The Association for Science Education
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ASE issues response to Government's education white paper

26 May 2016

ASE issues response to Government's education white paper

Today we have submitted our response to the recent white paper 'Educational Excellence Everywhere' to the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan.

Overview

In this response we welcome aspects of the Government's proposals, including greater support for teachers during their early careers, more professional freedom and recognition of the importance of high quality professional development. However, we have raised concerns that there is a lack of evidence to support the proposed mechanisms for achieving these ambitions. We outline the need to provide a broad and balanced curriculum within a local context, argue that Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) should be retained and further consideration of ITT provision is required. 

Our Recommendations

The ASE has long campaigned for a balanced science curriculum for all children aged 5-16. The current national curriculum for science is the culmination of that work, and draws on our subject expertise, both in framing the draft national curriculum documents and in providing non-statutory guidance for Key Stages 1 and 2. The Association has also supported Ofqual in the removal of controlled assessment and replacing it with a broad and flexible approach to the use of practical work in learning and assessment at GCSE and A level. 

Whilst the Association supports the freedoms available in schools to provide a broad and balanced curriculum to meet the needs of their pupils, this provision must be underpinned by the national curriculum.  Our response includes 5 recommendations to Government:

  • All schools, including academies, should be required to follow the national curriculum.
  • Each school should adhere to the current requirement to publish its own curriculum online; and should demonstrate how its curriculum is adapted to local contexts to meet the needs of their pupils in preparing them for their contributions to society.
  • All schools, including academies, should be required to fulfil the requirements of the national curriculum, including ‘working scientifically’. The position of practical work within school science should be monitored and reported annually, by government, Ofqual or a suitably funded alternative agency.

Our two further recommendations focus on the learning needs and aspirations of early career teachers, especially in subject shortage areas such as science. We think that a more tailored and differentiated provision for professional learning is required to ensure teachers feel equipped to continue improving and honing practice beyond those skills gained in ITT.

  • There should be a reconsideration of moving towards a school-based ITT provision and a rethinking of how providers for the various routes could work towards better cooperation in providing sufficient trained teachers for their region. Further to this, research is required on the learning needs and aspirations of early career teachers to provide a more tailored and differentiated route for development beyond ITT. 
  • Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) should be retained and supplemented by further professional accreditation at a later stage in the professional journey of teachers.

You can read our full response here