DCSF consultation convulsions vol. 1: 21st century schools

Every now and then, the Department for Children, Schools and Families suffers a consultations convulsion. Three months later, it’s poor little me paying the price as one of my responsibilities at NDCS to co-ordinate consultation responses and often write our response. It’s good to get the public’s views. It’s less good to bludgeon people to death with initiatives.

Anyhow, the first consultation was one part of a double bill – a consultation on 21st century schools. Frankly, I didn’t like this consultation. I found it repetitive and lacking in focus and clarity. I couldn’t really tell you for sure what it was all about. Much of it seemed to be a restatement of existing policy. There was some stuff about encouraging schools to work together in partnerships with other schools and bodies. Bizarrely, I thought, there was virtually no mention of local authorities in this 21st century school system.

Given the lack of focus in the document, it was difficult to draft a response. But I’ve made our usual points about including the needs of deaf children in terms of things like teacher training, access to the curriculum and Ofsted. On the positive side, there was a strong mention of the need to narrow attainment gaps and to meet the needs of children with additional needs. But this was in just one section, when I’d prefer to see a consideration of the needs of children with additional needs in all sections and everything that’s done.

I’ve also slipped in a point about the need to consider the physical environment in schools, which didn’t get a mention at all in the whole document. Schools can’t meet the needs of children with additional needs if the child can’t get to school in the first place. Acoustics in schools is obviously a key aspect of this.

My draft is currently with colleagues for comments and will be done soon. Watch this space. Have you read the consultation? Got any thoughts? Let us know if you have.

I’ve blog soon on the other half of this double bill consultation and a third consultation we’ve also been working on… as soon as I’ve finished my first drafts!

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