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Schools that Work for Everyone - Key Consultation Outcomes

on Monday, 11 June 2018.

Consultation on the green paper closed in December 2016. It wasn't until May 2018 that the government published its response. What has nearly a year and a half of reflection brought?

Collaborative Working

A core theme in the green paper was to raise standards to provide more good or outstanding school places through collaborative working in the education sector. Collaborative working is still very much the theme, with independent schools, universities, selective schools and faith schools asked to work with others in the school sector to improve standards and access.

Perhaps in the same spirit of collaboration, the government's call to action is itself very much more collaborative in approach. The proposed frameworks are generally presented in a much less rigid way in terms of the standards demanded and the mechanisms for enforcing them.

Four Key Points

  • Expectations for independent schools are no longer cast as rigid benchmarks. Nor is legislation threatened to enforce through loss of the advantages of charitable status.
  • Universities that charge higher fees will be expected to demonstrate the impact of their support for disadvantaged pupils and under-represented groups in place of an inflexible (and increasing) requirement to establish a state school or sponsor an academy.
  • DfE has agreed a memorandum of understanding with the Grammar School Heads' Association on strategies to widen access to selective schools and to work with non-selective schools. The government continues to support the expansion of selective schools, provided they demonstrate a need for the places, that they are working with non-selective schools and are committed to improving access.
  • The 50% cap on faith-based admissions at new faith-based free schools will remain and not be replaced by rigid inclusivity safeguards - but promoters will be expected to promote inclusivity and to demonstrate that the new school is likely to attract pupils from different backgrounds. Recognising the contribution of faith groups and the impact of the free school cap on faith-based admissions on new schools, a new capital fund will be created to help the establishment of voluntary aided faith-based schools which can adopt up to a 100% faith-based admissions policy.

A Positive Tone

As well as encouraging collaboration across the sector to raise standards, the consultation response also takes the opportunity to reflect on the collaborative working already taking place.

It acknowledges that the HE sector is positively tackling the challenge of clearly demonstrating the impact their support is having on schools and pupils, and that the independent schools sector is taking steps to increase the scope and ambition of its work with the state sector and to increase access for disadvantaged pupils.

Further, it recognises the track record of faith-based schools and their contribution in meeting needs for more places as well as the development of admissions policies by many selective schools which increase access for the disadvantaged, in particular pupil premium pupils.

The consultation response then is more positive in tone. It more freely recognises the contributions of independent schools, universities, state schools and selective schools to the wider state education sector and sets a more collaborative framework for building on that.

For more information, please contact Chloe Brunton, in our Academies, MATs & Schools team, on 0117 314 5301.

Are you an independent school? To find out how the consultation will affect you specifically, please read our latest blog.

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