Access to the totality of learning in primary schools for all pupils, regardless of socio-economic, ethnic or age background, seems likely to continue to exercise teachers and schools into the twenty-first century. Barbara MacGilchrist emphasizes that awareness of disadvantage, and legislation for access and entitlement through the National Curriculum, are insufficient on their own to ensure equality of opportunity. Set against the background of change within primary education policy in England and Wales, she argues that Head Teachers need to create a strategic vision for enabling access to the whole curriculum for all pupils, in partnership with their staff and also parents.*


Legislating for access and entitlement in primary education (DES, 1988) will not of itself ensure equality of educational opportunity for all children. Managing access and entitlement to the curriculum requires strategic management by all those concerned. This is a collective responsibility that should be perceived as a ‘partnership for entitlement’. Improving the progress and attainment of all children as well as closing the achievement gap between the lowest and the highest achievers is a major challenge…Schools and those who teach in them hold the master key to access and entitlement. To enable the key to be used to unlock the door to raising achievement requires the different partners-those within the school and those beyond the school gateto take action in respect of policy decisions over which they can exercise direct control…


1 The process and content of learning are vital factors in ensuring equality of opportunity. It is the quality of these opportunities that determines levels of achievement. The role of the teacher is central as it is the teacher in the classroom who decides how best to match the curriculum to the learner. Parents themselves also have a role to play.