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FLAWS FOUND IN THE EARLY IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PRIMARY LEADERSHIP PROGRAMME

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A new report* out today from the Office for Standards in Education ...
A new report* out today from the Office for Standards in Education

(Ofsted) evaluates the early stages of the Primary Leadership

Programme. It highlights some key concerns which action is now being

taken to address. Inspectors found that where Primary Strategy

Consultant Leaders (PSCLs) and schools bought into the programme it

was a success but this did not always happen. Criticism is focused on

the lack of a pilot and the programme being introduced too quickly.

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) introduced the primary

leadership programme in the summer term 2003 with the aim of

strengthening leadership and responsibility for teaching and learning

in English and maths in primary schools. Under the programme trained,

experienced primary headteachers have been providing guidance for

leadership teams in other schools.

Chief inspector of schools, David Bell, said:

'I am pleased that the DfES is taking positive action to remedy some

of the problems outlined in this report, including better selection

and training of primary consultants and stronger emphasis on the

importance of raising standards in English and maths.'

Inspectors found that the programme has potential but that Local

Education Authority (LEA) primary strategy managers felt it had been

developed in a piecemeal fashion without any clear, long term vision.

Inspectors highlighted a tension between the need to raise standards

and the programme's 'client centred' approach which focused on the

school identifying its own problems and developing ways of solving

them. One school stated that they would like more direct advice on

what works in particular circumstances rather than the 'Let's work it

out together' approach.

The report argues that the early information about schools that PSCLs

are provided with varies too much. Some PSCLs received packs of

information from schools which included a fact sheet on the school,

results at key stage 1 and 2, their recent Ofsted report and other

useful information. Primary consultants who did not have access to

this information often found it difficult to move headteachers and

their leadership teams towards discussing standards.

Mr Bell continued:

'Good, honest communication between heads, LEAs and primary strategy

consultants leaders is essential and was lacking in some of the

schools that inspectors visited. A lot of this centred on a confusion

about roles and responsibilities.'

Points for action which the DfES is now addressing include:

* the better targeting of resources to enhance the quality of

leadership and management and raise standards in the lowest attaining

schools nationally, irrespective of their LEA boundaries

* the provision of more information to LEAs and schools on how the

National College of School Leadership (NCSL) model of client centred

consultancy should be used by schools and PSCLs together to raise

standards

* the improvement of the schools' own monitoring and evaluation

procedures to measure outcomes accurately, accounting for the

resources used and judging the value for money of the actions taken.

NOTES

1. The report The Primary Leadership Programme 2003-2004: An

evaluation by HMI is available here.

2. The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) introduced the

primary leadership programme in the summer term 2003. The programme

was intended for around 25% of primary schools nationally in its

first year (2003 - 2004) and was introduced in every LEA in England.

3. Ofsted, through Her Majesty's Inspectors (HMI), monitored the

programme in the late summer and autumn terms 2003 in 14 LEAs.

Final visits and meetings took place in the spring term 2004.

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