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“The die is cast by the time children reach school age” - headteachers launch pre-election manifesto

PUBLISHED: 06:01 07 May 2014

Aylsham High headteacher Duncan Spalding is a core member of the Headteachers' Roundtable. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Aylsham High headteacher Duncan Spalding is a core member of the Headteachers' Roundtable. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2011

An influential headteachers’ think-tank has called for a national strategy to help all parents create “an optimal home learning environment for under fives”.

The Headteachers’ Roundtable, which includes Aylsham High School headteacher Duncan Spalding among its 11 core members, was formed out of frustration with government and opposition education policies, and has held discussions with key government and Ofsted figures.

Today’s 10-point manifesto, published a year before the 2015 general election, comes a week after a major Labour education policy announcement, which called for the creation of local directors of school standards to oversee all state-funded schools.

The manifesto puts continual improvement of teaching, rather than structural changes, at the centre of improving the education system, with a call for all schools to offer a high-quality professional development programme for all teachers.

The roundtable said the coalition government’s flagship pupil premium policy, which targets money at pupils from deprived backgrounds, had a “very limited” impact.

Its manifesto says: “The key intervention to tackle underachievement needs to be aimed at the families of the very young because the die is cast by the time children reach school age. If we do not tackle this issue at source we will never properly eradicate the cycle of generational underachievement.”

It calls for some pupil premium money to be re-directed to create a national inter-agency strategy to help all parents maximise their children’s health, well-being and learning before they start school.

The document also proposes a national recruitment fund to attract headteachers, and maths and English teachers, to deprived areas.

The manifesto says academies and maintained schools should have the same freedoms, but describes the gap between primary and secondary schools as the “biggest division in our system”.

The headteachers call for the two types of schools to work closely together to share information about the last two years of primary school, and the first two of high school.

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