to me, I said, "Are you really telling them that I am an atheist and I live next to this Catholic school that they have got to give priority to me over a Catholic that lives half a mile away?" they said, "Absolutely." Indeed, they said they would probably be more welcome than the Catholic who lives half a mile away. I understood what they were saying. I said, "Are you really sure that is right?" And apparently in the 1970s that was introduced as measure to overcome sectarianism. By the way, that is why I would push my collegiate like mad because that would help overcome the ghetto effect of different groups. So in our country you might have faith as a proposition. I do not think on the mainland you could get to the position which is the case in Northern Ireland, that it is enough to provide the school with a missionary intent, because we are not like that here on this side of the water. So I would let faith apply as a criteria and that is as far as I would go.

  55. Would you include atheism and humanism on a par with other faiths?
  56. (Professor Brighouse) If there were a school that wanted to declare itself a humanist school, I would go along with that. I am not sure that a humanist --- You are going to get me into territory that I do not want to get into.

    Paul Holmes

  57. You were saying earlier about if you were giving weighting factors, the school is most important, then the government, and then the LEA. However good a school is, it has very much got to work within the framework government sets. One of the frameworks that schools complain a lot about is league tables, tests and exams. It is said that our kids are the most tested and examined in the world. What would your comments be on the league tables and various tests and exams? How would you like to see that reformed?
  58. (Professor Brighouse) It is back to my point about assessment. It is very very difficult, although I do remember that Kenneth Baker said when introducing the Education Reform Act of 1988 that it was essential that assessment should be at once diagnostic, formative - and I welcome that bit - summative and informative. I thought that was saying a square should be a circle. You cannot do that. That is to say the moment you move from formative and sharing things and get into informative and summative assessment is the moment you are putting at risk the formative assessment of kids. As adults we go cope with the comparative, but they are still children. The danger with the league table approach is that it accentuates the pecking order with parental choice. I have argued that I would move towards collegiate publication of results and individuals within it. Quite honestly, I do not care about people finding out what the Birmingham results are. I do not mind comparing them with Bury and the Isle of Wight and Barnsley and Sheffield and Bristol and Kirklees and parts of Kent and Medway.

    Mr Chaytor

  59. I would have thought it was very helpful to compare with them.
  60. (Professor Brighouse) I really do not mind doing it because on the whole I do not think that many parents are going to choose between Birmingham and Barnsley. If they did, there would be only one choice.

    Ms Munn

  61. Barnsley!
  62. (Professor Brighouse) But the more local you get, the more dangerous it becomes. Nevertheless, comparative information is hugely important because it enables you get leading edge stuff into practice. The answer to your very uncomfortable question is I think there is growing evidence that the over-examination and the over- focus on attainment, which I am totally for, has its down sides and consequences in terms of kids' motivation - the kids who are good at other things that are not assessed widely. If you look at what we assess, it is so heavily skewed towards information and individual recording of that information with the aid of memory and, thinking about it, the secondary curriculum is not very good at team assessment nor at finding a way of giving credit to a wide range of other activities within the school that matter hugely to all of us. In that respect I think you ought to look while you are at it, at a student survey, particularly work that pioneered by Keele University and is still running with a huge database of student perceptions about schools, because that becomes a proxy for what school ethos is like and children's attitude to schools. I have tried to obfuscate and the simple answer is they have not helped.


  63. We have got tests at seven, 11, and 14, course work at 15 and assessment at 16, 17 and 18. You have talked sympathetically about a baccalaureate and George Dixon School we were at yesterday have introduced that.
  64. (Professor Brighouse) Of course, this is the stuff of dangerous headlines, but if you took seriously the assessment of those basic competencies and if you looked to key skills - communication, numeracy and ITC - they are crucial but so are those peripheral skills of problem-solving, being able to assess how you learn and take on your learning and working in teams. If you took that seriously, you can begin to see that, with reform, tests at 11 and tests at 14 would be quite good in that respect. They need a little bit of pushing up of the ITC competence. You could start to do that. If you did that at 16 it would look very odd. So if I had a reform it would be to magnify the importance of 11 or 14 around those basic territories and then turn my attention to 18 or 19 because one of the down sides of 16 is that it is still referred to as the school leaving age. We do not want it to be the school leaving age. If I had to sacrifice one, that would be the one I would want to take out.

