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Thursday, 10 March 2022

Power is nothing without control

I first met Sam Freedman in the winter of 2011/12 at the DfE when Caroline Whalley and I and a small bunch of volunteers were setting up the Elliot Foundation. Over the years since I have sat opposite him at multiple think tanks and education events and occasionally exchanged tweets. But Twitter is not really my thing in the way that it is his. I have found him to be an interesting and deep thinker about education. I have been surprised by how often I have agreed with him and even when I don’t, how much I respect his approach. 

Last month he published a paper through the Institute for Government entitled, "Gove reforms a decade on: what worked. what didn't, what next?". I know there are much more important things going on but if we want to make the world a less stupid, selfish and dangerous place, then education policy is important. It is particularly important now as there is a government white paper about to be published and almost all eyes are looking elsewhere.


General background points

The founding idea of school trusts was to create organisations (charities), liberated from stifling bureaucracy and ineffective local government, with the single purpose of improving education for all. My concern about Sam's recommendations in their entirety is that they appear to recommend the reattachment of multiple levels of bureaucracy and the reconnection to local government, which is more ineffective now than when academies were originally conceived. 

If you want to improve the education system you have to rebuild capacity, coherence and clarity. Organisational groupings of schools (LAs and MATs) have to become legally equivalent and operationally compatible. To be more explicit 250-500 school operating organisations regulated by a single entity split into 10-15 regions would make the role of each regional regulator possible. I have long argued that LAs should be allowed to run MATs before they lose any more of their system knowledge and capacity.

But the difficulty of this proposed end state is that it would cost a significant amount to achieve. And we have spent most of our school improvement budget on the transaction costs of transferring 50% of schools to academy status. This is the equivalent of spending your entire system improvement budget on a new name for the project.


Premises on which we agree

The education sector is not in an ideal state. The impact of fragmentation was entirely predicted. I have written elsewhere on the challenges of incoherent, overlapping and occasionally contradictory regulation (Education System Design: Foundations, Policy Options and Consequences, Nov 2020). There has been marginal improvement in both the academy and LA maintained sector but nothing significant. There are good MATs and good LAs but equally there are poor MATs and poor LAs. However, the overall incidence of schools requiring improvement or worse has not moved outside the 13-15% bracket for the last decade.


Premises on which we disagree

Sam seems to feel that there is insufficient clarity around educational expectations, a lack of authority holding trusts to account and powers missing to intervene where necessary. On this we disagree. There is no shortage of authority. School Trusts are amongst the most regulated parts of the public sector. The problem is not the absence of power it is the absence of coherence and intelligence in the system to use its abundant powers with discretion.

The ESFA and RSCs between them have the power to take schools away from trusts and close trusts entirely in the event of contractual breach. If a school trust fails to improve outcomes across its schools as a whole, then it is failing to meet its core purpose. By definition this is a failure of governance. The statutory powers to intervene already exist they are just not being used very well. The reason for this is the gearing ratio between RSCs and the level below them. There are simply too many organisations, all of whom will plead special circumstances when challenged, for the RSCs or the ESFA to act confidently. RSCs have less than ½ a day per year for each organisation over which they have oversight.

In the 1990's Pirelli ran a print ad of American Olympic sprinter Carl Lewis in red high heels with the strap line, "Power is nothing without control". Legislators legislate and this is our danger. Adding more powers into a fragmented system will only cause more damage as they will be used without insight. You don't put a jet engine on a wonky bicycle and then act surprised when you're picking up teeth from the road.


Central recommendations from,"Gove reforms a decade on" with annotations

I have taken the 15 recommendations from the IFG paper and sorted them into three categories with rationales for each.


Support 

Discuss further 

Challenge

2. "Establish a single arm’s length regulator for academy trusts, merging the academies  responsibilities of regional schools commissioners and the Education and Skills  Funding Agency


Completely agree! Create clarity and consistency. But separate out the Funding Agency from the Regulator to avoid perverse incentives and conflicts of interest. And most importantly ensure the regulator has the capacity to to perform its functions with discretion.

1. "Create a proper statutory basis for academies, MATs and academy regulation."  


We don't need more statutory powers. We just need the clarity of structure and purpose for the powers that already exist to become useful. 

