Education policy

Can we make school more like university?

Some years ago I went into a school as a lead practitioner in maths. Finding a very shaky grasp of the essentials among year 11s a few months before GCSE, I devised large lectures for the bulk of the year-group. These were short but contained what, in my opinion, were the absolute fundamentals.  They identified key methods and set out a common language so that the rest of the department could follow up consistently with their classes. As lead, I had to deliver my lecture first, but rapidly brought the others along to do their sessions, which they were keen to do.

Free schools and special education: responding to need

This week, Ofsted released SEND: old issues, new issues, next steps – an analysis which mapped the experiences of children with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) over the course of the pandemic. The findings outlined what the sector was already aware of: en masse children have not only missed vital education during COVID-19, but have failed to receive language and physical support which is critical to their needs.

Early Career Framework reforms: providing solid foundations

As they do every year, this September schools will welcome new and existing pupils back into the classroom after the Summer holidays.

Many schools will also be welcoming new teachers with an induction programme that has been designed to give them the best possible start to their teaching careers.

From September 2021 every early career teacher undergoing statutory induction will be entitled to a two-year programme of high-quality professional development support, based on the very best evidence as set out in the Early Career Framework (ECF).

Free schools: Time to level up

Over a decade ago, New Schools Network started to support groups applying to open free schools. The free schools programme welcomed with open arms parents, teachers, charity groups and other new providers, that aimed to play a part in ensuring their local communities could access high quality education, no matter their background. Fuelled by innovation, the pioneers set up free schools not because they desired to be part of a political agenda, but because they knew real families, real children deserved better.

Reflections on conference season

As another year of party conferences draws to a close, the education sector is recovering from a relentless bashing in the bullring of debate.

While the Conservatives spoke of renewal for funding, free schools and further education, Labour announced a raft of policies, including pledges to abolish private schools, dismantle Ofsted, and end the free school programme.

Timpson Review: A starting point

The central conclusion of the report saw solutions based in encouraging inclusion methods within mainstream schools as a way of tackling consequences of exclusion such as poor GCSE grades and risks of gang violence. Although this will lead to a reduction in the overall exclusion figures, vulnerable children may not be receiving the support they require remaining in mainstream schools.

Back in the limelight: Free schools debate

The motion was presented by Greg Hands, the Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham. It was great to see the successes of the free school policy highlighted early on, with the MP stating “only 68% of state-funded schools were good or outstanding in 2010, that jumped to 89% at the end of August 2017.” He pointed out that high performing schools in Kensington and Chelsea demonstrated the benefits that free schools and academies bring to the system, but also acknowledged where the policy has faced difficulty, such as problems around finding a suitable site.