An independent report into the effectiveness of the Department of Education, Sport and Culture’s (DESC) management and its relationship with schools has been published.
Chief Minister Howard Quayle MHK ordered a review of the structure and functioning of DESC earlier this year, in direct response to concern about its relationship with teachers.
In their 111 page report, Beamans Management Consultants, concluded that the relationship between the Department and teachers is ‘fractured and must be repaired.’
It also suggests that in the long-term a Manx Education board could be established to manage, co-ordinate and support the delivery of education, which would be separate from policy and inspection.
The Chief Minister, said:
‘This report is not an easy read. 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.’
In the creation of their report, Beamans consulted extensively with the Department, Tynwald members, head teachers, union representatives and school governors. It gives a frank but honest assessment of the current situation and concluded that:
- The relationship between the Department and schools is fractured and must be repaired
- Whilst not singling out any individual for criticism the report highlights that a culture has been allowed to develop which is antagonistic and non-collaborative
- Teachers feel disengaged and demotivated by lack of consultation on development of educational policies
- This gulf between schools and the department has increasingly led teachers to turn to their unions
- Entrenched behaviours and actions on both sides have become more combative which has culminated in the present industrial dispute
The report believes this damaged relationship can be reset by actions including:
- Structural changes within the Department to strengthen the role of separate line managers for primary and secondary schools
- Separating the functions of advice and support to schools from those of inspection and quality assurance
- A significant strengthening of the role of governors who would become responsible for accountability, oversight and assurance for educational and financial performance of their schools
- Clear mechanisms for cooperation with teachers to consider, develop and support the implementation of educational policy
Beamans suggest an eventual board structure to oversee a school-led education service but acknowledges that the views of pupils, parents and the general public would be needed to develop this idea further.
It suggests an interim model of structural changes in the Department with more cooperation and consultation with the teaching profession to strengthen governance and repair the important relationships which drive the education of young people.
The report has been made available to Tynwald members, teachers, their representatives and the public can view it on the Government's website.