Independent Isle of Man education report: A Summary 

Today Beaman’s (Management Consultants for IoM Gov) dropped a 111-page report following their review of the effectiveness of the Dept of Education Management and its relationship with schools. 

“This report is not an easy read” – Howard, Chief Min. 

It’s long and as HQ alluded, it’s not very pretty. Gef read it so you don’t have to…

SPOILER ALERT: No love lost between the department and the teachers

Background

  • Ordered by the Chief Min, responding to concern about the DESC’s relationship with teachers

  • Overshadowed by on-going teachers’ pay dispute, which is in many respects symptomatic of the deterioration between departments and schools

Relationship between Department and Schools:

  • Keyword: Fractured

  • Senior departmental staff and secondary school teacher have been focusing on a power struggle, as opposed to complementing and supporting each other

  • Critical behaviours are more present than collaborative and supportive ones. Collaboration is, in many cases, non-existent

  • Teachers v. departments is a “battle of wills” to see “who’s in charge”

  • Teachers feel disengaged and unmotivated, as a result, they are turning to unions

  • “No key common values”

  • Both dept. and the school have highlighted “incidents of what they consider to be inappropriate behaviours”

Findings

  • Education Improvement Service (EIS)’s role is conflicted: School Improvement Advisers (SIAs) are expected to provide advice to the School Leadership Team while being accountable for judging how schools are performing.

  • EIS has not been scrutinised since a 2002 Ofstead review. Basically, the last time the service was reviewed, they were cutting about with Nokia brick phones and listening to the Cheeky Girls (probably)

  • The role of governing boards in schools are mostly weak

  • Special Education Needs is in particular need of enhanced funding

  • The Director of Education’s role and remit is both extensive and makes little sense. They are line manager to 37 headteachers and the Principal of UCM + the line manager to 5 SIA AND is one of the SIAs to a primary and secondary school

  • Policy: NO CLEAR FOCAL POINT EVIDENT

  • Education council: role and remit is unclear, and Beaman’s couldn’t see a value in its long-term existence…

Beaman’s didn’t stop there…

There were a whole host of other issues the report highlighted that were out of scope including; 

Cambridge iGCSES, the Education Act 2020, Succession Planning, Student behavior, and ICT issues which were brought to head with Rona

Action:

  • To reset the relationship between schools and the government, the Manx Education board will need to be established.

  • ACCOUNTABILITY: Governing boards would be accountable to the new Manx Education Board (with a new Head of Governor), and they’d be accountable to the Minister.

  • EIS would undertake a rebrand to become the Education Advisory Services. They’d provide support and advice over inspection

  • Education Support Services would be managed as part of schools, not separately

  • Effective governance is key, which can be understood as having 6 key features. To spice things up, here’s an acrostic poem called “SPACES” about these key features:

    • Strategic Leadership to champion vision, ethos, and strategy

    • People who have the right skills, experience, qualities, and experience

    • Accountability that drives up educational standards and financial performances

    • Compliance with statutory and contractual requirements

    • Evaluation to monitor and improve the quality and impact of governance

    • Structures that reinforce clearly defined roles and responsibilities

  • Basically: Manx Education Board will focus on delivery, while the DESC will support the Minister on matters of strategy, policy, and assurance

What comes next?

  • While the Manx Education Board is the most important action for dealing with the issues, Beaman’s acknowledge that things take time.

  • So, in the meantime, the management of primary and secondary ed should be separate, with more effective support.

  • Headteachers will be accountable to their governing boards for their performance and the performance of schools- governing boards will hold the headteachers accountable.

What Howard had to say…

“A situation has developed between the Department and teachers which has damaged morale and threatens the high standard of education on our Island.”

‘I am committed to heal these divisions and welcome the suggested actions to allow us to move forward together. The Council of Ministers has proposed an urgent action plan to start rebuilding trust and confidence in our schools and I will be supporting the Education Minister to achieve these goals.’