Primary focus: the next stage of improvement for primary schools in England

Document type
Report
Author(s)
Briggs, Annaliese; Simons, Jonathan
Publisher
Policy Exchange
Date of publication
23 September 2014
Subject(s)
Education and Skills
Collection
Social welfare
Material type
Reports

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Over 3,000 primary schools (20%) could fall below the government’s tough new minimum standards in reading and writing and maths in 2016. A “perfect storm” of challenges will see a number of head teachers retire, a continued drop off in local authority funding for primaries and the introduction of a new national curriculum and assessment systems, putting more pressure on teachers.

Primary Focus says the most effective way to ensure teachers and schools have the capability and capacity to cope with these challenges is to convert all primary schools into Academies, and then ask each school to join an Academy ‘chain’ by 2020. Academies have been enthusiastically taken up in the secondary sector (56% of all schools) but have been slower to take off among primary schools (11% take up). The report also says that Local Authorities should be encouraged to set up and run their own chains.

While acknowledging that Academy status is not a panacea in itself, the greater scale of a chain represents the best way to allow teachers and heads to focus on teaching and learning in the classroom rather than on form filling and other more administrative tasks. This will particularly benefit the significant number of small primary schools in England - there are currently 1,975 schools with fewer than 100 pupils and 113 schools with fewer than 30 pupils.

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