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Dramatic change for the education system set to continue in 2012

21 December 2011

As 2011 draws to a close with playgrounds silent until next term, it is time to reflect on the past years developments in education and look at what lies in store come 2012.

Academies full steam ahead

This past year, the Governments academies programme has taken off, with 1,463 open as of 1 December. Will the pace of conversions keep up? Yes - if the number in progress is anything to go by. There will undoubtedly be further controversy as plans announced to force poorly performing schools to convert under a sponsor will be met with stiff opposition in some areas. How this will work in practice if a school does not want to cooperate with their sponsor remains to be seen.

Power to the teachers

This past year we saw government plans set out in the White Paper The Importance of Teaching come to fruition in the form of a much debated bill. The bill gained royal assent on 15 November, though most of its provisions will not come into force until next year.

The act will give teachers the power to search pupils for items banned under the school rules and issue same-day detentions. Teachers will be better protected from false allegations by pupils and will have anonymity until charged. Exclusion appeal panels will be replaced by review panels with no power to direct reinstatement, which could result in far fewer appeals in 2012, but a greater risk of legal challenge.

Admissions and admission appeals

The new streamlined codes should come into force early next year, replacing the current 130 pages and 600 mandatory requirements in the current two codes. The Government promises the new code will make it easier for popular schools to take more pupils, ban local authorities from using area-wide 'lotteries' and improve the current in-year applications scheme. The new code will also give priority to children of school staff when a school is over-subscribed (if the school wishes). Will we see the best teachers flock to work at outstanding schools, leaving poorer-performing schools struggling to recruit?


Come January, Ofsted will judge schools under four criteria - the quality of teaching, leadership and management, behaviour and safety of pupils and the achievement of pupils, replacing the previous 27 headings. Will this change simply subsume the 27 headings underneath the four criteria? Or will there be a renewed focus on standards of teaching and school governance in line with the governments expectation?

Meeting the challenges head-on

It is clear that the Government is intent on numerous reforms over the next few years; consultations are underway on funding and performance management of teaching, a new system for SEN statementing is being trialled and there are plans to overhaul the curriculum. Few aspects of the educational system look to stay the same.

Schools will have to continue to find new funding streams and share resources by collaborating and partnering with other schools in their area. Challenges remain and are likely to get tougher, but as schools have already shown, they are more than ready to pull together to meet these demands and adapt to whatever 2012 has in store.

Focus on...

Legal updates

Implementing school system reform – next steps

Following its publication of the White Paper at the end of March, the Department for Education (DfE) has shared an implementation framework focusing on its plans for “a stronger and fairer school system”.


Legal updates

Local authority academy conversion powers

A question we often get asked by schools is “can I be forced to become an academy?” The answer to that question to date has centred around whether a school is eligible for intervention and, primarily, its Ofsted’s grade.


Legal updates

Academy Intervention Powers

Part 1 of the Schools Bill introduces statutory rights designed to ensure that the Secretary of State has efficient oversight and is equipped to address “instances of failure” in academy trusts.


Published articles

Families of Schools –Where are we with the DfE Messaging?

In the intervening years we have seen the actual number of schools converting to academy status over the past few years has gone up and down in a succession of waves.


The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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