Liam Collins is headteacher of Uplands Community College in East Sussex, UK.
Liam came to teaching comparatively late at the age of 29. He had early experience of flexible learning with students out at FE Colleges and then he moved to the Bexley Business Academy. A number of assistant and deputy head positions followed and Uplands is his first headship.
Uplands has the pressures of being near a number of selective schools and is based in Wadhurst, attracting students from a wide area, mostly travelling by bus. There is a small Sixth Form but the school buildings are in a poor state of repair. Fortunately, they won the Priority Schools bid and so some work will be done to repair some facilities.
It appears to be a beautiful area but students’ access to transport, jobs and cultural centres is severely restricted.
Liam thinks we could do with a period where headteachers were not ‘being shouted at’ constantly and be recognised for the hard work they and the students put in each year.
Liam believes he is looking at real-term cuts to his budget for next year due to increases in staff costs etc. and it is increasingly difficult to attract teachers, particularly those at the start of their career.
He sees Ofsted as needing to change – from its current role to a school-improvement one. Liam thinks most schools knows what it takes to improve, what they need is someone to talk to them and point them in the right direction. The data-trawling aspects of inspection could be done remotely and then only those schools who were seen not to be following the right path according to their school improvement plan would be inspected in person.
If a school did receive a ‘must improve’ rating, then the inspector who delivered that rating should work with the school for a year and write a report for the next inspection team explaining the progress over that year.
What about Progress 8 and the English Baccalaureate?
Originally, Liam and his colleagues on the Headteachers’ Roundtable were very positive about Progress 8. It recognised that cohorts are all different and schools would be judged on the specifics of their cohorts. However, it seems to have been changed so you now get more points for moving a student from a B to an A than for…
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