Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60-79)|
TAYLOR GBE AND
23 MAY 2007
Q60 Mr Marsden: I will not trespass
on that area because we are going to come on to that shortly.
Perhaps I can come to you then, Sir Cyril. There is a lot of discussion
about what is going to happen when we have so many specialist
schools. The dilemma, it seems to me, is the old Gilbert and Sullivan
line, "When everybody is somebody, nobody is anybody",
and that may be something that you would like to reflect upon.
Can I ask you the question about how specialist a specialist school
needs to be because when you look at the list of the categories
of specialist schools, they range from some that are quite hard-edged
subjects to some that are not woolly but less easily definable.
Does that matter?
Sir Cyril Taylor: The brief has
a list of the numbers of different types of specialist schools.
Technology is the largest at 582; arts is 440; music colleges,
disappointingly, are only 22 but they have only been available
Q61 Mr Marsden: Do not think I am
putting you on the defensive here. I am not actually criticising
the fact that there is a range. I am not saying it is a bad thing
that there are some which have a less sharp curriculum focus than
others. I am merely asking you whether in fact you think that
makes a difference to the outcome and indeed what evidence we
have as to differential outcomes. You gave a very good example
earlier about the Cisco units and I assume that that is exactly
the sort of thing in a hard-edged way in a technology college
that you would be able to monitor.
Sir Cyril Taylor: We have the
data by specialism on page 28, and it is true that the overall
performance varies by type of specialist subject. The value added,
which is, we think, the more important measure, does not vary
so much. It is up to the school to choose the specialist subject
they think is most appropriate for them. They obviously have to
have a department that is capable of supporting that. I would
like to eventually have all the specialist schools have high-performing
statuscurrently about a third are. It is a budget issueand
they can add a second specialism. We are working very closely
with officials so that when a school achieves high-performing
status, they take a strategic view on what the second subject
is, because we would like all the subjects to be covered locally
and, if there is not a science college locally, then we want the
high-performing schools adding a second one.
Q62 Mr Marsden: Can I ask you a very
specific question, which arises out of an inquiry which we have
just completed on citizenship education, whose summary at least
you may be familiar with. During the course of that inquiry one
or two questions were asked about the relationship between citizenship
and specialist schools. In my own constituency in Blackpool there
have been a couple of inquiries about it. Would you be in favour
of citizenship within a broad Humanities framework being a criterion
Sir Cyril Taylor: My instincts
are that I would prefer the specialism focus on the hard academic
subjects but, on the question of citizenship, I am a historian
by original training and sadly, too much history in our schools
is Henry VIII's wives and Nazi Germany. I would like to see a
combined history/citizenship course.
Q63 Mr Marsden: That is interesting.
Sir Cyril Taylor: We would hope
that our Humanities colleges ... We had a project with Cambridge
University to perhaps review the teaching of history; it has not
got off the ground yet, but we are all British, even if we might
have different ethnic minorities. It is very important that our
young people, whatever their ethnic minority, understand what
it means to be British, that we did found democratic government.
I would like our young people to learn about the Anglo-Saxon wittons,
et cetera, and not just focus on some of these more colourful
Q64 Mr Marsden: Liz, in connection
with that, going back to the Humanities colleges, do you think
"Humanities" is too woolly a title for a specialism?
Ms Reid: I think it enables some
choice within it for schools. I am aware that we have schools
that do focus very hard within the Humanities specialism on history
and on geography, for example. I think that is a good thing.
Q65 Mr Marsden: I would like, if
I may, Chairman, just to ask a couple of questions about the future.
I was interested to see, Sir Cyril, in the document in the list
of things you gave us you said what you are hoping to do in the
future, and number five was developing the community plans of
specialist schools by encouraging them to work together. Is there
an implication there that specialist schools have not been working
together in the community in the past?
Sir Cyril Taylor: There have been
big improvements recently. An Ofsted report five or six years
ago said this needed improving and we focused on this. Most of
the community plans involve developing very close links with the
feeder primary schools and sharing the expertise. We think that
is very important. This is a significant sum of money. It is a
third of the top-up to the current funding, so roughly £40,000
per school, multiplied by 3,000 schools eventually, which is £120
million a year. I think if schools pooled more with their community,
at least a proportion of it, a school could be the school that
has the expertise in looking after children, for example, or their
particular specialist subject could be the ...
Q66 Mr Marsden: So you are not saying
that this is a new ethos; you are saying it is a new tactical
way of delivering ...
Sir Cyril Taylor: I think it is
Q67 Mr Marsden: Finally, could I
just ask you this, Liz. You have had a number of questions already
from colleagues on the Committee about overview of your work.
Has the work of the Trust ever been the subject of a National
Audit Office review?
Ms Reid: No, Chairman.
Q68 Mr Marsden: Would you welcome
it if it were?
Ms Reid: Absolutely.
