Education Secretary Justine Greening addressed the annual Conservative Party conference on Sunday 1st October. The main policy announcements in her speech were:
- Overhaul of Alternative Provision
The Secretary of State said she would bring forward proposals, based on existing best practice, to lift the standard of alternative provision. She said: “In Alternative Provision there are some of the most dedicated, inspiring teachers and parents you will ever meet, but this is an area of education that has been set on one side for far too long.”
Parliament’s Education Select Committee has also launched an investigation into alternative provision this term. The deadline for written submissions is the 1st November.
- £30 million in “tailored support” for getting teachers into the schools that “struggle the most” with recruitment and retention
This will include investment in professional development training. We have few details on this yet and no information as to how the beneficiary schools/areas will be selected.
- The second round of the £140 million Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF) is to focus on reception numeracy and literacy
The SSIF is designed to help the most in need schools improve performance, use their resources more effectively and deliver more good school places. Successful bidders from the first round were announced in early September and the Secretary of State announced that the second round will focus on numeracy and literacy in reception. In the first round of the SSIF there were a number of bids from the North East but unfortunately none were successful.
- New £12 million English hubs in the Northern Powerhouse areas
Again, there are few details as to how exactly these will work. However, they will likely to be similar to the current Maths hubs which bring together maths education professionals to share best practice.
5. Piloting a student loan forgiveness scheme for science and modern foreign language teachers
A press release from the Department for Education said the pilot would involve around 800 modern foreign language teachers and 1,700 science teachers a year who would gain around £540 a year under these proposals.
There was no mention of any geographical targeting in the DfE press release. However, in the Secretary of State’s conference speech she said the scheme would be aimed “at the subjects and areas of the country that need them most”. The methodology for doing so is not yet clear.