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The Future of Schooling…

Next week I’m chairing a national meeting exploring what the future will look like for schooling in England. I’m certain there will be considerable discussion about specialist schools, PRUs and Alternative provision.

The discussion is likely to prove even more interesting as we now have a new Secretary of State for Education. Many of you will have seen in the media that Gavin Williamson was re-shuffled on Tuesday and Nadhim Zahawi MP has taken his place at Sanctuary buildings.

Mr Williamson officiated in a particularly challenging period. He was also constrained in his ability to develop policy direction and move schools forward.

What I also find interesting is the announcement relating to the rise in National Insurance to help support the NHS and social care provision. Many people will find this extra funding very welcome and hopefully will go some way in supporting the rebuilding of services post Covid.

One of the questions I would ask, however, in this blog, is that if Government is giving a significant amount of thinking time (and money) to the NHS and social care system, will there be occasion (and resource) to reform the education system as well?

 We already know that the SEND review has been delayed until next year (at the earliest). The suggestion was that this review was going to start to explore the complex issues of supporting more children and young people within the mainstream, funding and ensuring that EHCPs were improved.

It could be argued that work on all of these areas is ominously behind schedule.

Special schools up and down the country are seeing unprecedented numbers of children requiring places in schools. We see and hear (anecdotally, and actually) more and more children struggling within mainstream schools.

The organisation, the curriculum and the weight of expectations is proving to be too challenging to some children and young people. The recent lockdowns have definitely shone a critical light on the system.

I’ve also blogged on many occasions about the complex issue of ensuring appropriate funding for children and young people with additional needs.

There has been a rise in base funding for children in mainstream schools of over 13% in the last few years.

For young people, in receipt of an EHCP, the rise has been 0%.

In real terms, school leaders have presided over a real time cut in funding over the last few years. Combine this with more young people presenting with complex issues and real barriers to learning (in special schools, mainstream schools and Pupil Referral Units) the SEND review couldn’t have come quickly enough.

So, if we are to assume the government will be preoccupied with the NHS and social care – schools, and particularly our sector, may not be at the forefront of policy thinking.

Therefore any policy changes required to make our schools better fit for purpose will be delayed, yet again!

It’s really important that our school leaders effectively lobby to ensure the needs of our children, young people and families are kept very much at the forefront of Mr Zahawi’s agenda.

Let’s see where we are in a couple of years!


Have a great weekend.



Graham Quinn



New Bridge Multi Academy Trust
Roman Road

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