Excellence in Schools (1997)

This was New Labour's first education White Paper.

It formed the basis of the 1998 School Standards and Framework Act (pdf text 940kb) which encouraged selection by specialisation, changed the names of types of schools, limited infant class sizes, established Education Action Zones etc.

The complete document is presented in this single web page. You can scroll through it or use the following links to go straight to the various sections:

1 A new approach
2 A sound beginning
3 Standards and accountability
4 Modernising the comprehensive principle
5 Teaching: High status, high standards
6 Helping pupils achieve
7 A new partnership
Consultation - how to proceed
Appendix: Achievement in our schools

The text presented here was created from a photocopy of the printed version. The photographs in the original have been omitted.

The formatting of the text (bold, italics, centred etc) is a reasonably accurate representation of the printed version, but the pages presented here are not exact facsimiles of the original: the font (Times, Arial etc) and size of print - and therefore the number of words to a line and lines to a page - are determined by the settings you have chosen for your web browser. However, the page breaks are correct. In other words, if something is shown here as being on, say, page 53, you can be sure it appeared on page 53 in the original.

The page headers (none on the left hand pages, chapter title on the right) have been omitted.

The paragraph numbering is as in the original.

Excellence in Schools was prepared for the web by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 4 February 2013.


White Paper: Excellence in Schools (1997)

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1997
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.



[title page]




Excellence in schools


Presented to Parliament by
the Secretary of State for Education and Employment
by Command of Her Majesty


July 1997





Cm 36819.75

[page 2]

Page

Foreword by the Secretary of State
3

By 2002 ...
5

1 A new approach
9
Education, Education and Education · Tackling the problems we face · Our education principles · Our policy focus

2 A sound beginning
15
The foundations of learning · Early years education · Assessment when starting school · Smaller primary classes · Raising standards in literacy and numeracy

3 Standards and accountability
24
Raising standards: our top priority · Measuring performance to raise standards · The balance of pressure and support · High standards for all

4 Modernising the comprehensive principle
37
Excellence for everyone · Setting, target-grouping and accelerated learning · Education Action Zones · Specialist schools and families of schools · A new National Grid for Learning · Research and development into schools of the future

5 Teaching: High status, high standards
45
Good teaching is the key to high standards · School leadership · Training new teachers · Starting teaching · Professional development and in-service training · Advanced Skills Teachers · Performance management · Support for teachers · A voice for teachers

6 Helping pupils achieve
53
Parental support · Discipline and attendance · School leaving date · Out-of-school learning · Skills for life · Education and health

7 A new partnership
66
Community, aided and foundation schools · School governors · The role of LEAs · Finance · Organisation of school places · School admissions · Independent schools

Consultation - how to proceed
74

Appendix: Achievement in our schools
78

[page 3]

Foreword by the Secretary of State

This, the first White Paper of the new Government, is as much about equipping the people of this country for the challenge of the future as it is about the Government's core commitment to equality of opportunity and high standards for all.

Partnership for change means commitment from everyone: from the family and the wider community; from those working in the education service; and from those who support it, often voluntarily. Valuing our teachers and celebrating success go hand in hand with raising expectations and then acting to fulfil them.

Everyone has a part to play. Children begin to learn about the world from the moment they are born. Families are the first teachers, helped by health visitors and others. At school, the caretaker and the school dinner lady, the school secretary and the classroom assistant are all part of the team.

In seeking the widest possible consultation through the summer and into the autumn, acting on that consultation and legislating where necessary to achieve our objectives, we wish to continue the process of creating a new culture in this country. We want to change attitudes towards education and foster a realisation that education matters to everyone.

To overcome economic and social disadvantage and to make equality of opportunity a reality, we must strive to eliminate, and never excuse, under-achievement in the most deprived parts of our country. Educational attainment encourages aspiration and self-belief in the next generation, and it is through family learning, as well as scholarship through formal schooling, that success will come.

We are talking about investing in human capital in the age of knowledge. To compete in the global economy, to live in a civilised society and to develop the talents of each and every one of us, we will have to unlock the potential of every young person. By doing so, each can flourish, building on their own strengths and developing their own special talents.

We must overcome the spiral of disadvantage, in which alienation from, or failure within, the education system is passed from one generation to the next.

To succeed we need the commitment, imagination and drive of all those working in our schools and colleges, if we are to set aside the doubts of the cynics and the corrosion of the perpetual sceptics. We must replace the culture of complacency with commitment to success.


[page 4]

Lifting the morale and motivation of those who work in our schools, colleges and education authorities is as much about self-esteem and a belief that we really can succeed, as it is about anything that central government can do. That is why, in offering a "can do" Government, we are asking for a "can do" profession.

We are placing great emphasis in the months ahead on getting initial teacher training right: on providing extensive in-service training: on developing our policies on literacy and numeracy: and on ensuring that the best methods available are used in every classroom in the country.

Resources are not the sole answer to delivering our objectives, but we do recognise that an end to cut-backs and a commitment to supporting best practice are crucial to success. The Government's first Budget was our first step in fulfilling the pledge that a greater share of national income should be spent on education. It was a sign of our commitment to education and our determination to deliver our standards agenda. Priority is indeed being given to education, to employability and to investment for the future.

This is a partnership between Government and the education service, between LEAs and schools, parents and school governors. I ask you to join with us in using your own creativity to answer as well as ask questions. In this way we can work together to meet the challenge and to attain the solution.

I ask you to join with us in making the crusade for higher standards a reality in every classroom and every household in the country.

Together we can do it.

David Blunkett


[page 5]

By 2002 ...

At the end of each chapter is a summary of what we aim to achieve over the lifetime of this Parliament by putting our proposals in place. All the summaries are brought together here.
1 By 2002 ...
  • There will be a greater awareness across society of the importance of education and increased expectations of what can be achieved.
  • Standards of performance will be higher.
  • Our overall approach to policy will be underpinned by six principles:
    1 Education will be at the heart of government.
    2 Policies will be designed to benefit the many, not just the few.
    3 The focus will be on standards, not structures.
    4 Intervention will be in inverse proportion to success.
    5 There will be zero tolerance of underperformance.
    6 Government will work in partnership with all those committed to raising standards.
2 There will be ...
  • High quality education for all 4 year-olds whose parents want it.
  • An early years forum in every area, planning childcare and education to meet local needs.
  • A network of early excellence centres to spread good practice.
  • Effective assessment of all children starting primary schools.
  • Class sizes of 30 or under for 5, 6 and 7 year-olds.
  • At least an hour each day devoted to both literacy and numeracy in every primary school.
  • National guidelines and training for all primary teachers on best practice in the teaching of literacy and numeracy.
  • A great improvement in achievements in maths and English at the end of primary education, to meet national targets.

[page 6]

  • School performance tables will be more useful, showing the rate of progress pupils have made as well as their absolute levels of achievement.
  • Each school will have its own challenging targets to raise standards, and will be held responsible for achieving them.
  • Each LEA will be working to an Education Development Plan agreed with the DfEE and its schools, showing how standards in all schools will rise.
  • School management and leadership will have better support from LEAs.
  • Most failing schools will have been improved, and the remaining few closed, or given a Fresh Start.
  • OFSTED will have improved its school inspection process, and will also have inspected a large number of LEAs.
  • The DfEE will have become more outward-looking and in touch with the education service, in particular through the work of the Standards and Effectiveness Unit.
  • Special educational needs will be an integral part of the wider programme for raising standards.
  • Schools will be taking practical steps to raise ethnic minority pupils' achievements and promote racial harmony.






[page 7]

4 We will have ...

  • Schools setting pupils according to ability and further development of innovative approaches to pupil grouping.
  • Education Action Zones providing targeted support and development where they are most needed.
  • An extensive network of specialist schools benefiting neighbouring schools and the local community.
  • Better developed information and communications technology within a clear national strategy.
  • Schools linked to a National Grid for Learning providing modern teaching and resource material, supported by initiatives such as NetDays.
  • A clear strategy for promoting research and development into schools of the future.
5 There will be ...
  • A requirement for headteachers when appointed for the first time to hold a professional headship qualification.
  • National training arrangements for existing headteachers.
  • New core requirements for all initial teacher training courses; new requirements for trainee teachers focusing on English and maths in the primary phase: and new standards which all trainees must meet before qualifying to teach.
  • New induction arrangements for all newly qualified teachers.
  • Better training for existing teachers to make sure all use the most effective methods of teaching, focused in particular on literacy, numeracy and IT.
  • A new grade of Advanced Skills Teacher.
  • Effective appraisal arrangements for teachers and headteachers.
  • Streamlined procedures for dealing with incompetent teachers.
  • A new General Teaching Council to speak for the profession.
6 There will be ...
  • More family learning schemes.
  • A home-school contract in all schools.
  • Better information for parents.
  • Greater representation of parents on governing bodies, and parent representatives on LEAs.
  • Better support in schools for pupils with behaviour problems, less need to exclude pupils from school, and better education for those who do not attend school.
  • Reduced levels of unauthorised absence from school.

[page 8]

  • No children who miss out on their GCSEs by leaving school early.
  • National guidelines for homework so that schools, parents and pupils realise its importance in raising standards.
  • A network of after-school homework centres.
  • Better school-business links.
  • A new national framework to promote extended opportunities for young people to benefit from activities outside the classroom.
  • Better programmes of work-related learning, citizenship and parenting.
  • National nutritional standards for school meals.
7 There will be ...
  • A new framework of foundation, community and aided schools, allowing all good schools to flourish and keeping in place whatever is already working well, while giving better support for those schools that need to improve.
  • Clearly understood roles for school governors and for LEAs so they can contribute positively to raising standards.
  • Fair and transparent systems for calculating school budgets, which allow schools as much freedom as possible to decide how to spend their budgets.
  • More local decision making about plans to open new schools or to change the size or character of existing schools.
  • Fairer ways of offering school places to pupils.
  • No more partial selection by general academic ability.
  • A more positive contribution from independent schools to our goal of raising standards for all children, with improved partnership and links with schools and local communities.






[page 9]

1 A new approach

1 Learning can unlock the treasure that lies within us all. In the 21st century, knowledge and skills will be the key to success. Our goal is a society in which everyone is well-educated and able to learn throughout life. Britain's economic prosperity and social cohesion both depend on achieving that goal

2 Good teachers, using the most effective methods, are the key to higher standards. The Government values teachers and intends to build on the knowledge and skills they have developed over many years. We must make sure that all teachers, whether they are just joining the profession or have many years' experience, understand the best methods of teaching and know how to use them.

3 The first task of the education service is to ensure that every child is taught to read, write and add up. But mastery of the basics is only a foundation. Literacy and numeracy matter so much because they open the door to success across all the other school subjects and beyond.

4 A good education provides access to this country's rich and diverse culture, to its history and to an understanding of its place in the world. It offers opportunities to gain insight into the best that has been thought and said and done.


[page 10]

5 There are wider goals of education which are also important. Schools, along with families, have a responsibility to ensure that children and young people learn respect for others and for themselves. They need to appreciate and understand the moral code on which civilised society is based and to appreciate the culture and background of others. They need to develop the strength of character and attitudes to life and work, such as responsibility, determination, care and generosity, which will enable them to become citizens of a successful democratic society.

6 This White Paper sets out our vision for education in schools in England; a second White Paper later this year will do the same for lifelong learning. The Government recognises its responsibility to lead, shape priorities and make change possible, but if we are to succeed in raising standards in schools, everyone must play their part. We urge all those with an interest in learning, especially parents, teachers, governors and business people, to examine the proposals in this White Paper and to join us in taking the steps necessary to create a world-class education system.

7 The appendix on achievement in schools (page 78) shows that too many of our children are failing to realise their potential:

  • in the 1996 national tests only 6 in 10 of 11 year-olds reached the standard in maths and English expected for their age:
  • achievement at 14 shows a similar picture, with well over a third of 14 year-olds not achieving the level expected for their age in English, maths or science:
  • over half of our 16 year-olds do not achieve five or more higher grade GCSEs, two-thirds of them do not achieve a grade C in maths and English, and 1 in 12 achieves no GCSEs at all: and
  • international comparisons support the view that our pupils are not achieving their potential. For example, our 9 and 13 year-olds were well down the ran kings in the maths tests in the Third International Maths and Science Survey, the most recent international study.
8 OFSTED estimates that 2-3% of schools are failing, 1 in 10 have serious weaknesses in particular areas and about a third are not as good as they should be. The national debate on standards over the last two years which current Ministers when in Opposition helped to initiate has already focused attention on literacy and numeracy, and is beginning to bear fruit, but there is far to go.

9 The problem with our education system is easily stated. Excellence at the top is not matched by high standards for the majority of children. We have some first-class schools and our best students compare with the best in the world. But by comparison with other industrialised countries, achievement by the average student is just not good enough.

10 These problems have deep and historic roots. We failed to lay the foundations of a mass education system at the end of the 19th century as our competitors - France, Germany and the USA - were doing. They recognised that a strategy for national prosperity depended on well-developed primary and secondary education for all pupils, combined with effective systems of vocational training and extensive higher education. By contrast, mass education was neglected, and governments were content to rely on private schools to provide the elite entry to universities and the professions.

11 Our progress in the 20th century has been slow. A mass education system did not come


[page 11]

about until after the Second World War. The school-leaving age remained at 15 until the 1970s and the focus was still on selecting a small proportion of young people for university. That determined the structure of the school system: selection at 11 followed by further specialisation at 16 for those who stayed on.

12 The demands for equality and increased opportunity in the 1950s and 1960s led to the introduction of comprehensive schools. All-in secondary schooling rightly became the normal pattern, but the search for equality of opportunity in some cases became a tendency to uniformity. The idea that all children had the same rights to develop their abilities led too easily to the doctrine that all had the same ability. The pursuit of excellence was too often equated with elitism.

13 It was right in the 1980s to introduce the National Curriculum - albeit that it was 20 or 30 years too late. It was right to set up more effective management systems: to develop a more effective inspection system; and to provide more systematic information to parents. These changes were necessary and useful. We will keep and develop them. But they were not and are not enough in themselves. We face new challenges at home and from international competitors, such as the Pacific Rim countries. They do not rely on market forces alone in education and neither should we. It is time now to get to the heart of raising standards - improving the quality of teaching and learning.

Our policy principles

14 We have consistently made clear that there will be unrelenting pressure on schools and teachers for improvement. But we recognise that successful change will not result from pressure alone. Those whose task it is to work day in, day out to raise standards also need to have access to external expertise and to have their achievements celebrated. Under this Government, there will be the right balance of pressure and support which will enable us, together, to rise to the challenges of the new millennium. This is the animating idea behind this White Paper. It informs each of the six principles on which our approach to policy will be based.

Principle 1: Education will be at the heart of government

15 Our first principle is to ensure that education must be at the heart of government. The Prime Minister has made it clear that education is the Government's number one priority. The first Queen's Speech announced two education bills: one to provide the resources to implement the Government's class size pledge, the other to advance the standards agenda set out in this White Paper. The Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) has higher status than ever before. Other departments of government whose work impacts on education will contribute to our drive for educational success. Already education has taken centre stage and it will remain there through this Parliament and beyond. A clear sign of this is our pledge that over the lifetime of the Government we will increase the proportion of national income spent on education as we decrease it on meeting the bills of past social and economic failure.

Principle 2: Policies will be designed to benefit the many, not just the few

16 Our second principle is that, in deciding our priorities, we shall put in place policies that benefit the many, not just the few. Hence, for example, the shift of resources as a matter of urgency from the Assisted Places Scheme to the reduction of class sizes for all 5, 6 and 7 year-olds. Our policies will be designed to achieve early success rather than later attempts to recover from failure. This explains the emphasis we have placed on nursery education for all 4 year-olds and on raising standards in the three 'Rs' at primary level. As a matter of urgency, the Government will reduce the extent of early failure in the system by encouraging best practice and effective monitoring with speedy intervention where necessary.


[page 12]

17 The preoccupation with school structure has absorbed a great deal of energy to little effect. We know what it takes to create a good school: a strong, skilled head who understands the importance of clear leadership, committed staff and parents, high expectations of every child and above all good teaching. These characteristics cannot be put in place by altering the school structure or by legislation and financial pressure alone. Effective change in a field as dependent on human interaction as education requires millions of people to change their behaviour. That will require consistent advocacy and persuasion to create a climate in which schools are constantly challenged to compare themselves to other similar schools and adopt proven ways of raising their performance.

18 The main responsibility for improving schools lies with the schools themselves. Where schools are evidently successful, we see no benefit in interfering with their work, although all schools need to be challenged to improve. Schools need a constant supply of good data about how their performance compares with that of other schools, a clear understanding of the Government's strategic priorities and recognition of their achievement. We will of course seek to celebrate success and learn from it but, where a school has problems, intervention is essential to protect the pupils. Ideally intervention should be preventive and early, so that severe failure is avoided. The Government intends to put in place arrangements for targeted interventions by LEAs or the DfEE, informed by OFSTED, that are appropriate to the scale of the problem.

19 Our aim is excellence for everyone. If this is to be more than rhetoric, then persistent failure must be eradicated. Hence our commitment to zero tolerance of underperformance. We shall seize every opportunity to recognise and celebrate success in the education service, and we shall put in place policies which seek to avoid failure. But where failure occurs, we shall tackle it head on. Schools which have been found to be failing will have to improve, make a fresh start, or close. The principle of zero tolerance will also apply to local education authorities. Our policy will be driven by our recognition that children only get one chance. We intend to create an education service in which every school is either excellent, improving or both.

20 Government will lead the drive to raise standards and create the right framework, but it cannot succeed alone. It must work in partnership with all those who have a part to play in improving the quality of education: parents, teachers and governors, local authorities, churches and business. Parents are a child's primary educator and our partnership approach will involve them fully. We want to put the years of division, conflict and short-term thinking behind us.

21 We will be alert to new ways of working with others to raise standards: new forms of Public/Private Partnership; new forms of collaboration between local and central government; new ways of involving parents in education; new relationships between private and state schools; and new ways of involving volunteers and working with voluntary organisations. Our literacy and numeracy targets for 11 year-olds (see Chapter 2), for example, are not just targets set by the Government to hold the education service to account; but targets set by the Government and the education service together, for which both are jointly accountable.

22 Through our new Standards and Effectiveness Unit (page 32) in the DfEE, we have already begun to enhance the capacity of the education service to recognise and spread best practice. The new partnership for change which we are building through our new Standards


[page 13]

Task Force (page 32) will improve the quality of relationships between the different areas of the service. The creation of the General Teaching Council (page 51) will give teachers a new opportunity to bring their professionalism to bear and we will work with teachers to develop their skills.