    Paul Holmes

  65. Do you see a future for the GCSE?
  66. (Professor Brighouse) I am sure there is a future for GCSEs. But you ask for my opinion and I would say there should not be one. There should be one test at 14 relying on teacher assessment. We spend so much more on exams and inspection, ten times as much as any other developed country. Teachers are now going to get paid on their performance. They are the ones that mark the papers, after all, but they do it at a distance, so going for 14 and 18 or 19 would seem to be sensible.


  67. So there would be a graduation certificate for those people who left school at 16?
  68. (Professor Brighouse) For 16? No, I would be encouraging people to take an accumulated diploma at 18 or 19, whether they were in the work place or whether they were in education. In America they get a profile of what they have achieved, even at degree level, compared with our absolute summative information. I would go for that.

  69. Can we take you back really again to what our inquiry is about because in the Birmingham experience, as we are going to be calling it for a long time to come, that is what has driven this through. Of course, we have been interested in other things and we have not looked at secondary education. To push you a little bit more on the collegiates, in one sense I know your answers to previous questions show that you have your reservations about much of the Government's enthusiasm for specialist schools, and that you would like to see specialisms rolled out to all schools. That is the Government's intention, is it not; 50 per cent and then onwards and upwards as fast as the resources are available. Tell us a little more about the collegiate system because reading the material I have seen of yours and hearing your answers to questions this morning, it does seem in a sense that you are a person who would like to go back to the true comprehensive ideal. You are enough of a realist to know that is not going to happen so you are trying to find a mechanism that maintains and reinforces some of those traditional ideals of people who want the true comprehensive. Are you trying to reassert the pure ideals behind the comprehensive system in the collegiate system? Is that what it is all about?
  70. (Professor Brighouse) It is a very tricky issue. The first thing is I do not believe that comprehensive education has been achieved, in the sense of people wanting children across the ability range when they are defining that ability as the capacity to pass standardised, selective tests at 11 or, if they are not tests, assessments at that age and they might be represented by level six, level five, level four, level three, level two in the national curriculum test at 11. I think that has only been achieved where everybody in the locality sends their children to a school in rural and county areas. I think that the small city and large town achieved it at first but it has been pulled apart. If I may say so, when you look at some of the areas you represent - and I was thinking in particular of Bury - Bury has got some green around it, it does act as a magnet, I guess, from Salford and Manchester. I do not want to get into a discussion about Bury but it is moderately well-off area. For example, only one of your schools has got 35 per cent free school meals and that is the top by about ten per cent. In Birmingham the average is 35, so I think socio-economics plays a part in this. It has only ever been realised in those areas. In the large metropolitan urban areas it has not. If the word "comprehensive" was such a good word, why did none of the schools use the word "comprehensive" in their title, because none of them do? It has become a word that we cannot have reasonable discourse about. If you said to me, "What do I want in terms of schooling?" I would be really pleased if kids during their teenage years came into contact and had sets of experiences of kids from a full range of diverse backgrounds. I would want that because socially that is an important issue. Educationally I would want them to have the best possible staffing structure available to them. I would want them to have that expertise wholly available to them. I would want the full expertise brought within their reach. I would want a curriculum that suited them individually, if that were at all possible. I would want them to have progress at the rate they needed to have progress. I would want them to think that they were citizens not just of Birmingham, not just of the UK but they had worldwide responsibilities one to the other. That is easy to do in a metropolitan urban area, in a sense, because we represent that world. I want all of that. I do not think that the individual school can do that. So my answer to the question is really I do not think an individual school at secondary level in most of our country can be truly comprehensive, if you mean it like that. I would want to reject the word "comprehensive"; I prefer the word "collegiate". I want a collegiate ideal. I want people to understand that they are inter-dependent and that that is to their advantage and, therefore, I want to substitute that for what I think people in a different era set out to do before we had all these changes socially, both within our communities, within our countries and globally. I would want a different ideal and it would be a collegiate ideal where you accept that you belong both to an individual school and a wider community, and that the individual school you belong to made sure that you had sets of experiences that brought you into contact with other people.

