Regulatory policy

Parent involvement dismissed as a ‘political trick’ by chiefs

The government’s ‘Parent Pledge’, aimed at ensuring support for pupils who are falling behind in maths and English, has been dismissed by a headteacher as a ‘political gimmick’ that could stoke tensions between parents and teachers. schools.

The Department for Education white paper, released today (28 March), will say teachers will identify children who need help, provide targeted support through “a range of proven methods such as small groups” and will keep parents informed of their child’s progress.

He says this will support his aim to ensure the government meets the targets – announced in the Leveling Up white paper – for 90% of pupils to reach the expected level in reading, writing and maths from the 2 key stage of here 2030.

In 2019, 65% of students achieved this standard.

But a headteacher’s boss has warned the plan could create tension between parents and schools over unrealistic demands.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Parental pledge seems like a political gimmick designed to grab the headlines. In reality, any child who falls behind in English and math will already receive timely, evidence-based support and this is already being communicated to parents through existing channels such as parent nights.”

“Schools already have robust systems in place to track progress”

Schools already have robust assessment systems to track progress, he said.

He added: “The danger of parental involvement is that it will create an expectation of a right to various forms of additional support upon request.

“This is unrealistic as schools have limited resources and need to meet the needs of all of their students. We fear this will simply create tension between parents and schools, rather than helping them to work together.”

However, MP Robert Halfon, chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, said increasing parent engagement through parent engagement “would help break down the long-standing and often complicated barriers that exist to help increase attendance, especially for the 124,000 “ghost children”. ‘ who dropped out of the school system following the outbreak of the pandemic”.

The white paper also includes new targets for secondary schools which aim to see the national average GCSE score in English and maths rise from 4.5 in 2019 to 5 by 2030.

Other proposals include moving all schools into multi-academy (MAT) trusts by 2030, allowing boards to run academy trusts and asking schools to ensure they stay open 32, 5 hours per week.

The proposals, overall, received a mixed reaction from across the school district.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the headteachers’ union NAHT, highlighted the need for additional funding for schools to deliver the plans, as well as further details on how the ambitions would be achieved.

He warned that the government’s goal of academization was likely to be controversial, saying: “Successive government reforms have left us with an incoherent and disorderly school system – with different arrangements governing local authority schools and academies. But the ambition to bring order to the system risks being a distraction if the government does not present a convincing case.”

“If the government resorted to coercion, ambition would become destructive,” he added.

“Deep Concerns”

One of the key changes outlined in the white paper is a commitment to have all schools transition to MATs by 2030, as well as a plan to examine how to regulate and hold MATs accountable.

The government said the review will look at how best to hold trusts accountable against a new definition of strong trust “focused on the quality and inclusiveness of the education they provide, how they improve schools and maintain their local identity, how they protect value for money for the taxpayer and how they develop their workforce.”

Leora Cruddas, chief executive of the Confederation of School Trusts (CST), said academic trusts set up by boards should be regulated in the same way as any other academic trust and that “safeguards should be in place to effectively manage any potential for conflicts of interest, including limits on the participation of local authorities on the board of directors”.

Ms Cruddas also said the CSE was “deeply concerned about the proposal that a school could ask the regulator to leave a trust”.

This proposal was not included in the DfE’s announcement of the white paper today, but the full document is due out this morning.

Ms Cruddas added: “This proposal does not understand that the trust is the legal entity – it is not an ‘authority’ that is in any way separate from its schools. We have shared our concerns about this proposal and will continue to argue that it is a retrograde step.”

Your approached the DfE for comment.

Ms Cruddas also said CSE broadly supports the White Paper’s definition of strong trust, but “would argue that high-quality, inclusive education and school improvement should not be viewed as distinct elements of the definition”.

She added: ‘A trust provides high quality, inclusive education through its school improvement practices.’

A ‘coherent plan’ is needed for Covid recovery

Elsewhere, research leaders and think tanks have highlighted the need for the government to tackle the impact of Covid on pupils’ education.

For example, Carole Willis, chief executive of the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), said: “Addressing the impact of the Covid pandemic on the literacy and numeracy of young children will be crucial to ensuring their continued success in their education.

“That’s why we need a cohesive plan in place to ensure these vitally important topics are prioritized in future recovery efforts, as well as dedicated funding to ensure schools are in able to adhere to those plans.”

In particular, additional support must be in place for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who otherwise risk being further left behind, she said.

She pointed to research showing that the achievement gap had increased after the pandemic.

“This needs to be addressed immediately as an essential part of the government’s upgrading program,” she added.

Natalie Perera, chief executive of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), also highlighted the growing achievement gap under Covid, saying the government’s upgrade program was “insufficiently funded to compensate for these learning losses and reduce the disadvantage gap again”.

Expressing her skepticism about the academization plan, she noted: “The government seems to place a lot of emphasis on all schools being in ‘strong multi-academy trust’ by 2030, but it’s clear from our research that academization is not a ‘silver bullet’ “to improve school performance and there may simply not be enough capacity to absorb thousands of schools into top-performing MAT.”

“Wired Collaboration”

Several academic trust leaders have expressed broad support for the White Paper.

Rebecca Boomer-Clark, Executive Director of Enterprise Trust Academies chain of academies, said she welcomed the move to a system where all schools would eventually be part of a strong school trust.

She added, “Large-scale wired collaboration will improve system resiliency and open exciting opportunities for innovation. But, it is equally important that we protect diversity and choice, with individual schools reflecting the color and context of their local communities. If we get that right, we’ll really start to see education make a major contribution to the leveling up agenda.”

Rowena Hackwood, Chief Executive of the Astrea Academy Trust, said: “Making our schools as strong as possible and providing a brilliant education for all our children is entirely what drives us. We do this by pursuing ambitious standards with tenacity and drive. , never settling for second best and not tolerating anything that doesn’t live up to our standards.

“For this reason, we support the ambition of the white paper and its emphasis on a knowledge-rich curriculum and the development of high-quality teachers to ensure excellence for all.”