A line-up of education reformers – including a former adviser to David Cameron – have joined forces to launch a new campaign aimed at mobilising parents to highlight the achievements of academies and free schools, but details of the group’s funders will not be released.
Rachel De Souza, chief executive of Inspiration Trust, has founded the Parents and Teachers for Excellence campaign group, which aims to promote the principles its members believe will deliver the best outcome for pupils.
They include promoting a knowledge-based curriculum, more assessment and effective discipline policies.
The campaign has been devised with the help of Rachel Wolf, a former adviser to David Cameron, and James Frayne (pictured right), former director of policy and strategy at influential think tank Policy Exchange.
The pair believe school freedoms have been under-emphasised in education reform in recent years.
Wolf told Schools Week: “The question of what we do in a school-led system and do with school freedoms has slightly got lost.
“We want to take the school debate to the next stage.”
That will include an advisory council of 29 education reformers (full list below) shouting about the principles they believe improve outcomes for pupils, including at events, and in national and local press.
The organisation has also been funded by a “small group of philanthropists” who the campaign is not willing to name.
De Souza said: “Vital structural reform freed schools from political control but only took us to the start line.
“We must now focus on how we teach and test children in schools so that we can raise standards – as well as exposing them to the sorts of cultural activities they might not get at home.”
The education debate has taken place amongst elites in Westminster and Whitehall for too long
The advisory council includes four parents, some of whom are also listed as governors, but the campaign wants to win the support of more parents and build-up a network of activists who can make the case for change in their local schools.
De Souza added: “For too long, the education debate has taken place amongst elites in Westminster and Whitehall.
“We are creating a movement that will recruit and mobilise parents and teachers from across the country to make the case for change.”
The group has stated it is “strictly non-partisan” but is supportive of free schools and academies.
Wolf said she wanted to persuade more schools to follow the campaign group’s four principles. The first is to promote a knowledge-based curriculum that has the prospect to “significantly raise standards”.
The second is for rigorous assessment that gives headteachers, teachers, parents and pupils the ability to measure progress, with another principle based on the need for effective behaviour policies.
The final is a call to promote enrichment activities throughout a longer school day, which Wolf said could include trips to museums or the theatre to help produce “culturally-literate” pupils.
For more, see this week’s Schools Week printed edition.
Full list of advisory council:
Tom Bennett, Founder of ResearchEd and Chair of the Department for Education Behaviour Group
John Blake, History Consultant & Leading Practitioner at Harris Federation
Christine Counsell, Director of Education, Inspiration Trust
Anthony Denny, Parent & Governor, Jane Austen College
Rachel De Souza, CEO, Inspiration Trust
Toby French, Lead Practitioner, Torquay Academy
Claire Heald, Executive Principal, Jane Austen College
Karl Hoods, Chairman of Governors, Harris Academy Beckenham
Hywel Jones, Head Teacher, West London Free School
Michaela Khatib, Executive Head, Cobham Free School
Mark Lehain, Principal, Bedford Free School
Stuart Lock, Head Teacher, Cottenham Village College
Helena Mills, CEO, Burnt Mills Academy Trust
Munira Mirza, Former Deputy Mayor of Education and Culture for London
Dan Moynihan, CEO, Harris Federation
Libby Nicholas, CEO, Reach 4 Academy Trust
Sara Noel, Parent and Governor, Cottenham Village College
Martyn Oliver, CEO, Outwood Grange Academies Trust
James O’Shaughnessy, Founder of Floreat Education Academies Trust
Bruno Reddy, Maths Social Entrepreneur & former Head of Maths at King Solomon Academy
Martin Robinson, Educationalist & author of Trivium21c
Mark Rose, Governor, Great Yarmouth Primary Academy
Jo Saxton, CEO, Turner Schools Multi-Academy Trust
Tony Sewell, Founder of Generating Genius
Jonathan Simons, Head of Education at Policy Exchange & Chairman of Governors, Greenwich Free School
Luke Sparkes, Principal, Trinity Academy
Alex Wade, Parent and Chairman of Governors, Fulham Boys School
Claire Ward, Parent, Cobham Free School
Rachel Wolf, Founder of The New Schools Network & Former Special Adviser to the Prime Minister for Education