4 Incentivising partnerships |
58. A major lever for policy makers is the incentives
provided by Ofsted's frameworks, against which schools know they
will be judged. We therefore explored the potential for these
to have a role in incentivising partnerships. At the moment, it
appears that the potential is not being fully realised. Professor
David Woods suggested that, while recognition of outstanding leadership
beyond an individual school is mentioned in some Ofsted reports,
it is very "hit and miss" and incentives should be strengthened.
59. We heard various suggestions to make better use
of these incentives. Earlier this year Sir Michael Wilshaw told
us that he would like to introduce a grade for "excellent
leadership" specifically for headteachers that "support
an underperforming school in the most disadvantaged communities".
Written evidence to this inquiry from Nottingham City Council
suggested that "A pre-requisite of an overall 'Outstanding'
grade by Ofsted could be evidence of having had a measurable impact
on supporting other schools".
The Greater Manchester Partnership concurred in its support for
including school to school support as one of Ofsted's criteria:
The proposal to include school to school support
as one of the Ofsted criteria for receiving an outstanding judgement
has significant merit and would act as an incentive to develop
a more systematic approach to school to school support.
Similarly, the Academies Commission recommended that
Ofsted should only judge a school's leadership as outstanding
if the school could provide evidence of a contribution to system-wide
of the Commission subsequently told us that they also supported
the proposal that Ofsted should deny an overall outstanding judgement
to the school as a whole unless this condition was met.
Kirston Nelson from Wigan Council told us of her disappointment
that a judgment based on a school's capacity to support other
schools was not included in Ofsted's new framework.
60. We discussed with the Minister the possibility
of introducing a new Ofsted category which would recognise school
to school support. He expressed concern that this could be "confusing",
arguing that it might lead parents to think the education provided
by schools judged 'outstanding' was inferior to those who are
judged 'outstanding and providing support to other schools'. Instead
he referred to proposals for "a star rating for the leadership
of the schools involved in system support",
which would be kept distinct to avoid confusion.
61. We agree
with the Government that it would be incorrect and confusing for
Ofsted to label outstanding schools differently according to their
excellence in supporting other schools, when they deliver just
as good levels of education to the pupils in their care. We strongly
support Sir Michael Wilshaw's proposal for an excellent leadership
award to be given to school leaders rather than schools, as the
highest accolade available to headteachers and only for those
who support underperforming schools in disadvantaged communities.
School accountability measures
62. The school accountability system rests entirely
upon a school's own results. The system therefore provides no
recognition of a school's efforts to help other schools to improve.
Indeed, both the Teacher Development Trust
and ASCL argue that the current accountability system acts as
a disincentive for schools to work with others,
due to the risks discussed above that results may be adversely
affected. To address this, Peter Maunder argued that the accountability
system should be strengthened by "looking at a whole areathe
children and the education of those children across an areabetween
schools in terms of school improvement, teaching school alliances,
federations all working together".
The NASUWT highlighted "the previous administration's School
Report Card proposal, subsequently discarded by the Coalition
Government, [which] sought to examine ways in which systems of
accountability might be recast to emphasise more effectively the
importance of collaboration between schools."
63. We are concerned that using the accountability
system to make schools responsible for all the children within
their local area could dilute their focus on achieving the best
possible outcomes for their pupils. As Andrew McCully from the
DfE suggested to us, despite agreeing with the ultimate aim, over-complicating
the system might also reduce its effectiveness.
We note that neither the Government's consultation on school accountability
measures for secondary schools
nor the consultation on primary schools referred to trying to
use school accountability measures to encourage school collaboration.
We regret that no one has yet
devised a workable model of school accountability that incentivises
schools to form partnerships, whilst preserving school level responsibility
and retaining the impetus to maximise their pupils' performance.
We see the potential of such an approach and encourage further
efforts to generate an appropriate model.
64. A more direct incentive for collaboration would
be a financial one. Evidence presented to us suggested that funding
was needed to ensure that schools did not suffer losses, rather
than to act as an additional reward. The NUT pointed out that
"many activities require teacher time, both during and beyond
the school day, as well as support staff administration and co-ordination".
