Scotland has had Devolved School Management (DSM) since 1996. The scheme had four principles:
1 To improve the quality of decision-making by allowing schools greater flexibility in deciding spending priorities at the local level.
2 To allow schools to respond quickly to needs, changes and priorities at local level.
3 To ensure resources were used more efficiently and provide value for money.
4 To raise the morale of Head Teachers and their staff.
In my first post on School Based Management I began to explore a more radical version of the DSM scheme, which has been in operation in Scotland for the last 12 years, yet has not necessarily satisfied the principles set out above.
The intention of school-based management is to construct a system which would allow schools to take real and substantive control over the education process, with the authority commissioning the service, establishing outcomes and monitoring progress.
Over the coming few posts I’m going to try to make some sense of this issue with a view to exploring some of the possibilities and also highlighting some of the associated pros and cons.
Perhaps it might help here of I were to adopt the position of headteacher and look at the possibilities from that perspective.
Imagine the local authority have contacted me and the parent council and offered to allow us to establish a school-based management system? The most obvious response is what does it mean?
As set out in School Based Management 1 it would involve all associated funding required to deliver education in our school being rolled together and placed in our budget. The staff would be employed by the school and all management responsibilities would rest with the school – although we would have the option of buying support from a variety of sources.
The authority would set out a list of outcomes which we would have to acheive but how we did it would be up to us. We would not have to adhere to local authority policies – although we would have to adhere to all statutory responsibilities.
The additional aspect on offer would be the possibility of the headteacher (me) receiving a bonus of between 10-20% on an annual basis. Now I immediately hear others crying foul and seeing this as just another way of managers to get rich but there is a down side! The headteacher would be placed on a five year fixed-term contract. At the end of the contract – depending on whether or not outcomes had been achieved – the authority could decide to commission another headteacher to deliver education in that school (I could be removed sooner of short-term outcomes are not addressed). At that point the parent council would be involved in the selection of the new headteacher. If the outcomes had been achieved the contract might be renewed.
In such a scheme teachers would always remain employees of the school and would be subject to normal employment law. The headteacher and parent council may decide to offer some form or bonus scheme to staff depending on the school budget.
The budget settlement to the school would be set out on a three year basis allowing the headteacher to plan the school’s budget.
Children with additional needs would carry a higher Education Value Credit and it would be up to the parents to negotiate how that credit was spent on their child.
So would I have been interested in such an offer? I think the answer would have to have been yes. Of course there are so many questions I would need to ask and resolve but in principle I would have been very interested.
Over the next few posts I’ll begin to take an in-depth look at specific issues arising from school based management, such as:
- What happens if school looks like it’s going to go bust?
- What happens if the school roll drops and we have a surplus of staff?
- What happens in the case of an emergency?
- What would trade unions have to say about this scheme?
- How do we deliver such things as musical instruction, outdoor education?
- What would happen to local authority departments who currently service schools?
- What sort of outcomes would a school have to achieve?
- Could a school renegotiate everything, e.g. transport, maintenance, school meals?
- What if a school is dominated by a particular group of parents who take it down an unsatisfactory route?
- Would all schools move to such a scheme at the same time?
- Could schools pay more than the going rate for teachers?
- What sort of training/support would there be for headteachers who take up this offer?
- How would the headteachers of small schools manage to take on such responsibilities?
- How do we (should we) ensure equality of opportunity?
- What about the management of ICT?
- Would there be a way back to authority control once SBM was implemented?
- How would schools work together?
- How do you ensure that schools in areas of social deprivation are properly supported?
- How would you prevent schools from competing with each other?
- Would this scheme improve education?
I’d welcome other questions and suggestions.
Outcomes set by local authority eh?
What sort of outcomes and who would decide them? Who would decide how they were measured and when? Who would do the measuring?
What sort of systems for dialogue could be set up to ensure differences in view between authority, management, practitioners and parents about this and other issues were fairly settled? Who would have the final say?
If it all comes down to numbers (oh yes it does!) what incentive would there be for you as an HT to employ me, an expensive Chartered Teacher, rather than nearly 2 NQTs? Yeah I may be very good, or even excellent but that difference is worryingly large. Perhaps my non-chartered colleagues would decide against professional development over and above their contractual obligations, in favour of increasing their employment options?
I worked in Hampshire and Berkshire for ten years before returning to teach in East Lothian. The HTs were responsible for employing and paying staff. If you were at the top of the scale the HT had the choice of employing you or employing a newly qualified teacher and providing cover so that class teachers could have some non-contact time. There was no non-contact time for class teachers at that point. This situation meant that teachers at the top of the scale regularly found it difficult to change school. However, newly qualified teachers found it easier to secure posts.
