Press release

‘The school revolution’: how reforms are transforming schools

The Department for Education has published a film detailing the education reforms that are transforming schools in England.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Maths lesson

The Department for Education today published a film detailing the key education reforms over the last 4 years that are transforming the schools landscape in England.

The film - titled ‘The school revolution’ - features comment by headteachers, teachers, governors and educationalists who have played leading roles in ushering in the reforms or who have been on the frontline and witnessed first-hand the benefits they have already had.

They include:

  • Liam Nolan and Jacqui Powell, from the Perry Beeches Academy Trust in Birmingham
  • John Townsley, David Morgan and Steve Burt from the Gorse Academies Trust in Leeds
  • Max Haimendorf, the secondary headteacher at King Solomon Academy in London
  • Natalie Evans, of the New Schools Network
  • Dr Sue Attard, from Hatfield Community Free School
  • Dan Abramson, from King’s College Maths Free School
  • Elizabeth Haddock, from Atherton Community School
  • Dr Bill Mitchell, of BCS (the Chartered Institute for IT)
  • Professor Alison Wolf CBE, of King’s College London
  • Amanda Spielman, of Ofqual, discussing the reforms to the qualifications system

The participants tell how great heads and teachers now have more freedom to innovate, spread their excellence and use their energy, talent and skills in different ways, including through the accelerated academies programme and through free schools.

It outlines how the school structure is now underpinned by self-improvement and collaboration, where professionals helping, supporting and training each other, including through schemes like School Direct, whereby schools can now train their own recruits, and teaching schools.

And there is also comment on how the expensive and time-consuming Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme has been replaced by a far more cost-effective and quicker approach to new or refurbished school projects.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

This film demonstrates the breadth and variety of the improvements in England’s schools today.

But what started four years ago is only the beginning - the professionals, parents and pupils in the film are just some of the thousands of people who can see the progress already made and want to see this momentum maintained.

Among the comments

More great new schools

Liam Nolan, chief executive officer of Perry Beeches Academies Trust in Birmingham, said:

It would seem that what we have created here in Birmingham is enormously popular with parents. Parents want a structured, organised, disciplined education for their children. It is happening in the very best independent and the very best grammar schools. Why shouldn’t it be open to children from normal comprehensive schools? They should have the same structure and rigour and standards. Perry Beeches I has 180 places in year 7 with 1,010 applicants. Perry Beeches II has 100 places in next year’s Year 7 with 450 applicants.

Natalie Evans, the director of the New Schools Network, said:

Absolutely key to free schools is that parents in their local community want them. They have to have a really clear vision, what they want to do, why it’s going to be better than the other options.

Max Haimendorf, secondary head at King Solomon Academy in London, said:

We are making sure children aspire to and are ambitious for great things in their life.

David Morgan, chair of the Gorse Academies Trust in Leeds, said:

We are trying to spread educational opportunity. The benefits of the academies and free schools system is about taking the opportunity to help others have a better education.

John Townsley, executive principal of the Gorse Academies Trust in Leeds, said:

We’re about extending and expanding the product we have developed to more young people, especially to young people from very disadvantaged backgrounds.

Qualifications and the curriculum

Dan Abramson, founder of the King’s College Maths Free School in London, said:

I see mathematicians as key to the future of the country. They are the world’s great problem solvers. I would like my pupils to have the opportunities to go on and do meaningful and interesting things in maths and the sciences and beyond.

Bruno Reddy, maths teacher from King Solomon Academy in London, said:

I’m under no constraints here and that’s probably by virtue of the fact that my head is under fewer constraints when it comes to the curriculum and the way we teach things, the way we organise our classrooms and the school day. That’s given me the chance to throw out the old maths curriculum and start with something completely from scratch. That’s being rolled out across the country under the maths mastery banner.

Elizabeth Haddock, from Atherton Community School in Wigan said:

We have decided to specialise in STEM - we are running A levels that will lead people to university or to good qualifications so that they will be able to get jobs in manufacturing in the local area.

Professor Alison Wolf CBE, of King’s College London, said:

You have to be realistic about the labour market - young people have to go on doing English and maths. If you don’t have decent English and maths, they won’t give you a job - stop pretending things are different and put it into the programme. It’s really important to get employers involved in assessment and designing qualifications, but at local level.

Dr Bill Mitchell, director of BCS (the Chartered Institute for IT), said:

The new computing curriculum has a very large amount of computer science in it. We now have a subject discipline which is based on principles, concepts, methods and techniques that will last for the long term. It is on a par with physics or chemistry. The UK is leading the world.

Better value for money

Simon Innes, architect of Atherton Community School project in Wigan, said:

It was ferociously fast and a very challenging budget particularly when compared to the work that all of us had been doing in the previous 5 years where for a new secondary school it wasn’t unusual to have a budget of £20 million to £25 million. This project had a budget of approximately £4.8 million, and from the appointment of the team to the opening of the doors took just over 12 months.

Liam Nolan, from Perry Beeches Academy Trust in Birmingham, said:

We’ve opened in an industry building left empty for two-and-a-half years and we have refurbished it. Where BSF was spending £25 million to £30 million in this area on schools not too far away, we have spent £5 million on buying and refurbishing it and getting it ready to be a school.

The film is available to watch online: ‘The school revolution

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Published 10 July 2014