Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20-39)
TAYLOR GBE AND
23 MAY 2007
Q20 Helen Jones: I am somewhat intrigued
to hear you say, Ms Reid, that you are a membership organisation.
That, of course, in a sense is true but less than a third of your
budget comes from members, if I understood you rightly, does it
not? So you could not carry on the work you are doing without
these very large sums of money from the DfES. I listened to what
you said about the regular meetings, accounting and so on, and
I understand that but against what outcomes is your use of this
Ms Reid: If we take, for example,
the Specialist Schools Programme, we have a clear dataset that
we report to the Department on quarterly. The first thing we report
on is the amount of sponsorship we raise, because that is an important
role to ensure that no school is disadvantaged in its desire to
become specialist because it is having difficulty in accessing
or raising sponsorship. So we do that on behalf of schools, and
our history is one of always meeting the target that we have agreed
with the DfES.
Sir Cyril Taylor: £300 million
in the last 20 years.
Ms Reid: In addition, we manage
the Partnership Fund, for which we raise money and to which the
Department makes a matched contribution. That Partnership Fund
is also there as a supplement for schools that have tried absolutely
everything but it is very difficult for them, so they can access
that. We are monitored on that. We have a very small-scale programme
to support specialist schools that may find themselves in difficulty
with their achievement. We do have some responsibility but it
is always shared with the local authorityit must bewho
in the end have absolute responsibility, so we do have some responsibility
for ensuring that GCSE results rise.
Q21 Helen Jones: Can I just stop
you there? What are your targets in each of those areas? How much
sponsorship are you expected to raise for this year, for instance?
Ms Reid: For this year we are
going to raise just under £4 million for specialist schools.
In the past, when the programme ...
Q22 Helen Jones: Is that your target
set by the DfES?
Ms Reid: Yes, that is the target
we have agreed with them.
Q23 Helen Jones: You talked about
supporting specialist schools. What targets are you given by the
DfES in that regard?
Ms Reid: To retain schools in
the programme, because schools have to be re-designated on a regular
basis and the target there is that 95% of schools should be re-designated.
Sir Cyril Taylor: Could I just
add on that, again on the accountability measure, that re-designation
is a crucial part of the Specialist Schools Programme, and they
have to re-bid, it used to be every four years, now every three
years, to retain their additional funding, which is about £150,000
a year for a typical school, and that is compared to an overall
budget of about £5 million. Ofsted are now going to be the
prime determiners of whether a school should be re-designated
because the re-designation procedure is going to be linked to
the Ofsted inspection and we think that is a very good measure.
We are working closely with Ofsted so that their inspectors can
understand what a good specialist school is. One of the things
that is not generally known is this helping schools to help each
other, sharing of best practice. This is a crucial value of the
Trust's network. A language college in Newcastle can call a language
college in Exeter which is teaching Mandarin through a Chinese
teacher that has been seconded to them. It is very interesting
to share that best practice. That is incredibly valuable to schools.
Q24 Helen Jones: I am sure it is
but what I am trying to get at is how we measure the effectiveness
of your organisation in doing that. You see, quite rightly, Elizabeth
Reid said to us that you are not responsible for the achievement
of results. That is the responsibility of the schools and the
local authorities and they are held to account for that by the
Ofsted inspections. So exactly how is the value that you say you
add to this measured in terms of results?
Ms Reid: Chairman, I have given
some indication of the kinds of targets that we agree with DfES.
Those targets have been very much about the implementation of
the Specialist Schools Programme and we are having this discussion
at an interesting point, the point at which we are within sight
now of meeting the Government's targets for the number of specialist
schools, the so-called specialist system, that is, 95% of schools
to be specialist or academies by 2008. We are in discussion now
with the Department about what our future role will be because
our role has been very much about ensuring that schools became
specialist, but the issue here was that the policy, unlike many,
many policies in education, is entirely voluntary. It is for schools
to decide when to become specialist, if they want to be specialist.
