A Death Blow to Satire--issued by the Innovation Unit Secretariat, London
Ohanian Comment: This document was issued under the United Kingdom Education Act. Among other things, it answers the question Who is eligible to apply for the power to innovate?
Local Education Authorities
Education Action Forums
Status: statutory under section 2 (6) Education
Date of issue: Oct 2002
Ref: DfES 0724/2002
Power to Innovate:
Guidance for applicants
The Power to Innovate allows schools, LEAs or EAZs to apply to the Secretary of State to lift regulatory requirements for a time-limited period, in order to trial a specific innovative project. This guidance informs potential
applicants of the process and criteria to take into account when applying for the Power to Innovate.
Innovation Unit Secretariat
Department for Education and Skills
London SW1P 3BP
020 7925 5801
This guidance and the Power to Innovate: Application for Order form is available on the website
The Power to Innovate.
1. The Innovation Unit has a remit to encourage innovation throughout the school system. It will work with schools in a new way and will be staffed by people from the profession. The main task for the Innovation Unit is to understand innovation and then identify strategies for making it powerful and systemic. The Department
realises that there is a lot of great work going on and the Innovation Unit will aim to harness innovative approaches, developing expertise wherever it arises. The Innovation Unit will be a resource that all teachers, heads and local education authorities can draw upon to develop their own work, whether for expertise or contacts, tools or materials. Schools and LEAs are encouraged to share their
ideas or innovative practice with the Innovation Unit using the proforma on the
2. Some schools and LEAs wishing to test innovative approaches to raising standards might find that they need to challenge existing legislation. If that is the case then it may be possible to exempt a school or LEA from that legislation for a time-limited period.
3. Chapter 1 of Part 1 of the Education Act 2002 provides for powers to facilitate
innovation – a ‘Power to Innovate’ – which allow schools or LEAs to apply to the Secretary of State to lift regulatory requirements for a time-limited period, in order for a school or LEA to trial a specific innovative project. The Power is intended to ensure that no opportunity is lost to respond to innovative ideas to raise standards for all children.
4. If a school or LEA has an idea that they believe might require the Power to Innovate and would like to discuss this prior to completing the application form they should contact the Innovation Unit. Likewise if a school or LEA is unsure whether or not an idea might require the Power to Innovate they should contact the Innovation Unit Secretariat on 020 7925 5801 who will seek a view from the relevant officials in the Department of Education and Skills on their behalf.
Guidance for Applications for the Power to Innovate.
Who is eligible to apply for the power to innovate?
5. The governing body of a qualifying school, a local education authority (LEA),an Education Action Forum or the proprietor of a non-maintained special school are eligible to apply.
6. A qualifying school is a community, foundation or voluntary school or a community
or foundation special school; a city technology college; a city college for the technology of the arts or an Academy.
7. Maintained nursery schools do not currently have governing bodies and therefore they are not currently qualifying schools. However, they will become qualifying schools when the governance requirements for nursery schools commence in September 2003. If a nursery school wishes to apply for the Power to Innovate
before this time they can do this through their local education authority.
8. Qualifying schools which are subject to Special Measures or who have been designated either Schools Facing Challenging Circumstances or Fresh Start Schools are still eligible to apply. In looking at applications from such schools the Secretary of State will consider how their proposal for the Power to Innovate relates to their agreed action plan for raising standards. As with all other applications,
proposals from such schools will be treated entirely on their merits.
What exemptions from legislation are available under the Power to Innovate?
9. The Power to Innovate allows the Secretary of State to grant a school exemption from any area of education legislation. This includes both primary legislation (Acts passed by Parliament) and secondary legislation (regulations or Orders generally made by statutory instrument that the Secretary of State has been given the power to make in an Act of Parliament.)
10. The Department has no preconceived idea of the sort of exemptions that applicants may wish to seek. The Department will treat all applications on their merits. It is intended that schools or LEAs should be in the lead in proposing ideas. The Power to Innovate is intended to enable the Secretary of State to respond to all standards-raising ideas that are put forward. The Department’s role is then to
evaluate and monitor the effect of the new Power.
In section 1 of the application form you need to outline the exact exemption, relaxation or modification from existing educational legislation that you are seeking. If you would like to discuss the idea prior to coompleting the application form or are unsure whether or not you are able to proceed with your idea under current legislation, please contact the innovation Unit Secretariat on 020 7925 5801 who will consult with the Department on your behalf.
What criteria must a successful application meet?
a) Innovative proposals that raise educational standards
11. The Secretary of State will be looking for applications that will contribute to raising educational standards for children in England. Applicants will be expected to show in their application form why they believe their proposed pilot is likely to raise educational standards and include the supporting evidence which has led them to this conclusion. Applicants should also describe whether the proposal is aimed at raising standards for all pupils or targets a specific group of pupils. Where a proposal will affect a targeted group it will be necessary for the applicant to
describe the nature of the group and how the appropriate pupils will be identified.
