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Queen's Speech: what does it mean for education?

The Queen has announced government legislation for the year ahead

Posted by Stephanie Broad | May 19, 2016 | People, policy, politics

At the state opening of Parliament yesterday, the Queen announced a number of bills across the technology, housing, healthcare and education sectors.

The Education for All Bill, which mainly affects England, makes headteachers, not councils, responsible for school improvement. The speech also confirmed plans for the national funding formula and universal academisation, where government will have the power to convert under-performing local authority schools. The Bill is expected to be published in the autumn.

Commenting on the speech, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, says: “School leaders share the government’s ambition for educational excellence in all schools, giving every child the best start in life. We have a system at present where nearly 90% of all schools are rated good or outstanding, which means the foundations are in place and targeted support is what’s needed in areas where schools need it the most.

“While we are pleased to see a commitment to a fair funding formula, we have fundamental concerns with the government's plans for forced academisation. The government is still set to take powers to force good and outstanding schools to convert regardless of the professional judgement of school leaders. We will be engaging fully with the consultation on this issue to relay the concerns of members.”

Allan Foulds, President of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The government talks about laying the foundations for educational excellence and giving every child the best start in life. Solid foundations, however, rely upon schools and colleges having enough funding and enough teachers, and there are severe shortages in both respects at present.

“While we welcome the introduction of a new National Funding Formula to address the current inconsistencies in the system this will not on its own solve the severe pressure on budgets. More investment is urgently needed. We are also disappointed that the government has not so far announced measures which go far enough or fast enough in addressing the teacher recruitment crisis. It must do more to promote and incentivise teaching as a great career.'

In HE, the Higher Education and Research Bill aims to remove barriers for new universities to open, as well as introducing the Teaching Excellence Framework to raise standards, as outlined in the recent HE whitepaper.

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