Co-operation, not fragmentation – Birmingham throws out enforcement

Janet Downs's picture
“I am proposing to you today, the beginning of what I hope you will agree is an added value approach, and will welcome ideas on how this should work for the success of all. To build on the schools as an excellent community service with social responsibility at the centre… a cooperative model going forward, allowing real partnership between the Council, the school community of parents, governors, leaders and our most important teachers and learners.”

These were the words of Councillor Brigid Jones of Birmingham City Council when she addressed the Secondary Head Teachers’ Conference on 6 July.

The Council considered the views of forums, which represented heads, governors, teachers, school staff, children and young people, to propose a co-operative, supportive framework for all Birmingham Schools. This is in stark contrast to the Government’s approach which relies on listening only to those people who agree with Coalition policies.

The principles of the proposed Birmingham trust are:

1 Creating a trust based on cooperative principles.

2 Building this trust from strong foundations supplied by current partnerships.

3 Potentially harnessing the expertise of local universities and business communities.

4 Giving the trust “a level of school improvement rigour that would make it an excellent home for struggling school.

5 Protecting staff pay and conditions.

6 Shunning enforcement. Schools will have to option to stay with current arrangements.

Co-operation, not fragmentation.

Building up, not smashing down.

Inclusion – not isolation.

The actions of Birmingham City Council show the way forward. Other local authorities should act similarly – there is no need to lie down in front of the Gove juggernaut. Instead, they can build strong federations of local schools based on trust, co-operation and mutual support.

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