Department for Education Written evidence (EDU0085)


1.  This submission sets out the Government’s response to the Call for Evidence of the House of Lords Education for 11 - 16 Year Olds Committee. It outlines the Department’s policy approach to education for pupils in years 7 to 11.

2.  The submission is split into 5 sections. Section 1 sets out an overview of the Government’s approach to secondary education and addresses crosscutting topics specified in the Call for Evidence:

3.  Section 2 sets out the Government’s overall approach to the secondary curriculum, addressing the following topics:

4.  Section 3 sets out how the Government supports schools to deliver a high quality, broad and balanced, knowledge-rich curriculum, thereby addressing the following topics in more detail:

5.  Section 4 sets out the Government’s approach to GCSEs and other assessments, addressing the topics:

6.  Section 5 sets out the Government’s approach to supporting the recruitment, training and retention of teachers, addressing the topic: How the 11-16 system could be adapted to improve the attractiveness of the teaching profession, and the recruitment, training and retention of teachers.




7.  In March 2022, this Government published the Schools White Paper, Opportunity for all: strong schools with great teachers for your child. We remain committed to the vision of and policies within the White Paper, including its headline attainment ambitions for 2030. This Government is already implementing commitments set out in the White Paper, delivering real progress and raising educational outcomes. The Department for Education also remains particularly focused on the Prime Minister’s priority of attainment in primary schools, where the foundations of a child’s education are laid.

8.  The Department has made significant progress over the last year. In September 2022, the Department established Oak National Academy as an Arm’s Length Body to provide high quality, adaptable and optional support, reducing workload for teachers and enabling pupils to access a high quality curriculum. As part of our teacher development reforms, the Department also introduced a fully funded new suite of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) based on the best available research and evidence.

9.  The Schools White Paper set a clear vision of a school system that delivers results for all children, especially for our most vulnerable young people. The Pupil Premium helps fund evidence based, targeted interventions, as well as broader improvements that will benefit these pupils and help to raise their attainment. In the 2022-23 financial year, this funding is supporting over 2m disadvantaged pupils and is set to increase to £2.9bn in the 2023-24 financial year. Additional support also includes the National Tutoring Programme (NTP), where funding has been allocated to schools based on rates of disadvantage. Since the launch of the NTP in November 2020, around 2.85m tutoring courses have been started (up to 6 October 2022), and the 6m courses we committed to in the Schools White Paper will be delivered by 2024.

10.  As part of the 2022 Autumn Statement, it was announced that overall school funding will increase by a further £2bn in 2023-24, and another £2bn in 2024-25, over and above totals confirmed at Spending Review 2021. This additional funding will help schools to invest in further improving pupil outcomes and delivering the ambitions set out in the Schools White Paper.


Attainment prior to and post pandemic

11.  The decade prior to the COVID-19 pandemic saw major progress in children’s outcomes. In 2012 the Government introduced the Phonics Screening Check for 6 year olds to make sure they were on track to becoming fluent readers. This enabled schools to identify and support those children who were falling behind, because the evidence is clear that reading is within the grasp of almost every child. When the test was introduced, just 58% of 6 year olds reached the expected standard. As a result of schools improving the teaching of reading through the adoption of systematic phonics, 82% were at or above the expected standard by 2019.

12.  In 2014, the Department reformed the National Curriculum to restore the centrality of knowledge. Many schools across the nation have risen to the challenge of putting a knowledge-rich curriculum at the core of what they do. For secondary schools, the Department has also improved the quality of GCSEs and A levels, making them more knowledge-rich and putting them on a par with qualifications in countries with the highest performing education systems, recognising that future generations will be competing with the world’s best educated populations.

13.  Since 2010, England achieved its highest ever scores in international comparison studies in both reading and mathematics. The attainment gap between disadvantaged children and other children narrowed by 13% at Key Stage 2 and by 9% at Key Stage 4, between 2011 and 2019.

14.  But there is clearly more to do, particularly following the interruption to children’s education during the pandemic. Key Stage 2 results published in September 2022 showed that 59% of pupils met the expected standard in all of reading, writing and mathematics at Key Stage 2 nationally. In 2019 this was 65%. In individual subjects, attainment fell in mathematics and writing, and improved in reading. In reading 75% met the expected standard compared to 73% in 2019 (+2pp).

15.  As part of a planned transition back to pre-pandemic arrangements, 2022 GCSE results were lower than in 2021, when grades were awarded by teacher assessment, but higher than when pupils last sat formal summer examinations in 2019: 


School funding

16.  Overall funding for both mainstream schools and high needs will total £58.8bn in 2024-25 – the highest ever level in cash and real terms per pupil.

17.  Core funding for 11-16 year olds is provided through the schools national funding formula. In 2023-24 financial year, the average funding per pupil through the schools NFF is to be £6,473 for secondary schools. Schools will also receive additional funding through the Mainstream Schools Additional Grant (MSAG) on top of their NFF allocations, worth an average of 3.4% per pupil in 2023-24. This grant allocated the additional funding to schools in the 2023 Autumn statement.

18.  In addition to core funding, schools also receive additional funding for specific purposes. The pupil premium, introduced in 2011, is additional funding for state-funded schools to improve education outcomes for disadvantaged 5-16 year olds in England. The pupil premium has provided over £2.6bn of funding in the 2022-23 financial year. Rates have increased by 5% for 2023-24, a £180m increase from 2022-23, taking total pupil premium funding to £2.9bn. In 2023-24, the per pupil funding rate for primary pupils who are eligible for free school meals or have been eligible at any point over the past six years is £1,455. For eligible secondary pupils it is £1,035. The rate for pupils who are looked after by a local authority, or were previously looked after, is £2,530.

19.  In addition, the separate recovery premium will provide a further £1bn of funding across the 2022/23 and 2023/24 academic years, following over £300m delivered in 2021/22. Building on the pupil premium, the recovery premium helps schools to deliver evidence based approaches to support education recovery for disadvantaged pupils.

20.  To ensure that pupil premium and recovery premium funding is focused on effective approaches that raise disadvantaged pupils’ attainment, schools must use their funding in line with the 'menu of approaches' set by the Department for Education and incorporated into non-statutory guidance on using the pupil premium. The menu of approaches is informed by evidence. It is for school leaders to assess the specific needs of their pupils and decide how to use their pupil premium funding within the framework set out in the menu.

21.  The National Tutoring Programme (NTP) was launched in November 2020 to make available subsidised tutoring to boost progress and support for those children, aged 5-16, most in need to catch up on education lost because of COVID-19. More than £1bn is available to support tutoring over four academic years, from November 2020 to 2023/24, during which we aim to provide up to 6 million tutoring courses. In secondary schools, NTP funding can be used for tuition in mathematics, English, science, humanities and modern foreign languages. There is also flexibility to provide alternative types of tutoring for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).


Education technology

22.  Every school in the country should have the right infrastructure to allow them to make the most of modern digital technology for their children, including the high quality tools provided by England’s flourishing EdTech market. We want to create an environment where all schools and trusts can use technology to improve access to education and outcomes, reduce staff workload, and run operations more efficiently.

23.  Technology offers significant benefits to schools and colleges: 

24.  We are setting standards so that school, colleges and trust leaders know what they need to do to get their technology in good shape, maintain security and support online safety[2].

25.  We are investing significant sums to improve the basics. We are working with commercial operators to accelerate gigabit-capable broadband rollout to schools, to enable all schools to have access to a high speed connection by 2025. We are investing up to £150m to upgrade schools that fall below our Wi-Fi connectivity standards in 55 Education Investment Areas.  


Using technology well in the classroom

26.  We take a user-centred design approach to solve unmet user needs and barriers to schools using digital technology well.

27.  We are developing a digital service to support senior leadership in schools with planning for technology. From September this year, we are working with Blackpool and Portsmouth to expand testing of this tool.

28.  We are also developing a shared understanding of quality in digital products so we can help schools to identify and use evidence based technology. We are working to establish a strong evidence base for effective use of technology and embed this evidence across the school system, We are working with EdTech companies, researchers,  and schools to understand how the Government can incentivise the market to increase the quality of evidence of the impact of education technology products and their implementation. 

29.  We are also running a biennial Technology in Schools survey (TiSS) to capture up to date data which enables us to understand the current state, of technology within primary and secondary schools in England. This will allow us to support various strands of our current policy commitments and to inform future interventions. Findings from the first Technology in Schools survey will be published in summer 2023.

30.  Ofqual have committed as part of their Corporate Plan to exploring the potential opportunities and implications of digital assessment in qualifications.


Artificial intelligence 

31.  The Department carried out rapid work to assess the risks and opportunities of recent developments in Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI). We published a statement on Generative AI in education on 29th March 2023[3] which referenced the opportunities AI presents whilst emphasising the importance of managing the potential risks.

32.  When used appropriately, technology (including generative AI), has the potential to reduce workload across the education sector, and free up teachers’ time, allowing them to focus on teaching. Schools, colleges and awarding organisations need to continue to take steps to prevent malpractice, including malpractice involving the use of generative AI and other emerging technologies.

33.  The Department will continue to work with experts to respond to the implications of generative AI, including supporting primary and secondary schools to teach a knowledge-rich computing curriculum.


Pupil wellbeing

34.  Education can have a range of positive impacts on the longer term mental health and wellbeing of young people. Supporting pupils to attain and achieve their potential is central, ensuring that young people are able to fulfil their ambitions. In addition, good schools provide a sound basis in wider factors that equip young people to go on to lead happy lives. They can foster social connection with peers and trusted adults, support the development of emotional and social skills, develop healthy habits and behaviours and teach young people how to understand and look after their mental health and wellbeing, including during stressful periods. The act of studying and learning in and of itself can also support good mental wellbeing, and is one of the ‘5 steps to mental wellbeing’[4] promoted by the NHS.

