☰ 7.45pm, Sat 30 Jan

7.45pm, Sat 30 Jan

Posted on: January 30th 2010

Today (Saturday) I attended an all day meeting of the board of the Independent Schools Association (ISA) at the Landsdowne Club in central London, which meant a shirt and tie. I can’t help but feel there’s something seriously wrong when you find yourself in such formal clothes on a Saturday, but weekends are sometimes the only times that members of the board (all head teachers) can get together.

One of the first things I did on becoming Head of Norfolk House was to apply for accreditation of the ISA. They seem to like me and I was invited onto the board two years ago. The organisation is an invaluable source of information and support and is also a real badge of quality and commitment to great education. As well as being a director, I’m also Chair of the largest region of the association, which represents over a quarter of all ISA schools. My role of Chair of the London region (which includes Essex, Herts, Oxfordshire and a few more counties) is to ensure high standards are maintained across all schools; this means I might visit schools to offer advice or talk at a conference on good practice. I find it incredibly helpful visiting other schools as you always pick up new ideas. I also visit schools wishing to join the association to perform an initial accreditation.

The board meetings can be a little stuffy, but they consist of good people doing a good and important job. The format of the meetings and discussions is very formal; morning committee meetings followed by a full board meeting in the afternoon. I sit on the Membership Committee. We are tasked with looking at our members and how we might offer support to them. We are also responsible for deciding whether we will accept new schools into the association.

The afternoon Board meeting was actually pretty interesting. We looked at the finances of the association, new curriculum and teaching innovations, changes to the inspection framework and a new extranet which has been launched for ISA schools (http://isanet.ning.com/); I’m actually on the group who launched this initiative. Perhaps the most interesting and heated discussion was on the plethora of new regulations hitting independent schools. I’m sure you’ve all seen the numerous announcements from Ed Balls from child protection through to after school care; all these announcements invariably end up resulting in a new regulation for schools. In fact schools have become the Government’s favourite conduit for targeting child protection, poverty, and family breakdown.

There is a feeling amongst all heads that schools are now too bogged down in regulations. We as a school have to comply with over 350 regulations, from ensuring our water doesn’t exceed a certain temperature, through to making sure our anti bullying policy makes the correct references to six other documents. It’s time consuming and sometimes it feels like regulations are more important than the good quality education we’re here to provide. Anyhow, there is universal agreement that the whole thing has become a bit bonkers!

I get home to find that my two year old is refusing to eat. I wonder if imposing some new regulations on him might work?

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