  71. But one thing we know about human beings is that they respond with fierce allegiance, almost more fiercely and more attached, the smaller the unit is. To give you an example of my own area. People will wax lyrical and get passionate about Huddersfield but they will not get passionate about Kirklees. The identity problem that some of us see about collegiates is that you would have to be very careful because you do need that attachment and that passion about an organisation and if you are not careful the collegiate would be too big, too amorphous and just be an administrative entity, and surely it would not work if it was just an administrative entity?
  72. (Professor Brighouse) It certainly would not work. It should not be an administrative entity, that is not its rationale. Its rationale is to bring together the teachers of like interest, to increase the sum of their intellectual curioristy, to make professional development together, to make sure they did come into contact with the further education and higher education community. Do not tell Brummies that you cannot identify with a big place; Brummies do.

  73. Do they feel passionate about the West Midlands?
  74. (Professor Brighouse) No, they do not, absolutely not. They do not feel passionate about things that are smaller as well. They do feel quite passionate about the English football team actually. I do not think size is necessarily the issue. I think how organisations are run makes the difference as to whether people identify with them. I am absolutely sure that if a collegiate were identifying awards and had sports teams, etcetera, etcetera, people would begin to identify. People would identify in a way that they really like. If it were a substitute for a boring LEA and a dull old administrator like me, and I can think of other smaller groups that appear to be administrative within the city, then I am not absolutely sure that it would work, but it would work if -

    Mr Chaytor

  75. I think the concept is really interesting, because it is very largely what has applied in a local authority like Bury for the last 25 years, ever since it went comprehensive. It is a collegiate and there is this dual identity between the wider neighbourhood. How many years do you think it would take before a collegiate in Birmingham would have a joint budget and joint management structure between a school like King Edward's Grammar School and George Dixon School?
  76. (Professor Brighouse) Until you brought in the illustration, I was comfortable. When you gave the illustration --- if I took the Catholic Partnership rather than the King Edward Partnership, the Catholic schools do identify with the Catholic partnership, and it overcomes that problem. But it has taken them ten years to get to a point where they are. They do pool budgets, they have got shared management, they do pull people together, they do have pupil experiences, and they are acting as a coach to the development of our collegiates. I think our collegiates will add impetus to the greater movement towards collegiates. The Catholics did it with absolutely no outside encouragement at all. I would say it will take three, four or five years.

  77. There is a mutuality of interest within a Catholic partnership that there is not within -
  78. (Professor Brighouse) I am absolutely sure if you ask me how the Oaks Collegiate will be going in two or three years' time that it will be impressive and it will be making progress both in professional development of people, opportunities, and the use of the learning technologies, and people will not want to go back. I am confident because I know the people. I know the staff and teachers and support staff and they will make it work. When you introduce the wider possible disagreements, then I think you are talking about longer periods. For instance, I would have - and this is heresy but why not have the heresy - independent schools involved in the collegiate. Why should they not be involved in the collegiate and pool some of their resource? Indeed, we have got one of our collegiates seriously thinking about doing that with an independent school. The King Edward Foundation has had a profound influence on the city. I have had some discussions with the King Edward Foundation and I am going to have some more discussions with them because they are a collegiate in themselves. I think they identify with the individual school rather than the whole, very frequently, and I admire the way that the Foundation makes sure that they all have fair shares. But when you look at the King Edward Foundation's original purpose, then I would hope in the spirit of co-operation that they would want to join in the collegiates. Do not forget that there are long histories and long determinations that things have been in a certain direction and it is going to require a lot of energy and a lot of shared moral purpose and a determination. If we really want for other people's kids what we want for our own kids we need some solution like this. I am not unhopeful.


