Change to AQA for a brighter future.More students receive their GCSE and A-level qualifications from AQA than any other exam board. Why? Because we truly understand what each subject requires and have developed a range of support services to help make teachers' jobs easier.Changing to AQA couldn't be easier. Visit aqa.org.uk/join or call 08442 096 392 to speak to our subject experts and paint a better picture. Find out more at BETT, visit us on stand G65Tools to help you teach.
BETT LEADERS SPONSORED BYUnderstanding the challenges and opportunities facing leadersBETT LEADERS 3UPDATE2011 has marked a potential new era for education. This has seen leaders seeking to understand the changes, along with the new challenges they present, and to maximise opportunities with the resources and budgets available. There is little argument that ICT is fi rmly established in the learning environment, but the sector continues to be in fl ux; the academies bill, capital funding, teaching schools, the curriculum and of course, budgets have all been subject to change. BETT's continued success over the past 27 years has been due to its ability to support the education sector in getting the best from what is available and understanding how to manage such changes.So let's look at these current issues that are causing the most concern for school leaders at the moment...Academies BillIt was academy status that was the dominant issue throughout our annual Secondary and Primary Focus Groups. 23,000 schools have been invited to apply for academy status; some have already converted, while others are still weighing up the advantages and disadvantages. It certainly appears that the government aims to make academy status the norm for all schools in the future. Therefore the question for many school leaders is when they will make the change, rather than if. The main challenge will be making the best decision for the school at the right time and, of course, this decision centres on the fi nancial feasibility of the change. Becoming an academy would remove responsibility for provision of support in certain areas from the local authority. Alternative cost-effective providers of the local authority's services must be found. These include special educational needs (SEN) and disability support, behaviour support, child and adolescent health and social care services, emergency contingencies, training, payroll support, and facilitation of school networks. Schools can buy back these services from the local authority (in fact it may not be long before we see local authorities as exhibitors at BETT) but they will also have the opportunity to source services elsewhere, possibly in collaboration with other schools in the area. For leaders, the most challenging concerns are those based on the legal requirements of the conversion to academy status. Firstly, although under the Academies Bill there is no legal requirement for a school to carry out a statutory consultation, common law may impose an obligation. Other aspects to consider are the employment of staff who were previously employed by the local authority. This will require a Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE) consultation. Although no minimum period for statutory consultation is set, schools that have already submitted a formal request to become an academy are likely to have begun the consultation. However, it is the issue of teachers' pensions that is likely to be tricky for schools; as the new employer, the school itself would have responsibility for administering the pension scheme. Support for school leaders considering the change to academy status is vitally important, as is the ability to ensure that procurement decisions for central services are as cost-effective as possible. BETT provides a focal point for leaders to meet and share experiences with peers. For those seeking the best procurement solutions, the show offers the opportunity to compare service providers in order to understand all available opportunities. Within the Education Leaders @ BETT conference (11-12 January) Rosie Simmons, headteacher at Leverington Primary Academy and Steve Munby, chief executive at the National College are just two speakers sharing their experiences and advice. For more information visit www.bettukleaders.com/.An on a fi nal note regarding the academy bill, schools in need of refurbishment or a re-build, but who missed out on the previous government's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) funding, may want to consider their options carefully. Once a school has become an academy, there is no additional money to support new buildings or refurbishment to existing buildings.Capital fundingAlthough approximately 500 BSF building projects already under way are expected to be completed, and £15.8bn has been promised 'to maintain the school estate and rebuild and refurbish 600 schools,' it is incomparable to the previous government's promise to rebuild or refurbish all 30,000 secondary and primary schools.Many may assume that suppliers into the BSF programme, such as furniture and IT managed service providers, would be feeling the negative effects of the changes but quite the opposite appears to be the case. Many of these suppliers found that the procurement structure of the BSF programme meant that they were often excluded, due to the size and complexity of the project or the lack of a relationship with the local education partnership (LEP). However, now that decision making is devolved, schools are able to have greater involvement in procurement decisions, having the freedom to make their own decisions based on their school's needs. With budgetary constraints there is a danger that initial price point takes precedence over quality and durability. Simply put, the cheapest resource may be more expensive in the long term and schools need to be able to compare the total cost of ownership on all resources, from IT hardware to educational software. Only by evaluating products in one place on the same day can you compare quality and price effectively, making informed decisions about how to invest wisely. The 'Find Suppliers' section on the www.bettshow.com website enables you to fi nd a list of all exhibitors supplying the specifi c products and services you are looking for, facilitating comparisons between suppliers to ensure that all purchasing decisions are well-informed.Teaching SchoolsAnother important consideration for many school leaders at the current time is whether to become a teaching school. The recent Schools White Paper outlined plans to raise standards and improve the quality of teachers and school leadership through school-to-school support and peer-to-peer learning, with a national network of teaching schools. School leaders from establishments judged to be 'outstanding' can now add to their areas of responsibility by supporting and assuring initial teacher training and professional and leadership development for teachers and leaders in their area.Of course there are many schools that have already adopted this model because of the support they offer to other schools in the area, particularly their primary feeder schools. The volume of extra work that this entails is not yet fully understood. Initial pilots have been positive but come with the recommendation that there should be a slow build up to the teaching school model, to make sure the development is expanded in a way that is manageable for schools.If only the challenges facing school leaders were limited to these decisions! On top of deciding the status of their school, leaders now have to consider the implementation of the new curriculum. Curriculum changeJust after BETT this year Michael Gove announced a review of the National Curriculum for both primary and secondary schools in England. At the time of launch he stressed that this review would be conducted in a way that is open and outward-facing with regular updates on its progress. It remains the DfE's intention to carry out a full public consultation on the fi nal drafts of the Programmes of Study early in 2012. Little is known of what this new curriculum will look like, however, we do know that the fi rst phase being considered looks at the core subjects of English, mathematics, science and physical education. Not only are school leaders waiting to understand the signifi cance of the changes, they will also be looking to the sector's publishers for guidance on how and when they will be able to provide learning support material to meet any new requirements. At BETT 2012, the majority of these publishers will be on stand to share their understanding of the issues and the solutions they have on offer. Suppliers including Cambridge University Press, Hodder Education, Macmillan Education, Nelson Thornes and Scholastic will be at the show to offer guidance on how resources can help school leaders meet the challenges presented by a brand new curriculum.Technology has become embedded in virtually every aspect of learning. In fact, the results of BESA's annual research into ICT in schools indicated that by 2012/13 nearly half of all schools anticipate more than 50 per cent of pupil-time will be exposed to teaching and learning using ICT.What the future may holdUltimately, ICT funding in schools may no longer be ringfenced but the increasing role that technology plays in industry - and leisure - means that it must be woven throughout the fabric of learning. Many educators are concerned at not yet having a government policy for ICT in schools and, although one is currently being developed, all indications are that future curriculum policy will be far less prescriptive. In short, educators cannot look to the Department for Education for detailed guidance and must use what they have learned from the embedding of ICT over the past 15 years to move forward. Schools are showing their continued reliance on ICT by demanding even more training for their staff in order to make more use of their existing infrastructure, hardware and software. Teachers require more digital content, more access to the internet and more mobile solutions, not only to achieve best value, but also to meet the needs of young people in the digital age. Continued investment in ICT is necessary to stop a new form of digital divide being created between schools. Pioneering schools and academies do not subscribe to the 'wait and see' theory and BETT, as the world's largest education technology event, is designed to help education continue its forward motion. Visitors at BETT wanting advice and guidance on who to talk to at BETT should visit the BESA Information point in the main hall. We look forward to seeing you there.Ray Barker, BESA