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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Cumbria schools’ help system praised at conference

CUMBRIA’S school-to-school support programme received endorsement from both Ofsted and local authority chiefs during a conference for headteachers.

Some 40 secondary heads and their primary colleagues attended the Cumbria Association of Secondary Headteachers summer conference over two days last week.

The event brought together heads with national school leaders, academics and Ofsted and council chiefs.

The speakers were Michael Cladingbowl, HMI and Ofsted’s director of schools, Diane Wood, chief executive of Cumbria County Council, Professor Toby Greany of the London Institute of Education and educational journalist and blogger, Warwick Mansell.

The theme running through the event was the school system leading itself and a self improving school system, alongside partnership work with primary heads and the local authority.

There was praise for the school-to-school support work of Cumbria Alliance of System Leadership and the Local Alliances of Systems Leadership which have received £250,000 investment from Cumbria County Council, and are attracting national interest.

Ian Smith, executive head at Millom and St Benedict’s secondary schools and chairman of CASH, said: “We have had endorsement and recognition of a very interesting piece of work from both Mr Cladingbowl’s perspective and also from the chief executive of Cumbria County Council.

“We take away a sense of optimism and a sense of endorsement that we have gone past the tipping point and the county council has recognised that CASL and LASL is something they wish to promote forward.”

Mr Smith said the programme was in its early stages and the challenge was for it to have a direct influence on the way in which schools are being judged by Ofsted.

He said it was interesting that in Cumbria Ofsted reports are now recognising the impact of CASL and LASL.

Mr Smith said Mr Cladingbowl was “honest, refreshing and well received” by the group.

He said: “Mr Cladingbowl offered us personal views about school standards and how you measure them and some reflection that the current model may have its flaws.

“In particular that an overly data-driven model of school inspections is not necessarily the best methodology for making the assessment for the totality of a school’s provision for the young people.”

Mr Smith said the group really appreciated Mrs Wood attending and speaking, he said: “Diane did a great job at explaining the complexities which they face. I did not realise the county has more miles of roads than anywhere else. The council is also accountable for health, the fire service and education is just one piece in their big jigsaw.

“With tens of millions to cut year on year it makes it difficult for them to be funding everything in the manner they would want. Diane highlighted how important education is to her and that the council is getting behind system leadership even in times of austerity and that is encouraging.”

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