Mervyn Wilson told us that, while he was "rather cautious
about the over incentivising that creates the wrong motives",
there was a role for financial incentives, in particular to meet
specific costs associated with building a formal partnership.
He expressed disappointment at the closure of the Supported Schools
Programme, which provided funding towards the costs of conversion
to foundation status.
Similarly, Nottingham City Council argued in its written evidence
for "Financial inducements to meet the costs of supporting
other schools", including back-filling for the staff working
in other schools.
Collaborative Schools Ltd. argued that financial incentives could
help to alleviate pressures on the capacity of highly performing
schools to support others.
65. The Government recognises the role of using financial
incentives per se, with programmes such as the NLE Deployment
Fund, Sponsor Capacity Fund, and initial funding for Teaching
The 2010 Schools White Paper stated that the Government
would "establish a new collaboration fund worth £35m
each year [which] will financially reward schools which support
weaker schools to demonstrably improve their performance while
also improving their own".
It was not clear to us what had become of this promise. On 24
April 2013 the Minister of State for Schools (Rt. Hon. David Laws
MP) stated in a parliamentary answer that no allocations had been
made "using the model originally envisaged in the White Paper".
When pushed in oral evidence, Andrew McCully did "not quite
recognise that particular bit of the White Paper".
The Minister later wrote to inform us that, in fact, the DfE had
"not made a specific allocation to a collaboration incentive"
but did fund "a number of initiatives that facilitate school
to school collaboration". These included using inspirational
leaders to build capacity and the sponsored academy programme.
Taking account of the costs of these programmes, "the Department
has spent far more than £35 million per annum on supporting
We note from this reply that the Department is unable to quantify
exactly how much has been spent on rewarding school to school
collaboration, nor has it been able to offer an explanation as
to why the initiative was dropped.
66. In its original evidence the DfE also highlighted
the Primary Chains Grant, which it told us provided "£25,000
of financial support to primary schools converting as part of
an academy chain" to recognise "both the benefits of
academy chains and the particular challenges primary schools face
when managing conversions".
We heard some concern about the over-emphasis on academisation
in relation to primary schools. The Academies Commission, for
example, recommended that "the federation of primary schools
be encouraged without an immediate emphasis on academy status".
Similarly, the National Governors' Association considered that
primary schools should be "offered financial incentives to
use the collaboration regulations and/or form federations",
and Dr John Dunford argued that "The government should provide
stronger financial incentives to small primary schools to federate".
67. We believe
that the Government should provide funding to help schools meet
the costs associated with taking part in collaboration. We are
concerned that the existing funding incentives are concentrated
too narrowly on the academy sponsorship route. The Government
should widen this funding to help meet the costs associated with
formalising other partnerships. In particular, we recommend that
the Government widen eligibility for the Primary Chains Grant
to help schools cover the cost of forming federations, since many
would benefit from working in partnership without leaving local
Funding for Teaching Schools
68. Specific questions were raised with us about
funding for Teaching Schools. We heard arguments against the very
principles of the Teaching School form of collaboration. The NASUWT
argued in its written evidence that "incentives have been
created for schools involved in [teaching schools] to focus on
commercial objectives and priorities rather than on ensuring that
collaboration works to maintain and enhance the quality and range
of educational opportunities made available to pupils".
Other witnesses were concerned about the structure of the funding
arrangements. Funding for Teaching Schools is currently tapered
over three years and Dr John Dunford argued that this should be
changed to ensure that the "very small" amount of funding
available for local partnerships "continues to stimulate
the collaborative working of teaching school alliances".
He argued that the withdrawal of funding might prevent schools
from taking on the role in the first place.
Professor David Woods agreed, suggesting that, while it was right
not to fund the entire programme, the funding represented very
good value for money at "only £60,000 for an infrastructure
of 15 to 20 schools".