I’m going to try to discuss outcomes in a future post so your points provide a very useful stimulus.
As regards to whether or not a headteacher would appoint a chartered teacher to their school over a non-chartered teacher is an interesting question. I supppose such a dilemma exists in the current situation and would be no different in what I am imagining. However, if I were an HT and I needed a particular skill set which could be provided by a CT, which would relate to some of the outcomes the school is working towards, then I think a CT would have a very good chance of being selected.
You are correct that all decisions will be influenced by consideration of budget – as do so many of our own decisions in our own homes – nevertheless, within these limitations we all make choices and set priorities dependent upon our values, the context, and the evidence available.
So the question a headteacher must ask themselves is will I get a return on this investment?
It is illegal to take into account differentials in pay when making an appointment. An appointment panel must always select the best candidate on the day – and must be able to demonstrate how they came to that decision.
“You are correct that all decisions will be influenced by consideration of budget – as do so many of our own decisions in our own homes – nevertheless, within these limitations we all make choices and set priorities dependent upon our values, the context, and the evidence available.”
Yes but that’s exactly what I mean! It’s not appropriate to compare domestic budgetary decisions with school ones. In my home the decisions I make are based on my priorities and values – that’s not so for the schools where I work or have to send my children – and in many areas of Scotland there is little or no choice about Primary schools and less about Secondaries.
I think your comment that HTs would appreciate particular “skill sets” offered by Chartered Teachers betrays a surprisingly limited view of what it is to be a Chartered Teacher, and also makes an unwarranted assumption about the awareness of HTs about Chartered Teachers.
Why is it different? Both contexts – home and school – have to operate within the budget available. What would you do as a headteacher?
I’m sorry Dorothy if I have a limited view of CTs. I’d appreciate it if you could help me develop my understanding. Is it unacceptable to ask about the return on the investment in a particular member of staff?
The values/aims etc of the school set what happens in them so I don’t understand Dorothy’s point about budgets. As I Head I would have loved the ability for us to get access fully to budgets to move school forward.
I’m looking forward to more of Don’s posts on this.
I’ve re-read my first comment and it sounds a bit abrasive, for which I apologise.
As a household budget holder, I can decide how to spend my money and I live with the consequences personally. As a Headteacher, I’d make those decisions but it’s the people in the school who’d live directly with the consequences of them, not me. In that respect the two situations are not the same.
Chartered Teachers have shown that they have a sound understanding of pedagogy and how it is used to enhance their practice. The status of Chartered Teacher denotes a attitude to learning more than a skill set. As professionals, we know how important this is. However, it might be very difficult to measure the impact, or to demonstrate it in a form the QIO will be able to use. Your requirement to be able to show a “return on the investment in a particular member of staff” implies an approach which values those things we can measure. I wonder if you’d agree that we can’t always measure the things we value.
I look forward to your post on outcomes with interest. How will you reconcile accountability with the promotion of creativity and risk-taking which I know you also value (and so do I)? How will you combine a need for assessment with trust in staff?
No, I mean my second comment was abrasive! Sorry again 🙂
A really interesting online discussion. From both the perspective of a parent and a headteacher I would like to pick up on the point that Dorothy makes that it’s the people in the school that live with the consequences; not the headteacher. I totally disagree! As a head, if/when I get a decision wrong I can assure it really does affect me, just as it does when I make a bad call as a parent. Clearly, the degree to which a ‘wrong’ decision affects me depends on the context. Most big decisions I make as either headteacher or parent are influenced by having a finite amount of resources available; just as they are for others who fall into neither category.
I think Dorothy has highlighted an interesting point though about the dangers of valuing things we can measure and linking this to Don’s point about ‘return on investment’. My own view is that, currently in Education, we are concentrating far too much on measureable outcomes to the detriment of others.
“As a Headteacher, I’d make those decisions but it’s the people in the school who’d live directly with the consequences of them, not me. ” I found this something I can’t agree on Dorothy – as HT any decision I made ultimately came back and rested with me. My reason for being a HT in a school was to facilitate things so that high quality learning and teaching went on so the children could have good opportunities. There was never anything more important to me than the education of the children. Now in a QIO role I am not so dim as not to understand that the imeasurable things are often the most important things and I have to say that any form someone can demonstrate that is fine by me. My job isn’t to be out to get people it’s about making things better for the children. I am delighted that being a chartered teacher demonstrates the importance of learning and teaching and impact on practice – I’m pretty certain that I know the importance of this too, otherwise I might as well pack it in and go work at something else.