A DELEGATION of East Lancashire headteachers explored the pros and cons of an education system free of Ofsted.

A trip organised by Blackburn NUT representative Simon Jones saw dozens of local headteachers examine the system on the Isle of Man.

The Manx education system places emphasis on freedom for schools from government intervention.

The island’s educational curriculum is called ‘freedom to flourish’ and representatives were keen to show off the perceived benefits it brings to pupils.

Headteachers from Blackburn, including Sacred Heart Primary, made up part of the delegation of 28 heads from North West England and Wales.

They met Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for Education and Children, and visited primary and secondary schools, including Bunscoill Ghaelgagh, where pupils learn in Manx, and the Education Support Centre.

Liz Beaumont, assistant headteacher at Sacred Heart RC Primary School, in Blackburn, described the visit, including trips to the Education Support Centre, Ballakermeen High School and Henry Bloom Noble Primary School, as “inspirational”.

She said: “Each school is unique because each community is unique. It’s acknowledged that is how it should be. In England we are all being fitted into a model of what is a good school.”

In the Isle of Man, responsibility for specific content of the curriculum is decided by individual headteachers to create learning experiences that are meaningful and reflect the context of the island.

Mr Jones said the island’s curriculum was the envy of colleagues in the UK.

He added: “Schools in the Isle of Man are happy places where children love learning and thrive without the pressure of being labelled failures.

“The examples we saw showed us just how well schools can do without the constant threat of government intervention.”

Geoff Moorcroft, Isle of Man’s director of education and children said: “We were delighted to welcome the delegation of headteachers and demonstrate ways in which schools on the Isle of Man have provided challenging and creative ways to engage learners, with successful results.”