The context and background for a quality standard and the role of education advisers
“Commissioners of advisers, school leaders and Ofsted need assurance that the advice and support that schools receive are of high quality. The future of education is dependent on school self-management and development, supported and challenged by high quality advisers, including those from the DfE.”
Les Walton CBE
The need for a quality standard
In a now diverse education system, where is the quality assurance of the skills, experience and depth of knowledge of those providing education advice?
Ofsted, the Schools Commissioners Group and the Education Funding Agency make their own judgements on the strengths and weaknesses of individual schools. Multi-academy trusts and individual schools aim to ensure their self-evaluation provides a secure basis for improvement, is of high quality and is highly regarded by those who wish to make judgements. They need to know that the support and advice that they seek is being provided by someone in whom they can have confidence.
The AoEA is a sector-led organisation for education advisers who have been accredited against a demanding quality standard. This addresses the need for effective and consistent advice and support for individual schools and academy trusts, who are able to engage advisers from our Marketplace with the assurance that they have the knowledge and skills required.
The role of the adviser
Education advisers can work in a number of ways with schools. They support the school’s ability to plan, review and implement strategies. They advise on governance and financial oversight. They provide support and challenge to the principal, chief executive and the governing board. They advise on interim leadership, change management programmes, organisational development and quality improvement. Increasingly they are supporting the establishment of new educational organisations.
Education advisers and their various guises
Education advisers play a critical part within the education system. They are increasingly deployed using a variety of role descriptions, such as School Improvement Partners, National Leaders in Education, Associate Leaders, Non-Executives, Interim Leaders and Interim Governing Boards. There are also specialist advisers, for example, on curriculum, governance, change management, finance and people development.
The loss of the supply chain and the variation in quality
There are significant numbers of education advisers who work for national and local government, multi-academy trusts and individual schools. The traditional supply chain of school advisers accredited by national and local government is now reducing as a result of the removal of national strategies, sub-contracted Ofsted inspectors and the reduction in local authority capacity. Even when the supply of advisers was strong, most advisers used different guidelines, standards and approaches and often focused on different priorities.
A quality standard for present and future advisers
It is important that present and future advisers have access to an accredited quality assurance and continuing professional development programme that operates to a consistent standard. Advisers within the programme are demonstrating their commitment to gaining nationally recognised accreditation, developing their skills, having access to peer support from networks of outstanding practitioners and gaining exposure to potential clients.
A quality standard for those who commission advisers
Those who commission advisers at a national, regional, local or school level need assurance that the advice and support they receive is of high quality. They need to be assured that the advisers whom schools use have the same expectations regarding standards of professional knowledge and expertise as their own. The AoEA quality standards underpin and reinforce the present model of national, regional and local organisations and self-managing schools working together as part of a national system of education. We believe that Schools Commissioners and Ofsted will welcome the assurance that the support available to schools is of high quality.
A consistent quality standard achieves cohesion across our education system and ensures that those who support our schools are of the highest standard.