What's in store for the UK's education system following the Queens speech?


As you all will know the Conservatives won a majority vote in May 2015, so what does this mean for the future of the UK’s education system? We have rounded up key points of information to inform you of what you can expect moving forward. 

Looking back at the last election, which was held in 2013, the changes in education included the following:

  • Teachers pay depended more on their performance.
  • A new national curriculum was applied to state-funded schools, not academies.
  • Academies were able to set their own curriculum.
  • There was to be more focus on increasing knowledge in the core areas of English, maths and science. 
  • Children in the later years of Primary school were required to learn a language.
  • GCSE and A-Level exams were changed to be taken after a two year period instead of being spread out of the two years of GCSE education. 

The main education sector points taken from the latest Queen Speech, which took place in May 2015 were as follows:

  • Create Academies out of coasting or failing schools.
  • Improve existing schools – by giving extra powers to regional school commissioners, they will be able to bring in "leadership support" from other high-achieving schools.
  • Appoint new people to take over failing schools. 

Academies are state-funded schools that are run by academy trusts or chains - charities that run a number of state schools. Sponsored academies are schools that have been "taken over" because they were not deemed to be doing well enough under local education authority influence.

The schools are still managed in the same way, by a head teacher and the governing body, but they are supported by the chain, which can provide a new direction and influence.

Trusts and chains are not allowed to make a profit from running schools, and they are inspected by Ofsted in the usual way.

There has already been much discussion about these key points and people have expressed their concerns with the new bill, and the effects it will have on the UK’s education system.

David Simmonds, chair of the association's children and young people board, said there was no evidence that turning a school into an academy raised standards.

Becky Francis, professor of education at King’s College London, said: “The evidence on whether or not academies have had more success in raising attainment than other equivalent schools is mixed, and hard to pin down.”

The education secretary Nicky Morgan says that the new bill will allow the best education experts to intervene in poor schools from the first day we spot failure. It will sweep away the bureaucratic and legal loopholes previously exploited by those who put ideological objections above the best interests of children. 

Jonathan Simmons, head of education at the right-leaning Policy Exchange think tank, warned that the government will also need to work with schools – particularly high-performing secondary’s and groups of primaries – and encourage them to become formal clusters and take on other schools, if the government ambition for all inadequate schools to become academies is to be realised.

The deputy head of the ASCL head teachers' union, Malcolm Trobe has stated that the improvement of schools can only happen if the government address the lack in funding and difficulties in recruiting new staff.

If you would like to read more about the bill and the possible implications for the UK’s education sector please see the articles below.