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Last week (11 March) we were delighted to confirm that Oak National Academy will continue to support teachers, schools and pupils for the long-term.

The Secretary of State for Education announced Oak will be established as a new, operationally independent, arms-length body of Government. Our role will be to support teachers in delivering excellent curriculum content and improving curriculum expertise.

With this news, we wanted to share a little more on the thinking behind this, and some early information on what the new body is going to do (although much is still to be confirmed).

The need to support teachers with curriculum implementation

Designing and continuously improving a curriculum, and creating resources for lessons (often from scratch), is both time consuming and requires significant expertise.

Since the introduction of the more rigorous National Curriculum, the expectations on teachers here have only further increased. We know there is clear evidence that we can, and should, better support teachers in this area.

Just in the last few weeks, Teacher Tapp has found the majority of primary teachers spend between one to five hours online each week looking for resources.

Almost half of primary school teachers (46%) say they need to plan a lot of lessons from scratch and 30% do not have access to existing lesson plans. And research in recent months from BESA found that schools want more resources than they can afford.

Meanwhile, we’ve been delighted that teachers and schools have found the support from Oak National Academy in this area to be highly valuable.

Whilst many used our teacher-created resources to support the response to the pandemic, this has now shifted to it being used to support lesson planning, in-class delivery and curriculum design. These are now the biggest use cases for teachers using Oak post pandemic with, on average, more than 40,000 teachers and 225,000 pupils using Oak each week in 2022.

Alongside assessing our usage data, we’ve placed significant focus on research and evaluation to make sure we’re making a positive impact and meeting teachers’ needs.

Last year ImpactEd completed an independent evaluation of our work. Comparing Oak-user teachers to non-user teachers, it showed early signs that Oak had a positive impact on teacher workload and wellbeing.

Most Oak users also stated that it improved their quality of teaching, both remotely and in-class, and increased their confidence in curriculum design. And in their latest research from February 2022, Teacher Tapp found 79% of Oak’s users recommend it.

What will we do in the future?

From this solid foundation, we want to do more.

Guided by the National Curriculum, we’ll work with a diverse range of teachers, schools, bodies and experts from across the sector to facilitate the co-creation of curriculum maps and thousands of new, downloadable lessons and digital resources.

These will all be freely available to teachers and children and will support a whole variety of use cases.

We will continue our focus on making sure the most disadvantaged children can benefit and be supported, given those from the poorest backgrounds have suffered most during the pandemic.

We’ll continue to support students with SEND, and offer materials and lessons that stretch pupils beyond the National Curriculum too.

The resources and curricula will be totally optional, fully adaptable have a range of choices and approaches for teachers to pick from.

Teachers know their pupils best so will be free to use whatever fits in with their existing approach, take inspiration from evidence based examples, or edit and adapt them to meet their needs.

Ofsted will not mandate the curriculum maps and materials, and they will not be 'pre-approved' in any way. If our products and support are not helpful to a particular school’s context, they can and should entirely ignore us!

Oak’s success to date has been grounded in our ‘by teachers, for teachers’ approach. Over 500 teachers from 50 schools and partners came together to create our existing resources.

This open, collaborative approach will be even more important going forward. As we become a national body, we want to gather and reflect views from across the sector.

We are committed to bringing together expertise from across the sector to develop and agree our approach in an open process. And we will involve thousands of teachers up and down the country in the creation, testing and ongoing improvement of our work.

We are also committed to sharing what we learn, supporting the development of strong subject communities and facilitating the ongoing development of curriculum expertise.

We hope all of this means we can support teachers so they can spend more time focused on directly supporting their pupils.

Next steps

As Oak moves into its next phase, we’re particularly grateful to the Reach Foundation, who have incubated us to date, and have agreed to transfer all of Oak’s assets, including our platform and data, to the arms-length body.

As you can imagine, there are many more details still to confirm. In the coming weeks and months I hope we can engage with as many of you as possible to shape these, so the new body truly supports pupils and teachers. We’ll share more news as soon as possible.

Lastly, thank-you again for all the support you and our incredible partners have given Oak since we launched. It's been a privilege to play a small role in the incredible efforts of the education community over the last two challenging years.