Tuesday 3 November 2015

Nicky Morgan's Plans for Education

Nicky Morgan will announce her plans
for English schools today.
It seems that every education secretary wants to unveil their own big revolution for our education system, before schools, pupils and teachers have had time to adapt to the last seismic shifts.

Today it was Nicky Morgan's turn to announce a raft of measures that will bring profound changes to our schools.

The eye-catching suggestions are:

  • Primary school pupils in England could face formal tests at the age of seven;
  • A pool of "elite teachers" will be recruited to work in struggling schools in coastal towns;
  • A target will require 90% of pupils to take core academic subjects at GCSE.

Mrs Morgan maintains her changes will help "every young person get the best start in life". At present, she says, there are 20 local authorities where most pupils do not achieve five good GCSEs, including English and maths. For Labour, shadow education secretary Lucy Powell said that rather than raising standards, the government has caused a "chronic shortage" of teachers.

In her speech today, Mrs Morgan will announce details of the pre-election pledge to create a National Teaching Service. It will recruit a pool of 1,500 high-achieving teachers over five years who would be deployed to struggling schools. It will also give local "commissioners" the power to intervene in under-performing state schools in a variety of ways. These commissioners are already in post, created to oversee academies and free schools.

The plans also include the re-introduction of testing all pupils at the age of 7, which was previously scrapped. Critics point out that the UK's pupils are already the most examined in Europe and our schools are in danger of becoming "exam factories".

In secondary school, there is clarification of the last education secretary Michael Gove's target that all pupils will have to take traditional GCSE subjects, in what he named the English Baccalaureate. This requires pupils to take GCSEs in English, maths, history or geography, two sciences and a language.
There will now be a target of 90% of pupils, which will allow for just a small number of exemptions, such as for pupils with special needs. At present, only about 39% of pupils take these subjects.

Brian Lightman, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union, said it would be "immensely challenging" for schools to get enough staff for subjects such as modern languages to meet these new targets.

Are you a teacher, head teacher, parent or pupil? What are your thoughts on the big changes being announced today?

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