STANDARDS AND QUALITY IN EDUCATION: THE
ANNUAL REPORT OF HER MAJESTY'S CHIEF INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS FOR
RESPONSE FROM GOVERNMENT TO THE SECOND
REPORT OF THE EDUCATION AND SKILLS COMMITTEE, SESSION 2001-02
Letter to the Chairman of the Committee
the Minister for School Standards
I am responding to the Committee's Second Report
of Session 200102, Standards and Quality in Education: The
Annual Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools for
200001, which was published on 30 April. I understand that
HM Chief Inspector of Schools, David Bell, is responding on behalf
The HMCI appointment process
The recent appointment of David Bell as HMCI followed
a widely publicised open competition which, for reasons of transparency,
was run in accordance with the guidance of the Office for the
Commissioner for Public Appointments. The recruitment process
was consistent with previous Government statements on this matter
and fully reflected the principles of ministerial accountability
and selection on merit, which were highlighted in the Government's
response to the Education & Employment Select Committee's
Fourth Report of 199899. We believe that those principles
should remain the key elements of the appointment system for public
On the recommendation of the Secretary of State,
David Bell was appointed as HMCI from 1 May 2002 to April 2007,
by Order in Council. The details of future selection arrangements
will be determined when the need next arises, but at this stage
the Government has not seen the need for significant changes to
Pupil behaviour and attendance
We are keen to support the many schools, LEAs and
other agencies that are working hard to improve school attendance
and, in particular, to encourage a multiagency approach
to addressing nonattendance. For example, we launched a
pack of good practice case studies at the recent 'Tackling it
together' conference, held in April, which includes examples of
partnership working to increase attendance and reduce youth crime;
guidelines on truancy sweeps; the protocol developed by the DfES
in collaboration with Police representatives for developing relationships
with the Police; and a summary of the Cabinet Office's recent
report on privacy and data sharing.
We recognise that, as children's first educators
and most enduring role models, it is important for parents to
take a positive role in their children's education, acting in
partnership with teachers and schools to give children the best
possible chance of success. All schools are required to have a
homeschool agreement, which parents must be invited to sign.
This should make clear that pupils are expected to follow the
school's rules and that parents will support the school in maintaining
good behaviour and discipline.
There are now 3,000 Learning Mentors working in schools
as part of Excellence in Cities. They have an important role in
securing good relations between school and home, fostering a positive
attitude to learning on the part of parents and families, and
helping them to support their children. Early feedback suggests
that Learning Mentors are forging these productive relationships
and we are encouraged by accounts of proactive and innovative
partnership work including attendance campaigns, and homework
and breakfast clubs.
We plan to extend the availability of Parenting Orders
to cases involving a pattern of exclusions for unruly behaviour.
The Orders require the parents to attend counselling or guidance
sessions on managing their child's challenging behaviour more
We are also currently reviewing the existing penalties
for parents who collude in pupil nonattendance as part of
the strategy to address street crime, and are considering a range
of options including the removal of child benefit from parents
who consistently fail in their responsibilities and the further
development of existing sanctions such as Parenting Orders.
The DfES is represented on the steering group of
a new research project that has been commissioned by the National
Children's Bureau and the Local Government Association on the
effectiveness of prosecution in cases of nonattendance.
We look forward to reviewing the results in autumn 2003.
We recognise the importance of achieving a balance
between sanctions for parents who ignore their responsibilities
and support for those who are trying to improve their child's
attendance and behaviour. We are offering £66 million of
funding to targeted local education authorities to pilot our longterm
strategy on improving behaviour and attendance. This will include
Behaviour and Education Support Teams which will draw together
under a clear management structure the full range of specialist
support including key workers for vulnerable young people and
Teacher recruitment and retention
We believe that our recruitment and retention incentives
strike the right balance between providing incentives to enter
the profession and the need to retain those already working as
teachers. Our recruitment initiatives are both necessary and well
targeted, and have contributed to the reversal of an eightyear
decline in recruitment to initial teacher training. There are
more teachers in schools today that at any time since 1982 and
we want to do all we can to encourage good teachers to stay in
In March this year, we announced a £44 million
recruitment and retention fund available to schools where the
high cost of living can make it harder to attract and keep the
best teachers. This fund, which comes on top of the £33 million
made available for last year, can for example be used to help
with travel, housing and childcare costs and retention awards.
We have also established a Teacher Retention Project
which aims to encourage schools, LEAs and other key stakeholders
such as the Teacher Training Agency, General Teaching Council
and the National College for School Leadership to work in partnership
to identify, develop and disseminate good practice in redressing
retention difficulties. The Project has also funded, and is working
closely with, a newly created Unit within the Government Office
for London, which has a specific remit of looking at teacher recruitment
and retention issues within London.
We recognise that teachers' pay is a key element
in retaining those already in the profession and have accepted
the recommendations of the independent School Teachers' Review
Body (STRB) and implemented an aboveinflation increase of
3.5 per cent on all teachers' pay scales and allowances. The STRB's
recommendation of a shortened pay spine was a specific response
to retention issues and the problem of teacher wastage in the
early years of teaching. The number of spine points on the main
scale will reduce from nine to six, from September. The effect
of this will be larger annual increases for teachers on the main
scale and a reduction in the time taken for many teachers to become
eligible to apply for the threshold assessment.
