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Upcoming event

Small schools, big issue? Exploring the future for small schools in England

The BERA SIG Educational Effectiveness and Improvement, in partnership with Plymouth Marjon University, the National Association of Small Schools and the Diocese of Truro, invites school leaders, educational researchers and interested stakeholders to a one day conference on ‘Small schools, big issue? Exploring the future for small schools in England.’

Small schools have been championed for the value they bring to their typically rural communities. The future of small schools in England is in question due to policy changes and austerity for public services funding (the National Funding Formula not offering the significant increases in funding needed by small schools). Some Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) tried to set a minimum pupil number for schools to remain viable and run at an ‘acceptable cost’.

In 2016, the White Paper ‘Educational Excellence Everywhere’ was clear that small schools must come together in formal collaborations, preferably MATs, in order to survive. However, the financial challenges of small rural schools can make them unattractive for academy chains or multi-academy trusts (MATs).

There is no nationally agreed definition of what constitutes a small school, with categories ranging from fewer than 210 pupils on roll to fewer than 101. Research on small schools has also been limited since 2000, with a need evident for more large scale, peer reviewed and funded investigations. This conference will explore the future for small schools and attempt to establish a manifesto to influence thinking about the difference small schools make to education in England.

Programme

10.00 Registration and refreshments
10.10 Welcome and introduction
Neil Short, Chair of the National Association of Small Schools and Prof Tanya Ovenden-Hope, SIG Convenor
10.30 The impact of the new Ofsted framework on small schools
Professor Daniel Muijs, Deputy Director, Research and Evaluation, Ofsted
11.25 Parallel workshops:
  Small school effectiveness – challenges and successes
Led by Prof Tanya Ovenden-Hope
  Creating a Small Schools Manifesto
Led by Neil Short
12.40 Lunch
13.30 Small schools’ big issues in England and Europe: Cautionary tales and strategic moves
Dr Linda Hargreaves, University of Cambridge
14.25 Parallel workshops:
  Small school effectiveness – challenges and successes
Led by Prof Tanya Ovenden-Hope
  Creating a Small Schools Manifesto
Led by Neil Short
15.10 Refreshments break
15.20 Plenary Panel – A Small Schools Manifesto
Professor Carl Bagley (Queens University, Belfast), Dr Cath Gristy (University of Plymouth), Prof Ian Luke (Plymouth Marjon University), Prof Sonia Blandford (Achievement for All)
Chair: Professor Tanya Ovenden-Hope
15.55 Completion of evaluation forms
16.00 End of conference

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