Our policy focus

23 In each chapter of this White Paper our proposals will be underpinned by the principles we have set out here. There is no instant or single solution, but the standard of teaching in schools is of critical importance. All of our key proposals will be linked to effective training and support of new and existing teachers. Raising standards will be a long and sometimes hard process. The key lies in combining a range of initiatives to drive up standards in our schools:

  • Every child should get the basics of literacy and numeracy right early on through good teaching in early years education and primary schools, supported by smaller classes (Chapter 2).
  • All schools will be challenged to improve and must take responsibility for raising their own standards, using proven best practice with the right balance of pressure and support from central and local government (Chapter 3).
  • We must modernise comprehensive secondary education for the new century - recognising that different children move at different speeds and have different abilities (Chapter 4).
  • We must improve the quality of teaching through a new deal for teachers, with pressure to succeed matched by support for good teaching and leadership (Chapter 5).
  • Parents and local communities should be fully and effectively involved in the education of children (Chapter 6).
  • We must develop effective partnerships at local level to help schools work together towards the common goal of higher standards (Chapter 7).

24 We are setting challenging targets which we expect to be met. In return we recognise that effective support also requires investment. That is our deal with parents, pupils and teachers. Growth will be dependent on the availability of resources, but as they become available, they will be targeted on meeting our overall strategic objectives.

25 In the meantime, we will redirect existing resources so that we can begin to work towards our priorities. The Grants for Education Support and Training will, for example, be refocused to meet our literacy, numeracy and school improvement priorities. We also intend through imaginative Public/Private Partnerships to begin to improve the condition of school buildings which, as a result of over a decade of neglect, is unacceptable. This will take time but we will make a start.


[page 14]

Summary

Each chapter sets out what we aim to achieve over the lifetime of this Parliament by putting our proposals in place.

By 2002

  • There will be a greater awareness across society of the importance of education and increased expectations of what can be achieved.
  • Standards of performance will be higher.
  • Our overall approach to policy will be underpinned by six principles:
1 Education will be at the heart of government.

2. Policies will be designed to benefit the many, not just the few.

3. The focus will be on standards, not structures.

4. Intervention will be in inverse proportion to success.

5. There will be zero tolerance of underperformance.

6. Government will work in partnership with all those committed to raising standards.

Consultation

We welcome comments on all the proposals in this White Paper. Questions on which we would particularly welcome views are set out in the text and summarised at the end of each chapter. The full list of questions from all the chapters and a list of other more technical consultations are brought together in Consultation - how to respond (page 74). That sets out clearly the various ways in which responses can be made. The deadline for consultation is 7 October 1997.




[page 15]

It is virtually impossible for children to make a success of their lives unless, when they leave primary school, they can lead and write fluently, handle numbers confidently, and concentrate on their work. We aim to ensure that all children have that firm foundation for their education.

2 A sound beginning

The foundations of learning

1 Investment in learning in the 21st century is the equivalent of investment in the machinery and technical innovation that was essential to the first great industrial revolution. Then it was physical capital; now it is human capital. We need to build up the store of knowledge and keep abreast of rapid technological development if we are to prepare the future generation. Our children are our future as a civilised society and a prosperous nation. If they are to have an education that matches the best in the world, we must start now to lay the foundations, by getting integrated early years education and childcare, and primary education, right.

2 We know that children who benefit from nursery education - especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds - are more likely to succeed in primary school. And we know that children who benefit from a good primary education are more likely to succeed in secondary education. Indeed, the quality of children's pre-school and primary education has been shown to have a major impact on their achievements at 16 and their wider social skills.


[page 16]

3 For all these reasons, the Government is determined to provide a sound beginning for all children's education by offering:

  • good quality early years education, alongside childcare and family learning where appropriate:
  • careful assessment of children when they start primary school;
  • smaller infant classes to support more effective teaching and learning: and
  • a national programme to raise standards of literacy and numeracy, and to develop positive attitudes to learning.
Early years education

Early years forums

4 Our aim is that all children should begin school with a head start in literacy, numeracy and behaviour, ready to learn and make the most of primary education We are committed to securing high quality places for all 4 year-olds whose parents want them, and we shall set targets for places for 3 year-orcs. Chapter 6 describes how, even before early years education starts, family learning can support learning and development, particularly in families where educational disadvantage is most obvious. The contribution parents can make is vital to the development and achievement of children from such families.

5 We need a new approach to achieving our early years goals - one based on collaboration and partnership. The nursery voucher system has not worked. It ignores broader childcare issues and has created expensive bureaucracy instead of effective co-operation. Vouchers will not be used after the summer term of 1997. Instead, each local authority will set up, with local private and voluntary providers, an early years forum representing the full range of providers and users of early years education in the area, as well as employers and others with an interest in early years services. Our aim is a comprehensive and integrated approach to pre-school education and childcare.

6 The forums will review the services available, including the information available to parents before children start school. They will draw up early years development plans, initially setting out how to achieve the commitment to places for 4 year-olds. The plans will demonstrate how co-operation - in particular between private nurseries, voluntary pre-schools and playgroups and schools - can best serve the needs of children and their parents. Local circumstances and needs will be reflected. The plans will show how, over time, education can be dovetailed with high quality childcare, perhaps through comprehensive early years services, building on the pioneering work of North Tyneside, the Pen Green Centre in Corby, the Dorothy Gardner Centre in Westminster, and others.

7 We have already begun to consult on early years forums and on the details of early years development plans. We will send clear and authoritative guidance - including on how to establish forums and what plans should cover - to LEAs and others in the early autumn so that those who serve on forums, and those consulted by them, understand their role.

Quality

8 Early years places should provide a high standard of teaching and learning and we shall consult on how to ensure this, in particular through:

  • staff training and qualifications including early years training for qualified teachers;
  • involving parents fully: and
  • common standards of regulation and inspection.


[page 17]

9 One of the best ways of raising standards is through practical examples. We shall work with local authorities and others to establish early excellence centres which demonstrate good practice in education, childcare and integrated services and provide training and a focus for dissemination. Twenty-five centres will be chosen initially.

Case Study: Early Years Provision

Margaret McMillan Nursery School in Islington provides early years education and day care for children up to the age of 5. It has successfully developed integrated early years provision to serve the needs of children, including those with special educational needs, and families in the community. The school is committed to good teaching and assessment of children's progress. This is underpinned by a strong programme of staff development and training. The headteacher leads a multidisciplinary team across teaching, care and specialist support, with therapists and outside agencies working with regular staff for particular needs. The education it provides is planned so as to provide a stepping stone to the curriculum of primary schools to which children transfer at the age of 4 or 5. The involvement of parents is also crucial in supporting the work of the school both in planning and working with children.

National standards for early years

10 "Desirable learning outcomes" have been developed by the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCM) to set out important areas of learning for young children which early years providers should be aiming to achieve.

11 The "outcomes" provide national standards for early years education. They emphasise early literacy and numeracy and personal and social skills. They also develop children's knowledge, understanding and skills in other areas. They are designed to provide a robust first step towards the National Curriculum and we shall re-examine them at the same time as we review the National Curriculum.

Assessment when starting school

12 Assessment of our youngest pupils when they start school is an essential first step on the way to improving basic skills in literacy and numeracy. A nationwide approach, building on the best of current practice, will be introduced from September 1997. It will show the value the school is adding and help teachers to:

  • identity and plan activities to meet the needs of each and every pupil, in some cases providing early warning of special educational needs; and
  • check the rate of pupils' progress as they learn.
13 The best schools and LEAs already undertake baseline assessment. We want all to do so, using methods of assessment that are consistent and of high quality. The National Framework for baseline assessment published by SCM in June will allow schools and LEAs to use a range of approaches, provided they meet key requirements. Children must be assessed in the basics of language and literacy, mathematics, and personal and social development. Assessment will be based on teachers' own observations and may include specially designed activities.


[page 18]

14 Information on the new arrangements will be provided to all schools and parents, encouraging teachers to discuss assessments with parents and suggest ways they can help their children do well at school. All schools will be required by law to assess their pupils from September 1998. Most schools will be helping to pilot the new arrangements from this September. We shall ensure that the statutory arrangements benefit from the pilot. SCAA have already commissioned an independent evaluation in the autumn.

15 We want baseline assessment to be the first form of assessment introduced on the basis of partnership with teachers, and not of confrontation with them. It is a vital first step towards helping all our schools improve.

Question: What information from the assessments that are carried out when children start school would parents find most helpful?

Case Study: Baseline assessment

In Leeds, many teachers assess children in their first half term of schooling under a baseline assessment scheme developed with the LEA. The class teacher undertakes baseline assessment based on observations over time in a number of classroom contexts. The assessment covers language, mathematics and social and emotional development. The teacher uses the information to determine how far a child is progressing towards the desirable learning outcomes or level 1 of the National Curriculum. This helps the teacher to plan lessons and set appropriate targets for individual children. The information is also analysed by the LEA to help schools measure children's subsequent achievement. From September 1997, teachers in all Leeds primary schools will use the scheme.

Smaller primary classes

16 Our pledge to reduce class sizes for 5, 6 and 7 year-olds will be a key factor in improving standards in primary schools. Research evidence shows the importance of class size for younger children. Smaller classes at this age mean teachers can spend more time identifying early on each child's individual needs and difficulties and offering the help children need to master the basics.

17 We have pledged to reduce class sizes for 5, 6 and 7 year-olds to 30 or below within the next five years. We intend to work with LEAs and in close consultation with individual schools to ensure the reduction in class sizes is as well-managed and cost-effective as possible. We are already working with a number of LEAs around the country to agree the main issues involved in reducing class sizes and the pace at which progress can be made. We will shortly be inviting all LEAs to begin work on drawing up action plans to reduce infant class sizes progressively to meet our target. We will ensure that the admissions arrangements described in Chapter 7 match our pledge on class sizes.

18 There will be a cost to introducing smaller classes, which we intend to meet through phasing out the Assisted Places Scheme and redistributing the funding to benefit the many, not the few. The Bill currently before Parliament to phase out the Assisted Places Scheme will unlock funds from 1998 onwards which will be used to implement our pledge.


[page 19]

Raising standards in literacy and numeracy

National targets in literacy and numeracy

19 Literacy and numeracy must be our prime focus because they are fundamental to all future learning: a child who does not learn to read well early on is at risk of falling further and further behind in all subjects.

20 The evidence shows that the current situation is unacceptable:

  • too many children have poor literacy and numeracy skills;
  • we have fallen behind many other developed countries in numeracy;
  • our performance in literacy is behind a number of comparable English-speaking countries;
  • standards of literacy have not changed significantly between the end of the war and the early 1990s; and
  • crucially, there is a wide variation in performance among primary schools.
21 Preparing all children for the challenges of life in the 21st century requires real progress - and soon. In May we announced challenging national targets for the performance of 11 year-olds in English and maths. By 2002:
  • 80% of 11 year-olds will be reaching the standards expected for their age in English; and
  • 75% of 11 year-olds will be reaching the standards expected for their age in maths.
In 1996 fewer than 6 in 10 achieved these levels. We also need to make more progress with boys than girls, since boys are less successful at both 7 and 11.

22 Both targets are ambitious and challenging. They are meant to be. People across the education service recognise the importance of giving literacy and numeracy priority and making progress as urgently as possible. Schools will vary in their starting points, but we expect all to improve year on year as they contribute to achieving the national targets. The evidence from international comparisons and the consultations on the Literacy Task Force Report suggest that the targets are achievable, if national and local government, teachers and parents work together to implement a carefully constructed strategy which is pursued relentlessly.

23 The Government announced these targets within two weeks of taking office because we are willing to be held accountable - along with our partners in the education service - for meeting them. There is already evidence that the focus we have placed on primary education, on increased use of homework, on raising expectations and specifically on standards of literacy and numeracy is already bearing fruit. It has concentrated attention in a manner which provides a firm foundation for raising standards further.

24 The literacy and numeracy targets will be given priority in all policies affecting schools. We will ensure that in any changes to, for example, initial teacher education, in-service training, the National Curriculum, national tests or OFSTED inspection, the commitment to the achievement of the literacy and numeracy targets will be paramount.

The literacy strategy

25 All primary teachers need to know how to teach reading in line with proven best practice. The key features of the successful teaching of reading have been developed by the National Literacy Project, and the existing 13 centres in LEAs are using this approach.


[page 20]

Case Study: Summerhill Junior School, St. George, Bristol

There are two key work structures that underpin the implementation of the National Literacy Project (NLP) in Summerhill Junior School. They are the 'framework for teaching' and the' literacy hour'.

Summerhill Junior School works to a programme of term by term teaching objectives set out in the NLP framework document. It covers three related strands of work:

  • text level - comprehension and composition;
  • sentence level - grammar and punctuation; and
  • word level - phonics, spelling and vocabulary.
These three strands set out a range of work to be covered in each term of every primary year, and they are lined up with the National Curriculum requirements for reading and writing. Summerhill Junior uses the framework structure to develop a more detailed scheme of work for literacy. It helps them shift the emphasis of their planning from what they should be teaching to how they should be teaching literacy.

The teaching objectives set out in the NLP framework are implemented through a daily dedicated hour for literacy. Typically, the teacher will spend:

10-15 minutes - on whole class work from a text which all pupils share
10-15 minutes - whole class word or sentence work
25-30 minutes - group activities
5-10 minutes - whole class review to share, present, revise and evaluate work

The school places emphasis on careful classroom organisation and on training pupils to work independently. This enables the teachers to devote almost all their time to teaching literacy and not managing the lesson.

26 The existing centres, however, offer support only to a small fraction of primary schools. If we are to reach the 80% target set for the year 2002, we need to move much more quickly and for all schools. We expect both the national campaign to improve literacy and also the general drive to raise standards in schools to make substantial contributions to achieving the literacy targets. In addition, it is essential that we have a strongly managed implementation programme. The components of that are:

  • each school will be advised to devote a structured hour a day to literacy for all pupils from September 1998;
  • in preparation for this all schools will receive training and development;
  • the project will be managed by the Standards and Effectiveness Unit of the DfEE, working with a national team of advisers;
  • the national advisers will train local literacy consultants;
  • the literacy consultants will train all the primary schools in their areas: and
  • the training will be supplemented by each school devoting an initial three training days to preparation for the introduction of the literacy hour.
27 In addition to that training for all primary schools, a more intensive training effort along the lines of existing literacy centres will start with the 10% or so of schools that have the furthest to go to reach the target. That will run for a period of 4 terms, and each year more schools


[page 21]

will be added so that by the year 2002 up to 50% of the schools in the country will have been given intensive support. It is likely that the other 50% will have their own plans in place, but if necessary they will also be given further support.

28 The implementation of the strategy is therefore a major logistical operation, following a very tight timetable. Later in the summer of 1997 we will publish details of the national operational plan. The intention is to invite LEAs to put forward proposals in October in line with the national plan, and to provide them with the appropriate support funds so that they have consultants in place from next April.

29 We recognise that the transformation of literacy standards depends not only on effective teaching methods but also on parents and other members of the community. The National Year of Reading, beginning in September 1998 and so coinciding with the introduction of the literacy hour, will play an important part in raising expectations and changing attitudes to learning. It will highlight the ways in which parents, employers, school and local authority libraries and community organisations can contribute to raising literacy standards. The parents' contribution will be firmly linked to the work of schools through our proposals for home-school contracts and homework guidelines which are described in Chapter 6.

Question: What should be done in the National Year of Reading in 1998/99 to help raise standards of literacy?

The numeracy strategy

30 The Government announced in May the creation of the Numeracy Task Force chaired by Professor David Reynolds. It has already started work and will publish a preliminary report towards the end of the year, drawing on views from across the education service. It will then consult extensively on that report.

31 Early evidence suggests that the existing National Numeracy Project has made an encouraging start, not least because it provides clear guidelines on what should be taught to each primary year group. It stresses the importance of a dedicated time for daily mathematics lessons, the use of interactive whole class and differential group teaching, and developing the ability to do mental arithmetic, including learning the times-tables by heart, to prevent any over-reliance on calculators. We will continue to monitor its progress and learn the lessons from it.

32 As with literacy, we need to move quickly and systematically to extend the initiative. We anticipate a numeracy implementation programme which, subject to the views of the Task Force, will have similar features to the literacy strategy. In particular, it is likely to require a daily numeracy lesson for all pupils in all primary schools.

33 We recognise that if successful change is to be brought about in both literacy and numeracy by 2002, careful planning will be essential to ensure that individual schools are not required to implement excessive change in anyone year. That said, the numeracy programme must not lag far behind that of literacy if the targets are to be achieved. Our preliminary thinking is that all schools should introduce the daily numeracy hour from September 1999, a year after the introduction of the literacy hour.

34 Nationally, the Government will ensure that the work of the various agencies is carefully co-ordinated and gives priority to the literacy and numeracy strategy. Local education authorities will have a major role to play in ensuring that progress in individual schools in their area is not hampered by innovation overload.

Question: What effective ideas for teaching, and the involvement of parents and the community, would you wish to see as part of the numeracy strategy?


[page 22]

Sharper focus on literacy and numeracy in the curriculum

35 The priority for the curriculum must be to give more emphasis to literacy and numeracy in primary education. To help support the new strategies for literacy and numeracy, the existing National Curriculum needs to be more sharply focused on giving all children a proper grounding in the basics within a broad and balanced curriculum. We have therefore asked SCAA, as a matter of urgency, to examine how a sharper focus on literacy and numeracy in primary schools can be achieved without change to the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum. Schools will need guidance on this. We have asked Her Majesty's Chief Inspector to ensure that the overriding priority we attach to literacy and numeracy is taken into account in schools inspections.

36 Our drive to improve children's literacy and numeracy skills will be assisted by rigorous assessment and testing at ages 7 and 11. In addition, SCAA supplied all primary schools earlier this year with optional tests in English and mathematics (including mental arithmetic) for 9 year-olds. We expect these to be more widely used.

37 We intend to conduct a thorough review of the National Curriculum in due course. We will set a sensible timetable for consultation and comment so that we will have a genuinely collaborative exercise in which all our partners in education will have the chance to participate. The curriculum for the next century - and its associated assessment - will be guided by:

  • our vision of a curriculum reflecting a common framework and a common entitlement;
  • the needs of children at different ages and different stages of their development: and
  • the needs, character and ethos of the individual school.
Meanwhile, we want the current national debate to focus on more effective teaching and raising standards.

Summary

This chapter sets out how we intend to provide a firm foundation for all children's education.

Under our proposals, by 2002 there will be:

  • high quality education for all 4 year-olds whose parents want it;
  • an early years forum in every area, planning childcare and education to meet local needs;
  • a network of early excellence centres to spread good practice;
  • effective assessment of all children starting primary schools:
  • class sizes of 30 or under for 5, 6 and 7 year-olds;
  • at least an hour each day devoted to both literacy and numeracy in every primary school;
  • national guidelines and training for all primary teachers on best practice in the teaching of literacy and numeracy; and
  • a great improvement in achievements in maths and English at the end of primary education, to meet national targets.


[page 23]

Consultation

On this chapter we would particularly wish to have views on:
  • What should early excellence centres do for children, parents and the local community?
  • What information from the assessments that are carried out when children start school would parents find most helpful?
  • What should be done in the National Year of Reading in 1998/99 to help raise standards of literacy?
  • What effective ideas for teaching, and the involvement of parents and the community, would you wish to see as part of the numeracy strategy?
Additional and more detailed technical consultation is being undertaken on:
  • early years development forums;
  • smaller primary classes; and
  • the numeracy strategy.






