By Francesca James
Schools have faced new rules or guidelines every other school day over the past decade, according to new research.
At least 1,000 separate pieces of legislation and guidance affecting schools have been introduced in the past ten years, a new report from council leaders revealed today, an average of one piece of regulation for every two days children spent in the classroom over the same period.
Analysis from the Local Government Association shows that new school governors are now faced with almost 5,000 pages of central guidance on how to do their role. Bureaucracy encountered by teachers includes 53 pages of guidance purely on how to take the register, consisting of 14 pages of statutory regulations and 39 pages on how to interpret them.
The LGA, at its Annual Conference in Bournemouth, is setting out its case for councils to take on a new role in education as local commissioners, freeing schools from centralised regulation.
The LGA’s report, “Local freedom or central control?”, proposes a series of principles to explain why the education system cannot be run from the centre, including:
There needs to be a body to oversee how resources are managed across an area Improving the standards of education offered to children cannot just be left to competition between providers Education cannot be provided in isolation from other services children and young people needChairman of the LGA, Dame Margaret Eaton, said:
“There’s been a lot of discussion recently about freeing schools from council control but what is very clear is that acres of small print have been descending on school leaders from central Government, tying staff up in bureaucracy. Thousands of pages of guidance comes at a cost in both time and resources, diverting efforts away from the crucial job of educating our children.
“Councils don’t run schools — they advise and support schools, and oversee the education system across a local area. It’s a supportive role which is essential to the smooth running of schools and it makes sure public money is spent wisely.
“Town halls are offering to carry on doing the essential job of local coordination, taking on work which they have experience in and which could otherwise be carried out by a quango with no local knowledge. But in the future councils are also offering to do much more than the system currently allows - to drive up standards and encourage improvement at every single school in their local area.
"The new Government is offering academies considerable freedom from central bureaucracy, and councils will be doing their best to make sure other schools also benefit from a reduction in central interference so they are not weighed down by paperwork. More local influence over education, as part of the strong strategic role Michael Gove has promised councils, would remove the need for so much oversight from Whitehall.”