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Podcast | Season 3 | Episode 10: Changes to Ofsted Inspections, New MAT CEO Development Programme, and Gillian Keegan Pushes for AI in Schools

Season 3 | Episode 10: Changes to Ofsted Inspections, New MAT CEO Development Programme and Gillian Keegan Pushes for AI in Schools, featuring Steve Rollett

In this new episode of the Schools & Academies Show Podcast, we give you a round-up of all the education news from the month of June, bringing you the latest headlines and analysis from our expert guest.

This month we are joined by Steve Rollett, The Deputy-CEO of Confederation of School Trusts Team Education Trust,  who will be sharing his expert insight on the use of AI in schools, CPD for CEO’s and the changes to Ofsted’s inspection process. 

The headlines covered this month:

We return to the NEC, Birmingham on 22nd November for another content-packed day of learning and networking. Register your interest to hear exclusive event updates and announcements!

Join the conversation and let us know your thoughts by tweeting us @SAA_Show and make connect with us on our LinkedIn.  

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Listen to the full episode below.



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Alex Wallace:
Changes to Ofsted inspections, National Institute of Teaching launches new CEO development qualification and ministers push for AI revolution in school.

Sam Powell:
Hey everyone, welcome to an albeit late but jam-packed episode of Schools & Academies Show podcast.

Alex Wallace:
As always, we're here to give you a roundup of the latest news to come from the education sector. And as always, we're joined by an expert, and this month, we're joined by the Deputy Chief Executive of the Confederation of Schools trust Steve Rollett.

Sam Powell:
Steve is a great friend of the Schools and Academies Show and one of our most prestigious speakers. You definitely don't want to miss the chance to hear insight from him. But that's for later. Right now let's jump into our first story.

Alex Wallace:
Once again Ofsted is in the news and our regular listeners will know that we've been following this story. So feel free to go back and listen to previous episodes if you've missed out. I'd really recommend listening to Chris Russell's session from the Schools and Academies Show London to hear what Chris talked about, and the changes to Ofsted are looking to implement. We'll include the link in the description below.

Sam Powell:
Since Chris Russell spoke in May, the inspectorate has become the subject of a parliamentary inquiry by the Education Committee. looking into how well Ofsted is fulfilling its role in inspecting schools, whether it needs improvement, and if so, how they should be approached. The findings of the inquiry will be used to support the work of the incoming Chief Inspector, once Amanda Spielman steps down at the end of the year.

Alex Wallace:
In conjunction with the inquiry, Ofsted itself announced steps aimed at reducing the impact inspections will have on the wellbeing of staff. Part of these new measures are to review the complaints procedure for schools following an inspection. Contentious one-word grading is however, here to stay.

Sam Powell:
According to School's Week, there are six key proposed changes, and this is now out for consultation. Inspectors will have formal check ins with heads during the inspection process, allowing heads to voice any concerns or queries they may have. The day after the inspection, schools will also be given the opportunity to call Ofsted, to discuss what are being called any ‘unresolved issues’ stemming from the inspection. There'll be two avenues by which leaders can raise concerns about the inspection process, heads will be able to highlight minor points of clarity or factual accuracy, which will be reviewed prior to the final report or if they deem it necessary, they'll be able to file a formal complaint.

Alex Wallace:
Building on this, formal complaints will be assessed by a member of the Ofsted team who was not involved in inspection. Via a phone call with Ofsted, heads can raise their concerns quickly to discuss information they feel was not fully considered. The Inspectorate now intends to inform the manner in which it deals with internal reviews. If the school feels their complaint has not been dealt with in the appropriate way, they can go directly to the Independent Complaints Adjudication Service for Ofsted.

Sam Powell:
Finally, Ofsted plans to introduce reviews of how complaints are handled. A panel of six external reviewer will take a sample to assess. The consultation will end on the 15th of September, so expect to hear more on the topic then. But that's enough from us for now. Let's throw things over to Steve to hear what he has to say. Steve, thank you so much for joining us today. I'd like to hope that anyone familiar with the Schools and Academies Show should know who you are by now. But for the uninitiated, why don't you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your role?