[page 24]

Primary and secondary schools have the information they need on pupil performance to develop plans for raising standards. But they will need their partners in government - the LEAs, OFSTED and the DfEE - to support them and maintain pressure to improve. All these partners must understand clearly what are their roles and responsibilities.

3 Standards and accountability

Raising standards: our top priority

1 All the evidence indicates that standards rise fastest where schools themselves take responsibility for their own improvement But schools need the right balance of pressure and support from central and local government. Because the education service has been poorly co-ordinated in recent years, we have not achieved that balance. The support from central and local agencies has been patchy and inconsistent. Schools have had plenty of pressure, but not always of a kind which raised standards. There has been an excessive concentration on the structure and organisation of schools at the expense of improving teaching, learning and leadership.

2 We need to improve the combination of pressure and support which central and local government apply to schools to stimulate constant improvement and tackle underperformance There is already regular high quality external inspection by OFSTED of schools. To complement this, schools must have annual plans for improving their performance which are focused on better teaching and learning, and are based on the


[page 25]

results they are already achieving. The way they set plans should follow best practice and be approved by the LEA. LEAs' work in raising standards will itself be improved through pressure and support from the DfEE, spearheaded by the new Standards and Effectiveness Unit. OFSTED inspection of LEAs will complement this.

Measuring performance to raise standards

3 One of the most powerful underlying reasons for low performance in our schools has been low expectations which have allowed poor quality teaching to continue unchallenged. Too many teachers, parents and pupils have come to accept a ceiling on achievement which is far below what is possible.

4 Schools often fail to stretch the most able; and they have not been good at identifying and pushing the modest or poor performers, or those with special educational needs. In some cases the excuse has been that "you cannot expect high achievement from children in a run-down area like this". Even more often, schools in comfortable circumstances have complacently accepted average performance when they should be aiming for excellence.

National Curriculum assessment

5 We now have sound, consistent, national measures of pupil achievement for each school at each Key Stage of the National Curriculum, They show that children, whatever their background, can achieve a great deal if they are well taught and well motivated. But they also show that, in practice, schools with similar intakes of pupils achieve widely differing results. The differences are a measure of a school's effectiveness in teaching and motivating its pupils.

6 We already hold much more comprehensive data than is held in other countries. We are consulting on proposals for further improvements in the collection, dissemination and use of pupil performance and comparative data through better use of IT and more effective co-operation between the schools and agencies involved. As baseline assessment at age 5 is progressively introduced, it will be possible to measure any pupil's progress through his or her school career, and also compare that pupil with any other individual or group, whether locally or nationally. We must put all the available information to work.

Performance data

7 The publication of performance data benefits parents and acts as a spur to improve performance. We will publish more such data than ever before. We need to provide parents and others with better information by supplementing "raw" results with a measure of the progress which pupils have made. Data on prior attainment, which could form the basis of true measures of "value added", are not yet available consistently for every Key Stage, but better information can be introduced into performance tables progressively from 1998.

8 As early as this autumn, when we publish the 1997 secondary school results, it will be possible to provide some information on the rate of improvement of a school alongside the local and national averages. In addition, SCAA's successor body, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), will provide benchmark data so that schools can compare themselves to the best performing schools with similar intakes.

9 LEAs should be keeping local parents better informed. We plan to issue the secondary school performance tables to LEAs ahead of national publication, so that they can respond to detailed requests for information from parents when the tables are published. We intend to speed up the publication of information on primary schools' performance by requiring 11 year-olds' assessment results to be prepared and published locally, but in a form which continues to make national comparisons possible and which allows additional information


[page 26]

to be published by individual authorities. Getting the information to parents sooner will make it more useful to them when choosing schools.

10 LEAs should also provide their schools with local comparative data. Many of the best LEAs already do so. We will expect all LEAs to include such information, and guidelines on its use, in their Education Development Plans (described in paragraphs 21-24). This will enable all schools not only to examine their overall performance relative to other schools but also, for example, to look at differences in performance between girls and boys, or between groups from different ethnic minorities.

11 Further progress towards the use of pupil performance data at school or LEA level is limited by the difficulty of tracking pupils as they move from school to school. As we focus more on the progress made between different stages, it will become essential to be able to link an individual pupil's results over time. We therefore propose to consult on arrangements for improving tracking, including a simple system of unique identifiers held by schools for each pupil.

Question: What more can be done to ensure that clear information on pupil performance gets through to schools. LEAs, parents and the local community?

Setting school targets

12 From September 1998, each school will be required to have challenging targets for improvement. If schools are to take their targets seriously, it is important that they should take direct responsibility for them. Governing bodies as part of their strategic role set out in Chapter 7 should take time to consider all the available information and discuss in detail their school's targets, together with proposals from the headteacher on the necessary improvement plans to achieve them.

13 School targets should be based on:

  • benchmark information on the performance of similar schools, at national and local level;
  • information on the rate of progress needed to achieve national targets: and
  • the most recent inspection evidence.
Setting school targets: Government, LEA and school roles

  • The Government sets national targets and publishes national performance and benchmark data.
  • Each LEA provides benchmarking data and guidance to all its schools to help them set targets.
  • Each school sets draft targets, taking account of the comparative data and their own previous best performance, for discussion with its LEA.
  • Schools and LEAs agree targets, covering a 3-year period and subject to annual review.
  • Where exceptionally an LEA cannot reach agreement with a school on its targets, the LEA may invoke the early warning system (as described in paragraphs 27-28).
  • The individual school targets are included within each LEA's Education Development Plan.
  • The DfEE and OFSTED monitor and contribute to the process to ensure targets are high and ambitious enough.


[page 27]

14 The role of the LEA is to advise and, where necessary, challenge schools to set their sights at the right level. This will apply to all schools, and especially those which may have coasted along with average performance when their real potential is far higher. OFSTED's inspection reports should comment on whether the school's targets are appropriate and on the progress towards them.

15 The use within a school of reliable and consistent performance analyses enables teachers to assess progress by their pupils and to change their teaching strategies accordingly. Comparisons of performance by different subjects, classes, year-groups and other categories help schools to set targets for individual pupils which take full account of each pupil's starting point. Such detailed comparisons also help headteachers to monitor the performance of classroom teachers.

Question: How can schools and LEAs ensure that they use the target-setting process most effectively to improve performance?

The balance of pressure and support

16 The main responsibility for raising standards lies with schools themselves. But they will be more effective in doing so if they work in active partnership with LEAs, OFSTED and the DfEE. The LEA's role is to help schools set and meet their targets. OFSTED's role is to inspect performance by individual schools and LEAs, and provide an external assessment of the state of the school system as a whole. The DfEE's role is to set the policy framework, promote best practice, and to provide pressure and support in relation to LEAs as LEAs themselves do for their schools.

The LEA's role

17 The LEA's task is to challenge schools to raise standards continuously and to apply pressure where they do not. That role is not one of control. Those days are gone. An effective LEA will challenge schools to improve themselves, being ready to intervene where there are problems, but not interfere with those schools that are doing well.

18 The LEA role in school improvement in relation to individual schools is set out in the box on page 28. Where schools are performing well, the LEA involvement will be limited to fairly routine monitoring of key indicators. Where schools are in the "could do better" category, the LEA will wish to have a discussion with the headteacher and the chair of governors, and offer suitable support - perhaps a mix of training and expert advice. An LEA will need to take further steps where effective improvement is not being made. To do this successfully, an LEA will need both a good knowledge of its schools and the capacity to help them improve. In addition, LEAs should draw attention to and encourage effective teaching and learning by establishing a bank of good practice resources that can be drawn on by schools.

19 This does not mean LEAs establishing an alternative inspection system, but an effective LEA will:

  • challenge schools to raise standards and act as a voice for parents;
  • provide clear performance data that can be readily used by schools;
  • offer educational services to schools which choose to use them;
  • provide focused support to schools which are underperforming;
  • focus their efforts on national priorities such as literacy and numeracy; and
  • work with the DfEE and other LEAs to help celebrate excellence and to spread best practice.
Chapter 7 describes the LEA's wider administrative responsibilities.


[page 28]

The LEA role in school improvement

Good schools can and should take responsibility for their own improvement. But we need to ensure that all schools deliver high standards. There will be two forms of external check that this is happening. Every school will be inspected by OFSTED at least once every six years. Between inspections, the performance of schools will be regularly monitored by LEAs, on the basis of objective performance information. For each school the LEA will:
  • analyse recent test, examination and inspection data;
  • compare results and progress with data from other schools;
  • monitor parental and local concerns;
  • agree annual targets;
  • check that the school's approach to improvement planning meets national standards set by the DfEE.
Where this evidence indicates a school is setting challenging targets and performing successfully the LEA will take no further action. Where an LEA has concerns, it should intervene in a number of ways:
  • a discussion with the chair of governors and the headteacher, including an offer of help from the LEA's advisory and support services: and possibly then
  • a formal warning, requesting a plan of action from the school.
Where it remains uncertain that effective action is being taken, the LEA can:
  • invite OFSTED to inspect the school;
  • appoint additional governors to steer a better course of improvement; and ultimately
  • withdraw budget delegation from the school.

20 This new constructive role will replace the uncertainty from which LEAs have suffered in recent years. In return, LEAs will have to be fully accountable. They must demonstrate to their own schools, to parents and the local electorate, and to the DfEE that they are doing a good job in improving their schools. The Government expects all LEAs to play their part in driving up standards. Where they do not, we will not hesitate to intervene directly.

Education Development Plans

21 A key element in our strategy will be the requirement for each LEA to prepare an Education Development Plan (EDP), setting out how it intends to promote school improvement and including the performance targets set by its schools in agreement with the LEA. EDPs should be drawn up in discussion with schools and other local partners.

22 EDPs will be phased in and will be fully operational in each LEA by April 1999. An EDP should be drawn up taking account of the LEA's wider responsibilities, for example for school places planning, local management schemes and SEN provision, as well as the work of the advisory service. It is the successful deployment of all the LEA's human and financial resources that will lead to the setting of ambitious and achievable targets, and the consequent increase in standards,

23 The DfEE's Standards and Effectiveness Unit (see paragraphs 39-40) will offer guidance to LE.II.s on drawing up a sound EDP The guidance will be based on early evaluation of good practice on a wide range of issues, including financial and administrative matters, and will draw on the evidence of OFSTED inspections of LEAs.


[page 29]

24 LEAs will submit their completed EDPs to the Secretary of State for his approval. He proposes to consult OFSTED before giving approval. LEAs will be held accountable for the targets and undertakings which the plans contain. The plans will cover a period of three years, and will be subject to annual review. If the Secretary of State is not content he will refer it back to the LEA for further work. If exceptionally agreement cannot be reached, the Secretary of State may direct OFSTED to inspect the LEA.

Setting Education Development Plans: LEA and DfEE roles

  • The Standards and Effectiveness Unit - taking into account evidence from OFSTED inspection of LEAs - provides benchmarking material and guidance to all LEAs to help them in preparing their Education Development Plans.
  • Each LEA - following discussion with its schools - produces a draft Plan, covering a 3-year period and subject to annual review, for submission to the Secretary of State.
  • The Secretary of State approves a Plan or refers it back to the LEA for further work,drawing on advice from OFSTED.
  • Where exceptionally agreement on a Plan cannot be reached, the Secretary of State may direct OFSTED to undertake an inspection of the LEA.

Question: How much of an LEA's work should be covered in its Education Development Plan?

Support of good management and leadership in schools

25 It is vital that the way governing bodies lead their schools is adequate. There should be a good two-way flow of information between governors and LEAs. The quality of the headteacher is a crucial factor in the success of a school. The proposals in Chapter 5 will improve the quality of all new and existing heads. An LEA should not decide on the appointment of a head: that is plainly and properly a responsibility of the governing body. But before an appointment is offered, the governing body should inform the LEA which would have the right, if it believed the proposed candidate to be unsuitable, to put a formal representation to the governing body which it must consider and respond to.

26 The LEA will have increasingly useful comparative data on a school's performance and will play an important role in helping it to set its targets. That process will help the LEA to form a view of the comparative performance of the headteacher, which might assist the governors when carrying out their annual review of the head's performance. The LEA should make a report to the governing body when it has concerns about the performance of the head. The governing body should report to the LEA what action it proposes to take. The improved dismissal procedures outlined in Chapter 5 will ensure that governing bodies are able where necessary to take prompt action to remove ineffective heads.

Question: What more support do governors need from their LEAs?

Action to tackle underperforming schools

27 There is a large category of schools which, while not failing, have serious weaknesses of management, or are underachieving in particular aspects of what they do. It is essential that such weaknesses should be addressed before they become more acute. The


[page 30]

Government plans to introduce a system of "early warnings" for such schools. The LEA would write to the governing body setting out its grounds for concern and requesting an action plan by a specific deadline. In many cases that will be sufficient to secure the improvement sought. Where the governing body had clearly failed to submit an adequate plan or to implement its plan, the LEA could be justified in appointing additional governors or temporarily withdrawing budgetary delegation, as it already can when a school has been formally found to be failing by OFSTED.

28 OFSTED will continue to inspect such schools. The LEA could also ask OFSTED to carry out a full inspection ahead of the routine schedule to ensure that the school was not allowed to drift towards failure.

Question: How can the proposed early warning system strike the right balance between the respective duties of the school and the LEA to raise standards?

Action to tackle failing schools

29 There are currently 300 schools in England which have been identified by OFSTED as failing to deliver an acceptable education. Some are well supported by their LEA and are showing substantial signs of recovery. However, where schools show insufficient evidence of recovery it may be necessary to consider a "Fresh Start".

30 A fresh start may take different forms. In some cases the most sensible course will be closure and the transfer of the pupils to nearby successful schools. Alternatively, an LEA might be authorised to allow one school to take over the underperforming school to set it on a new path. Another option would be to close the school, and re-open on the same or a different site with a new name and new management. The change would have to be more than superficial. It would need professional leadership of the highest calibre and would need to be seen by everyone as a clean break, and an attempt to create a new and ambitious sense of purpose. The Government intends to remove some of the legal and administrative barriers and to take powers to force an LEA to close a failing school where that is the best course.

Case Study: Fresh start: Phoenix High School

Hammersmith School was inspected in April 1994 and found to be failing. A year later, despite significant staffing and other changes including a new temporary headteacher, the school was not recovering. In March 1995 the LEA head-hunted William Atkinson as permanent head, his existing school generously releasing him at a week's notice. Over the Easter holidays the school was transformed physically; the LEA arranged for contractors to work round the clock to re-equip and redecorate the school. In April 1995 it re-opened in a new environment, under radical new leadership, and with a new name symbolising rebirth. A uniform was introduced; tough action taken to improve behaviour: and a strong focus given to improving standards of teaching and learning. Extensive consultation with teachers, parents and pupils ensured that the changes were much more than cosmetic. In January 1997 OFSTED reinspected the school and found that it no longer required special measures. It is now becoming a popular school, and standards of achievement - though not yet up to national averages - are rising steadily.

OFSTED's role

31 Both external inspection of schools and LEAs by OFSTED, and schools' own improvement planning, are essential and indeed complementary parts of the improvement process.


[page 31]

32 We are firmly committed to regular inspection of all schools by OFSTED. It contributes to public accountability and to the improvement of the education service through the comparative data which is then made available. The first cycle of inspections is nearing completion, and has yielded a vast database of information vital to our understanding of the performance of schools. It has also improved performance by clearly identifying strengths and weaknesses. It can give particularly sharp messages at the two extremes: identifying excellent schools from which important lessons can be learned, and also those which are failing to deliver an acceptable standard of education and require urgent attention. But it must also act as a spur to the majority of schools which, while not failing, can still make significant improvements.

33 Though we will keep the matter under review, we have no plans to alter the frequency of inspections in the second OFSTED cycle whereby every school will be inspected at least every six years, but more frequently where weaknesses are apparent. However, OFSTED is already working on changes to the inspection system aimed primarily at improving its consistency, quality, and value for money. A number of changes are proposed:

  • First, a reduction in the period of notice of inspection from five terms to two terms, with a firm date for the inspection arranged one or one and a half terms in advance. This will ensure inspections provide a more accurate picture of school performance, with less time devoted by schools to unproductive preparation for them.
  • Second, inspection will focus even more closely on classroom practice and the school's capacity to improve, and the final report will be written in clear language leaving no doubt as to the inspectors' overall judgements. Without that, schools cannot respond satisfactorily.
  • Third, it is essential that we make full use of inspection evidence. Aggregate data from inspections, alongside other comparative information, will be much more widely available to schools, LEAs and the DfEE in a digestible format. OFSTED will also issue annual statistical profiles to each school. They will include numerical ratings for each subject, based on inspection findings, which set the school's performance in a national context.
  • Fourth, OFSTED has in hand a programme of professional development for inspection team members, who would then be accredited to inspect particular subjects or aspects. There will also be further guidance for inspectors on judging standards and progress, and on how to assess the quality of teaching. We will also consider taking powers for HMCI to register and de-register team members along the same lines as registered inspectors.
  • Fifth, OFSTED plans to strengthen its complaints procedures by introducing an appeals mechanism for those unhappy with the outcome of inspection. It is also considering increasing the part parents can play in the inspection process, by introducing a post-inspection meeting with the inspectors.
34 We also intend to bring into force the power in the 1997 Education Act for OFSTED, assisted by the Audit Commission, to inspect LEAs on a regular cycle. The regular cycle of inspections will begin in January 1998. There may be a case for the first cycle to focus on the LEAs that appear to be least effective. In addition, the Secretary of State will have the power to direct OFSTED to inspect a particular LEA where there is reason for concern.

35 The inspection of LEAs will operate alongside the new regime of Education Development Plans. To assist both processes, the DfEE's Standards and Effectiveness Unit will work with OFSTED and the Audit Commission to draw up an annual statistical summary of key data on school improvement in each LEA. This information will inform the Secretary of State's approval of EDPs, and the programme of OFSTED-led inspections.


[page 32]

Question: In what ways can the OFSTED inspection process be further refined and improved?

The DfEE's role

36 To carry out the agenda for raising standards in education we shall need a new form of Government involvement. The change in the status of the Department for Education and Employment to rank alongside the other great offices of state signals a change in expectations. It will no longer be sufficient to act at a distance: the Department will be expected to engage actively with its partners in the education service to pursue the joint goal of higher standards.

37 The extensive consultation on this White Paper marks the first stage in this process. The DfEE has a crucial role to play in leading and creating the climate for change, and working closely with others - in the education world, the business community and beyond. As part of this partnership, the Standards Task Force (STF) has already been established under the chairmanship of the Secretary of State, David Blunkett, and with Chris Woodhead, the Chief Inspector of Schools, and Tim Brighouse, Director of Education in Birmingham, as vice chairs. The rest of the membership is drawn from all parts of the education service, and includes successful classroom practitioners and business representatives.