There are still schools, high-performing schools, that are not
specialist, that may never choose to be specialist and, as a voluntary
organisation, I do think it is helpful to focus on the Trust as
a third sector, voluntary organisation, with a large-scale membership.
Our role has been to support that voluntarism.
Q25 Helen Jones: I understand that
you are saying you are a voluntary organisation but you are a
very unusual voluntary organisation in that you are a voluntary
organisation which is largely funded by Government, are you not?
If we achieve 90% of schools becoming specialist schools and academies,
how do you see your role then? Are you not simply another step
on the way? Why do those schools not just deal with the DfES?
Ms Reid: If I may, Chairman, no
doubt that question is asked in schools. So far, for us, fortunately
no doubt, the answer has been affirmative, that they would like
to continue working with the Trust and schools do re-affiliate.
I believe they do that and I believe we have had success with
this policy on a voluntary basis because schools get value from
working with each other with us in the network that we maintain
Sir Cyril Taylor: The grant from
the Government in total, including tenders that we win in open
competition, the direct grant is very important to us and we want
to keep it, but you asked us to put our goals for the future and
goal 10 is to develop the financial independence of the Trust
by reducing its dependence on direct government grant. I am a
big market man and I think that the future of this Trust is going
to be schools paying for the bulk of our costs by voluntary contributions,
and we will only get them to do that if we are providing the services
that they want and they are willing to pay for them. The total
context, if you take our direct grant of £25 million, is
a schools budget of £30 billion, and I would submit that
that is a pretty small proportion of that and we are getting value
Q26 Helen Jones: I do not think the
schools in my area consider £25 million a small amount of
money. Can I ask you something else? Part of your money is raised
from sponsors. Can you tell the Committee who those sponsors are?
Sir Cyril Taylor: Yes. We have
a list of them. We would be happy to supply the list. There are
700 of them and they range from the most distinguished charities
in the country, like the Weston Foundation, livery companies,
giant organisations like Oracle, Microsoft. If you come to our
annual lecture tomorrow, which is being given by Lord Rees on
science, we are awarding Microsoft our Sponsor of the Year award
because of the support that they have given to us.
Q27 Helen Jones: Thank you. The other
issue I wanted to raise with you is that the Trust seems to have
various multiple roles, different offshoots. You have specialist
schools and academies, the Schools Network, and you have this
international arm, which is called iNet. How do you ensure that
the demarcation lines between those different arms are maintained
and that when we hear from youI think this probably applies
mostly to Sir Cyrilpeople know on whose behalf you are
Ms Reid: I do not tend to speak
much in public, Chairman, but I think we are very clear about
the nature of the Trust's activities. The international network,
like all of our work, has to stand and fall financially on its
own account. The international network is growing. It was set
up because we were receiving approaches from schools in other
parts of the world asking whether they could join, whether they
could access our website, whether they could have our publications,
whether they could attend conferences and that network has been
successful and is growing but it has to manage itself financially.
Sir Cyril Taylor: We also learn
from schools abroad.
Q28 Helen Jones: Is that run on a
Ms Reid: Yes.
Sir Cyril Taylor: HSBC has given
a very substantial grant to get that established, and in our accounts
to the Council we break down the income of the various activities.
The Government does not fund iNet at all. That is a freestanding
division within the Trust and, obviously, we are concerned that
it must cover its costs.
Q29 Helen Jones: You mentioned £300
million raised over 20 years in sponsorship. That could have built
roughly 12 new schools, could it not? Can you convince the Committee
that that money has been better spent through you than it might
have been spent on building new schools in deprived areas, for
Sir Cyril Taylor: The sponsorship
is mainly for the specialist schools and the original city technology
colleges. We do help occasionally with academy sponsorship but
we do not have a direct role in that. The fact that companies
like HSBC, Rolls-Royce, the Mercers, the Haberdashers and Associated
British Foods use their shareholder money to support local schools
we think is a very, very good thing and the involvement of distinguished
organisations like HSBCthere are 150 specialist schools
sponsored by HSBC. They are allowed to put up in front of their
building "An HSBC centre of excellence". If the school
does not perform very well, HSBC is saying, "Hey, you might
have to take that sign down." So this is the employers interacting
directly with schools. For example, Rolls-Royce were finding it
difficult to get apprenticeships. Now they employ as many young
women apprentices as they do men because the nature of the job
has changed; it is programming robots. They only support schools
where there are actually Rolls-Royce factories. I think the linkage
with sponsorship is not just the money; it is the encouragement
to raise standards.
