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Many people have seen the infamous interview BBC’s Charlie Styat did with Minister of School Standards, Nick Gibb. Derek Peaple argues that schools are best placed to judge their own budgets.

The Housemartins.
An under-rated, in my humble opinion, Hull-based band from the mid-1980s.
If you look closely, you’ll probably recognise a young Norman Cook, later to re-invent himself as Fat-Boy Slim. After breaking up, some of the band went on to form the Beautiful South. Their ‘Song for Whoever’ – ‘I love you from the Bottom of my pencil case’ – offering an appropriate anthem for those of us who started their teaching careers in the late-80s.

Enough digression.
The more I listen again, the more I hear a metaphor for our schools, and the challenges we currently face.
Whistling men in yellow vans
They came and drew us diagrams.
Showed us how it all worked out
And wrote it down in case of doubt.
A metaphor for increasingly distant and disconnected politicians and policy makers within the Department for Education who are failing to appreciate school culture and the unique relationships that are built over time with the local communities which we serve; relationships that are based on an intense, localised knowledge of that community and the families and dynamics which shape it.
Relationships, care and support that are now further jeopardised not just by an apparent unawareness of the day to day realities of running a school but also a now acute funding crisis. I won’t get involved in polemic.  Colleagues have made the point far more eloquently than me in a variety of media over the last couple of weeks… But it was perhaps this interview by Charlie Stayt with Minister of State Nick Gibb on BBC Breakfast that best captures the combination of cultural disconnect and financial challenge that is becoming so damaging to to what we as school leaders strive to build…

We don’t need our scarce resources squandered on a cadre of centrally-appointed business consultants telling us how to spend them. We need adequate funding and the autonomy to spend it, subject of course to the accountability which must sit alongside responsibility for the use of public money, on the people and provision that we know will make the most difference to our children in the communities that we serve, and help to build.

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The author

Derek has been the Headteacher of Park House School since 2003, during which time he has played a leading role in regional, national and international education initiatives. He supported the design of the Values-themed London 2012 Get Set Education programme and was subsequently appointed as the first Chair of the Youth Sport Trust‘s National Headteacher Strategy Group. In 2013 he received the inaugural Sir John Madejski Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Sport and contributed to the House of Commons Education Committee’s Report, School Sport following London 2012: No more political football. Ofsted recently stated that, at Park House, a "values driven ambition for students inspired by the Headteacher drives the school’s effective improvement." The school has also just been identified in the top 100 state schools in the country for continuous improvement in GCSE results. Derek was shortlisted for the 2016 TES National Headteacher of the Year Award.

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