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Gershon (James takes [Howard] Flight)

The relationship between the Gershon report of the government and the Conservatives' James report is coming to light now. The big problem for the tories is that their James report actually includes the Gershon savings.

For example if you look at page 56 of the report on James you will find that of their identified potential savings in education of £5,687,000,000 this includes the Gershon figure of £4,133,000,000.

In other words the total figure of £34,864,000,000 includes the Gershon figures of £21,480,000,000.

All big figures.

The real question is what is means when implemented.

This information is much harder to find. I have a copy of the DfES Efficiency Technical Note described by them as:
1. This Efficiency Technical Note explains how the Department for Education and Skills will monitor and measure the efficiency gains that are achieved across the services funded by the Department between 2005-06 and 2007-08. The Department plans to achieve over £4.3 billion in annual efficiency gains in 2007-08, contributing towards the Government’s overall efficiency target of over £20 billion.

This includes the following detailed proposals:
A1: School workforce and related reforms

A1 a) Administrative staff.
Description of efficiency
The benefit from administrative staff taking on administrative tasks otherwise carried out by teachers, and freeing up teacher time.

A1 b) Using cover supervisors.
Description of efficiency
The benefit from using cover supervisors – appropriately trained support staff covering for short term teacher absences – to reduce the amount spent on supply teachers.

Element A1 c) Pay restructuring.
Description of efficiency
The benefit from introducing a new pay structure for the upper pay spine (UPS).

Element A1 d) Modernisation of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme
Description of efficiency
The benefit from the modernisation of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) being applied to new entrants from 2006 and eventually to all members.

A2: Improving schools’ financial management

Element A2) Overall schools financial management.
Description of efficiency
Improvements in the way schools use their resources which arise from improved financial management, as a result of benchmarking, improved training, and other initiatives.

A3: Improvements through the use of ICT including e-learning

Element A3 a) Time savings gained by teachers through improved access to digital content (via Curriculum Online and laptop computers).
Description of efficiency
Faster access to a broader range of educational resources will improve the quality and efficiency of lesson planning and preparation compared to manual preparation. Use of nationally brokered framework contracts will lower unit costs and improve computer ownership by teachers.

Element A3 b) Time saved in lesson delivery through effective use of interactive whiteboards (IWB).
Description of efficiency
Faster preparation (including re-use), presentation and sharing of lesson resources that facilitate whole-class discussion and interaction compared to manual delivery. Use of nationally brokered framework contracts will lower unit costs of interactive whiteboards.

Element A3 c) Improved asset management as a result of ICT.
Description of efficiency
Effective use of more integrated and more powerful management information (MI) systems will improve institutional efficiency. (Time saved on manual undertaking of administrative tasks[1].)
New flexibilities in the use of devolved capital funding (Devolved Formula Capital or DFC) will release additional expenditure to front line ICT-based services.

Element A3 d) Improved management of teaching & learning through ICT
Description of efficiency
Use of ‘learning platform’ systems (often referred to as Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) or Managed Learning Environments (MLEs) should improve the productivity of teaching staff by reducing time spent on administrative tasks currently undertaken manually[2].

Element A3 e) Extension of computer based marking saving teacher time.
Description of efficiency
The efficiency gain is in teacher time spent on formative assessment, released by greater utilisation of computer based marking.

It goes on in that vein. What it does not do is quantify any of these proposals. New Labour are, however, strongly committed to implementing Gershon. It is really during the election that these issues should be debated. What is proposed in detail includes:

a) Cutting pensions
b) Cutting pay
c) Stopping using trained supply teachers and instead using "cover supervisors"

There are lots of wooly things in it as well. However, it is quite clear that the government's objective is to gradually replace trained teachers with teaching assistants in different aspects of education.


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