It was in April 2016 that I wrote a post about possible problems with the revised BSO standards for schools – and problems there were! The stipulations with regard to the 2010 Equalities legislation proved difficult to meet in some jurisdictions and, indeed, impossible in some places. This led to some great schools being denied BSO status.
After that time about 18 months ago and following other lobbying initiatives, in January 2017 I presented a paper to a meeting of DfE, inspectorates and overseas schools organisations. In essence, this proposed that the inability, due to local laws, to meet an aspect of the full BSO regulations should NOT mean that a school, that has met all other aspects, would be denied BSO status.
This was debated and found favour amongst almost all present, but ministers at that time were not convinced that this proposal had sufficient merit.
Lobbying continued and, earlier this year, we were joined in our efforts by Sir Roger Fry. He and I presented, in a face-to-face meeting, similar proposals to Lord Agnew, Undersecretary of State for Education. Lord Agnew listened carefully and was clearly receptive to the rationale for such a change.
Coming right up-to-date: to today in fact, I have just left DfE following another meeting with inspectorates, organisations, DfE and Ofsted. At this meeting a decision by Damian Hinds, Secretary of State for Education was relayed: this meets the proposals that we have been promoting for some years.
In future; schools that cannot, due to local restrictions, meet every aspect of the BSO regulations WILL, if successful in all other aspects, be accorded full BSO accreditation, including the right to carry out NPQ induction and the award of a DfE number. Their inspection reports will be added to the DfE part of the UK government website.
Schools will have to provide evidence to their inspection provider to show that local laws are an insurmountable impediment and a statement will be included, with reports, to describe which part of the regulation could not be met.
Schools that have recently been inspected and were not accredited, due to local laws, may be given a mechanism by which their inspectorate could re-examine the evidence base, assuming that the school should show that it was local laws that caused the rejection of full BSO status. Details are to be determined.
This is a tremendous development which will result in rapidly increasing numbers of BSO schools and, in connection with this, I am delighted to announce that Lord Agnew will speak at the BSO conference in November about this change. It is expected that we will have more procedural detail by that date.
I urge schools – whether BSOs or aspiring BSOs – to send a representative to the London AoBSO conference. In addition to being able to hear first hand from Lord Agnew and to comment upon what is said, the whole future governance, nature and direction of AoBSO will be discussed. The executive team, formed last year, will make proposals about these matters.
This is your chance to be in at the start of the expansion of AoBSO and to have a part in shaping the organisation’s future. Details about the conference will be distributed on the next week or so – if you, as Head, can’t attend, then please send another member of your leadership team.
I look forward to seeing you all next month in London!