Steve Rollett:
Great. Hi, Sam. Really good to be talking to you. So yeah, my name is Steve Rollett, I'm the Deputy Chief Executive at the Confederation of School Trusts. We are the sector body for school trusts. That means it's our job to represent them as organisations. So we work really closely with all their normal stakeholders in the sector as well as of course with government and other bodies, to make sure that people understand what's school trusts do, we help to connect them together, we help to advocate on their behalf and we support them in their work.

Sam Powell:
Okay, well, let's kick things off. Ofsted have announced recently a reform to their complaints process allowing school leaders the opportunity to call Ofsted the day after an inspection to discuss what they're calling ‘any unresolved issues’ and highlight any information that they feel was not fully considered. Now this is pretty vague language, but it feels like it's a really important tool for schools to make use of. How do you see this service being used by senior leaders? And how can it change the role they play in inspection?

Steve Rollett
: So I think it's important with this one not to over interpret what it means. I mean, let's look at where this has come from. So situation for school at the moment is let's say, school is being inspected, it's unhappy with the inspection. It's encouraged rightly by Ofsted to complain during the inspection. That's a step one complaint in the policy as it stands at the moment. But that's actually that's quite hard for a school leade,r for a head teacher to do sometimes. Partly, maybe they're not fully aware of what the issue isn't inspection because, frankly, it depends on what the judgment is at the end. But also, it takes sometimes a degree of confidence and boldness to complain to an inspector who, for whom it feels like they've got you in sort of in the palm of their hand at that point. If you don't complain, during the inspection, you're then into step two, which is after the inspection, but then you enter into what feels I think often for school leaders like a slightly sterile process. At the end of your step two complaint after the inspection, you'll get a letter back that says, you've said, I don't know 15 Things we've looked into the evidence base, and we don't agree with you, broadly, is sort of how it goes. And therefore, goodbye, see you later. What I think Ofsted is trying to do here is to build in a sort of an intermediary stage, which says, actually, immediately after the inspection, let's just talk about it. So if there's something that you're unhappy about, rather than have to go through what feels like, quite disconnected, and longer term step to process, let's have a think and, you know, tell us if there's some evidence that you think that we didn't take enough account off during the inspection or so on, let us know. That's the spirit of it. And I think it's, I think it's good, I think it's positive. Of course, always, this is the maximum cliche when you're talking about inspection policy, but the devil is in the detail right? So remains to be seen exactly how that plays through. In practice, of course, it's open for consultation at the moment, so this is not a thing yet. So we’ve gotta see what happens in the consultation first, and then we're gonna see how it how it plays out and detail but it feels like it's a small step in the right direction.

Sam Powell:
Now a large part of the stress that goes into an Ofsted inspection is kind of the mystery around it, that it can just be sprung on someone with a call the night before. Recently at the Schools & Academies Show London, Chris Russell was asked if Ofsted would be interested in moving to the CofE system, where in schools are told the year that there'll be inspected. Chris in response pondered if that system will actually add more stress or if it would remove it. Now Ofsted have recently announced that they will be posting rough guidelines on when schools can expect to be inspected, despite having previously been against it. Amanda Spielman has previously said that children's education and wellbeing must be at the heart of inspection. And with this in mind, do you think that having a rough timeframe will take stress away from staff and allow them to feel more prepared for inspections, improving the atmosphere for pupils? Or do you think that you can hang over the school like a Sword of Damocles causing staff to feel more on edge day to day negatively affecting life at the school?

Steve Rollett
: Yeah, so let's perhaps take this in two ways. So firstly, let's look at what Ofsted have done since that announcement and the blog that Ofsted has written. So it's written a blog that has tried to offer some clarity because a lot of this issue is about dealing again with the post pandemic world, so during the pandemic inspection was paused, there was a backlog of inspection was created. And that's meant that it's been even more difficult for a school to know when it would expect an inspection, so broadly in pre pandemic days, a school wouldn't know exactly when it's could be inspected, but it might broadly know the term or two that it's going to fall in based on it being roughly four years since that last good school was inspected and so on. The pandemic threw that into the air and made it really hard for schools to make sense of it because Ofsted then said, we've got up to an additional six terms, which is two academic years after when you thought you would have been inspected that your next inspection will take place that's creates a really big window.