38 That composition reflects our determination to ensure two things: that the DfEE will listen to the world of education and operate in an open and accountable way: and that the various educational interests will act together, in a joint drive to raise standards. The Task Force will provide recognition of success throughout the education system, and in particular identify and celebrate those schools which are improving most rapidly. We will introduce an annual award for the most outstanding examples of school improvement. The Task Force will meet at least four times a year, but its members will also be expected to act as ambassadors for this area of the Department's work. It will provide expert advice to the Government on the development of its education policy.

The remit of the Standards Task Force

  • Unite the various educational interests in the new drive to raise standards.
  • Be advocates, carrying the Crusade to every part of the education service.
  • Advise the Secretary of State on the development and implementation of
    policies to improve school standards and meet the national targets for literacy and numeracy.
  • Keep the Secretary of State abreast of good practice nationally and internationally.

39 The second major change already made is the establishment of the Standards and Effectiveness Unit in the DfEE. The Unit is an integral part of the Department's Schools Directorate, and will take the lead in ensuring that all the partners in the education service contribute fully to the raising of standards. In particular, the Unit will challenge LEAs and schools about their endeavours to raise standards, learn from their experience, question their assumptions, and inform them about examples of best practice. It will be staffed by a combination of civil servants and successful practitioners from schools, local authorities and other educational organisations.

40 The Unit will manage the consultation on the reforms set out in this White Paper, In addition, it will take the lead on the following key Departmental tasks:


[page 33]

  • leading the national drive for school improvement;
  • directing the implementation of the literacy and numeracy strategies;
  • ensuring best practice is available to all schools through the development of a national database of best practice and other means;
  • implementing the Government's policies on Education Development Plans and advising the Secretary of State on their approval;
  • working with the Teacher Training Agency and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to ensure their contributions to the Government's school improvement strategy are effectively brought together;
  • promoting the analysis and use of performance data to measure pupils' progress at national, local and school level;
  • ensuring that the Government's policy of zero tolerance of underperformance is applied to schools; and
  • developing and implementing the Government's policy on Education Action Zones.
The Unit will work closely with OFSTED in many of these areas and make full use of the Department's links at local and regional level.

41 The task of the Unit to gather and disseminate information will be central to its work. The Unit will work with OFSTED, QCA and others to ensure that relevant performance data are analysed and made available to LEAs and schools in ways which will drive forward further improvement. The Unit will also establish and promote "hallmarked" models and standards for school self-evaluation.

42 The DfEE, finally, has a role as guarantor of last resort: to deal with the failing schools where LEAs have not dealt with them satisfactorily, and to deal with failing LEAs. The SEU will take the Departmental lead in this work. The fresh start for failing schools that are not recovering was described in paragraphs 29-30. Where it appears that an LEA is failing, the Secretary of State may direct OFSTED to undertake an immediate inspection. If that inspection confirms the failings, it may be necessary for the Secretary of State to intervene, either by directing LEA officers or by enabling others to perform some functions until the LEA has demonstrated its capacity to resume its full responsibilities. The principle of zero tolerance will be adhered to unflinchingly. The Government is determined that children should get the good education they deserve.

Question: What more can and should the Department do to support and challenge its partners in education?

High standards for all

43 The proposals in this White Paper will benefit a/l pupils. We are setting high and demanding targets which the vast majority should be aiming to achieve and should be capable of reaching. We recognise of course that there are groups of pupils who may need additional and targeted support because of their particular circumstances.

Special Educational Needs (SEN)

44 The proposals in this White Paper will help tackle the problems which many children face at an early stage and prevent such difficulties from developing into the area of special educational needs. A strategy to improve provision and standards for children with SEN must therefore be an integral part of other national policies for improving standards and for disabled people, including social services support for children in need and with disabilities.


[page 34]

It must also take account of the socio-economic factors that are in some cases linked to special needs, and the potential contribution of our wider social policies.

45 The SEN Code of Practice provides a framework for identifying and assessing special needs. Teachers have worked hard with LEAs and others to make a reality of the Code, and there have been worthwhile improvements as a consequence. We shall build on this work, helping to ensure that excellent practice in individual schools and LEAs is developed more widely. Within the substantial resources devoted to SEN, there is still too much emphasis on the processes leading to a "statement" of SEN, rather than on preventive and remedial action. Statements will continue to have an important role, but they should not be the driving force in provision for SEN. We want to ensure that, over time, we put resources into direct support for children, rather than bureaucratic procedures. In particular, we want to look urgently at the scope for improved mediation, to reduce the need for disputes to get as far as the SEN Tribunal.

46 Where pupils do have special educational needs there are strong educational, social and moral grounds for their education in mainstream schools. Our policy for schools will be consistent with our commitment to rights for disabled people more generally. But we must always put the needs of the child first, and for some children specialist, and perhaps residential, provision will be required, at least for a time. That is compatible with the principle of inclusive education. Specialist facilities can also become a resource for supporting mainstream placements. This will mean planning on a cross-LEA and regional basis, to ensure that specialist support services are available, with a reasonable spread of provision across the country. Chapter 7 sets out our proposals for the future status of special schools.

47 We shall establish a National Advisory Group on SEN, with members from a wide range of backgrounds: schools, LEAs, VOluntary bodies representing children and parents, and others. The group will meet for the first time in July, under the chairmanship of the Minister responsible for SEN. It will work closely with the Standards Task Force (see paragraphs 37-38). The Group's first task will be to advise on the content of a Green Paper - a formal consultative document - which we will publish in September. It will seek views on how best to deliver the Government's commitments on special educational needs against the background of the principles set out above.

48 The DfEE will hold regional meetings throughout the autumn to discuss the issues raised in the Green Paper, and to promote discussion on how to raise standards for children with special educational needs. The outcome will shape the Government's programme for SEN during the remainder of this Parliament. The new National Advisory Group will oversee the implementation of that programme.

Ethnic minority pupils

49 Children from ethnic minority backgrounds now form a tenth of the pupil population. They bring cultural richness and diversity, but some are particularly at risk of under-achievement. Over half a million do not have English as a first language, and many start school without an adequate grasp of it. Racial harassment and stereotyping continue. Pupils from some groups are disproportionately excluded from school or - like Travellers - do not attend regularly. While the achievements of some ethnic groups are exceptional, others are underperforming, and there is an unacceptable and growing gap in performance. The causes of this are complex but must be tackled. Targeted action is required to break the cycle of disadvantage and create genuinely equal opportunities for all.

50 We will use the existing task group on raising achievement of ethnic minority pupils, which is chaired by Ministers, to forge a new partnership at national and local level, and we will take action to:


[page 35]

  • spread the successful methods of schools that have been most effective in raising ethnic minority pupils' achievement;
  • consult on how best to monitor ethnic minority pupils' performance at national, local and school level, and how to create and implement effective plans of action where monitoring reveals underperformance;
  • provide guidance on best practice in raising awareness of important ethnic considerations, in tackling racial harassment and stereotyping, in promoting attendance and reducing exclusion of ethnic minority pupils, and in creating a harmonious environment in which learning can flourish; and
  • review the level and delivery of specialist support in schools for raising the participation and achievements of ethnic minority pupils to ensure that the support meets continuing needs.
Summary

This chapter sets out how schools will develop their own plans for raising standards for all pupils challenged and supported by their partners - the LEAs, OFSTED and the DfEE.

Under our proposals, by 2002:

  • school performance tables will be more useful, showing the rate of progress pupils have made as well as their absolute levels of achievement;
  • each school will have its own challenging targets to raise standards, and will be held responsible for achieving them;
  • each LEA will be working to an Education Development Plan agreed with the DfEE and its schools, showing how standards in all schools will rise;
  • school management and leadership will have better support from LEAs;
  • most failing schools will have been improved, and the remaining few closed, or given a Fresh Start;
  • OFSTED will have improved its school inspection process, and will also have inspected a large number of LEAs;
  • the DfEE will have become more outward-looking and in touch with the education service, in particular through the work of the Standards and Effectiveness Unit;
  • special educational needs will be an integral part of the wider programme for raising standards; and
  • schools will be taking practical steps to raise ethnic minority pupils' achievements and promote racial harmony.


[page 36]

Consultation

  • What more can be done to ensure that clear information on pupil performance gets through to schools, LEAs, parents and the local community?
  • How can schools and LEAs ensure that they use the target-setting process most effectively to improve performance?
  • How much of an LEA's work should be covered in its Education Development Plan?
  • What more support do governors need from their LEAs?
  • How can the proposed early warning system strike the best balance between the respective duties of the school and the LEA to raise standards?
  • In what ways can the OFSTED inspection system process be further refined and improved?
  • What more can and should the Department itself do to support and challenge its partners in education?
Additional consultation is being undertaken on:
  • the content and preparation of Education Development Plans; and
  • ways of monitoring ethnic minority pupils' performance and developing action plans to tackle underperformance.


[page 37]

The 21st century will demand that we develop the diverse talents of all pupils. Mixed ability teaching has proved successful only in the hands of the best teachers and should be used only where it is appropriate and can be seen to be effective. We make a presumption that setting should be the norm in secondary schools. We will explore effective new approaches to teaching and learning and spread them across schools. To do that we must modernise comprehensive secondary education and open up access to new technologies for all.

4 Modernising the comprehensive principle

Excellence for everyone

1 If we are to prepare successfully for the 21st century, we shall have to do more than Just improve literacy and numeracy skills. In the past, there was a wide range of low-skill jobs: this is no longer the case. Equally, high-skilled work in some areas was obtained through apprenticeships that allowed individuals to mature and develop skills whilst at work, once their formal schooling had finished. Again, this has substantially disappeared and has therefore cut off a key route to those who gained from it and whose wider educational achievement was thereby enhanced. The demands of the future will require that everyone succeeds in secondary education. We are not going back to the days of the 11-plus: but neither are we prepared to stand still and defend the failings of across-the-board mixed


[page 38]

ability teaching. That debate is sterile and provides no solutions. We intend to modernise comprehensive education to create inclusive schooling which provides a broad, flexible and motivating education that recognises the different talents of all children and delivers excellence for everyone.

Setting, target-grouping and accelerated learning

2 A modern education service must be capable of stretching the most able, providing support for those who need it most while continuing to challenge all pupils. Our secondary schools need to develop and recognise achievement across a broad range. Our determination to raise standards in literacy and numeracy, especially at primary level, does not mean that we want to narrow the experience of young people as they move into secondary education. On the contrary, it is because we want young people to benefit from a wide range of opportunities that we believe it is essential that they have a firm foundation in the basics as early as possible.

3 The challenge for schools is to ensure that all children, whatever their talents, develop their diverse abilities. We believe in "diversity within one campus", with the method of teaching and the organisation of a school playing to the strengths of every child. Mixed ability grouping has not proved capable of doing this in all schools. It requires excellent teaching and in some schools has worked well. But in too many cases it has failed both to stretch the brightest and to respond to the needs of those who have fallen behind. Setting, particularly in science, maths and languages, is proving effective in many schools. We do not believe that any single model of grouping pupils should be imposed on secondary schools, but unless a school can demonstrate that it is getting better than expected results through a different approach, we do make the presumption that setting should be the norm in secondary schools. In some cases, it is worth considering in primary schools. Schools should make clear in reports to parents the use they are making of different grouping approaches. OFSTED inspections will also report on this.

Case Study: Setting pupils

For several years Hartford Manor County Primary School in Northwich, Cheshire has chosen to set pupils for mathematics. The school has found that this approach has significant benefits:

  • it focuses the range of attainment within a class;
  • it reduces pressure on the teacher; and
  • it enables the teacher to maintain appropriate pace and challenge and make good use of whole-class teaching.
The OFSTED inspection in 1994 found that the achievement of many pupils at Key Stage 2 was outstanding, and throughout the school achievement was good. The school combines setting with the use of a specialised mathematics teacher.

Last year over half the KS2 pupils achieved Level 5, and in total 86% achieved Level 4 or 5 (against a national average of 54%). This year's results will be even better - 96% at Level 4 and above, with a Significant number at Level 6.

4 The new Standards and Effectiveness Unit will gather examples of and issue guidance on best practice, from this country and abroad, in organising classes to meet the different abilities of pupils.


[page 39]

In particular, we want to see more examples of:

  • target-grouping, where pupils are grouped by ability for part of the week and groups are altered in line with regular assessment;
  • fast-tracking, where pupils are encouraged to learn and take qualifications ahead of their age cohort;
  • accelerated learning, based on the latest understanding of how people learn, which has enabled groups of pupils to progress at greater speed and with deeper understanding; and
  • the systematic teaching of thinking skills, which research has shown to be strongly associated with positive learning outcomes.
Given the powerful evidence we have of boys' relative underperformance in National Curriculum tests and at GCSE, we will also examine and provide information to schools on the varying impact of these approaches on the motivation and achievement of boys.

5 We plan to develop a strategy for the early identification and support of particularly able and talented children that links several strands, including accelerated learning, specialist schools and partnership with independent schools. For example, the Grove School in Birmingham allows primary pupils to undertake study at secondary level; and at the Marches School in Oswestry, pupils have commenced OU degrees at the same time as A Level study. We want every school and LEA to plan how it will help gifted children. All schools should seek to create an atmosphere in which to excel is not only acceptable but desirable.

Question: How can schools be encouraged to use more flexible and successful approaches to the grouping of pupils?

Education Action Zones

6 We want to develop new and imaginative ways of helping schools to achieve our overall objectives. That will require effort from all concerned, and particularly parents and the local community. The initiative will only succeed on the basis of active partnerships, taking careful account of the distinctive characteristics of the areas involved.

7 We plan to start with a pilot programme of up to 25 Action Zones, phased in over 2-3 years and set up in areas with a mix of underperforming schools and the highest levels of disadvantage. It is likely that there will be more than one in London, with the others concentrated in the other major urban areas in the country. A typical Zone is likely to have 2 or 3 secondary schools, with supporting primaries and associated SEN provision.

8 We expect the new Action Zones to operate on the basis of an action forum which will include parents and other representatives from the local business and social community, as well as representation from the constituent schools and the LEA. The forum would draw up an action programme, including targets for each participating school and the Zone as a whole. The action forum could bring forward plans for school rationalisation, and for new schools to provide new hope for the area. The LEA, using its existing powers, would be expected to support a reasonable programme put forward by the forum, and the Standards and Effectiveness Unit of the DfEE would monitor the operation of the Action Zone. The action forum would be expected to publish regular reports on progress.

9 We will select the pilots in consultation with the relevant LEAs. Once an Action Zone has been established, representatives of the Secretary of State - for example someone from one of our most successful schools - will be appointed to the action team to provide advice and support. Zones will have first call on funds from all relevant central programmes - for example, the


[page 40]

literacy and numeracy initiatives, the homework centres, the specialist schools initiative - provided that satisfactory proposals are put forward. We will also consider whether an Action Zone can be given additional flexibility in matters of staffing or the organisation of schools. The advantages offered would be conditional on ambitious and achievable targets being set out in the action programme.

Question: What would be the main characteristics of new Action Zones if they are to achieve the objective of motivating young people in tough inner city areas?

Specialist schools and families of schools

10 We are deeply committed to equal opportunities for all pupils. This does not mean a single model of schooling. We want to encourage diversity, with schools developing their own distinctive identity and expertise. Specialist schools - focusing on technology, languages, sports or arts - should be a resource for local people and neighbouring schools to draw on. They will be expected to develop their specialism in partnership with local schools and business and to share their expertise with others. Their influence on raising standards will extend well beyond each school's own boundary: we will encourage them to work together in local "families" to help share the benefits across a number of schools.

11 New applications guidelines will be published shortly. Schools that apply for specialist status will need to draw up a three-year development plan including realistic and verifiable targets for raising standards of teaching and learning at the school itself and for sharing the benefits in their local community. They will need to raise private funds from sponsors to help improve their specialist facilities and will receive government funds to match. Some preference will be given to schools in deprived areas.

Case Study: St Thomas More Technology College - Gateshead

This voluntary aided school is committed to sharing its expertise and resources with the local community. With the encouragement of Gateshead LEA the school has two projects to develop links with local primary and other secondary schools.

One project will use video-conferencing links to give seven primary schools access to St Thomas More's Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) facilities. The School will act as a manufacturing base for projects designed at schools without the specialist equipment to produce it, and as a source of technological expertise. The project, part-funded by Tyneside TEC with support from Denford Ltd, aims to improve the quality of primary school work in technology and to improve basic skills through cross curricular work. A parallel project will provide similar access to design and manufacturing facilities to six local secondary schools, enabling all the schools involved to exchange ideas and share good practice.

Within its coursework programme the school arranges community work for Sixth Form students. Many decide to help in local primary schools - for example, by assessing pupils' IT skills. One group of students produced a safety video in conjunction with Tyne And Wear Metropolitan Fire Brigade. Other community projects have used students' artistic talents to frame pictures for a local care home and to work with a local sculptor to design and produce ornamental stoneware for the gardens of a local chapel.

12 A key to the Department's selection of schools for support as specialist schools will be commitment to the wider community. Families of schools will want to consider what type


[page 41]

of sharing between themselves and with the community suits their needs best. The sort of approaches adopted by specialist schools could include:

  • Specialist ICT facilities made available for work on literacy and numeracy targets.
  • Specialist homework centres.
  • Interchange of pupils, including master classes to stretch gifted pupils.
  • Home learning via the Internet or other ICT links.
  • Provision of facilities for specialist in-service training for teachers.
  • Sharing of teaching materials and best practice in teaching and learning with neighbouring schools.
  • Adult education and training in the evenings and at weekends.
  • Summer schools and weekend activity.
  • Language lessons for primary pupils, and innovative language tuition shared across schools, including via Internet.
13 The Government will also encourage LEAs to create new learning networks for developing specialisms within families of schools. In Sheffield, for example, the LEA has approached the specialist schools programme as a collaborative programme which brings schools together, rather than as a competition for resources. The City Council and its secondary schools joined together to discuss funding priorities, short-list development plans and agree which school should be put forward for the programme.

14 Specialist schools could form a focal point for revitalising education in Education Action Zones, working with other partners to help meet the Zone's targets for school improvement. We will ensure that at least one school in each Zone has targeted support to apply for designation as a specialist school in technology, language, sports or arts and so become a magnet for excellence in the area. The Technology Colleges Trust and the Youth Sport Trust for Sports Colleges will work particularly closely with local partnerships in the Zones to help schools access private funding and draw up their applications.

15 The Government spends 54 million on the 15 City Technology Colleges. We will ensure the development of a particular approach for CTCs, so that they are part of the broader family of schools, with fair admissions and funding, whilst recognising their independent status.

A new National Grid for Learning

16 In the last 20 years, business has been transformed by new technology, particularly computers and communication networks. But education has been affected only marginally. We cannot prepare our children for the world of tomorrow with yesterday's technologies. We shall therefore create a new National Grid for Learning for the Millennium, to unlock the potential of these new technologies in schools and more widely, and to equip pupils and other learners for this new world. We are determined to create a society where, within ten years, information and communications technology (lCT) has permeated every aspect of education. Better teaching and understanding of ICT can both improve the process of teaching and learning itself and develop pupils' awareness of the potential uses of ICT in work and society. It is also vital that pupils have a balanced understanding of ICT so that they know when it is appropriate to use new technology.


