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Regional School Commissioners and England’s school system: state-funded but developed and managed in private?

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Education journalist, Warwick Mansell, is our guest at the next LfL Supper Seminar in July 2014. This supper seminar will consider what seems to have been the Department for Education’s central concern since the coalition came to power in 2010: the drive to get as many schools as possible to become academies. Specifically, it will focus on the recent, hardly-discussed, development of a new form of school organisation – the Regional Schools Commissioner system, which will oversee all academies and free schools from September – to ask questions about transparency and public accountability.

To what extent does the public get a say in the running of our schools? Do only politicians, headteachers and semi-private sponsors get meaningful influence? Are these now supposed to be the new guardians of the public interest, and what happens when things go wrong? Drawing on internal documents which have set out some of the DfE’s thinking, including worries, about its new structure, these are some of the questions the session will ask.

Warwick started his career in the 1990s with the Cambridge Evening News, latterly as its education correspondent. He spent nine years at the Times Educational Supplement, before leaving in 2009 to go freelance. He writes a regular diary column in the Guardian’s education pages and a blog for the National Association of Head Teachers. He was shortlisted for the 2008 Private Eye/Guardian Paul Foot award for investigative/campaigning journalism for his work on Sats testing. His book, ‘Education by Numbers: the Tyranny of Testing’, was published in 2007.

This talk is part of the Leadership for Learning: The Cambridge Network series.

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