Updated: Nov 22, 2022
It is a foregone conclusion that any government paper in any sector is going to sound like they finally have the answer to the problem. What they are offering and what they are going to do is far and above better than anything that has come before. Revolutionary!
Is the 'Opportunity for all' paper any different? I've just put together a few of the key strategies below. Have a look and see what you think!
It may just be me but on reading some of the highlights from the first Schools White Paper in six years, I thought, are we not doing some of this already? I thought children were already receiving 32.5 hours of education a week? Having numeracy and literacy as a focus - is this really new? Admittedly, more recently it seemed that 'deep dives' into the foundation subjects was considered as an area to be focused on but had ensuring that pupils were taught a decent standard of numeracy and literacy just gone? 'Parent Pledge' - Schools will identify those pupils who fall behind and offer targeted support, such as small group work. Have schools just stopped supporting those pupils who fall behind? Do schools not communicate with parents anymore? Of course not.
It goes without saying, the best place for children to learn is at school and time spent in class is essential and not just for learning but for the social side, mental health and general well-being of each child. So, how is this tackled... Let's set some new targets. Anything new there? Every member of the teaching staff knows the pressure of additional targets. I think we'd be naïve to think that this pressure doesn't pass on to the children. Certainly, by year five, pupils are talking about SATs. What worries do you have about Year 6? SATs is more often than not the answer. You could argue I'm sure that this is down to how the school approaches assessments but come on, let's give the children some credit here, however you dress it up they are aware they are being tested and to them it's a stressful time.
Maybe to counter this, every school will have access to fund training for a senior mental health lead to deliver a whole school approach to mental health and well-being. Obviously, we all welcome this? But is it enough? It's certainly a step in the right direction. Catch-up, targeted support and the potential for additional tutoring for pupil premium pupils needs to be regular and consistent to have any impact, surely? Will this actually happen?
The ability to share good practice, resources, high-quality training and sharing expertise are just some of the advantages of multi academy trusts. The government wants all schools to be part of a trust by 2030 or at least plans to join one. 'Levelling Up' seems to be a buzz word in the paper. Again, anything new or just re-branded? Anyway, academy trusts will be used to help 'level up' underperforming schools. I get this. If it works, good idea but I'm guessing this isn't new and there will be schools shouting out, 'We already do that!' I know, I know it is the numbers of trusts they want to increase. Is it doable? Is it the answer? Certainly, if every school belonged to a trust it would be a new idea.
By 2030, every child will be taught by an excellent teacher. That's what we all want to hear. Teaching will be an attractive, high-status profession. Again, more of what we want to hear. More teacher training - at every stage and level of a teacher's career, access to high-quality evidence-based materials and planning reduced through the new curriculum body. Sounds good? I'm guessing there are teachers out there that will have mixed opinions. I would love to hear from those teachers and teaching staff out there on this. What are your thoughts? Not too long ago, there was a push to get retired teachers and those who have left the profession back into education. How do you feel about this? Is this something you would now consider on the back of these new promises?
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