Opportunity for All
Last week the government published a White Paper for schools, entitled ‘Opportunity for All’. The Council for Subject Associations (CfSA) welcomes its focus on teacher training and ongoing professional development at the different stages of teachers’ careers, including the strengthening of teacher knowledge. CfSA wants subject-specific learning and development to be available for all teachers, and in all subjects, to achieve the best outcomes for all children and young people.
CfSA welcomes the emphasis on subject leadership and continuing professional development. All subjects warrant and require high quality leadership. CfSA welcomes fully funded, subject leadership specific NPQs and wants them to be available for the leadership of all subjects, as part of the ‘golden thread’ of high-quality support for teachers and leaders. CfSA is a well-established community of leading subject associations and organisations, that support teachers, to help pupils make subject specific progress throughout their education. Subject associations can be of significant benefit to teachers, for their ongoing professional development, helping them make strong, developmental links with their subject communities, work collaboratively with other subject specialists and become part of networks that enable a sustainable profession.
The White Paper focuses school’s attention primarily on the teaching of Maths, Reading and Writing. CfSA recognises the need to emphasise and improve attainment in Maths, Reading and Writing but is concerned that this renewed emphasis is likely to work against schools being able to offer a broad, balanced and ambitious curriculum, congruent with the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (2019). CfSA has been supportive of Ofsted’s recent inspection focus on whether schools are offering a broad, balanced curriculum. It would be unfortunate if the improvements this inspection focus has led to, can no longer be sustained, particularly as the judgement on the Quality of Education is key, with the intent, implementation and impact underpinned by good curriculum design, pedagogy and pupil attainment and progress.
The report also sets out a commitment to increasing the uptake of Ebacc subjects by students. Inevitably, this will have an increased impact on the viability and provision of non EBacc subjects in many schools. As more students continue to take the EBacc subjects, the courses in non-EBacc subjects become increasingly unviable and unavailable.
A new, arms-length curriculum body, (through the Oak National Academy) will work with teachers to, “…co-design, create and continually improve packages of optional, free, adaptable digital curriculum resources and video lessons that are effectively sequenced to help teachers deliver an evidence-based, high-quality curriculum.” CfSA hopes that this new ‘arms-length’ curriculum body will strive to provide a broad and balanced subject curriculum from the outset.
“Considering the wider benefits of increased time for pupils, including more opportunities for learning, socialisation with peers and enrichment, we will also encourage all mainstream state-funded schools to explore going further than 32.5 hours if possible.” All state-funded mainstream schools must be open for at least 32.5 hours of compulsory education per week, by September 2023. The CfSA is concerned about the possible marginalisation of some subjects, (especially the arts and sport), and considers that all subjects need to be part of a broad and balanced curriculum, taught during the main school day, with enrichment opportunities at other times.