As the Committee are aware, OFSTED published a report
on the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) on 31 January 2002. The
report, which was welcomed by the Government, contained many positive
findings about the programme. However, it also suggested that
training activities could add more value for trainees. The Government
had reached a similar conclusion before the report was published
and that is why the Secretary of State asked the Teacher Training
Agency last summer to design a reformed GTP with additional measures
to reduce bureaucracy and reinforce quality. A working party,
which included OFSTED representation, was set up, and produced
recommendations for new GTP arrangements to take effect from this
We remain committed to reducing bureaucratic burdens
on the school workforce and would welcome OFSTED's evaluation
of initiatives aimed at reducing teacher workload.
We welcome the recent report on teacher workload
by the School Teachers' Review Body and recognise that it has
important things to say about how we might raise standards whilst
also taking firm action on workload. We are currently consulting
on the principles contained in the recommendations and will issue
a formal response later in the year.
A joint DfES / Cabinet Office project team is considering
workload issues in secondary schools and has visited 40 schools
and 15 LEAs as part of its investigations. We have been very encouraged
by the comments and feedback freely given by teachers and support
staff. The final report is due for publication in September.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, in their Teacher Workload
Study, recommended that guidance for schools should be developed
on "fit for purpose" planning. At present, the DfES
is exploring possibilities for producing such guidance with OFSTED
and the QCA.
We are currently seeking further ways to simplify
education funding through the review of the local government finance
system and the Education Bill currently being considered by Parliament.
From April 2003, each local education authority's
education standard spending assessment will include a school funding
assessment, which separately identifies the amount for spending
on school children. There are also proposals in the Bill to give
the Secretary of State a reserve power to set the level of the
total schools' budget in an individual local education authority.
We are taking forward the commitment contained in
the Local Government White Paper: Strong Local Leadership
Quality Public Services, to reduce the amount of ringfenced
funding for schools. In addition, there are provisions in the
Bill for a new single grantmaking power for the Secretary
of State to enable us to bring together the existing grant funding
streams into a simpler system.
Taken together, these changes will ensure that the
money allocated to schools by the Government reaches them and
that schools are better able to identify the total amount available
Supply agencies are regulated under the Employment
Act 1973 and its associated Regulations, which require agencies
to assure the personal and professional suitability of individuals
before they are engaged as supply teachers. Compliance with the
Regulations is overseen by a dedicated inspectorate and revised
Regulations are proposed by the Department for Trade and Industry.
We have introduced a voluntary Quality Mark to be
awarded to agencies that demonstrate good practice in the recruitment
and development of supply teachers and in relations with schools.
This will provide headteachers with an indicator by which to assess
agencies. We intend to keep under review the potential involvement
of OFSTED in respect of teacher supply agencies.
We recognise the importance of high quality supply
teaching and there are a number of strands of work designed to
support this. As well as publishing internet guidance for schools
on making best use of supply teachers, including shared training,
we plan to support agencies in addressing the continuing professional
development requirements of supply teachers through a set of dedicated
selfstudy materials and specific Key Stage 3 training materials.
The Learning and Skills Council has also joined with Hays Education
to develop a professional qualification for supply teachers, which
will initially cover some 2,000 teachers.
We welcome OFSTED's report, Specialist Schools:
An evaluation of progress, which was published in October
2001, and in particular, the illustrations of good practice in
relation to the community programme which it provides. Copies
of the report have been sent to existing specialist schools and
are being sent to newly designated schools. They are also available
for applicant schools.
We believe that our current assessment practice reflects
the Committee's concern about the importance of the community
element of the specialist schools programme.
There are four components in the assessment of an
application for redesignation: progress in relation to the
community plan; progress in relation to the school plan; a new
four year community development plan; and a new four year school
Taken together, the two community elements in the
assessment carry equal weight with the two school elements. Failure
to meet the objectives and targets of the original community plan
or to produce a new plan of sufficient scope or ambition may result
in a school not being redesignated. However, if the deficiency
is fairly modest, a school may be given the opportunity to strengthen
the plans or may be set specific conditions for redesignation.
Many existing specialist schools are located in socially
and economically deprived areas and serve such communities. Our
arrangements for supporting schools in raising sponsorship are
designed to help schools in such circumstances whenever possible.
The Technology Colleges Trust (TCT) and Youth Sport Trust are
grantaided to help schools raise sponsorship. The TCT provides
a booklet on the subject and itself raises substantial sums, on
a national basis, for allocation to schools. These allocations
must conform with any requirements set out by the sponsors, but
such requirements may help schools in deprived areas e.g. by stating
that the money is to be used in support of inner city schools.
Where there is freedom to do so, the TCT keeps in mind local socioeconomic
conditions as well as the efforts made by the school to raise
sponsorship, in making allocations.
This year's revised guidance for specialist school
applicants reduces the sponsorship requirement for small schools,
i.e. those with less than 500 pupils, with the requirement set
at the equivalent of £100 per pupil, and a minimum of £20,000.
More than 200 schools will be eligible to benefit from this change,
many of them in rural or inner city locations. We shall continue
to look more generally at the relative difficulty of raising sponsorship
and will make further changes as appropriate.
Inspection of education for 16 to 19 year olds in
colleges has an important place in our strategy for improving
quality, raising standards and increasing participation in post
Local Education Authority Inspections
We recognise the importance of effective partnership
between council services and have ensured that the contractual
arrangements for outsourced education services take this issue
into account. We have also appointed consultants to undertake
an independent evaluation of new organisational models in LEAs.
This will include an examination of outsourced education services,
including their relationships with other council services.
24 June 2002