Education Students return to school: ‘Increasing awareness’ hopes to tackle inequality ‘Increasing awareness’ hopes to tackle inequality
Headteachers in England have turned the page on Clause 2, the grey area at the heart of the controversial Education Act, in the hope that they can now focus on helping teachers help and educate all pupils, regardless of where they live or what they believe in.
Earlier this year, the government found it difficult to legislate a “straightforward principle” in the law which dictated that all headteachers across the country were required to comply with a common curriculum covering all subjects of national importance.
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The universities and colleges minister, Sam Gyimah, said in September that the aim of the new admissions policy was to “ensure no pupil is simply labelled a select group of pupils through a school’s admissions process”.
Conservatives claimed education was being “all about testing and reading and computation” while Liberal Democrats said it represented a return to the intolerance and nastiness of a bygone era.
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In a letter sent to headteachers, newly-appointed universities minister Sam Gyimah said the Equality Act is focused on ensuring that all young people are given the same opportunity to succeed and to achieve the best outcomes for themselves and their families.
“I recognise that developing and helping all pupils to develop their full potential requires everyone in our system, from teachers to parents and students, to work together to achieve a common agenda,” he said.
“An individual school must respond to its local requirements by advising parents and students, being open about the admissions policy and more effectively advising students who are likely to be disadvantaged.”
The news comes as research showed that the number of school exclusions has been falling for the past five years.
Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said he is excited by the ideas highlighted in the letter from the universities and colleges minister, but he added that schools should use the opportunity to think carefully about their admissions policies.
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He said: “We all welcome the commitment from universities and colleges to make their admissions processes fairer. I am confident this will lead to a number of schools considering whether their own admissions practices are of a similar standard.”
Anne Jones, president of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the announcement represented a welcome change of tone from the government.
“Ensuring all students have equal access to our most highly ranked institutions and higher education has been one of ASCL’s long-term concerns,” she said.
“This is the start of a conversation which ASCL looks forward to having with all school leaders about how to accelerate our efforts to level the playing field and eliminate inequality of opportunity across England.”