Headlines: April 15th, 2003

The first-ever independent scrutiny unit to cut red tape and free schools of bureaucracy has been launched by the government as part of its continuing effort to cut teacher workloads. It has also announced the implementation of plans to build on the experiences of a number of pathfinder schools which have been testing possible solutions to the problems.The Implementation Review Unit will involve front-line teachers and is seen as having an important role in implementing the national workforce agreement, tackling unnecessary paper work and helping teachers to focus on improving pupils’ learning.

A panel of 12 experienced practitioners – nine serving head teachers, two senior teachers and one school administrator – will review existing and new policy initiatives by the government and other relevant organisations including Ofsted. It will meet quarterly and will be able to discuss issues of concern with Ministers twice a year.

The School Standards Minister, David Miliband, said the new unit would bring head teachers and teachers into the heart of Government to bring a professional perspective to the drive to cut red tape. It was a real opportunity to make a lasting contribution to the quality of the education service and to improve job satisfaction and morale of staff working in schools.

The IRU panel will be chaired by Dr Chris Nicholls, who is head of Moulsham School in Essex. He said the unit would have a key role to play in ensuring the reduction of bureaucracy in schools and presented an opportunity to bring greater coherence and cohesion to the education service as a whole.

“We must continue the drive to raise standards and to transform our schools, but we must also make a real difference to the professional lives of those who work in them,” he said.

The Government has also announced the development of a national network of support to help schools implement workforce reform. A national re-modelling team will provide advice, guidance and case studies and will develop training materials for schools. Local education authorities will also be involved in working with schools to foster collaboration and spread good practice. The team will be led by Dame Patricia Collarbone, director of leadership development programmes at the National College for School Leadership. It will build on the experience of the 32 Pathfinder schools that have been testing innovative solutions to the problems of teacher workload.