  79. To turn back to Birmingham for a moment and bring you back to the gap that seems to be here. If you look at the stats in terms of skills that Birmingham people have today and the skills that Birmingham needs today and tomorrow, all the evidence shows that there is a skills gap. What struck us as we talked to people that we have met this week - and they were very forthcoming with their hopes and aspirations for the future - many of them kept saying it is an odd world, is it not, where we are in Birmingham are building things, constructing things, all sorts of stuff is going on here that needs people with good skills, craft skills very often, and yet at the same time there are large numbers of young men and women who are unemployed and who have no aspiration to get those skills. With so many organisations here, as in all metropolitan areas, at some level one gets the feeling that they are not all knitting together quite well enough to cross this skills gap. This Committee in a sense is responsible for this. We spend a lot of our time on education and not enough perhaps on skills. It does seem in a city like this that there is this gap and no-one really is doing much about it. We have found there is tremendous potential for young people who are not going on to higher education. All the information is they are not going on to higher education but they have a lot of talent and no-one is giving them a chance to get the skills to enhance themselves.
  80. (Professor Brighouse) You have had evidence from the Learning and Skills Council and they have done a pretty good analysis and are pretty clear that they are working with our Excellence in Cities partnership in order to ensure that there is a better match and understanding of what is needed in future. I have a caveat, which is that our manpower planning record is not a very good one. If you had in the 1970s turned out lots of car workers in Birmingham they might be unemployed now, and yet they were encouraged to think that was the case. If you think of the rate of change, our capacity to predict what is needed is a bit doubtful, so I take a slightly different view from yours, and I know that yours is much better founded, and that is I would argue that I want all the young people to believe that they have got talent, that they should give it absolutely everything to develop that talent in whatever direction that talent is taking them, without too much regard for the local communities because as I hear them now, they say, "There isn't a job in Shard End", and I am wondering, "Why are you thinking about Shard End." They say, "There isn't a job in Birmingham", and I am thinking, "Why are you thinking of Birmingham?" because the more educated you are the more you are widening the horizons of what you can do. The fact that two of my children live and work in the United States, and always will do, is a matter of regret because I cannot get there as often and see them and those particular grandchildren, but I am pleased that they saw that the horizon was wider than a local or a national horizon and, frankly, if we have a shortage of bricklayers just at the moment and we have a shortage of plumbers - and, as I understand it, they can command a salary of 60,000 a year to be a bricklayer and an Aston Villa footballer can earn 60,000 a week - I cannot say the bricklayer is under-paid. I am not noticing that the buildings are not going up. They seem to be going up at a rate of knots. What I would want is for all our population in Birminghaming to believe that they can contribute to the world and that they have got a special talent and they can do it. I do mean all of them. I do not want to restrict it. They have all got a talent of different sorts. Many of those with special educational needs have a talent for people, for example, that is enviable or they have got a talent where their barriers to learning do not get in the way of them doing it. I would not want to get too preoccupied with circumscribing geographically the match of skill need with pupil aspiration.

  81. I was not trying to drag us back to the 1960s version of manpower personnel planning. I suppose what I was really trying to get at was the fact that many of us discontent about education in schools at the schools I went to and you went to. At some of the schools we have looked at here perhaps this is less true, but traditionally in a typical classroom you have seen all the awards and plaudits go to the traditional academic child who is bright, passes exams, gets ticks, Brownie points and all the rest. There is a very large percentage of that class that very rarely gets ticks and Brownie points and passes at the highest level of exams. Why I am asking you is because here you seem to have instituted a system that rewards and encourages the self-esteem of the others.
  82. (Professor Brighouse) Certainly I would say that is what we are trying to do. If you look back to our guarantees, that is what we set out to do. That is why we have promoted the idea of Gardiner's view of intelligence. Back to your point about what do you do with kids at risk? You should take a profile of their preferred learning styles and their range of talents when they go to secondary school. Certainly we have tried to do that but it is within a national context which still emphasises the elements that you are describing. Lots of the things you have asked me in terms of questions are institutional viruses that get in the way of a - and I almost used the word - comprehensive view of human talents and achievement. But you are putting your finger on an important issue which is the marking systems which operate within schools, the groupings of children within schools, the awards arrangements within schools are speaking volumes to the children about what is or is not valued. I think it is terrific that so many of our schools have a catholic view of talent, intelligence and success. It is good for the kids because they are very different.

