In light of all the evidence, the Alliance puts forward a number of recommendations for government, education practitioners, voluntary organisations and universities. These recommendations are designed to stimulate improvement in areas where performance gaps remain stubbornly high and accelerate change in areas where there are already some signs of improvement.
Our main recommendations
Support for the continued development of thechildcare and early education workforce should be a top priority. Our long-term ambition is for all group settings to be led by an early years teacher or equivalent, supported by well-qualified staff at all levels. Initially, the government should commit to working with the sector to ensure that every group setting serving the 30% most deprived neighbourhoods in England is led by an early years teacher or equivalent by 2020. The government should also use the forthcoming early years workforce strategy to set out how it plans to reverse the decline in early years teacher recruitment; and how it will ensure professional development and progression opportunities are available for everyone working in childcare and early education in England.
We welcome the pilot of the National Teaching Service and its expansion, should the pilot prove successful. However, the Alliance believes that a strong focus on leadership development will be crucial in making the scheme work. The government should also trial the use of mortgage deposit support as a way of incentivising a long-term commitment to the area. The Alliance also recognises that more work is needed to get more teachers and leaders into the National Teaching Service generally and will collaborate with others to help develop solutions to this capacity problem.
Character, emotional wellbeing and mental health:
All staff should receive evidence-led professional development and training to enable them to better support the development of these key strengths. This should focus on supporting young people and staff and should be available to staff at all stages of their career.
We would support the development of a scheme placing highly trained advisers in the most
disadvantaged schools to guarantee that young people in these schools receive individualised and impartial expert advice and guidance. We believe that the provision of web based information on its own is not enough to ensure fair access to impartial advice and guidance for all.
We will work with UCAS to support universities in improving their use of contextualised data . The Alliance supports the efforts made by universities to use such data and would welcome a renewed effort to see where improvements in use can be made.
Our recommendations for practice
Children’s centres and schools:
Sharing of best practice: Collaborative models of continuing professional development (CPD) should be implemented across networks of early years settings and primary schools to share best practice in numeracy and literacy, including the sharing of specialist teachers; evidence suggests the network model is most effective, whilst at the same time providing economies of scale.
Children’s Centres should continue training language development champions to support parents and carers in developing the language of their children, as with the work of I-CAN, the children’s communication charity.
There should be a stronger focus on training primary teachers and early years practitioners in early maths development.
Children’s Centres should offer a service for registering births, so that new parents have a local point of contact with the state and are able to get information about free childcare, as well as other support available before their child is two.
Every school should be part of a cluster or collaboration of schools; these may include academy chains, federations, cooperatives or any similar structure with strong mutual accountability. There should be a continuing focus on the development and sustainability of collaborative networks of schools to share best practice and resources, as well as staff.
Whole-school approach to developing character, wellbeing and mental health:
Schools should develop a whole-school, integrated approach to the character development of pupils, including a focus on social and emotional skills and good mental health for both children and staff. Schools should also continue to develop and embed whole-school CPD programmes focused on increasing aspirations (pupil, teacher, headteacher, parents and carers and other staff) and improving access and achievement for all pupils. CPD should be monitored and evaluated in the context of pupil outcomes; this can be effectively supported through charities like the Teacher Development Trust.
Schools should develop a whole-school approach to engaging parents and carers in their children’s learning and development, providing staff with training and support for working with parents and carers.This will increase the impact of their work with charities and other third-sector organisations to develop and embed parent and carer engagement in schools. This approach is reflected in the successful Achievement for All schools programme and government-funded family learning programmes. Parent and carer engagement is a neglected aspect of secondary education.
Senior school leaders, supported by named middle leaders with front-line visibility, should lead and develop a whole-school approach to student career development, building strong long-term partnerships with one or two key businesses. Evidence suggests that fewer, stronger school-business partnerships work best. This should begin at primary school. Senior leaders (supported by third sector organisations) should also develop good tracking and monitoring systems to evaluate employer engagement activities and student destination data.
Schools should broaden and widen their CPD programme for teachers (at Key Stages 3-5), ensuring all teachers have the knowledge and understanding to play their part in providing opportunities for students to benefit from HE. The CPD programme needs to be focused on aspiration, access and achievement and may be more effective when supported by third-sector organisations.