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York head teacher leads national call for shake-up of education
A YORK head teacher is at the forefront of a new national forum aimed at revolutionising school education.
John Tomsett, of Huntington School, is one of about ten head teachers from across the country who have joined together to form the online Head Teachers’ Roundtable which grew out of frustration with current government educational policy and the Labour opposition response to it.
The non party political group has launched a six point manifesto aimed at shaking up the way children are assessed, schools are inspected and taking education out of the hands of the politicians.
1) Schools should be assessed in a range of ways, not just judged on exam results
2) Ofsted should be replaced by local partnerships that would hold schools to account and help them improve
3) The curriculum and assessment should be taken out of political control and given to an independent agency with a 20-year licence
4) The government should encourage small “families” of local schools in preference to large national chains
5) Stopping the current system of capping the number of students who can achieve a certain grade in exams
6) School accountability measures should encourage collaboration between schools and explicitly develop systems of leadership.
The group set up a twitter account @HeadsRoundtable and the response, said Mr Tomsett, had been “phenomenal”.
Within four hours of the twitter account being set up it had 1,000 followers and that number had now risen to more than 2,700.
Stephen Twigg, Shadow Minister for Education, has approached the group and they plan to meet next month.
Mr Tomsett said: “We are hoping politicians from all political parties will follow Mr Twigg’s lead and that we can meet with other senior politicians with responsibility for education in the near future.
“The support is overwhelming. The response from the profession underlines the need for a clear input from teachers to shape national policy. We also think it is really important parents understand what the new English Baccalaureate Certificate proposals - which are set to replace GCSEs by 2017 - mean for their children.”
Fellow York head teacher David Ellis, of York High in Acomb, said an important message to come out of the group was that it was important not to dismiss students who were not academic.
He said: “I fully support what John is doing. I think as head teachers we know that we work in a political environment and changes of government bring changes of policy and that comes with the territory. I think one of the difficulties at the moment is that policy changes are coming so thick and fast that we really need to stand back and say ‘hold on a minute. Are we really doing the best for our young people?’”
As well as its supporters, the group also has its detractors including Nick Seaton, the chairman of the York-based parent group, The Campaign for Real Education.
He said: “I think most parents will think that this is just another self-interest group trying to put forward their point of view. The suggestion that everything should be done locally and in-house could lead to things going wrong.”