White Paper – where does it go from here?

20th April 2023

In March 2022 the highly anticipated White Paper, “Opportunity for all: strong schools with great teachers for your child” (White Paper) was published, setting out the government’s long-term vision for the future of schooling. However, subsequent disruption in government, including five education secretaries, and the scrapping of the Schools Bill has caused some uncertainty as to what remains of the White Paper.

What’s been scrapped?

When the government scrapped the Schools Bill, several policies which had been introduced by the White Paper were consequently abandoned, including:

  • Not-in-school register, although the Education Secretary has confirmed that they remained committed to the register, but a timescale has not been provided.
  • Increasing Ofsted’s powers to inspect illegal schools, although the government has suggested it will still pursue this.
  • Legislation to protect faith schools’ freedoms and protections when converting, although the Education Secretary has said that this is something she will prioritise.
  • Powers for councils, including powers to request mass conversion of maintained schools in an area.

In addition, the following policies which formed part of the White Paper have been scrapped:

  • In respect of legislation to modernise attendance rules, whilst a consultation was carried out and closed in July 2022, the government has not taken this any further.
  • The proposal for attendance statutory guidance was replaced with non-statutory guidance published in May 2022 setting out an expectation for schools to publish their attendance policy, rather than mandatory requirements.
  • Although a future projects document published by the DfE listed the “appointment of a supplier to administer the grammar school ballots system” from September, the DfE has since confirmed that this was published in error and the pledge, as set out in the White Paper, to ensure selective schools are ‘secure’ in MATs has currently been withdrawn.

On the horizon

The government is in the process of pushing some changes through in the sector. For example, the DfE has confirmed that it will consult on the Working Together guidance with a view to putting in place a system of proactive assurance with safeguarding audits every three years.

The DfE is also progressing a new cultural education plan this year and has launched a tender for a new centre of excellence, with up to 25 school hubs, over three years. Further, both the DfE and the ESFA have confirmed that they are exploring how to ensure transparency in respect of MATs pooling and top-slicing funding.

In terms of financial policies, £40m for 24 priority education investment areas is still proposed to go ahead. Tutoring is also set to become a core academic function funded by the pupil premium from 2024. The government also remains committed to all schools joining MATs.

If you have any queries in respect of how the White Paper impacts on your academy, please get in touch.

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