    Jonathan Shaw

  83. One of the issues that we have discussed this morning and which has been raised throughout our visit, is the attainment of African Caribbean boys in particular. Should the Government be seriously concerned about this, particularly because of the lack of role models in the classroom, and adopt a market force approach, in the way that they have for overcoming the shortage of teachers with 6,000 to do a PGCE and with further financial incentives for subjects where there are shortage such as maths and science. Should the Government think, "If we are so short of African Caribbean teachers, should we pay them more and offer them more financial incentives?"
  84. (Professor Brighouse) Until the very last I thought this was a nice easy question I could answer, but the little bit at the end made me realise that it was a very, very tricky question indeed. There is no doubt that individual schools have made a difference to African Caribbean children across the board. We can show you examples of that both at primary level and secondary level. You will have heard of our raising of Afro-Caribbean achievement. Through key stage one and two, and now going through key stage three, we are tracing a group of pupils at secondary school to see their achievement and see what are the issues that matter. Role models are important, of course they are, and the more people we can attract into our schools that reflect a diverse range of both our faiths and ethnic background the better would be the performance. Indeed, irrespective of that, I think that all our teachers need to set out within a community like this to learn more about another culture, whatever that other culture is. It would so improve our cultural understanding and avoid us missing each other and passing each other, which is happening. You must have received evidence that there is a perception that that is happening. All those things need to be done. If you ask me would I pay somebody more because they are of a particular ethnic background, the answer is no I would not. Not for that reason.


  85. Have you read Professor David Gillborn's report commissioned by an organisation in the City on African Caribbeans?
  86. (Professor Brighouse) Yes, I have.

  87. Did you agree with the findings?
  88. (Professor Brighouse) The broad thrust of the findings, yes. I have got criticisms of that report, do not get me wrong, but the broad thrust of the finding, which is that we have got a long way to go in order to listen to and to gain the confidence of the various communities, is right. The fact that some of those communities do have trust is a good beginning but there is a long, long way to go. That is the thrust of the report and in that sense, yes, I accept that. In practice, I think that the report uses our data and a number of opinions, and what we had hoped we would get was some comparative data from other places and practices from other places. What we have done in Birmingham is create a database that is enviable and we try to describe our practices, but we are desperate to know of other people's practices that work. We went to Professor Gillborn in the hope that he would be able to give us that but he has pointed out to us that a) he is bound by the confidentiality of the study he did for DfES and b) he confided to us he thought there was so little information in other places that we would not be able to learn from it. The last I found really worrying.

    Valerie Davey

  89. Does the scope have to be within this country? One of the things that Bristol has done recently in its police force is to bring overseas police on secondment. Is that a possible option within the context we are now speaking?
  90. (Professor Brighouse) I am all in favour of secondments and I am all in favour of learning from other places. For instance, we have a sister city, Chicago, and we have done some in-depth comparisons with Chicago. I would certainly be arguing that, for example, if London wants to solve its problems it should look at what has been happening in New York. International comparisons are hugely important and they are becoming much more important. Secondments are a very good way of doing it. If you are moving into the territory of shall we recruit people -

  91. --- No.
  92. (Professor Brighouse) --- Good, because I do not think that is right.


  93. We have been quite impressed by your strategy to tackle the behaviour of particular groups of pupils and we went to your PRU yesterday and had an interesting talk across the board about pupil behaviour and how one deals with it in an intelligent way. Do you think the way you have done that has helped you retain staff? Is retention in the city better because you have better mechanisms than perhaps other local education authorities?
  94. (Professor Brighouse) If you will forgive me for saying so, I think your judgment is too generous. I think our service is excellent but it could be improved, and we could learn a lot more from other places. You are picking on an area where I am going away feeling that although we looked at that issue and got lots of commendation for looking at it right at the beginning - and we had some reports on excluded kids both at primary and secondary level about what we should doing, the schools made a lot of effort and that was good, we should have returned to it more frequently. I know my successor is going to have to return to that issue and examine the issue of behaviour from three points of view - what is in the child, what is in the community, and what is in the school. At the moment they are a bit out of kilter and all three need looking at. We have done lots of good work but I would not want us to be claiming that we are exceptional in that respect.

