The DfE released their response to the ‘Schools that work for everyone’ consultation on 11 May 2018 – the response details a package of measures intended to improve outcomes for pupils and create new ‘good’ school places for children of all backgrounds.

Our guidance outlines how the government will proceed with the proposals put forward in their consultation, which include encouraging the sector to work in collaboration to improve outcomes, funding selective school expansion, and assisting the opening of new faith schools. 


The role of universities and independent schools


The DfE has developed an approach which seeks to draw on the capacity and capability of independent schools and universities to deliver sustainable impact within the state-school sector. Under this approach, the DfE has the following expectations:

  • Universities and independent schools with the capacity and capability to sponsor an academy or establish a free school are strongly encouraged to do so
  • Those that don’t have the capacity or capability to support an academy or free school are expected to support state schools through partnerships in at least one of the following areas:
  • Teaching
  • Curriculum
  • Leadership
  • Other targeted partnership activity

The DfE is interested in receiving proposals from institutions about how they can contribute in these areas, as well as other activities that could support state schools and widen access for disadvantaged pupils.


The government and the Independent Schools Council (ISC) joint understanding


The government and the ISC have agreed a joint understanding, setting out the activities they expect to see independent schools participate in to support state schools. Under the understanding, the ISC will require independent schools that are members of its association to submit information on partnership activities in their annual census return – setting out how they have worked with state schools and pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.


Selective schools


Legislation preventing the creation of new selective schools will remain in place; however, the expansion of existing ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ grammar schools will be supported through the new Selective School Expansion Fund (SSEF).

£50 million will be made available in 2018/2019 through the SSEF – the application round has been launched and will close at midday on 19 July 2018. More information can be found here.

Grammar schools wishing to expand will need to demonstrate the following:

  • That they are working with non-selective schools in their area to have a positive impact beyond their school
  • That there is a need for additional places
  • That they are committed to increasing access for disadvantaged pupils 

The DfE expects to see further steps taken by selective schools to prioritise pupils eligible for the pupil premium in their oversubscription criteria. Schools should design admission arrangements with a view to increasing access for disadvantaged pupils. To support these objectives, the government and the Grammar School Heads’ Association (GSHA) have agreed a formal Memorandum of Understanding.


Faith schools


The 50 percent cap on faith-based admissions in new faith free schools has been retained. The government continues to expect all proposers of faith free schools to promote integration and inclusivity.

To support new free schools wishing to ‘twin’ with other schools, the DfE is investing over £500,000 to enable the Schools Linking Network to develop programmes which will help to develop links between schools and communities with different religious and cultural backgrounds.

A capital scheme will be established to support the creation of new voluntary-aided (VA) schools for faith-based entities and other providers. Schools created through this scheme will have the same freedoms as existing VA schools, including freedom over their admissions which will enable them to select up to 100 percent of pupils based on faith. The DfE expects those groups establishing VA schools to contribute 10 percent of the capital cost relating to their schools.




DfE (2018) ‘Schools that work for everyone’


Related terms: selective education, grammars