The National Education Trust (NET) was created in 2006 as an independent charitable foundation (Reg Charity 1112893) dedicated to leading excellent practice and innovation in education. We harness extensive national and international experience to bring about improvements for learners, from early years to university entrance. The Trust has three key platforms:
1. A national resource for high quality practice in the nation’s classrooms and schools
2. A national provider of high impact professional development for teachers and leaders
3. An intelligent contributor to education policy making.
Over the past decade, the Trust has engaged with more than one third of England’s 24,000 primary, special and secondary schools, ‘working from the classroom to Whitehall’.
B The 2015 General Election
Over the coming months, political parties will launch their education manifestos. The Trust will comment on political parties’ ideas and policies – from an independent viewpoint – as they emerge, measured against what we say in this short document. The contents of this ‘shadow manifesto’ are rooted in a range of views gathered through working with teachers, leaders and governors across England, and in a focused seminar on the future of the profession held in London in December 2014.
C National Education Trust Manifesto
In what we believe are the best short, medium and long term interests of England’s expanding school population, we commend the following to a future government.
(i) The school system
- To establish the appointed post of Chief Executive of the National Education Service, similar to that which exists in the NHS. This post will enable education to be less trammelled by the five-year electoral cycle.
- To sustain a national level of performance by pupils of all ages which places England in the top 10 of all nations – this to be the key performance indicator for the above mentioned National Education Service.
- To provide a national system of fair funding based on an individual school’s needs, ending the funding apartheid which exists (a) between primary and secondary phases, and (b) between different parts of the country. To continue to invest in challenging deprivation through the Pupil Premium.
- To ensure that early years’ education is led by teachers who are ambitious to ensure all children know the joy of learning, and reach ambitiously secure academic and social starting points by age 7.
- To realise fully the ambition that all young people are in appropriate education and training until 18, with the phasing out at the appropriate time of the GCSE examination system.
- To build on the best practice of the most effective local authorities, blended with the emerging achievements of the Regional Schools’ Commissioners, to enhance the quality of all schools.
(ii) Teaching & Leading
- To establish by Royal Charter, an independent Royal College for Teaching, charged with ensuring that the profession grows in stature, ensuring teachers follow a programme of continuous professional development in order to maintain their licence to teach.
- To work with Higher Education, the Royal College and schools to ensure sufficient supply of high quality teachers in all subject areas for special, primary and secondary over the coming decades, as pupil numbers expand.
- To secure sustainable training and development programmes which provide a ready supply of current and future school leaders.
- To benchmark the quality of teaching and school leadership in England against the best international practice, building on the national Teachers’ Standards (2011) and the Headteachers’ Standards (2015).
(iii) Schools & Governance
- To harness the use of school buildings for year round and day-round schooling, meeting the needs of an expanding pupil population and the learning needs of local communities.
- To enable the setting up of new special, primary, secondary and all-through schools by suitably qualified sponsors, where pupil places are required.
- To promote schools working together effectively in the best interests of the communities they serve; this includes local authority schools, academy chains, faith and diocesan schools, geographic clusters and partnerships.
- To promote community cohesion at all levels within the education sector, championing the multicultural composition and values of British society.
- To transform the quality of governance in the nation’s schools, principally by reducing to 4 – 6 the optimum size of a governing body, with paid chairs of governors.
- To keep in steady long-term balance a school’s individual autonomy and accountability, within a self-improving system which values peer review.
- To establish an Independent Standards Authority (ISA) to oversee curriculum and assessment, benchmarked internationally, and holding to account the country’s awarding bodies. The ISA to introduce change in a timely and well managed way, in consultation with the profession.
- To establish an Independent Inspectorate of Schools (IIS) which inspects all schools – state and independent – to the same framework, judging schools as either ‘excellent’, ‘good’ or ‘requiring improvement’. The IIS to provide advice to government rooted in its evidence base. All inspection teams to include practising school leaders.
- To remove ‘safeguarding’ from the cycle of school inspection; safeguarding checks in schools to be subject to an annual audit by local authorities, similar to financial audit.