Nothing better demonstrates this one nation Government’s commitment to social justice than our plans to transform the education our children receive. Since 2010, our education reforms, underpinned by the hard work of teachers and school leaders, have tackled the failures of the past and made a remarkable difference to education in this country. Record numbers of children, for example, are now taught in good or outstanding schools - 1.4 million more pupils than in 2010 [i]. A record 18% of new teachers who started training in 2015 have a first class degree [ii] and 81% of teachers and senior leaders say behaviour in their schools is good or very good [iii].
However, the education we offer our children does not yet consistently compare well with education in other leading countries in the world. The excellence our reforms has unlocked in some parts of our schools system has not yet spread across the whole country. For example, 11 of the 16 English local authorities that have fewer than 60% of children attending good/outstanding schools, lower than national levels of GCSE attainment and where pupils make less than national levels of expected progress are in the North of England. Of the 173 failing secondary schools in the country, 130 are in the North and Midlands and 43 are in the South [iv].
We need to extend and embed the last Parliament’s reforms so that all pupils and families can benefit, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances.
Today I am publishing a White Paper which sets out our vision to achieve educational excellence everywhere, by providing a world class education to all children, regardless of where they live, or what their background is. The key elements of our approach are:
- an education system that ensures teachers get the respect they deserve and that we have consistently excellent teaching in our classrooms;
- support for existing leaders and help to develop the outstanding leaders of the future; an approach that allows great leaders to run more schools by removing the perverse incentives that prevent teachers from doing so;
- a dynamic school-led system where every school is an academy and where pupils, parents and communities are empowered to have a more significant voice in schools, and more schools working together in multi-academy trusts (MATs);
- preventing underperformance through support and autonomy, including transferring responsibility for school improvement from local authorities to those who know how to do this best: school leaders. There will also be a new focus on achieving excellence in areas where too few children have access to a good school and there are not yet enough high quality teachers, school and system leaders, governors and sponsors to turn them around;
- high expectations and a world-leading curriculum for all, so that all children receive an education that equips them with the knowledge and character traits necessary to succeed in 21st century Britain;
- fair, stretching accountability that focusses on tackling underperformance; rewarding schools on the basis of the progress their pupils make; and incentivising strong leaders to take over underperforming schools; and
- the right resources in the right hands: investing every penny where it can do the most good – through new, fair, national funding formulae for schools, improved effectiveness of the pupil premium and making the best possible use of resources.
We believe that the fastest and most sustainable way for schools to improve is for government to trust this country’s most effective education leaders on the front line, holding them to account for unapologetically high standards for every child, but letting them determine how to reach them. This system will respond to performance, extending the reach of the most successful leaders and acting promptly by intervening where performance is not good enough. It will also ensure they have the necessary tools to seize the opportunities provided by greater autonomy.
Our approach will take our self-improving school-led system to the next level; building capacity and setting up schools to use their freedoms effectively, rather than just intervening in cases of failure. We are providing not just autonomy, but supported autonomy, as the best approach to improve education everywhere.
The approach outlined in this ambitious White Paper represents our best chance of achieving the educational excellence that every child and young person deserves. The White Paper has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
[i] Ofsted Annual Report 2014/15: Educations and Skills: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ofsted-annual-report-201415-education-and-skills
[ii] ITT census 2015/16: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/initial-teacher-training-trainee-number-census-2015-to-2016
[iii] Teacher Voice Omnibus June 2015: (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/483275/DFE-RR493_Teacher_voice_omnibus_questions_for_DfE_-_June_2015.pdf)
[iv] Ofsted Annual Report 2014/15: Educations and Skills: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ofsted-annual-report-201415-education-and-skills
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords