Regional Schools Commissioner inquiry reveals “inherent” problems

Regional Schools Commissioner inquiry reveals “inherent” problems

The key performance indicators (KPIs) used to keep regional schools commissioners (RSCs) in check have been published “since day one”, says schools commissioner Frank Green

However, Schools Week were only able to reveal the eight KPIs used to measure the performance of RSCs last December, four months after the new roles were created and after submitting a freedom of information request to the Department for Education.

But Mr Green, who as schools commissioner is responsible for the line management of the RSCs, told MPs investigating the responsibilities of commissioners the information had always been in the public domain.

He said: “There are eight KPIs and although Robert [Hill – an academic in the previous session] said he wasn’t aware of them they are published and have been published since day one of August last year.”

The only place on the government website where the KPIs can be found is in a briefing report for the House of Commons Library, dated September 2015, and which refers to the Schools Week article as the source.

Explaining the way he kept in touch with RSCs, Mr Green told the education select committee that accountability was based on a “monthly conversation, either in person or on the phone”, which focused on the KPIs.

During Wednesday’s session, MPs also quizzed three RSCs, Ofsted’s Sean Harford and London’s deputy mayor for education Munira Mirza.

Ms Mirza raised concerns about the splitting up of London across regions overseen by three different commissioners.

She called for one RSC to represent the whole of London, and said the fact only one headteacher from a school in the capital had been elected to the headteacher boards, which advise commissioners, showed there was something “inherently wrong with the structure”.

She said: “One of the expectations of the current system was that the London school system, which is very high-performing, would share its expertise outside London.

“And that hasn’t really transpired. I think what’s happened as a result is that London schools are not benefiting as much as they might from the headteacher boards.”

Ms Mirza described a “worrying complacency” that London was “doing all right”, but warned there were “real challenges” around school improvement.

She added: “If you have Islington and Hackney in separate regions, that doesn’t make sense.”

Mr Harford, Ofsted’s national director of education, also warned that because Ofsted’s regional branches were not “coterminous” with areas covered by RSCs it had caused some “logistical issues”.

He added: “Some of our regional directors deal with up to three RSCs.”

The RSCs themselves, Dr Tim Coulson (east of England and north east London), Dominic Herrington (east and south London) and Martin Post (south central and north west London), faced questions about their workload and agreed to send their future work plans to the committee.