35.  The Schools White Paper sets out a vision for schools to provide calm, safe and supportive environments, where children who need it can access targeted support. We believe a calm and safe environment is key to promoting good wellbeing and preventing the onset of mental ill health, and it complements the focus on raising educational outcomes.

36.  We encourage schools to implement effective whole-school approaches to mental health and wellbeing, including consideration of the role the curriculum, should play in a school’s approach. Our guidance encourages schools to consider opportunities during the academic year for a specific curricular focus that can support mental health and wellbeing, for example for coping with transition periods or the pressures of studying for examinations.

37.  To support schools to do this well, we are funding all state schools and colleges to train a senior mental health lead who can put in place an effective whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing. Over 11,700 schools and colleges have received a training grant so far, including more than 6 in 10 state funded secondary schools.

38.  To help children and young people develop the tools they need to look after their own wellbeing, the Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum has a strong focus on mental health and wellbeing. This gives pupils the information they need to make good decisions about their own health and wellbeing, recognise the signs of mental wellbeing issues in themselves and others and, when issues arise, seek support as early as possible from appropriate sources. The current review of the RSHE statutory guidance gives us the opportunity to ensure that it reflects the latest evidence and better equips young people to navigate the challenges they face in the changing world they inhabit.  We expect to consult on the final version in autumn 2023 and publish revised guidance in 2024.

39.  When a child or young person is struggling with their mental health, we know it is vital to intervene early and schools can play a key role. To increase access to early intervention support, we are working with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England to increase the number of Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) working with schools and colleges. MHSTs deliver interventions for mild-to-moderate mental health issues, give timely advice to school and college staff, and liaise with external specialist services to help children and young people receive the right support. We are increasing the number of MHSTs from 287 in 2022 to 400 in 2023 – covering around 35% of pupils – and to around 500 in 2024.



40.  The Department’s ambition is for every child, no matter what challenges they face, to have access to a world class education that provides them with the best start in life. On 2 March 2023, the Department published the SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan in response to the Green Paper. The Improvement Plan outlines the approach to building capacity to achieve the behaviours and culture required for the successful implementation of these policy reforms.

41.  The Department will establish a single national system that delivers for every child and young person with SEND so that they enjoy their childhood, achieve good outcomes, and are well prepared for adulthood and employment.

42.  The Department hopes this will give families greater confidence that their child will be able to fulfil their potential through improved mainstream provision in their local school.

43.  For those children and young people with SEND who do require an Education Health and Care Plan and specialist provision, the Department will ensure they have prompt access to the support they need, and that parents do not face an adversarial system to secure this.

44.  The Department will strengthen accountability across the system so that everyone is held to account for supporting children and young people with SEND.

45.  The Department will test key reforms by creating up to nine Regional Expert Partnerships through our £70m Change Programme. Oversight of reform will be driven by a new national SEND and Alternative Provision Implementation Board, jointly chaired by Education and Health Ministers.


International comparisons

46.  The Department actively looks at what we can learn from other countries to support the education system in England at all educational stages. This allows us to compare ourselves to countries facing similar challenges, learn about different policy approaches and explore good practice. The use of international evidence must take account of different factors including socio-economic conditions, education traditions, recent reform trajectories, labour market conditions and institutional arrangements.

47.  England participates in international comparison studies of performance of school aged children: the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the IEA’s Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). This is to: benchmark our education policy and performance against other countries; review system strengths and weaknesses in an international context; and monitor trends over time. This aligns with the Department’s aim to provide the best opportunities for children in every part of the country to help them realise their potential.

48.  A number of DfE reforms since 2010 have been informed by international evidence and the results of international comparison studies. These have included:

49.  The Department’s key bilateral relationships are built on knowledge sharing which includes learning from high performing systems and the sharing of our best practice. We prioritise engagement with key comparator nations to support and inform policy development. This is effected through a range of engagements such as inward visits, outgoing study visits, virtual meetings with policy officials and Ministers, engaging through multilateral forums and through the Education World Forum, which is the world’s largest gathering of education ministers.

50.  The results of international comparison studies show that England performs above the international averages for reading, mathematics and science in all international studies of school-aged pupils, although behind the highest performing countries. In particular, PISA 2018 results showed that performance of 15 year olds improved significantly in mathematics, particularly for lower attaining pupils; reading and science performance remained stable. The gap in performance between the most and least disadvantaged pupils in England was similar to the OECD average, but positively, the proportion of pupils who succeed academically despite their socio-economic background was larger in England than OECD countries, on average. TIMSS 2019 however showed stability in mathematics performance of Year 9 pupils, and a decline in science, though both remain above the international average.

51.  England achieved its highest ever score in primary reading in 2016, moving from joint 10th to joint 8th in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study; this improvement is largely attributable to increases in the average performance of lower-performing pupils and boys. This follows a greater focus on reading in the primary curriculum, and a particular focus on phonics. These are the first international assessment results from a cohort of pupils who have experienced changes in primary curriculum and assessment introduced since the 2010 election. TIMSS 2019 also showed a significant improvement in average mathematics performance of year 5 pupils, with England again achieving its highest ever score.



Curriculum approach

52.  Providing every child with a broad, ambitious, knowledge-rich curriculum, taught by highly skilled teachers is essential to the task of spreading opportunity and levelling up. In turn this ensures that pupils are equipped with the vital knowledge and skills they need to contribute to society and for their future careers, including in important growth sectors like digital and green jobs. It is important that every school has a well designed and well sequenced curriculum which ensures children acquire knowledge in a broad range of subjects and prepares them, after the age of 16, to specialise and succeed in further and higher education or training.


53.  Evidence suggests that academic attainment at school is associated with strong economic benefits. DfE research published in June 2021 found that, for pupils who took their GCSE between 2001-2004, each one grade improvement in attainment is associated with an increase in the present value of lifetime earnings of £8,500 on average, with returns particularly high for mathematics.[5]

54.  From 2013, we reformed the National Curriculum, GCSEs and A levels to set world class standards across all subjects. These reforms were substantial and have made a lasting improvement to qualifications, ensuring they reflect the knowledge and skills pupils need to progress.

55.  Up to the age of 16, young people are taught a broad and balanced, knowledge-rich curriculum, which also provides music, sport, citizenship and cultural opportunities. We reformed GCSEs, from 2013, to ensure they rigorously assess the knowledge pupils have acquired.

56.  Post 16, with this broad grounding, all students are then able to specialise, choosing from the range of high quality academic and technical qualifications that become open to them. This includes our rigorous suite of A levels, T levels and apprenticeships. We are also streamlining and improving the quality of post 16 qualifications at level 3 and below.


National Curriculum

57.  The National Curriculum sets out the subjects and programmes of study which schools are obliged to cover for children of compulsory school age in English maintained schools. It is organised into four Key Stages and twelve subjects, classified in legal terms as ‘core’ and ‘other foundation’ subjects.  

58.  The National Curriculum focuses on the key knowledge that should be taught. Within a broad statutory framework (set out in subject specific programmes of study) schools have considerable flexibility to organise the content and delivery of the curriculum to meet the needs of the majority of their pupils and to take account of new developments, societal changes, or topical issues. In addition to meeting their statutory duties, schools are also free to include other subjects or topics they deem relevant for their pupils, as part of the school’s wider curriculum.

59.  Maintained schools in England are legally required to follow the National Curriculum. Academies and Free Schools have greater freedom and autonomy particularly in  areas such as the curriculum, but they are expected to teach a curriculum that is comparable in breadth and ambition to the National Curriculum, and many choose to teach the full National Curriculum to achieve this.

60.  Curriculum requirements for state-funded schools are set out in the table below:




Key Stage (age)

Key Stage 1 (5-7)

Key Stage 2 (7-11)

Key Stage 3 (11-14)

Key Stage 4 (14-16)
















Art and design















Design and technology

























Physical Education





Religious Education





Relationships Education





Relationships and Sex Education





Health Education







Requirement in all state-funded schools (academies and maintained schools)


Requirement in some state-funded schools via the National Curriculum (maintained schools)


Not a requirement


Knowledge-rich approach

61.  The Government wants pupils to leave school prepared, in the widest sense, for adult life. Our knowledge-rich approach to the National Curriculum engenders the celebration of human creativity and thought and facilitates the acquisition of cultural and intellectual capital and skills for adult life.

62.  In a knowledge-rich curriculum, knowledge acquisition, particularly the mastery of a body of subject specific knowledge, is considered the primary aim. This does not mean teaching knowledge without skills, but is based on an understanding, drawing on evidence from cognitive science, that skills consist of applied knowledge and are therefore domain-specific, rather than generic, meaning they cannot effectively be taught separate from the specific knowledge that underpins them. The development of skills is therefore considered as an outcome rather than the purpose under the knowledge-rich approach.

63.  The Department’s curriculum approach is aligned to the influential work of Professor E. D. Hirsch and others who argue in support of core knowledge. Hirsch argues that it is crucial to provide all pupils with access to a core of broadly shared, societal,  ‘communal’ knowledge to help them develop the intellectual and cultural capital they need to succeed. Hirsch explains that subject specific knowledge forms a foundation for new knowledge to ‘stick’ to, making it easier for pupils to commit new information to long term memory. Pupils who have more relevant prior knowledge therefore find it easier to learn new information, compared to pupils who have less. This can mean that without the right school curriculum, disadvantaged children who often lack access to this communal knowledge may fall behind their more advantaged peers, who have accumulated more of this knowledge at home and therefore find learning easier at school.

64.  The alternative to a knowledge-rich curriculum is a competency-based curriculum. Tim Oates (Group Director of Assessment Research and Development at Cambridge Assessment) outlines why he and others moved away from a competency-based approach in his recent interview with the Times Educational Supplement.[6] In the competency-based approach pupils do not start by acquiring knowledge, as the belief is that the knowledge will come automatically from practising the behaviours or competencies that are the desired outcomes of the programme of study.

