Monthly Archives: December 2014

Friday Update – 19 December 2014

Merry Christmas to all Governors and a Happy New Year

This final update in 2014 highlights Statutory Guidance on the new School Admissions Code which came into force today, the new school food standards that become mandatory from January 2015, the announcement of new measures to help schools instill character in pupils and findings from a research study carried out by the Literacy Trust suggesting boys are held back by their reluctance to write outside of school.

SCHOOL ADMISSIONS CODE STATUTORY GUIDANCE
As reported in previous Updates the new Code comes into force today and, unless otherwise stated, applies with immediate effect. It will apply to admission arrangements determined in 2015 for admission in school year 2016/17 and any future years.

Schools must follow this Statutory Guidance  when carrying out duties relating to school admissions.  All admission authorities must determine (i.e. formally agree) admission arrangements every year, even if they have not changed from previous years and a consultation has not been required.

Admission authorities must determine admission arrangements for entry in September 2016 by 15 April 2015 and for all subsequent years, by 28 February in the determination year.

MANDATORY NEW SCHOOL FOOD STANDARDS FROM JANUARY 2015
Back in June we reported on the launch of new food standards which become mandatory from January 2015 in all maintained schools, and academies that opened before 2010 or after June 2014. Academies set up between these dates should use the national school food standards as a guide.

The Department for Education (DfE) has produced guidance for governing bodies on the new school standards. This states:

The Governing body should ensure that it receives regular reports on compliance with the school food standards as well as take-up of school lunches and financial aspects of school food provision”.

Perhaps this could form part of the Spring term Headteacher’s Report or be provided as a separate report to the Governing body.

MEASURES ANNOUNCED TO HELP SCHOOLS INSTILL CHARACTER IN PUPILS
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced a package of measures to help schools instill character in pupils. Eight projects will be given almost £5 million over the next 2 years to support the development of character in schools using the values and expertise of the armed services to help young people do better at school and develop their character, including values such as self-confidence, respect and leadership.

Schools that develop and build character, resilience and grit in their pupils will also be recognised for the first time through the new character awards – so that more schools focus on developing well rounded pupils prepared for life in modern Britain.

Applicants will be judged on their approaches and practices to develop character by a panel of education experts, with awards including:

  • £15,000 each for up to 27 schools in all 9 regions of the country, to be announced in February;
  • A further national prize of £20,000 to 1 winner, to be announced at an awards ceremony in March.

RESEARCH STUDY SUGGESTS BOYS ARE HELD BACK BY THEIR RELUCTANCE TO WRITE OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL
Research reported by the BBC suggests that boys’ reluctance to write outside school could be holding them back. The research, carried out by the National Literacy Trust, found a third of boys never or rarely write for fun outside class, compared with 18% of girls. It also found that a significant number of boys appeared to think that writing is not “cool”.

The Trust cites evidence that those who write for fun outside school are four times more likely to be writing above the expected level at the end of primary school than those who do not.

Friday Update – 12 December 2014

In a busy week for the Education sector we highlight the publication of Ofsted’s Annual Report for 2014, the 2014 Primary school league tables, revised statutory Guidance on Exclusions that comes into force from January 2015, the creation of a new careers body for 12-18 year olds and consultation on a new independent college of teaching.

OFSTED ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2014
Yesterday saw the launch of Ofsted’s Annual Report for 2014 and the Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw highlighted the stalling of improvement in secondary schools as the main finding of the report. Whilst the proportion of primary schools rated good or outstanding continued to grow over the last year (up to 82%), the proportion of good or outstanding secondary schools stagnated nationally at 71%.

The stand out concern for the North East continues to be the achievement of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The report shows that gaps emerge in the Early Years and continue through to Key Stage 1. By the end of Key Stage 2, the success of North East primary schools mean that pupils eligible for free school meals exceed the national average for this group, but there is still a wide gap between outcomes for these pupils and non Free School Meal pupils. At Key Stage 4 there is a 30% gap between the proportion of Free School Meal eligible students gaining 5 GCSEs (A-C including English and Maths) and their more advantaged peers.

PRIMARY SCHOOL PERFORMANCE TABLES 2014
The performance tables show the achievements of pupils in each state funded primary school in England last academic year.

REVISED STATUTORY GUIDANCE ON EXCLUSIONS FROM JANUARY 2015
The revised guidance contains a small number of updates and clarifies:

  • the power to exclude
  • independent review panel processes
  • Governing body reconsideration

It governs the exclusion of pupils from local authority maintained schools, academies and free schools and pupil referral units and will apply to exclusions from 5 January 2015.

NEW CAREERS BODY
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced the creation of a new careers and enterprise company for schools aiming to ‘transform the provision of careers education and advice for young people and inspire them about the opportunities offered by the world of work’.

The new company will be employer led and independent of Government and will focus on young people aged 12 to 18 to help them ‘access the best advice and inspiration about the world of work by encouraging greater collaboration between schools, colleges and employers’. To be launched in Spring 2015, the Government is investing £20 million of start up funding, £5 million of this which will constitute an investment fund to support innovation and stimulate good practice across the country.

PROPOSED INDEPENDENT COLLEGE OF TEACHING AND IMPROVED PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Plans to support the set up of a new, independent, professional body to represent and champion high standards in the teaching profession were announced on Tuesday 9 December by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and Schools Minister David Laws.

The package of measures published for consultation aims to put the teaching profession in England on a par with the best in the world by:

  • supporting the creation of a new, independent, professional body for teaching – a college of teaching -that will give the profession greater responsibility over things like professional standards and development, placing teaching on an equal footing with high-status professions like law and medicine;
  • establishing a new fund to support more high quality, evidence-based professional development programmes – designed and delivered by a network of more than 600 leading teaching schools, working in partnership with others to spread the findings of their work across the teaching profession.

Friday Update – 5 December 2014

This week we highlight potential Department for Education consultations which would make changes to regulations affecting Governors and new rules barring certain people from working with the under 8s

POTENTIAL CONSULTATIONS ON CHANGES TO REGULATIONS                                                        The Department for Education is considering launching consultations on several changes to regulations as follows:

  •  to require all governors to have Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks;
  •  to allow Governing bodies to set individual terms of office for governors;
  •  to remove the veto enjoyed by Foundation governors of voluntary controlled schools on amending the Instrument of Government;
  • to require maintained schools to publish their Governors’ Register of Interests on their websites.

If these go through they would come into effect on 1 June 2015, apart from the requirement on DBS checks, which would be deferred to 1 September.

NEW RULES BARRING CERTAIN PEOPLE FROM WORKING WITH CHILDREN UNDER 8 YEARS OF AGE  
In October the Department for Education published Keeping Children Safe in Education: Childcare disqualification requirements –supplementary advice.  This reiterated previous stipulations that people who had been convicted of, or cautioned for, various offences relating to children were barred from providing or managing any form of childcare for children under the age of eight.  However, this provision also extends to anyone “living in the same household where another person who is disqualified lives or works”.  This “disqualification by association” means that anyone whose partner or relative living with them that has been convicted or cautioned would be barred.

Schools will have been conducting the requisite checks on staff as part of their statutory safeguarding procedures, but might now want to check with existing staff and new staff whether the “by association” rule applies to them.  The DfE’s advice is for schools to ask staff to “complete and sign a declaration which would help identify those caught by the ‘by association’ requirement”.

This guidance only refers to staff and does not state that the restriction applies to Governors.