The Schools White Paper - səhifə 136
Page Type [E]
Pag Table: COENEW
Education and Skills Committee: Evidence
19 December 2005
Rt Hon Ruth Kelly MP, Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP, and Mr Stephen Crowne
V Ennis:The big bang model is an option?
Ruth Kelly:It is what the civil servants do now. For
instance, they ﬁnd academy sponsors and try to
Ruth Kelly:I do not see a particular reason why
match them up with the academy programme and
schools locally could not decide that that is what they
also approve BSF educational visions. What we are
needed to do.
proposing to do is clarify the nature of the Schools
Commissioner in relation to the trust process.
Q736 Mr Marsden:
I would like to return to the issue
of the Schools Commissioner which we had some
Why do you have to drag it out as a
discussion on when you previously came before the
new title? Some people who have given evidence to the
Committee in November. I am referring to the
Committee have said, “On the one hand you have
exchanges that we had on that occasion. On that
democratic accountability. On the other hand, you
occasion, you were obviously still in evolutionary
have all these non-elected democratic organisations:
mode because you said, “We are developing the
the Learning and Skills Council, Ofsted, the
detailed proposals. We will set out proposals as to
adjudicator.” None of them is elected and now you
how the Schools Commissioner will work. He will
have a Schools Commissioner on top. If you are going
have some regulation role. What we are thinking
to have a balance between democratically answerable
about is a much more arm’s length role for the
elected and non-elected, the balance is going over
Schools Commissioner.” At that stage your thinking
here too far.
on the Schools Commissioner and the questions I
Ruth Kelly:I do not quite accept that. Having a
asked you about what precisely that role would be
clearly deﬁned Schools Commissioner will help
were blending together. Have you more clarity now?
simplify the system and make it obvious to all
Ruth Kelly:We will publish guidance in due course as
concerned who is dealing with these issues. The
to how the Schools Commissioner will operate. I
Schools Commissioner is directly there to advise me
envisage the Schools Commissioner particularly
on my powers.
looking at disadvantaged schools and helping local
authorities to match make people who potentially
Q741 Mr Marsden:
With respect, we have asked other
want to be involved with trusts with where they think
the local need is. I would really like to see a situation in
Commissioner. They are extremely confused. They
which the local authorities went on the front foot and
believe that there is, to put it at its kindest, an innate
tried to do this but there needs to be someone
tension between the business of regulating or advising
centrally who makes the trust and helps people who
on powers and promoting. If I had said to you in other
emerge get involved in the system.
circumstances, for example in Ofsted, that Ofsted
should promote a particular approach as well as
Q737 Mr Marsden:
Let us get this as clear as we can.
regulating it, I suspect you or some DfES civil servant
The role of the Schools Commissioner as currently
would have cut me oV at the knees; yet on this
deﬁned is going to be a promoter and an involver.
particular issue you are proposing to keep it in-house.
Ruth Kelly:A matchmaker.
By keeping it in-house, are you not fuelling the
concerns of those people who say, “This is not going
to be an objective process at all because the civil
Q738 Mr Marsden:
Is the role of the Schools
servant will come and go through whatever door the
Commissioner in any shape or form going to be the
Government wants it to go through at any particular
regulation of those trusts, because that was one of the
things that was implied in the White Paper?
Ruth Kelly:What we are trying to do is clarify within
Ruth Kelly:What I have said in the White Paper is
the Department who is responsible for dealing with
that the Schools Commissioner should advise the
these issues. It will help people outside the
Secretary of State on my powers. That is a function
Department to know who to deal with. It seems
that has always been carried out in the Department.
sensible to me that the Schools Commissioner, who is
We are just talking about a civil servant in the
the person who knows the team working with us in the
Department of Education who reviews the BSF
Department, who understands best local contexts
proposals to see whether the local authority is
and situations because they are dealing with setting
fulﬁlling its educational vision in the appropriate way
up trusts and so forth, is also the same person who
and it has sensible propositions in place to raise
advises me on when things are clearly not going well.
standards in schools. It would be a normal thing for
the Schools Commissioner to do that.
Q742 Mr Marsden:
Let me be blunt about this. The
concerns that have been expressed both formally and
Q739 Mr Marsden:
This is in many respects a very
informally to this Committee and to others are that
new role. You are hoping it is going to succeed. You
the role of the Schools Commissioner, particularly in
talk about trusts being successful. You have accepted
respect of local authorities, might appear to be that of
that there may need to be some push in local
an enforcer. The Schools Commissioner would go
authorities in that respect and that is why you have
along and say, “You are not doing very well on your
this matchmaker role. You have also just said that
trusts in this particular area. You are not fulﬁlling a
government programme. What is going to happen to
Commissioner on your powers. Are those not rather
your investment in Building Schools for the Future?”
big things to ask of any DfES civil servant, however
I am not saying this is what would happen. I am
saying these are the concerns that are being expressed.
celebrated that person might be?
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