4. "Publish a high-level framework setting expectations for MATs against which they  can be assessed by the regulator. All assessments should be transparent. "


You don't need a new framework to exercise power with discretion. The success or failure of a school operating organisation is directly inferred from the performance of its schools in their contexts. An ‘angels on a pinhead’ league table would be a waste of time and money on which no one would agree. Why create independent organisations whose sole reason for existence is to improve outcomes for children and then tell them how to do it?

5. "Give local authorities the power to ask the regulator to direct academies to increase or reduce their published admissions number (PAN), if they can make a case that  they will not otherwise be able to meet their sufficiency duty effectively."


Provided that this power was reciprocated and MATs could ask the regulator to adjust their own PANs up and down in the face of LA intransigence (which is as common as the MAT awkwardness implied by this recommendation)


3. "Give the new regulator powers to intervene to close or merge MATs for both  financial/compliance failures and failure to provide adequate educational support."


I would argue this is not needed as it already exists. They already have the power to intervene on educational underperformance through their powers on failure of governance. They also have significant coercive powers. There is danger of creating an accountability revolving door here.

7. "Give local authorities control over all schools’ admissions policy to ensure fairness."


I'm beginning to suspect that Sam has been captured by the LGA lobby. LA control does not necessarily equate to fairness. This would also set quite a lot of hares running with faith schools...


8.  "Give local authorities the right of access to MAT data, including attendance records.


I see no problem in this. We are public bodies funded by public money. We should be transparent and connected to local government.

6. "Give MATs a duty to set out their forward plans for expansion and to discuss these  with local authorities.


MATs already have a duty in company and charity law to set out and publish their plans. Just make us write better annual reports

9. "Consider if further powers for local authorities are necessary in light of the ongoing  DfE review of SEND provision."


Absolutely not! They don't need more power. They need more money. Otherwise they will simply transfer the problem to schools and blame them for failure in the same way that central government currently does to them. The challenge here is where in the overall education settlement we find this money for SEND as the treasury will not support otherwise. See earlier blog on SEND funding.

11.” Set a strong expectation that all schools will join a MAT. Use incentives and clear  messaging to encourage the shift to a single system rather than forcing schools  to comply. “


Yes absolutely.


10. "Create an additional package of legal powers for local authorities to be triggered  when all their schools are academies, including the right to hold public hearings  of MATs and a limited right to insist academies co-operate with integration of local  children’s services"


I think this is dangerous. Yes, we need to incentivise a move towards a coherent system. But I suspect this would incentivise the wrong behaviours. Some LAs would kick all their schools out and then judge them in what looks like a kangaroo court. You would simply have a revolving door of suppliers overcharging and getting fired for not improving anything.


14. "Create a mechanism whereby an individual school can make a request to the regulator to move to a different MAT, if they can make a strong case that they would  benefit educationally. "


This is the most dangerous idea of the lot. All you have to do is ask yourself how will people behave if this happens? First it allows schools to opt out of school improvement if they don't like their MAT. Second it requires legal contortions to apportion rights to a body that no longer exists. Third it will incentivise charities to act against their charitable purposes and give oil to squeaky wheels. And most importantly fourth it will create the situation where rather than act to improve outcomes for children, MATs will use public money to promote and market themselves to their school leaders, as it is much cheaper to get people to like you than to improve a system. All to address a problem which doesn't exist, to whit the false notion that regulators lack the power to take schools away from MATs that are failing them.


12. "Inject significantly more capacity-building funding into high-performing small MATs  and provide funding to new strategic and high-potential MATs. This should include  organisations spun out of local authorities, many of which already exist to provide  support services."


Maybe talk to some of the larger MATs who have done this already amongst the chaos of the last decade and could help. Giving money to small MATs who don't know about growth risk and organisational design is dangerous. And please don't ask the DfE about this as they do not know.


15. "This would require legislation to give a group of representatives associated with  each school a legal status independent of the MAT so that a body existed that could  make the request.


This is just an additional point which tacitly recognised the silliness of point 14 and creates a process so bureaucratic as to negate its own purpose.


13. "Empower the new regulator to create regional MATs to take on schools that cannot find another MAT to work with. It may be necessary to create several of these with different functions (for example, to cover small rural schools). " This has already been partially done and isn't exactly flying as an idea. It also completely subverts the whole idea of school trusts. If the regulator you propose conceives, commissions, directs, manages and dissolves, then it is not a regulator. You have just subsumed the entire school system back into direct administration by the DfE, which I have already shown lacks the tacit knowledge or capacity to perform this role.



