Mixed response to government's plans to 'level up' education

Suffolk figures have given their views on the new Schools White Paper from the government

Suffolk figures have given their views on the new Schools White Paper from the government - Credit: Gregg Brown, SPRING/PARADIGM TRUST, Getty Images/Cultura RF, House of Commons

Education figures in Suffolk have said the aims of a new Schools White Paper are "laudable" and good to have but plans for schools "lack any big ideas". 

The government set out in its plans in the Schools White Paper including by 2030 90% of children leaving primary school in England reach the expected standards in maths and English.

The most recent figure is 65% in 2019 due to Year Six pupils not taking SATs due to the coronavirus.

The education minister said any child who falls behind in the subjects will get the support they need to get "back on track". 

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders and former headteacher of King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, said the paper was "laudable" but the plan was vague and did not consider all the factors. 

 He said: "This white paper lacks any big ideas for the future of the education system.

General secretary of the Association of School and College Leader, Geoff Barton

General secretary of the Association of School and College Leader, Geoff Barton - Credit: Gregg Brown

"The nearest it gets is its targets for improved results in English and maths by 2030, but the plan of how to achieve these targets is vague, and there does not appear to be very much in the way of funding to help schools deliver them."

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“Improving English and maths outcomes is a laudable ambition, but there is little recognition of the wider societal factors which affect those outcomes, such as the fact that nearly a third of children in the UK live in poverty.

“Focusing so intensely on English and maths, important as those subjects are, is also a very narrow view of education. A truly ambitious white paper should have greater ambition for the whole curriculum."

Ms Kimberly Morton, principal at Piper's Vale Primary Academy said: "I think it is good to have those high expectations and if 90% is the target then we absolutely need to work towards that, and remove those barriers so that we are achieving that here."

For those at GCSE level, the government wants the national average of all grades to rise from 4.5 to 5 which is the equivalent of a C to a 'strong pass' C/B.

Other actions include:

  • Schools will offer a minimum school week of 32.5 hours a week by September 2023
  • Ofsted will inspect every school by 2025
  • By 2030, all children will benefit from being taught in a school
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt.

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt. - Credit: House of Commons

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said: "No child or young person should be limited by where they grow up, they should be supported to get a world class education and the skills they need to succeed at school and beyond."