APPG Lunch with the Chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee
In February 2010, Barry Sheerman MP, Chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, addressed members of the APPG. He gave a sense of the continuum in educational policy, as well as his views on how it would develop over the next year.
School Assessment: radical changes in strategy and technology
In December 2009, the Group reviewed the role of assessment, its impact, and the place of technology. Sir Jim Rose highlighted that all schools believe in the value of assessment when appropriately designed; the problem is how to achieve this. League tables are often the sticking point, with the feeling that the “tail is wagging the dog” prevalent. Two headteachers described the learning cultures they were developing, where assessment and subsequent intervention go hand in hand. GL Assessment raised the risk that the Government would develop its own tests, duplicating investments already made by industry.
Preparing for Change: training teachers for the 21st century classroom
The Group discussed the importance of training teachers to prepare students for their role in the global knowledge economy in March 2009. Key aspects were continual professional development, the importance of creating informed resource purchasers, and the skills needed to build relationships with parents and other adults in the community.
BESA’s Policy Commission, chaired by the Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP
In November 2008, the Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP and Dominic Savage, BESA’s Director General, presented recommendations on areas such as the initial and continuous development of the teaching profession and maximising the benefits of ICT and the development of standards for interoperability of content, software and hardware.
Creating a healthier school environment for the citizens of the future
The May 2008 meeting highlighted the long-term lack of investment in school furniture and the consequential impact on children’s back health and academic performance. Sitting for extended periods at inappropriately sized school furniture reduces attention and is recognised as a major cause of back pain in adolescence and later life. The first step was highlighted as being support for the European furniture standard, EN1729, based on revised statistics for children’s sizes. BESA continues to work closely with Partnerships for Schools, which promotes the expectation that schools’ purchases of new chair and table furniture will be to this standard.
Meeting with the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE)
In January 2008, CABE and the Group discussed how excellent school environments could be delivered through the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. The speakers saw that many school designs were mediocre, and that as the BSF programme reached its halfway point, a review was timely. Recommended changes included increased consultation with stakeholders, and a longer lead-time for schools and Local Authorities to prepare.
Meeting with the Unions – Classroom Technology: Inadequate Training Limits its Value
Representatives from ATL, NASUWT, NUT and PAT met the Group in November 2007. They explored the range of ICT decisions which schools must make, from the training and the ongoing support required, to knowing what equipment to purchase and when. They also identified the realities of ICT in schools – for example, where teaching assistants become IT trouble-shooters and where additional insurance against theft is needed – and where improvements could be made by appointing ICT coordinators, finding the right balance between online and offline education, and enhancing Ofsted guidance.