Sir Cyril Taylor: I do not know
whether they audit charities. It is not a departmental government
Mr Marsden: My colleague has just said
sotto voce that if you are two-thirds state-funded, I think
they might have an interest in it.
Chairman: It is complicated. You are
a complex organisation, neither fish nor fowl.
Q69 Helen Jones: Just one question
on specialism. If, as you said, Sir Cyril, you hope we would have
a situation where a young person who is gifted in mathematics
could go to a specialist mathematical school, how do you account
for the research that shows language schools were delivering better
science results at GCSE and A level than specialist science colleges
Sir Cyril Taylor: I am afraid
I do not know the answer to that. No doubt Professor Jesson would.
I suppose you could surmise that it is difficult to be a language
college so that it probably attracts the higher-performing schools.
The state of language teaching in this country, as the Lord Dearing
review recently showed, is such that we need to do a lot more
to teach modern foreign languages.
Q70 Helen Jones: Might that be something
to do with their intake, which was the line that my colleague
David Chaytor was pursuing? It would be interesting to match up
those results to the number of pupils on free school meals, would
Ms Reid: If I could also comment,
Chairman, one of the things that specialist schools have to do
is widen the uptake in their specialist subjects. You can find
that in many specialist schools there is a much broader range
of young people engaging in the specialist subjects than is otherwise
the case. As we develop our data analysis, taking into account
some of the suggestions here this morning, I think one of the
things that would be worth doing is looking at value added in
relation to the individual specialisms. This is the point we were
on earlier. We might find, for example, that there is a much broader
range taking the specialist subject and there is more value being
added in that subject area.
Sir Cyril Taylor: Page 28 has
the data you are asking for.
Q71 Mr Chaytor: Chairman, can I pursue
this question of the table on page 28, because there are two issues
I am puzzled about. Sir Cyril, earlier you said that the value
added for specialist schools was fairly even across the board
but the table on page 28 surely says exactly the opposite, because
the net value added, the final column, ranges from 0.3 in engineering
schools to 15.8 in CTCs. Professor Jesson's commentary is "It
is surprising to find such a wide range of differences in added
value between specialist school types."
Sir Cyril Taylor: I think that
is an issue.
Q72 Mr Chaytor: You make the point
repeatedly that the indisputable higher performance of specialist
schools in net results and value added is not due to intake, but
if we look at table 2, where it gives the predicted GCSE A-C score
for specialist schools as against non-specialist schoolsthis
is the fourth columnit shows the predicted result for specialist
schools should have been 58.6 and for non-specialist schools 50.3.
Surely, that demonstrates precisely the opposite; it demonstrates
that it is largely due to intake because there is an 8.3 % gap
in the predicted results of those children in specialist schools
as against those in non-specialist schools.
Sir Cyril Taylor: This is the
issue that the Chairman referred to earlier on, that it is increasingly
irrelevant to compare specialist with non-specialist as we now
have 90% of all schools and many of the non-specialists are at
the lower performing end.
Q73 Mr Chaytor: The whole basis of
your argument about the superior performance of specialist schools
is now and has always been comparing specialist and non-specialist
and here what I am saying is that the argument you make, which
I am prepared to accept, that intake is not a factorclearly,
intake is a factor.
Sir Cyril Taylor: If you look
at the value added last column, we do better than performed and
Q74 Mr Chaytor: I do not dispute
that. All I am saying is that the predicted GCSE scores of the
cohort in specialist schools as compared to the cohort in non-specialist
schools is hugely different and therefore intake must be a factor.
Is that not the case? It is precisely the opposite of what you
have consistently said.
Sir Cyril Taylor: The value added
score is still on a net basis plus 4.6.
Mr Chaytor: I do not dispute that but
intake is a factor.
Q75 Chairman: It is a fact, is it
not, that the 10% that are left, many of them have been schools
that have been in serious difficulties?
Sir Cyril Taylor: Yes, absolutely,
Q76 Chairman: As soon as they are,
they cannot become specialist until they get out and get an Ofsted
Sir Cyril Taylor: They are not
even eligible to apply when they are in special measures.
Q77 Chairman: So it is what I described
as a rump really.
Sir Cyril Taylor: Yes.
Q78 Chairman: That is in a sense
why comparisons are no longer really very important, I would have
Sir Cyril Taylor: Absolutely correct.
It is the absolute level of performance we have got to be focusing
Chairman: We are going to move on to
Q79 Paul Holmes: Just before we start
on academies, can I just say I was astonished at your comments
about libraries earlier and about the fact that collaboration
between heads was uniquely down to the Trust and had never happened
before. I was astonished by your comments on history. As a former
history teacher and head of history, as I recall the National
Curriculum, Henry VIII and his wives is about two weeks in year
eight and Hitler in Germany is about half a term in year nine.
Sir Cyril Taylor: It might have
changed a bit.