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, 6th November 2009 Full text available:
David Cameron has already made clear, that if we are fortunate enough to be entrusted with office after the next general election the most important areas of domestic policy where radical reform is required are welfare, the family and schools. OUR MISSION - MAKING OPPORTUNITY MORE EQUAL The need for action to reform welfare, support the family and radically change our schools flows from our determination to make opportunity more equal in our society. The central mission of the next Conservative Government is the alleviation of poverty and the extension of opportunity. And nowhere is action required more than in our schools.
INDEPENDENCE AS A ROUTE TO SUCCESS A POST-BUREAUCRATIC SCHOOLS POLICY We want to see a radical shift in power – away from the educational establishment – from Whitehall and the bureaucratic organisations it sponsors – and down towards, schools and parents. We want, crucially, to see heads and teachers given greater freedom from bureaucracy and parents given more control over their children’s education. OUR APPROACH So our mission is to improve standards – with a determined focus on the poorest. And our task is the creation of a world class education system, which embodies the best contemporary wisdom about how to drive improvement and foster innovation, which is decentralised, adaptive, flexible and responsive - in which new networks of empowered individuals shape their future rather than simply accepting what the bureaucracy dictates.
PRIORITY NUMBER ONE - RAISING THE PRESTIGE, ESTEEM AND PROFESSIONALISM OF TEACHING Initial Teacher Training (ITT) 1) It will no longer be acceptable to enter teacher training with just a ‘C’ grade in English or Maths GCSE. Candidates will need to have at least a ‘B’ in English and Maths.
2) We will allow just one resit of the QTS literacy and numeracy tests.
3) And to ensure that every teacher entering primary school is equipped to teach literacy properly we will introduce new specialist training courses in phonics and maths so that every child can get the specialist teaching that is available to richer children in private schools. 4) We will also raise the bar by refusing to fund any student who wants to enter postgraduate teacher training who has only a ‘third’ class degree. Pay and Conditions 5) And it’s also vital that schools have flexibility over pay so that they can reward teachers for longer hours. Schools must be able to organise their timetables to be able to offer more children from disadvantaged backgrounds these opportunities and therefore they need the flexibility to reward teachers appropriately. Extending Teach First, Starting Teach Now 6) We would fund the expansion of Teach First into areas where it’s currently prevented from going, like the North-East of England.
7) We would ensure more Teach First teachers went into primary schools. 8) We will end the current ridiculous bureaucratic ban on Teach First teachers
working in our very worst schools - those in Special Measures.
9) We will support a new Teach Now programme to make it easier for those
who have been professional successes in other areas to transfer rapidly into teaching, training on the job, like with Teach First, instead of having to spend another year or more in college. Continuing Professional Development 10) And because we want school teachers to be fully integrated into the academic and intellectual life of the nation, just like university teachers, we will make it easier for teachers to deepen their subject knowledge and pursue higher level qualifications, such as masters and doctorates, in their chosen subject.
11) This is why we would also expand two programmes which have grown out of
Teach First; Teaching Leaders and Future Leaders, which help train future Heads of Department and aspirant Head Teachers.
PRIORITY NUMBER TWO - A SAFE, SECURE AND ORDERED ENVIRONMENT Removing disruptive pupils 1) We will replace the current “Use of Force Guidance” which imposes many restrictions on teachers and discourages them from removing disruptive children from the classroom. Disciplinary Action 2) The presumption will be that teachers should not be suspended unless there is a clear prima facie case for disciplinary action or criminal charges. If no disciplinary action or criminal charges have been brought within a month, the case will be automatically dropped.
3) Teachers will have the right to anonymity during an investigation.
Searches and detentions 4) We will give headteachers a general legal power to ban, search for, and confiscate any items they think may cause violence or disruption. 5) We will reverse the legal obligation on teachers to prove that their search and confiscation is legal. 6) We will abolish the Guidance whereby the Government “strongly advises” teachers not to search children if they object to being searched.
7) We will abolish the legal requirement of 24 hours’ legal notice for
detentions. Overseeing behaviour management 8) We will have “no notice” Ofsted inspections so that inspectors can investigate schools with serious behaviour problems. 9) Any school with persistent serious bad behaviour that the headteacher cannot sort out will have its leadership replaced. 10) We will end the right to appeal against exclusion to independent panels, which have sent children expelled for knife crime back to the school from which they were expelled. There will be a right of appeal to the Governors only and this must be completed within one month. 11) We will abolish the Government’s new rules forcing good schools to take pupils expelled from bad ones (“one in, one out”). 12) We will abolish the rules which impose a financial penalty on schools that expel children.
Supporting PRUs and Boarding Academies 13) We will ensure that those organisations with a track record in turning young lives round are given the opportunity to do more, through reforms to Pupil Referral Units and the creation of Boarding Academies.
PRIORITY NUMBER THREE - RADICAL REFORM OF THE CURRICULUM AND QUALIFICATIONS The Primary Curriculum 1) We will provide training and support to every school in the use of systematic synthetic phonics. BUT We will not mandate that every school follows existing proven methods. Heads will be free to pioneer their own programmes if they wish. 2) We will have a national reading test after two years of school to see if children are decoding fluently. Those schools which have failed to get their pupils reading will have to account to parents for this failure. Reading Schemes and Exam Paper 3) To help parents, schools will be required to publish information on their reading scheme on their website and will be inspected by Ofsted on the methods they use – which, extraordinarily, it does not do now.
4) We will establish a free online database of exam papers and marking
schemes, from the past, and from other nations, so that parents, teachers, and academics can see for themselves how our current exams compare. Secondary Qualifications 5) We will, in parallel, allow those schools which wish to the chance to offer their students more challenging exams. We would allow all state school pupils the freedom to do the same high quality international exams that private schools offer.
6) We will give universities and employers power over A Levels and vocational
qualifications to reverse their devaluation. National Curriculum 7) We will match our reform of qualifications with an overhaul of the national curriculum. We will slim it down to remove prescriptive programmes of study and concentrate on outlining a basic guarantee of the core knowledge children should be able to enjoy at every age. 8) This process will be opened up to public scrutiny, with all the hearings, work and documents which contribute to the shaping of the curriculum accessible to the public, unlike now.
9) The expectations we will set of what children should know will be more
ambitious and based upon global evidence concerning what knowledge can be introduced to children at different ages; it must be a floor, not a ceiling, it must allow schools to benefit from the top educational institutions are allowing students to view their content free online. Lectures from institutions such as Oxford, Caltech or MIT for free.
10) A new Curriculum must not be re-written every year to reflect political fads.
Reforming League Tables 11) Which is why we need to reform league tables so we increase the range, and authority, of the data that is available to parents.
12) We will publish all the exam data now kept secret by the DCSF so that webbased applications can create many new and different sorts of tables. Vocational Education 13) We also need to reform vocational education to ensure there are more credible and respected qualifications available to those who want a more practical education. 14) We will stop the “academic” Diplomas immediately. We are discussing with the scientific community and businesses how the vocational Diplomas might be salvaged.
15) We would treble the number of Young Apprenticeships and lift the cap on
schools offering this valued course. 16) We will also build a new generation of Technical Schools to teach high quality vocational courses.
PRIORITY NUMBER FOUR - A NEW GENERATION OF SUPERB STATE SCHOOLS Academies 1) We will let any school apply to be an Academy and the most successful schools will be automatically approved to become Academies.
2) We will extend the Academy programme to primary schools, allowing them
to innovate and flourish.
3) We will immediately begin the process of replacing the leadership of any
school that has been in Special Measures for over a year by the end of the next school year. These schools would all be reopened as Academies by September 2011. and continue to replace all schools that stay in Special Measures for a year with Academies. Overhauling Ofsted 4) In order to better identify those schools which are in need of change we will overhaul Ofsted. We will work with Ofsted to draw up a new framework that focuses on the core activities of schools: teaching and learning. Schools will be assessed in four areas: (1)the quality of teaching, (2)the effectiveness of leadership, (3) pupils’ behaviour and safety and (4) pupils’ achievement. New Academies 5) We will facilitate the creation of a new generation of independent, free, and non-selective primary and secondary Academies. They will be funded by taxpayers but run by teachers and responsible to parents.Our long-term goal is that Academy status becomes the norm. 6) We will make it much easier for educational charities, groups of parents and teachers, cooperatives and others to start new Academies. We will remove the huge amount of red tape which bureaucrats use to stop new schools, from planning laws to building regulations. These schools will receive the same government funding as other schools in their community for every pupil they teach. 7) We will give extra capital funding, on top of the annual per pupil funding, to fund new Academies in the most deprived areas. 8) We will help secure the leadership these new schools need by providing funding for Teach First, Teaching Leaders, and Future Leaders to begin work on an “incubator”. That incubator can work with established Academy chains to form new Academy management teams to take over schools identified as ‘failing’ by a revamped Ofsted, and also work with their own alumnae and parent groups on the foundation of new schools.
Parental Control of funding (including pupil premium) 9) We will give all parents control of the taxpayers’ money that the government spends on each child – now an average of at least £5,000 per pupil. Parents will have the power to take their child out of a state school, apply to a new Academy, and automatically transfer the ‘per pupil’ funding from the old school to the new Academy. 10) Because the need to improve standards is most pressing in poorer areas we would give parents from poorer backgrounds another advantage. The amount the state would pay for a poorer child would be increased – a Pupil Premium – so that schools will work particularly hard to attract them.
PRIORITY NUMBER FIVE - REFORM TO FUNDING Reducing Waste, Quangos and staff. 1) We will spend less on vast centralised IT databases which always go expensively wrong, such as the misguided effort to log every child in the country through the Contactpoint system. 2) We will reduce the number, and number of staff employed by quangos. 3) We will reduce the number of staff at the DCSF, and the number of things they regulate, monitor and issue decrees on. Schools to Control Funding 4) We will give schools more control of their own budgets, pay scales and investment strategies and secure some of the best results in the world in the process. 5) As part of our plans to respect local autonomy we would end the ‘clawback’ process whereby the DCSF suddenly seizes schools’ surpluses.
6) We will shift towards a system in which there is a simplified amount paid by
the taxpayer per pupil (with the Pupil Premium on top). Information for Parents 7) And through greater transparency on funding we will help hold bureaucracies better to account. We intend to let every parent know how much their local authority receives to spend on their child’s education and then how much less is passed on to local schools. 8) We will accompany this information with details on the academic performance of local schools. And details of the academic performance of other schools with comparable intakes or levels of funding which are doing much better. 9) We will give all parents the accurate, robust, factual information which will enable them to challenge under-performance. 10) And we will help any parent unhappy with the quality of local provision and interested in seeing a new school set up to get in touch with other parents and with organisations like the New Schools Network which now exist to help new schools become established.
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