[page 42]

17 The recent independent Stevenson Inquiry into the use of ICT in schools found evidence in this country and internationally that new technologies can, for example, help children learn faster, enhance the career prospects of school leavers, and transform the opportunities of children with severe disabilities. Just as when early applications of electricity were first being developed, it is almost impossible now to predict what part ICT will come to play in education. But the potential can clearly be imagined:

  • Children learning languages by speaking to others on the other side of the world.
  • The most able pupils being able to "sit in" on university lectures.
  • Those struggling with literacy getting one-to-one help after school hours.
  • Teachers sharing best practice across the network.
None of these applications is difficult to achieve with today's technology. The challenge is to make applications like these part of the everyday school experience by the end of the century.

18 For a number of years, the convergence of telephone, computer and television technologies has been predicted. It is now happening. The Internet has already brought together computing and telecommunications technologies, and interactive digital television is to be launched here next year. Britain is well placed to take advantage of these changes. Not only do we have some of the most innovative companies, there has also been some excellent pioneering of wired learning in universities, schools and colleges. But our early lead, for example in schools' technology, has been eroded. In particular, the Stevenson Inquiry has also found that our teachers need extra help to feel confident using, and teaching with, new technology.

19 To regain our lead, we shall:

  • train teachers: ensuring that all new teachers are ICT-literate and retraining existing teachers with funds from the National Lottery;
  • connect schools: working with the cable companies, BT and other telecommunications companies to connect schools, colleges and libraries, and to keep access charges as low as possible;
  • provide content: developing plans for a public/private partnership to deliver educational software and services to teachers, pupils and other learners; and
  • remove barriers to learning: ensuring equality of access for all, including those in isolated rural areas, those with special educational needs or those in areas of urban deprivation.

20 The Grid will provide curriculum support for schools and help teacher development, and will extend to lifelong learning - whether home-based learning, further education or training for employment. It will link closely with our plans for study centres funded through the National Lottery and for the University for Industry. National and local museums and galleries will have an important part to play. We also intend that libraries will be an integral part of the Grid. In this way the Grid will make available to all learners the riches of the world's intellectual, cultural and scientific heritage. Because information can be distributed virtually free over the Internet, the Grid will open up learning to the individual and take it beyond the confines of institutional walls. There is a crucial role for all those concerned with education in making the Millennium celebrations and the exhibition at Greenwich a success. From schools linking into the Discovery and Information Base at Greenwich, to groups of schools coming together to put forward their innovative ideas, this is an opportunity to celebrate the age of achievement.


[page 43]

21 We shall consult widely on the National Grid for Learning, addressing key issues including network links, ICT infrastructure, software, services, teacher training and technical support. In carrying forward our programme we shall take careful account of the responses to the consultation, the outcomes of the public and privately funded pilot projects under the UK Education Departments' Superhighways Initiative, the way National and European NetDays can bring professional ICT help to our schools and other relevant work including that of the Libraries and Information Commission. The consultation paper on the Grid will set out plans in more detail and seek views on how to develop them. We shall need to consider carefully the scale and pace of development and carry forward what can realistically be afforded.

Question: In what ways can the Grid best be developed to ensure that all learners have access?

Research and development into schools of the future

22 Across many sectors of the economy and many aspects of our lives, the pace of innovation is dramatic. New thinking about leadership and management, operational research, new uses of ICT and the ever-increasing pressure for high quality have led to a transformation in many knowledge-based industries. Teaching and learning should not be exempt from this revolution.

23 It is striking that so far the teaching and learning process has stayed remarkably stable in spite of the huge structural changes of the last decade or so. We believe that, as the pressure of international competition increases and we face up to the likely demands of the 21st century, we must expect change in the nature of schooling.

24 We do not wish to encourage change for the sake of change nor to jettison tried and tested methods of teaching and learning which demonstrably work well. We do believe, however, that government has a role to play in encouraging research and development into schools of the future. We will seek to work with partners in business, the media and education to develop innovative approaches to schooling. We will also learn the lessons of international research projects that provide insight into best practice in other countries.

25 Imaginative research and development in schooling is an important aspect of preparing for a future in which learning will playa crucial part. The resourcing of such ventures should not be primarily the responsibility of government. But we will seek to encourage them where they are well thought out by reconsidering, where necessary, regulations or bureaucratic procedures which inhibit sensible change, by encouraging research and evaluation and by using our resources to disseminate findings and make them available across the education service.

26 We look forward to entering into discussion with potential partners, particularly where a consortium of business, media and educational organisations has already carried out a feasibility study.

Question: What needs to be done to encourage educational, media and business organisations to collaborate in the development of research into innovative approaches to schooling?


[page 44]

Summary

By 2002 we will have:
  • schools setting pupils according to ability and further development of innovative approaches to pupil grouping;
  • Education Action Zones providing targeted support and development where they are most needed;
  • an extensive network of specialist schools benefiting neighbouring schools and the local community;
  • better developed information and communications technology within a clear national strategy;
  • schools linked to a National Grid for Learning providing modern teaching and resource material, supported by initiatives such as NetDays; and
  • a clear strategy for promoting research and development into schools of the future.

Consultation

  • How can schools be encouraged to use more flexible and successful approaches to the grouping of pupils?
  • What should be the main characteristics of EAZs if they are to achieve the objective of motivating young people in tough inner city areas?
  • How can specialist schools work most effectively in families of schools to share the benefits of specialisation and help raise standards for all?
  • In what ways can the Grid best be developed to ensure that all learners have access?
  • What needs to be done to encourage educational, media and business organisations to collaborate in the development of research into innovative approaches to schooling?
Additional consultation is being undertaken on:
  • the establishment of Education Action Zones.


[page 45]

Teachers hold the key to their pupils' success. We promise teachers a new deal: there will be pressure to succeed, but it will be matched by support to do their job well and recognition and appreciation of their achievements.

5 Teaching: High status, high standards

Good teaching is they key to high standards

1 Teachers and heads are at the heart of our drive to raise standards. They above all hold the key to improving performance and remedying under-achievement.

2 Good teachers have a right to our support and recognition for what they do well. We propose to introduce a number of termly scholarships to enable the most outstandingly successful teachers to disseminate their knowledge and experience to other schools and teachers. The Government has an obligation to ensure that trainee teachers, new entrants to the profession and those already in teaching have the training and support they need to raise standards. Teachers and headteachers need to have opportunities to update their subject knowledge and teaching skills, and to gain new skills, throughout their careers. They need to have opportunities to exchange ideas and best practice with others in the


[page 46]

profession and to have access to the highest quality research and teaching materials.

3 Equally, because teachers play such a key role, they must be held accountable for their success in sustaining and raising the achievements of their pupils. We will be prepared to act where the performance of teachers or heads falls below acceptable standards.

4 We are committed to ensuring that teaching is seen as a valued and worthwhile career for our best young people; a profession that is recognised and valued by the wider community. We will play our part in raising the profile and esteem of the profession. We will work through the Teacher Training Agency to encourage recruitment to teacher training at all levels and to encourage those who qualify to stay in teaching.

School leadership

5 The vision for learning set out in this White Paper will demand the highest qualities of leadership and management from headteachers. The quality of the head often makes the difference between the success or failure of a school. Good heads can transform a school; poor heads can block progress and achievement. It is essential that we have measures in place to strengthen the skills of all new and serving heads.

6 We intend to ensure that in future all those appointed as headteachers for the first time hold a professional headship qualification which demonstrates that they have the leadership skills necessary to motivate staff and pupils and to manage a school. We welcome the launch by the Teacher Training Agency (TTA) of the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) and expect this to form the basis of the new mandatory qualification that over time will build up a pool of qualified people.

Questions:

What skills and competencies should be covered by a mandatory headship qualification and does the NPQH fulfil these requirements; and what should be the timetable for introducing the mandatory requirement?

7 We will consider the development of a fast-track route to headship for teachers who demonstrate a flair for leadership early in their careers. This might involve using a combination of OFSTED, headteacher and/or LEA recommendation and self-assessment to select potential fast-track leaders. Those chosen could be offered opportunities to take the NPQH earlier than would normally be the case. If they were successful, they could then move rapidly into leadership positions in schools.

Question: How can we develop an effective fast-track route to headship?

8 We must support and develop the skills of newly appointed heads to help them fulfil their new responsibilities. The ITA has developed the HEADLAMP programme which provides leadership and management training for heads appointed to their first posts. The ITA's new headship standards provide a clear benchmark for tile skills and competencies we expect of new and aspiring heads and also provide a baseline for assessing the training needs of the far greater number of heads already in post. We have asked the ITA to develop appropriately targeted training opportunities to tackle the needs of weaker heads and to bring the performance of all heads up to a high standard. The ITA will work with business to ensure that headship training benefits from the best in leadership in industry. Training should build on any existing professional qualifications which heads may have and be linked to effective appraisal arrangements which assess heads' performance in relation to the targets for their schools.

Question: What should be the priorities for the training and development of newly appointed and serving headteachers?


[page 47]

9 We want to exploit the talents of heads of schools that we know, through OFSTED inspection, to be highly successful. We believe that the headteachers of the best primary, secondary and special schools could make a major contribution to the improvement of the education service. We will seek to use them as mentors for heads of other similar schools. We will involve them in providing best practice guidance - possibly using their schools as Laboratory Schools (see below) - and offer them opportunities to involve themselves in innovation, teacher training and development and other initiatives.

Training new teachers

10 To raise the standards we expect of schools and of pupils, we must raise the standards we expect of new teachers.

11 We have launched a new core curriculum setting out in detail the knowledge, understanding and skills which all those training to teach in primary schools must be able to use in relation to English and mathematics. Improving the skills of our new teachers in these areas is critical to achieving our literacy and numeracy targets. We have also announced more rigorous requirements for all courses - secondary and primary - of initial teacher training, and new standards which all trainee teachers will be expected to reach in order to qualify.

12 The new teacher standards will apply to all trainees qualifying to teach from next summer. There can be no justification for admitting to the profession people who fall short of these clear standards. The standards themselves will also provide a valuable new benchmark for schools in relation to target-setting, performance management and assuring teacher effectiveness. We expect institutions to make a start immediately on introducing the new course requirements and the new training curriculum. All institutions will be required to meet the new requirements from September 1998 and a number have already indicated their intention to implement the new curriculum from this September. The best of existing courses already meet the new requirements. The challenge now is for the rest to match the breadth and quality of the best. All training provision will continue to be subject to rigorous inspection by OFSTED and we will ensure that firm action is taken where training fails to match up to the new standards we have laid down.

13 We shall seek to strengthen existing partnerships between schools and higher education training institutions to ensure that teacher training is firmly rooted in the best classroom practice. We will also pilot the development of "Laboratory Schools" in which trainees are shown how to teach in demonstration lessons. These will enable trainee teachers to learn by observing good and experienced teachers at work and seeing how pupils react and respond. As well as providing opportunities for students from particular institutions to gain direct experience of a classroom environment, Laboratory Schools will enable high quality demonstration lessons to be shared with groups of schools through distance learning via video-conference or other technology. Laboratory Schools can also playa part as centres of excellence and experimentation in innovative training techniques involving new technologies, as in the Bristol scheme in which Exeter University provided training, including individual tuition, by video-conference with curriculum experts.

Starting teaching

14 We believe that every teacher should have structured support during the first year of full-time teaching. This should build on their initial training, where strengths and development needs will have been identified, and set the pace and direction for future professional development. We shall therefore introduce an induction year for newly qualified teachers to consolidate their skills. Our aim is to give every new teacher guided support during the first year. In return they would be required to continue to develop their skills in the areas identified during initial training.


[page 48]

15 The idea of a supported induction year has been widely welcomed. Mentor support would need to be provided. Schools will be expected to provide a planned induction programme for each newly qualified teacher reflecting guidance from the TTA. We believe there is a case for confirming Qualified Teacher Status after the successful completion of the new induction year.

Questions:

What should newly qualified teachers be required to do in their first year to develop their practical skills?

What arrangements would be needed for confirming Qualified Teacher Status at the end of a successful induction year?

Professional development and in-service training

16 Alongside changes to initial training we need to ensure that the 400,000 serving teachers have access to training and advice. High quality in-service training is the key to raising standards through updating teachers' skills and enabling them to keep pace with best practice. Many of the proposals set out in this White Paper will need to be supported by specific training. In particular, there will be a major emphasis on training to underpin our drive on literacy and numeracy and to raise teachers' competence and confidence in using IT.

17 We welcome the work which the Teacher Training Agency has done in mapping out a framework for the professional development for all teachers to mark their progression through their teaching careers. We will be considering further with the TTA the case for establishing a range of new qualifications beyond Qualified Teacher Status to match the new framework.

18 In addition to more traditional in-service courses we intend to establish a "virtual" Teachers' Centre on the National Grid for Learning, linked to our new University for Industry. This will place new technologies at the heart of our plans for improving in-service teacher training. It will bring on-line guidance and teaching materials into every staffroom.

Advanced Skills Teachers

19 Skilled and experienced teachers are the key asset of our schools and we need to retain them in the profession. As well as providing the best quality education for their pupils, such teachers can help their colleagues by sharing their knowledge and expertise. But promotion for teachers usually means reducing their time in the classroom. That can be a waste of talent for those whose greatest skill is in teaching. Experienced teachers may be reluctant to stay in a profession which does not offer rewards for the highest quality teaching skills. We therefore intend to introduce a new career grade of Advanced Skills Teacher to reward the best classroom teachers who are prepared to take on additional roles contributing to the quality of teaching in their schools.

20 We envisage that Advanced Skills Teachers will have a key role to play in raising standards by supporting and mentoring trainee teachers and newly qualified teachers. We urge HE institutions that work in partnership with their schools to consider making Advanced Skills Teachers associate fellows or professors to enhance their participation in initial teacher training. They will also have a key role in setting an example in high quality teaching. We intend to attract them particularly to Education Action Zones.

21 We will ask the School Teachers' Review Body to consult widely with local education authorities, teacher unions and governors' organisations and recommend how the Advanced Skills Teacher grade should be introduced. We will ask the Review Body to consider what precise functions Advanced Skills Teachers should carry out; how and where posts for


[page 49]

Advanced Skills Teachers should be established; and how Advanced Skills Teachers should be selected.

Question: How should Advanced Skills Teachers be selected and what functions should they be expected to carry out?

Performance management

22 Our support for high quality teaching must be matched by a commitment to identify and act where teachers - and indeed headteachers - are not performing to the standard we, and parents, have a right to expect. A fair and robust performance appraisal regime which recognises success but also acts on failure is the hallmark of a profession which truly sets a premium on standards.

Improving Appraisal

23 The present appraisal arrangements do not provide an adequate check on standards and performance in the profession. Targets often fail to focus on improving teacher effectiveness in the classroom and are not specific or measurable, and poor performance can be overlooked or ignored. The appraisal process can be bureaucratic and lack real accountability and is not seen by LEAs or by schools as central to their task of securing and raising pupil performance. We will therefore undertake an urgent review of the present arrangements and make whatever changes are needed to ensure they provide an effective check on the quality of teacher performance.

24 Teachers who are doing a good job will find a more sharply focused appraisal scheme helpful in identifying their strengths and development needs. Less effective teachers need help in identifying their weaknesses and targets for improved performance. Key elements in any appraisal arrangements must be:

  • classroom observation;
  • an assessment of the results achieved by pupils in a teacher's care; and
  • an annual performance review linked to targets for enhanced pupil performance.
25 OFSTED has pointed to concerns about the quality of headship in a minority of schools. Our wider concern about the evidence of standards of pupil performance across the system means that ensuring the quality of heads in all our schools must be a central priority. Given the crucial role of the head in securing high quality education in the school, it is all the more important that arrangements for headteacher appraisal are robust, effective and clearly focused on the key skills of good leadership. We will therefore be looking in particular to tighten up the arrangements for headteacher appraisal.

Question: How can the current headteacher and teacher appraisal arrangements be sharpened up to provide an early indication of development needs and set targets for improvement?

Tackling Poor Performance

26 Teachers accused of incompetence must be given a chance to improve including training where appropriate. If sufficient improvement is not possible, they must be removed from the profession so as to avoid further damage to their pupils' education. We need speedy but fair procedures for this purpose.

27 Later in the year we shall introduce new provisions for the staffing of community, aided and foundation schools. In doing so, we shall ensure that school governors have powers to dismiss incompetent teachers and heads. Dismissal procedures are currently agreed locally between local education authorities and teacher unions. They can be excessively lengthy.


[page 50]

We have asked the local education authorities, the unions and the school governor organisations to work with us at national level to develop streamlined model procedures and recommend them for adoption locally.

28 We shall also ask the School Teachers' Review Body to consider strengthening the management role of headteachers by requiring them to report to the governors every year on whether they have evidence that any teacher's performance has fallen below an acceptable standard, so that appropriate action can be taken.

Support for teachers

29 We are concerned that highly qualified teachers do not waste their time by doing things that can be done by other people.

30 To give teachers time to focus on the important task of raising standards, we need to root out unnecessary bureaucracy. We are setting up a working group of teachers. LEAs, governors and systems industry professionals to identify unnecessary bureaucracy and recommend solutions. The working group will report in the autumn.

31 In recent years schools have increasingly developed the use of non-teaching staff who can make a major contribution to raising classroom standards both by their direct work with pupils and by freeing teachers to make the most effective use of their time with pupils. Many innovative posts have been created.

Case Study: Teaching assistants

In order to cope with the practical elements of the National Curriculum, one primary school recruited two classroom assistants with knowledge of and practical skills in art, design and technology, and science. For part of the time each classroom assistant was timetabled to work in her own practical teaching area with small groups on practical activities designated by the teacher. Each had a budget for her area and a brief to make the practical curriculum more accessible to all pupils. The posts enabled teachers to have smaller groups for more in-depth work and to take groups themselves when greater supervision of pupils was required.

Another school, committed to equal opportunities, appointed a young Asian man with youth work experience and games coaching skills to a post of teaching auxiliary. The post covered routine classroom work, support on language provision for bilingual pupils and also, with groups of older children, coaching for games. In addition the post supported equal opportunities activities.

A school wishing to involve children in the natural environment established an "outdoor classroom" with areas for animals, conservation, geology, topographical features, kitchen garden, and play and exercise. An "outdoor classroom assistant" post was created to look after the animals and the other aspects of the outdoor classroom and to support the cross-curricular teaching work which this resource enabled.

32 Teaching assistants work with pupils, under the overall direction of teachers, both inside and outside the classroom, in small groups or on a one to one basis. There are several different categories of teaching assistant. In primary and nursery schools, they may be classroom assistants, nursery nurses or special needs assistants. In secondary schools, they may be foreign language assistants, music assistants or special needs assistants.


