Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

White paper published

The education white paper was published on 25 October with much hype in the media and considerably less substance between its covers. The full document and executive summary are on the DfES website at www.dfes.gov.uk/publications/schoolswhitepaper

SHA's view is that the white paper contains less freedom for schools than the media or the prime minister appeared to suggest. There is a change of name from foundation schools to self-governing schools and a proposed trust school status, but it offers little more in the way of freedom.

It is certainly not, as Conservative MPs seemed to think in the parliamentary debate, the return of grant maintained status. The prime minister and the secretary of state both talked of increasing parent power, but the main change is likely to be a requirement to send more regular reports to parents on their children's progress.

The section on personalised learning is backed up by some welcome additional funding for secondary schools for key stage 3 catch-up classes. This will be targeted according to prior attainment and disadvantage.

The section of the white paper on school leadership includes the establishment of a new group of "national leaders of education, drawn from those who are succeeding in our most challenging leadership roles". These 'top headteachers' will work closely with NCSL and the DfES on the direction of leadership development and national education policy.

The white paper contained very little on primary schools and nothing on colleges.

The real test of the white paper's impact will be when it goes up for debate in Parliament, most likely before Christmas. SHA will be lobbying MPs before that to make sure that schools' and colleges' views are taken seriously.

To find out more about the actual content of the white paper and its potential impact, go to John Dunford's article.

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