65.  Oates argues that this is a highly limiting approach. If pupils rehearse a certain behaviour without learning the underpinning knowledge then they may be able to perform the surface features of that behaviour, but their lack of understanding will prevent them from being able to apply it in more challenging and meaningful contexts. He gives the example of research into the 1979 Three Mile Island disaster, which found that the failure was a failure of knowledge. The staff at the reactor knew how to perform the day-to-day operations, but they did not have an understanding of how the reactor worked and so did not know how to respond when they found themselves in a novel situation.

66.  A flaw of the competency-based approach, according to Oates, is the focus on context over concepts. A common way to deploy a competency-based approach in schools is through project-based or interdisciplinary learning. This sounds appealing, but actually constrains learning. By grounding teaching in a particular context pupils learn about that context but only gain a superficial understanding of the concepts involved. In a knowledge-rich approach you focus on the concepts pupils need to learn, and build a deep understanding by applying them in a range of contexts. For example, an interdisciplinary project might touch on the concept of negative numbers but not explore them in enough detail for pupils to be able to apply negative numbers in another context. Whereas by teaching negative numbers in a range of contexts pupils will acquire a conceptual understanding that leaves them able to use negative numbers in all kinds of contexts in future.

67.  This is why education grounded in subject disciplines is so important. By rooting education in subjects, the curriculum is focused on the concepts that are at the heart of those subjects. An alternative approach may seem more real or relevant, but it limits pupils to gaining only a superficial understanding of the knowledge that is critical for understanding the world.

68.  We want all children to be inspired, confident and motivated at school. A broad, ambitious knowledge-rich curriculum not only achieves this by fostering competence and mastery in each subject, but also inspires pupils by introducing them to the best that has been thought and said, opening up access to their intellectual, cultural and scientific inheritance. As Newton says, “if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”.


Importance of literacy and numeracy

69.  We recognise the importance of mastering the basics of English and mathematics. We believe the cornerstones of a broad, academic, knowledge-rich curriculum are high standards of literacy and numeracy. From early years, throughout a child’s time in school, securing the basics of literacy and numeracy are the gateway to further educational attainment, and fulfilling experiences. This is why we require pupils to continue with English and mathematics until they achieve either GCSE grade 4 or above or Functional Skills level 2 until the age of 18 years old.

70.  Ensuring children can access a broad, rigorous curriculum is why we have placed such an emphasis on standards of reading, writing and mathematics over the past decade; achieving world class levels of literacy and numeracy across the country is our mission for the next decade.  

71.  Good levels of literacy and numeracy enable pupils to engage in depth with a wide range of subjects. Reading comprehension in particular is an important gateway to the wider curriculum. A working paper awaiting peer review found that Colorado pupils attending schools using the Core Knowledge curriculum had significantly improved reading comprehension results relative to comparable peers in other schools. This study furthers the evidence for a knowledge-rich curriculum approach and provides a springboard for additional research in this area.[7] 



72.  The Department’s headline secondary school performance measures, including EBacc and Progress 8, are designed to encourage schools to teach a broad and balanced curriculum, with a focus on an academic core, giving pupils a strong foundation for future study. The measures are designed to help ensure that students keep their options open to follow any path post 16. Schools and colleges should be supporting and preparing their students for future education, training and employment. The Department also includes destination information as headline measures in performance tables to reflect this.

73.  The EBacc consists of a suite of academic GCSE subjects made up of English, mathematics, the sciences, geography or history, and an ancient or modern foreign language. The ‘EBacc entry rate’ performance measure reports on the proportion of pupils entered for the EBacc at school, trust and national level. Pupils of all abilities can benefit from studying the range of subjects the EBacc provides. The subjects that make up the EBacc are based on those which are considered essential for many degrees and open many doors. They provide a sound basis for a variety of careers beyond the age of 16. They can also enrich pupils’ studies and give them a broad general knowledge that will enable them to participate in and contribute to society.

74.  The Government has an ambition for 90% of Year 10 students nationally to be studying the English Baccalaureate by 2025 (for 2027 examination) as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. Since 2010, the proportion of eligible pupils entering the EBacc has increased from 22% to 39% (in 2022); and entry in four of the EBacc’s five subject ‘pillars’ (English, mathematics, science and humanities) has increased to exceed the ambition of 75% uptake by 2022 (for 2024 examination).

75.  Two of the six headline Key Stage 4 performance measures, Progress 8 and Attainment 8, measure success in eight subjects, including English and mathematics (double weighted to reflect their importance), three other English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects and three ‘open’ subjects. The latter provides scope for pupils to study any GCSE subjects or any other approved, high value qualifications. These include GCSEs in non-EBacc subjects, such as citizenship, design and technology, and music. They also include a wide range of technical awards from a list approved by the Department, including Level 1 and 2 qualifications such as technical awards in digital information technology, that equip pupils with applied knowledge and practical skills not usually acquired through general education.

76.  The proportion of Key Stage 4 pupils in state funded schools taking an arts qualification has been broadly stable over the past four years, with over half of pupils entered between academic years 2018/19 and 2021/22.

77.  Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework (EIF) has a strong focus on schools providing a broad, balanced and ambitious curriculum for all of their pupils. Inspectors will evaluate evidence of the intent, implementation and impact of the curriculum to reach a holistic assessment of the quality of education that a school provides to all its pupils. Inspectors will look at whether the school’s aim is to have the EBacc at the heart of its curriculum, in line with the Department’s ambition, and that good progress has been made towards this ambition. Inspectors will also consider whether all pupils, particularly disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND are being prepared for their next stage of education, training or employment at each stage of their learning.


STEM skills

78.  The Department is investing in STEM and technical education to equip young people with the knowledge and skills they need to progress into post 16 education and employment in future digital and green industries, which will be critical to delivering the Government’s Net Zero commitments,[8] and to cementing the UK’s position as a science superpower by 2030.[9]

79.  STEM knowledge and skills are in demand by employers across the country,[10] and demand is growing.[11] STEM skills shortages cost UK employers an estimated £1.5bn a year in recruitment, temporary staffing, inflated salaries, and additional training costs.[12] The digital skills gap alone costs the UK economy £63bn per year in lost GDP.[13]

80.  We know there is further to go to improve teacher recruitment in STEM subjects. That is why we provide bursaries worth £27,000 tax-free and scholarships worth £29,000 tax-free to encourage talented trainees to teach key subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and computing.

81.  Additionally, we provide a Levelling Up Premium, worth up to £3,000 tax-free for mathematics, physics, chemistry and computing teachers in the first five years of their careers who choose to work in disadvantaged schools, including in Education Investment Areas (EIAs). This will support recruitment and retention of specialist teachers in these subjects and in the schools and areas that need them most.

82.  We also support a suite of training and professional development programmes to improve the quality of STEM teaching. To boost the take-up of STEM subjects, we are funding tailored mathematics support through the Maths Hubs and Advanced Mathematics Support Programmes (AMSP), investing over £100m in the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) to drive increased participation in computer science, and funding research programmes on how to tackle gender imbalances in STEM subjects. 

83.  We fund UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) programmes to create a more diverse STEM workforce, including the STEM Ambassadors programme and the CREST Awards.

84.  Mathematics has been the most popular A level subject since 2014. The proportion of A level students entering A level mathematics in 2010 was 25%, which has increased to 30% in 2022 with 87,066 entries (all students in a single academic year). The Prime Minister has set out an ambition to go further - for all young people to study mathematics in some form to age 18. On 17 April 2023, the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Education set out how we will take the next steps towards delivering this mission. This includes appointing an expert advisory group to advise on the essential maths knowledge and skills young people need to study, commissioning research on post-16 maths provision around the world, and IfATE working with employers to review the maths content in apprenticeships.

85.  The number of pupils entered for at least one STEM A level in 2022 was 47.4%, compared to 39.0% in 2010, an increase of more than 8%. Similarly, the proportion of A level students entering a Biology A level has increased from 19% in 2010 to 22% in 2022. The proportion of A level students entering a Chemistry A level has also increased from 15% in 2010 to 18% in 2022 and the proportion of A level students entering a Physics A level has increased from 10% in 2010 to 12% in 2022.


Green skills

86.  Through the education and skills system, the Department is seeking to inspire young people to choose career paths that support the transition to net zero, the restoration of biodiversity and a sustainable future. The Government’s Net Zero Strategy sets out how these skills reforms will support more people into green jobs and help grow future talent pipelines.

87.  At the Autumn 2021 Budget and Spending Review, the Government set out investment of £3.8bn in further education and skills funding over the course of the Parliament as a whole. This includes funding for skills that prepare the workforce for the green economy and ensures people can access high quality training and education that leads to good jobs, addresses skills gaps, boosts productivity, and supports levelling up, providing the green skills crucial to the net zero transition.

88.  In April 2022, the Department for Education published ‘Sustainability and Climate Change: A Strategy for the Education and Children’s Services Systems’. This strategy – which has Green Skills & Careers as one of its 5 key Action Areas – sets out key actions to ensure that young people are inspired to take up green careers, and develop the knowledge base and skills that can lead to those careers.

89.  One of the key initiatives of the strategy is the National Education Nature Park and Climate Action Award. The National Education Nature Park will bring together all the land from across the education sector into a vast virtual nature park.  It will enable children and young people to get involved in taking practical action to improve the biodiversity of their setting and see over time how the virtual park changes. 

90.  The initiatives will provide many educational opportunities for young people to take part in biodiversity monitoring, mapping and data analysis - developing excellent skills for the future, underpinned by a strong foundation in maths. 

91.  The Government also funds the STEM Ambassadors programme, a nationwide network of 37,000 volunteers representing thousands of employers, who engage with young people to increase their interest in STEM subjects and to raise awareness of the range of careers that STEM qualifications provide, including green careers.


