End floor targets, union leader

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THE LEADER of a major headteachers’ union has called for an end to floor targets facing schools and criticised the Government for pushing through education reforms for political reasons.

The general secretary of the National Association of Head teachers (NAHT), Russell Hobby, has also criticised the coalition over the implementation of its free school policy.

He told his union’s conference that Ministers had allowed some people to run free schools “who should not have been allowed near them”.

The comments follow scandals at several of the first wave of free schools which opened in 2011, including the Kings Science Academy in Bradford, which is now being investigated by police over allegations of fraud.

In his speech yesterday, Mr Hobby set out plans for teachers to play a greater role in education reform. He said floor targets – which see every school in the country set the same minimum goals at GCSE or in primary school curriculum tests – should be scrapped and replaced with a system in which each school is expected to improve.

Mr Hobby also called for the creation of an Office for Education Responsibility which would assess reforms being proposed by any Government.

He said: “This institution would manage the programme and subject ministerial plans and initiatives to three tests – value for money, evidence for impact and fit with the capacity of the system. It would impose a high bar for change and be led by an experienced education professional.”

Mr Hobby warned against the dangers of reform for political reasons, and added: ”We urgently need a profession united in the leadership of reform, because the political leadership of reform is, frankly, unsatisfactory.

“In this country we have an approach to reform that is dedicated to cramming in enough changes to show tangible results before the next election; which too often responds to crises with a new initiative and which prefers to count the numbers rather than question the reality those numbers represent.”

From September, schools face a new curriculum, reforms of GCSE and A level, free school meals for all infants, a new system for paying teachers, new rules for safeguarding children and a new code of practice for children with special educational needs.