Educational Excellence Everywhere: Key points from the white paper

The Government has published its ‘second term’ education reform agenda in the form of the white paper Educational Excellence Everywhere, which aims to make a reality of a “school-led system” and “supported autonomy”.

The white paper is extremely ambitious and constitutes a major programme of work. It also requires all parts of the system to be fully ‘on board’ if its ambitions are to be achieved. Given the furore over academisation – among teachers, parents and educationists - this feels quite unlikely at the moment.

The following are the key proposals, some of them trailed in the Budget.

Academisation/Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs)

  • All schools to be academies by 2022, with powers to direct schools that haven’t started the process by 2020.
  •  A duty on local authorities to facilitate the process; new powers to ensure schools become academies in under-performing areas.
  • Most schools to form or join MATs - smaller schools will have to join one.
  •  A MAT Growth Fund to support establishment/expansion of MATs; guidance, tools and other support for primaries.
  • A new legal framework for academies to replace the current ad hoc system; more transparency; possible routine reviews.
  •  New accountability measures and performance tables for MATs; parents will be able to petition Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) to move their school to a new MAT.
  • A stronger University Technical College programme: help with recruitment and viability; an expectation of partnership with high-performing secondaries/MATs.

Local Authority role

  • Places; transport; crisis management/emergency planning.
  • Vulnerable pupils, including alternative provision and safeguarding
  • Champions: championing standards, e.g. by encouraging high-performing providers to establish new places and calling on RSCs to tackle underperformance; supporting navigation of the system (admissions, special educational needs); acting as advocates for the electorate.
  • It is expected that some local authority staff will leave to set up new MATs.

Teacher recruitment and training

  • The National College for Teaching & Leadership (NCTL) to be reformed to design and deliver incentives, campaigns and opportunities.
  •  A new framework of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) content designed by a working group chaired by Stephen Munday, built around advanced subject knowledge, behaviour management, special educational needs and evidence-based practice.
  • Qualified Teacher Status replaced by a new accreditation system: when a head teacher considers a new teacher has attained the bar set by the Teachers’ Standards s/he will put them forward for ratification by a high performing school.
  • A new national teacher vacancy website to advertise part-time working and job sharing opportunities; guidance on making such arrangements work; part-time training routes.

Professional development

  • A new Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development to be published this spring.
  •  Schools and MATs encouraged to publish open source research and CPD materials.
  • The College of Teaching to play a key role in greater ‘professionalisation’ and evidence-based practice; it will accredit CPD and will publish a new, peer-reviewed education journal.
  • The Education Endowment Foundation remit to be expanded to support evidence-based teaching, character education and prevention of poor outcomes post-16.

School-led improvement

  • Teaching Schools to take on responsibility for school improvement from LAs, acting as a hub for brokering support by National Leaders of Education (NLEs), Specialist Leaders of Education and other ‘system leaders’.
  • School improvement funding routed via Teaching Schools; a new accountability system to ensure they and NLEs are fulfilling their role.
  • 300 more Teaching Schools and 800 more NLEs to be designated.
  • More incentives to attract good leaders to challenging areas and more emphasis on improvement; an ‘improvement period’ during which schools won’t be inspected.
  • A focus on ‘Achieving Excellence Areas’, i.e. those areas that have low standards and struggle to recruit leaders and teachers who can help them improve.
  • Ofsted to focus on adding value around underperformance and outcomes; a consultation on removing separate judgements on quality of teaching, learning and assessment.

School leaders

  • New, voluntary National Professional Qualifications.
  •  ‘Excellence in Leadership’ seed-funding for innovative approaches to developing leadership, particularly aimed at supporting women and BAME teachers into leadership positions
  • The growth of MATs will provide more opportunities for teachers to take on leadership roles.
  •  Higher expectations of governors and a new competency framework of skills and knowledge and a requirement that they be properly inducted and trained.
  • Academy trusts will no longer have to reserve a place for parent governors, although if they have the right skills they will always be encouraged; however governance must be informed by parents’ views.
  • A new parent portal alongside a new performance table website; parents’ views given more prominence.

‘Character, resilience and grit’

  • Built into the new ITT framework; access to tools to identify successful approaches and measure progress; a platform for sharing best practice, find materials and contribute data.
  • 25% of secondary schools to get funding to introduce after-school character-building activities such as sports clubs, debating societies and challenges.
  • The National Citizen Service expanded so that 60% of 16 year-olds are able to take up a place.
  • A new action plan to improve PSHE.