12. The Department would like to seek proposals from schools and from local education authorities which have a positive impact on children’s education in the widest possible sense. In considering whether a proposal will contribute to raising educational standards applicants may consider whether it is likely to contribute to national targets related directly to educational attainment, e.g. KS2 Literacy and
Numeracy Targets, KS3 English Mathematics and Science and ICT, KS4 5 A*-C GCSEs, 5 A*-G GCSEs, or targets relating to pupil inclusion such as improving school attendance or behaviour. If a proposal seeks to raise standards for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) they may also wish to consider the use of other external data such as P scales, Certificates of Achievement/entry level GCSEs
and standardised scores.
13. Proposals intended to achieve such gains should also demonstrate that these are not to be achieved by inappropriate narrowing of provision. In particular, LEAs and schools should continue to ensure that a balanced curriculum is offered appropriate to the needs of their pupils. The Act requires the Secretary of State, in assessing proposals, to ‘have regard to the need for the curriculum for any school affected by the project to be a balanced and broadly based curriculum which promotes the
spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of children and of society’.
14. It is the view of the Government that the accountability framework including Ofsted inspection and the publication of performance data is at the heart of achieving higher standards for all children. It is also the view of the Government that weakening the accountability framework would not lead to higher standards overall. However, proposals which seek to raise standards by strengthening the accountability framework or by making the accountability framework less bureaucratic would be welcomed.
b) Consideration of the impact on all children, including those with SEN
15. The Act states that the Secretary of State shall ‘consider the likely effect of the
project on all the children who may be affected by it.’ Applicants will be expected to show that they have considered the impact on educational standards for all pupils who may be affected.
16. Applicants will be expected to show they have considered the impact on other schools within their LEA or schools within other LEAs where appropriate. Applicants will be especially expected to consider vulnerable pupils such as looked after children and traveller children.
17. Applicants will be expected to have given particular consideration to the impact of their proposed pilot on provision for SEN pupils and the educational standards achieved by SEN pupils. If an applicant believes the proposal will have any effect, positive or negative, on children with SEN this should be stated in their application. Proposals that have a detrimental effect on the educational progress of SEN pupils will not be approved.
18. The Secretary of State will consult the Special Educational Needs Consortium on all proposals which she considers will affect the following duties under the Education Act 1996 –
a. The duty to identify children with special needs
b. The duty on governing bodies of schools to use their best endeavours to meet the needs of pupils with special educational needs
c. The duty to assess children’s special educational needs, when necessary
d. The duty to make and maintain statements of special educational needs, when necessary
e. The duty to assess and provide for children under 2 years of age
In sections 2-3 of the application form you should show why you believe that the proposal has the potential to raise educational standards in a specific way. Raising standards in other areas of the school’s activities, for examples pastoral care, would be eligible here only if you could show how this might raise educational standards.
19. Applicants should consult all persons who are likely to be affected by a proposal.
Precisely who is consulted will depend on the nature of the innovative proposal. In assessing proposals the Secretary of State will wish to be satisfied that all those with a direct interest have been properly consulted.
20. In practice this will mean that in all cases where a Governing Body of a school is the applicant they must have consulted their own LEA, and we would of course expect schools to have consulted their Headteachers. If an LEA is itself the applicant they should always consult schools that will be affected by the proposal.
Neighbouring LEAs should also be consulted where the proposal is likely to have a wider impact than the LEA itself.
21. In addition, the applicant should make a judgement about the consultation of further parties that appear to them be appropriate. For example, in most cases they would need to have consulted teaching staff, parents, pupils and any other relevant parties. In the situation where proposals may have an impact on provision for SEN pupils and it is anticipated that the Secretary of State will wish to consult the
Special Educational Needs Consortium (see paragraph 18 of this guidance) applicants would want to ensure that all parents of SEN pupils were fully consulted.
22. There is no prescribed length or nature of consultation. It may vary according to the nature of the proposal, but the overriding principle must be to ensure that all those affected by a proposal have an adequate opportunity to have their views represented.
23. On receipt of an application the Secretary of State will take a view as to whether appropriate consultation has taken place.
Your innovation may have an impact on all your pupils or only a group. In section 6 of the application form you need to show that you have considered the likely effect of the project on all children who may be affected. You should identify all the different groups of pupils that could be affected and what the effect will be on each group. You should also be aware of the possibility of unintended consequences of any proposal.
In section 7 you need to show that you have considered whether the proposal will have any effect on pupils with SEN.
Innovative proposals are likely to impact on the work of staff. In section 8 you need to consider how your staff will be affected by the change, drawing attention to any increase in workload.
