The Headteachers’ Roundtable has today published its general election 2019 manifesto. The focus is on obtaining sufficient funding and delivering great teachers, protecting vulnerable pupils and securing high levels of professional trust and ethical leadership.
Here’s a trusty Schools Week speed read. (If you want to read the full manifesto you can do so here)
1. Sabbaticals for all teachers (and a fully-funded Masters, too)
Two of the more stand-out recommendations on teacher training are for every teacher to have a fully-funded masters level qualification available to them. The recent proposal that all teachers should undertake a master’s degree got a mixed response from the sector.
The group also calls for a tenth year sabbatical available to all staff to “enhance current understanding or experiences relevant to developing further subject specific knowledge or pedagogical research or technical expertise”.
It states all trainees should also receive a bursary – which must be repaid in full if they go on to leave the profession within eight years.
2. Give us a 10-year funding plan
The group has backed calls for a ten-year funding plan for schools – similar to the funding deal the government has announced for the NHS.
Education committee chair Robert Halfon has been particularly vocal on the issue. He said it was “inexplicable and astonishing” that the health service has a ten-year funding and strategic plan but the education sector doesn’t.
The HTRT said a ten-year budget, from 2020-2030, must “reverse the real term reduction in budgets and provide additional funding to meet the needs of our children”.
Heads also want the Department for Education to present funding in the “same format year on year”. The call follows much concern over the department’s attempts to claim it’s £7.1 billion cash injection is actually £14 billion.
3. Make excluded pupils count in schools’ results
The group throws its support behind the major recommendation in the recent Timpson review that called for the results of excluded pupils to stay on the books of the excluding school.
They say the current system, where the outcome is on the school the child attends at the end of year 6 or 11, is the “root cause of some unethical behaviour”.
Stephen Tierney, chair of the HTRT, has previously written for Schools Week about how proportionate accountability could work.
The group also wants contextualised or comparative measures introduced to ensure schools that schools with the greatest numbers of deprived pupils are “recognised and not punished”.
The group also seems to back Labour’s controversial proposals to scrap Ofsted (in its current form).
The HTRT wants inspection of schools to be replaced by peer review and evaluation with a trained HMI on every team. They also favour scrapping key stage 1 SATs (another Labour proposal) while key stage 2 SATs scores “should no longer be publicly reported”.
4. Scrap ‘bureaucratic’ EHCPs
The HTRT has proposed scrapping the current “bureaucratic, costly and time inefficient” process of creating education and health care plans (EHCPs).
Instead they want a new statutory “assessment of best provision” to enable children to receive the “best possible education and care”.
This would mean a new system to focus on directly funding special needs provision through a high needs funding formula, rather than attaching a certain amount of money to each child and a list of the different things they should receive.
Sabrina Hobbs, headteacher of Severndale Specialist Academy in Shropshire, told Schools Week this would focus on identifying, developing and improving provision to enable it to meet the different pupil needs in different areas.
The group wants the type of provision and the number of places to be determined at national level – avoiding the “damaging system of each local authority determining different levels of funding for children with the same need”.
HTRT argues this system would make it easier to cost out provision, and could even give responsibility for funding directly to the ESFA rather than local authorities.
It would also help schools to budget and manage the expectation of parents, rather than promising pupils provision that they will never be able to receive.