Policy Title: The Importance of Teaching: The Schools White Paper
Institution: Department for Education
Full reference: Department for Education (2010). The Importance of Teaching. Cm 7980
This White Paper outlines a raft of the coalition government’s measures for wide-reaching schools reform in England, with emphasis on greater autonomy for schools and empowerment of teachers. It includes plans to expand eligibility for Academy School status for what are deemed ‘good’ primary and special schools and for lower performing schools also to be considered, providing that they work in partnership with high performing schools that will help support improvement. Greater support for the establishment of new Free Schools is also promised.
There are proposals aimed at raising the quality of new entrants to the teaching profession and for rewarding high performance. A new national network of Teaching Schools, based on the model of teaching hospitals, is envisaged, giving outstanding schools the role of leading the training and professional development of teachers and head teachers. Training and development is to be more classroom-based, with greater emphasis on observation and being observed. Teachers’ authority to discipline pupils will be increased, by strengthening their powers to search pupils, issue same day detentions and use reasonable force, and they will be given greater support and protection from malicious allegations.
The National Curriculum will be reformed and slimmed down. ‘It will embody rigour and high standards and outline a core of knowledge in the traditional subject disciplines’ (p.42). It will have a greater focus on subject content and not specify the methods teachers are to use. The White Paper emphasises the importance of teaching a broad and balanced curriculum and stresses that the National Curriculum should not be seen as the whole school curriculum. It proposes that Schools will be encouraged to offer a broad set of academic subjects by the new English Baccalaureate, which will be awarded for A*-C grade GCSEs in English, mathematics, science, a foreign language and a humanity subject. League tables will see schools ranked higher for the number of pupils achieving the Baccalaureate.
Specific reference in the Paper to arts and cultural education is found in paragraph 4.31 (p.46). This states that ‘Children should expect to be given a rich menu of cultural experiences’ and promises support for access to live theatre and encouragement for ‘the appreciation of the visual and plastic arts’. It explains that the review, led by Darren Henley, Managing Director of Classic FM, will explore how music education can be improved and enable more children to learn to play an instrument, and is intended to inform the broader approach to cultural education.