Since 2010, New Schools Network has supported thousands of groups – comprising teachers, parents, charities, businesses, arts and sports organisations, and others – as they have navigated the complex free school application process. The knowledge and expertise NSN has accumulated, not only of the application process but beyond into pre-opening and once open, has made NSN the leading provider of support for those committed to demanding something better for the children in their community.
Responding to the news that 2021 students will receive teacher awarded grades Unity Howard, Director of the New Schools Network, said:
Free schools are the highest performing type of state school at GCSE and A level, as well as being more likely to be rated Outstanding by Ofsted. NSN has supported several of these groups throughout the application process, and will continue to do so during the pre-opening phase.
Unity Howard, Director of New Schools Network, said:
NSN held discussions with many schools, and used a survey, to gain insight on how results may be awarded most fairly and accurately in the absence of formal assessment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, countless different suggestions and concerns were raised; we have viewed these collectively to find common themes and provide constructive suggestions to Ofqual and the Department for Education.
It should be noted that the consultation response is NSN’s own and does not represent free schools as a cohort.
From our discussions, we have found four key areas that must be addressed:
"The term ‘unprecedented year’ has been bandied around throughout 2020, so much so that it has lost meaning – but it really is true. The challenges schools have faced and tackled head on throughout the year, and particularly this term have been significant.
"This country owes a huge amount of gratitude to teachers, leaders, governors, support staff and others for all that they have done, as schools have done everything they can to keep children safe and learning. They have gone above and beyond, proving once again their role as a pillar of society and community.
"The announcement on plans for exams in 2021 is hugely welcome news. Since March, teachers have done their level-best under exceptionally testing conditions and this clarity will bring some relief.
"As we saw in August, exams are the only reasonable way to ensure equity and fairness. It is right that centre-assessed grades will not be used next year.
"While there is no perfect way to level the playing field, these plans will go some way in protecting opportunity for children that have missed significant learning time this year."
It is very disappointing that the Chancellor has overlooked a new free school wave in the Spending Review.
At the election less than a year ago, the Government made a promise to ‘level up’ opportunity across the country and address the inequalities in access to, and quality of, critical infrastructure in many communities – particularly across the north and midlands. Many of these areas have some of the highest deprivation levels and lowest educational outcomes, with the average Progress 8 score across northern regions -0.21 compared with +0.22 in London.
Throughout the pandemic, teachers have gone above and beyond to keep schools open and pupils learning. But this year has also exposed further the challenges in our education system that are letting parents and their children down.
This Spending Review is an opportunity to deliver on the manifesto pledges made at the last election – to generate real and lasting change for communities across England, by improving standards of education so that this generation is not blighted by the impact of the pandemic for their whole lives.