Steve Rollett
: So what Ofsted is trying to do with this most recent blog is to narrow the scope of that a little bit. And to clarify it, what it certainly hasn't done is say to your school, this is when you can expect to have inspectors through your door is in like the week, the month or even this specific year. So I think the blog has perhaps been helpful, but it hasn't gone as far as I think a lot in the system would have liked. Now, whether which I think is what your question is really about whether in the long term be good to have that much, much clearer a sense of the day, the week, the month, inspectors are coming or possibly the year, I hear school leaders talk about this, in terms of pros and cons. And I hear people are very firmly in one camp, and people are very firmly the other so I suspect it's not something that is going to find universal appeal. But I'll offer this up as a probably a principle, right? What we know about inspection is that it can feel very high stakes for school leaders. Well, it's very high stakes. And we know that it can feel very, very pressured. And that pressure and anxiety and this is only about school inspections is about life generally. And what we know about pressure and anxiety is often compounded by uncertainty. So if we are trying to, over the coming years generate a model of inspection, which is perhaps less anxiety inducing for school leaders and a bit more proportionate in that regard, then certainly steps taken to reduce uncertainty are probably helpful on balance. Whether that means though, that inspectors ought to be able to tell you years out this is exactly you're being expected inspected or the week of the month. I think that's probably up for grabs. But I think a lot of people would say probably some moves towards a greater degree of certainty might well be helpful. And that feels particularly important, as I say because of the post pandemic world.

Alex Wallace:
Our second story covers the news that the National Institute of Teaching is introducing a new program for the development of CEOs in Multi Academy Trusts. According to the institute's website, this is an ambitious immersive program to support the next generation of School Trust Leaders. The course will take a year and funding is supported by the Department for Education. The institute goes on to state that the course will equip new or aspiring trust CEOs with the skills, knowledge and behaviours to build and shape the schools the future.

Sam Powell:
The content framework for the program was informed by the work of an expert advisory group comprising of leading educational figures such as Leora Cruddas, the CEO of the Confederation of School Trusts, and Hamid Patel, the CEO of Star Academies. In addition to this, the subject matter was informed by evidence collated in the CSTs paper, the core responsibilities of the school trust chief executive officer, and has been independently assessed and endorsed by the Education Endowment Foundation.

Alex Wallace:
The development of the program stems from the changing nature of the role of the CEO, Melanie Renowden, the Chief Executive of the National Institute of Teaching said “the leadership of multi academy trusts is starting to change. As high profile successful trust CEOs move on from their role. And as more schools join trusts, new trust leaders must step up.”

Sam Powell:
The program has ministerial support with previous podcast guests, Baroness Baron, the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for the School System and Student Finance, saying, “we firmly believe that the quality of leadership in schools and trust is a crucial driver for their ability to improve the outcomes of their pupils. We therefore made a commitment to launch a new MAT Chief Executive Officer development program to boost the pipeline of outstanding leaders.

Alex Wallace:
The first cohort of 25 learners is to get underway in February 2024, increasing to 50 the next year. Recruitment for the program will start this autumn. Let's hear from Steve.

Sam Powell
: So Steve, Melanie Renowden in the Chief Executive of the National Institute of Teaching, has said that leadership of MATs is starting to change and that this new training program will make the position of MAT CEO more accessible than ever. How do you see this increased accessibility affecting the background and experience of new mat CEOs? And what effects in turn do you think that will have on the sector?