  95. Do you think that sort of work helps in teacher retention?
  96. (Professor Brighouse) It does undoubtedly. If you have got a very clear idea about curriculum and behaviour and you have got a good support service, of course it makes a difference. Incidentally, you really ought to look at those people surveys I was mentioning from Keele because when they started, which I think was in about 1990, children were asked about whether they were distracted by behaviour in class across the whole nation, it was a very big survey, and around about 29 per cent said they were distracted and could not get on with their work. That figure is now 40 per cent. That is a lot. Are you with me? So there is an issue. Secondly, if you examine that school by school, which nobody has done - nobody has done - it varies between 6 per cent and 60 per cent. You would have thought somebody ought to be researching in depth the schools that are very low and the schools that are very high to see if you could come to some general conclusions. I could guess what they would be and some of them would be the point you have made, which is you need good support from the outside and maybe some of the initiatives that have been taken by the government under Excellence in Cities are going to help even more, like the learning mentors and learning support units on site, etcetera.

    Ms Munn

  97. I want to follow up on this issue of teacher retention and teacher recruitment because it is an issue raised pretty regularly with the Select Committee. Some of the issues we have just looked at are around pupil behaviour. Another issue which is often raised is teacher workload and the impact that has on both recruitment and retention. The thing I noticed in all the schools I went to was that they were using additional funds to do precisely what teachers want, which is to set in place structures and mechanisms that took off the teachers tasks that were not particularly teaching - setting up reprographic departments or home/school liaison for picking up very early kids not in school that morning and what is happening with that. Is that something which has been led from the schools or the local education authority?
  98. (Professor Brighouse) We have been aided in that by the professional teachers' associations who have urged us to consider those issues and give advice to schools to try to help schools think of it very perceptively. So, yes, we have urged that but I think there is an awful lot more we can do. We are glad that some of our schools are part of the national in-depth look at that. We have got one of our primary schools involved and I think there were 40 involved across the country, although I am not sure of the exact number. We have encouraged other schools to join in, to be associates of that, to learn about teacher overload. There are lots of things that affect overload. If you ever go into a large group of teachers and ask them to put their hands up if they enjoy teaching, you will get loads and loads of people putting their hands up. If you go in and you say, "Put your hand up if you enjoy marking?" you might occasionally get one or two who enjoy marking! I am making this point because teacher overload, the planning which has become greater as a result of accountability in OFSTED, and the marking which has become crucial in terms of OFSTED reports, and always should be crucial in terms of the kids, take more time than teaching, as any teacher will tell you. When you talk about overload, it is easy for them to say, "Look at what I have got to do, but actually the thing I am dreading is the marking and the preparation because it is really, really difficult." I think we should give far more attention to those two big issues than is being given. For instance, teachers planning their work together is undoubtedly more energy-creative than doing it alone, and doing it in school rather than at home on a Sunday makes a difference. Using the learning technologies - and I mention here Active Maths as an example which is a key stage 3 thing from one of the commercial suppliers, I think it is REA- takes the heat out of both planning and marking and substantially reduces the marking load. Some of the things I was describing to you about formative assessment and assessment for learning takes the heat out of the marking. There are loads and loads of issues it seems to me should be debated about planning and marking which I think would have a profound effect on teacher workload. We are not having that debate widely and openly enough. If you ask schools when did you last have a debate about marking from that point of view, you usually get a resounding silence, so I personally would like to push those two issues.