Ms Reid: It might be helpful to
say, Chairman, that it has not built 12 new schools but it has
provided small-scale building improvement and development projects
in every specialist school because the £50,000 sponsorship
that needs to be raised as part of the whole range of things that
have to be fulfilled to be specialist attracts a further £100,000
capital grant from the DfES. So school by school, there have been
very worthwhile physical building improvements as a result of
Stephen Williams: I have been looking
through all the glossy reports we have been provided with right
at the start of the meeting, including your Annual Report 2005-06
and the ten-year Education, Education, Education summary
of your last conference. One question I do not think we have perceived
so far is the number of people who work for the Trust.
Q30 Stephen Williams: In the current
Prime Minister's speech at the last conference he says the Trust
are the most dynamic educational organisation in Britain. "You
are the true change makers in our country today." That is
quite a sweeping claim, is it not? You must be quite pleased with
Sir Cyril Taylor: We think our
head teachers are wonderful. They are the people that have improved
standards in our schools.
Q31 Stephen Williams: So you interpret
that as praise for the head teachers of the schools rather than
for the Trust?
Ms Reid: It is about the network.
Q32 Stephen Williams: Given that
it is the head teachers who have made that improvement, and the
vast majority of secondary schools in particular in this country
are now specialist schools, what difference do you think your
Trust actually makes to what a local authority or the National
College for School Leadership or the DfES makes? How is what you
Ms Reid: I want to come back to
the network, because we enable schools, head teachers, teachers
at all levels, to work together across boundaries. I mentioned
the regional networks. I think we provide an arena in which good
practice can be transmitted very easily, and it is transmitted
because the advocates of the good practice are the practitioners
themselves. That makes it very convincing and credible. I think
there is a particular kind of culture that has developed in the
network which is very much about "can do", with some
pretty strong beliefs that children can achieve, that schools
do make a difference; indeed, it is their responsibility to make
a difference. As Ofsted found in its second report on specialist
schools, the network is optimistic and it generates a very positive
approach that believes success is possible.
Sir Cyril Taylor: Could I just
give you three examples of unique best practice that the Trust
has helped to disseminate within our group of 3,000 schools? There
is the very difficult issue of 11-year-olds arriving in secondary
schools with poor reading skills, a crucial issue: a child who
cannot read cannot learn. Progress has been made. It used to be
half of 11-year-olds had a reading problem; it is now probably
20% or so. We have encouraged many of our schools to give their
incoming children a reading test and then if a child has a reading
problem, they give them intensive support. We learned from the
States that it is very important that schools have libraries,
10 books per child, that there is a skilled librarian, that there
is an independent silent supervised reading period and that when
the children hand the book back to the library, they can take
an online comprehension test. That is taking off and we think
that will help to raise standards. Last nightRob Wilson
has stepped out for a minuteI was at a dinner where the
Reading school which was an under-performing girls' schoolwe
hope will achieve specialist statusis now partnering with
the Kendrick selective school. We think that is a very interesting
idea. Why cannot all 164 grammar schools help an under-performing
school? Take Cisco academies and Oracle academieswe now
have 500 of those academies in our schools that incredible,
high-quality IT professional qualification.
Q33 Chairman: Is that a different
sort of academy from the other academies?
