Release date: 03/02/2022

The government’s long awaited Levelling Up White Paper, published yesterday (2 February), details plans to ‘level up’ the UK and how opportunity will be spread more equally across the nation.

A focus on driving school improvement in England through 55 Education Investment Areas (EIAs) where educational attainment is currently the weakest, and the expansion of strong MATs in these areas, are amongst policy initiatives laid out by the government.

With a hint of what’s to come in the forthcoming Schools White Paper, the paper also details ambitious plans to eliminate illiteracy and innumeracy and a clear vision for a system in which schools are in strong MATs that can drive improvement for all their pupils. It aims for 90% of all primary school children in England to achieve the expected standard in reading, writing and maths by 2030, which would see the percentage of children meeting the expected standard in the worst performing areas improve by a third.

Ahead of the soon to be published Food Strategy White paper, the government  also included some detail on the recommendations from Henry Dimbleby’s independent review of the food system that will be taken forward. This would include the launch of a joint project between DfE and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to design and test a new approach for local authorities in assuring and supporting compliance with school food standards. To support this, the government have announced an investment of up to £200,000 to pilot new training for governors and trustees on a whole school approach to food.

Fiona Fearon, NGA’s policy and projects manager said, Many of the proposals in the levelling up agenda that directly impact children and young people are long overdue. NGA welcomes the increased focus on creating a level playing field and more opportunities for every child. With the number of home education pupils increasing during the pandemic, the introduction of a register for children not in school is a development that is needed now more than ever.

NGA also welcomes the development of an effective accountability mechanism around school food, to include enhanced reporting with the aim of becoming mandatory, piloting of a quality assurance role for the Food Standards Agency, and specific training for school governors and trustees, represents a big step forward for the school food system. This was identified as a priority by the School Food Review working group.”

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