Schools White Paper to reform schools

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The government has set out wide-ranging plans for school reforms in England in its new White Paper, 'The Importance of Teaching', including more powers for heads over discipline and a shake up of teacher training.

Schools will be encouraged to offer a broad set of academic subjects to age 16 under a new English Baccalaureate. It will mean pupils having to study English, maths, science, a modern or ancient language, history or geography. League tables would be based on achievements in these subjects to stop schools boosting their performance by encouraging pupils to take 'softer' subjects.

Teachers will get new powers to search pupils, issue same day detentions and use 'reasonable force' when necessary. To protect them from malicious allegations, new laws will give teachers anonymity against claims up to being charged by the police.

Heads will have the powers to restrain violent pupils, search youngsters for mobile phones and put them in detention. Head teachers will also get responsibilities for discipline beyond the school gate. The appeal system for exclusions will be reformed to stop so many pupils being reinstated after a serious offence.

Failing secondaries will be subject to intense scrutiny if less than 35 per cent of their pupils gain five C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, and fewer students than the national average are making two levels of progress between the ages of 11 and 16.

Hundreds more schools will be encouraged to become academies, freeing them of many town hall controls. Academies will be given more powers and parents, charities and other organisations will be encouraged to set up 'free schools'. Schools will have to publish more details about funding that they receive and how they spend it.

On reforming teacher training, Mr Gove said he would  be establishing a new generation of teaching schools on the model of teaching hospitals, set up as showcases for good teaching. They will have close links to universities and lead the training and professional development of teachers. Graduates will be expected to have a 2.2 degree to enter teacher training. Teach First will be expanded to attract more top graduates for subjects where there is a shortage of teachers. Trainees will spend more time in the classroom.

Would-be teachers would face an aptitude test to assess their suitability for the job and the number of high quality graduates becoming teachers would be doubled. In addition, science and maths graduates who become teachers will have their training fees subsidised, as would ex-servicemen.

He said: "There is no profession more noble, no calling more vital, no vocation more admirable than teaching, and this White Paper gives us the opportunity to become the world's leading education nation."

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) acccused Mr Gove of 'dismantling state education in England'.

General secretary Mary Bousted said: "His one-size-fits-all approach fails to recognise the diversity of issues facing schools where fewer than 35 per cent of pupils do not get five A to C grade GCSEs, and the range of measures they will need to help them improve.

"The much-vaunted pupil premium risks being a huge con. The plans to distribute the premium are problematic and will take money away from some of the most deprived children."

Meanwhile, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, Chris Keates, said Mr Gove's plans were a 'vicious assault' on teachers' commitment and professionalism.

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