Careers advice

92.  We want to ensure that impartial, lifelong careers guidance is available to everyone when they need it, regardless of age, circumstance or background. This will allow everyone to develop skills, progress into work or the next stage of their career and boost long term economic prosperity.

93.  We are investing over £31m in 2023-24 to help young people with high quality careers provision. We have strengthened legislation to ensure all secondary pupils have access to independent and impartial careers guidance and can hear directly from a range of providers of technical education and apprenticeships.

94.  Supported by The Careers & Enterprise Company’s networks of Careers Hubs and employers, secondary schools and colleges are making sustained progress in developing their careers programmes, in line with the Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance. This means that more young people are accessing high quality, tailored advice and guidance, including and more opportunities to learn about skills and apprenticeships, alongside academic options.

95.  90% (4,499) of secondary schools and colleges in England are part of a Careers Hub and 3,503 (70%) are partnered with an Enterprise Adviser (business volunteer) to support the development of career strategies and employer engagement plans.

96.  The Department is continuing to improve the quality of careers provision. There is a strengthened role for Ofsted. In making a judgement about personal development, inspectors consider the quality of careers advice and guidance and how well it benefits pupils in choosing and deciding on their next steps. The Department has asked Ofsted to undertake a review, reporting in Autumn 2023, to provide an up-to-date assessment of careers guidance in schools and colleges and provide recommendations to improve practice. Destination data is published in performance tables, which helps to show how well schools and colleges are preparing young people for adult life.

97.  The Department’s approach is delivering significant improvements in careers guidance and securing better outcomes for young people. Recent evidence from three cohorts of Year 11 leavers (2016/17 – 2018/19) suggests that each of the eight Gatsby Benchmarks achieved reduces the likelihood of any young person being not in education, employment or training (NEET) or in an unknown destination by 1.1%. The relationship is twice as strong in the quarter of schools with the most economically disadvantaged intake, as measured by free school meal entitlement.


Pre-16 vocational and technical education

98.  As set out in the Skills for Jobs White Paper, the Government is committed to improving technical education to address skills gaps in industry by providing young people with the technical knowledge and skills that employers need.


Pre-16 vocational and technical qualifications

99.  Professor Alison Wolf carried out an independent review of vocational education: The Wolf Review of Vocational Education. This report, published in March 2011, considered how vocational education for 14-19 year olds could be improved, and thereby promote successful progression into the labour market and into higher level education and training routes.

100.  Following the Wolf Review in 2011, the Department reformed vocational qualifications at Key Stage 4, enabling students to choose from a variety of appropriate high quality qualifications and build a programme of study that provides them with a comprehensive and respected general education to the age of 16.

101.  In September 2015 the Department introduced a new category of Key Stage 4 qualifications known as Technical Awards. Alongside GCSEs, schools may offer vocational qualifications such as Technical Awards which gives students an opportunity to gain knowledge and skills not usually acquired through GCSEs. Some technical awards are designed to encourage an interest in technical subjects such as engineering and technology, and others to develop practical skills, all of which are valuable as part of a general education.

102.  We introduced the new approvals process for Technical Awards in 2020 to improve the quality of non-GCSE qualifications at Key Stage 4. Only those technical qualifications that meet stretching requirements (as outlined in the technical guidance[14] and in Ofqual’s Qualification Level Conditions[15]), and that have been reviewed by Ofqual and approved by the Department, have been recognised in the 2024 Key Stage 4 performance tables alongside academic qualifications.

103.  With this broad and strong grounding, pupils are then able to specialise at age 16, choosing from a variety of high quality academic and technical qualifications including A levels, T levels and apprenticeships.


Full time provision for 14-16 year olds in further education and sixth form colleges

104.  Since September 2013 colleges have been able to create centres for 14-16 year olds by directly recruiting students in this age group onto full time study programmes. These provide the broad Key Stage 4 curriculum and high quality technical subjects with the aim of attracting students who want early access to practical and technical education in a college setting.

105.  The Department wants to ensure that all young people receive the education that is right for them. Those who are keen to pursue a technical route at 14 should be able to access good quality provision, alongside the core academic Key Stage 4 programme. In some cases, colleges will be able to deliver this better than schools.

106.  Entry requirements for colleges wishing to open 14-16 centres are high. The programme requires that colleges have a ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted overall effectiveness rating. The 2022/23 academic year 14 colleges will be operating 14-16 centres and have been allocated approximately £8.25m in funding for 1,336 students. The performance of 14-16 centres is published in the KS4 performance tables on GOV.UK.[16]



107.  As set out above, we believe that providing every child with a broad, ambitious, knowledge-rich curriculum, taught by highly skilled teachers is essential. The following section sets out the support Government provides and the action it is taking to ensure the curriculum is taught effectively.

Oak National Academy

108.  Oak National Academy was created in April 2020 as a rapid response to the pandemic. Teachers came together to develop video lessons for pupils during periods of lockdown in the pandemic. Building on its success in the pandemic, Oak was established as an Arm's Length Body on 1 September 2022, strategically aligned to, but working independently of, Government.

109.  Oak will support teachers to improve curriculum design and delivery, reduce workload and improve pupil outcomes by providing teachers with high quality, adaptable and optional support which they can tailor to the needs of their school and pupils. It will also continue to provide a remote education contingency. A survey from March 2022 revealed that around half of the surveyed users stated Oak had increased their confidence in curriculum design; 42% of surveyed respondents also said that accessing Oak's resources helped to reduce their workload, with teachers saving on average up to three hours a week[17].

110.  The Government has set aside up to £43m over the three financial years 2022-23 to 2024-25 to support Oak. A significant proportion of this will go to schools, publishers, and other organisations for the creation of new curriculum resources, including £8m for the first round of procurement.

111.  The ongoing monitoring and evaluation – including a planned independent evaluation – of Oak is a priority in its first years of operation.  This will help to establish the impact of its activity on teachers, pupils, and the education sector.

112.  Oak will not enter a range of other thriving sections of the market, such as textbooks or Continuing Professional Development (CPD).  The monitoring of market impact will be treated as a priority.

113.  Oak's first procurement to commission new curriculum packages closed in December 2022. Successful bidders were announced in March 2023. New curriculum resources will be aligned with the National Curriculum and have due regard to the Department’s curriculum guidance.  These resources will be free, adaptable, and optional for teachers to use. The first resources will be available from September 2023, with all resources in this first phase of subjects available from September 2024. In March 2023, Oak announced the details of its Subject Expert Groups, made up of teachers and other curriculum experts whose role will be to provide independent feedback and advice as new resources are developed.


Education Endowment Foundation

114.  The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) was set up by the Government as an independent charity in 2011, through a £125m grant. Its core purpose is to generate and disseminate high quality evidence on what works to improve the progress and attainment of disadvantaged pupils. As of December 2022, it had committed £130m to funding trials and evaluations of over 200 teaching interventions in more than 23,000 schools, nurseries and colleges – involving over 1.8 million children and young people. EEF evidence is widely used across the school sector: in 2022, nine out of ten schools surveyed reported using EEF evidence to aid their decision making, and the organisation was also deemed by far the most useful source of support[18]. In 2022, the Government re-endowed the EEF with a further £137m to support its future, cementing its role in the education landscape for at least the next ten years.



115.  Since 2010 we have reformed the mathematics curriculum and examinations system, moving away from generic and superficial understanding and turning instead to a method informed by the East Asian teaching methods that enable pupils to acquire a deep and long-term understanding of maths and the fluency to perform calculations. This was accompanied by the introduction of a National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, which is now working with a network of 40 Maths Hubs to help local schools improve the quality of their teaching based on best practice. By 2019 we observed improvements in a number of important test results, with England achieving its highest ever score in the 2019 TIMSS international test of Year 5 pupils.

116.  Teaching for Mastery pedagogy, which underpins everything that Maths Hubs do, is based on teaching methods used by top performing East Asian countries. It encompasses a number of approaches focused on ensuring that pupils genuinely know, understand and can apply mathematics - many of which are individually highlighted as effective by Ofsted and others. A randomised controlled trial of the Department’s Centres for Excellence in Maths Programme, which provided mastery teaching support for GCSE resits[19], found it led to increases in GCSE scores for disadvantaged students.

117.  In April 2023 the Secretary of State for Education announced plans to extend the flagship Teaching for Mastery programme, which began in 2016, to reach 65% of secondary schools by 2025. This was accompanied by plans to provide more intensive Maths Hubs support to schools that need it most, ultimately supporting them to adopt evidence-informed mastery pedagogy. These plans sit alongside ongoing work to enhance mathematics teaching in secondary schools. Hubs run projects to bring teachers together across education phases and Key Stages to ensure good progression through the mathematics curriculum, and provide professional development resources to support teaching quality.

118.  Progress in secondary school, however, does not sit in isolation. Maths Hubs work across Key Stages to help make sure pupils are able to develop and build on firm foundations in mathematics. At primary level for example, the Secretary of State for Education's April announcement included the expansion of the primary Teaching for Mastery programme to reach 75% of primary schools by 2025. At the same time the new Mastering Number programme will be expanded to help pupils secure their understanding of multiplication in primary school. For post-16, the Maths Hubs programme will provide support for those teaching Level 2 mathematics at age 16-18, drawing on mastery approaches.



119.  English is a core subject of the National Curriculum and is a requirement from age 5-16. The National Curriculum was revised in September 2014 to ensure that all pupils acquire a wide vocabulary, and a good understanding of grammar and spelling.

120.  Attaining proficient standards in language development and the reading and writing of Standard English are the keys to unlocking the rest of the curriculum and key indicators for future success in further education, higher education and employment.