Steve Rollett:
Yeah, so I think we're going to continue to see a large number CEOs that are going to come through if you like, the more traditional route, so are going to work their way up from teachers to being middle leaders in a school, head teachers, they're possibly straight into CEO at that point, or maybe into trust wide roles, and then into CEOs. But they're going to come through that teaching route, I think we're going to continue to see lots of that. But we do already have in the system, you know, a number of CEOs who have come into this job from different backgrounds and perhaps have come from other industries and so on and straight into that CEO role. And my guess is that we're going to see more of that in the future. As I say, I don't necessarily think that will be the norm. But I think we'll see more of that. And I think probably there isn't a single model here. I think what trust boards are gonna have to do is they're gonna have to think really carefully about actually, where's their trust on its development journey? What does it need? What are the skills and attributes that it has already within the team? And where does it need to invest further? And I think probably that's going to speak as well to not just what decisions individual trusts need to make and trust boards need to make, but actually system level thinking, it's really going to be really important that we continue to invest in leadership development, because what we know is happening is a lot of the in a sense, the first generation CEOs, those people who've sort of forged ahead and lead this, this movement, a lot of those are getting to that point where they're either retired or retiring, or will be in the next few years. So this pipeline of CEOs is really important. So CEO development programs are going to be a really important part of that.

Sam Powell:
As we see a sort of changing in the guard over time of the people in these C level positions. And we see the sector move towards more of a MAT structure. If this program is successful, do you see similar programs being implemented for other C level positions in MATs?

Steve Rollett:
Yeah, absolutely. I do. I mean, I think and the other thing I'd say as well is, so you've talked about a you know, a particular CEO program there, my supposition is that actually, this is a really important thing for the sector. So whether we're talking about CEOs, or indeed whether we're talking about other positions in the trust leadership, we're going to see a large number of providers in this space, probably offering slightly different things. Coming back to your question about other roles. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely can see that development pathways for CFOs, for example, COOs and so on, as well as directors of education or directors of improvement within trusts. And what I'd say as well, of course here is that this might be formal training programs in some senses. But I think a lot of it's also gonna be about connecting people to each other. And so we talk about CST a lot, and I mentioned right at the start of this, our role in the in the sector of being been to connect people. We play, we think, an important job in convening networks of trust leaders. So we run at the moment seven professional communities, that's expanding next year, where we try to take those sorts of roles that you've just talked about, and we connect them to colleagues. And that's about more than just saying, like, you know, as important as this is, here's someone else who's grappling with the same problem as you and isn't it great to be able to sort of talk it through with someone. Actually, we think there's a job here to do of building knowledge. And because this is a new sector, often these are reasonably new posts within education. There's not a manual always that we can go to on the bookshelf and say, you know, just pick this up and do it this way. And indeed, that's probably too simplistic anyway, in a complex system, but what we can do is we can connect leaders together and hopefully, over time there will build a sense of the right sort of things to do, even if there's one exact thing or one exact model, you know, what might our best debts be, and what things perhaps might be less helpful if we're a CIO or a Director of Improvement, or if I'm leading safeguarding across a group of schools. So I think that sense of the profession coming together is going to be probably as important as specific programs.

Sam Powell:
It's interesting to hear you speak about how these programs are meant to connect people and help share knowledge that actually brings us very nicely on to our final question on this topic, which is that the Institute has said that the program will equip new or aspiring Trust CEOs with the skills, knowledge and behaviors to build and shape the skills of the future. What would you say are some examples of these? And how do you see this program's offerings differing from the natural experience staff members will have in MATs to set those on the training program apart?

Steve Rollett:
So it's a good question. Expertise is a really important part of effective leadership. And I think one of the things we've seen in the system, not only in relation to trust leadership, but about school leadership, and indeed, school teaching practice in the classroom, is the sense that actually developing expertise is a really important job. And I suspect that some of that expertise that trust leaders with you know, future CEOs, for example, will acquire will come through their jobs that they've done on the way to that role, as well as their interactions with colleagues around them and above them, and so on and learning from them. And in a sense of sort of softer, less, less direct way of development. But also, some of that stuff is hard to know, and hard to see until you're in the job, and you're doing it. And so there's two parts of this, really, and I think we've made some good progress. And the first one so the first thing is, we need to really know them. What is it? So what is it that a CEO needs to know and be able to do? And what we did at CSC is we wrote a while back a Core Responsibilities of a School Trust CEO Framework. And what that tried to do is to set out these are the things in a sense, the standards, this is what we think, an effective CEO does. And that was then partly wasn't the whole thing. But it was partly what contributed to the DFEs core content framework for CEOs. And what they did is they sketched out within that, about six areas of sort of domains in a sense of CEO leadership. So it talks about leadership and organisational development, quality of education, strategic governance, finance and operations, workforce and talent development, public benefit, civic duty.

