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School funding to move to Whitehal

(111 Posts)
onimolap Sat 13-Nov-10 12:51:01

Link to BBC story here

Is this a good move? Is cutting out the LA really going to make the system more responsive to teachers?

Is it really, though, a hostage to fortune got when the political pendulum swings again to an era of either Big or authoritarian government?

And has anyone seen anything on the formula for, or likely level of, the Pupil Premium? Or will that all follow after agreement on this new funding formula?

onimolap Sat 13-Nov-10 15:32:08


Or does everyone think this proposal is a Good Thing?

sarah293 Sat 13-Nov-10 15:33:32

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longfingernails Sat 13-Nov-10 16:38:51

Riven Although it is obviously increasing centralisation in one (obvious) way, it is increasing localisation in another, more important way.

It is basically just removing a largely useless layer of bureaucracy - the local authority. The functions of a local authority can either be pushed upwards, to central government, or downwards, to schools and parents.

The money will follow the pupil, instead of going to the school directly - with more money for more deprived and difficult pupils. That means schools will have to compete for parents by improving their quality, and will have clear financial incentives to have a socially mixed intake.

The parts which are being centralised do worry me a bit. We could get another Labour government at some point in the future, which would insist on glorifying trade unions, in promoting mediocrity, on suppressing excellence, on imposing uniformity, on rubbishing Britain's glorious heritage, history and traditions, on promoting ID card-style authoritarianism, etc. I look forward to seeing how the government will safeguard against this very real danger.

sarah293 Sat 13-Nov-10 16:42:43

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longfingernails Sat 13-Nov-10 17:01:55

You see, I think private and arms-length institutions will, by and large, be better at running schools than local authorities. The Harris Federation and other similar groups are a living, breathing example.

Some of the new groups and schools will be terrible, but then parents will leave, and they will close or be taken over by other groups.

I have no problem with people making a profit from providing public services, providing the service improves enough to justify it.

If Dell sells the NHS some computers, it should be able to make a profit from it. Similarly, if Harris sells their expertise in transforming failing schools to the Department of Education, they should be able to make a profit of it, providing the schools really do improve.

The single biggest change necessary to improve education in this country is to break the teachers unions. Not all teachers are equally good - and their pay should reflect that. Good teachers should be paid more than bad teachers. Very bad teachers should be sacked. The NUT and NASUWT act in the producer interest (teachers) rather than the consumer interest (pupils and parents) - and children suffer so much for it.

sarah293 Sat 13-Nov-10 17:11:54

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tethersend Sat 13-Nov-10 17:19:11

longfingernails, tell me how you measure a teacher's performance please.

Accurate and measurable criteria only.

onimolap Sat 13-Nov-10 17:20:02

It's been known for a while that Free Schools will be controlled directly from Whitehall.

But this puts the cash flow of all state schools into the hands of DfE bureaucrats. I can see advantages to having a single formula, and to reducing layers of bureaucracy. But will an enlarged DfE really achieve this?how will it be more responsive (as it is claimed) to teachers (or are all teachers unanimous in funding requests?)

What LEA functions will remain and how will they be funded? (Centrally? Or LEA top slicing?)

And do we really want bigger central government in this area? It's being cut back in so many others, so this seems odd.

longfingernails Sat 13-Nov-10 17:20:44

That is a philosophical difference about which we just won't agree. I would have no problem privatising a lot more of the State.

There is no reason why the State should run hospitals (though it should fund them).

The things which can only be done by the State are quite limited: defence, policing, justice, big universal/strategic infrastructure projects, welfare for the genuinely needy. Many other things should be funded by the State but not delivered by the State - education, healthcare, air traffic control, ...

Most things should be neither funded for, nor provided by, the State.

huddspur Sat 13-Nov-10 17:21:04

I think this is a good idea as it is proposing to give teachers and headteachers more freedom and greater autonomy over how their school is run. The LEAs are in the most part an enormous waste of money that take resources away from teachers and schools.

tethersend Sat 13-Nov-10 17:23:48

The NUT's view on the Pupil Premium:

The Government’s figures
• George Osborne claimed in his Spending Review announcement that funding for schools
will increase in “real terms” (taking account of inflation pressures) by 0.1% each year over
the next four years.
• These figures are stated to include an extra £1.1 billion to cover increases in pupil numbers
and £2.5 billion for the “Pupil Premium” which is being introduced progressively over the
next four years.

