The education secretary has announced a new drive to increase the number of ‘good school places’ for families, including a partnership with the Independent Schools Council to support cross-sector partnerships
Education secretary Damian Hinds has announced a package of measures developed to create more school places, giving parents greater choice and raising education standards – including in disadvantaged areas. It will include:
- a new wave of free school applications, building on the 212,000 places created by free schools since 2010;
- £50m funding to expand the number of places at existing good or outstanding selective schools alongside measures to give more disadvantaged pupils the opportunity to attend these schools;
- new support for faith schools where there is demand for good school places;
- fresh agreement with the independent schools sector to help improve outcomes for pupils of all backgrounds.
Universities and independent schools building partnerships with state schools to raise attainment and widen access
Following the schools that work for everyone consultation, we have established a dedicated unit that works with universities and independent schools to develop and strengthen partnerships with state schools to help raise attainment and aspiration for all pupils. A number of institutions have already come forward to do this including independent and state schools working together to support school improvement.
The Department for Education has published a joint understanding with the Independent Schools Council, setting out how it will work in partnership with state schools and, in particular, help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. The higher education sector is also supporting these objectives and, in February, the Office for Students set out what is expected of universities with regard to participation and access.
This package of measures builds on the government’s support for the most disadvantaged children and the drive to raise academic standards in poorer areas of the country, including:
- a plan to improve social mobility, boosting opportunities for all young people;
- the £72m opportunity areas programme to raise standards and improve outcomes in twelve disadvantaged areas of the country;
- steps to transform education for children with additional needs;
- more than £45m awarded to successful multi-academy trusts to help tackle underperformance and improve schools in areas that lack capacity, particularly in disadvantaged areas of the country.
Grammar School Heads’ Association chief executive Jim Skinner said: “We are very pleased that, like other good and outstanding schools, selective schools now have access to a fund to allow them to expand their premises. This is particularly important at a time when there are increasing numbers of pupils reaching secondary age and such high demand from parents for selective school places.
“We look forward to working with the Department for Education through the memorandum of understanding, to continue and further extend the work that member schools have undertaken in recent years, to increase access for disadvantaged pupils and to support other schools to raise standards for all children.”