Steve Rollett
: And my guess is that within all of those, there'll be some of those things where CEOs have developed that expertise organically as they move through their careers, but there'll be some bits for which they need a more explicit sort of instruction. Classic one I encounter is the piece around being an accounting officer, because it's not often until you're right at the top of the organisation that you come into contact with that sort of language and the concept of what does it mean to be an accounting officer then and so on. So that quite often is the sort of thing that marks out an experienced CEO from someone who perhaps has just stepping into the job and understanding that part of what it means. So I think probably we'll continue to see programs and development that will work on that expertise bit. But of course, there is always that really ongoing, important piece about not only developing what we know, but developing who we are as people thinking about vision and values and so on. And we've seen quite a lot in the system around that. I think recently we've seen a move more towards sort of domain expertise of leaders, but I suspect probably we need both bit as we move forward.

Alex Wallace:
Last up on the docket with our time with Steve, we're going to talk about those vows that none of us can escape at the moment: AI. And just what kind of place does it have in education. Gillian Keegan, speaking at the London Tech Week commented on how AI is transforming the world around us, and that there will be a new range of skills required to ride the wave of AI, and she wants to ensure that education is not left behind.

Sam Powell:
Gillian Keegan announced that the Department for Education has launched a call for evidence on the subject of generative artificial intelligence being used across England, and the opportunities and risks it presents. The department is seeking to understand the different perspectives and potential benefits of the use of AI within the sector, while ensuring we don't damage learning experiences by becoming overly reliant on it.

Alex Wallace:
Within the speech, Keegan spoke about the importance of STEM job roles, and how the T-Level qualification is supporting the future workers within a digitalized world. As we've covered previously, AI certainly can disrupt and change assessments. Tom Rogerson of Cottesmore School, has recently been reported and stating pupils should be taught to use AI as benevolent servants.

Sam Powell:
So Steve, let's jump into AI now. The government seemed really keen to push AI to have more of a place in schools and Gillian Keegan recently spoke at London Tech Week about wanting the UK to be a technology superpower, many in the space are really keen to sink their teeth into AI. But do you think that pushing AI is maybe jumping too far ahead of ourselves when there are other core issues across the sector, like recruitment and retention and wellbeing?

Sam Rollett
: Well, so the first thing I'd say is that, so AI is happening. It's not something that we can sort of hold back in a sense, even if we wanted to, and I'll come back to that in a moment. But it's so it's happening, it's important that we, I think, probably as school trusts, but also as government, engage with AI, and think about the possibilities, as well as the risks. So if you were to imagine if we did a SWOT analysis with strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, it's quite a standard sort of management type activity. I think if you were to do that, at the moment, education sector, AI is going to be somewhere in there. I don't doubt it for a moment. So I think it's important that government is active and mindful in this in this space. But I think it's also important to say two other things. So the first one is that, although we've talked about the role of government here, it's fundamental to understand that it's not going to be only or even mainly, probably the responsibility of government, that’s going to help to make sense of AI within education is a really important job for the sector to that schools that's trusts that sort of sorts of other organizations as well for whom this will impact on their work. So for example, exam boards, and I know that they've been doing some work and the implications of AI for their work. So that's the first thing to say this is only about what government does by any means. And the second thing, of course, and you referenced this in your question, is that there's a great deal of other things that are going to appear on that SWOT analysis at the moment. And frankly, some things are gonna be higher up the agenda. So recruitment and retention, funding. So I think what government has to do is government has to do as it's always done, which is to manage the short term, there's really pressing immediate things that are right in front of our face, as well as having that eye on the longer term. So for me AI probably is in the latter box to some degree. But it doesn't mean it's not important. And certainly I think we all need to be thinking about it.

