Ed Balls launches consultation on pupil and parent guarantees

12 Jan 2010 09:48 AM

Consultation launched on new role for school improvement partners

Full details of existing and new guarantees published for the first time, including the KS1 3Rs Guarantee

Government responds to consultation on Home Education

Parents and pupils were today given full details of the currently existing and new guarantees they can expect from schools, as Ed Balls launched a consultation alongside the second reading of the Children, Schools and Families Bill.

At the heart of the Bill are the pupil and parent guarantees. The guarantees in large part reflect existing requirements or existing expectations of schools. In a small number of important areas we are introducing new entitlements.

The new guarantees are:

• extra support and catch-up lessons for pupils falling behind at Key Stage 1;
• 1-to-1 catch up tuition for Key Stage 2 pupils who are behind and falling further behind;
• 1-to-1 or small group catch up for Year 7 pupils who are behind and falling further behind;
• personal Tutors for all secondary school pupils;
• the opportunity for pupils to study triple sciences at GCSE;
• parents of Gifted & Talented pupils will get a letter setting out support and challenge their children will receive;
• stronger home-school agreements;
• every pupil to receive PSHE education.

Details of the new and existing guarantees are published today in the Pupil and Parent Guarantee Document, which will have similar legal standing as the admissions code, setting out what pupils and parents should expect from schools, and how they can ensure that they receive the best education possible.

In addition, the Government today launched a new consultation on changes to the role of School Improvement Partners and responded to the consultation on Home Education. All these changes form part of provisions in the Children, Schools and Families Bill.

Ed Balls said today:

“The Schools White Paper and the Bill build on the huge improvements in schools that have already happened and set out a clear vision for how we will take the schools system from good to great. At the heart of that vision are the pupil and parent guarantees.

“It is no longer enough to have a system meeting the needs of most children most of the time. These guarantees mean that all children and their parents, know what they should expect from their school and will have the powers to ensure those expectations are met.

“Building on our plan to give 270,000 families free computers and online access, the guarantee document also sets out how parents will be able to receive online information about their child’s attainment and behaviour.

“At the same time, Headteachers and school governing bodies also deserve to know that parents will support them by ensuring that children attend school regularly, are ready to learn and behave well. The new Home School Agreements will make this happen.”

The Guarantees are based on key ambitions. For pupils they are:

• every pupil will go to a school where there is good behaviour, strong discipline, order and safety;
• every pupil will go to a school where they are taught a broad, balanced and flexible curriculum including skills for learning and life;
• every pupil will go to a school where they are taught in a way that meets their needs, where their progress is regularly checked and where particular needs are spotted early and quickly addressed;
• every pupil will go to a school where they take part in sport and cultural activities; and
• every pupil will go to a school which promotes their health and well-being, where they have the chance to express their views, and where they and their family are welcomed and valued.

For Parents the ambitions are:

• for all parents to have opportunities to exercise choice with and on behalf of their children, and to have the information and support they need to help them do so;
• for there to be, for all parents, Home School Agreements outlining their responsibilities, and those of the school, for their children’s schooling;
• all parents to have opportunities to be engaged in their children’s learning and development, and to have the information and support they need to help them do so;
• all parents to have access a variety of activities, facilities and services, including support and advice with regard to parenting.

The new, strengthened Home School Agreements will support headteachers and school governing bodies tailor their provision to meet the needs of their pupils. They also deserve to know that parents will support them by ensuring that children attend school regularly, are ready to learn and behave well.

The Guarantees apply to maintained schools, maintained nursery schools and short stay schools. Academies are also covered by the guarantees, except in key areas where the Government is protecting core Academy freedoms around curriculum and governance.

The Government today also launched a consultation on proposals in the CSF Bill to enhance the role of School Improvement Partners (SIPs). In addition to their existing role in challenging and supporting headteachers, they will gain new roles in brokering extra support for schools, helping headteachers decide how best to spend the School Development Grant and signing off improvement plans.

To support them in this role they will receive extra training, and there will be an increase in the number of days they can support a school. These changes, alongside other measures in the Bill, will continue to push school standards higher.

Finally the Government has today also published the results of the consultation on the Home Education registration and monitoring proposals. The responses mirrored very closely the views expressed to Graham Badman by home educators, home educating organisations and local authorities. Whilst Home Educators were largely against a registration system, all the Local Authorities that responded agreed with the need for a national register.

Having considered the responses carefully and noted the strength of feeling within the home educating community, the Government remains clear that changes should be made to existing arrangements in order to guarantee that every child receives a suitable education, wherever they are educated. However, the Government has taken account of the strong views expressed and has tailored the content of the legislation. For example local authority officers will not be given powers to insist they see the home-educated child alone, and the new monitoring system will be light touch.

Home education is a well established part of our education system and there are no plans to change that position. England is and will remain one of the most liberal countries in the degree of state regulation of home education. The Government is clear that the vast majority of home educating parents offer their children a good education, and that for many children home education is the most appropriate response to their individual circumstances.

The Children, Schools and Families bill will ensure that there is better support for home educated children with Special Educational Needs and access for all home educated children to facilities that will enrich their education, such as FE College courses, school libraries, sports facilities and music lessons. A registration system will allow us to offer these services, for the first time, to all home educating families.

Editor's Notes
This press notice relates to 'England'
1. The pupil and parent guarantee document can be found here: http://publications.dcsf.gov.uk/default.aspx?PageFunction=productdetails&PageMode=publications&ProductId=DCSF-00067-2010, and the consultation papers are available here: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/

2. Details of the Home Education Consultation are available here: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/

3. The School Improvement Partner Consultation starts today and is available here: http://www.nationalcollege.org.uk/sipsconsultation-questionnaire

4. The second reading of the The Children, Schools and Families Bill is today. The Children, Schools and Families Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 19 November 2009. The Bill featured (as the Improving Schools and Safeguarding Bill) in the Draft Legislative Programme published on 29 June 2009. It has six main themes:

• Guarantees – through new pupil and parent guarantees the Government is committing for the first time a series of specific entitlements for all, and providing a means of redress if expectations are not met.

• 21st century schools – building on over a decade of increasing school standards, this Bill will deliver the building blocks for a world class 21st century schooling system that meets the needs of every pupil so they can achieve their full potential.

• Curriculum reforms – learning from wide ranging consultation and international evidence, the Bill will introduce reforms to the school curriculum so children and young people are equipped with the knowledge and skills they, and future employers, want and need.

• Licence to practise – improving teaching underpins every effort to achieve the best possible education for all pupils, and through a new licensing system this Bill will help to professionalise the workforce. We will also ensure the workforce is supported to deliver the quality of teaching they deserve.

• Safeguarding the vulnerable – strengthening the powers of local authorities and others with regards to registration, monitoring and intervention will mean effective systems are in place to protect those that most need it.

• Increasing public confidence in family courts – opening up the family courts by broadening the amount of information which can be reported by the media.

Contact Details
Public Enquiries 0870 000 2288, info@dcsf.gsi.gov.uk