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Major Labour review wants creative curriculum and less exams focus

by Timothy Johnston
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Labour’s skills report will inform the party’s manifesto: Here are the proposed schools policies

A major study to inform a potential Labour government’s education manifesto has proposed a review of Ofsted, a reformed “creative” national curriculum and less focus on exams.

Former education secretary Lord David Blunkett’s Learning and Skills report was requested by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer last year.

Its recommendations, published today, will help inform the party’s manifesto and will be presented to its policy forum over the winter.

Blunkett, pictured, said it seeks to “initiate a rational public debate about the part that everyone can play in contributing to success” to put “education and training back at the centre of government thinking”.

Here’s the main proposals for schools…

  1. A National Curriculum Authority or Agency which draws in “broad expertise for reshaping the curriculum and providing a modernised syllabus which is free from party political interference”
  2. All schools should follow a “reformed, creative and forward looking curriculum”
  3. A national review of Ofsted to ensure that “the inspection and accountability regime makes the most positive and constructive contribution possible to the education system as a whole”
  4. “Multimodal” assessment so progress is no longer just measured through written exams. This will “assist” removing the “anachronism of grade-boundaries” which have “little to do with the achievement of individual student, and everything to do with a historic belief in proportioning levels of qualifications attained”
  5. Labour should also develop and make “full use” of destination measures based on existing “underused” data to help schools understand the long-term destinations of students
  6. A “reformed” National Tutoring Programme “embedded as a permanent feature”
  7. A gradual introduction of up to one academic term sabbaticals for teachers for every five years of service. This would “link teachers with the opportunity of other work placements, research opportunities or overseas exchange programmes” once workforce planning allows for sufficient capacity within the school system
  8. Providing the education workforce with “advanced digital skills” needed for the “individual and society to thrive in a digital present and future, starting with provision in schools and embedded in post-16 learning”
  9. Primary schools should engage with “genuine programming” including “simplistic” CSS or HTML coding or more advanced languages such as Python
  10. Ensuring every school can offer devices, like Raspberry Pis, and guaranteeing access for all students to internet enabled devices
  11. Work with local and national businesses such as technology providers to “facilitate both equipment and practical guidance to schools where needed”
  12. A “renewed” emphasis on vocabulary, particularly in early years and key stage 1, which can dramatically improve personal outcomes in adult life and employability
  13. Ensuring that art and design, drama and music subjects, as well as “cultural experiences”, are available to all students and can be “built on into adult life and creative work opportunities”
  14. Citizenship education should be “reinvested in and expanded upon” including new investment in teacher training and CPD
  15. Ofsted should draw “a clear distinction” between citizenship education and personal, social and health education, treating them as equally important and related subject areas, but “as addressing different elements of preparation for growth into adulthood”
  16. Support the “continued expansion of resource platforms” like Oak National Academy. This would include “providing more pupils with access to quality lessons with the added benefit of reduced pressure on staff”
  17. A “Careers Leader” embedded in every school as part of a “complete shake-up” of the careers service. They would be supported by and accountable to the school leadership team
  18. Requirement for all education institutions to become part of a regional or sub-regional careers hub
  19. Each student provided with access to a “mentor or role model support” through career hubs
  20. For those with a declared disability, introduce a “passport” scheme for all key training and learning opportunities. This would begin with pupils with a Education, Health and Care Plans whilst in school, then providing for automatic entitlement to the Disabled Students Allowance, and then Access to Work once they are seeking, or enter into, formal employment

Source: Schools Week

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