Sam Powell:
Perfect. Thank you. So let's look at the other side of the coin now, actually. There's a lot of people who are really keen to take up AI. But also, there's lots people very reluctant to start using it in their setting, as many fields bewildered by the fast pace of its development, I would say. Schools also have little faith in tech companies to regulate the tech in a way that keeps pupils and their data safe, and often feel that the government are not in a position to provide advice on something that's still rapidly evolving. With the government pushing it so hard into schools however, how do we ensure that schools are supported and made to feel comfortable with whatever level of AI in tech implementation they wish to pursue, and aren't forced to blindly grab the nettle bush so to speak?

Steve Rollett
: Yeah, no, it's a good question. So, I think the first thing we've got to be aware of is that we have to be careful around some central initiatives, big pushes on things. So anything that sort of says, you know, everyone must, immediately rings alarm bells with me for a couple of reasons. So one of them is about, well, what's the real imperative here. And so we've got to think always, and as organizations, we have to think about our purpose, right. So if there's something in AI that's going to help us to deliver against our core mission, against our core purposes better more effectively, that's great. But we also need to be aware if there are other purposes that might be influencing the landscape here. And of course, you've talked about the role of tech companies. It's not beyond the realm of wisdom to assume that actually, there may be some vested interest that may play out here in terms of the role of tech companies and so on. And it's not me saying tech companies are unnecessarily bad things, but they're working sometimes the different missions and objectives to what we may be doing in school. So we have to be really clear about purposes. The other thing I think we've got to be really mindful of is capacity. The capacity we know in our schools at the moment isn't in a really difficult spot. And I referenced this a moment ago, we've got issues around staffing, and that's to do with teachers and getting enough teachers into the profession and staying in the profession. But it's also about non teachers, as well.

Steve Rollett
: And what I'm hearing from the sector is that increasingly recruiting people to support teachers in their work and to work around schools is hard. And more so probably than it's ever been before. So you've got capacity issues there, you've of course, got funding issues. And that then plays into technology, technology and infrastructure within schools and trusts. And really, fundamentally, this is probably the most important thing that you talked about the sort of grasping the nettle bush, the thing that's going to allow all of us in most walks of life to grab whatever nettle we need to at any point in time, is going to be our expertise in relation to that thing. And so this has to be accompanied by a real growth and development of expertise in relation to AI. And it's really important to hold that imbalance. That's where we're going to need some long-term thinking, some long-term investment, as I say, Part of that's about what happens from government, but also it's about the sector itself. The encouraging thing, of course, Sam is that we know that lots of schools and trusts are already engaging with this and they are blazing a trail and they're working their way through it. What we hope is going to happen, of course, is that guidance, regulations and so on will keep up with that and we won't end up with schools and indeed young people being put at risk or isolated as a result. And that's not just a School thins of course, that's a societal thing. We've seen some of this play out on social media historically. And we need to make sure that AI is it doesn't again, go too far ahead of regulation.

Sam Powell:
Okay. And final question for the day, Steve, there's been a lot of discussion about how AI can influence teaching, but not as much attention being paid to the administrative processes of education. With a move towards a MAT system, those administrative processes are becoming more important than ever. Do you see there being a place for AI in the behind the scene operations of schools and MATs? And if so, how could senior leaders use it to make their school more efficient do you think?

Steve Rollett
: That's a good question. So my initial response to that is yes, I think there is going to be a role for this behind the scenes exactly what that is, it's hard to predict at the moment, but we saw some of this play out in the pandemic, not in relation to AI. But that sense that as a result of the pandemic, and so we were going to see a very different pedagogy, in, in schools as a result of the move to online learning. Actually, I think probably that, at least in the short term has been less extreme than people might have anticipated. But what we have seen is some quite significant changes, I think, probably in the piece of the sector that wraps around schools around the classroom, and so on. And I suspect we might see some of that in AI as well. So I think there will be change in the classroom for sure, over time, but I think we will also see change outside. You mentioned about trusts. I mean, I think what we know about AI is one of its real capabilities is about analyzing data, spotting patterns, and so on in data. And I think that's probably where we might see some use in AI.