121.  The first five years of a child’s life provide a critical opportunity to close development gaps between disadvantaged children and their peers, particularly in reception year. Children who are behind in language development at age 5 are six times less likely to reach the expected standard in English at age 11, and about eleven times less likely to achieve the expected level in mathematics at that age. Pupils who struggle to read struggle to keep up in all subjects, not just English. The majority of pupils (78%) who did not reach the expected standard in Key Stage 2 reading did not go on to achieve English GCSE grade 4.

122.  There is sound evidence that systematic phonics is the most effective method for teaching early reading. The evidence indicates that the teaching of phonics is most effective when combined with a language-rich curriculum. By ensuring high quality systematic synthetic phonics teaching the Government wants to improve literacy levels to give all children a solid base upon which to build as they progress through school and help children to develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information.

123.  Since 2010, the Government has driven the effective teaching of phonics and to help schools measure progress has introduced a statutory phonics screening check (PSC) in 2012 for pupils at the end of Year 1. The PSC was introduced as a short assessment designed to confirm whether individual pupils have learnt phonics decoding to an expected standard. Our phonics performance has improved since the tests were introduced. In 2019, 82% of pupils in Year 1 met the expected standard in the phonics screening check, compared to just 58% when the check was introduced (in 2012). For disadvantaged pupils, this has gone from 45% in 2012 to 71% in 2019. 2019 results also showed that by the end of Year 2, 91% of pupils met the expected standard in the phonics screening check.

124.  In 2018, the Department launched the £26.3m English Hubs Programme which was established to improve the teaching of reading, with a focus on supporting those children making the slowest progress in reading, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The 34 English Hubs in the programme are primary schools which are outstanding at teaching early reading. We have since invested a further £17m in this school-to-school improvement programme, which focuses on systematic synthetic phonics, early language, and reading for pleasure. Since its launch, the English Hubs Programme has provided appropriate and targeted support to several thousand schools across England.

125.  The English Hubs are currently delivering intensive support to 847 partner schools, reaching approximately 50,000 pupils in Reception and Year 1, with supported schools containing an above average proportion of Free School Meal pupils along with those schools underperforming in phonics. Over 5,000 schools have been supported through the Medium Level Support (MLS) provision. MLS includes targeted support, CPD and workshops focused on phonics and the teaching of early reading.

126.  In 2021/22 the Department rolled out the Transforming Schools Reading Culture (TSRC) as the centralised MLS provision supporting reading for pleasure.  The first year of delivery was well received. The 2022/23 academic year marks the second year of delivery for the TSRC programme with hubs able to expand recruitment and facilitating larger or multiple cohorts to meet increased demand. The TSRC was developed by hub schools alongside sector experts. The same approach was taken to develop an MLS programme and materials for Early Language which began delivery across the hub network in January 2023.

127.  Within the National Curriculum, the programmes of study for English have been developed to make clear the importance of reading for pleasure. Reading for pleasure brings a range of benefits and there are strong links between reading for pleasure and attainment. The National Curriculum encourages pupils to read more widely outside set texts and aims to inculcate a culture of the habit of regular reading for pleasure in schools. Research suggests that reading for pleasure is more important for children’s educational development than their parents’ level of education. A Centre for Longitudinal Studies study found that children who read for pleasure made more progress in mathematics, as well as vocabulary and spelling, between the ages of 10 and 16 than those who rarely read.[20]

128.  In July 2021, the DfE published the Reading Framework: teaching the foundations of literacy.[21]This is guidance for teachers and school leaders, aimed at improving the teaching of the foundations of reading in primary schools by defining best practice. It aims to support schools to meet existing expectations on early reading, as set out in the National Curriculum and the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage and Ofsted Education Inspection Framework. The Department will publish the Reading Framework part 2, which will provide evidence-informed guidance on good practice in reading for Years 2-9.

129.  The Department has strengthened the Key Stage 4 English programmes of study to ensure all pupils read a wide range of high quality, challenging, classic English Literature. There is a renewed focus on the reading of whole books.

130.  The English Language GCSE provides all students with robust foundations in reading and good written English, and with the language and literary skills that are required for further study and work. The English Literature GCSE rewards students for engaging with a wider range of literature at a deeper level.  The emphasis on grammar, punctuation and spelling continues throughout secondary school. Pupils are expected to use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures with accurate spelling and punctuation, which constitutes 20% of the marks of the overall qualification.



131.  Ensuring that pupils achieve well in science is vital for delivering the Government’s aim to be a science superpower. Improving the quality of science teaching and increasing the number of young people that study science subjects is important in order to address the STEM skills shortage and support the UK economy and its growth.

132.  Science is a compulsory subject in all state funded schools. State maintained schools must teach the science National Curriculum Key Stage 1-4 programmes of study. Other state funded schools such as academies are required to teach science as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. Since the GCSE reforms of 2010 we now have 95% of pupils taking 2 or more GCSEs in science, compared to 63% in 2010.

133.  To improve both the take up and teaching quality of STEM subjects in schools, we have committed substantial spending including funding: 


134.  As part of the Government’s commitment to the vision for a ‘Global Britain’, the Department recognises the importance of reinvesting in international relationships and demonstrating that the UK is open, outward looking and confident on the world stage. This requires mutual inter-cultural understanding and insights, which can be achieved through the fostering of a shared language. Languages are hugely important in broadening pupils’ horizons and improving their employment opportunities.

135.  In 2016, the Department launched its flagship Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP), with the aim of having 5,000 pupils on track to fluency in Mandarin by 2020. This target has been achieved and there are now over 8,600 pupils on the programme. £20.4m has been spent on the programme since 2016 which supports schools and teachers to deliver intensive 8 hours of Mandarin study per week. During the 2023/24 academic year the MEP will expand further, from 79 schools to 100 schools.. In 2021, 97% of MEP pupils achieved Level 5 and above and 45% achieved Level 9 in AQA GCSE Chinese, compared to 91% and 40% respectively nationally.

136.  Between December 2018 and March 2023, the Department provided £5.1m for the MFL Pedagogy Pilot, managed by the National Centre for Excellence in Languages Pedagogy (NCELP) out of the University of York. During the first three years of delivery, NCELP provided support to 36 partner schools via 9 lead schools with the aim of increasing the number of pupils opting to take a language GCSE by improving languages teaching at Key Stages 3 and 4 in these schools. As part of this, full Schemes of Work and associated resources were created for Years 7, 8, and 9 in each of French, German, and Spanish. In the fourth year of the contract, NCELP delivered free Continuous Professional Development courses to over 950 languages teachers nationally, prioritising curriculum design and pedagogy, as well as support in implementing the revised French, German, and Spanish GCSEs.

137.  In January 2022, the Department published updated subject content for French, German, and Spanish GCSEs. The revised content is intended to encourage more students to take up these important subjects, broadening their horizons and improving their employment opportunities. The changes will make modern foreign language GCSEs more well-rounded for both teachers and pupils, by prioritising the foundational building blocks of learning a language, particularly vocabulary and grammar. Awarding organisations are currently in the process of developing their specifications, ahead of the first teaching date of September 2024 (for examinations 2026).

138.  The £3.9m Latin Excellence Programme (LEP) was launched in September 2022 and is delivered by the National Centre of Excellence and run by Future Academies. The aim of the LEP is to improve pupils’ attainment through increased access to, and uptake of, GCSE in Latin, whilst also contributing to pupils’ broader classics education. The National Centre of Excellence will work with up to 40 schools across the country to support high quality Key Stage 3 and 4 teaching, using a common curriculum which teachers will be trained to deliver by the Centre.

139.  In March 2023, the Department launched its new Language Hubs programme. The programme will be comprised of up to 25 lead hub schools, all of which will work with other schools to improve standards of language teaching across the country in line with recommendations of the Teaching Schools Council’s 2016 modern foreign languages pedagogy review. Managed by the National Consortium for Languages Education, the hubs will seek to increase the number of pupils studying languages to GCSE level and beyond. This will include providing CPD, training, and support for languages teachers nationwide, improving transition from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3, increasing opportunities among disadvantaged pupils to study languages, and increasing access to home, heritage, and community languages.

140.  As part of the Language Hubs programme, NCLE, supported by the Goethe-Institut, will manage a distinct German Promotion Project (GPP). This element of the programme seeks to improve the profile of German in schools, raising awareness of the benefits of studying it. Through the GPP, the Goethe-Institut will recruit and train a team of German Expert Mentors (GEMs), who will provide 1:1 support to German teachers across England to build their knowledge and skills.



Computing Curriculum

141.  Computing was introduced as a statutory National Curriculum subject in 2014. The computing curriculum, taught from Key Stages 1 to 4, provides young people with the essential knowledge and skills to succeed as active participants in a digital world, and to help meet the needs of the future digital economy in shortage areas such as programming. This replaced the previous ICT curriculum, which was widely regarded as outdated and as failing to prepare pupils for further study, employment or life in a world increasingly dependent upon technology.

142.  Computing is compulsory in all maintained schools which are required to follow the National Curriculum. Academies and Free Schools must be able to demonstrate that they are teaching a broad and balanced curriculum and may use the National Curriculum as an exemplar.

143.  The computing curriculum is designed to ensure that all pupils learn the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, digital literacy and ICT. England was one of the first G20 countries to introduce coding into the primary curriculum, with pupils taught how to analyse problems in computational terms and write simple computer programs, from the age of 5 onwards. Pupils are taught block based programming as part of the primary curriculum, and graduate to text based programming languages in early secondary (Key Stage 3).


144.  To support longevity in the content, given the speed of technological advancement, the broad set of principles outlined in the computing programmes of study were designed to avoid over prescription and early obsolescence. The computing curriculum is deliberately broad to allow flexibility for schools to innovate in how the content is taught, so that teachers can include topics they wish to cover, which can include generative AI, the use of large language models or other relevant topics.



Computer Science GCSE

145.  Computer science is a relatively new subject, which saw a rapid increase in pupil entries during its first six years. Pupil entries in England have risen from 4,021 in 2013 to 78,450 in 2022.