  99. I suppose the other end of that was recruiting not just specifically to Birmingham but recruiting people generally in the teaching profession. One of the examples we saw was the Graduate Teaching Programme which seemed to bring people in from other professions and where they have got life experience that gives them a presence in the classroom. They are getting a lot out of the benefits of teaching. What more can we be doing to make teaching an attractive profession? All the young people we saw in schools were saying, "Our teachers are great, our teachers are brilliant", and when we asked, "How many of you want to become a teacher?" there were very, very few of them. What should we be doing?
  100. (Professor Brighouse) There are three things I will say immediately. One point is a small one and it does relate back to your question about the recruitment of people from ethnic minorities. We run a thing called MERIITT, which is Minority Ethnic Recruitment Into Initial Teacher Training. We have run it for years. It was working with Wolverhampton University initially and now West Hill which is part of Birmingham University to say to people if you have got certain qualifications you are at instructor level and we can develop you into being a teacher. That is one way of doing it. We have done that and worked with higher education in the area so that their recruitment into the different ethnic minority communities will mean more teachers for us in the long run. That sort of approach helps. The second thing is - and I regret you have not done this and it is a fault in my thinking about it - I would urge you to take evidence from the College of Food, Fashion Tourism and Creativity, which is an HE institution immediately outside here, because they have got a ladder of opportunity which grows people locally in addition to the graduate route so that people who are - and I would never want to call anyone a classroom assistant - learning assistants - can improve their skills as learning assistants and while working get themselves into a route that increases their qualifications and gets them into teaching. That is particularly important in metropolitan urban areas where you are trying to tackle employment, so you want to multiply the para-professional jobs but increase the ladder of higher educations qualifications for a local community because it gives a community strength. My third would be relating to your point which is around those young people who want to go into teaching. I get invited to go to awards evenings lots, as I expect you do. You must be faced with the conundrum, as I am, that if you are meeting 400 young people, how do you make that moment feel an individual moment. I have solved it, and I invite you to take part in a wider research project, in terms of year nine, ten, 11 and 12. I am a bit pushed in years seven and eight where I ask them which books they like and what their hobbies are. When I get to years nine, ten, 11 and 12, I ask them what they are going to do in life. At the end I sometimes tease the head and school by saying, "We spend 130 million each year on OFSTED to see that our schools are alright. I can do this in a matter of minutes. Do you know", I say, "if on an evening like this I ask what they are all going to do, if none of them want to be teachers, I am in a bad school." I usually leave it there for a while to hang in the air! I have to say I am not so cruel that I use it when there is a bad answer. There are lots of kids who want to be teachers. For instance, in Great Barr I stopped counting at 40. What I would do in year 12 after the GCSEs, where there is a sense of commitment that they do want to be teachers, I would have a work shadowing programme, I would have a bursary programme, I would make them feel really good about teaching, I would let them see lots of experience, I would give them tasters, I would say, "This is the noblest profession of all. This is the profession that creates society and you could not be doing a better thing." If we all did that - and higher education could perhaps cough up the money to make the link, it is not much - we would start to cure the problem. There are three things we could do.

    Mr Chaytor

  101. This week we have visited I would imagine about 12 schools in Birmingham. Not all of us have seen all 12 because we have divided it. The 12 schools have been uniformly impressive and the headteachers have been hugely impressive also. How typical are those 12 schools of Birmingham's 80 or so secondary schools? What is the balance between Birmingham secondary schools as to the outstanding, the middling and those that need more help? What is your assessment of the state of secondary schools as a whole?
  102. (Professor Brighouse) If I could refer you to a bit of paper I gave you where I think there were eight categories of secondary school. You have visited a super selective school, you have visited a comprehensive plus school - in my terms - you have visited a selective school, you have visited a comprehensive minus school, you have visited a secondary modern minus school, and in my terms you have visited a secondary other school, so you have visited almost the full range. You have not visited a comprehensive school in terms of the definitions I gave, accepting the definitions I gave you at the beginning. They are all very well led and they are all extremely well staffed. Some of them cause more concerns than others. My asessment of them is that it will vary. I certainly do not want to get into public -

  103. It is the assessment of the others.
  104. (Professor Brighouse) You have seen a typical range. Is it on the public record as to where you have been?

  105. We have seen examples of a full range of the categories of schools.
  106. (Professor Brighouse) You have certainly seen super selective, you have seen selective, you have seen comprehensive plus, you have seen comprehensive minus, you have seen secondary modern, you have seen secondary moden minus, you have seen secondary other. I am not sure you have seen a comprehensive school by the definition I gave you. That does give you a feel of the range you have visited. You have visited the full range. What they had in common was a real commitment and energy, with imaginative leadership. I am absolutely sure you will have different sorts of visits. I am sure you will have spotted that but they were shown to you in a different way. In all our schools that are doing really well in challenging circumstances, nobody is saying, "What more can you expect from backgrounds like this?" None of them are saying that. Some of them are facing hugely challenging circumstances. All are working flat out but they are the full range and they are typical of Birmingham. You would say that we have probably got that full range. For example, if you ask me, we have got quite a few super selective, we have got lots of selective, as you know, we have probably not got many comprehensive pluses but we have got a few, we have got one or two comprehensives, we have loads of comprehensive minuses. If you want me to, I could give you my view of which are where. It was very representative.

