10th May 2022

EPI responds to announcement of new Schools Bill

Today the government has announced a new Schools Bill which will provide the necessary legislation for their education reforms.

Responding to today’s announcement, Natalie Perera, Chief Executive of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said: The Schools Bill announced today builds on the bold aims outlined in March’s White Paper, but there remains a lack of rigorous and evidence-based policies that are needed in order to improve outcomes and reduce inequalities.

Since the pandemic started, children have fallen behind in their learning, and the data published so far shows that there has been little catch up for secondary pupils and much bigger losses for the disadvantaged and those in the so-called levelling up areas of the North and Midlands. It is also clear from our research that academisation is no ‘silver bullet’ for improving school performance and the government needs to prioritise evidence-based interventions, including high quality early years provision

While we particularly welcome a register of children missing from education, more needs to be done to understand the reasons why they are not in school, including addressing inclusion, mental health and SEND challenges.

Crucially, the additional funding for 2022-23 still only takes us back to 2010 levels of school funding. After over a decade of real term cuts, school budgets are still likely to be squeezed by rising inflation, energy prices and increases to teacher pay. In recent years, schools with more affluent pupils have seen larger increases to their budgets compared to schools with more disadvantaged pupils. Alongside real-term cuts to the value of the Pupil Premium, there is a real risk that government policy will widen the already growing gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.”