146.  GCSE computer science is designed to equip pupils with the knowledge they will need for the jobs of the future and to be active creators of digital technology. It aims to enable students to understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, analyse problems in computational terms, understand the fundamental concepts of programming languages and understand the components that make up digital systems. They also study the impacts of digital technology to the individual and to wider society, how to apply mathematical skills relevant to computer science, and to develop an understanding of cyber security.


National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE)

147.  In November 2018, the Department launched the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE), to improve the teaching of computing and to increase pupil participation in computer science GCSE and A level. The NCCE provides free high quality CPD that links directly to the computing curriculum programmes of study, and the computer science GCSE and A level subject content. CPD is available through a network of 30 school led computing hubs and is available to both primary and secondary school teachers and leaders. Notably, NCCE CPD includes the Computer Science Accelerator programme, which, to date, has equipped over 7,800 teachers with the subject knowledge they need to teach the computer science GCSE. 

148.  In addition, the NCCE has developed free, high quality, online teaching resources that are mapped to the content of the computing curriculum and GCSE computer science specifications. The resources were developed by subject experts, and include sequenced lesson plans and assessments, which can be adapted for the needs of all pupils. The NCCE reported that 84% of teachers using the resources said they had improved their quality of teaching[22]. To date, these resources have been downloaded 1.7m times by teachers in English schools.

149.  The work of the NCCE is informed by computer science academics and experts, including Simon Peyton Jones OBE, a renowned British computer scientist who helped to develop the computing curriculum and specialises in the application and implementation of functional programming languages. They ensure that all CPD and resources are underpinned by rigorous, computer science knowledge and expertise, and promote robust evidence based teaching approaches, as set out in their ‘12 principles of Computing Pedagogy’[23]

150.  The Department is investing over £100m into the NCCE, to ensure pupils and teachers can continue to benefit from this support through to August 2025.



Digital Skills

151.  The computing curriculum ensures that pupils are taught how to evaluate, select and apply information technology, including new or unfamiliar technologies. It also ensures that pupils are taught how to be responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology, who are able to express themselves and develop their ideas through information and communication technology, at a level suitable for the workplace and as active participants in a world increasingly dependent upon the use of digital technologies. 

152.  The NCCE supports the teaching of all aspects of the computing curriculum through the computing hub network and its dedicated CPD and resources.


History and Geography

153.  History and Geography remain important foundation subjects in the 2014 National Curriculum from Key Stage 1 to 3, and at Key Stage 4, they form the basis of the EBacc humanities pillar, with newly reformed GCSEs in history, ancient history and geography introduced in 2016.

154.  A knowledge-rich approach to history teaching introduced from 2014 means pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. With this knowledge, pupils are then better equipped to develop more sophisticated perspectives on our past.

155.  Similarly, a knowledge-rich approach to geography teaching introduced from 2014 means pupils gain a rich understanding of diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, together with a deep understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes. Pupils can then use this knowledge to deepen their understanding of the interaction between physical and human processes over time, including allowing them to understand how we all contribute to a cleaner, safer, greener world.

156.  With the introduction of the EBacc, the proportion of pupils in mainstream state-funded schools taking GCSE history, ancient history or geography already exceeds the 75% ambition set for 2022 (for examination 2024).


Model History Curriculum 

157.  In promoting a knowledge-rich approach to history teaching, the Government plans to go further. The Model History Curriculum announced in October 2021 will be non-statutory guidance to support the teaching of the National Curriculum in history. It will support teachers to make sure all children can benefit from the breadth and depth of content already in the National Curriculum.

158.  The model curriculum will be designed to support and exemplify the teaching of a high quality, knowledge-rich and diverse history curriculum. It will include how Britain has influenced and been influenced by different societies and communities. It will also reflect the richness of world history – teaching pupils about societies and civilisations both within and beyond Europe.

159.  The Expert Panel advising on the model curriculum was published in July 2022. The panel of 18 includes history curriculum experts, historians and school leaders and is chaired by Dr Michael Kandiah, Lecturer in Contemporary British History at King’s College London. The lead drafter is Christine Counsell, an independent education consultant and leading authority on both history education and knowledge-rich approaches to curriculum.


Music and the arts

160.  Music and the arts remain important foundation subjects in the 2014 National Curriculum and newly reformed GCSEs in art and design, music, dance, drama and film studies introduced in 2016 and 2017. With all state funded schools required to teach a broad and balanced curriculum which includes cultural development, the Government expects all state-funded schools to teach a knowledge-rich and ambitious curriculum that includes music and the arts. Music and Art and Design are both National Curriculum subjects in their own right, from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 3, while drama is included in the National Curriculum and dance is included in the Physical Education National Curriculum.

161.  Over and above core schools funding, over the last six years, the Department has committed over £714m of funding from financial years 2016-17 to 2021-22 in a diverse portfolio of music and arts education programmes to ensure all children have access to a high quality education, in music and arts, including the Music Hubs programme and the Music and Dance Scheme.

162.  In going further, the Schools White Paper set out: As part of a richer school week, all children should be entitled to take part in sport, music and cultural opportunities… The Department will also publish a cultural education plan in 2023, working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England.’

163.  The Cultural Education Plan aims to articulate and highlight the importance of high quality cultural education in schools, promote the social value of cultural and creative education, outline and support career progression pathways, address skills gaps and tackle disparities in opportunity and outcome.

164.  To commence this work, the Government announced last year that Baroness Bull would chair the Expert Advisory Panel. Baroness Bull has had extensive expertise in the arts, both as a performer in the Royal Ballet, within creative leadership at the Royal Opera House and in governance roles on the boards of the South Bank Centre and Arts Council England. Government expects to announce further details about the Panel shortly.

165.  In relation to music education, in June 2022, the Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport co-published the National Plan for Music Education (NPME). This sets out the Government’s vision to enable all children and young people in England to ‘learn to sing, play an instrument and create music together, and have the opportunity to progress their musical interests and talents, including professionally.’ It addresses how we will achieve this vision by 2030, emphasising the importance of partnerships between education settings, music hubs, music organisations working with young people, the creative sector including the music industry. The NPME builds on, the Model Music Curriculum[24], non-statutory guidance published in 2021, to support schools to teach music to pupils at Key Stages 1, 2 and 3.

166.  The NPME sets out how schools should deliver high quality music teaching from Key Stages 1 to 3, drawing on the Model Music Curriculum or a curriculum that is similar in breadth and ambition. We want to see at least one hour a week of music teaching in schools, supported by co-curricular learning, and musical experiences. This will take time to realise and Music Hubs will be a vital support to all schools. Music Hubs support schools across England with music education provision, for example with CPD, whole class music and instrument lessons, singing strategies, ensembles, choirs and an affordable instrument loan service. The Plan also introduces new strategic functions, so every Music Hub will build a sustainable local ‘eco-system’ for music education, through partnerships, and with progression, access and inclusion central to their work.

167.  As part of the NPME, it was announced that the Music Hub programme, specifically the role of Music Hubs lead organisation, would be opened up to a competition. Since the announcement the Department has engaged the sector on proposals for how it intends to change how Music Hubs operate across the country. Newly competed Music Hubs lead organisations will be in place for academic year 2024/25.

168.  The Department is also investing around £115m per annum in music and arts education over three years to 2025. This includes £79m per year for the Music Hubs programme over three years up to and including 2024-2025. As part of the NPME, the Department also announced new funding of £25m capital funding for musical instruments and equipment, to maximise accessibility for children and young people.


Design and Technology (D&T)

169.  D&T is an engaging and rewarding subject taught as part of a broad and balanced curriculum.  It is compulsory in maintained schools from Key Stage 1 to 3 and it can encourage young people to pursue careers in design, engineering, and manufacturing.  It is one of the few subjects that gives pupils the opportunity to experience practical application of mathematics, science, and computing.

170.  The curriculum, launched in September 2014, has been developed to be rigorous. This will help to provide the skills pupils need to become the next generation of British designers and engineers. Pupils are taught the skills and expertise to design and make products and analyse the work of leading designers from the past and present. There is substantial use of design equipment to keep pupils up to speed with the fast-changing high technology industry, for example 3D printers, laser cutters and robotics.

171.  The D&T curriculum provides flexibility and encourages schools to use a wide range of industrial, commercial, and domestic contexts for their teaching and to make use of local resources. Using creativity and imagination, pupils design and make products that solve real and relevant problems within a variety of contexts, considering their own and others’ needs, wants, and values.

172.  We worked closely with key organisations in the sector, such as the James Dyson Foundation, the Design and Technology Association and the Royal Academy of Engineering on developing the curriculum. This ensures the content of the D&T curriculum, and qualifications sets out the knowledge and skills sought by leading employers and are aligned with up-to-date industry practice.

173.  D&T was introduced as a compulsory GCSE subject in the 1989 National Curriculum, but this was reversed in 2000. Since then, the number of GCSE entries has dropped consistently and significantly. Some individuals in the sector speculate that the creation of the EBacc contributed to the decline however the probable cause of the decline in D&T entries was making the subject non-compulsory in 2000, and not the EBacc.

174.  Whilst D&T entry levels have declined, there are signs they may be plateauing, broadly in line with other non-EBacc subjects. When compared with other non-EBacc subject entry numbers, D&T remains among the more popular.


175.  To help address teacher shortages in this area, we have increased the tax-free bursary for trainee teachers to £20,000 for D&T for 2023/4.


Physical Education (PE)

176.  PE is a vital part of a broad and balanced education, which is why it is part of the National Curriculum up to and including Key Stage 4.

