The Department for Education has published the Educational Excellence Everywhere White Paper, which sets out the government’s plans for improving education for the next five years.
This included improvements to teacher training and development, encouraging the use of evidence in education and supporting the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF – our sister charity), improving support for highly able pupils, and developing multi-academy trusts (MATs) and improving their accountability. All of these were asks in the Sutton Trust’s Mobility Manifesto.
Notably, in her comments launching the White Paper, the Secretary of State said that the government will “engage in a new programme of work, to fund new and innovative approaches to stretch the most able, ensuring our country benefits from the very brightest achieving their full potential” – which has been one of our central policy asks.
The EEF was quoted widely in the White Paper (eleven times) as encouraging the use of evidence in education was set out as the central theme of the proposals, while the Sutton Trust’s Missing Talent was one of the few think tank pieces mentioned in the paper (p.118).
Perhaps most significantly, the White Paper recognises that the quality of teaching is more important to pupil outcomes than anything else a school can control, a long-standing position of the Sutton Trust that we have stated frequently – including at the Best in Class Summit on teaching that the Sutton Trust held with the Carnegie Foundation of New York this month, addressed by Schools Minister Nick Gibb.
Initiatives in the White Paper called for by the Sutton Trust:
Highly able, enrichment and character
- Ensure that all schools can stretch their lowest-attaining and most academically able pupils by increasing the focus on, and supporting approaches aimed at, boosting their attainment – as called for by the Sutton Trust in Missing Talent (2015).
- Recognising that more needs to be done to ensure that the pupil premium is used effectively in all schools, for all children, including the most able – as called for by the Sutton Trust in Pupil Premium Next Steps (2015).
- Make available funding so that it is easier for 25% of secondary schools to extend their school day to include a wider range of activities, such as sport, arts and debating – as called for by the Sutton Trust in Extracurricular Inequalities (2014).
- Ensure a knowledge-rich curriculum is complemented by the development of the character traits and fundamental British values that will help children succeed – as called for by the Sutton Trust in A Winning Personality (2016).
- Publish a strategy for improved careers provision for young people and further support The Careers & Enterprise Company, alongside a developing a mentoring for disadvantaged young people – as called for by the Sutton Trust in Advancing Ambitions (2014)
Teacher recruitment and development
- Reform the National College for Teaching and Leadership, ensuring that in addition to delivering the government’s leadership remit, it is better able to design and deliver well-targeted incentives, teacher recruitment campaigns and opportunities that attract sufficient, high quality new entrants to the profession, including those who are looking to return to the classroom – as called for the Sutton Trust in Developing Teachers (2015).
Teacher development and deployment
- Introduce a new Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development to help schools improve the quality and availability of CPD and supporting the establishment of an independent College of Teaching to help spread good practice in areas like professional development and the effective use of evidence in education as called for the Sutton Trust in Developing Teachers (2015).
- Continue to work in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation to expand its role in improving and spreading the evidence on what works in education – including expanding its remit to support evidence-based teaching, character education, and preventing poor outcomes post-16 – as called for in the Sutton Trust Mobility Manifesto (2015).
- Launching a new Excellence in Leadership Fund to encourage the best Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) to develop innovative ways of boosting leadership in areas where great leaders are most needed, and launching new accountability measures with new performance tables for MATs – as the Sutton Trust called for in Chain Effects (2015).
- Consult on a number of changes to the school admissions system to make it easier for parents to navigate the school system, as well as requiring local authorities to coordinate in-year admissions and handle the administration of the independent admission appeals function; and on creating a single route for escalating any complaints about the maladministration of appeals – as the Sutton Trust called for in Ballots Banding (2014)
Mentions of the EEF in the White Paper:
- “Strong, evidence-informed profession: we want to support teachers by fostering a world-leading, vibrant teaching profession. That means continuing to address some of the main issues that teachers tell us cause them to leave the profession, including workload and unnecessary bureaucracy, stripping back unnecessary requirements and helping schools understand where they can avoid gold-plating. It also means supporting the establishment of a new, independent College of Teaching – a professional body along the lines of the Royal Medical Colleges – that will help spread good practice in areas like professional development and the effective use of evidence in education. This will include the establishment of a new peer-reviewed British education journal, independent of government. We will continue to work in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation to expand its role in improving and spreading the evidence on what works in education – including expanding its remit to support evidence-based teaching, character education, and preventing poor outcomes post-16” (page 13)
- “Pupil premium: we will continue the pupil premium, and improve its effectiveness by encouraging schools and virtual school heads to adopt evidence-based strategies, drawing on evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation” (page 23)
- “Support the development of a high status, world-leading teaching profession by supporting the establishment of an independent College of Teaching; continuing to reduce unnecessary workload; and increasing teachers’ access to and use of high quality evidence – including supporting the establishment of a new, peer-reviewed British education journal; and continuing to work in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation” (page 24)
- “One of the hallmarks of a mature profession is a body of evidence which sets out what works and what doesn’t, and which develops and evolves over time. This body of evidence is as valuable in teaching as in any other profession. According to the EEF, the use of mastery teaching methods, for example, can lead to an additional five months’ progress over the course of a school year compared to mainstream approaches” (page 38).
- “The EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit is helping teachers to find and use evidence about the most effective teaching methods to improve standards for all children, including the most disadvantaged. A recent National Audit Office survey found that nearly two thirds of school leaders use the Toolkit – showing that high quality evidence is now more accessible than ever before” (page 38)
- “The EEF will continue to improve the education evidence base through its role as the designated What Works Centre for education. Its work will be applicable across the whole education system, and while it will maintain a clear focus on disadvantaged pupils, the evidence it presents will be relevant and beneficial for all pupils. Its remit will be formally expanded to support evidence-based teaching, character education, and preventing poor outcomes post-16, and it will undertake additional communications to highlight the broad applicability of its work to all pupils and schools.” (page 39)
- “We welcome moves to establish a portal for teachers to access education journals. We will also work with teachers to set up a bank of research questions which, updated annually, will focus funders of research and academics on generating evidence in areas which directly inform classroom teaching. We will continue to work in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation to expand its role in improving and spreading the evidence on what works in education” (page 39)
- “For other vulnerable children who have challenging home circumstances or are on the edge of care, our priority must be getting them the right support for their needs. For some of these children, boarding school can provide a very appropriate alternative to care and give them the stability that enables them to thrive. To that end we have set up a ministerial working group with a range of organisations to raise awareness of the opportunities and benefits that this support model can provide and promote boarding as an option for vulnerable children to Local Authorities. Independent schools and charities such as Springboard, RNCF and Buttle UK also offer a range of bursaries to assist with fees for these children and substantially reduce the cost to Local Authorities. We are also continuing to assemble evidence to assess the impact of boarding schools for children identified as ‘in need’, including part funding 40 placements in state boarding as part of a research project undertaken by Buttle UK and the Education Endowment Foundation.”(page 100)
- “We want fairer and clearer funding of schools based on the needs and characteristics of pupils, and the best use of these funds. We will: a. Introduce new, fair national funding formulae for schools, and for allocating high needs funding to local authorities for special educational needs and alternative provision b. Improve the effectiveness of pupil premium spending by encouraging schools to adopt evidence-based strategies, drawing on evidence from the EEF” (page 114)
- “We will improve the effectiveness of pupil premium spending by encouraging schools and Virtual School Heads to adopt evidence-based strategies, drawing on EEF evidence” (page 117)
- “We will support all schools to learn from this approach and put in place an effective pupil premium strategy. We will …. Work with the Teaching School Council and the EEF to update guidance on pupil premium reviews, reinforcing the need for an evidence-based approach” (page 118)