69. The potential extension of funding was not universally
supported. Sir David Carter, for example, argued that it was
clear from the start that this funding was short term and that
it is "appropriate to apply a business model" in this
way. This would
allow for continuity, with the support provided by Teaching Schools
able to survive future changes in policy, including, for example,
the end of Teaching Schools as an initiative. He also expressed
concern that unless it is clear that 'pump-priming' funding will
be withdrawn after a set period, schools may not plan for its
withdrawal and could become dependent on it.
70. We recognise
the challenges posed by the nature of funding for Teaching Schools
but the take-up rate of the Teaching School Programme suggests
that concern about the limited period of funding has not deterred
schools from participating. We believe that the DfE has adopted
the right approach in providing funding only to help with start
up costs with the expectation that they become self-sustaining
Independent State School Partnerships
71. We were told that Independent State School Partnerships
(ISSPs), such as that in York which we heard about from Leo Winkley,
have the potential to bring large benefits to independent and
state partners. Mr Winkley set out how such partnerships can do
a lot with "quite modest funding",
and the Independent Schools Council (ISC) told us that "Numerous
external assessments of the scheme noted the positive outcomes
for thousands of children".
ISSPs allow these schools to work together in "flexible"
ways, a quality greatly valued by participants from the independent
72. The Independent Schools Council was critical
of the removal of seed corn funding for such partnerships, which
they perceived as an effort to prioritise "a single preferred
model of engagement, that of sponsored academy".
Recently, the Secretary of State for Education has called for
more independent schools to become Teaching Schools.
This adds an additional route for engagement, but it does not
offer the same scope as ISSPs, which often include shared activities
for pupils as well as teachers, such as the "Saturday sessions
for pupils across the schools in York" that Leo Winkley described.
schools and state schools have much they can do for and usefully
learn from one another. We welcome the Government's steps to promote
closer links between the independent and maintained education
sectors, but consider that academy sponsorship is not always the
right engagement model for such partnerships. We recommend that
the Government re-introduce targeted seed corn funding to encourage
the establishment of sustainable Independent State School Partnerships.
116 Q 137 Back
Oral evidence taken before the Education Committee on 13 February
2013, HC (2012-13) 980-i, Q 15 Back
Ev w9, para 2 Back
Ev w52 Back
Academies Commission, Unleashing greatness: Getting the best
from an academised system (London, 2013) p 10 Back
Oral evidence taken before the Education Committee on 24 April
2013, HC (2012-13) 1102-i, Q 8 Back
Q 138 Back
Q 191 Back
Q 191 Back
Ev w107, para 2.1 Back
Ev w6, para 5 Back
Q 37 Back
Ev w56, para 16 Back
Q 253 Back
"Secondary school accountability consultation", Government
Consultations, 7 February 2013, www.gov.uk Back
"Primary assessment and accountability under the new national
curriculum", Department for Education, 17 July 2012, www.education.gov.uk Back
Ev w33, para 51 Back
Q 33 Back
Ev w9, para 2 Back
Ev w49m para 4.1 Back
Ev w107, para 21 Back
Department for Education, The Importance of Teaching: the Schools
White Paper 2010, Cm 7980, November 2010, para 7.13 Back
HC Deb, 24 April 2013, col 959W. Back
Q190 [Andrew McCully] Back
Ev 56, para 3 Back
Ev 46 Back
Academies Commission, Unleashing greatness: Getting the best
from an academised system (London, 2013), p 35 Back
Ev w90, para 4.5 Back
Ev 79, para 12 Back
Ev w56, para. 30 Back
Q 99 [Dr. John Dunford] Back
Ev 79, para 6 Back
Q 140 Back
Q 31 Back
Q 33 Back
Ev 57 Back
Q 32 Back
Ev w86, Executive Summary para 4 Back
Ev 57, para 5.1 Back
Ev w86, para 3s tlication was tmmary para il (ISC) r school staff
(with the schools designated National Support Schools (NSS) not
yet ready t Back
Ev w86, para 15 Back
Michael Gove calls on independent schools to help drive improvements
to state education, Department for Education press release, 10
July 2013, www.gov.uk Back
Q 18 Back