Monthly Archives: July 2014

Friday Update – 18 July 2014

This week we highlight new Primary school Maths and English tests coming in from 2016 with some recently released sample questions, a consultation on new subject content for further GCSEs and A levels and new statutory guidance on performance attainment targets for pupils with SEN.

Sample questions published for new Primary school tests in Maths and English

Earlier this week the DfE announced new tougher primary school tests in Maths and English to further the government’s objective of ensuring nobody leaves school without being able to read or write and with a solid grounding in maths.  Sample questions for the tests taken by 7-year-olds and 11-year-olds – in maths, reading, and grammar, punctuation and spelling – reveal the higher standards expected of children in the 3Rs.  The new tests will come in from 2016 and will be taught from this September. All topics in the curriculum – including the most complex – will be tested in these new assessments, whereas at the moment 11-year-old pupils are only fully stretched if they are also entered for the separate level 6 tests. The complicated system of levels is being scrapped, with pupils given ‘a scaled score’ which shows how they compare to the expected standard for their year.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announces next steps on GCSE and A level reform

The DfE is consulting on new subject content for a further set of GCSEs and A levels. These subjects will be first taught in 2016. There are 2 parts to the consultation. The first part seeks views on content which awarding organisations have developed, working with subject associations and other stakeholders. At GCSE these subjects are art and design, computer science, dance, music and physical education. At AS and A level, the subjects are dance, music and physical education.

The second part of the consultation seeks views on content for AS and A levels in modern foreign languages, ancient languages, mathematics, further mathematics and geography. Ofqual is consulting in parallel on the assessment arrangements for all these subjects.

New Statutory guidance on performance (P scale) attainment targets for pupils with special educational needs (SEN)

The document supplements the national curriculum by specifying performance attainment targets (P scales) and performance descriptors for pupils aged 5-16 with special educational needs (SEN) who cannot access the national curriculum. These apply to key stages 1, 2 and 3.  In key stage 4, the P scales and performance descriptors can be used as non-statutory guidelines describing some of the types and range of performance that pupils with SEN who cannot access the national curriculum might characteristically demonstrate.

Friday Update – 11 July 2014

This week we highlight great news about the North East LEP and Schools Challenge, the changes to Ofsted from September and a briefing note from Ofsted about life after assessment levels.

North East LEP and Schools Challenge

On Monday, the announcement of the North East LEP growth deal brought the Challenge a step closer to becoming a reality.  The Growth Deal includes a commitment from Government to work with partners in the region on the development of the challenge and activities to strengthen careers education and business engagement with schools.  The North East LEP was handed the third highest allocation of funding nationally with a £290m investment, supporting projects set out in the NE LEP’s North East Strategic Economic Plan ‘More and Better Jobs’.

Ofsted letter and note to inspectors

Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, has written to Headteachers about changes to inspections from September this year.  Major shifts include a separate judgement for early years and sixth form, and the removal of National Curriculum levels.

The letter says that inspectors will:

  • spend more time looking at pupils’ work to consider how much progress they are making in different areas of the curriculum;
  • talk to school leaders about the school’s use of formative and summative assessment and how this improves teaching and raises achievement;
  • evaluate how well the pupils are doing against age-related expectations, as set out by the school and the National Curriculum (where this applies);
  • consider how the school uses assessment information to identify pupils who are falling behind in their learning or who need additional support to reach their full potential, including those who are the most able;
  • assess whether reports help parents to understand how their children are doing in relation to the standards expected.

While no notice inspections are still being considered, Michael Wilshaw is broadening the criteria which determine whether an unannounced inspection is required. For example, concerns about standards of leadership and management and/or concerns about the breadth and balance of the curriculum.

Assessing without levels

A briefing note for Ofsted’s inspectors has been released detailing what they should expect from schools before, during and after changes to the national curriculum assessment criteria. It says:

  • Inspectors may find that schools are tracking attainment and progress using a mixture of measures for some, or all, year groups and subjects;
  • Inspectors will not expect to see a particular assessment system in place and will recognise that schools are still working towards full implementation of their preferred approach;
  • In evaluating the accuracy of assessment, inspectors will usually consider how well governors assure themselves of the rigour of the assessment process.

Friday Update – 4 July 2014

This week we highlight the North Tyneside Learning Trust’s new Maths hub, the report on the London Schools Challenge, the extra funding made available to increase the number of PE specialist in Primary schools and what the Government’s plans are to improve Post 16 Literacy and Numeracy.


The Education Minister Elizabeth Truss, today confirmed North Tyneside Learning Trust as one of the 32 schools and academy trusts which will lead new maths hubs across England and provide a model for schools in their area. The scheme is backed by £11 million funding from the Department for Education and will be accessible to all schools.

The hubs will implement the Asian-style mastery approach to maths which has achieved world-leading success – with children in these jurisdictions often around 2 years ahead of English children by age 15.  The programme will be developed with academics from Shanghai Normal University and England’s National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Maths (NCETM). Later this year, 50 teachers from Shanghai will be embedded in the hubs to teach pupils and run masterclasses for other teachers.


This month the Government is expected to announce how it will hand out billions of pounds in local growth monies to the English regions, including deciding on the £760m North East Local Enterprise Partnership bid which includes a £30m School Improvement fund, an initiative based on the Lodon Schools’ Challenge. A report published this week by Centre Forum, a London-based think tank, examines the features behind the success of the London Challenge and looks at nine case studies of emerging challenges around the country, including the North East, and what these can learn from London. The report uses the new Progress 8 measure to reveal that secondary schools in London are adding at least half a grade more progress in each subject than schools across the lowest performing regions of England.


The Department for Education has said specialist staff are vital to ensure children develop “a sporting habit for life” and funding worth £360,000 is going to be put towards training primary teachers with a specialism in PE. A pilot training programme was launched last year, with the first cohort of 120 PE specialists due to be working in primary schools from this autumn. It is hoped 240 primary PE specialists will take up posts by September 2015.


Currently 40% of pupils nationally do not achieve GCSE grades A* to C in English and Maths by age 16 and 90% of those who don’t reach this by 16 don’t achieve it by age 19 either. In order to address this problem the Government has this week published plans to strengthen English and Maths in post-16 education and increase the uptake of reformed GCSEs in these subjects. From August 2014 students who haven’t achieved a good pass in English and/or Maths GCSE by age 16 must continue to work towards achieving these qualifications or an approved interim qualification as a ‘stepping stone’ towards GCSE as a condition of student places being funded.