  107. It was representative of categories of schools but was it -
  108. (Professor Brighouse) And representative of the city.

  109. --- was it representative of qualities of headteacher and was it representative of the positive ethos and energy?
  110. (Professor Brighouse) Yes it was, of our secondary schools, yes it was. In other words, if you ask me to rank those headteachers I would not do it in public, of course not, but if you pushed me against a wall and said, "Now give me a profile of comparative skills of those headteachers," then I start by saying, "You are in Birmingham so I would expect them to be very high quality", but I could describe to you the strengths and weaknesses of the different leaders you met.

  111. In total out the 80 or so, how many secondary schools do you have concerns about now, if any, or what percentage of the total?
  112. (Professor Brighouse) The percentage of the total I have worries about? It is probably about five, six, seven per cent.

  113. And ten years ago, how many would you have had worries about?
  114. (Professor Brighouse) I do not know. I did not know it well enough. When I came I did not know it well enough. I was worried about everything. Ignorance is not bliss, I have to say, when you have got a job like mine. I do not know. I would not like to say that. All the evidence of the two OFSTED reports and their section 10s and the analysis is that there are fewer and it has improved. Again the performance on socio-economics is very good. I am worried because I do not want this to be a "labour of Hercules" or whatever it is. It is probably not a labour of Hercules; is it Sisyphus?

  115. Hercules had seven tasks; Sisiphus had one but quite a big one.
  116. (Professor Brighouse) Systemically because of the issues we have talked about and I have outlined in the paper, even if I help others I am worried about others taking their place as a result of parental choice and all the other issues, which is why I want a collegiate.


  117. In a way have you not described in a very real sense the dilemma for the Secretary of State for Education at any time? One is always trying to improve the schools we have but as you improve a band of schools you know there is always going to be another band of schools that becomes of even greater importance to you.
  118. (Professor Brighouse) I am suggesting that there are systemic ways of ensuring that that does not happen. In other words, you do not have to have ladders and escalators; you can have virtuous circles, and successful organisation can achieve that. For instance, it is noticeable for me when I go into Tesco's, which I do, that the floor manager says we need to know that we are 120th on the list of successful Tesco stores. I get a sense of a consistency of quality that is a network that is working well. I think you could apply that and you could make collegiates which would be successful, especially if we brought all the players in - the selective, the super selective. Are you with me? Of course we could. I think it is something worth going for. You ask about the Secretary of State and I think all Secretaries of State have not quite managed to look at the factors that I have outlined right at the end of that paper - teaching, assessment, curriculum, learning, organisational arrangements within the school, the relationship within the curriculum within the school. Without a doubt how that is organised, or not organised as the case may be - timetables, admission arrangements, planning of school places - is very important. These are all tasks that have been done separately. Remember that people said that the fault with the national curriculum is that they went away severally to design all the curriculum areas so that coherently it became more than enough. In a curious way exactly the same could be said of the planning of secondary education. We have not looked at the whole lot. We have looked at little bits and lots of little bits rather than the impact of one to the other and the totality. What I am essentially inviting people to do is to look at the totality and then look at individual bits to adjust them to make it better for all kids.


  119. I think that is a good note on which to end. You have been stoic in answering our questions for over two hours, Professor Brighouse. It has been a delight to question you. Can I thank you again, not only for this performance today but for the time we have had in Birmingham. I hope the report that we write will meet your highest expectations

(Professor Brighouse) Thank you ever so much. It has been a pleasure. Thank you for coming to Birmingham. You will have contributed to the energy of the city and that is vital. Thank you for all the questions you have asked. I have not enjoyed all of them. Paul, I am sorry I started talking to David when I should have been talking to you. I felt under a little bit of pressure and I am very, very glad that the session is over.