March 2016 Education News

Posted on March 18, 2016 by Amy Tolmie
Categories: Other,

Here are the education headlines from the 2016 Budget, released this week. The text comes directly from the policy paper originally posted on Reading the education section here saves you scrolling all the way down on the full document, but you can of course see the whole paper here

Below the section on the budget, we share key news from the new white paper released by Nicky Morgan yesterday and conclude this post by offering some ideas about how we respond and react to educational change. 


1. Longer school day – The government will provide up to £285 million a year to give 25% of secondary schools increased opportunity to extend their school day.

2. Expand breakfast clubs – Starting from September 2017, the government will provide £10 million funding to expand the number of healthy breakfast clubs.

3. Every school an academy – The government expects all schools to become academies by 2020, or to have an academy order in place in order to convert by 2022. 

4. National Funding Formula for schools – Subject to consultation, the government’s aim is for 90% of schools who will gain funding increases to receive the full amount they are due by 2020.

5. Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy – The government will invest £20 million a year to raise education standards across the Northern Powerhouse. This will be achieved by:

  • bringing in support from proven leaders and outstanding schools in neighbouring areas to mentor weaker schools 
  • boosting funding available for turnaround activity in coasting and vulnerable schools
  • fast-tracking the best local schools to become Teaching Schools and the best local heads to become National Leaders of Education 
  • providing funding to establish a Northern branch of the New Schools Network and investing to expand the best academy chains and develop new sponsors in the North 
  • Sir Nick Weller leading a report into transforming education across the Northern Powerhouse

6. Double primary school PE and sport premium – From September 2017 the government will increase the primary school PE and sport premium funding from £160 million per year to £320 million per year.

7. Post-16 maths – The government will ask Professor Sir Adrian Smith to review how to improve the study of maths from 16 to 18.

8. Mentoring – The government will provide £14 million over the Spending Review period to deliver a mentoring scheme for disadvantaged young teenagers. 

The biggest news and probably the most talked about, is the plan for every school to become an Academy by 2020. More information on educational change is also now available in the 'Educational Excellence Everywhere' white paper, introduced by Nicky Morgan (Secretary of State for Education) on 17th March 2016. You can access that paper here. The goal is summed up by the title: 'achieving educational excellence everywhere'. 

Nicky Morgan begins the paper with this: 

"Education has the power to transform lives and, for me, is a
matter of social justice – extending opportunity to every child,
wherever they live and whatever their background. Good
schools and a well-educated population make our country
stronger, fairer, wealthier and more secure, and higher
standards in the classroom mean better life chances for
everyone. Investing in our education system is an investment
in the future of our nation."

  1. Excellence: first, we will continue to set unapologetically high expectations for all children. This country’s best schools and highest performing areas already show us how relentlessly ambitious we can and should be for children from all backgrounds, and we believe that when the bar is raised, everyone benefits.
  2. Everywhere: second, we will focus on intensively tackling areas of the country that have lagged behind for too long. Wherever they live, whatever their background, prior attainment or needs, every child deserves a high quality education. We will do more to support communities where underperformance has become entrenched and ensure they can learn from the areas, leaders and schools that have made such impressive progress over the last five years.

Their seven main elements to making this happen are listed below, along with one point for each element listed the report (not necessarily the most important, but some detail to get you started). You can obviously read the rest by reading the report here

All quotes are taken directly from the white paper: Educational Excellence Everywhere, March 2016

Great teachers. The current QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) is being replaced with a "stronger, more challenging accreditation based on teacher's effectiveness in the classroom".

Great leaders running our schools and at the heart of our system. New "world-leading National Professional Qualifications" will be developed by leading headteachers, Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) CEOs and other experts for each level of leadership, to "better prepare new leaders for the full range of leadership roles."

A school-led system with every school an academy, empowered pupils, parents and communities and a clearly defined role for local government. The government will have "new power to direct schools to become academies in local authority areas which are underperforming or where the local authority no longer has capacity to maintain its schools; or where schools have not started the process of becoming an academy by 2020. This process will be complete by the end of 2022, by which point local authorities will no longer maintain any schools."

Preventing underperformance and helping schools go from good to great: school-led improvement, with scaffolding and support where it’s needed. "In the new school system, most school improvement will take place within effective MATs". The government "will ensure there are enough strong academy sponsors from business, charitable organisations and existing strong schools available to transform schools that need their support, particularly in the toughest areas. At the heart of this approach will be supporting the strongest schools and sponsors to expand their reach."

High expectations and a world-leading curriculum for allNational assessments at primary level are being reformed so that "every child leaves primary school with the essential building blocks to success at secondary." The goal will also be for the vast majority of pupils to study the English Baccalaureate (EBacc).

Fair, stretching accountability, ambitious for every child.  Ofsted will be increasingly focused on underperformance, where it can add most value. "Ofsted will consult on removing the separate graded judgments on the quality of teaching, learning and assessment to help clarify that the focus of inspection is on outcomes and to reduce burdens on schools and teachers."

The right resources in the right hands: investing every penny where it can do the most good. The pupil premium will continue, and the plan is for its effectiveness to be improved by encouraging heads to adopt "evidence-based strategies drawing on evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation."

As Christian schools workers, how do we respond or react to these headlines? 

Perhaps for you these latest changes bring concern, perhaps you're encouraged, maybe you have questions about how this might impact the schools you work in or you might be hearing chatter about these developments in the staffroom.  I have three reactions to start with, and I invite you to consider how God is leading you to respond or react. 

  • Firstly I am prompted to pray for the teachers and school staff. The extra burden on them to provide education for excluded pupils and the changes in school structures and management being just two things to start with. 
  • Secondly I am concerned that in pursuit of being 'relentlessly ambitious' and with the government 'intensively tackling' areas that are lagging behind in attainment, that the holistic needs of students will be overlooked in favour of high results. Some schools I know (not all) are already running more like businesses than positive learning environments where each child is nurtured and known. I would like to add a word to the title of the report: 'Educational Excellence Everywhere for Everyone'. The 'everyone' meaning that each pupil is given an equal chance to learn and have fun while they learn, regardless of attainment levels, and that they would be served 'excellently' by those who teach them, provide pastoral support, design their learning programmes and all the other areas essential for healthy development. 
  • Thirdly I am hopeful because I know so many brilliant teachers, heads and governors who will make the best of these changes and continue to do their utmost to provide the most effective learning environments and opportunities for their students. Let's continue to be an encouragement to them in their roles to keep going!