Monthly Archives: June 2014

Friday Update – 27 June 2014

This week continues with the issue of the promotion of British values with a new DfE Consultation on new standards for independent schools and academies which will come into force from September this year, information on new Statutory guidance for supporting pupils with medical conditions, and a new consultation on providing Early Years Pupil Premium funding.

1.     NEW POWERS TO INTERVENE IN SCHOOLS THAT FAIL TO PROMOTE BRITISH VALUES?

Independent schools, including academies and free schools, are already required to encourage pupils to respect British values through the Independent School Standards.  However this new consultation proposes to replace the existing standards with new standards which, if adopted, will include:

  • the introduction of a new standard on leadership and management to enable more effective action to be taken where leadership needs to be improved or replaced;
  • strengthening the quality of education standards;
  • strengthening the standards on pupil welfare to improve safeguarding;
  • strengthening the standards on spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development of pupils to help combat extremism;
  • technical amendments relating to the suitability of staff and proprietors.

The government set out its definition of British values in the 2011 Prevent Strategy (values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs) and this definition has been used in the Independent School Standards since January 2013 and remains the same in the new standards.

It is expected these strengthened regulations will take effect in September 2014 and will sit alongside the requirements of the Equalities Act, which also apply to all types of school.  It will also introduce a new requirement for schools to publish their inspection reports on their websites.

Currently there is no similar standard applied to local authority maintained schools.  Ofsted will introduce an equivalent expectation on maintained schools through changes to the Ofsted framework later this year. The Department for Education’s governors’ handbook will reflect the new advice and highlight governors’ role in setting and securing an appropriate ethos, and monitoring practice in the school.

2.     SUPPORTING PUPILS AT SCHOOL WITH MEDICAL CONDITIONS

On 1 September 2014 a new duty will come into force for governing bodies to make arrangements to support pupils at school with medical conditions.  Proposed statutory guidance has been published in advance which is intended to help governing bodies meet their legal responsibilities and sets out the arrangements they will be expected to make, based on good practice. The aim is to ensure that all children with medical conditions, in terms of both physical and mental health, are properly supported in school so that they can play a full and active role in school life, remain healthy and achieve their academic potential.

3.     CONSULTATION ON PROPOSED EARLY YEARS PUPIL PREMIUM FUNDING

The Department for Education is currently consulting on the introduction of an Early Years Pupil Premium for all disadvantaged three and four year olds from April 2015, and on moving to participation funding for the early education entitlement for two-year-olds from 2015-16.

The aim of the Early Years Pupil Premium is to close the gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers by providing funding to early years providers to help them raise the quality of their provision. It will complement the Government-funded early education entitlement by providing nurseries, schools, and other providers with up to an additional £300 a year for each eligible child.

Update – 20 June 2014

This week’s Update highlights the new set of standards for food served in schools, new guidance to help teachers to be confident in finding help for at-risk pupils and new standards for vocational qualifications that are on a par with GCSEs.

1. SCHOOL FOOD STANDARDS
A new set of standards for all food served in schools was launched by Education Secretary Michael Gove on 17 June 2014. The new standards are designed to make it easier for school cooks to create imaginative, flexible and nutritious menus. All academies established prior to 2010 already have clauses in their funding agreement that require them to comply with the national standards for school food. The Department for Education has recently published revised funding agreements for new academies and free schools, which include the requirement to follow the school food standards and academies that were founded between 2010 and June 2014 have no such clause written in their agreement, but are being encouraged to sign up voluntarily to the national school food standards.

2. MENTAL HEALTH BEHAVIOUR GUIDANCE
New guidance created by the Department for Education in consultation with headteachers, mental health professors and the Department of Health, is designed to ensure teachers are confident in finding help for at-risk pupils. The guidance outlines to schools that they could use pupil questionnaires, teacher training tool kits and mental health fact sheets to help identify potential issues. This means problems can be tackled before they become more serious, as well as helping schools know when to refer pupils to mental health experts, such as the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

3. TECHNICAL AWARDS
The government is introducing Technical Awards which have been developed in partnership with employers and have a higher requirement for external assessment. Pupils can study up to 3 Technical Awards alongside a minimum of 5 core GCSEs, which will ensure a strong grounding in core skills like English and Maths alongside vocational options. From September 2015, Technical Awards will be the first step on a new vocational route available to young people through from the ages of 14 to 19:

  • for 14- to 16-year-olds, pupils will be able to study Technical Awards alongside GCSEs;
  • for 16- to 19-year-olds, alongside or instead of A levels, students will be able to study Tech Levels -Tech Levels can be studied as part of the TechBacc, which also comprises an advanced maths qualification and extended research project.

Update – 13 June 2014

1. Recommendation for mandatory training for Governors
You can’t fail to have noticed the recent news about investigations into alleged extremism in Birmingham schools as a result of an anonymous letter, known as ‘Trojan Horse’. This week Ofsted published inspection reports into 21 schools in Birmingham, and in addition, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) conducted its own separate investigations into two of the Academy Trusts, which were published on the same day. Both the Ofsted and EFA reports highlighted instances of poor governance. Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) wrote to the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, setting out his key findings from the 21 inspections, including that in some of the schools there was evidence of governors exerting “inappropriate influence on policy and the day-to-day running” and forcing their personal views onto the school and school staff. Sir Michael has put forward several recommendations as a result of the inspections; in relation to governance, he advised the government to give serious consideration to mandatory training for all governors; the introduction of professional governors where governance is judged to be weak and a requirement that all schools to published a register of governors’ interests In light of the reports, both Michael Gove and David Cameron have called for schools to promote ‘British values,’ including democracy, mutual respect, and tolerance.

2. New money for LAs to to support families with SEND
The DfE has announced that councils are to receive a share of £45 million to help prepare for the reforms to special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) support. The additional funds are intended to help councils give young people and parents a greater say over their personalised care and assistance. It will assist in putting into place a new birth-to-25 system for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The DfE has also published the final version of the new SEN code of practice. The new code sets out in one place the legal requirements that councils, schools and other organisations that support children and young people with SEND must follow.

3. Ofsted introduces new inspection regime for teacher training
Ofsted has announced that from Monday 9 June there will be a new two-stage process for the inspection of initial teacher training. Ofsted says inspectors will check on the quality of training and the trainees’ teaching in the summer term, which will then be followed by a second check in the autumn term, when Ofsted inspectors will see new teachers implement what they have learned in the classroom. New approach to teacher training inspection from next week, Ofsted, 3 June 2014.

Friday Catch Up – 6 June 2014

Will bringing school inspections in-house drive up standards at Ofsted?  Ofsted has announced that from September 2015, it will no longer contract with Inspection Service Providers (ISPs) for the delivery of school inspections.  All inspections of schools and colleges will be managed in-house to give the watchdog more control over selection, training and quality control.  The move follows claims that too many inspectors “lack the necessary skills” or experience to make fair judgments about the education system.

Piloting new approach to recording evidence about the quality of teaching during inspection – It was announced earlier this week that from 9 June 2014, Ofsted is piloting a new approach to the recording of evidence about the quality of teaching during some school inspections.  You can find out more about the pilot here: Inspecting without grading teaching in each individual lesson

Ofqual getting rid of ‘soft’ subjects – Ofqual has announced plans to axe GCSEs and A-levels in 24 subjects, including home economics and engineering.  The regulator has published a list of courses to be scrapped within three years over concerns they lack academic rigour.  Ofqual has also told exam boards that they must radically toughen up 73 other courses including ancient history, business studies, classical civilisation, economics, general studies, law, media studies and psychology.