New research matches our findings on the role of the local authority that the most important thing for schools is taking control over their curriculum. Read more …
Tamarind Chambers has published its report on a survey conducted amongst Headteachers and Chairs of Governors to gather their views on the role that Local Authorities should play in education.
The survey shows that schools value their increased autonomy and freedoms but recognise that, within clearly defined parameters, the Local Authority still has a role to play.
The Schools White Paper, 2010, ‘The Importance of Teaching’ makes it clear that schools are responsible for their own improvement.
One aspect of the debate about the role of local authorities in education is where the responsibility will lie for tackling failing schools, once all schools have become academies.
In September, Michael Gove said: “Teachers, not politicians or bureaucrats, should run schools.” What is striking as you review many of the speeches made by the Secretary of State, is the lack of recognition of the role of the Governing Body.
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, says that academy schools will benefit from greater freedoms and flexibilities and be freed from local authority control.
We want to find out what people think about their involvement in their community. Please give us your views by clicking on the survey link below.
Where next for public services?
Social Enterprise and the Big Society
Is the Big Society just a big con, or the catalyst for change?
By Diana Coman, July 2011
Is the debate about what the Big Society means stopping us harnessing the opportunity to change the way we deliver public services?
The Conservatives (or rather David Cameron) came up with this notion leading up to the last general election. At the time it seemed difficult to define it, and the debate about what it means continues. But in the heat of political point-scoring are we missing the chance to open minds to the opportunities that social enterprise has to offer?
Social enterprises are businesses which exist to meet a defined social or environmental need. Incorrectly described as ‘not for profit’ they are, in fact, commercial organizations, not only delivering profit, but social and environmental outcomes – described as a multiple bottom line.
A well known social enterprise is ‘Fifteen’, the restaurant in which Jamie Oliver has an interest and which takes disadvantaged young people and offers them training, personal development and a door into a new career.
Around the country there are an increasing number of companies working with a commercial ethos but also delivering social value. These organisations go beyond the corporate social responsibility programmes promoted by some of the bigger business names. They support, through their trading activities, defined social objectives.
But talk enterprise in the context of public services and a cry of ‘privatisation’ goes up, with the threat of international conglomerates taking over, wholesale, state services.
The emphasis on bringing efficiency into the delivery of public service through private enterprise has been woven through much that has come from central government for decades, but little, till now, has been made of the role social enterprise can play.
However, go back a century or so and enterprise and philanthropy were at the heart of some of our major social innovations. Health services and schools were not originally constructed by the State, but led by individuals and organisations.
So are we facing a swing of the pendulum from the private enterprise agenda, promoted during the 80s and 90s towards social enterprise, as promoted through the Big Society agenda?
The establishment of a Community Interest Company model has provided a way of locking social responsibility within a commercial setting. This new governance structure, opens the door for public services to be delivered in a way that still keeps the focus on social investment, whilst freeing organisations to operate as businesses. But this is not the only model and some other, more traditional, operating structures can be adopted by organisations/businesses to deliver a social agenda.
I attended a debate recently on The Big Society, involving mostly the voluntary sector. What was interesting listening to the debate amongst them was the dependency that some appeared to have on the State providing them with instruction. Many people in the voluntary sector talk in terms of waiting for the local authority to fund, inform, or decide, all required before the organisation could act.
Many were dependent on State funding (usually local authority), some entirely. A suggestion to look to business to help was not received as a prompt for organisations to take on a more business-like model, perhaps to develop a service that private enterprise could purchase and thereby support their social objectives, but to turn to business for a hand-out.
So, why is it that many organisations (certainly the majority attending this Big Society debate) are so dependent? Has the citizen, and by extension the organisations they are involved in, lost confidence in their ability to do things for themselves? Have we been too controlled by governments since the second world war so that we collectively lack the nerve to just get on with it?
The Big Society need not be a free-for-all, where the strongest survive; nor does it need to be an open door for big business. It can be an opportunity to unleash our dormant enterprise and creativity.
There are risks, and high-profile business failures clearly make people nervous. However, the State does not have an unblemished record when it comes to failures in the delivery of public services.
Transparency, accountability and good governance along with proper structures for public consultation and scrutiny will provide organisations with feedback necessary to deliver good public services and meet their social objectives, and the citizen with the confidence that the organisation can be held to appropriate account.
© Coman Communications and Tamarind Chambers July 2011. You may copy distribute or transmit this work, or parts thereof, provided that it is reproduced accurately and not used in a derogatory or misleading way, is not used for commercial purposes and is attributed as the work of Diana Coman, Coman Communications and of Tamarind Chambers, 25 Orchard Road, Sutton, SM1 2QA. firstname.lastname@example.org
On 6 April 2011 the Government announced that it would “pause, listen and reflect” on its NHS reform plans and established the NHS Future Forum to lead the 8-week “listening exercise”. The NHS Future Forum issued its report on 13 June.
In response to the NHS Future Forum report, the Government has announced changes to its NHS reform plans that adopt many of the Future Forum’s proposals and address many of the concerns raised since the publication of the Health White Paper in July 2010.
We welcome these changes, in particular those concerned with accountability and scrutiny that go some way in correcting the flaws in their original proposals and concede many of the objections and suggestions that we along with many others made at the time.
We have produced a brief summary of the Government’s latest proposals – NHS listening whats new
It should be read in conjunction with our briefing, The Health White Paper – what it says, our original response to the White Paper, and our update paper, The Health White Paper – What’s changed?, summarising the changes announced by the government following the consultation on the White Paper, which can all be found on our Health page.
Any reforms to the NHS must follow the key principle that decisions on all publicly funded commissioning and provision should be taken by publicly accountable and open bodies, and should be subject to local authority scrutiny.
We welcome the Government’s confirmation that that health scrutiny should remain independent from the executive, and that both commissioning bodies and Health and Wellbeing Boards will be subject to scrutiny by local authority scrutiny committees.
There is a need for proper governance and transparency of commissioning consortia and of Health and Wellbeing Boards, with a broad membership including elected councillors and representatives of other health professions, not just GPs; and they need to be subject to independent scrutiny, regardless of the composition of their boards.
Further, in addition to the important role of HealthWatch enabling engagement if the wider community, patients and the public need to be involved effectively at every level from the strategic Health and Wellbeing Board, to actual service delivery.
You can see our response to the NHS Future Forum here – NHS FF response