Friday Catch Up – 25 April 2014

Regional Schools Commissioners:

During the Easter holidays, the appointment of six of the eight new Regional Schools Commissioners was announced.

The two as-yet unfilled posts are for the North region and East Midlands & Humber. The DfE have said that it would be appointing commissioners for its North and East Midlands and Humber regions “shortly”.

Graham Stuart, the Education Select Committee Chairman, told The Yorkshire Post that it was more of a concern that two of these posts remain unfilled “with each passing month” but that the DfE might be taking time to ensure it got the right people in place.

In addition, the all-male list of those announced to date has attracted criticism from some observers for its apparent lack of diversity.

Meanwhile, an internal DfE document leaked to the Guardian appears to give new details on the precise role of Commissioners, including:

  • Commissioners will approve or reject DfE intervention plans in “underperforming” academies, recruit academy sponsors and “pause” the expansion of those not felt to be doing well;
  • Commissioners will be “advocates for the academies programme” as a whole;
  • Commissioners will be tasked with building “relationships with key players in their region – Ofsted directors, sponsors, dioceses, local authorities, teaching schools and alliances”.

Universal free school meals

The School Food Plan has produced a Q&A for Headteachers about the introduction of universal free school meals and much of this will also be of interest to governors. This can be found at

What next for Careers Guidance?

The DfE has released new guidance for schools, aimed at inspiring pupils to pursue ambitious careers by using inspirational employers and business leaders as mentors.

The guidance states that a school’s careers and inspiration guidance strategy should:

  • Offer mentoring and coaching, inspirational speakers, workplace and higher education visits, networking events and careers fairs;
  • Use initiatives that help to forge links between schools and employers, such as Business in the Community, Career Academies and Inspiring the Future;
  • Ensure pupils have information on the full range of education and training options;
  • Measure the effectiveness of their careers and inspiration activity by using official data on the education, training and employment of previous pupils.

The guidance highlights the innovative careers guidance already offered by Woodham Academy in Newton Aycliffe, where employers working in the local business park are invited to discuss careers with their pupils. This led to conferences between their 14-year-old pupils and local employers, and an Apprenticeship Challenge day involving speed-networking sessions with businesses and employers mentoring pupils.