Monthly Archives: October 2014

Friday Update – 24 October 2014

This week we highlight new funding for 3 and 4 year olds from low income families and look at whether the rules on unauthorised absence have been making a difference.

The government set out today information on how schools, nurseries and childminders will be given up to £300 for every 3 and 4 year old from a low-income family to help prevent them falling behind before they have even started school. The early years pupil premium, totalling £50 million, is designed to narrow the attainment gap between young children from low-income families and their peers, setting them on a path to a more successful future.

In a response to an Early Years Pupil Premium and Funding for 2 year olds consultation also published today, the Government has announced that 7 areas will share a £1 million pot to trial the new support ahead of its introduction nationwide next April.

The DfE has published data on authorised and unauthorised school absences across primary and secondary schools. The Government reports that the overall rate of absence has dropped more than a quarter since 2009/10 from 6 to 4.4%.

School Reform Minister Nick Gibb said: “Missing lessons can be hugely damaging to a pupil’s education, but today’s figures show more pupils than ever before are getting the best preparation for life in modern Britain.”

The DfE said the change in the law last September to Headteachers only granting leave from school in “exceptional circumstances” meant that “thousands” fewer pupils went on term-time holidays.

In the North East the overall absence rate is 4.6%, with seven out of 12 areas being above this. This makes us nationally the region with the highest overall absence rate. The national average for unauthorised absences is 0.9%, our regional average is 1% with seven out of 12 areas being above the national rate.

Friday Update – 17 October 2014

This week we highlight how Secondary schools can plan for the introduction of the new Progress 8 school performance measure and take a look at newly released data from the Department for Education on the 2014 Phonics Screening Check and Key Stage 1 assessments.

The Department for Education has published details of how schools can plan for the introduction of the new Progress 8 school performance measure. Progress 8 will be introduced for all schools in 2016. This means that the performance tables based on 2016 exam results (to be published in late 2016/early 2017) will show the Progress 8 results. Progress 8 will also be used for floor standards from 2016.

Schools will receive ‘shadow data’ showing their Progress 8 score based on 2014 results. This information will not be used for accountability purposes or included in performance tables, but should help schools to consider their curriculum and teaching in light of the accountability reforms.

The Department for Education this week released statistical data providing final 2013 and provisional 2014 information on the achievements of pupils in the phonics screening check and teacher assessments at the end of KS1.

The 2014 figures combine information gathered through the school census in January 2014 with the 2014 phonics and Key Stage 1 attainment data. Information is provided at national and local authority level enabling schools to benchmark results against national and local authority attainment.

The phonics screening check was introduced in 2012. It’s a statutory assessment for all children in Year 1 to check whether they have reached the expected standard in phonic decoding. Those pupils who did not meet the standard in Year 1 or who were not tested are re-checked at the end of Year 2.

National curriculum assessments at the end of KS1 are made through teacher assessments to measure pupils’ attainment against the levels set by the national curriculum. The national curriculum standards have been designed so that by the end of KS1, pupils are expected to reach Level 2.

Friday Update – 10 October 2014

This week we highlight Ofsted’s consultation on radical changes to the inspection framework and a Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission (SMCPC)  report into what schools can do to tackle social mobility in England.

This week Ofsted launched an 8 week consultation on proposals for a new inspection framework. Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said the proposals for reforms would bring about a radically different inspection regime designed to maintain and accelerate improved educational standards in England.

The key proposals are:

  1. There will be a new common inspection framework which will standardise the approach to inspections. This will be adapted to suit nurseries, schools and colleges, including the independent schools that Ofsted inspects, making it easier for parents, employers, pupils and learners to compare different providers and make more informed choices.
  2. Maintained schools, academies, FE and skills providers that were judged ‘good’ at their latest inspection will be subject to shorter inspections conducted every three years. Inspection arrangements will stay the same for schools judged as ‘outstanding’ (currently exempt from routine inspections unless there are concerns about their performance) and those judged as ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.
  3. The intention is to have a grade for overall effectiveness, as well as four graded judgements, which will cover:
  • effectiveness of leadership and management
  • quality of teaching, learning and assessment
  • personal development, behaviour and welfare
  • outcomes for children and learners

Schools with sixth forms or early years will continue to receive separate judgements for these areas of provision.

Interestingly, Ofsted has tracked back on its intention to make ‘no-notice’ inspections routine saying that they are reviewing the circumstances in which they should take place. At this time, therefore, they are not consulting on making them standard practice.

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission (SMCPC) has published a report into what schools can do to tackle social mobility in England. The report is part of a series looking at what different parts of society can do to improve social mobility and acknowledges that no-one part can do it alone.

SMCPC noted that schools can have an impact, highlighted by the fact that schools with similar intakes get different results. It acknowledged that the reasons why some schools get better results than others are complex. The report sets out five key steps schools can take to improve disadvantaged pupils’ life chances:

Use the pupil premium strategically to improve social mobility – SMSPC found that the most effective schools systematically used data to analyse why, how and where eligible pupils were falling behind, and used this information to target funding towards addressing these barriers.

Build an inclusive culture with high expectations – Governors and senior leaders sending a clear message that they had high expectations of all staff and pupils. This included implementing a “firm and consistent” behaviour policy and not tolerating lower standards for poor children because of the belief they could not do better.

Have an incessant focus on the quality of teaching – the report identified the quality of teaching as perhaps the single most important way schools could improve social mobility.

Use tailored strategies to engage parents – the report recommended that schools had high expectations of parents and did not accept a lack of involvement.

Prepare pupils for all aspects of life, not just for exams – focussing on pupils’ social and emotional development as well as their academic achievement, and ensuring they had access to extra-curricular activities as a key part of the educational experience. It also included providing high quality careers advice.

Friday Update – 3 October 2014

This week we highlight the DfE’s launch of a review of standards for Teaching Assistants, an Ofsted report on low level disruption in classrooms; the piloting of a new resource for Secondary School governing bodies about Science and Maths education and the release of Key Stage 1 Phonics results.

The review aims to replace the current set of standards with a clearer and more concise version which reflects the diversity of the existing schools system.

The review panel will aim to draw up standards which are unequivocal; clear and easy to understand; can be used to assess the performance of teaching assistants; steer the professional development of teaching assistants at all levels; inspire confidence in teaching assistants and ensure that schools use their skills and expertise to best effect and to focus primarily on the key elements of their professional relationship with teachers to ensure that all pupils attain the highest possible standards.

Low-level disruptive behaviour in classrooms across the country is impeding children’s learning and damaging their life chances, according to an Ofsted report published on 25 September. The report found that pupils were potentially losing up to an hour of learning each day in English schools because of low-level disruption in the classroom – the equivalent of 38 days of teaching lost per year.

Ofsted found the impact of this to be greater in secondary schools than primary schools.

Last  academic year, the Wellcome Trust launched a new resource for secondary school governing bodies about Science and Maths education. Questions for Governors is a tool to help governors better understand Science and Maths teaching in their school, by facilitating discussions with the Headteacher and, where appropriate, other school staff. Each question comes with background evidence, benchmarking data, and ideas for improvement.

The National Governors Association is piloting the resource on behalf of the Wellcome Trust to help further develop and improve the Questions.

The Department for Education released the figures for Key Stage 1 (KS1) phonics results on 25 September, demonstrating a continued positive trend in the number of pupils achieving the expected standard. By the end of Year 2, 88% of pupils had achieved phonics proficiency, a 3% increase since 2013. Children with special educational needs had also shown a marked improvement in their scores, with 61% achieving the expected standard by the end of Year 2; an increase of 6% on the previous year.