Summary of the White Paper

These are the notes I am making, from the selective standpoint of someone with responsibility for a Teaching School, on the ‘Educational excellence everywhere’ White Paper.

  1. All schools will become academies, and will be given ‘supported autonomy’.
  2. The school-led system is settling in, with MATS and Teaching Schools leading on local improvement.
  3. Good practice is localised, and there are wide variations in the quality of education provision in different parts of the country.
  4. Teachers and schools will be held to account for their ability to meet the government’s desired outcomes, but they will have some freedom when it comes to how they are going to achieve this.
  5. Local authorities are not effective; we prefer academies.
  6. There are seven ‘key elements’ to EEE
    1. Great teachers everywhere – schools have greater autonomy and role in training, supporting, developing and deciding the pay of teachers. There is a recruitment crisis. DfE will support an affordable recruitment site. ITT will be delivered by ‘the best higher education institutions’ (suggesting a decrease in places overall through HEI) and increasingly by schools. There is a commitment to good content in ITT, which won’t propagate edumyths, but no clarification of how this commitment will be manifested. QTS is going – headteachers in successful schools will have the discretion to decide when a teacher is ready, without needing to do the full year. DfE will ensure (somehow) that CPD is of a good quality. Support is there for a College of Teaching and a peer-reviewed education journal.
    2. Great leadership – MATs offer the scope for effective leaders to spread their influence across their trusts, and this new model will enable greater progression opportunities for teachers to enter leadership in varied ways. New NPQs will be developed to reflect the new market of leadership roles and responsibilities. Leading in challenging circumstances will be incentivised. Middle leaders will have a role to play in raising standards through the National Teaching Service. School governance should be about skills of governors, and their ability to hold the school to account on the vision and finance (parents not required). Good governing bodies could govern the entire MAT, and weak governing bodies could be subsumed.
    3. Every school an academy – By end of 2020 all schools will be academies or will be converting. Local authorities will not have a role to play in maintaining schools, so that ‘they can focus on their core functions’. MATs will be able to bring in schools which are underperforming to support them. The role of local authorities will be as ‘advocates for their electorate’. Most schools will be in MATs. Smaller schools are expected to be in MATs but there is scope for successful and sustainable larger schools to remain as Standalone Academies. Successful MATs will be expected to grow. Weaker MATs will be swallowed up into more successful MATs if the standards are not high enough. Regional Schools Commissioners (RSC) have ability to hold academies and MATs to account. New schools will be supported to open – DfE wants 500 more schools by 2020. Parents will be placed at the heart of this (…) – a Parent Portal will be set up with information, new clearer complaints and admissions procedures will be brought in, parent voice can call for schools to be moved on to a different MAT. The core functions of a Local Authority in this system will be ensuring all children are placed in a school, that vulnerable pupils needs are catered for and that they are ‘champions for parents’ (which means almost nothing).
    4. School Improvement – School to school support will take place through MATs and through Teaching School Alliances. Successful leaders will have responsibility for spreading success to other schools. Up to 300 more schools will be designated as Teaching Schools and there will be up to 800 more National Leaders in Education. Good academy sponsors will exist to help the academy system grow.
    5. High Expectations – Using the existing curriculum, which is rigorous and knowledge-driven, DfE will continue to monitor that the curricula are delivered effectively. Assessment will become more rigorous. Schools need to be developing the character of pupils – DfE will do stuff to help this apparently. A focus will be on the learning of the lowest and highest attaining pupils, on pupils with SEN and of children in Alternative Provision; mainstream schools will have responsibility for standard-checking the work of AP.
    6. Accountability – Parents and governors should be able to challenge the work of schools through engagement with the MAT. Accountability will take better account of the progress pupils make, to incentivise leaders to take on schools in challenging circumstances. Ofsted will be fair. There will be MAT league tables. The ‘right’ information will be given to parents.
    7. Resourcing – A new fair funding formula will be brought in to make sure money goes where it is most required. Pupil premium will continue, and MATS and schools should look to implement it wisely, with reference to tools like the EEF Toolkit.
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