Last reviewed on 27 May 2022
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Find out about upcoming policy changes and what they mean for your school or trust. Plans include new attainment targets in literacy and numeracy, an academy-led education system and a drive to increase attendance.

There has been no change to current legislation
Opportunities for All: Strong Schools with Great Teachers for Your Child ('the white paper') is not statutory guidance. It's a document setting out the DfE’s policy plans over a period of several years.

Implementing school system reform in 2022 to 2023 outlines how the DfE plans to put the first stages of the white paper into practice. It is not statutory guidance either, but recommends that schools and academy trusts take steps to prepare for reforms. See these next steps in the first section below. 

Read our summary below to get prepared and find out about the upcoming changes that may affect your school. We'll update this article as more guidance is released and consultations open.

Plans for an academy-led system

By 2030, all schools will be part of a multi-academy trust (MAT) or will have plans to join or form one. 

There are no current measures to force well-performing schools to become academies.

What do I need to do now?

Maintained schools: 

  • Check if you area in an Education Investment Area (EIA), because these areas will be prioritised for MAT development
  • Schools in EIAs: look out for a local prospectus setting out MAT development targets from early autumn 2022 (see the 'area-based approach' section below) 
  • Start thinking about how your school improvement strategy can be achieved by joining or establishing a trust
  • Consider which trusts in your area may be a suitable match
  • Faith/diocese schools: talk to your diocese or faith body about which trusts you can consider joining 


  • Check if you area in an Education Investment Area (EIA), because these areas will be prioritised for MAT development
  • Consider whether you could grow your trust, either locally or beyond, or if you could merge with another trust to improve provision 
  • Find out if you're eligible for the trust capacity fund

See the sections below for more details on plans to move maintained schools into strong multi-academy trusts.

New statutory interventions for schools consistently rated less than 'good'

From September 2022, maintained schools and academies with 2 or more consecutive Ofsted ratings below 'good' will be in the scope of intervention powers to join an academy trust or change trusts. These powers will initially focus on EIAs, though the plan is that they'll apply nationally.

This plan is still subject to parliamentary approval and the results of a consultation. The consultation has now closed, but you can still read about the details of the proposed changes.

'Area-based approach' from early autumn 2022

The government's implementation plan for the 2022/23 academic year sets out plans to begin this process through an area-based approach, starting in the 55 EIAs set out in the Levelling Up white paper. The DfE will work with local partners to agree a set of local priorities, and publish a prospectus for each EIA in early autumn 2022.

Existing trusts, faith bodies, and groups of schools will then be able to submit proposals that respond to these priorities. Keep an eye out for the publication in your area, as it will set out the priorities and strategies for MAT development.

The DfE recommends that schools with consecutive Ofsted ratings of less than 'good' who are in EIAs 'engage early' with regional teams in the DfE to discuss which trusts will best support your school. 

Take a look at your due diligence requirements if you're planning to join an existing MAT.

LA-led trusts

Local authorities (LAs) will have the power to ‘request’ that a school joins a trust.

LAs will also have the power to launch a new MAT, but this will be limited to areas with a shortage of existing 'strong' trusts.

From early autumn 2022, the DfE will work with a small number of LAs to establish new MATs in a 'test and learn' approach. This will not be limited to EIAs.

New attainment targets

There will be no changes to the National Curriculum until at least 2024.

The white paper sets out new attainment targets, aimed to help pupils across the country achieve in school. It highlights literacy and numeracy as key tenets of achievement.

Primary schools

By 2030, 90% of pupils will achieve the expected standard in reading, writing and maths by the time they leave primary school.

This aim was set out in the Levelling Up white paper.

Reaching this target will include an assessment of Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) reforms.

Take a look at our advice on primary reading audits as the first step to improving your reading provision.


Secondary schools

Increase the national GCSE average grade in both English language and maths from 4.5 in 2019 to 5 by 2030.

A ‘sample’ of year 9 pupils will also complete an online literacy and numeracy test to ‘estimate performance at a national level’. This won't be used to measure your school’s individual performance.

The white paper sets out a series of attainment interventions and resources to help schools achieve these targets.

Attainment interventions

'Parent pledge' requirements

Schools will be required to inform parents if their child is falling behind in English and maths, and detail the progress they're making. This will be monitored by Ofsted.

You're expected to provide ‘evidence-based support’ when pupils fall behind. You should:

  • Monitor pupils' progress in English and maths using robust assessment
  • Have a response system, including adjusting classroom practice and providing additional support for children who need it

Targeted support for all pupils should complement support for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). 

See page 37 of the white paper for more information on the parent pledge. See The Key’s resources for intervention strategies in primary and secondary schools.

Pupil premium spending

The DfE is developing a ‘menu’ of approaches for pupil premium spending. This is designed to help you make decisions about how best to support pupils, especially with numeracy and literacy skills.

We'll update this article with details of this menu, along with further guidance on targeted support and assessment from the DfE and Ofsted when they're available. 

Tutoring to continue as a central intervention

Schools will be expected to use tutoring as a ‘staple offer’ for intervention and are expected to make tutoring available to every pupil who needs it. 

Tutoring will be a ‘core academic option’ that schools can spend pupil premium funding on.

You'll continue to have the flexibility to:

  • Use your own staff
  • Hire in new staff, or
  • Use accredited external organisations

New curriculum resources

A new 'arms-length' curriculum body is to be established. Schools will be able to access a digital curriculum and online resources for every subject. The resources are designed to reduce workload, so teachers ‘can concentrate on delivering lessons’ and spend less time creating new resources.