177.  In secondary school PE, pupils should build on and embed the physical development and skills learned in Key Stages 1 and 2, becoming more competent, confident, and expert in their techniques, applying them across different sports and physical activities. They should understand what makes a performance effective and how to apply these principles to their own and others’ work. They should develop the confidence and interest to get involved in exercise, sports and activities both inside and out of school. Pupils should understand the long-term health benefits of physical activity, allowing them to apply this knowledge and experience in later life. They should get involved in a range of activities that develop personal fitness and promotes an active, healthy lifestyle.

178.  On 8 March 2023, Prime Minister and Education Secretary made a series of announcements about PE which included an announcement that: ‘The Government is encouraging schools to offer a minimum of 2 hours curriculum PE time so that pupils can experience the benefits of regular exercise – from becoming healthier both mentally and physically to better academic achievement and improved attainment. With the support of the Football Association and other sporting organisations, the Government will identify schools that offer a minimum of 2 hours PE and equal access for girls to sport during curriculum time and additional extracurricular activities and will share good practice. This will help all schools to improve their provision despite wider pressures.’


Life skills

179.  The curriculum provides many opportunities for schools to teach important life skills for example through Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE), Citizenship, and extra-curricular activities.  

180.  The statutory curriculum for RSHE – introduced in September 2020 – promotes the development of important life skills while enabling schools to reflect a diversity of views and backgrounds. The curriculum fosters respect for others, an understanding of healthy relationships, and an understanding of mental and physical health. 

181.  In primary schools, age-appropriate Relationships Education involves supporting children to learn about what healthy relationships are and their importance, as well as how to develop mutually respectful relationships in all contexts, including online. 

182.  In secondary schools, this broadens to become age-appropriate Relationships and Sex Education and will include factual knowledge around sex, sexual health, and sexuality, set firmly within the context of relationships. We expect young people to learn what a positive, healthy relationship can look like, about consent and how to keep themselves safe in a variety of situations.

183.  In Health Education, there is a strong focus on mental wellbeing, including a recognition that mental wellbeing and physical health are linked. 

184.  Work on monitoring the implementation of RSHE over time, including measuring teacher confidence in teaching the statutory requirements is underway. It includes undertaking a national survey of school leaders, RSHE leads and RSHE teachers, supported by qualitative research with school staff and pupils. The final report will be published in 2024. 

185.  The Government has also started a review of the RSHE statutory guidance. This includes engaging stakeholders, including schools, parents and pupils, over the coming months. The review will cover the full scope of the statutory guidance, as was promised when it was initially published in 2020.

186.  Through teaching of citizenship – a statutory subject in the National Curriculum for 11-16 year olds – pupils develop knowledge and understanding about society and democracy, finance and the economy, rights and responsibilities alongside essential skills, aptitudes, values and dispositions including the promotion of a more inclusive, equal society and to challenge stereotypes and all forms of discrimination. 

187.  Active citizenship is at the heart of the citizenship programme of study. This includes the roles played by public institutions and voluntary groups in society, the ways in which citizens work together to improve their communities, and opportunities to participate in school based activities and community volunteering. 

188.  Citizenship sits alongside extra-curricular programmes to develop life skills such as resilience, leadership, persistence and teamwork in their pupils so that they are ready for adult life in modern Britain. This includes activities that help pupils understand what it is to be a citizen of the UK. 

189.  Many schools also promote the development of life skills through wider extra-curricular activities, including participating in programmes such as the National Citizen Service, the Duke of Edinburgh scheme and the Cadet Expansion programme which enable young people to develop key skills such as responsibility, teamwork, self-reliance, and understand the importance of serving others. 



190.  The Department is committed to ensuring children and young people have access to high quality enrichment opportunities. These are an important part of a rich educational experience and can bring wider benefits to young people's wellbeing. 

191.  Schools are best placed to understand and meet the needs of their pupils and have flexibility to decide what range of extra-curricular activities to offer. Both pupil premium and recovery premium can be used to fund enrichment activities and in March 2022 the Department updated guidance to make this clear to schools. Schools can choose how they wish to use this funding in line with a menu of approaches.  

192.  The Department supports a range of initiatives to expand access to high quality extra-curricular activities. These include investing over £200m a year in the Holiday Activities and Food programme, working with Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) to offer the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to all state secondary schools in England, and supporting the expansion of the Cadets programme.

193.  The DfE are also working with DCMS to help schools ensure their pupils are getting the most out of the National Youth Guarantee, which commits to giving every young person access to regular clubs and activities, adventures away from home and opportunities to volunteer by 2025.



Purpose and solid basis for GCSEs

194.  GCSEs are longstanding, credible and well respected. They provide the basis for an academically focused curriculum from 14-16. They aim to: enable pupils to demonstrate their attainment; support pupil progression; and give a basis for school performance accountability. 

195.  GCSEs are widely recognised and trusted, with support from 75% of those surveyed as part of Ofqual's most recent public perceptions and confidence study.

196.  That trust is based on a long history of assessment at age 16, which has existed since at least 1918 when the School Certificate was introduced, through to the introduction of O levels in 1951, CSEs in 1965 and GCSEs in 1988.

197.  GCSEs have retained their relevance ever since, as qualifications which are universal and designed to assess pupils across the full range of abilities, and have become a powerful mainstay of the education system.

198.  Around half of students change institution at age 16, and it is because they have a shared and recognised qualification that they are able to transition easily post 16.

199.  GCSEs also equip students to move directly into employment or apprenticeships at age 16 with a qualification in hand.


Purpose and main features of reform process

200.  The Department reformed and strengthened GCSEs from 2013 to address concerns from schools, colleges, universities and employers that the previous qualifications did not adequately prepare young people for the demands of the workplace and higher study.

201.  The reformed GCSEs rigorously assess the knowledge acquired by pupils during Key Stage 4 and are aligned with the revised National Curriculum taught from 2014. They are also in line with expected standards in countries with high performing education systems.

202.  These reforms reflect this Government’s broader vision for education - that young people should be able to access a broad and balanced, academically focused curriculum up until the age of 16. The Department believes pupils should be introduced to the best that has been thought and said, familiarising them with the essential knowledge they need to be educated citizens.

203.  The Department consulted widely with schools, colleges, universities and employers, both on the principles for reform and the detail of the content of individual subjects, to help them prepare for their introduction. 

204.  Key aspects of the reforms were:

205.  Over the years these reforms and others have created a gold standard system which is respected around the world. These reforms were substantial and designed to last and we have no plans for further wholesale reform.


Assessment approaches

206.  Examinations are the best and fairest way of judging students’ performance and for students to show what they know and can do. They provide an even playing field with everyone being assessed on the same thing in the same amount of time.   

207.  Examinations have a level of impartiality that other forms of assessment do not have. Candidates sit the same exam paper at the same time and they are marked in the same way, and, crucially, they are marked anonymously. The view of the independent qualifications regulator, Ofqual, was that non-exam assessment (NEA) should only be used when it is the only valid way to assess essential elements of the subject.  

208.  The move to a linear exams system during the reform process from 2013 was designed to encourage a deeper understanding of the material and facilitate greater preparation for further study, rather than a focus on preparing for module resits. Testing how much a student knows at the end of the course, rather than throughout the course, would also be fairer as it allows them to show their accumulated knowledge and understanding across all topics. 



209.  The number of secondary school teachers is 213,567 full time equivalent teachers in November 2021, 3,700 more than 2020. This is the highest level since 2014/15.

210.  The Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy (2019) set out a comprehensive plan to make it easier for great people to become teachers, to boost recruitment and to improve retention. The Department set out its ambition to do more in the 2022 Schools White Paper: committing to raising starting salaries to £30,000 and delivering 500,000 teacher training and development places by 2024, giving all teachers and school leaders access to world class, evidence based training and professional development at every stage of their career.

211.  Recruiting into secondary teaching has been more challenging than recruiting primary teachers: while in the past 5 Initial Teacher Training (ITT) recruitment cycles, the Department has generally met its targets in primary recruitment, performance has been less consistent in secondary. In 2021/22, 59% of the Post Graduate Initial Teacher Training (PGITT) target was achieved in secondary subjects – a decrease from 79% in 2021/22. The retention rate is more consistent across primary and secondary schools (in the 2021/22 census, the retention rate was 8.0% for secondary and 7.8% for primary). Improving both recruitment performance and addressing barriers to retention are key priorities for the Department.

212.  This is why, as well as introducing system-wide reforms to training and development, the Department is implementing strategies targeted at recruitment and retention in those secondary subjects where the challenge is most acute.


Financial incentives and pay

213.  The recruitment challenge in secondary is variable by subject.  Some subjects attract strong interest and regularly perform above our target (such as History, Classics and PE), but other subjects regularly under-perform against targets, such as Design and Technology, Physics and Modern Foreign Languages

214.  To encourage talented trainees to apply to train in key secondary subjects with long-standing shortages such as chemistry, computing, mathematics, and physics, the Department has made available an ITT financial incentives package worth up to £181m for trainees starting courses in academic year 2023/24, a £52m increase on the package announced for 2022/23. 

215.  The Department has also introduced the Levelling Up Premium, worth up to £3,000 tax-free for mathematics, physics, chemistry and computing teachers in the first five years of their careers who choose to work in disadvantaged schools, including in Education Investment Areas (EIAs). This will support recruitment and retention of specialist teachers in these subjects and in the schools and areas that need them most.

216.  The Department’s wider pay offer supports recruitment and retention for teachers of all subjects. For the 2022/23 academic year, the Department implemented in full the School Teachers’ Review Body’s (STRB) recommendations of an 8.9% uplift to starting salaries outside London, raising them to £28,000. This was as well as the 5% uplift for experienced teachers and leaders in the 2022/23 academic year, the highest award for experienced teachers in the last 30 years. 

