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Wed, 06 Jul 22 11:59

Comment on Opportunity for All White Paper

Commenting on the Opportunity for All White Paper, ADCS President Charlotte Ramsden said:

“We welcome the government’s commitment to ensuring all children achieve their full potential within a stronger, fairer school system, and that they get the right support at the right time. We should all be ambitious for our learners and this White Paper sets out the government’s ambition for all children to have access to a high-quality education, inclusivity and catering to the needs of all learners must be at the heart of this. This Paper says many of the right things about inclusion and support for children with special education needs and disabilities, but we will be looking to the SEND and alternative provision green paper tomorrow to see if this rhetoric is matched with the necessary action, and funding, for all pupils to thrive.

“Local authorities have long played a key role in education from championing the best interests of every child, through to promoting school improvement and planning services to meet local need in partnership with our local schools. We therefore welcome recognition of our vital and unique role as leaders and collaborators of a partnership system in our local place and we look forward to continue working with government and partners as this develops. Our current school system is fragmented and overlaid with an accountability system that does not reward inclusive practices, this has led to rising school exclusions and a widening of the attainment gap between the most disadvantaged children and their peers. We hope that the measures set out in this paper take us towards a more coherent system that works for all children whatever their needs, wherever they live.

“The announcement of local authority run trusts provides a new and exciting opportunity for local schools to stay part of the local government family and maintain vital local links; however, we await further detail on the practicalities and conditions. We have a strong record of running high performing schools in our local areas and, with adequate funding, there is scope to build upon this. Nevertheless, local authorities will continue to work in partnership with all schools, regardless of governance, so that every child is able to learn in the environment that best meets their needs. In our view this is about a new future with clearly defined roles, responsibilities and associated accountabilities for all involved. It is right that the new proposals for all schools to be part of a strong multi-academy trust comes along with a commitment to review accountability and regulation arrangements of trusts. This will give us a better understanding of what ‘good’ looks like in this new system for the betterment of children’s experiences and outcomes and we will be keen to be part of the further development of this new way of working together for the best education for every child.

“There are welcome proposals in this White Paper particularly in relation to local authorities having the necessary powers to meet our existing and new responsibilities. For years ADCS has called for a register of children not in school and powers to direct trusts to admit pupils without a school place and we are pleased the Paper includes plans for this. However, despite outlining Education Investment Areas for those areas where education performance is lowest, the paper is silent on the impact of poverty and does not include strategies to reduce, and ultimately, end child and family poverty. Given what we know about the impact of this on children’s ability to learn in the first place, this is a missed opportunity and a barrier to levelling up.

“Education is about more than just the acquisition of qualifications, it is also about promoting resilience and wellbeing and supporting those children who need it the most. Schools are hubs at the heart of our communities, providing a safe place for all children and young people to grow and learn. It is therefore right that the curriculum reform centres the needs of children today and that schools can access mental health training amidst a rising tide of mental health problems facing children and young people. We must make sure that no child is left behind, we are ready to work with government and all actors in the system to achieve this.”


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