The DfE is our biggest LA and should be in special measures

Never has Dennis Healey’s first law, “When you are in a hole, stop digging”, been more pertinent. The DfE has retreated into a cul-de-sac of petty manoeuvres (like the new consultation on reforming the LA school improvement grant) or sheer irrelevance (like its obsession with academies), precisely when we most need sensible, reliable and competent leadership.

Just like school improvement, it boils down to a question of vision – or as Ofsted would put it, ‘intent’. What do we want from our school system? For this DfE, there seems to be only one hapless answer: full academisation. Yet ask pupils, parents, teachers, leaders, governors or the wider public, and structures will be way down their list of ambitions, far below highly successful, happy and content pupils.

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