Driving to visit another school yesterday, I heard an interesting discussion on Radio 4 based on a report from the new Head of Ofsted (the body responsible for inspecting state maintained schools) that too many state schools are not providing a good enough quality of education. Click here for coverage in The Independent online. His view is that local authorities should be ranked according to the performance of the schools in their area which raises a conundrum. More than 50% of pupils in state secondary schools are now in Academies - schools allegedly independent of state control - and the discussion centred on the extent to which local authorities are responsible for their performance. The discussion highlights the reality that Academies are not truly independent as they have to conform to central requirements and the views of their sponsors for most aspects of their educational provision as well as their funding.
The school I was visiting is Christ's Hospital where I was sharing views on education with colleagues in a very different setting to King's Rochester. What we do share is true and genuine independence in forging the education which we believe to be right for our pupils. It was an interesting day but what really made it for me after being stuck in traffic on a rain-lashed M25 was coming back to school to our Autumn concert where we were entertained with a repertoire from Handel to Jazz - a fitting analogy for the breadth of the independent sector. Diversity united by quality.