Summary

We should not legislate on the basis that we haven't done so for a while. And before we do, we should ask the question, if we create these new rules, how would different agents in the system behave? 








Thursday, 24 February 2022

A bang and a whimper

On the day that Russia invaded Ukraine, it seems important to put down some contemporaneous thoughts. I am no expert and my opinions deserve no more attention than they merit. I am entirely prepared to listen to and even concede to other people's opinions, particulary when they are more informed than mine.

I am deeply saddened and not at all optimistic about how this will play out. To mangle a metaphor, these are chickens coming home to roost, whose antecedents stretch back many years in many directions. Yet we seem to have little regard for how we got here. The internet is full of people screaming certainties at each other with little regard for nuance or the contradictory and multiple truths. The first casualty of war is the truth but we’ve been killing the truth for some time now.

Before you assume that, given my time spent in Russia in the 1990s, this is an apology for Putin, it is not. Putin is a grubbly little narcissist [1]. But he is significantly more intelligent than Johnson or Macron. Like all narcissists, rather than confront his own shortcomings, he attempts to reshape the entire world to fit his view of himself. Unfortunately, he may be clever enough, his opponents naive and fickle enough, and his timing fortuitous enough to benefit significantly. I suspect much will depend on how far China sees this as an opportunity to advance its own position.

First to the idiots like UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who yesterday said, "we'll kick Putin's backside", like the Scots Guards did in the Crimea in 1853. It's charming that Ben was literate enough to read his regimental history when he served in the Scots Guards. But I suspect he struggles with any real history or his own departmental papers. The relative strengths of the British and Russian armed forces in 1853 bear no relation to today. You probably only need primary education to understand the differences. This is the empty bluster of English exceptionalism. We are not a first rank world military power anymore, we are barely a first rank economic power. Although it is an established principle of international law that might is not right, we should have had that argument when Russia invaded the Crimea much more recently in 2014. 

Second to those on the left including the Corbyn and the Stop The War Coalition, who blame NATO and Western aggression for provoking Putin. If you oppose imperialism you need to be consistent in your opposition because Putin seeks nothing more or less than the restoration of a lost empire, as George Monbiot commendably pointed out earlier today.

Third to those on the right screaming 'imperialist aggression' at Putin, check your own recent history before proceding. The second Iraq war was almost certainly imperialist and economically, opportunistically aggressive. Likewise Putin has at least as much, if not more, claim to sovereignty over Ukraine as the UK has to the Falkland Islands or Gibraltar. Unless you want to stand on the principle of self-determination.

Fourth, to the libertarian little Englanders on twitter who claim we have no role in this crisis and that Putin is entitled to invade Ukraine; equating its relationship with Russia as being that of the Isle of Wight to the UK.  If the Isle of Wight or the Falkland Islands or Scotland, Wales or Northern Island for that matter wished to secede from the United Kingdon as independent states, then they can. 

It would appear that the majority of the 44 million Ukranians do not wish to be reattached to the Russian yoke. The Ukranian identity reaches back to the 9th century at least and its relationship with Russia and the Rus is fractious, complex and equally long. If you do not know what the Holodomor is, look it upSurely there is a moral obligation to defend another sovereign country's right to self-determination? That is after all what most of the people holding this view used as their justification for supporting Brexit.

Fifth, to those who cry moral outrage, nothing can justify this aggression. What did you say when the World Bank and IMF made Russia grovel at the end of the Cold War? Russia was humiliated by the West. Instead of taking the farsighted nation building of the post WWII Marshall Plan (arguably one of America's greatest contributions to world peace) we effectively bankrupted Russia and destroyed its burgeoning and outward looking middle class twice. The parallels between the vindictiveness at the Paris Peace Conference and the subsequent rise of National Socialism are alarming. And I use the term National Socialism deliberately as Hitler's appeal was to nationalism, unreasonable poverty and unjustified shame.

Sixth, we have no place making moral arguments when we have been money launderers in chief to the Russian kleptocracy for the last 25 years. We have no place making moral arguments when our own Prime Minister is a moral vacuum.

But where does that leave us. If we are not strong enough to challenge the idea that might is right on behalf of the vulnerable. If we have no right to cast a stone against imperialist aggression when we are amonst the most aggresive imperialists of all. If we have no moral place to stand because we have no morals...

The only path is a multilateral one. However difficult or slow or painful. And to take it we must accept our share of blame for letting this happen. We must allow multiple conflicting and contradictory views to co-exist rather than rushing to oversimplify or blame.

