Carole Willis comments on the Schools White Paper


Monday 28 March 2022

Statements on the Government’s Schools White Paper by Carole Willis, Chief Executive of the National Foundation for Educational Research

Comment issued on Sunday 27 March ahead of the Schools White Paper release
Carole Willis, Chief Executive at the National Foundation for Educational Research, said:

“We know that the Government’s goal is to have a fully academised system with schools offering mutual support to each other as part of strong trusts. However, academisation is not by itself a silver bullet for school improvement. To make a real difference to young people’s outcomes, there is no substitute for a properly funded school system, led by high-quality teachers and evidence-based practice and approaches.

“If the White Paper is to showcase the Government’s desire for all schools to be part of a high performing trust, we will also want to see a clear articulation of how trusts will be supported to continue to improve and how they will be held to account. This includes ensuring academy governance structures within trusts are clear and robust, and full consideration of the role of Ofsted in inspecting trusts.

“We will also want to see an acceptance that local authority schools will only be moved to trusts when this is in the best interests of pupils, alongside an announcement that more work will be coming in understanding which factors make up a successful trust and how these can be replicated more widely.”


Comment issued on Monday 28 March on academisation
Carole Willis, Chief Executive at the National Foundation for Educational Research, said:

“The Schools White Paper shows us the Government is steadfast in its commitment to a fully academised school sector with all schools in a trust. However, this is not a silver bullet for improving children’s outcomes, and will take time to achieve given that a large proportion of schools – especially primary schools - are still maintained by the local authority or operating as standalone academies.

“Schools will therefore require more support than merely being instructed to join MATs, particularly in areas where the standard of education has been historically stagnant. If this Government is serious about its pledge of levelling up education across the country, it needs to offer up a more creative suite of improvements and be willing to fund serious research into how leaders can turn around struggling schools, and what lessons can be taken from these and applied universally.

“We will also need to ensure there is a structure in place to smooth the transition from maintained or standalone academies into a MAT, so that pupils do not find their education negatively affected by these changes. The wellbeing of every child, and in particular the most disadvantaged, needs to be at the heart of any educational reform.”


Comment issued on Monday 28 March on Literacy and Numeracy
Carole Willis, Chief Executive at the National Foundation for Educational Research, said:

“Addressing the impact of the Covid pandemic on young children’s literacy and numeracy will be crucial to ensuring their continued success in their education. That is why we need a coherent plan in place to ensure these vitally important subjects are prioritised as part of future recovery efforts, as well as dedicated funding to ensure schools are able to meet these plans.

“In particular we need additional support to be put in place for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who otherwise risk being left further behind. Our research shows that there is a substantial gap in attainment between these pupils and their peers which has increased following the pandemic. This needs to be addressed immediately as an essential part of the Government’s levelling up agenda.”