217.  The Department published its written evidence to the STRB on 21 February 2023. It set out how the Government’s ambition of £30,000 starting salaries can be achieved in September 2023, following the significant progress made through last year’s teachers’ pay award. An attractive starting salary is important to recruiting high quality graduates to the profession. International evidence supports this link between higher starting pay and recruiting teachers who are more effective at raising pupil attainment on average.[25]


Training and professional development 

218.  High quality training and professional development enable teachers and leaders to feel supported to stay and build their careers. The Department has transformed the way teachers and school leaders are trained through wide ranging reforms which together will create a ‘golden thread’ of high quality evidence underpinning the support, training and development available through the entirety of a teacher’s career. This begins with Initial Teacher Training (ITT) through to the implementation of an ECF based induction for early career teachers (ECTs) and National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) for more experienced professionals. 

219.  The ECF (Early Career Framework) reforms were rolled out nationally in September 2021, entitling all ECTs in England to access high quality professional development from the start of their career paths. This was designed to help new teachers feel more confident and in control. The reforms are backed by over £130m a year in funding.

220.  The Department has publicly committed to reviewing the initial teacher training (ITT) Core Content Framework (CCF) and Early Career Framework (ECF) alongside each other. Building on learning from the first few years of ECF delivery, the Department plans to review and revise the ITT CCF and ECF into more closely combined frameworks.

221.  Other changes that the Department is undertaking to improve participant experiences include creating new materials for school leaders, mentors and early career teachers (ECTs) to answer common questions about induction and ECF-based training; reviewing materials to make them as user friendly as possible; and working with the lead providers to allow greater flexibility in the timing of mentor training. 

222.  As part of our teacher development reforms, the Department has introduced a fully funded new suite of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs). The qualifications have been designed with professionals in mind, using the latest and best available evidence, and can be completed flexibly around existing commitments. As part of the Government’s long-term education recovery plan, £184m of new funding will enable 150,000 professionals employed at state-funded organisations across the sector to access fully funded training scholarships for NPQs. This support has been extended to enable professionals to undertake the qualifications in academic years 2022/23 and 2023/24.  

223.  The Department’s evaluations of CPD programmes[26] provide some preliminary evidence that CPD is having a positive influence on teacher retention teachers’ perceived influence over their CPD is associated with improved job satisfaction and intention to stay in teaching.


Flexible working, workload and wellbeing

224.  The opportunity to work flexibly supports retention, yet there is an unmet demand for flexible working in the sector and implementing flexible working in schools can pose challenges. NFER (2022) analysis of 2020 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings data[27] shows that around a fifth of full-time teachers who left moved into part-time work in their new role. 

225.  In the 2021/22 academic year, 24% of teachers were listed in the School Workforce Census as working part time.[28] In the 2023 Working Lives of Teachers and Leaders survey, 4 in 10 teachers and leaders (40%) reported using some form of flexible working arrangement themselves, whether formal or informal.[29]  

226.  To support flexible working practice in the sector, the Department published resources on GOV.UK, including non-statutory guidance and case studies. In February 2023, the Government announced a culture change programme to embed flexible working in schools and trusts. The programme will include the appointment of up to 12 funded flexible working ambassador schools and trusts to provide bespoke peer support to leaders in education.

227.  The Department has an ongoing programme of research to help broaden our understanding of flexible working in schools and to target future intervention. This includes a planned evaluation of the Department’s funded flexible working programme 2023-2025 to explore programme experiences, potential impact, and to inform our future flexible working strategy.

228.  Workload is a longstanding and complex issue and is the most common reason cited by 92% of teachers considering leaving in the next 12 months (compared to 57% citing dissatisfaction with pay).[30] The Department is committed to working with schools and trusts to understand the drivers behind workload and wellbeing issues and support teachers and leaders to focus on activities that best support pupil outcomes. The Department will continue to promote our school workload reduction toolkit and encourage to schools to sign up to the Education Staff Wellbeing Charter as a shared commitment to promote staff wellbeing and drive down unnecessary workload.


Initial Teacher Training reform

229.  The Department wants all ITT providers to deliver consistently high quality ITT in line with the CCF, in a more efficient and effective market, and to this end commissioned an expert advisory group to undertake a review of the ITT market in 2021. The review report included 14 recommendations which the Department consulted on, and as part of the response, the Department published new Quality Requirements for ITT. These Quality Requirements in the areas of curriculum, mentoring and support, assessment, quality assurance and partnerships will form part of the ITT criteria and must be embedded into all ITT courses leading to QTS that commence from September 2024 onwards. All ITT courses that lead to QTS will continue to be inspected by Ofsted.

230.  Following a rigorous accreditation process by the Department and Ofsted in 2022, 179 providers were awarded accreditation for courses starting from September 2024. The resulting ITT market will provide high quality ITT in every region of the country from September 2024. The Department is also supporting the accredited to expand their provision through partnerships – we are offering a partnership grant in priority areas and have published guidance to help with the process. It remains a priority to continue to review market supply beyond 2024, particularly in areas that have had historically low trainee numbers.


Routes into teaching

231.  The Department is driving an ambitious transformation programme to overhaul the process of becoming a teacher. The Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy committed the Department to radically simplifying the process for becoming a teacher. To this end, the Department has now rolled out our fully in-house recruitment journey. Find Postgraduate Teacher Training Courses and Apply for Teacher Training were gradually rolled out from 2019, and all applications to mainstream postgraduate teacher training courses in England are now made through the Department’s owned services. Not only does this deliver a more streamlined, user-friendly application route for applicants, it also provides the Department with real-time access to data on candidate and provider behaviour. This data and insight has led to the Department implementing several changes to the application journey, including changing the references process and increasing the number of choices applicants have. The Department is also making new data available to the sector to drive behavioural changes and maximise candidates’ chances of success.

232.  To ensure teaching is an accessible career for future potential teachers from all backgrounds, the Department is using the data it collects from our digital services to identify and address the barriers candidates face in applying to teacher training. The Department will continue to work with schools and universities who provide teacher training to make the application process accessible to all candidates, regardless of their backgrounds.

233.  The Department has three core routes into teaching (undergraduate fee funded, postgraduate fee funded, and salaried) and has created a range of specialist programmes to encourage and support trainees from diverse backgrounds.

234.  Salaried routes are an important driver of teacher sufficiency, and the Department invests in two salaried routes into teaching: School Direct Salaried and the Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship. Both provide the opportunity for people to earn and learn whilst obtaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Additionally, the Department is working closely with the Institute for Technical Education (IfATE) and the sector to design an attractive and high quality undergraduate apprenticeship route enabling those without a degree the opportunity to enter the teaching profession while earning a salary. This would enable employing schools to benefit from Government funding to support the training and development of the apprentices, therefore aiding teacher sufficiency.

235.  The High Potential Initial Teacher Training (HPITT) programme, currently delivered by Teach First, targets the brightest and best graduates who would otherwise be unlikely to join the profession and places them in schools of greatest need. Up to and including the 2022 cohort, 18850 trainees have been recruited to the HPITT/Teach First programme since 2002.  Recruitment to HPITT currently represents between 4% and 6% of annual ITT recruitment.

236.    The Department funds a bespoke programme for career changers that targets highly experienced professionals, who may not otherwise consider teaching but can add significant value in schools.

237.  The Department launched a pilot initial teacher training course in spring 2022 called ‘Engineers teach physics’. It was designed to encourage engineering graduates and career changers with an engineering background to consider a career as a physics teacher. Following the first-year pilot for ‘Engineers teach physics’, the Department has rolled it out to all providers nationally in its second year.

238.  The Department funds subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) programmes, which are designed to help ITT applicants in key subjects to gain the depth of subject knowledge needed to train to teach their chosen subject and meet Standard 3 of the Teachers’ Standards (Subject Knowledge).[31]


3 May 2023




[2] The standards are available here:


[4] 5 steps to mental wellbeing - NHS (


[6] Tim Oates: in defence of knowledge | Tes

[7] A Kindergarten Lottery Evaluation of Core Knowledge Charter Schools: Should Building General Knowledge Have a Central Role in Educational and Social Science Research and Policy? | EdWorkingPapers

[8] Net Zero Strategy (2021), support up to 190,000 jobs by 2025, and up to 440,000 jobs by 2030, p. 17.

[9] UK Science and Technology Framework (2023), Talent and Skills Framework, p. 11.

[10] Skills and Productivity Board (2022) Understanding current and future skills needs, p. 12.

[11] Skills and Productivity Board (2022) Understanding current and future skills needs, p. 12.

[12] STEM Learning (2018) STEM Skills Indicator, p. 2.

[13] DCMS (2022) UK Digital Strategy, p.36.

[14] 14 to 19 technical and applied qualifications: technical guidance - GOV.UK (

[15] Regulating Performance Table Qualifications - GOV.UK (


[17] Teacher Tapp survey response to the question ‘In the past week, how much time have you spent searching online for resources?’: Working hours, World Book Day and the ideal GCSE course length! - Teacher Tapp (March 2022).

[18] School and College Panel – March 2022 wave (

[19] Centres for Excellence in Maths - The Education and Training Foundation (

[20] UCL IoE Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Reading for Pleasure Impact Case Study (2015) 

[21] The reading framework: teaching the foundations of literacy - GOV.UK (

[22] National Centre for Computing Education Impact Report 2018-2022

[23] Pedagogy-principles.pdf (

[24] Teaching music in schools - GOV.UK (


[26] The evaluations referenced are: NPQs 2017: Evaluation of the 2017 National Professional Qualifications;

NPQs (reformed): Emerging findings from the evaluation of National Professional Qualifications: interim report 1;

ECF: Early career framework induction evaluation;

TLIF: Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund (TLIF) evaluation and project reports

[27] NFER, 2022 analysis of 2020 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings data:

[28] School Workforce Census:

[29] IFF Research, 2023. ‘Working Lives of Teachers and Leaders – Wave 1’:

[30] IFF Research, 2023. ‘Working Lives of Teachers and Leaders – Wave 1’:

[31] Teachers’ Standards: