Wednesday 7 December 2011

A Brent 'social enterprise' to provide school services?

A little more information is emerging on possible new models for Brent's school improvement and other educational services.

Brent Council will  make a offer in January 2012 for its traded services to schools and is confident it has the resources to provide all the services schools wish to buy in 2012-13.

However from 2013 any remaining funding from the Council will be spent on supporting the core, statutory services that remain with them. This includes overviewing schools performance and intervening in schools experiencing decline or difficulties.

In one model being proposed other services would be provided by a Social  Enterprise Board that is based on 'co-leadership and co-ownership' of school improvement through a partnership between schools and the local authority.  The Board would have 2 headteacher representatives, 2  from the local authority, 2 managers and two external members (commercial and higher education).  There would be 11 'theme' groups covering different services. The Council suggests that such a social enterprise could trade within and beyond Brent on a self-financing basis.

At the same time the LA is exploring links with neighbouring boroughs to see if a jointly owned 'bank' of educational professionals could provide 'high quality, specialist expertise across a wide range of areas'.

The LA intends to go ahead and consult with headteachers on the proposals over the next year.

Although schools already pay for traded services from within their own budgets there are clearly budgetary implications. 'Self-financing' may require a contribution from school budgets which are likely to be under pressure by 2013.  It could be seen as a way of shifting the financial burden of cuts  from the LA to schools. The proposals may well not be sufficiently attractive for some schools that are currently discussing academy conversion and want to move swiftly to take advantage of current financial incentives.

Watch this space.

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