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Education Update

Department for Education Business Plan - What does it mean?


Following on from the Spending Review, the various Government departments have begun to publish their business plans. These are important documents because they make statements for which the Department wants to be held accountable. They also indicate in the clearest terms where the philosophical and ideological priorities are for the current Government.

The full plan can be downloaded from the DfE website but it is worth noting the six structural reform priorities that have been identified:

1. Increase the number of high quality schools and introduce fair funding

Learning from the international evidence; providing parents with more choice between high quality schools; giving all schools more freedom and; reforming funding arrangements to be fairer, more transparent and to deliver value for money

2. Reform the school curriculum and qualifications

Ensuring that all children gain the knowledge they need to prepare them for adult life through a reformed National Curriculum and more robust academic and vocational qualifications up to the age of 19

3. Reduce bureaucracy and improve accountability

Trusting those who work in our schools and other services; replacing the current system of Whitehall bureaucracy with autonomy for professionals and more focused accountability

4. Train and develop the professionals who work with children

Recognising that the quality of the workforce is fundamental to all other reforms, they will reform teacher training, professional standards, and pay and conditions, and also improve social worker training, capacity and retention

5. Introduce new support for the Early Years

Introducing new support for the Early Years by retaining a universal offer, while also ensuring that services and opportunities reach those in greatest need

6. Improve support for children, young people and families, focusing on the most disadvantaged

Helping children to fulfil their full potential by supporting families and focusing support on improving the lives of the most vulnerable children.

It is interesting to note the emphasis remains on raising standards and that the bias to the poor is to ensure that standards rise and therefore life chances are improved. There are no indications that wellbeing etc features in the thinking despite the call for happiness from David Cameron recently. It is also interesting to note that the emphasis on high quality training introduced by the last government remains. Whilst the main thrust is to improve the quality of teachers the implications are that quality needs to be raised at all levels of interaction with young people.

These priorities will then be measured by their impacts on an annual basis.

Impact Indicators

The government will assess progress by examining reports in the following areas:

- Readiness to progress to next stage of schooling (early years into primary,
primary into secondary - age 11)
- Attainment at age 16
- Attainment at age 19
- Narrowing the gap in educational attainment: the achievement of children from
different backgrounds or in different circumstances in comparison to the overall
average (for example, children on free school meals, children with special
educational needs, children in care) at age 11 and 16
- School choice facing parents: indicator to be developed through consultation

Impact on schoolswork

So what does all this mean for YFC and other schoolsworkers?

It seems to be the case that, with an emphasis on improving attainment, higher standards and greater teacher quality, the role of the amateur is limited. The need for greater professionalism in schoolwork is therefore greater than ever. Furthermore, with teachers spending more time on teaching there may well be greater opportunities in pastoral support and alternative curriculum. The traditional role of the schools worker may well be under threat – but a new look schoolswork may be in greater demand than ever. Only time will tell.