Tags: Assistant Head | Deputy Head | Emotional Literacy | Headteacher | Parent | Raising Achievement | School Governor | School Leadership & Management | SEAL – Social Emotional Aspects of Learning | SEAL Coordinator | Well-being

What does the Children’s Plan have to say about shaping up a more emotionally literate education system?

Underlying principles

The Children’s Plan lays out the government’s strategy for ensuring that ‘all children have access to a world-class education which supports their cognitive, social and emotional skills development so that no child is left to fall behind.’

Principles The five principles underpinning this strategy are that:

  • all children have the potential to succeed and should go as far as their talents can take them
  • children and young people need to enjoy their childhood as well as grow up prepared for adult life
  • government needs to back parents and families to bring up children
  • services need to be shaped by, and responsive to, children, young people and families
  • it is always better to prevent failure than to tackle a crisis later.


The strategy is organised around six strategic objectives:

1. Happy and healthy
Key elements in the government’s strategy for ensuring young people develop the full range of skills that they need to thrive are:

  • school-based parent support advisers
  • reviewing CAMHS to see how support services could be improved
  • creating new and safer places to play
  • promoting positive structured activities such as drama, music, team sports or volunteering.

2. Safe and sound

The government is looking for ways to get the balance right between keeping children safe and allowing them the freedom they need to learn, have new experiences and enjoy their childhoods. To achieve this, it intends to:

  • strengthen the complaints procedure for parents whose children experience bullying
  • embed effective anti-bullying practice in schools by targeting schools that have particular anti-bullying issues and developing effective peer-mentoring practice.

3. Excellence and equity

The government is seeking to overcome barriers to learning through ‘a more sophisticated approach to personalisation, making it standard practice across the system.’ In this way it wants to achieve faster rises in standards, and to close the gaps in achievement that exist for disadvantaged and vulnerable children. The government hopes to develop ‘a new relationship between parents and school. As part of this, every secondary student is to have a personal tutor who ‘knows them in the round, and acts as a main contact for parents’. The tutor will also:

  • agree learning targets term by term
  • encourage the child’s academic and other ambitions
  • help the child make choices
  • be the first point of call in times of trouble
  • identify and help to tackle barriers to success beyond the classroom
  • draw on support from others.

4. Personal development

The government intends to move rapidly forward with the Making Good Progress tests, based on stage rather than age. It believes that these will make the experience feel less ‘high stages’ for pupils, as well as contributing to better teaching and learning. The tests will be used in the same way as the current tests ‘to hold schools accountable for the performance of children by the end of key stages and to ensure that parents can see the performance of their children’s schools in the performance tables.’ The plan argues that these tests will enable each child to benefit from an approach that is ‘tailored to their needs’ because it takes into account children’s different rates of progress and their different backgrounds and life experiences. ‘All children,’ the plan says, ‘will then be motivated to learn in school by highly structured and responsive teaching, based on a detailed understanding of where pupils are in their learning, where they need to go and how they will get there.’ Teachers will be expected to use sophisticated tracking and assessment for learning tools to:

  • quickly identify and then provide whatever additional support a child needs
  • understand where a child is in their learning, where they need to be, and what they need to get there
  • confirm their own assessments through tests and motivate children to focus on the next steps in their learning.

It is also the government’s intention to ensure that, by 2011, all children have the opportunity to participate in an additional three hours of sporting activity, and to get involved in high-quality cultural activities.

5. Leadership and collaboration
The plan recognises that the key to delivering the government’s objectives is a ‘world-class workforce’, which it hopes to further develop by:

  • continued remodelling so that teachers can concentrate on teaching and draw effectively on wider children’s services, with teaching to become a Master’s level profession
  • promoting diversity in a collaborative system, so that children and young people can choose provision that reflects their particular needs, and institutions can learn from each other
  • improving systems of accountability and governance to ensure local authorities ‘take swift and decisive action to prevent schools from failing and to reverse failure quickly when it happens’
  • taking tough action against poor performances.

6. Staying on

The government wants all young people to develop the skills that employers and higher education institutions say they need. ‘A changing economy,’ the plan observes, ‘means we need to ensure our children and young people have the right skills as they become adults and move into further or higher education, or into work.’

Download The Children’s Plan

This article first appeared in Raising Achievement Update – Feb 2008

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