[page 51]

33 At present many teaching assistants have little or no training for the work they do. We believe that with appropriate training they could make an enhanced contribution to the learning process in schools. We will consult local education authorities about the development of a programme of courses and qualifications for all teaching assistants which take account of their individual knowledge, skills and role In the school.

34 Teaching associates in the form of visiting speakers such as police officers, explorers, religious leaders and sportspeople have long been used successfully by schools. With the support of various funding bodies, resident artists and craftspeople have also helped schools develop pupils' skills and understanding of literature, music, art and craft. More recently, business people and managers from industry, commerce and the service sectors have been seconded to schools, bringing in new knowledge and skills and adding fresh perspectives. We wish to encourage these developments and to build on them. Ford's "Industrialists in Residence" and the Danish "Guest Teachers" schemes offer interesting examples of what can be done. There are many people in the community who would like to contribute to school education and would be capable of doing so effectively. We will consult on how they might best be helped to do so.

Question: How should teaching assistants and associates be used in schools?

Case Study: Teaching associates

In partnership with Essex LEA, Ford seconded a series of employees into Essex schools for substantial periods of time. The majority of secondees were engineers but included also finance, marketing and accountancy staff. During their secondments, each person was able to make a unique contribution to a school. Examples of the assistance given to schools include the development of a control technology course, and work on a school's financial management systems and on a conservation project.

In the Danish capital Copenhagen, 60 "guest teachers" are listed in a directory available to schools. Each guest teacher works in industry or commerce and has a range of specialised skills. At a school's request, a guest teacher visits and offers pupils a range of learning experiences which may also be used as preparation for work experience or study visits to companies. Those involved in the scheme claim benefits both in terms of improved education and changed pupil perceptions of industry.

A voice for teachers

35 Teaching is a profession - one of the most important professions for the future success and well-being of our country. Other major professions are represented by national bodies, such as the General Medical Council and the Law Society, which set and maintain the standards expected of their members. Teachers' professional standing should be underlined by the establishment of a General Teaching Council (GTC). As well as representing the views of teachers at national level, the membership will also reflect the interests of parents, employers and higher education in contributing to the national debate on standards.

36 A GTC will help restore the morale of the profession. It will also be well placed to promote teaching as a career at a time when we need to bring good new entrants into the profession. There is a case for a GTC to oversee entry to the profession and barring from the profession as well as defining standards of professional behaviour. There may also be a wider role for a GTC. We envisage that the Teacher Training Agency should continue to take responsibility


[page 52]

for directing public funding to institutions to secure high quality and cost-effective initial teacher training. But we will want to look closely at the relationship between a GTC and the TTA in establishing the professional framework for teachers.

We have announced our intention to legislate later this year to establish a GTC. We are determined to ensure that the GTC becomes an effective body which truly reflects the teaching profession and all those with a stake in high professional standards. We intend to consult widely on the detailed functions and composition and will be publishing a separate consultation document setting out a range of options and questions on a GTC and inviting comments.

Summary

This chapter sets out the new deal we intend to offer to teachers.

Under our proposals, by 2002 there will be:

  • a requirement for heads when appointed for the first time to hold a professional headship qualification;
  • national training arrangements for existing heads;
  • new core requirements for all initial teacher training courses, new requirements for trainee teachers focusing on English and maths in the primary phase, and new standards which all trainees must meet before qualifying to teach;
  • new induction arrangements for all newly qualified teachers;
  • better training for existing teachers to make sure all use the most effective methods of teaching, focused in particular on literacy, numeracy and IT;
  • a new grade of Advanced Skills Teacher;
  • effective appraisal arrangements for teachers and headteachers;
  • streamlined procedures for dealing with incompetent teachers; and
  • a new General Teaching Council to speak for the profession.

Consultation

  • What skills and competencies should be covered by a mandatory headship qualification and does the NPQH fulfil these requirements?
  • What should be the timetable for introducing the mandatory requirement?
  • How can we develop an effective fast-track route to headship?
  • What should be the priorities for the training and development of newly appointed and serving headteachers?
  • What should newly qualified teachers be required to do in their first year to develop their practical skills?
  • What arrangements would be needed for confirming Qualified Teacher Status at the end of a successful induction year?
  • How should Advanced Skills Teachers be selected and what functions should they be expected to carry out?
  • How can current headteacher and teacher appraisal arrangements be sharpened up to provide an early indication of development needs and targets for improvement?
  • How should teaching assistants and associates be used in schools?


[page 53]

Previous chapters have set out how we will help to raise the quality of teaching and learning. Pupils need support from parents, local authority services, business and the community, as well as schools, to ensure they reach their full potential.

6 Helping pupils achieve

Parental support

Learning together

1 Parents are a child's first and enduring teachers. They playa crucial role in helping their children learn. Family learning is a powerful tool for reaching some of the most disadvantaged in our society. It has the potential to reinforce the role of the family and change attitudes to education, helping build strong local communities and widening participation in learning. We want to encourage more effective involvement of family learning in early years and primary education.

2 The best early years centres, and especially those which aim to provide care throughout the day, already offer support and learning opportunities for parents alongside their children. For example, the Dorothy Gardner Nursery Centre In Westminster provides English as a Second Language course for parents, and parents can attend workshops to find out what their children are learning and can then help with reading and early use of IT. The Pen Green Centre


[page 54]

for Under Fives, Corby, provides adult education which ranges from parenting skills through to higher education access courses. We shall promote the effective use of family learning in the new programme of early excellence centres referred to in Chapter 2.

3 Primary schools can also involve families in learning, For example, the Literacy through Life project in St Helens provides intensive support over a term to children who need most help in learning to read, bringing their parents in to support this and where necessary to undertake adult education themselves. The Peers Early Education Programme. Oxford, has set up special reading sessions after school which involve both pupils with poor literacy skills and their parents. The Speakeasy project in Batley uses classroom assistants to work with small groups of children to develop literacy skills: many parents have supported the project and undertaken training themselves. We will look to every primary school to have a plan for involving parents in the way their child learns to read and goes on to gain broader skills of literacy and numeracy.

4 Family learning can go wider than parents, and can involve more than direct help with learning the basics.

  • We will be encouraging the involvement of grandparents in children's learning. We will be working with Age Concern to provide supportive mentoring for children from responsible older people acting as "foster" grandparents.
  • Childminders should have the right skills to be able to assist with the development and education of children in their care. Early years centres can again offer support and training for childminders to develop these skills.
  • Family learning can help improve children's attitudes to education. For example, the C'mon Everybody project in Sheffield works with families whose children have behavioural difficulties to help develop the social skills they need to succeed in pre-school and primary education. And the Home-Start programme uses trained volunteers to visit families under stress in their own homes and offer help, including educational support and opportunities to strengthen the family.

5 We will be working with the Department of Health and the voluntary sector to develop and expand such schemes in an imaginative way so that we can touch directly the learning process in families for whom this is an unfamiliar experience. We will also be working with health visitors and school nurses to develop their role in an imaginative programme to foster the learning process.

Question: What good examples of family learning are there in your area which might be a model for others?

6 The Family Literacy initiative has been established and developed by the DfEE together with the Basic Skills Agency. The four pilot programmes first begun in 1993 in North Tyneside, Norfolk, Liverpool and Cardiff continue to run successfully. The independent evaluation of the courses showed them to be a resounding success in improving pupils' achievement and parents' involvement in literacy, and in encouraging parents to go on to further education and training. This year we are supporting 265 demonstration courses in 64 LEAs. We shall aim to extend this initiative, targeting first the areas of greatest disadvantage and educational need.

The Home-School Contract

7 Involving parents in literacy and numeracy work is an excellent example of school-parent partnerships in practice. To help build even stronger partnerships, all schools should, in discussion with parents, develop a written home-school contract. We intend to make it a requirement that all schools should have an agreement of this kind in place. These


[page 55]

agreements will reflect the respective responsibilities of home and school in raising standards, explaining clearly what is expected of the school, of the parent and of the pupil.

8 Such agreements will not be legally binding, but they will be powerful statements of intent. The detail will differ from school to school, but all agreements are likely to include expectations about the standard of education, the ethos of the school, regular and punctual attendance, discipline, homework, and the information schools and parents will give to one another. They will be important in helping engage parents in raising pupils' achievements and in action to combat truancy, bullying and unacceptable behaviour which undermines pupils' progress. We will provide guidance on the preparation and content of home-school contracts.

Question: What specific commitments and undertakings do you think would be most appropriate for (a) a primary school and (b) a secondary school home-school contract?

Information for parents

9 Parents need accurate information and regular feedback about what is happening in schools. No single document or information source can do this. What matters is that the information taken as a whole is clear, comprehensive and user-friendly.

10 All schools must publish annual reports and prospectuses, and must give parents a report on their child's progress at least once a year. There are many examples of helpful, informative reporting to parents: but we also know that some documents, for one reason or another, leave parents feeling none the wiser. Just as we are improving performance tables to provide better information to parents, we want to ensure that all the other information provided by schools is in the clearest possible form. We shall consult on how this can best be encouraged, by revision of the regulatory framework and the dissemination of good practice.

Question: What information should all pupil reports, prospectuses and annual reports be required to contain, and what should be left to the school's discretion?

Giving parents an effective voice

11 Parents should not only have better information, they should have a greater say in the way schools are run. Many schools already have home-school associations open to parents, teachers and others in the school community. These can provide important underpinning for effective partnerships, and we would encourage governing bodies to ensure their school has one.

12 We also intend to increase the number of elected parent governors at all kinds of schools so that they can bring their particular knowledge to the governing body's discussions and decisions. In addition we will give parents a direct input into LEA education policies by ensuring that there is at least one elected parent governor representative with relevant voting rights on the Education Committee and two or three representatives on larger LEAs.

Discipline and attendance

Improving discipline

13 Good discipline also depends on partnership. It starts in the home and must continue into school. Most schools are well-ordered communities but it is vital, in the interests of all pupils, that standards of behaviour are improved where they are not satisfactory.

14 Improving home/school links and the quality of teaching will make a major contribution to reducing indiscipline, but schools can also act directly to improve pupil behaviour. We will be consulting on detailed new guidance for schools, reflecting the provisions of the Education Act 1997 on school discipline policies and after-school detention, and offering advice on good practice. This will emphasise the need for every school to have a clear behaviour policy


[page 56]

which sets out the boundaries of what is acceptable, the hierarchy of sanctions, arrangements for their consistent application, and a linked system of rewards for good behaviour. We will support local initiatives to tackle behaviour problems, take more active steps to spread information on good practice emerging from these, and expect LEAs to offer schools proactive support in tackling unacceptable behaviour.

15 In particular, we shall ensure wider knowledge of the benefits which schools have gained from the careful introduction of "assertive discipline". This involves the whole school in a concerted effort to improve and maintain discipline through a clearly understood behaviour framework, emphasising positive encouragement as well as clear sanctions.

Assertive discipline

In 1992, Liverpool LEA started to encourage its schools to adopt the behaviour management technique, Assertive Discipline (AD). It has now been introduced into over 50 of the Authority's schools. The AD technique has three essential components:
  • clear unambiguous rules;
  • continuous positive feedback when pupils are successfully keeping to these rules; and
  • a recognised hierarchy of sanctions which are consistently applied when the rules are broken.

An evaluation in 1995 of the use of AD in some of Liverpool's schools showed that training teachers to use this technique had at least four positive outcomes:

  • an increase in appropriate - ie "on task" - pupil behaviour;
  • a decrease in the frequency of disruptive incidents;
  • a dramatic increase in the amount of praise given by teachers; and
  • a marked decline in how much pupils needed to be "told off".
Almost without exception teachers found the training useful and reported that the technique resulted in improved pupil behaviour and work output. And the pupils appeared to prefer their classes to be run on AD lines: they liked being praised and rewarded consistently for doing well - ie a culture of achievement, which helped raise expectations - and knowing the circumstances in which punishments would be imposed.

16 As part of their behaviour policies, all schools need effective strategies to deal with bullying.

These work particularly well when the whole school community, including pupils, is involved in their development and application. The emotional and mental distress caused by bullying can have a severe adverse effect on pupils' achievement - both directly and where it leads to truancy.

Improving attendance

17 Truancy, whether caused by bullying or other factors, is a serious problem. Pupils who fail to attend regularly are blighting their chances of future success, may put themselves at risk of abuse, and can be drawn into anti-social or criminal behaviour. More systematic collection of data has helped focus attention on both truancy and unjustified absences condoned by parents: on average, absent primary-age pupils miss five days of schooling a year, and absent secondary-age pupils ten and a half days. Many schools and LEA education welfare services are working hard to tackle these problems; all need to take effective action. Support for successful schemes and wider dissemination of good practice will be a priority.


[page 57]

18 Improvements in registration procedures (including through use of new technology), and truancy watch and "city pass" schemes, help identify those not in school and provide the basis for corrective action. Early intervention can be particularly effective - in primary schools and at the transition to secondary school, and through rapid follow-up on the first day of a pupil's absence. We will consult on further means of bringing home to parents - through home-school contracts and more effective use of legal sanctions - their responsibilities for ensuring regular and punctual attendance.

Exclusions

19 Schools need the ultimate sanction of excluding pupils; but the present number of exclusions is too high. We are concerned in particular about the unjustified variation in exclusion rates between schools and the disproportionate exclusion of pupils from certain ethnic minorities and children looked after by local authorities. We will be consulting shortly on detailed new guidance for schools and LEAs about the appropriate circumstances for exclusion, about appeals and arrangements for pupils' subsequent education, and about the merits of financial incentives for schools to admit pupils excluded by others.

20 Where pupils are out of school, LEAs have a duty to arrange suitable education. Such arrangements have not always been adequate. For example, home tuition should be sufficient to meet pupils' educational needs, not just what it is convenient for the LEA to provide. The quality and cost-effectiveness of many pupil referral units need to be substantially improved - taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the new inspection arrangements. For older pupils alternative approaches - such as that offered by Cities in Schools, which successfully engages disaffected pupils in a carefully organised programme that includes work experience - should be considered. There should be a specific learning programme for each excluded pupil, with clear targets, a full timetable, and the objective of a return to mainstream schooling wherever sensible.

21 As well as being a cause of low achievement, especially amongst boys, truancy and exclusion are also associated with crime. A survey for the recent Audit Commission study Misspent Youth indicated that 65% of school-age offenders sentenced in court had also been excluded from school or were persistent truants. Action to improve attendance and reduce the need for exclusion should therefore contribute significantly to the Government's wider strategy to prevent anti-social and criminal behaviour by young people and to reduce the associated public costs.

LEA behaviour support plans

22 An effective multi-agency approach to support good discipline and behaviour at local level is vital. We expect that preparation of the behaviour support plans required under the 1997 Act will prompt many LEAs to review the range of their provision in this area and to improve co-ordination with social services and other agencies locally. We will be consulting widely on guidance for these plans, which we envisage covering:

  • LEA support for schools in improving the management of pupil behaviour, with a view amongst other things to preventing unauthorised absence and exclusions;
  • the type and nature of provision available outside mainstream schools for pupils with behaviour problems;
  • arrangements for supporting the education of excluded pupils; and
  • arrangements for effective co-ordination between relevant local agencies, and for involving the youth service and the voluntary sector.

[page 58]

School leaving date

23 We also intend to implement a change which will equip a significant minority of young people better for lifelong learning. At present a child who becomes 16 may leave school at Easter, and hence miss taking the GCSE exams just a couple of months later which mark the end of 11 years of compulsory schooling. The previous Government committed itself to changing this as long ago as 1991. After full consultation the appropriate legislation was enacted with all-party support. Despite this, it has never been implemented. As a result each year as many as 17,000 young people, many of them capable of securing good GCSE results, leave school with no qualifications at all. This seriously damages their life-chances. We will change this with effect from Easter 1998, by ensuring that young people do not leave school before the end of their GCSEs.

Out-of-school learning

24 There are many opportunities outside the classroom to bolster pupil confidence and motivation and boost achievement at school - from homework to learning about the world of work. Such out-of-school activity can reinforce the ability and willingness to learn. It is especially valuable in helping disadvantaged individuals and groups.

Homework

25 Homework is not an optional extra, but an essential part of a good education. There is clear evidence that it helps pupils - in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds - reach higher standards. It also allows more effective use to be made of lesson times and improves pupils' study skills and attitudes to learning. Parents should know what homework their children are expected to do and the support they themselves should give. The school's approach to homework is expected to be one of the key elements of its home-school contract. Taking an interest in homework allows parents to see how their children are doing each day and to share in their achievements. It is encouraging that, according to recent research, 90% of parents believe homework is important.

26 There is evidence that pupils in our best schools do more homework than their peers. Disturbingly, almost half of all pupils in their last year at primary school are not given regular homework, and by contrast the vast majority of pupils of this age spend two hours or more watching television every day.


[page 59]

The columns do not sum to exactly 100% because they are extracts from the table.

"Attitudes to school of top primary and first year secondary pupils", Wendy Keys, Sue Harris and Cres Fernandes. NFER, Slough, 1995.

27 The amount and type of homework pupils do cannot continue to be left to chance. The enormous inconsistencies between schools mean that hundreds of thousands of primary children are missing out on opportunities to build on what they learn in the classroom. We intend to ensure that all schools - and all pupils - are helped and challenged to live up to the high standards set by the best. We will issue national guidelines on homework covering:

  • how much homework pupils of different ages should do;
  • how much time pupils of different ages should spend on homework;
  • what sort of tasks and activities make good homework;
  • how schools can develop and implement successful homework policies; and
  • what is expected of both schools and parents.

We would welcome the views of parents, teachers, schools and LEAs on the guidelines and will consult widely with a view to introducing them in September 1998.

Question: What form should the homework guidelines take, and how can they be made most effective in practice?

Study support

28 Study support is activity outside normal lessons which helps pupils to reach higher standards. It builds on the work pupils do during school hours and at home. There are some excellent examples, both in schools and within the wider community. They can have a significant impact on pupils' attitudes and achievements. We will expand the numbers and range of initiatives, building on the success of study support centres and making best use of the scope for innovation offered by ICT. An especially exciting new scheme wi" involve establishing centres within Premier League football clubs.

29 A White Paper on the National Lottery, to be published in July, will explain how the Government proposes to implement its commitment to use Lottery funds to establish regular out-of-school hours learning activities in half of all secondary schools and a quarter of all primary schools by 2001 as part of the national drive to raise standards. Projects could involve individual schools or groups of schools and schools working with their LEAs. Voluntary organisations, libraries, leisure or community facilities and professional sports and arts organisations working alongside schools could also be involved.


[page 60]

30 Out-of-school learning and play are also crucial for many children and their working parents. We want to see a national network that builds on the work of organisations such as Education Extra and Kids' Clubs Network in developing these plans. Research shows that in both primary school and secondary schools, these activities raise pupils' motivation, improve school skills and encourage participation in other activities.

