The DfE has released its white paper which sets out how the Education system can deliver on the government’s priority to level up across the country. Our article breaks down the key pledges that have been made.
The key points are as follows:
- The white paper revolves around the overall ambition to improve pupil attainment
- All schools will be part of or in the process of joining a MAT by 2030
- Schools will be expected to offer a minimum school week of 32.5 hours by September 2023
- There will be initiatives to ensure every child is taught by an “excellent teacher” by 2030
- Measures will be implemented to ensure every child who falls behind in English or maths gets the right support
- Ofsted will inspect all schools by Summer 2025
- The national funding formula will be used to set schools’ budgets directly
Read on to learn more about each key point.
The white paper revolves around the overall ambition to improve pupil attainment
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said that his vision for this white paper and the SEND review (which was published on 29 March) is to introduce and implement standards that will improve children’s education, deliver the right support if they fall behind and give them the tools to lead a happy, fulfilled and successful life.
The white paper sets out two key ambitions:
- 90 percent of primary school pupils will achieve the expected standard in KS2 reading, writing and maths by 2030 – this goal was previously set out in the government’s levelling up white paper
- The national average GCSE grade in English language and maths will increase from 4.5 in 2019 to 5 by 2030
The white paper sets out a number of measures that aim to support the delivery of the government’s attainment ambitions.
All schools will be part of or in the process of joining a MAT by 2030
By 2030, all schools will be in, or in the process of joining, a strong MAT. The government has said this will help to transform underperforming schools. The DfE will set out a clear timeframe to achieve a fully trust-led system and will work on making sure every actor in the school system has a clear role under this model.
The initial part of the journey to a fully trust-led system will be to increase trust capacity in areas that the government deems in most need. A consultation has been launched on moving schools that have received two consecutive Ofsted judgements below ‘good’ into strong trusts to tackle underperformance. This approach will apply across England but will begin in Education Investment Areas. In addition, £86 million will go to the trust capacity fund over the next three years to support strong trusts to expand into Education Investment Areas.
LAs will be able to establish new MATs where too few strong trusts exist. These trusts will be regulated in the same way as other trusts.
The DfE has said that it will avoid converting schools as standalone academies, but will consider bids for high-quality free schools to open initially as standalone trusts. The DfE expects that most trusts will be on a trajectory to either serve a minimum of 7,500 pupils or run at least 10 schools.
To ensure trusts can be responsive to parents and local communities, all trusts should have local governance arrangements for their schools. The DfE will discuss how to implement this with the sector.
As a short-term approach to improving trust accountability, the DfE is proposing to bring together both new and existing requirements on trusts into statutory academy trust standards. In the longer-term, the DfE has said it must shape a regulatory approach that is fit for a full trust-led system. A regulatory review will be launched in May 2022.
Schools will be expected to offer a minimum school week of 32.5 hours by September 2023
A minimum expectation on the length of the school week of 32.5 hours for all mainstream state-funded schools will be introduced – this is the current average.
The government expects all mainstream state-funded schools to work towards meeting this expectation as soon as possible and by September 2023 at the latest. During an Ofsted inspection, if it is found that a school does not meet this expectation, inspectors will explore this and assess what the impact on the school’s quality of education is.
From September 2022, schools will be expected to publish their opening and closing times on their websites and to publish a total weekly figure for the compulsory time pupils spend in school.
The DfE has published further guidance on the minimum hours expectation.
This measure is part of a pledge to ensure that, by 2030, every child will be taught a broad and ambitious curriculum in a school with high expectations and strong standards of behaviour. Other measures to help meet the pledge include:
- Establishing a new arms-length national curriculum body, which will work with schools to co-design, create and improve packages of free digital curriculum resources and video lessons.
- Making no changes to the national curriculum for the remainder of the Parliament.
- Publishing revised behaviour and exclusion guidance – both of these guidance documents are currently undergoing consultation.
- Introducing new legislation to create new statutory guidance on attendance – this would include a requirement for every school to publish an attendance policy.
- Establishing a register for children not in school and also designing a national solution to modernise attendance recording.
- Strengthening ‘Keeping children safe in education’ and guidance on RSHE to support schools to protect pupils from abuse and exploitation.
- Introducing legislation to increase Ofsted’s powers to inspect illegal schools.
There will be initiatives to ensure every child is taught by an “excellent teacher” by 2030
500,000 teacher training and development opportunities will be delivered across ITT, the early career framework (ECF) and national professional qualifications (NPQs) by 2024. The ITT core content framework, ECF and NPQ frameworks will be updated in line with the best available evidence from this country and internationally – these frameworks will be assured by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).
The DfE is working with the EEF to establish an Institute of Teaching – this will be England’s flagship teacher development provider.
The DfE will set a new minimum quality threshold for ITT providers and re-accredit all ITT providers against this higher standard. A new system of higher-quality training provider partnerships will be supported by £36 million to support the delivery of new quality requirements. Ofsted will also increase the frequency of inspections of ITT providers – the inspection cycle will also be sped up so that all ITT providers are inspected by July 2024 and then every three years after that.
£180 million will be invested into extending early years training. A new NPQ for early years leadership will be made available, which will be underpinned by evidence assured by the EEF.
The government has restated its commitment to increasing teachers’ starting salaries to £30,000. In line with the government’s latest evidence submitted to the School Teachers’ Review Body, this would happen by 2023/2024. New teachers will also be incentivised to work in areas they are needed most through a levelling-up premium – this will be worth up to £3,000 for eligible maths, physics, chemistry and computing teachers, in years one to five of their careers, who choose to work in disadvantaged schools.
Schools are also being encouraged to sign up to the Education Staff Wellbeing Charter, which aims to build a shared commitment to promoting staff wellbeing.
Measures will be implemented to ensure every child who falls behind in English or maths gets the right support
By 2030, the government wants every child who falls behind in English or maths to receive the right support to get them back on track. The government has promised parents that this will be the reality in every school – this has been called the Parent Pledge. The DfE will also work with Ofsted to spread examples of schools successfully providing targeted support alongside high-quality teaching.
The DfE has also pledged to deliver up to six million tutoring packages by 2024. From 2024, the government aims to have cultivated a vibrant tutoring market and will expect tutoring to continue to be a staple offer from schools, funded by the core budget of schools.
£100 million will go to the EEF to cement its role as a central, long-term feature of the Education landscape for at least the next decade. The EEF will provide actionable support to schools and act as a ‘guardian of evidence’ to make sure Education policy is grounded in the best evidence.
The white paper says that additional measures will also be set out in the SEND review. We’ve collated the need-to-know information from the SEND review in our up-to-speed article.
Ofsted will inspect all schools by Summer 2025
By the end of the Summer term in 2025, Ofsted will have inspected all schools against the current inspection framework to provide a quicker assessment of recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This includes the backlog of ‘outstanding’ schools that have not been inspected for years due to the previous inspection exemption for outstanding schools.
The national funding formula will be used to set schools’ budgets directly
The national funding formula has now been introduced. The white paper says that the government will now transition to using the formula to set each school’s budget directly, without local amendment. A consultation will be launched in the Autumn on the details of the formula.
DfE (2022) ‘Opportunity for all: strong schools with great teachers for your child’