As has been said many times in the Northern Ireland peace process, there is no hierarchy of suffering, there is no difference in a mother's tears.


______________________________________________


[1] Johnson and Macron are probably the ranking narcissists of the current UN Security Council after Putin but I breathe a huge sigh of relief that Trump is a former rather than current President of the USA. This relief is immediately tempered by the dread realisation that Johnson is perhaps the least suited or capable of British Prime Minsters of the last hundred years to deal with this crisis, with the possible exception of Anthony Eden.

Monday, 25 October 2021

SEND and moral decline

Populist politics undermines truth; preferring certainty over doubt and simplicity over complexity. This is visible in three word slogans like, “Get Brexit Done” or the many variations of “Build Back Better”. The oversimplification conceals dangerous trends that rarely get discussed. In particular the education provision to children with SEND, which is in crisis.

The complexity starts with a pincer movement of legal obligations. Although the education system has fragmented under successive governments, Local Authorities retain the statutory responsibility for pupil place planning. This means that LAs have to ensure there are enough school places of specific types to meet the needs of the population in their areas. 

For mainstream schools, this is simple. You need to ensure that, across a region, you have sufficient primary, secondary and FE classrooms to accommodate the needs of the population. For efficiency, you want your schools to be as full as possible.  Below an average of 24 children per class, it gets more difficult to provide ‘good’ education.

When you start to think about children with SEND, the other arm of the legal pincer is revealed.  The Equality Act (2010) says that you cannot discriminate against anyone with a protected characteristic. This includes disability and the penalties for non-compliance are significant.

Most educators are inclusionists. They believe that if a child can be in mainstream schooling then they should be. Those who support grammar schools or talk about selection are not talking about improving education. They are describing ways to limit opportunity for some. Because it is too expensive to give the same chances to all. This selection process is dressed up as something else, otherwise it falls foul of the Equality Act.

In an ideal world public education would be tailored to the needs of each child. But any rational person can see that the costs of this are prohibitive. The minimum funding guarantee for English primary schools in 2021-22 is £22 per child per day (or £4,180 per year). But for  young people with profound and complex needs, the cost of special schools can reach 20-30 times as much.  If there isn’t enough money in the system to give everyone their entitlements, all you can do is:

  • Keep people in the dark about their entitlements
  • Delay people’s access to their entitlements
  • Add barriers to people obtaining their entitlements
  • Shift responsibility onto someone else and blame them
  • Illegally redefine people's entitelments and
  • Hope that the number of times you are found guilty in court of any of the above costs less than doing what the law requires

...this is exactly what many Local Authorities are being forced to do.

The government’s own data shows that the incidence of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) has risen from 2.8% in 2015-16 to 3.7% in 2020-21. Despite the fact that over the same period the threshold of needs (the fifth bullet point on the list above) has also risen. At least one LA no longer issues EHCPs for Down’s syndrome; many LAs make families wait over two years for EHCPs; and most issue significant numbers of EHCPs without any additional funding for schools. 

Before you start getting angry at LAs, the blame is not theirs to shoulder alone. Over the last decade, LA funding from central government has halved.  High Needs Funding is based on historic levels and has not adjusted to increased demand. Moreover, LAs  are not allowed to use funding for other purposes to meet this rise in SEND needs. The DfE restricts them to a maximum of 0.5% of virement (to be taken from the schools funding block) in any given year. If they break these rules they are required to sit on the financial 'naughty step' and submit regular budget refinancing plans. And remember this is to meet their legal obligations not spending on 'nice to haves'.

Despite next year's increase of 8%, central government funding is still inadequate to address the scale of debt run up by most LAs. Equally, the £2.6bn announced in the Chancellor's autumn spending review, to create additional places for SEND children, sounds like a lot. But it is only capital funding to build the new schools or extra classrooms. There is no commitment to pay for the  education that the children taking up these places will need. Some LAs have between 50-100 children with EHCPs requiring specialist provision but with no named special school. These same LAs are being shamed for overspending their High Needs allocations. They are being encouraged to cut other services such as refuse collection, social care or early years provision.