31 Linked with education and the stimulation which family learning brings, after-school support centres can be more than merely a place for youngsters to wait for their parents to arrive from work. Centres can often provide tile opportunity for quiet study which is not available at home and can offer a suitable place for mentors to be able to give advice and help. The use of new technology - again not available in many homes - can give pupils a new world of information and communication techniques.

Case Study: Tower Hamlets Study Support Project

"Perhaps the most important thing about what our boys and girls get from study support is that it raises their aspirations to achieve what we know they are capable of achieving". Study Support has proved a significant strand of Tower Hamlets LEA's strategy to tackle under-achievement. There are currently 27 centres operating and the LEA aims to include all the Borough's mainstream secondary schools in the initiative, Benefits have been demonstrated in schools across the Borough and the project has helped to raise pupil achievement by:

  • providing a supportive environment to foster Independent learning;
  • offering space and support for homework and independent study;
  • increasing pupil motivation and self-esteem;
  • preparing pupils for further and higher education;
  • targeting specific groups and providing the appropriate support: and
  • providing opportunities for residential study courses and exam revision.
In addition, the centres have led to a variety of other partnership initiatives and helped to encourage more community involvement, and better communication and understanding within the community.

Support from business and the local community

32 Business, voluntary and public organisations, working in local partnership, call make a major impact in motivating young people and helping raise standards of achievement. We want to support and extend this work, particularly through mentoring and school-business links.

33 Mentoring of individuals and groups has proved successful in inspiring and motivating young people. A mentor can be many things - a positive role model, an adviser and an experienced friend. Simply having someone from outside the school and family who takes a special interest can make an enormous difference. Bradford's Better Reading Partnership - which brings volunteers from the community to help children with their reading - shows the kind of positive benefits that can be achieved. The National Mentoring Network has undertaken valuable work in promoting mentoring, but while there is much successful practice mentoring remains an under-exploited resource. We will support the National


[page 61]

Mentoring Network and its members to raise the profile and increase the availability of mentoring initiatives to pupils.

34 School-business links are an excellent means of preparing young people for the world of work. They help to motivate young people, enabling them to see the relevance of what they learn at school and so raising their aspirations and achievements. Such arrangements have a vital role to play in extending the experience and skills of teachers and headteachers. And they can playa pivotal role in countering disaffection from an early age, for example through activities such as compacts which set targets for pupils to achieve in return for employment-related opportunities and incentives.

Case Study: The Salford Education Business Partnership Mentoring Programme

"It sounded like a good scheme to be involved in and it is rewarding. I worked first with a girl in her last year of school who just needed a push and some extra support to achieve her potential".

Salford ESP's mentoring programme is now in its sixth year and matches individual school pupils with a mentor from a local company or the community. The programme now operates in ten Salford schools with 150 pupils and mentors involved each year. Evaluation has shown that pupils on the programme gain considerable benefit.

One pupil for example was lacking in confidence and had difficulty in developing relationships with fellow pupils. He was also underachieving In his school work. He was assigned a mentor from business and although early meetings were difficult, with perseverance and encouragement the relationship developed. One key factor in that was support from the mentor in helping the pupil with his maths, something he was struggling with at school. By the time the pupil left school his Head of Year thought he was the most improved pupil on the mentoring programme. HIs confidence had developed, his attitude had matured and his GCSE results were better than expected.

35 We intend to add a new drive to school-business links, both nationally and locally as part of our plans to raise standards. Education Business Partnerships, as organisations which develop and provide sustained links for the benefit of all parties, are established in all parts of the country. Many partnerships are already involved in valuable and innovative work but some of the impetus has been lost over the last decade. We want to help to extend the best of EBP practice to all parts of the country. We want key players in each area to take stock of local partnership arrangements, and consider what action can be taken to ensure sustained momentum for school business links. We will support the EBP National Network and other national organisations in promoting high quality activities that link education and business, with TECs playing an important role in helping to co-ordinate such links in their areas.

A new national framework

36 We want all young people to have access to a range of activity in addition to normal classroom teaching and learning designed to improve their achievement. We will consult widely on a new national framework for motivating pupils outside the classroom. It will set out what the DfEE and its local partners can best do to achieve this objective. We will listen carefully to the views of those involved in the field about what the Government can most usefully contribute to support and extend existing initiatives and make those involved feel


[page 62]

part of an effective national strategy, and in particular:

  • to acknowledge and nurture existing effective activity;
  • to identity what works best and encourage greater coverage;
  • to promote exchange of ideas between providers;
  • to help develop activity to meet needs not yet catered for; and
  • to help ensure that out-of-school activity makes a full contribution to efforts to raise standards in the new Education Action Zones.
37 We will open discussions immediately with representative bodies and a range of providers In the business, voluntary and public sectors. We will publish a consultation paper on the national framework based on those discussions later in the year.

Skills for life

38 Schools already playa vital part in preparing pupils for adult life, both through National Curriculum or other subjects and through programmes of personal, social and health education. SCM has already established consensus on a statement of core values to promote and support values education in schools; it is now preparing guidance on pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. We shall be asking SCM to ensure that this guidance covers parenthood and citizenship. But there are some areas where further development is needed.

Case Study: Work-related learning in Wigan

"The change In one of our students has been quite remarkable. From a shy nervous boy who found it difficult to look anyone in the eye, he is now confident and out-going. His literacy and numeracy skills have improved. The best news is that he will continue to train with the same company when he leaves school."

Wigan schools, with the LEA and the Borough Partnership, have built on their longstanding commitment to work experience and links with industry. Flexible use of work-related elements at Key Stage 4 has increased motivation, attendance and attainment. In Pemberton High School, the percentage of school-leavers without qualifications has fallen from 10% to 2%, and truancy has dropped by nearly three quarters.

The introduction of work-related projects has meant that:

  • pupils are working towards NVQs alongside adults in industry, building their self-esteem;
  • pupils understand the relevance of school to future work and learning;
  • opportunities for the professional development of teachers have increased; and
  • pupils who were underachieving, or becoming disaffected, have gained new motivation.

39 We intend to take early action to promote work-related learning for 14-16 year-olds. By the age of 14, too many young people, especially boys, have become disaffected with the school system and a traditional curriculum. Work-related learning can help re-motivate these young people and raise their levels of achievement by enabling them to pursue options in a different environment such as a further education college, and through effective links with local employers and community organisations. This should in part help to tackle the wide and growing gap in achievement between boys and girls at 16.


[page 63]

40 We will encourage innovative arrangements for work-related learning, targeted particularly in the new Education Action Zones, and ensure that FE colleges can playa full part with schools and LEAs. We will extend the existing pilots of the new Part One GNVQ and encourage the development of bridging courses to employment or training. We will encourage schools to offer high quality work experience placements to all pupils.

41 There is already considerable flexibility at key stage 4 of the National Curriculum. But we need to be clear about how far this greater emphasis on work-related learning is compatible with the existing statutory requirements. We have therefore asked SCAA to advise by late summer on the most appropriate ways of enabling schools to increase the focus on work-related education at this key stage.

42 The second area is citizenship. A modern democratic society depends on the informed and active involvement of all its citizens. Schools can help to ensure that young people feel that they have a stake in our society and the community in which they live by teaching them the nature of democracy and the duties, responsibilities and rights of citizens. This forms part of schools' wider provision for personal and social education, which helps more broadly to give pupils a strong sense of personal responsibility and of their duties towards others. The Department will be setting up an advisory group to discuss citizenship and the teaching of democracy in our schools.

43 The volunteering of time and effort by young people benefits both them and the community. We shall work closely with national and local voluntary organisations and community groups, to widen the opportunities for young people to volunteer, through the Millennium Volunteers and other programmes.

Question: What should citizenship programmes in schools cover?

44 The third area which needs urgent attention is parenting. Few factors have a more profound effect on individuals and the nature of society than the contribution of parents to their children's development. But young people often leave school without ever having given any serious thought to whether they will have children, or how they would cope if they did. We want all secondary schools to help teach young people the skills of good parenting, both formally and through contact with good adult role models.

45 We also intend to encourage schools, building on their experience in teaching pupils, to develop educational programmes in partnership with LEAs, FE colleges, adult education institutions, voluntary and community groups and family nurturing schemes to support parents who are bringing up children.

Question: What should parenting education programmes contain?

Education and health

46 Good education is a lifeline for children on the wrong side of the 'health divide'. Schools and teachers are a vital source of support for vulnerable young people. They are key in helping to detect emotional and behavioural problems early. And in fostering achievement they are helping to promote good mental health. Schools also have a role in helping to tackle our most pressing public health problems, including teenage pregnancies, smoking and drug and alcohol abuse. We intend to help all schools become healthy schools. Schools cannot achieve this on their own. There is a clear role for health professionals to provide support and information to their education counterparts. Close partnerships can only be achieved through effective inter-agency co-operation at local level.


[page 64]

School meals

47 If pupils are to achieve all they can in schools and in life, proper nutrition is essential. For some children, the school lunch is their main meal of the day. It can also be an important way to develop social skills. Many LEAs, schools and caterers already provide healthy, well-balanced meals which children enjoy eating. We would like to build on existing good practice to ensure that all school meals provide the essential nutrients which young people need for proper growth and development.

48 Nutritional standards should not be a straitjacket. We therefore propose to specify minimum nutritional standards for inclusion in school meals contracts which allow schools, LEAs and caterers flexibility to respond to local tastes and to offer choice. We intend to consult widely on what these standards should be and how they should be implemented.

49 We will also encourage schools to adopt a consistent whole-school approach to food and nutrition, involving governors, headteachers, teachers, caterers, pupils and their families. This could entail, for example, drawing up a clear nutritional policy for the school.

Summary

This chapter explains how we shall help schools and parents to work together to raise standards, and ensure that schools provide an orderly learning environment. By 2002 there will be:
  • more family learning schemes;
  • a home-school contract in all schools;
  • better information for parents;
  • greater representation of parents on governing bodies, and parent representatives on LEAs;
  • better support in schools for pupils with behaviour problems, less need to exclude pupils from school, and better education for those who are out of school;
  • reduced levels of unauthorised absence from school:
  • no children who miss out on their GCSEs by leaving school early;
  • national guidelines for homework so that schools, parents and pupils realise its importance in raising standards;
  • a network of after-school homework centres;
  • better school-business links;
  • a new national framework to promote extended opportunities for young people to benefit from activities outside the classroom;
  • better programmes of work-related learning, citizenship and parenting; and
  • national nutritional standards for school meals.


[page 65]

Consultation

  • What good examples of family learning are there in your area which might be a model for others?
  • What specific commitments and undertakings do you think would be most appropriate for (a) a primary school and (b) a secondary school home-school contract?
  • What information should all pupil reports, prospectuses and annual reports be required to contain, and what should be left to the school's discretion?
  • What form should the homework guidelines take, and how can they be made most effective in practice?
  • How best should we develop a national framework for pupil motivation that promotes national and local action effectively?
  • What should programmes for citizenship and parenting cover?
Additional consultation is being undertaken on:
  • detailed guidance for schools and LEAs on pupil discipline and attendance;
  • a new national framework for motivating pupils outside the classroom: and
  • national nutritional standards for school meals.


[page 66]

Our priority is standards, not structures. But we need a new and clearer framework in which all the partners understand their roles and can work effectively together towards the common goal of raising standards.

7 A new partnership

Community, aided and found at on schools

1 The focus of debate in recent years has been too much on school structure, too little on standards. The development of Grant Maintained schools has led to concerns about fairness and co-operation between schools. In some areas there is a lack of clarity about who is accountable for what.

2 We need a new framework which strikes a better balance between fairness, co-operation, diversity between schools, and the power of schools to decide their own affairs. It must allow all good schools to flourish, leaving in place whatever is already working well, while providing better support for those schools that need to improve. We will be consulting later on a technical document about the detailed arrangements.

3 The underlying principles of the new framework are:


[page 67]

  • The central part which the churches and other foundations have long played in providing schools should be recognised, safeguarding the ethos of voluntary schools.
  • Schools should be free to make as many decisions as practical for themselves, in particular on internal management, resource allocation and day-to-day operation.
  • But that freedom must be accompanied by accountability to parents, the local community, and the wider public for what they achieve.
  • There will be no question of attaching unfair privileges to a particular category of school in funding, admissions arrangements or planning school places. All schools, and all categories of school, must be treated fairly.
  • The role of LEAs is not to control schools, but to challenge all schools to improve and support those which need help to raise standards.
  • To avoid distraction and disruption for schools, the changes made to establish the new framework should be kept to the essential minimum.

Question: Are these principles for designing the new schools framework the right ones?

4 The June 1995 policy statement, Diversity and Excellence, set out proposals for three categories of schools - community, aided and foundation. These categories will incorporate all LEA and GM schools.

5 Community schools will be similar to the existing county schools (which account for some 14,000 out of the 22,000 primary and secondary schools in England). The LEA will continue to employ their staff and own their premises. We intend to include more parent governors on governing bodies, but otherwise county schools which become community schools will remain largely unchanged.

6 Both aided schools and foundation schools will employ their staff and own their premises, broadly as voluntary aided and GM schools do now. The main difference between aided and foundation schools will be that aided schools will contribute at least 15% towards their capital spending (as existing voluntary aided schools do) and will accordingly have a majority of "foundation governors" (see paragraph 7 below). Like the present voluntary controlled schools, foundation schools will not be required to contribute anything towards capital costs, so "foundation governors" will not have an absolute majority. Foundation schools will have no more than two LEA governors.

7 Existing voluntary schools in the GM and LEA sectors already have foundations, separate from the governing body, which appoint "foundation governors" and hold the school's premises in trust. These will continue. We are considering the role of new foundations that might be required for schools which become aided or foundation schools. We are also considering the implications for controlled schools, in cases where they move to foundation status, of becoming the employers of their staff; we are mindful of the need for flexibility.

8 Schools should be able to choose which status will best suit their character and aspirations. But we do not want the mechanisms for choosing to distract attention from the main purpose of raising standards and we assume that the great majority of schools will wish to choose a category which is as close as possible to their existing status. For example, because of their special relationship with their church or other foundation, we expect voluntary aided schools will generally wish to choose aided status.

9 The Government therefore proposes to frame the necessary legislation in terms of a set of assumptions that schools in an existing category will generally move to a specified new category, unless the governing body chooses otherwise. Where the governing body did wish


[page 68]

to choose a different category, or a significant proportion of parents were unhappy with the proposed new status, a ballot of parents would provide a mechanism for testing whether parents agreed with that choice. Where there was disagreement which could not be resolved, the final decision would be referred to the Secretary of State. We will be consulting in detail on the procedures for schools to choose their new status, including the place of ballots.

10 The pattern of ownership of school premises is complex. In broad terms, the LEA owns the premises and assets of county schools, and that will continue for community schools. In voluntary schools, the foundation holds the main premises, but the LEA generally owns playing fields and subsidiary assets; while GM school governing bodies (with their foundations in the case of former voluntary schools) own all the school's assets. Trying to achieve complete consistency of ownership for aided and foundation schools would create too much turbulence. So we intend to adopt the guiding principle that schools should continue to hold what they have now We shall ensure that the Secretary of State can apply proper safeguards to the disposal of assets bought with public funds.

11 There are 1,200 maintained special schools in England. These playa valued part in providing for children with severe SEN. In the Green Paper announced in Chapter 3 we shall be seeking views on the way to develop these schools. Because of the need to protect highly specialised provision, there has always been closer statutory control of special schools than their mainstream counterparts. An individual special school may contribute to vital provision at regional, and sometimes national, level. We shall explore ways of strengthening the planning of this essential provision. The need for such planning is likely to imply that all maintained special schools, including the small number of GM special schools, should become community special schools.

School governors

12 Governors have a special role as partners in the school service: they provide a vital link between the school and the community. We shall strengthen that link by increasing the number of parent governors.

13 The purpose of governing bodies is to help provide the best possible education for its pupils. To do this effectively they should have a strategic view of their main function - which is to help raise standards - and clear arrangements for monitoring progress against targets. They need to challenge the expectations of the headteacher and staff as well as providing support. To achieve a proper working partnership, governing bodies and heads have to recognise and respect each other's roles and responsibilities. Headteachers must give governors the information they need to help the school to raise its standards. Governors must give headteachers the freedom to manage and deliver agreed policies.

14 We do not think it right to legislate for all the details of the relationship between headteachers and governors. But we welcome the Guidance on Good Governance produced by a working group of governor, headteacher and other national associations This is precisely the type of partnership we want to see.

15 Governors bear a heavy workload and we will seek to minimise these burdens in introducing the new community, aided and foundation framework.

16 We have set out in Chapter 3 the support LEAs should provide to governing bodies to help them succeed. In addition, we shall encourage LEAs to set up independent governors' forums, to make full use of existing governor associations and to involve governors in the development of policy. LEAs will be asked to cover their intentions for consultation, information and other support and training for governors in their Education Development


[page 69]

Plans. We shall issue guidance on how governors' training needs can be met, drawing on the best of existing LEA practice.

Case Study: Northicote School, Wolverhampton

Northicote School is an 11-18 comprehensive with 500 pupils. It was the first school in the country to be declared failing, and the first to come off special measures. 30% of pupils are entitled to free school meals. 70% have special needs. The OFSTED report listed 12 main areas in which the school was failing its pupils. They ranged from poor standards of achievement to truancy and vandalism. Some of the school's accommodation was so poor that there had been rumours of closure for several years.

The governors had been grappling with poor accommodation and financial problems but had little idea standards were so low. Stirred by the inspection, they quickly acknowledged their responsibilities. Although governors share a heavier workload than before, they see that they have a real job to do in delivering school improvement. Support from the LEA, including a major refurbishment, has improved the learning environment, encouraged a sense of pride, and improved professional development.

Governors quickly brought parents on board. Sporting initiatives and a family literacy project encouraged parents into school. Local businesses provided some new governors. Teaching quality and management have improved because of strong leadership and intensive training. The governors and head refused to duck staff underperformance. Monitoring and target setting are routine and no longer seen as a threat. A culture of achievement applies to staff and pupils.

The role of LEAs

17 The role of LEAs has changed dramatically over the past decade. It is no longer focused on control, but on supporting largely self-determining schools. LEAs must earn their place in the new partnership, by showing that they can add real value. Chapter 3 sets out the ways in which LEAs should help to raise standards and ways in which the performance of LEAs themselves can be improved.

18 The leadership function of an LEA is not based on control and direction. It is about winning the trust and respect of schools and championing the value of education in its community, for adults as well as children.

19 If we are to hold LEAs to account for their performance, we owe it to them to ensure that they have a clear job description and the tools to do that job. Our view of the administrative role of LEAs was set out in Diversity and Excellence. Their administrative functions properly include activities such as: organising education outside school; planning the supply of school places; setting overall school budgets; organising services to support individual pupils, such as transport and welfare services; and supplying services such as personnel and finance advice for schools to buy. LEAs should carry out these functions to a high standard for all state schools

Question: Does the administrative role of the LEA set out here include the right functions?

Finance

20 The recurrent funding arrangements must support the respective roles of schools and LEAs. LEAs must be able to retain centrally the funds needed to carry out their responsibilities. At the same time, we recognise the benefits which Local Management of Schools (LMS) has


[page 70]

brought. Schools have thrived on the opportunities offered by delegation of budgets and managerial responsibilities. They should be able to decide, wherever possible, what services they want to buy, and from whom they want to buy them.

21 The Government will require LEAs to delegate more of their budgets to heads and governors. LEAs should also minimise the proportion of their budget that is spent on central administration. We want to develop a school funding system which does not discriminate unfairly between schools or pupils. LMS will be the means through which all schools are funded - community, aided, foundation; mainstream and special. But any changes to the present arrangements must recognise the different starting points for different schools. We must avoid unnecessary disruption to the education of pupils. This will govern our decisions as we develop a new LMS framework.

22 The legislation required to change the coverage of LMS will also provide statutory backing for key national policies, particularly on delegation of budgets from LEAs to schools and on local distribution of funds to schools using objective formulae. The legislation will also cover consultation and exchange of information between schools and LEAs. Our aim will be to make school budget setting as simple, transparent and fair as possible. There will be a clear separation between the funds for LEA functions which need to be retained centrally and those for school functions which should be delegated.

23 New requirements for delegating budgets and rules on formula distribution can be expressed in various ways. Before we reach conclusions on what the regulations should say, we will carry out detailed consultations. We also need to review the way funding is allocated between different parts of the country, so that schools' budgets fairly reflect their circumstances - including both those things which all schools have in common (such as teaching the National Curriculum) and those things which differentiate them (such as the pressures of providing high quality education in disadvantaged areas).

24 The principles of fair funding and avoiding unnecessary disruption will also govern our work on funding for GM schools in 1998-99. We will consult on the details of this.

25 Continued under-investment in school buildings has left the nation a difficult legacy. Public assets have been allowed to deteriorate to the point where the state of the fabric of our schools has a detrimental effect on the teaching and learning that goes on within them; at the same time a significant surplus of school places has been maintained at unnecessary additional cost. We must address these problems, but capital resources are always in short supply. We shall therefore be pursuing all possible ways of levering in further funding from a variety of sources to improve the condition of the schools estate and make better use of the funds available. In particular we shall be developing the use of Public/Private Partnerships, in which families of schools and consortia of contractors can address the inherited problems of the backlog of repairs and maintenance, where possible involving wider regeneration projects. This will make it easier for all schools to attract private and community support on a consistent basis.

Organisation of school places

26 At present most proposals for making significant changes to schools organisation, such as opening, closing or expanding a school, need approval from the Secretary of State. The arrangements were originally designed to reconcile potentially conflicting interests and allow the government to influence the developing pattern of school places. But they have become too centralised. They involve the government in detailed consideration of matters best sorted out locally. The Audit Commission report Trading Places, published in December 1996, drew attention to some of the tensions within the present arrangements.


[page 71]

27 We want to move to more devolved decision-making. One option would be to bring together schools, the Churches, the LEA and other interests to draw up a local structure plan for school places. The plans would reflect demographic trends and other strategic factors affecting the future need for places. If the plan met with objections locally, it could be put to an independent inquiry. Proposals about individual schools could also be considered by local interests in the same way.

Question: What are the best arrangements for a local partnership in planning the organisation of school places?

School admissions

28 We want as many parents as possible to be able to send their children to their preferred school. But where demand exceeds supply and one school is more popular than another, some parents will be disappointed. A recent survey by the Audit Commission (in their report mentioned above) estimated that nearly one parent in five did not get a place for their child at their genuine first preference school. Yet the Commission also drew attention to the level of unfilled school places; currently over 800.000 in England.

29 Parents must have the information they need to see what different schools can offer and to assess their choices realistically. Where a school is over-subscribed, there must be clear and fair criteria for deciding applications. Church schools may reasonably carry out interviews to assess religious or denominational commitment. Places should not otherwise be offered on the basis of an interview with the pupil or parent.

30 At present LEAs are 'admission authorities' for county and controlled schools but governing bodies play that role in GM, VOluntary-aided and special agreement schools. This can lead to difficulties, and uncertainty for parents. We will therefore expect to see the development of local forums of headteachers and governors from community, aided and foundation schools, to share information about their schools' admissions arrangements, with administrative support from LEAs. We will expect the forums to develop helpful and timely information for parents and common timetables for applications for their local area. Guidance on the establishment and operation of such forums will be provided by the DfEE.

31 National guidelines on admissions policies will be set by the Secretary of State. In our new partnership, aided and foundation schools will be able to put forward policies in the light of the guidelines. They will be expected to discuss them with the LEA which will also have responsibility for the admissions policy of community schools. Where agreement cannot be reached, there will be access to an independent adjudicator. We believe that the vast majority of disputes will be resolved through this mechanism.

32 We also propose to ensure that appeals by individual parents against non-admission will be heard by an independent appeals panel.

33 Under the previous government's June 1996 guidance, schools are able to select up to 15% of their pupils by general academic ability without the need for statutory proposals. This was heavily opposed during consultation on that guidance, with only 15 out of 1500 consultees speaking out in favour. Some schools have published statutory proposals and introduced more than 15% selection. The use of partial selection, though limited, has led to controversy and caused parents concern in areas such as Bromley and Hertfordshire. We shall therefore rule out for the future partial selection by academic ability; the adjudicator will be able to end this practice where it currently exists. We will ensure that schools with a specialism will continue to be able to give priority to children who demonstrate the relevant aptitude, as long as that is not misused to select on the basis of general academic ability. We expect


[page 72]

those involved in deciding admissions arrangements for September 1998 to have regard to the principles and policies set out here.

34 There are 163 grammar schools in England. We have made our position on grammar schools clear over the last two years. There will be no going back to the 11-plus. However, we recognise that, where grammar schools exist, local parents have an interest in decisions on whether their selective admissions arrangements should continue. Changes in the admissions policies of grammar schools will be decided by local parents, and not by LEAs. We have previously indicated the mechanisms which might be used to achieve this, and will consult further on the way in which our balanced approach can be carried through.

Questions:

What are the main characteristics of effective locally co-ordinated admission arrangements, and how can they best be encouraged?

How can we ensure that as many parents as possible have a place for their child at their preferred school, without considerable extra expense and adding to the number of unfilled school places overall?

Independent schools

35 The new partnership should embrace independent as well as state schools. The best independent schools can offer children extensive facilities in sport, music and the other arts; specialist teaching in subjects such as the less common foreign languages; nationally important provision for certain types of special educational needs; and a variety of patterns of boarding provision. The educational apartheid created by the public/private divide diminishes the whole education system.

36 The music and ballet scheme and the choir schools schemes are national partnerships which already give opportunities to talented children from all over the country. They could be models for specialist provision at national or regional level to foster talent in different fields - such as the other arts, sport and languages.

37 Less formally, independent schools could, as an expression of their charitable role, offer opportunities for many more children by sharing their activities and facilities with the local community. Afternoon homework centres, Saturday enrichment classes, holiday arts, sports and language courses are examples already in place in Dulwich, Birmingham and elsewhere. Through new local partnerships these could be made available more widely, and extended into other kinds of activities. For instance, they could include the use of flexible boarding at independent or state schools for children needing that environment at a particular time in their lives. We will consult LEAs, independent schools, specialist organisations and others about ways of developing these opportunities.


[page 73]

Summary

This chapter sets out a new partnership for raising standards. By 2002 there will be:
  • a new framework of foundation, community and aided schools, allowing all good schools to flourish and keeping in place whatever is already working well, while giving better support for those schools that need to improve;
  • clearly understood roles for school governors and for LEAs so they can contribute positively to raising standards;
  • fair and transparent systems for calculating school budgets, which allow schools as much freedom as
    possible to decide how to spend their budgets;
  • more local decision making about plans to open new schools or to change the size or character of existing schools;
  • fairer ways of offering school places to pupils;
  • no more partial selection by general academic ability; and
  • a more positive contribution from independent schools to our goal of raising standards for all children, with improved partnership and links with schools and local communities.

Consultation

We will publish for consultation later this summer details of how the new framework will work, paving the way for legislation in the Autumn. That will cover in particular consultation on: the foundation, community and aided structure; the role of LEAs; revising the rules for Local Management of Schools; devolving decision making on the supply of school places; and procedures for deciding school admission arrangements. We have also established a consultative group representing the main national organisations to help us work up the detail. We will consult separately about ways of improving partnership between the state and independent sectors.

Meanwhile, we welcome comments on the proposed framework, in particular:

  • Are the principles set out in paragraph 3 for designing the new framework of
    foundation, community and aided schools the right ones?
  • Does the role of LEAs described in paragraphs 17-19 include the right functions?
  • What are the best arrangements for a local partnership in planning the organisation of schools places?
  • What are the main characteristics of effective locally co-ordinated admission arrangements, and how can they best be encouraged?
  • How can we ensure that as many parents as possible have a place for their child at their preferred school, without considerable extra expense and adding to the number of unfilled school places overall?


[page 74]

Consultation - how to respond

[Note For obvious reasons, the contact details shown below are no longer valid.]

This White Paper sets out what we aim to achieve over the next five years to raise standards in education. We want everyone involved in education to consider and discuss these proposals. A full and open debate is vital if everyone is to play their part in raising standards.

We will be undertaking a full programme of regional and local consultation. Copies of this White Paper are being sent to all schools, LEAs and national bodies. A summary version is available free of charge from the freephone number given below. We would urge all schools to discuss these proposals with parents and other partners.

We welcome comments on all the areas covered by the White Paper. The questions on which we would particularly welcome views that are set out in the text are also brought together here. Under the code of practice on open government, any responses will be made available to the public on request, unless respondents indicate that they wish their response to remain confidential.

Written or taped comments can be sent to: Stuart Miller, DfEE, Excellence in schools, Room 4.63, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BT or by fax 0171-925 6425.

This White Paper and its summary version are available on the Internet. The address is: http://www.open.gov.uk/dfee/dfeehome.htm. Comments can be e-mailed to: schools@numbers.co.uk.

The White Paper is also available in Braille and on audio cassette.

A summary version of this White Paper is available free of charge by calling 0800 99 66 00 (it is also available in Bengali, Gujerati, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and Chinese, in Braille and on audio cassette). The summary is primarily aimed at parents and contains a form to record their comments. The questionnaire form can be sent Freepost to DfEE, Excellence in schools, Freepost, 13th Floor, Crown House, Linton Road, Barking, Essex IG11 8BR.

More information about this and other consultation exercises that are described in this White Paper is available from the special Excellence in schools helpline: 0645 123 001 (this line is open 9am-5pm Monday - Friday until 7 October).

The consultation period closes on 7 October 1997.


[page 75]

Chapter 1 does not contain any questions for consultation

Chapter 2: A sound beginning (page 15)

  • What should early excellence centres do for children, parents and the local community?
  • What information from the assessments that are carried out when children start school would parents find most helpful?
  • What should be done in the National Year of Reading in 1998/99 to help raise standards of literacy?
  • What effective ideas for teaching, and the involvement of parents and the community, would you wish to see as part of the numeracy strategy?
Additional and more detailed technical consultation is being undertaken on:
  • Early-years development forums.
  • Smaller primary classes.
  • The numeracy strategy.
Chapter 3: Standards and accountability (page 24)
  • What more can be done to ensure that clear information on pupil performance gets through to schools, LEAs, parents and the local community?
  • How can schools and LEAs ensure that they use the target-setting process most effectively to improve performance?
  • How much of an LEA's work should be covered in its Education Development Plan?
  • What more support do governors need from their LEAs?
  • How can the proposed early warning system strike the best balance between the respective duties of the school and the LEA to raise standards?
  • In what ways can the OFSTED inspection system be further refined and improved?
  • What more can and should the Department itself do to support and challenge its partners in education?
Additional consultation is being undertaken on:
  • the content and preparation of Education Development Plans; and
  • ways of monitoring ethnic minority pupils' performance and developing action plans to tackle underperformance.
Chapter 4: Modernising the comprehensive principle (page 37)
  • How can schools be encouraged to use more flexible and successful approaches to the grouping of pupils?
  • What should be the main characteristics of Education Action Zones if they are to achieve the objective of motivating young people in tough inner city areas?
  • How can specialist schools work most effectively in families of schools to share the benefits of specialisation and help raise standards for all?
  • In what ways can the Grid best be developed to ensure that all learners have access?

[page 76]

  • What needs to be done to encourage educational, media and business organisations to collaborate in the development of research into innovative approaches to schooling?
Additional consultation is being undertaken on:
  • the establishment of Education Action Zones.
Chapter 5: Teaching: High status, high standards (page 45)
  • What skills and competencies should be covered by a mandatory headship qualification and does the NPQH fulfil these requirements?
  • What should be the timetable for introducing the mandatory requirement?
  • How can we develop an effective fast-track route to headship?
  • What should be the priorities for the training and development of newly appointed and serving headteachers?
  • What should newly qualified teachers be required to do in their first year to develop their practical skills?
  • What arrangements would be needed for confirming Qualified Teacher Status at the end of a successful induction year?
  • How should Advanced Skills Teachers be selected and what functions should they be expected to carry out?
  • How can current headteacher and teacher appraisal arrangements be sharpened up to provide an early indication of development needs and targets for improvement?
  • How should teaching assistants and associates be used in schools?
Chapter 6: Helping pupils achieve (page 53)
  • What good examples of family learning are there in your area which might be a model for others?
  • What specific commitments and undertakings do you think would be most appropriate for (a) a primary school and (b) a secondary school home-school contract?
  • What information should all pupil reports, prospectuses and annual reports be required to contain, and what should be left to the school's discretion?
  • What form should the homework guidelines take, and how can they be made most effective in practice?
  • How best should we develop a national framework for pupil motivation that promotes national and local action effectively?
  • What should programmes for citizenship and parenting cover?
Additional consultation is being undertaken on:
  • detailed guidance for schools and LEAs on pupil discipline and attendance; and
  • a new national framework for motivating pupils outside the classroom; and
  • national nutritional standards for school meals.

[page 77]

Chapter 7: A new partnership (page 66)

We will publish for consultation later this summer details of how the new framework will work, paving the way for legislation in the autumn. That will cover in particular consultation on: the foundation, community and aided structure; the role of LEAs; revising the rules for Local Management of Schools; devolving decision making on the supply of school places: and procedures for deciding school admission arrangements. We have also established a consultative group representing the main national organisations to help us work up the detail. We will consult separately about ways of improving partnership between the state and independent sectors.

Meanwhile, we welcome comments on the proposed framework, in particular:

  • Are the principles set out in paragraph 3 of Chapter 7 for designing the new framework of foundation, community and aided schools the right ones?
  • Does the role of LEAs described in paragraphs 17-19 of Chapter 7 include the right functions?
  • What are the best arrangements for a local partnership in planning the organisation of school places?
  • What are the main characteristics of effective locally co-ordinated admission arrangements, and how can they best be encouraged?
  • How can we ensure that as many parents as possible have a place for their child at their preferred school, without considerable extra expense adding to the number of unfilled school places overall?






[page 78]

Appendix: Achievement in our schools

1 This Appendix sets out recent data on achievements in schools in national curriculum tests and at GCSE. It gives some comparisons between boys and girls, and between ethnic groups. It also includes comparisons of performance between groups of schools with similar intakes as measured by the take-up of free school meals. Finally, some international comparisons from the recent Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) are shown.

National Curriculum assessment

2 The table below shows that four out of five 7 year-old pupils in 1996 reached the standard expected of them in English and mathematics, and that achievement at age 11 was well below this. Only 54% of 11 year-olds reached the standard in mathematics expected for their age and in English only 58% reached the standard. Achievement at age 14 shows a similar picture, with well over a third of 14 year-olds not achieving the level expected for their age in either English, mathematics or science.


[page 79]

GCSE

3 Information from public examinations provides a longer-term picture of national achievement. The table below shows that fewer than half of 16 year-olds achieve five or more GCSEs at grade C or better, and the rise in this proportion has slackened recently. Furthermore, in 1996 only around one-third of pupils gained a grade C or better in both mathematics and English.

4 The table also shows that the proportion of pupils achieving five GCSEs at any grade has also risen very little recently. The proportion leaving school with no GCSEs at all has remained stuck at around 1 in 12 of all pupils, as is shown in the chart below.


[page 80]

Achievements of boys and girls

5 From the table below it can be seen that girls outperform boys at 7. 11 and 14 in National Curriculum tests in English, with the gap widening with age. Their achievements in mathematics and science are broadly similar.

6 This picture persists at age 16, as shown below. 49% of all girls achieved five or more higher grade GCSEs, compared to only 40% of boys. As at earlier ages, achievements in mathematics and science are roughly the same, but in English 6 out of 10 girls achieved a grade C or better compared to only 4 out of 10 boys.


[page 81]

Ethnic minorities

7 There are no national data on achievement by pupils from different ethnic minorities. But the latest survey of research by OFSTED suggests that there are some common patterns. Indian pupils appear consistently to achieve more highly, on average, than pupils from other South Asian backgrounds and white counterparts in some, but not all, urban areas. Bangladeshi pupils' achievements are often less than other ethnic groups. African-Caribbean pupils have not shared equally in the increasing rates of educational achievement: in many LEAs their average achievements are significantly lower than other groups. The performance of African-Caribbean young men is a particular cause for concern.

Variation between schools with similar intakes

8 More detailed study of the national data shows that schools with broadly similar intakes (here measured by the proportion of pupils taking up free school meals) have widely differing achievements. Furthermore, using KS2 English test results as an example, the chart below shows that almost one quarter of schools in the most deprived areas (in this case with at least 40% of their pupils receiving free school meals) get at least half their pupils to level 4 or above, the level expected for that age. Some schools with less than 5% of their pupils receiving free school meals did not achieve as good results.


[page 82]

International comparisons

9 In a recent major study, in 1995. English pupils scored below the majority of advanced industrialised economies in mathematics in both primary and early secondary school but performed much better in science, particularly at early secondary level where they were amongst the best in Europe. English performance in these two subjects (which of course are just a part of any country's school curriculum) is therefore mixed but relatively few countries outperformed England on both subjects at the early secondary level.

10 A number of other countries showed a similar pattern of greater strength in one subject than in the other such as France. Switzerland. Hong Kong, French-speaking Belgium although, for these, mathematics was their stronger subject. This balance of strength and weakness will, in part, reflect differences in the age at which topics are introduced into the curriculum and the weight they receive as well as any differences in pupil and teacher competence.

11 More detailed figures show that, in mathematics, English pupils were particularly weak in basic number and fractions and also in algebra. It also seems that, again in mathematics, our best performing pupils (the top 10%) are somewhat better placed relative to other countries than are our average performers but it also seems that our lowest attainers perform disproportionately poorly. In science our high average performance means that our best pupils do particularly well by international standards with some 17% reaching or exceeding the level of the top 10% internationally, a proportion on a par with Japan and Korea.





[page 83]


[page 84]