In section 9 you need to outline whether your proposal will impact on other schools and LEAs. This will include any effect that the proposal may have on the educational standards and pupil composition of another school. Please state the names of relevant schools/LEAs.
d) Planning for the time-limited nature of the Power to Innovate
24. The Power to Innovate can be requested for any period of time up to three years in order to pilot an idea. Applicants will be asked for how long they wish exemptions to apply but the Secretary of State may, with the applicants consent, specify a different time period.
25. The duration of and the date of coming into force of any order made under the Power to Innovate will be stated on the face of the Order. Applicants should be aware that the Order is a statutory instrument which must be laid before Parliament and as such there can approved in principle by the Secretary of State (and subject to Parliament) and the Order giving
effect to it being made and coming into force.
26. If your proposed pilot will incur costs then it is important that you have funding
available for the entire length of the pilot.
27. The Power to Innovate is designed to test out innovative ideas that may have the potential to be adopted more widely by other schools (though not necessarily all schools). This could mean future changes to legislation at the end of a successful pilot. The applicant should consider when putting together a proposal whether it has this potential.
28. The nature of innovation means that it is likely that some projects will not be
considered successful. It is also possible that the Secretary of State will not choose to adopt every idea more widely through legislative change. Applicants will be expected to show they have considered an ’exit strategy’ which allows them to revert back to current practice when the pilot project comes to an end.
Section 10 of the application form asks you to outline exactly who was consulted and how this consultation took place. Where groups such as parents have been consulted please state how many individuals were included in the consultation.
Sections 11 and 12 ask you to declare who supported or opposed the proposal.
You should outline the nature and extent of any support and/or opposition to the proposal.
The Innovation Unit Secretariat may need to contact you to discuss the results from your consultation in more detail before your application is forwarded to the Secretary of State.
e) Evaluation of Projects
29. Power to Innovate proposals will need to be closely monitored to assess their impact on educational standards. Applicants will be expected to develop their own impact assessment which may include both process and outcome targets. It will be necessary to be able to measure the impact of the pilot on educational standards over the course of the pilot period and therefore applicants will be expected to
identify a baseline against which they propose to measure change.
30. It is expected that all pilots approved under the Power to Innovate will be fully
evaluated. Innovative ideas may not always be successful but they may teach valuable lessons that could inform future practice. The nature and degree of evaluation will need to reflect the nature of the innovative pilot. Evaluation will include an assessment against outcome targets. It may also include an examination
of the process of implementation of the change. In evaluating pilots, applicants must ensure that they consider in particular the impact of proposals on pupils with SEN.
31. The Innovation Unit will have a role in collecting and disseminating lessons learned through monitoring and evaluation. They will also play a role in making connections between schools and LEAs who have similar innovative ideas.
In sections 13-14 of the application form you need to state what measures you will use to monitor the effect of the proposal on educational standards.
In section 15 of the application form you should outline how you envisage evaluating the effectiveness of your idea. This should be a broad description of evaluation strategy and does not need to be a detailed plan for carrying
out the evaluation.
Section 4 of the application form asks you to consider whether the project will incur costs, and if so how it will be funded.
In section 5 of the application form you should state a time period for the proposal of not more than 3 years. You should also specify a start date when you would like to commence with the innovative idea or practice.
Section 18 of the application form asks you to outline how you would revert back to operating within Educational legislation. You should include all of the key issues that would need to be considered in order to make this change.
Approval of proposals
32. Applications will be processed by the Innovation Unit Secretariat on behalf of the Department. The Secretariat will endeavour to do its best to respond to proposals as quickly as possible after receipt of a fully complete application. However, the time period involved will vary depending on the number of parties
that need to be consulted.
33. If the Secretary of State decides that the proposal is likely to contribute to higher educational standards and that (s)he should approve it, (s)he will place an Order before Parliament granting the applicant exemption from whatever education legislation they have requested. Applicants will be advised when the Secretary of
State has approved the proposal but will not be able to commence activity until the Order has been placed before Parliament (please refer to paragraph 25 of this guidance).
34. The Education Act 2002 provides for the Secretary of State, with the consent of the applicant, to include in the order provisions different from those requested in the application. This could only happen if the applicant agreed to it.
Extending or amending the Order
35. The length of a previous Order may be extended by up to three years on one occasion only. A decision to extend would be at the discretion of the Secretary of State. Circumstances where extension might be considered include:
i) where evaluation shows positive results, but there is no immediate vehicle for implementing permanent legislative change;
ii) where initial evaluation is positive, but more time is required to fully measure the impacts.
36. On application from a qualifying body, an Order may be amended at any time within its specified duration to extend;
i) the requirements or functions in relation to which the Order applies, or
ii) the qualifying bodies to which it applies.
If you already have been granted a Power to Innovate and you wish to extend or amend the Order then you should contact the Innovation Unit Secretariat to discuss the issue.
Innovation Unit Secretariat
Department for Education and Skills