The government has created a situation that encourages LAs to sweep the problem under the carpet. LAs are being forced to ignore or misdiagnose need. But they retain the risk if they are caught doing so in the courts. And an increasing number of them are being cuaght. In 2019-20 SEND Tribunals were up 13% on the previous year and LAs lost 95% of the claims brought against them. Indeed LAs have lost 91% of all actions brought against them since SEND reforms became law. This strongly suggests that the claims which come to tribunal are likely to be the tip of the iceberg with many thousands more children and families being deliberately kept in the dark and denied their entitlements.

This is further evidence of a nation in moral decline.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Prisoners of our past

We are all prisoners of our past. We view events through the lens of our previous experiences and often project onto others opinions and motivations they simply do not have. These imperfections in our understanding of the world around us are exacerbated rather than mitigated by social media and the internet. Evolution has favoured pattern recognition skills over complex analysis.  Consequently, we are vulnerable to seeing things as we think they are rather than in their complex, messy and contradictory reality.

Mark Twain said, "I've lived through some terrible things, some of which actually happened", succinctly highlighting the unreality and unreliability of both anticipation and memory.

There was an interesting example of this last week when HMCI Amanda Spielman attempted to articulate complexity, 



Her thoughts were 'reported' by TES and 'rereported' in the Twitter echo chamber, which jumped on this as further evidence of 'horrible Ofsted' not caring about hungry children or not caring about teacher workloads or just not caring. I suspect she was trying to say something much more nuanced.

It is perfectly possible to care deeply about all of the following:

  • the loss of learning from Covid
  • the loss of livelihoods from Covid
  • the dispropotionate impact of both of the above on those already disadvantaged
  • the huge and unjustifiable variation in education offering between schools in similar contexts, largely due to an absence of planning at both governmental and local authority level but also at school level
  • the impact of all of the above on teacher workloads
  • the sheer scale of the recovery work needed over the coming years and the complete failure of the DfE to acknowledge and fund this
These are not mutually exclusive or contradictory ideas. In fact they are largely interconnected. The messy truth is that some schools prioritised support to their most vulnerable families, some schools prioritised remote learning, some schools did both, some schools did neither, some schools prioritised in school support to key worker and vulnerable children and some schools prioritised the wellbeing of staff. But all children have lost significant amounts of learning and all schools must be involved in the long and slow process of rebuilding for all children.

Friday, 28 May 2021

Schrodinger’s appraisal

As far back as 2009, I wrote an article for the Training Journal about the ineffectiveness of appraisal processes in organisations being rooted in their compression ratios. We try to compress a year's worth of work into an hour's worth of feedback and fail because this is beyond the tolerance of human communication. 

Appraisals don't work because appraisees arrive as a hot neurotic mess of hyper-vigilance, 

"Do you love me? Tell me you love me. Purlease.... tell me you love me. Oh God, you hate me, don't you?!" 

They over-interpret every available clue whether visual, verbal or otherwise from their line manager until they decode the central message as either good or bad. At which point they stop listening. If they perceive the negative, they either turn in on themselves in an auto-perpetuating spiral of self-loathing or they launch a counter offensive to rewrite the wrong that their manager is peddling. If they perceive the good they also stop listening and bask in self-satisfaction or start positioning for a pay rise.

Compare this with lesson observations for trainee teachers. Feedback sessions almost always occur directly or soon after the observed teaching. The feedback can sometimes take longer than the observed teaching itself. The student knows that they can improve and actually wants to be helped, so often the feedback doesn't feel like criticism and is thus welcomed.

The difference between the two approaches has parallels with Erwin Scrodinger’s famous thought experiment involving a cat, a radioactive source and a flask of poison. At the risk of an epic oversimplification only possible from a historian talking about quantum mechanics, Schrodigner’s cat inter alia articulates the superposition, in which the cat is both dead and alive at the same time. It is only when we open the box to observe, thus collapsing the waveform, that we establish the reality of whether it is alive or dead.

In the common or garden annual organisational appraisal described above, the appraisee tends to collapse the waveform very early on in the appraisal into the binary choice of either good or bad. Contrastingly, in the trainee teacher feedback session both trainee and mentor tend to maintain the superposition of both good and bad at the same time for much longer.

When we feedback about teaching we tend to reinforce and amplify positive behaviours e.g. “It was really good when you did X Y Z, you could also try using that approach in the following situations…”. We also tend to suppress negative behaviours with positive substitutions e.g. “Did you notice it went a bit flat when you did A B C, next time you could try D E or F”. The conversation holds onto the idea of both good and less than good teaching behaviour as being present in all lessons.

