Online classroom Oak National will lead on curriculum design

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Online classroom Oak National will be converted into a new arm’s length body to help schools with designing their curriculums, the Education Secretary will announce on Friday.

In a trail of the upcoming Education White Paper, Nadhim Zahawi will announce that Oak National will be converted into an online resource to help teachers with their planning.

It is understood that the Government feels schools have not been supported enough to deliver a knowledge-rich curriculum following reforms introduced in 2014, and that the body will help them to design this.

Speaking at the Association of School and College Leaders’ annual conference, Mr Zahawi is expected to say: “The biggest asset we have in changing the lives of children for generations to come is the energy and expertise of our teachers and school leaders.”

“You can’t have a great education if you don’t have a great teacher. But of course, great teachers need great support,” he will add.

“Oak National Academy has certainly been one of our great achievements. It was created by teachers, for teachers, and showed brilliantly what the profession was capable of in the hour of need.

“Building on the nearly 3,500 hours of video lesson content it provided during the pandemic, we will now establish Oak as a new arm’s length curriculum body.

“This is important because the data shows 46% of primary teachers plan lessons from scratch. This is a drain on teachers’ time and we’re going to fix it.

“Instead of each teacher reinventing the wheel, they will be able to access content, for free, that continuously evolves and gets better and better on the back of feedback from teachers across the country – saving time and improving lessons immeasurably.

“At the heart of this body will be collaboration and partnership, and I am committed to building on the ‘by teachers, for teachers’ approach that has been a key success factor for Oak National Academy.”

Ed Vainker, chief executive of the Reach Foundation – the organisation that established Oak National Academy, said: “The Reach Foundation is proud of the role it has played stewarding Oak National Academy and is grateful to partner organisations for their immense voluntary contribution.

“We are pleased that the Government has committed to sustaining Oak in perpetuity and have agreed to transfer it to the DfE, on the basis that it will be fully independent and will always remain free and in public ownership.”

The new products will be available from September 2023 and will be optional for schools to use. The body will work with the Education Endowment Foundation to ensure “its activity is informed by the best available evidence and aligns with best practice”.

Mr Zahawi will also use the speech to recommit to delivering 500,000 teacher training opportunities by 2024 for teachers from trainee to head level and raising starting salaries to £30,000.

The Schools White Paper is expected to be published later in March.

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