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Education (DfE)

Education - children at school. Photo credit Steve Parsons/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Education: our vision

Our vision is a highly educated society in which opportunity is more equal for children and young people no matter what their background or family circumstances. We will do this by raising standards of educational achievement and closing the achievement gap between rich and poor.

Social mobility

We are committed to transforming our education system so that all children, regardless of their background, thrive and prosper. The size of the overall budget deficit means we have had to make tough decisions. There will be many savings across the Department, but the Coalition Government is committed to bringing about the reforms to education and children’s services that this country needs.

Over recent years we have fallen behind in international league tables of educational performance compared with other OECD countries. In the 2006 Performance in International Student Assessment (PISA) survey, we fell from 4th to 14th in science, from 7th to 17th in literacy, and from 8th to 24th in mathematics. We must reverse this trend in order to improve social mobility and to equip our school leavers to compete with their peers across the world. Our approach to reform has been shaped by the features of the highest performing school systems internationally and looks to the very best teachers and head teachers in this country to play a leading role beyond their own school.

More choice

We want parents to have more good schools to choose between and more opportunities to open new schools or get involved in the running of existing schools. We know, from international experience and evidence, that greater autonomy drives improvement, while central control is expensive, confusing and demotivating. So we will set schools free from top-down targets and a culture of inspection and instead put in place accountability arrangements that are more transparent and sharper in their focus on underperformance. In placing a new emphasis on rigour, higher standards and great teaching, we will ensure that children can become authors of their own life stories, and young people can continue in their learning and contribute to their communities.

Schools and children's services

We will support those who work in our schools and children’s services. We will provide head teachers with flexibility on pay and conditions, we will ensure that teacher training meets the needs of the classroom, we will provide teachers with the powers that they need to instil good behaviour, and we will free social workers to do their day jobs without excessive bureaucracy. We will ensure that funding is fair and transparent, both by introducing new arrangements for school funding to encourage efficiency and by implementing our pupil premium for those who need extra support. We will provide capital investment to build new schools more quickly and more cost-effectively. We will reform early years education and Sure Start so that all children and families receive the support they need, particularly the most vulnerable. Where there is a role for government to play, we are committed to using every means at our disposal to empower families and ensure that all children are protected from harm and neglect.

Higher and Further Education

Our reforms will reduce the control from central government over Higher and Further Education, developing a market-based approach with increasing competition and driven by individual learners' decisions and the needs of local businesses, while ensuring that students and graduates on low incomes receive the financial support they need.

But we also recognise that there are no easy solutions or quick fixes – through our radical power shift from the centre to local communities, and our horizon shift from focusing on the next initiative to reforming for the long term, we will change our education and children’s services for the better.

Education: our priorities

Support universities, science and research in building a strong, innovative economy

Establish a higher education, science and research framework that promotes world class competitiveness in teaching and research. Ensure progression, fair access and better quality for students. Strengthen links between universities and industries and support innovation and technology development.

Increase the number of high quality schools and introduce fair funding

Learning from the international evidence, provide parents with more choice between high quality schools, give all schools more freedom, and reform funding arrangements to be fairer, more transparent and to deliver value for money.

Reform the school curriculum and qualifications

Ensure that all children gain the knowledge they need to prepare them for adult life, through a reformed National Curriculum and more robust academic and vocational qualifications up to the age of 19.

Reduce bureaucracy and improve accountability

Trust those who work in our schools and other services, replacing the current system of Whitehall bureaucracy with autonomy for professionals and more focused accountability.

Train and develop the professionals who work with children

Recognising that the quality of the workforce is fundamental to all other reforms, we will reform teacher training, professional standards, and pay and conditions, and also improve social worker training, capacity and retention.

Introduce new support for the Early Years

Introduce new support for the Early Years by retaining a universal offer, while also ensuring that services and opportunities reach those in greatest need.

Improve support for children, young people and families, focusing on the most disadvantaged

Help children to fulfil their full potential, by supporting families and focusing support on improving the lives of the most vulnerable children.