"Schools that work for everyone" - the government's consultation paper at a glance

13 September 2016


Ten policy proposals 

The consultation proposes “a series of reforms to encourage high performing institutions – independent schools, higher education institutions, selective and faith schools – to help improve the quality of school places in the mainstream and state sector.”

ASCL will be doing a full response to the consultation, but it is important to note that we fundamentally reject this premise. It is simply not true that the only high performing institutions in England are independent schools, higher education institutions, selective and faith schools. At the end of March 2016, 86% of state schools were judged good or outstanding. 

We would encourage all ASCL members to respond to the consultation that runs until 12 December. You can respond to the consultation online

The proposals are broken down into four categories: independent schools, universities, selective schools and faith schools.

Independent schools

1. Strengthen charitable requirements – independent schools with the capacity and capability should meet one of two expectations in recognition of the benefits of their charitable status:

  • They should sponsor academies or set up a new free school in the state sector.


  • Offer a certain proportion of places as fully-funded bursaries to “those who are insufficiently wealthy to pay fees.”

Smaller independent schools will be asked to:

  •  provide direct school-school support with state schools

  •  support teaching in minority subjects which state schools struggle to make viable

  •  ensure senior leaders become directors of multi-academy trusts

  •  provide greater expertise and access to facilities

  •  provide sixth form scholarships to a proportion of pupils in each Year 11 at a local school


2. Require universities that want to charge higher fees to set up a new school or sponsor an academy in the state system.

Selective schools

3. Allow selective schools to expand on the explicit condition they provide support to ensure “good quality non-selective places locally”. Conditions for expansion will vary from school to school but the following menu of options is proposed:

  • Take a proportion of pupils from lower-income households.

  • Establish a new non-selective secondary school.

  • Establish a feeder primary in low-income area.

  • Partner with an existing non-selective school or ensure opportunities to join the selective school at different ages, such as 14 and 16 – as well as 11.

  • Ensure that there are opportunities to join the selective school at different ages such as 14 and 16 as well as 11. 

The government will set up a £50 million fund to help existing grammar schools to expand.

4. Allow new selective schools that would be set up in response to local demand. They would have flexibility to select 100% of their intake on the basis of ability.

5. Permit non-selective schools to become selective, as long as certain criteria are met – including meeting local demand, but the government would “consider measures to preserve school diversity in areas where schools choose to convert in this way.”

6. Sanction schools that do not meet expectations or selective schools that do not deliver good or outstanding non-selective education, by removing access to additional funding streams, removing their right to select by ability or restricting access to further growth.

7. Encourage multi-academy trusts to select within their trust and set up a single centre to educate their “most able” pupils, dubbed a “centre of excellence.”

8. Require existing selective schools to engage in outreach activity, including teacher and pupil exchanges with local schools.

9. Require selective schools to put in place strategies to ensure fair admissions and access – legislation will require selective schools to prioritise, or set aside places, for pupils of lower household income in oversubscription criteria. The government will “expect this figure to be considerably higher than that offered currently at most independent schools”.

Faith schools

10. Remove the 50% cap on faith-based admissions in free schools. In place of the 50% rule, the following requirements for new faith free schools are proposed:

  • Prove through consultation and parent signatures that parents of other faiths would be happy to send their children to the school.

  • Establish twinning arrangements for other schools not of their faith.

  • Consider setting up mixed-faith multi-academy trusts, including becoming a sponsor for an underperforming non-faith school.

  • Consider placing an independent member or director of different faith or no faith on the governing body.