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The Schools Bill and the Schools White Paper: A summary review

Teacher in school helping student review work on the computer

The focuses of both the Schools Bill and White Paper aimed to improve teaching standards nationwide. Like the SEND review, both legislations aimed to implement additional qualifications for the ITT (Initial Teaching Training).

Key areas in the Schools Bill

The Schools Bill emphasised four key areas to improve educational attainment nationwide; primarily, by supporting schools to join “strong multi academy trusts.” The Bill believes that this has the potential to improve the underperforming of schools. It is believed that academies hold the key initial to deliver an all-encompassing plan of “teacher training, a strong curriculum, financial planning and inclusivity towards children with additional needs.”

Secondly, the School’s Bill mentioned that key issues pertaining to children underachievement in schools derived from funding issues. Like the SEND review, the School’s Bill warned of increased educational inequalities for regions with the least amount of educational resources and funding. As such. The Bill proposed for a national funding formular, with the view that this would increase fairness by ensuring that schools have equal amount of funding across the country.  

Power to Inspectors

Like the SEND review, the School’s Bill mentions a desire to increase the power and practice of inspections on the ground across schools. In this, the Bill proposes for Ofsted to increase inspections with the view to clamp down the number of unregistered schools. In theory, this seeks to clamp down on “unregistered schools”, by introducing new powers for Ofsted to gather evidence and act against schools operating illegally via three stage inspections in which it will “record a failure by the institution to meet any such standard” as seen in Part 4, Section 63, subsection 2B (c ).

In both government proposals, a key area of focus is to dramatically increase the number of teachers that are equipped to deliver classes for children with SEND needs. The School’s Bill discussed the need for powers to ban teachers to be widened to cover misconduct by teachers on online platforms, post 16 and FE settings or not currently teaching and allow DfE staff to refer teachers.

Extending Teacher Training and Parent Pledge

Specifically, within the White Paper and SEND Review, both instruments propose the process of extending ITT’s. In this teacher will have to successfully obtain SENCO qualifications to teach in the classroom. This seeks to overcome the resource issue, as in theory all teachers will be equipped with the capacity to teach children with SEND needs. Thereby, reducing the shortage of teachers able to undertake this role.

Notably, the White Paper called for the implementation of the “Parent Pledge” scheme. This will involve the schools producing an evidence-based support if a child’s attainment falls behind in English or maths. Central to this pledge is clear line of communication for teachers to foster with parents if said attainment decreases, in addition to this, teachers will be required to communicate a clear attainment improvement plan with parents. The White Paper supported this recommendation with the view that this would alleviate stress from parents and careers.

Final Thought

Both government proposals demonstrate a positive step in the right direction, namely focus wise. The Schools Bill’s aim at improving accountability on the ground can only foster tightened measures to reduce truancy and improve the quality of teaching nationwide. In a similar vein, it cannot be understated that the White Paper has offered a coherent set of recommendations, in particular the improvement of teaching. Nevertheless the key focus on increasing the number of multi-academy trusts as a focal solution, has created much debate. The objective to establish all schools into multi-academy trusts by 2030 is no small feat. What is clear that Councils being given the power to undertake this scheme demonstrates a focal direction to increase the purview of local government on the direction of schools. Nevertheless, the unanswered lacuna pertains to this; what are the metrics for councils achieving this ambitious objective?

In summary both government proposals demonstrate that transparency, accountability and funding are the central themes that the new Secretary of State for Education, Kit Malthouse will have to make the leading policy endeavors to overcome nationwide educational inequalities.

To find out more, visit the commission page or contact Policy and Research Analyst Ann-Marie Debrah at annmarie.debrah@chamberuk.com.

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