Consultation on school reform plans opens – Friday 16 September 2016

This week saw the Education Secretary launch the consultation on the Government’s controversial plans to expand grammar schools in England, confirm that the Government will proceed with the Educational Excellence Everywhere white paper and the publication of updated guidance on what schools need to know to plan for the new academic year.

Launch of consultation on Schools that work for everyone green paper
Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Education, addressed the House of Commons on Monday to launch the Government’s consultation on proposals for new grammar schools, as outlined in the Schools that work for everyone green paper.

The consultation is structured around four types of institutions – Independent schools; Universities; Selective schools and Faith schools and the proposals include:

  • allowing new selective schools to open, existing ones to expand, or non-selective schools to convert where there is demand (these schools must meet certain conditions such as guaranteeing places for children from disadvantaged backgrounds or helping to establish non-selective free schools);
  • stronger, more demanding requirements for independent schools to retain the benefits associated with charitable status; this could include offering bursaries to those less able to afford them or sponsoring schools in the state sector;
  • requiring universities to open or sponsor schools in exchange for the right to raise their tuition fees;
  • lifting the cap on new faith free schools which requires them to limit the number of pupils admitted on the basis of faith to 50% and replacing it with new measures to ensure all new faith free schools are truly inclusive.

The Government also intends to develop a way to identify children from “families who are just about managing” – i.e. families who are struggling, but are not picked up in pupil premium and/or free school meals measures.

The consultation will close at 11.45 p.m. on 12 December 2016.

Academies white paper to go ahead
The Education Secretary faced her first grilling in front of the Education Select Committee yesterday, where she announced the Government’s plan to enact the Educational Excellence Everywhere white paper.

Ms Greening explained to MPs that the Government is currently “pulling together” legislation to go ahead with the planned changes, adding that she wanted to focus academisation on “struggling” schools.

Whilst the Committee heard that more details will be made available later in the year, Ms Greening did confirm that the controversial policy to remove the need for Parent Governors from academies will be scrapped.

Governor Mandatory Timelines
This week also saw the publication of updated guidance from the Department for Education on what academies, maintained schools and pupil referral units must know to plan for the academic year ahead.