Diversity of School Provision - Children, Schools and Families Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360-364)


7 MAY 2008

  Q360  Mr Stuart: A good school normally has well motivated, happy teachers who are able to deliver good education for their pupils. What is it about Academies that will make it more likely that we will retain teachers—we are losing so many at the moment—and motivate them better and thus have happier, more secure and better educated pupils?

  Stephen Patriarca: It is two things, fundamentally. There is the community and ethos issue that I talked about, which obviously teachers need to be part of, and then there is the flexibility and independence in how you employ and deploy them.

  Q361  Mr Stuart: So do you have worries about policy going forward? There seems to be increasing local authority sponsorship of Academies and greater requirements to adhere to the national curriculum. Do you fear that freedom, which is the essence of being able to deliver that, may be constricted by policy?

  Stephen Patriarca: Some of those decisions do not apply retrospectively to Academies where the principles are already enshrined in their funding agreement. In terms of issues such as the national curriculum, quite honestly I cannot see what the controversy is. We would want to deliver the core subjects of the national curriculum anyway. If it becomes more prescriptive than that, I would have a problem, but I do not have a problem with it as it is.

  Q362  Mr Stuart: I have a quick question for Patrick. Anthony Seldon said that all independent schools should sponsor an Academy. Was he right? Why are you not doing that?

  Patrick Derham: I am going back to how I answered an earlier question. It is just one way of reaching out and doing very good work. I have no problem with it at all. It is not right for everybody. Rugby has always believed in the principle of integration, right back to 1567. We think that we can do much more by pupils benefiting from being at the school and from the resources and support that they get from us, and from the knock-on consequences of them being positive role models back in their communities. That is what the charities have said to us about pupils. We seriously looked at the Academies programme, but again we felt that if were to get involved, it would have to be something within Rugby. The success of our partnership work has been because we are so close together and have strong working relationships. We are not sponsoring an Academy because we feel that within our resources our priorities are elsewhere, but we are fully supportive of our colleagues who are involved in that.

  Q363  Chairman: Patrick, do you or your staff spend any time exchanging with teachers and heads in the state sector? A school like yours is extremely well endowed, although perhaps it is like my old school, which dates back to a similar time and was originally funded for the education of poor Christian souls, although no longer. I am sure that many people in the state sector would look at your school and say if you could not teach these kids and get good results, you should be dragged out into the street and shot. They come from supportive backgrounds and you test them before admission. It is a very special environment, is it not? Do you think it would be a good idea for your staff to spend one or two weeks a year teaching in a state school with a very different kind of clientele?

  Patrick Derham: We have a policy of such things if staff want to do it, but it is finding the time to make it work. We have a lot of contact with our colleagues in the maintained sector through what we are doing already. I agree that it is not the same as doing a one or two-week exchange. We are doing quite a lot in that area, so we learn things from them and they learn from us. The idea is interesting.

  Q364  Chairman: Steve, did you ever have any of that sort of experience? Did you go into a state school for a week, imbibe the atmosphere there and give advice to the head?

  Stephen Patriarca: Not personally, but there is a good deal of interaction with the staff.

  Chairman: Okay. This has been a very interesting and informative session. Please maintain contact with the Committee. We will very pleased if you reflect on what you have been asked—and have not been asked. If you want to help us make our inquiry better than it otherwise would be, we should be grateful for your communication.

  Patrick Derham: I will certainly write to you about the curriculum, which I am sorry that we did not have a chance to talk about.[7]

  Chairman: As you know, we are moving on to a separate inquiry into the curriculum. We would value your assistance.

  Patrick Derham: Thank you very much.

7   See Ev 83. Back

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