NAHT’s manifesto for education contains a vision for education after the general election which puts schools in the lead in driving up standards for themselves. Building on this vision, NAHT has created the Aspire programme which has been working with a group of schools across England in the ‘requires improvement’ category. Half of the participating schools have already been judged ‘good’ by Ofsted and three quarters would be good if inspected today.
Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary said: “The school leaders involved in Aspire say they’re on a clear path to improvement. Aspire puts peer support at the centre of its programme. There may be difficult choices that school leaders have to take but these are made in a spirit of collaboration and enthusiasm. Aspire gives the schools involved the tools they need to turn things around, without the upheaval that is becoming commonplace when a ‘requires improvement’ verdict is handed down.
Sarah Holland, head teacher at Lovers’ Lane Primary School in Newark, said: “It has been the best thing that could have happened at Lovers’ Lane and we are really looking forward to inspection now, just so that we can sing from the rooftops about the journey we’ve been on.”
Julia Brown, head teacher at Greenhill Primary School in Sheffield said: “It is the best professional development any of us have ever had, providing solutions which are research-based, realistic, and practical and really work. It is also intellectually challenging, which we are all enjoying.
“Also, it is completely refreshing to work with people who value and respect you as a head teacher and don’t apply a deficit model when talking about improving your school. For the first time in years I have felt supported. And the other reason why we really like it is because it is all about the children.”
Mr Hobby continued: “In this election campaign we have heard a great deal from politicians about raising standards without hearing many ideas for exactly how that should happen. The answer is to work with the profession to improve the quality of teaching and middle leadership. This is the only true way to reliably improve standards.
“Schools in the ‘requires improvement’ category may soon face new types of intervention. This neglects the evidence that structural change makes very little difference by itself. NAHT believes Aspire should be recognised as a sustainable, successful and realistic response to the question of raising standards.”
“The profession holds the answers and has the resources; it is trust, collaboration and inspiration that will trigger the innovation that we need.”