DfE update: Educational Excellence Everywhere

Educational Excellence Everywhere – a white paper from the Department for Education March 2016

The 128 page white paper from the DfE entitled Educational excellence everywhere, is described as setting out the Government’s vision for educational excellence. It goes on to state that ‘government will be disciplined in resisting the temptation to make additional requests’.

Here are some of the points from the white paper:

Chapter one includes a description of the opportunities for autonomy, focussing on outcomes from assessment, beginning with a list of figures based on summative assessments such as the phonics check and SATS.

Seven main elements to achieving educational excellence everywhere are set out: ‘Great teachers’; ‘Great leaders’; ‘A school-led system’ (every school an academy); ‘Preventing underperformance’ (from good to great); ‘High expectations’ (curriculum, assessment, character and resilience); ‘Fair, stretching accountability’ and ‘The right resources in the right hands’.

Levels of pay will increasingly be down to individual school leaders. In- school ITT is the preferred model of teacher training and will increasingly be offered by ‘the best schools’.

QTS will be replaced with a ‘stronger, more challenging accreditation…as judged by great schools’. Detailed proposals will be set out shortly.

Leading heads along with CEOs from multi-academy trusts will be part of designing voluntary National Professional Qualifications ‘for each level of leadership’.

Under the heading High expectations and a world-leading curriculum for all, there is reference to the up-levelling of the curriculum; ‘Given the curriculum’s increased stretch – especially at primary – we will monitor its implementation and increase support for teachers to help them deliver it effectively’.

Accountability reforms are to include more ambitious outcomes, and with the changes to school-led system, so called academised system, ‘it is even more important that parents and governing bodies should be able to challenge schools and hold them to account.’

In chapter 2, the move to an ‘increasingly school-led ITT system’ is described. This will include flexibility given to heads of academies ‘to determine what requirements they make of any potential teacher for employment or promotion.’

There will be a new Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development, ‘to help schools improve the quality and availability of CPD’.

Methods of instruction in the classroom should be up to teachers and leaders to decide, but ‘they should be equipped to make these choices’, citing Brain Gym as a fad that was adopted ‘despite lacking rigorous evidence of success’.

The Education Endowment Foundation’s Toolkit for teaching and learning is recommended as a support for teachers to find and use evidence about methods.

Chapter 3, includes multi-academy trusts (MAT) and their importance in this vision of successful schools being examples of leadership. ‘MAT leaders will often be responsible for many schools’. MAT CEOs will have the ability to ‘undertake the robust succession planning and talent management’.

Challenging schools will be given ‘improvement periods’ during which time Ofsted will not inspect. This measure is to address ‘great leaders’ not to be discouraged from working in such schools.

The National Teaching Service expects to place up to 1500 teachers by 2020 into underperforming schools. Underperforming schools in challenging areas ‘will be able to request support from elite teachers and middle leaders for up to three years.’

As MATs develop, governing bodies will have increased responsibility with ‘the best governing boards’ taking responsibility for more schools. The focus for boards will be to have people with the right skills and no longer will academy trusts be required to ‘reserve places for elected parents on governing bodies’.

Chapter four details the plans to have every school become an academy; ‘by the end of 2022, local authorities will no longer maintain schools. Until then, ‘Local authorities will have a new duty to facilitate the process of all maintained schools becoming academies’. Church and faith schools will also become academies. The expectation is that most schools will join a multi-academy trust. 500 new free schools are anticipated to open by 2020, ‘stimulating competition to provide a new school will find the best possible providers’. Free schools are described as encouraging ‘innovative models of education…especially important in the alternative provision and special educational needs sectors.’

In the situation of academies underperforming, Regional School Commissioners (RSC) will intervene ‘using the government’s powers of failing and coasting schools’. If a MAT as a whole is underperforming, an RSC should ‘be able to set schools free to join other MATs or ultimately, should be able to wind up the underperforming MAT altogether.’

Chapter five focusses on from ‘good to great’ with the change that school improvement will shift from local authorities to ‘schools and system leaders’. The ‘best schools’ will be encouraged to form and manage MATs. A diagram of System Leadership on page 74 details the various sources of support. There will be ‘full coverage of system leaders’ across the country and they will be entrusted with responsibility ‘for supporting schools to deliver educational excellence everywhere by leading school improvement’.

Teaching schools will co-ordinate and deliver ITT as well as school to school support, becoming ‘centres of excellence’. They will also ‘adopt an important role as brokerage ‘hubs’ for other system leaders’.

With regard to sponsorship of academies, there is set to be expansion of sponsor capacity.

Chapter six is about the curriculum. The knowledge-based curriculum with robust assessment is described as providing a 21st century education, which is interesting when most descriptions of 21st century education, classrooms, or learners, include innovative, integrated, and effective use of digital technologies to facilitate so-called 21st century pedagogy. The white paper describes a 21st century education as preparing children for adult life ‘by instilling the character traits and fundamental British values that will help them to succeed’.

The white paper states that by becoming an academy schools have greater freedom over the curriculum ‘as long as a ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum is taught…so the national curriculum will no longer be a decree, but a benchmark’. Academies and MATs are able to deliver the national curriculum in their schools, but the aim is for the autonomy to result in more ‘stretching and tailored curricula’. Regarding the resources for delivering ‘a more ambitious curriculum successfully’, the government are working with MATs, schools, the publishing industry and others, ‘to encourage them to develop and share a new generation of teaching materials, textbooks and resources’.

Being added to the primary assessment reforms, is a new multiplication tables check in year 6, with re-sits in year 7 where required.

An action plan is being produced to improve PSHE provision. The new ITT framework will include a focus on ‘stretching the most academically able pupils’.

Chapter seven describes changes in accountability. New accountability measures include at primary, a ‘floor standard’ which incorporates the ‘progress made by pupils from age 7 to the end of primary school’. In secondary, Progress 8 is a new measure to be introduced; ‘showing pupils’ progress from the end of primary across eight subjects.

In describing a robust independent inspection model, Ofsted’s role is detailed as inspecting ‘how well schools are safeguarding young people, how they prepare pupils for adult life in modern Britain and promote fundamental British values’.

Regarding inspections; ‘short inspections of Good schools will take place around every three years’ and ‘once a school has been judged Outstanding, Ofsted will only re-inspect if there is cause for concern’.

Ofsted are consulting on whether to remove the separate graded judgements on ‘the quality of teaching, learning and assessment’.

New accountability measures for MATs are to be introduced and although there will be MAT league tables, it is still necessary to look at the performance of individual schools.

Though only eight nationally; the role of Regional School Commissioners (RSCs) is detailed, from providing ‘local intelligence to DfE on any due diligence and counter-extremism cases’ to working with schools on the pipeline of system leaders and their duty of acting on Ofsted’s judgements to guide decisions about interventions.

Chapter eight focusses on finance. Tools and guidance have been published to help improve ‘schools’ financial health and use their budgets more effectively’. A new ‘fair national funding formulae’ is being introduced for all schools. A two year transition is proposed to move from the local formula currently in existence, to the single national formula. Schools will be encouraged to adopt evidence-based strategies when allocating and spending pupil premium.

With local authority services diminishing, schools ‘will work directly with other schools to achieve greater efficiencies…working together to negotiate deals and share services’.

Here again is the link, these are a small number of points from the 124 page white paper.

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