Sir Cyril Taylor: The Cisco academies
are longstanding in 20,000 schools worldwide. They just use the
word "academy" but it is a unit in the school which
combines laboratory learning, how to basically link machines to
the Internet as well as online. If you get a Cisco Certified Network
Associates certificate, you can go straight into a £25,000
a year job as an 18-year-old. Many of our schools are now making
those academies, Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft, available for adults
in the evening and at the weekends. That is the spreading of best
practice, and I could give you dozens of other examples.
Q34 Stephen Williams: What I am trying
to get at, Chairman, is what is the difference that the Trust
makes that other change makers, to use the Prime Minister's phrase,
should be making as opposed to an LA or the DfES or the teaching
profession itself? Just to take your example of helping children
with reading, you could say just as easily say that the Reading
Recovery programme or classroom assistants or other changes that
have taken place or parents going into school and helping may
have made that progress as well. Some of the things you just said
sound to me as though anyone could have done that. They did not
sound particularly innovative to me. I may be being unfair.
Sir Cyril Taylor: They were not
doing it. I do not want to criticise either local education authorities,
many of whom do an excellent job, or our distinguished civil servants,
but head teachers are more likely to listen to another head teacher
about what works and this sharing of best practice and collaboration
and co-operation I think is a unique function that the Trust has
actually developed and is now developing even more.
Q35 Stephen Williams: Would it be
accurate then to describe you as a network clearing house for
ideas and best practice rather than as having a hands-on role
Sir Cyril Taylor: We do not run
any school; we have no powers to, but we help them with advice
and helping the network.
Q36 Stephen Williams: Can I ask finally
in this section about iNet, which is your international networking
arm? Are other countries going along a similar path to us in changing
virtually all of our secondary schools eventually into independent,
state non-fee-paying schools with specialisms?
Sir Cyril Taylor: The concept
of a specialist school originated in the States as a magnet school.
The concept of a city academy originated in the States as a chartered
school. They have not always worked quite as well in the States
and now we have this very interesting situation where Americans,
the KORET Group from Stanford University, came over to determine
why specialist schools were working dramatically better than magnet
schools were in the States. There are now 1,000 magnet schools
in the States and they are growing rapidly. The teaching of languages:
we have a strong relationship with the Chinese education authorities.
We would like all our language colleges, 250 of them, to teach
Mandarin. We think it is a strategic world language but the difficulty
is getting teachers that can teach Mandarin. We are hoping to
supply that by getting Chinese teachers. We now have exchanges
between our schools and Chinese schools. We have links with South
African schools, with Chilean schools, with Australian schools
and with European schools. This is very important. We learn from
them; they learn from us.
Q37 Fiona Mactaggart: I was just
struck by your claim that this collaboration between head teachers
is a unique function. I am unusual as a Member of Parliament in
that within my own constituency, which has not geographically
changed, the LAs in it changed when Berkshire was abolished and
Slough LA was created, and in that process I saw within the framework
of a local education authority exactly the process you describe
take life and take off, partnerships between schools, helping
each other through problems, sharing innovation and so on, and
I would challenge your claim that this is unique. Where there
is energy put into a local education authority, I have really
seen what you are talking about being done. What is unique about
Sir Cyril Taylor: Berkshire was
one of the first county councils to have an entirely specialist
system. It is an excellent local authority and we collaborate
very well with them.
Q38 Fiona Mactaggart: What I am saying
is that when Berkshire Education Authority was abolished, Slough
Education Authority's schools' results improved substantially.
Sir Cyril Taylor: Yes.
Q39 Paul Holmes: On the same theme,
I worked in secondary schools for 22 years, from 1979 to 2001,
in Derbyshire. The head teachers always collaborated. The heads
of department, history, physics, whatever it was, always collaborated.
They always got together, sometimes on a regional basis within
the county, sometimes on a county basis. There is nothing new
in that at all. It has always happened. You mentioned the idea
that libraries should have 10 books per pupil. I never worked
in a secondary school that did not have a good, well resourced
library, ever in 22 years.
Sir Cyril Taylor: Perhaps you
should table a Parliamentary Question to find out how many books
there are in every school.