An opportunity for all

Earlier in 2022, the first schools white paper in six years was released. Titled ‘Opportunity for all: strong schools with great teachers for your child’, the former Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP, detailed numerous plans on how the government will introduce and implement standards that will improve the education system, enhance the teaching profession and deliver the right support for children.

But what are these plans and what do they all mean? In this issue, Educate delves deeper into each section of the white paper and explains everything parents and carers need to know about the proposed changes.

Section 1: An excellent teacher for every child

By 2030, the government hopes that all children will be taught by a teacher who has been given access to world-class training and professional development at every stage of their career, giving them the right expertise and support needed to deliver great teaching.

The vision is that teaching will be seen as a ‘high-status profession’ and the aim is to recruit and retain the best teachers possible. A starting salary of £30,000 will attract the very best individuals and additional incentives will be offered to work in schools with the most need.

Specialist training will be delivered to drive better literacy through a new National Professional Qualification (NPQ) for Leading Literacy as well as one for Early Year Leadership. Furthermore, there will be an £180m investment in the early years workforce, including training for early years practitioners to support literacy and numeracy teaching. This will ensure children are given the right support through the most crucial stage of their development.

Section 2: Delivering high standards of curriculum, behaviour and attendance

The government pledges that by 2030, every child will be taught a ‘broad and ambitious’ curriculum in a school that has high expectations and strong standards of behaviour.

This means that from the early years of their education, children will be taught a ‘knowledge rich’ curriculum and can access high-quality extra-curricular provisions. Having access to all this will support the skill set of each child and equip them with the right knowledge needed for their future, for example when they go to college, university or when they head into the world of work.

Teachers will be able to utilise a new curriculum body that works with teachers across the country to cocreate free, optional, adaptable digital curriculum resources.

Schools will also need to ensure the school week of 32.5 hours (the current average) for all mainstream state-funded schools is scrupulously met. Did you know? A child who receives 20 minutes per day less of teaching time loses out on around two weeks of schooling a year.

Therefore, the government expects all mainstream state-funded schools to work towards meeting this expectation as soon as possible.

The white paper outlines the need for children to be taught in ‘calm, orderly, safe and supportive schools’ which have high levels of attendance, no matter where they live. The government acknowledged that no matter how great a school’s curriculum is, children will not achieve their potential in a school with poor standards of attendance and behaviour. For example, children with no absence at key stage 4 are almost two times more likely to achieve 5 or more GCSEs than children who missed 10-15 percent of lessons.

To encourage better behaviour and increase attendance there will be an improved use of data, an annual behaviour survey and a national data system.

Section 3: Targeted support for those who need it

Detailed in this section are the steps of how the government will help any child who falls behind in English or maths. This forms the ‘Parent Pledge’ which is a promise from the government, via schools, to families that if any child falls behind in these subjects they should ‘receive timely and evidence-based support to enable them to reach their potential’.

The white paper proposes that alongside high-quality classroom teaching, there will be evidence-based targeted support – including tutoring. By 2024, six million tutoring courses will be made available. According to the white paper, small group tuition has an average impact of an additional four months in primary schools and two months in secondary school. As a result, tutoring will no longer be for families who can afford to pay for private tuition, but the right of any child in need of additional support.

The pledge indicates that schools have to communicate this work to parents or carers, ensuring that they are fully engaged in their child’s education. In turn, this will relieve any worries that comes from a child falling behind at school.

The government also outlines ambitious reforms in the SEND Review, which will ensure all children and young people with SEND are able to access the right support in the most appropriate setting, including mainstream schools.

Section 4: A stronger and fairer school systems

In this final section, the white paper explains that for schools to deliver a highquality education, all children will benefit from being taught in a family of schools, and so by 2030 schools must be part of a strong multi academy trust or have plans to form one.

Academies are publicly funded schools and are independent of the local authority. They are held accountable through a legally binding funding agreement with the Department for Education. A multi academy trust (MAT) are groups of academies that have come together to form a charitable company.

Currently, there are almost 10,000 academies – of which 8,500 are in multi academy trusts that have more than one school. government expects that most trusts will be on a trajectory to either serve a minimum of 7,500 pupils or run at least 10 schools.

Unlike before, local authorities will be able to establish new multi academy trusts which will allow high performing schools with a track record of local partnership to ‘formalise their relationships and add expertise and capacity to the trust system’.

By joining a MAT, schools are able to collaborate and share expertise and resources and other senior leaders and teachers in a bid deliver better outcomes for children.

Being in a MAT has many benefits and going forward the government will better regulate the trust system and will set out a new long-term regulatory approach.

To read the Schools White Paper ‘Opportunity for all’ in full, click here.

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