Michael Gove today addressed headteachers at the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services’ Annual Leadership Conference in Birmingham.
The Secretary of State for Education’s first keynote speech to the conference saw him stress the need for greater freedoms for headteachers and schools, the importance of learning from overseas, improved teaching, more intelligent accountability and a curriculum and qualifications system that compares with the best overseas.
Regarding greater freedoms Michael Gove said:
One of the first things we have done is to give professionals more scope to drive improvement by inviting all schools to consider applying for academy freedoms.
But we will now also provide you with the kind of autonomy that has served schools in America, Canada, Sweden and Finland so well and allow all schools the freedom to develop their own curriculum and fully control their own budget and staffing.
The Education Secretary stated that over 1,772 schools have enquired about academy freedoms; 870 of these schools are rated ‘outstanding’ including 405 secondary schools and more than 400 outstanding primaries.
He went on:
That’s 70% of the outstanding secondary schools in the country and a significant cohort of outstanding primaries.
Any school which acquires academy freedoms will continue to be governed by admissions rules which guarantee fair access to all, safeguards the inclusive character of comprehensive schools, ensures all schools take their fair share of pupils in need and prevents any school discriminating in any way against those pupils with special educational needs.
The Education Secretary stressed the importance of attracting highly qualified teachers to the teaching profession:
The generation of teachers currently in our schools is the best ever, but given the pace of international improvement we must always be striving to do better.
That is why we will expand organisations such as Teach First, Teaching Leaders and Future Leaders which have done so much to attract more highly talented people into education.
That is why we will write off the student loan payments of science and mathematics graduates who go into teaching.
That is why we will reform teacher recruitment to ensure there is a relentless focus on tempting the best into this, most rewarding, of careers.
And that is why we will reform teacher training to shift trainee teachers out of college and into the classroom.
Discipline and behaviour
The Education Secretary said that he will reform rules on discipline and behaviour to protect teachers from abuse, false allegation and from disruption and violence. He continued:
That means getting parents to accept their responsibilities, giving teachers the discretion they need to get on with the job and sending a clear and consistent message at all times that adult authority has to be respected.
Teachers will be given more control over their careers with a culture of more teachers acquiring a postgraduate qualification like a master’s or doctorate and potential school leaders will acquiring management qualifications. The Secretary of State saw the National College as key in this.
The Education Secretary called for external assessment that shows what works, clearer information about teaching techniques that get results and evaluations of interventions that have run their course.
Ofsted’s resources will also be directed to schools which are faltering or coasting and inspectors will spend more time on classroom observation and assessing teaching and learning.
Curriculum and qualifications
The Education Secretary stated:
I want to ensure our national curriculum is a properly international curriculum - that it reflects the best collective wisdom we have about how children learn, what they should know and how quickly they can grow in knowledge.
He stressed the need for a curriculum with a ‘simple core’ which is informed by best international practice which will be a measure for schools and will also allow parents to ask meaningful and informed questions about progress.
In addition to curriculum reform, the Education Secretary said that tests that 11-year-olds sit in this country should be comparable with those 11-year-olds sit in Singapore, Taiwan or Toronto. He went on:
That is why I want Ofqual to work not just to guarantee exam standards over time, but to guarantee exam standards match the best in the world.