The curriculum body will work with Ofsted and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to ensure high quality and relevant resources.

It will also provide resources that go beyond the National Curriculum to help you stretch more able students.

Ofsted inspections

All schools will receive a full inspection under the 2019 Ofsted inspection framework by the end of the summer term 2025. This includes 'outstanding' schools.

If you've not been inspected since September 2019, expect an inspection in this timeframe and start to prepare. 

Use our pre-inspection checklist as a starting point.

Schools that have received a judgement of less than ‘good’ for at least 2 consecutive inspections may be moved into a strong trust. See the section ‘Plans for an academy-led system’, for more information.

New expectations on attendance

Schools expected to provide a 32.5 hour school week

This applies to mainstream state-funded schools. It's not a statutory requirement, although Ofsted will consider it as part of its 'quality of education' judgement.

Schools are encouraged to provide 2 ‘substantive’ sessions each school day. It's likely this is a requirement for hours on the school site rather than learning hours, and therefore the time can be spent in break or form time or on extra-curricular activities, although this won't include after-hours activities. We'll update this information as soon as we have more details.

You're expected to meet these hours from your existing budget by September 2023 at the latest. However, it's likely you already provide these hours and most schools won't have to make any changes to meet these requirements.

Special education settings are exempt

Special schools, pupil referral units (PRUs), and alternative provision (AP) providers are not expected to meet this measure. 

However, you should work towards ‘extending and enriching the school week’, where appropriate.

New attendance guidance 

The DfE has published new guidance on working together to approve attendance, applicable from September 2022, to help meet these targets. 

It sets out the responsibilities of schools, trustees and governors, LAs and parents to support absent pupils and boost attendance. 

Schools are expected to work with LAs to get a better picture of the numbers of children not attending school.

Changes to behaviour guidance 

Look out for revisions to the following guidance:

  • Behaviour in Schools
  • Suspension and Permanent Exclusion (statutory guidance)

The DfE will also launch a new 'national behaviour' survey for school staff, pupils and parents.

Early intervention in AP settings

The SEND review sets out plans to prioritise early intervention to help pupils manage challenging behaviour at a younger age.

See our summary for more details.

CPD and leadership opportunities

New national professional qualifications (NPQs) are to be introduced for:

  • Leading literacy
  • Early years leadership
  • Behaviour and culture
  • SENCOs (to replace the National Award in SEN Co-ordination, pending a consultation)

Every teacher and leader in a state-funded school will be able to apply for a funded scholarship to pursue these NPQs. We're awaiting information about how this will work and will update this article when we know more.

500,000 teacher training opportunities are promised by 2024.

A national ‘Institute of Teaching’ will be launched to deliver "cutting-edge" training, including targeting disadvantaged areas of the country. 

The DfE will also recognise global teaching qualifications through an update to legislation and the launch of new digital services. 

Conduct an audit to find out what CPD opportunities would benefit your team.

Trust leaders: changes to trust management

You will have to meet a new definition of ‘trust strength', which applies to:

  • High quality and inclusive education: deliver high-quality education across your academies, including for disadvantaged children and children with SEND
  • School improvement: particularly in transforming previously underperforming schools
  • Strategic governance: operate effective and robust governance, and effectively hold school leaders to account 
  • Financial management: strong resource prioritisation to deliver the best educational experience
  • Workforce: training, recruitment and retention of leaders and teachers throughout their careers
The DfE plans to open a review to consider new intervention powers over academies if they fail to meet these standards for being 'strong' trusts.


Regional school commissioners will become ‘regional directors’ as part of a new ‘regions’ group responsible for the oversight of:

  • Trust expansion and intervention
  • Academy governance
  • Safeguarding
  • Complaints

The regions group will also hold trusts and LAs to account for how they support pupils with SEND.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will monitor financial regulation.

New measures currently in development will also give LAs new powers over attendance, and local safeguarding partners will be able to conduct ‘safeguarding audits’.


A new statutory framework will change the academy admissions system. 

None of these changes are in place yet, and you don’t need to take any immediate action. However, be aware that the white paper sets out plans that:

  • Trusts will have a new statutory obligation to follow the School Admissions Code
  • Trusts will have a new statutory duty to co-operate with local partners and other trusts, including on admissions
  • LAs will have ultimate responsibility in making sure every child is allocated an appropriate school place
  • LAs will take on responsibility for all in-year admissions
  • LAs will receive ‘backstop powers’ to force trusts to take on pupils and to object to a school’s published admissions plan (subject to a consultation, details yet to be released)

Trusts will have the right to object to forced admissions to the Schools Adjudicator. This process has not yet been set out. 

See page 57 of the white paper for further details on these new obligations.

Trust management changes

Start preparing for upcoming changes to trust management, including:

  • An expectation that most trusts will work towards serving at least 10 schools or a minimum of 7,500 pupils, although there will be local caps on how many schools a trust can run
  • A review of trust accountability, including using inspections to hold trusts to account
  • New transparency measures to scrutinise trusts that use pooling or ‘top slice’ methods to maintain stability 
  • A new CEO development scheme, open to trust leaders

The DfE is also launching a review into "exceptional circumstances" that will allow 'good' schools to move between trusts.

megaphone icon Article updates
27 May 2022

We updated this section to include new details from the DfE's Implementing school system reform in 2022 to 2023 policy paper.