Editorial 06.10.2017 - All aboard the ‘Skills Revolution’!

You may be aware of the changing emphasis from Ofsted on schools ensuring they provide a curriculum that is suitable and relevant in meeting the needs of all the pupils. There is now a growing momentum in the secondary field to bring back a broader curriculum. The lack of logic behind recent government initiatives started by Gove has probably led to the country’s darkest hours in making it nigh impossible to do our best for all those children in our care. It is therefore refreshing to read the editorial in Schools Week by Laura McInerney.

All aboard the ‘Skills Revolution’! (Even you Mr Gibb)
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Schools Week Editorial – 6th October 2017

The conservative Party has got a major problem when its own secretary of state for education is on the stage announcing a ‘skills revolution’, but the schools minister won’t let civil servants write the word ‘skills’ in any of his correspondence.” Making this point while sat alongside a former Tory minister and in front of 150 party members was not exactly comfortable, but it felt important at a fringe event I attended at conference on Sunday. It was important because it’s true. For three days the same questions were on party member’s lips: Why aren’t we giving children opportunities to do vocational subjects? Why are we killing off the arts, and music, and design & technology? How come the message about apprenticeships is always so negative? Unfortunately, the most obvious answer is “Nick Gibb”. The schools minister has perpetually made “no apology” for his focus on “rigorous” academic subjects, including during a Schools Week profile in which he described his best day at school: he recalled making maple syrup as a pupil in Canada, but winced when I suggested this might be a skills-based activity. As part of his passionate, and not unreasonable, belief that children should all have the right to access his favoured academic subjects, Gibb has become blind to the benefits of learning anything else. Hence, English and maths are now all that matters in primary schools. In secondary schools, the handful of favoured EBacc subjects are king, while subjects such as music whither on the vine. If Justine Greening is setting out on a skills revolution, I suspect she’s going to be manning the barricades alone.

And then there are apprenticeships. The word was huge at conference. “Apprenticeships are the future,” people said. “Apprenticeships will save us from any terrible outcomes of Brexit,” people hoped. But even that policy is divisive in education. Nick Gibb has long banged on about his desire for teachers to have elite degrees, going so far as to say he’d rather have a teacher with an Oxbridge certificate and no teaching qualification, than one from a “rubbish” university with a PGCE. Now, however, Justine Greening wants apprentices working in classrooms four days a week for four years so they “build up” to a degree which also counts as their teaching qualification. Regardless of how you feel about the worth of apprenticeships against degrees, it’s straightforwardly the fact that the left hand and the right hand are no longer talking in the education department. The inevitable outcome of this will be schools getting smacked in the face by both. A perfect example from conference came when I heard a Conservative MP having a dig at schools for not promoting apprenticeships for about the fourth time. When my turn came to speak, the MP got it full barrels: “You can’t now moan about lack of parity of esteem for vocational routes when schools, since 2010, were told academic subjects were all that mattered. What did you expect? “Performance measures all focus now on academic subjects or university entrance. Vocational qualifications are gone from the league tables – destroyed, disappeared. “So is it any wonder schools aren’t promoting apprenticeships when the message is that such routes are worthless and preparing kids for them is the pinnacle of low expectations?” He looked duly admonished. I did, however, see a glimmer of a redemptive narrative during a canny speech given by Dame Rachel De Souza, the chief executive of Inspiration Trust. In a smart move, De Souza said that reducing vocational qualifications in 2010 was important because the courses were often of low quality, and there were too many children tracked into them so league tables could be gamed. Now, she said, in the brave new world of Brexit, such courses could perhaps return as long as they are more rigorous and tightly controlled. Not so much a skills revolution, but a revival. This narrative is clever. It does that thing brilliant teachers do when they need to get two fighting kids refocused on their work: it recognises the difficult truths of the past but moves on positively. And, if the sway of sentiment at the Conservative conference this week is anything to go by, Gibb needs to find a way to join this rising tide. As the character Omni, says in the brilliant book Cloud Atlas: “All revolutions are fantasy, until they happen, then they are historical inevitabilities.” The apprentices are coming. Those who don’t get on board with the new skills land, will be left all at sea.

1. Malcolm Greenhalgh - Managing Director

Malcolm JoomlaMalcolm is responsible for Incyte International's business development strategy and growth which has helped the company to expand rapidly in recent years in ICT and face to face solutions in the UK and overseas. He is also responsible for quality assurance systems to ensure the company continues to provide high quality services to its many clients. These include LA schools and academies in all phases, education authorities and national and local associations. The company is also forging links into quality assurance and self-evaluation in the health sector and has been appointed as Auditors for the Association of Registered Colonic Hydrotherapists. He is also Managing Director of MGA Education Ltd the accounting and IT research and development arm of Incyte and Managing Director of Incyte Kft, a Hungarian company working in the vocational sector forging closer links between school and the workplace.
He was the initiator and Chairman of Bench Marque Ltd which was formed in 1992. He was responsible for developing the company's business into one of the largest education companies in the UK before being taken over by Tribal Education in 2004. Bench Marque's client level included the DfES, QCA, the Greek Ministry and the British Council. Its operation of Ofsted inspections in the school and nursery phases made it one of the country's biggest inspection operators.

 

2. Caroline McKee - Director

Caroline JoomlaCaroline is responsible for school evaluations and support. She created the Incyte Review programme and builds the teams to meet the specific needs of the schools and academies that Incyte works with. She has also taken a major role in developing the company's IT self-evaluation support systems which are working very effectively in many schools in the UK and overseas. These databases are at the cutting edge of new technology and provide easy to manage data analysis processes which help to enable schools to have high quality self-evaluation systems.
She has significant experience as an Ofsted lead inspector building on her experience of teaching and leading in a wide range of schools in the private and public sectors. She delivers high quality training, consultancy and review and her recent activities include: supporting the development of academies, middle leadership training, teaching pupils in challenging circumstances in inner city secondary schools, providing advice and support on school improvement, training teachers, writing core tasks for QCA, developing assessment programs to track pupils' academic progress and approaches to learning, and inspecting under the new inspection framework. She has trained inspectors in self-evaluation skills and LAs on the inspection framework.
She is also a Director of MGA Education Ltd and Incyte Kft.

 

3. Rob Wilby - Technical Director

Robert Wilby JoomlaRob has significant experience as an ICT expert within education. Before joining the team at Incyte, he worked for ten years with Wessex Associates and Bench Marque Ltd. Those years were spent replacing paper based school inspection systems with offline and online databases that improved the speed and efficiency for inspectors and the teams that supported them. Much of the work for Wessex Associates involved assessing school systems directly, offering advice and technical support and in many cases replacing a schools network completely. He has been responsible for the development of the data programs that are used to generate the web-based school self-evaluation programs.

Contact via Skype: Rob Wilby

4. Gelena Wilby - Research and Development

Gelena JoomlaGelena has a Master’s Degree in Science, graduated in chemical engineering.
Worked over 10 years in private education as a tutor in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry for secondary school students in the Republic of Panama.
Before moving to the United Kingdom in 2011, Gelena worked for 5 years as a Managing Director of a Real Estate Company.
She is proficient in Spanish, Russian and Ukrainian languages.
Since 2012, Gelena is part of the Incyte team working in research, web development and social media management.

 

5. Jan Lomas - Director for the North Eastern counties

Jan JoomlaJan carries out consultancy, school/academy reviews and CPD for Incyte and is currently school improvement partner for a new and rapidly developing multi-academy trust in Humberside.
Jan has substantial previous experience of providing high quality consultancy, developmental review, inspection and support for schools in this country and internationally. With a background in primary headship, she has been part of teams implementing major national contracts for the DfE and the GTC in the UK and for state and city departments of education in USA. Whilst a primary specialist, Jan also has a background of successful support for secondary schools in this country and overseas.
Jan has provided many years of well received support and training for schools at all stages of their development particularly in relation to improving teaching and learning and the journey to enabling outstanding learning, effective leadership and management, performance management, developmental lesson observation and developing teachers and teaching assistants as proactive, reflective practitioners.

6. Anna Holzmann - Director of Operations for Eastern Europe

Anna JoomlaAnna studied at the Budapest Business School and at the Szent István University and became an economist specialising in Marketing in 2008. She has international experience and has worked in the UK for several months before starting her career in Hungary. She has diverse experience from working at SMEs to big multinationals. She has been working for Incyte since 2007 and has grown Incyte's Eastern European business. Her main responsibilities are ensuring projects in Eastern Europe operate to a high quality, marketing, customer care, event organisation and supporting UK-based projects. She has been the main driver in developing Incyte's vocational education projects in Hungary.

Contact via Skype: Anna Holzmann