The Queen’s Speech

The state opening of parliament on Tuesday included references to reforms to the education will help every child fulfil their potential wherever they live, raising standards and improving the quality of schools and higher education. The purpose of the bill is to: Level up opportunity by delivering a stronger and more highly performing school system that works for every child, regardless of where they live and is part of the governments levelling up agenda.

“Reforms to education will help every child fulfil their potential wherever they live, raising standards and improving the quality of schools and higher education.”

The purpose of the Bill is to:

  • Level up opportunity by delivering a stronger and more highly performing school system that works for every child, regardless of where they live.

The main benefits of the Bill would be:

  • Supporting school to be part of a family of schools in a strong trust to level up school standards and thus enable all children to achieve their potential wherever they live and whatever their background. This will support the ambition that by 2030, 90 per cent of primary school children will achieve the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, and the percentage of children meeting the expected standard in the worst performing areas will have increased by a third.
  • Ensuring that funding is allocated on a fair and consistent basis for all schools wherever they are so all schools deliver world class outcomes for their pupils.
  • Strengthening the school attendance regime so children can benefit from being in school.
  • Providing the tools to improve safeguarding for children wherever they are educated, including through ‘children not in school’ registers.

The main elements of the Bill are:

  • Strengthening the regulatory framework for academy trusts and establishing new statutory standards to drive clarity and consistency of expectations for academy trusts, underpinned by intervention powers to ensure action can be taken to tackle serious failure if it occurs.
  • Supporting more schools to become academies in strong trusts by removing barriers to conversion for faith schools and grammar schools and bringing schools into the academy sector where this is requested by local authorities.
  • Enabling better, more targeted, and more consistent multi-agency support to the children and families who need it most across England by making necessary reforms to the attendance legal framework. The Bill will require schools to publish an attendance policy and will put attendance guidance on a statutory footing, making roles and responsibilities clearer.
  • Implementing a direct National Funding Formula, so that each mainstream school will be allocated funding on the same basis, wherever it is in the country, and every child will be given the same opportunities, based on a consistent assessment of their needs.
  • Establishing ‘children not in school’ registers, as well as creating a duty on local authorities to provide support to home educating families. This will provide accurate data to help identify children who are not receiving a safe or suitable full-time education, and to enable support to be offered to interested parents of registered children.
  • Improving safeguarding by expanding registration requirements for independent educational institutions, enhancing enforcement, and working with Ofsted to expand investigatory powers.
  • Strengthening the current teacher misconduct regime to include more educational institutions and increasing powers to investigate individuals who commit misconduct and enact appropriate regulatory discipline procedures.

Territorial extent and application

  • The Bill will extend to England and Wales and apply to England only.

Key facts

Standards and academies

  • The proportion of schools rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted has increased by 18 percentage points from 2010.
  • More than seven out of ten sponsored academies are now rated as Good or Outstanding compared to about one in ten of the local authority-maintained schools that they replaced.
  • Over 434,000 children are now being educated in Good and Outstanding academies which have improved since they joined strong trusts. Supporting more schools to become academies will enable more children to benefit from the advantages of strong trusts.

Funding

  • Currently, funding levels can vary significantly between individual schools simply because of where they are located. For example, the funding for a small, rural primary school can vary by £100,000 depending on where it is in the country. The funding for a large, deprived secondary school can vary by £1.25 million.

Attendance

  • Pupils’ attainment, wellbeing, and wider development are secured by good mattendance. By the end of Key Stage 2, pupils with no absences are 1.3 times more likely to achieve level four or above in reading and maths tests, and 3.1 times more likely to achieve level five or above, than pupils who missed ten to 15 per cent of all sessions.
  • Prior to the pandemic, pupil absence fell substantially. From 2009-10 to 2018-19, the fall was from 6.0 per cent to 4.7 per cent of school sessions, representing around 15 million more days in school. Despite this, the prevalence of persistent absenteeism (even prior to COVID-19) was unacceptably high, with one in nine pupils missing more than ten per cent of possible sessions in 2018-19.

Children not in school

  • It is estimated that there were more than 115,000 children who were home educated at some point during the 2020-21 academic year, which is an increase of 34 per cent on the previous year. Local authorities need accurate data to identify children in their areas who are not receiving a safe or efficient full-time suitable education, and also to offer support to interested parents of home educated children

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