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Education Secretary promises to harness the ‘energy and expertise’ of teachers

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A new independent government body will be set up to help teachers deliver excellent curriculum content in world-class lessons, the Education Secretary will confirm today (Friday 11 March) as he sets out plans for helping every child in the country reach the true height of their potential.

As part of its mission to improve standards across the school system, the government is aiming for 90% of children leaving primary school to have achieved the expected level in reading, writing and maths by 2030, compared to 65% in 2019.

Speaking at the Association of School and College Leaders Conference, the Education Secretary will explain how the upcoming launch of the first Schools White Paper since 2016 will deliver on this vision of teaching excellence, through :

  • The conversion of Oak National Academy into a brand new independent agency of the Department of Education – focused on supporting teachers to deliver great lessons and build on Oak’s success;
  • Strengthen the support system in place for teachers throughout their careers – by re-founding the Education Endowment Foundation to continue to research and develop best practice in teaching methods and by committing to new to provide 500,000 teacher training opportunities by 2024 for teachers from trainee to director level; and
  • Offering starting salaries of £30,000 and offering retention payments to teachers in priority subjects in currently low-study areas to attract and retain the best teachers.

Speaking of the evolution of Oak National Academy at the conference, the Secretary of State is expected to say:

The greatest asset we have in changing the lives of children for generations to come is the energy and expertise of our teachers and school leaders.

You can’t have a good education if you don’t have a good teacher. But of course, great teachers need great support.

Oak National Academy has certainly been one of our great accomplishments. It was created by teachers, for teachers, and brilliantly demonstrated what the profession was capable of in a time of need.

Building on the nearly 3,500 hours of video course content it has provided during the pandemic, we will now establish Oak as a new independent program body.

This is important because data shows that 46% of primary school teachers plan lessons from scratch. It’s a waste of teachers’ time and we’re going to fix it.

Curriculum design is complex, and we want to share best practices so teachers can learn from carefully sequenced, evidence-based examples.

Instead of each teacher reinventing the wheel, they will be able to access content for free that is continually evolving and getting better and better with feedback from teachers across the country, saving them time and dramatically improving lessons.

At the heart of this body will be collaboration and partnership, and I am committed to building on the “by teachers, for teachers” approach that has been a key success factor for Oak National Academy.

Ed Vainker, CEO of the Reach Foundation, the organization that created Oak National Academy, said:

The Reach Foundation is proud of the role it has played in the stewardship of Oak National Academy and is grateful to partner organizations for their immense voluntary contribution.

We are pleased that the government has pledged to maintain Oak in perpetuity and has agreed to hand it over to the DfE, on the basis that it will be fully independent and will always remain free and publicly owned.

Within the framework already provided by the national curriculum, the new curriculum body will work with a wide range of teachers and experts from across the sector to facilitate the creation of curriculum maps and thousands of downloadable lessons and resources, which will be made available free of charge to all teachers, parents and children.

Its use will be completely optional for teachers, with the aim of helping those who use it to reduce the pressure of the workload caused by lesson planning and curriculum design.

The new body is expected to become fully operational from the fall after a transition phase, with its final name to be confirmed, and its first new products available to teachers in September 2023.

It will work with the Education Endowment Foundation to ensure that its activity is informed by the best available evidence and aligns with best practice.

The schools white paper is due out later in March and will set out a plan to ensure that every child gets the right education and the right support, in the right place and at the right time.