The myth of the Pupil Premium
• George Osborne sought to argue that the Pupil Premium represents additional funding
for education. Michael Gove has, however, since admitted that the Pupil Premium is
not new money and that many schools will lose out in funding terms as a result of its
• What the Government has done is to freeze funding per pupil at its current cash level for the
next four years. All other additional money to offset real terms cuts in school funding has
been dressed up as the Pupil Premium.
• Before the election, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats promised that the Pupil
Premium would be additional money to boost schools’ funding. Instead, the Government is
simply using the money which is needed to stop schools’ funding being cut in real terms –
and it is not even achieving that.
• Michael Gove has admitted that the Pupil Premium will not protect schools from real
terms cuts in funding. Pupil Premium funding will not be distributed evenly between LAs.
Those which currently receive lower overall funding per pupil will receive higher levels of
Pupil Premium funding. This will create winners and losers among both LAs and schools.

tethersend Sat 13-Nov-10 17:24:59

If you could just come up with those accurate and measurable indicators of a teacher's efficacy longfingernails, that'd be great.

sarah293 Sat 13-Nov-10 17:26:34

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longfingernails Sat 13-Nov-10 17:26:50

tethersend The best way (though perhaps not universally applicable) would probably be improvement in exam performance between certain ages, combined with rigorous and regular peer and managerial review, as in most large private sector organisations. Maybe a tiny bit of pupil/parent review could be incorporated as well.

Not perfect, but quite doable. The private sector has similarly nebulous performance measurement, but somehow manages.

Where I work, we set monthly, quarterly and annual goals. There is a monthly informal progress meeting with line management, and a more formal quarterly review with direct and skip-direct management, in which all team members have to contribute feedback (anonymously) about each other. It is a bit of a pain but it seems to work quite well.

longfingernails Sat 13-Nov-10 17:29:51

Oh - and the bottom 10% of performers are given a warning every year. If they stay in the bottom 10% in the following year, they are fired.

Almost everyone who works here supports this policy wholeheartedly. It clears out the deadwood.

Firing the 5% worst teachers, as ranked by their peers, management, and exam improvement performance, every year sounds like an excellent idea to me.

tethersend Sat 13-Nov-10 17:33:13

Oh dear. Is that it?

How on earth will teachers of pupils with SEN fare then? Lots of spiky profiles amongst the students there, you know.

Teachers had better hope no-one in their class loses a parent, is abused or experiences some other trauma.

In fact, it would be better for schools not to accept any children in care, as they are statistically more likely to achieve exam results well below their potential. If only they were allowed to set their own admissions criteria...

"It is a bit of a pain but it seems to work quite well."

I'm praying guessing your 'product' isn't young people?

tethersend Sat 13-Nov-10 17:33:51

D-. Must try harder.

onimolap Sat 13-Nov-10 17:39:48

Any chance of returning to the original question of the thread?

[But I've no problems with longfingernails solution: the peer and management reviews provide the safeguards against variable outcome - widely used in other professions where outcome may also be externally influenced].

longfingernails Sat 13-Nov-10 17:40:20

tethersend Of course special circumstances are taken into account. This is done by the simple expedient of talking with management - in this case, the head of subject/headmaster.

tethersend Sat 13-Nov-10 17:43:12

peer and management reviews most certainly do not provide safeguards against variable outcome if exam results and 'the bottom 10%' are in the equation.

What on earth happens if the Coalition are successful in driving up standards? <stifles guffaw>

Will the bottom 10% still be fired, even though they are producing results which would have seen them in the top 10% five years ago?

tethersend Sat 13-Nov-10 17:45:54

These are not 'special circumstances'. These are factors affecting the outcomes for a great deal of children and -at present- almost every school.

huddspur Sat 13-Nov-10 17:46:50

Whilst I'm not opposed to some form of review of teacher performance, the idea that we should fire the 10% lowest performing is absurd. We have hardly any teachers left in about 5 years of LFNs scheme.

tethersend Sat 13-Nov-10 17:47:00

Oh, and sometimes women run schools too. They are not called 'headmasters'. It may be useful if you could allude to that in your next post.

longfingernails Sat 13-Nov-10 17:50:41

tethersend The 10% isn't completely set in stone - it is a very useful guideline for management though.

In general, the answer is yes. The bottom performers should be fired - after being given one, or maybe at most two, chances to improve. It keeps everyone else on their toes, creates openings for bright, young teachers.

25 years ago, most office workers didn't know how to use word processors. Now they do. That isn't a valid argument for not firing a secretary today who knows how to use a word processor, if the other secretaries are better.

But as onimolap says, this is getting off-topic. Going back to the original subject - I do have concerns about exactly what is centralised. As much as possible should be pushed downwards to schools. The less central control, the better.

Ofsted should also be reformed, so it goes back to the Chris Woodhead style organisation it once was. Under Labour it became obsessed with a thousand meaningless boxes to tick.

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