It’s odd that we don’t always take what we know from one domain to another.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Mistaking authority for control

I was unsurprised but nonetheless disappointed to read that giving evidence to the Education Select Committee yesterday the National and Regional Schools Commissioners argued that there was no need for Ofsted to inspect MATs because, together with the ESFA, they are in control.

In fact the converse is true, there is every need for Ofsted to inspect MATs precisely because RSCs and the ESFA are not in control. 

The reasons the RSCs and the ESFA are not in control I have set out at length in the chapter I co-wrote for Education System Design: Foundations, Policy Options and Consequences (Hudson, Leask, Younie et al) last year. But in short the gearing ratio is too high. RSCs have less than half a day per year to think about (let alone act upon or seek to improve) each of the different organisations over which they have authority. As a result all they can do is perform a bureaucratic function that points at failure. Pointing at failure is Ofsted's job, one which it does well and, on the whole, fairly. 

The ESFA is currently the principle funder and primary regulator of the academy sector a dual position it cannot and should not continue to hold if we seek a self-improving system. Regulation must be separated from funding if you want your system to function. 

This is not the first time the RSCs have made a grab for the reins of the ESFA but it should be resisted because it further confounds the process of accountability and improvement. Regulation and accountability are by their nature process-heavy functions. Whereas system improvement requires flexibility, innovation, experimentation and fleetness of foot. These ideas were part of the genesis of the academies' movement but have long since been on the wane.




Thursday, 14 January 2021

Slow down and do it better

Although a significant number of the posts in this blog over the years have been "Get it off my chest" rants, so that I can keep on doing the job, I am at heart a postive and optimistic person. It's just that sometimes it is hard to find the appropriate voice for constructive critcism in the education sector. Speaking the truth to power is essential but when power doesn't really listen for the best part of a decade, frustration can creep in.
  • The DfE contains highly skilled, highly motivated and highly dedicated civil servants who have been rushed off their feet throughout Covid trying to issue guidance to support school
  • Unfortunately due to the massive fragmentation of the education sector, the DfE no longer actually knows what is actually going on in schools [see many other posts on this blog on fragmentation]
  • Political leadership at the DfE and in No. 10 appears to believe that the role of the department is to strongly assert certainty and ‘best practice’ when only uncertainty and emergent practice exist 
  • This is why there have been so many ‘U-turns’ as information comes to light that overtly contradicts the department’s over-confident assertions
  • Consequently, much of the department’s ‘guidance’ serves only to shift blame for failure from itself on to school and Trust leaders and in doing so creates work with significant opportunity cost to children and communities
The purpose of this blog is to highlight the importance of focusing on quality and not speed when issuing education guidance during Covid by constructively reviewing its latest Framework for reviewing remote education. So let's quickly and superficially identify what is wrong or insufficiently thought through:
  • As a whole the framework adds little value and much confusion, it is effectively a self-assembly noose with instructions to, “Insert neck of responsible officer here”
  • It's based on a false premise as we simply do not know which are the better ways to deliver remote learning to children not in school yet, so we should be seeking first to understand before we rush to measure
  • It is confused about whom it is for and confuses governance with operational management throughout
  • It imposes a self-assessment grading system without evidence base or terms of reference and although it (optimistically) asserts it will only take “approximately 1 hour” to complete fails to show how this will achieve anything other than the creation of a piece of paper marked 'remote learning self-assessment'
  • Having been drafted at speed for multiple audiences, it is less than clear over who is responsible for what and fails to even mention Trustees from whom authority must be delegated in MATs for some of the decisions it mentions
  • It wrongly and dangerously attempts to make schools and Trusts responsible for the safety of the home learning environment when this can only ever be a parental responsibility
  • Although it is merely repeating the line from other guidance, the requirements are stated in terms of quantity (hours per day) not quality when the role of remote learning is not to fill time but to help children learn
  • It appears to add a requirement to provide real time both way communication ‘school community events’ which are likely to be safeguarding nightmares
  • It lobs a reminder about GDPR in at the end just to keep us on our toes
  • And its last line is one of the best “There are clear rules for behaviour during remote lessons and activities. Pupils know them and teachers monitor and enforce them.” 
  • Anyone who has attended Google hangouts, MS Teams or Zoom meetings in the last year will immediately understand the impossibility of controlling behaviour of primary school children remotely. NB the Spanish councillor or other example of carelessness and stupidity whilst online
So far so easy and so negative. But what would better and more succinct look like? To which I offer the following: