Our Ideas Updates

Updated May 2015


Creating a world-class system requires a wide range of school providers working together to drive continual improvement.

We support

a diversity of schools and school providers, to increase options for students, parents and communities and to stimulate innovation

This includes academies and free schools, provided there is proper oversight and transparency about decisions on how and where they are created.

However, it is vital that this diverse range of schools is accountable.

We propose

appointing regional schools commissioners, responsible for commissioning schools and ensuring high standards, to ensure coordination and accountable in an increasingly fragmented schools system

Endorsed by Labour, April 2015

READ MORE: Whole system reform: England's schools and the middle tier

Currently, schools are too dependent on decisions and actions taken in Whitehall. School commissioners would provide local accountability and decision-making for schools, many of which no longer work with local authorities.

Supported by Blunkett Review, Apr 2014

We believe

profit-making providers should not be allowed to establish or take over schools

Schools should be holistic institutions that aim to develop well-rounded citizens as well as raise attainment. They are not commercial places. There is no evidence from other countries that profit-making providers have improved performance.

READ MORE: Not for profit: The role of the private sector in England's schools

Changes are required to support the spread of innovation and good practice, and to avoid the risks of individual schools becoming isolated.

We propose

schools should be required to join local networks or 'families' of schools, overseen by school commissioners

All schools should reflect the diversity of the communities in which they are based, including schools targeted at specific cultural or religious groups. The process for school admissions should be simple, fair and transparent for all parents.

We believe

admissions criteria and processes should be set and run by local authorities rather than individual schools

This is to avoid segregation and ensure every family has an equal chance of securing their preferred place.

To support young students from disadvantaged backgrounds, we have proposed changes to the pupil premium, which is paid to schools for each student who receives free school meals.

We have proposed

the value of the pupil premium should be increased for younger children, recognising the importance of early intervention in educational disadvantage

Schools should be held to account for how they spend the pupil premium, to ensure it is used to support the learning and development of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Adopted by Coalition government, Oct 2013

READ MORE: Excellence and equity: Tackling educational disadvantage in England's secondary schools

The educational performance of our schools is not rising fast enough, and other countries are overtaking us in key subject areas. England's school system needs to learn lessons from best practice in other countries. However, there is currently no consistent way for this to happen.

We propose that

a formal benchmarking framework should be created, to identify and report against an agreed set of international standards

This framework should provide the context for future debates about educational performance and curriculum development.

READ MORE: Benchmarking the English school system against the best in the world

For older school students, vocational education provides a vital option for making the transition from school to work, especially where the traditional higher education route is not appropriate.

We believe

the vocational education 'market' should be expanded to offer a broader curriculum to a broader intake of students

The UK needs stronger, clearer and more stable vocational education. We need not only more and better apprenticeships, but high-quality pathways into work provided by schools and colleges.

READ MORE: Avoiding the same old mistakes: Lessons for reform of 14–19 education in England

Work experience while at school helps to raise students' aspirations and provides valuable exposure to and understanding of the workplace. Work experience should be embedded in the school curriculum, not tacked on at the end.

READ MORE: Driving a generation: Improving the interaction between schools and businesses

We propose

a distinctive 'pre-apprenticeship' route of vocational education should be developed within further education colleges, university technical colleges and other institutions

READ MORE: Vocational education in English schools: Protecting options for pre-16 pupils

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