Shake-up of the national curriculum

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More powers to parents and pupils; more freedoms for schools; and clearer and smarter accountability for all are key proposals being put forward by the government in the Children, Schools and Families Bill being introduced in 2011. 

For the first time, the Bill will set out what parents and pupils can expect from the schools system. There will be specific entitlements for parents and pupils and a means of redress if those expectations are not met.

Parent guarantees will include strengthened Home School Agreements setting out expectations on parents and making clear their responsibilities for their child’s behaviour. The Bill will give schools stronger powers to enforce these agreements when parents do not.

Ed Balls also proposes that every child in need of extra catch-up will have personal tuition. Where schools cannot provide this provision parents will now have the right to demand local authorities provide this support, outside of their school if required, to ensure every child has the opportunity to progress.

The Bill is intended to give schools more freedoms. They will have greater flexibility in how they spend their budgets, so they can pool their funds and resources and work in partnership with other schools and local agencies, and get greater value for money.

Mr Coaker also set out plans to intervene where schools are still not making adequate progress and has announced further action to maintain the pace of improvement in National Challenge schools.

The bill sets out further details on the new report cards which will give parents a broader picture of schools performance and ensure that all schools get full recognition for their hard work.

In line with the Expert Group’s recommendation that tests should remain in place, Ed Balls has approved QCDA’s choice of preferred test operations contractor for delivering English and maths tests for 11 year olds in 2010.

Responding to recommendations made by the Expert Group to strengthen teacher assessment and following discussions with key stakeholders, he also announced that from 2010 he intends to publish primary schools’ teacher assessment data for pupils in year 6 in English, maths and science alongside test data for English and maths in our Achievement and Attainment Tables, showing how much progress 11-year-olds have made.

This will allow parents to judge for the first time how primary schools are doing, based on the judgment of teachers, rather than just the results of much-criticised national tests.

The Children, Schools and Families Bill outlines plans for:

  • Pupil and Parents Guarantees including a right to receive one to one catch up tuition for pupils that need it most;
  • Curriculum reforms – introduction of the new primary curriculum and making PSHE compulsory;
  • Licence to Practise – a new professional standard for teachers;
  • 21st century schools – in future schools will work more in partnership and have greater flexibility in how they spend their budgets;
  • Making it easier for strong schools to sponsor academies;
  • New powers for local authorities and Secretary of State to intervene to raise standards in schools;
  • Supporting the introduction of the new School Report Card – this will provide more information for parents and a more intelligent and well-rounded assessment of school performance;
  • Safeguarding the vulnerable – strengthening the powers of local authorities and others with regards to registration, inspection and intervention including setting up a new home education registration system.

Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls said: “The Bill will ensure every parent is guaranteed to have a good local school, a balanced curriculum, tough home school agreements and catch-up support for those who fall behind so that every child and young person can get a good education and make the most of their talents.

“The schools system has been transformed over the last decade but it is right to ensure that parents and pupils have a clear set of expectations about what education they should receive. It is also right that they play a full part in working with schools to ensure their children behave. This will give head teachers the authority they need to say parents must play their part.

“The new primary curriculum and greater flexibilities on budgets will also devolve more freedom to schools, so that they can tailor their education to the needs of their pupils and work with other schools and local services to provide broad curriculum choices, joint working and ensure greater value for money.

“Alongside these freedoms comes smarter accountability and the School Report Card will provide a better and broader assessment of how a school is performing. This is better for both parents and schools."