Efficiency or a nail in the coffin of autonomy?
The announcement of sub-regional improvement boards and RSC recruitment adverts for school improvement officers is reverberating around the sector.
Naturally there are many comparisons being drawn with the LA system and some accusations of maxi-LAs. I think it is fair to say you can recognise the similarities with systems from years gone by. Undoubtedly the continuing financial pressures on the schools system plays a significant part in all current strategies and some are suggesting this is a move towards centralising school improvement functions due to that pressure. Whether this is an intentional move towards the regional school boards of old remains to be seen, but drawing such parallels is understandable.
On the other hand, the current system transforms SM and RI schools into academies, so clearly the academies programme needs a successful school improvement function. The RSC's office is tasked as watchdog of the academies system, so the RSCs need sufficient understanding of school improvement strategies in order to fulfil their function effectively. They need to understand a school's individual situation, assess a sponsor or MAT's proposed strategy for school improvement, review and monitor that situation and take action as necessary.
To give the Secretary of State the benefit of the doubt the latter makes sense. Although the idea that a "super improver" can pop in for a few months to train a new team up and go again is perhaps over optimistic. They would be super indeed if they could manage that.