Steve Rollett
: I think the other thing that we're seeing if you look at likes of Chat GPT, and so on, really, really good at producing what seems to be really plausible content, it doesn't always get it right. And we need to be really mindful of that. But there is something here, I think that's useful in producing content. And if you've got, I don't know, whether it's some schools or trusts that are looking at whether there might be a facility around report writing, for example, it might help with that, or letters to parents and so on. My guess is it's going to be useful over the long term and in helping schools there. But of course, it's still going to need a degree of checking. And there's another risk as well, which I'll just flag here, which is, particularly because AI is reasonably quite good at producing content. That means we may see a proliferation of content. But of course, if we're saying more things to each other, whether that's you know, blogs and posts or letters or whatever it is, someone somewhere has got to read that stuff, presumably. And we've got to be careful that actually, we don't flood the system with a degree of content that frankly, it just can't manage. Because of course, if we do that there's a workload implication. So just because I'm a school or trust that may suddenly find it easier to produce lots of content. Do my teachers have the time to engage with it? It's a really important question to think about, I'm sure.

Sam Powell
: Well, Steve, it's been a pleasure to chat today. And I've really enjoyed our conversation and hearing from you. We won't keep you too much longer. But is there just anything you'd like to say to the viewers at home before you leave?

Steve Rollett:
Oh, no, just huge thanks for your time, Sam. And for anyone who's listened to this really appreciate it. Hopefully, you know CST, we are about five years old now. So we're not brand spanking new, but we're still reasonably new. But we're, I like to think a reasonably significant voice both on behalf of trusts, but also talking to trust. So if you're part of the school trust, and you're a CST member, then you're within the family, you have access to all that we do. If you're part of a trust, and you're not a CST member, then have a look at the website and maybe take a look at us. And if you're not a school trust, but you still are interested, then you can be a friend as well. So we have, for example, local authority, maintain school, some of whom are on a journey towards a academisation, who seek to join CST perhaps to find out more or be a part of the sector, a range of organisations we work with. So simply please do yeah, just come and come and find out more we'd love to have you within the family.

Alex Wallace
: And that's not all of the news to come out the education sector in the month of June. And as you know, we cover a wide range of issues and topics here in Schools & Academies Show Podcast. June saw the publication of the National Audit's Report on the condition of school buildings.

Sam Powell:
The report gave some interesting statistics, such as how of January 2023, there are 21,600 state schools in England, educating 8.4 million pupils with around 64,000 buildings. However, the report was quick to jump in some stark warnings stating, “overall the condition of the school estate is declining and there are safety concerns about some types of buildings.”

Alex Wallace:
The NAO report includes that, following years of underinvestment, the estates, overall condition is declining, and around 700,000 pupils are learning in a school that the responsible body or the DfE believes needs major rebuilding or refurbishment. The refurbishment could come at a time when budgets already tight as we know, and cause more school closures which is never a good thing.

Sam Powell
: Well, on the matter of that funding, the report said “however, there is a significant gap between the funding available and that which DFE assesses it needs to achieve its aim for school buildings to be safe and in good condition for those who learn and work there. Funding is also often used for urgent repairs rather than planned maintenance, which, as DFE itself acknowledges, risks not offering good long term value for money. I suppose the issue to consider here then is how schools and the department ensure that investments deliver long term benefit, and they're not just used for plugging gaps.

Alex Wallace:
Well, that's all we have time for this month, folks. We apologize once again for the late release date, but keep your eyes peeled for the opportunity to register your interest for the Schools and Academies Show Birmingham. We are pleased to share that Schools and Academies Show Birmingham will be on the 22nd of November and as always held at the Birmingham NEC.

Sam Powell:
In the meantime, though, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn and on Twitter at SAA_Show. And make sure you check out the Insights section of the Schools and Academy Show Website for blog posts and recordings of sessions from the London Show. Steve Rollett’s session on autonomy and alignment in trusts was just uploaded if that takes you fancy, but if not, there's plenty more on there to choose from. Until next time though, that's goodbye for me.

Alex Wallace:
And goodbye from me until next month.