Monthly Archives: February 2015

Friday Update – 27 February 2015

This week I highlight the second phase of the Shanghai Maths Teacher Exchange and a new scheme to boost middle management in challenging schools.

SECOND PHASE OF SHANGHAI MATHS TEACHER EXCHANGE BEGINS
Back in July last year I reported that the North Tyneside Learning Trust was confirmed as 1 of 32 schools and academy trusts leading new Maths hubs across England funded by the Department for Education, and co-ordinated by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics.

In November 2 primary school teachers from Shanghai visited North Tyneside for a three week period teaching maths at Benton Dene Primary School. A second group of Shanghai’s top teachers arrive in England this week to share their world-class approach to maths teaching and help further raise standards in the subject.

English teachers are reporting that techniques introduced by their Shanghai colleagues – such as spending longer on topics before moving on and ‘teaching to the top’ through whole-class teaching – have already had a positive impact in their schools. The exchange has encouraged teachers to change the way they approach lesson planning to develop a deep understanding and fluency in mathematics.

A further phase of the exchange is set to take place in the autumn and spring terms of the 2015 – 2016 academic year focusing on secondary maths teaching.

 
NEW SCHEME TO BOOST MIDDLE MANAGEMENT IN CHALLENGING SCHOOLS
Schools Minister David Laws announced yesterday that 100 exceptional middle leaders will be placed in some of the most challenging schools across England in a move to raise standards and improve the quality of teaching and subject leadership.

The secondment programme will invite up to 100 ‘outstanding’ middle leaders – such as heads of department, subject or year group heads to apply to spend a year in underperforming schools, including those in deprived, coastal and rural areas. The 1 year scheme will enable schools which face some of the greatest challenges to benefit from the skills, expertise and knowledge of strong middle leadership to help raise attainment. It will also provide an important professional development opportunity for participants with a view to training the excellent school leaders of the future.

Friday Update – 13 February 2015

This week I highlight calls for centralised records for Governors and publication of a model form and letter by the Department for Education which schools can send to parents about Early Years Pupil Premium funding.

CALLS FOR CENTRALISED RECORDS FOR ALL GOVERNORS
Following on from the Trojan Horse investigations and the Public Accounts Committee’s report into school oversight, there have been calls for the Department for Education (DfE) to maintain centralised records of details for all state school governors.

David Simmonds, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People board, warned that without records beyond individual schools it was difficult to see patterns of whether individuals had become governors in a number of different places.

The DfE has pointed out that from September 2014 Academies have been required to publish the register of interest for their trustees and members of local governing boards on their websites and such registers must include details of trusteeships or governor positions held at other educational positions, regardless of whether these carry a pecuniary interest.

Currently, the advice from the DfE is that maintained schools publish a full list of the governors on their website. As reported in a previous Update the DfE has also consulted on whether it should be mandatory for LA maintained schools to do this and it is expected that this would become a requirement from September 2015.

DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION EARLY YEARS PUPIL PREMIUM FORM AND LETTER FOR PARENTS
The Department for Education (DfE) has published a model form and letter for schools to send to parents about the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP). Schools with Early Years provision are responsible for identifying which of their pupils may be eligible for the EYPP and for passing that information on to their local authority. The model form aims to help schools identify which pupils are eligible for the EYPP, and the DfE recommends that schools ask all parents and guardians, regardless of family income or circumstances, to complete the form when they enrol their child. Schools can use the template letter to explain to parents what the EYPP is when you ask them to fill in the form. The completed form should then be shared with the local authority so they can run the necessary checks and make sure schools receive the EYPP funding they are entitled to.

Friday Update – 6 February 2015

This week Ofsted has confirmed changes to the inspection of schools that I first told you about back in October last year, I highlight new Government plans to reduce unnecessary workloads for teachers and the DfE’s withdrawal of Statutory guidance on excluding pupils.

CONFIRMATION OF CHANGES TO THE INSPECTION OF SCHOOLS FROM SEPTEMBER 2015
Ofsted has just published the results of its ‘Better Inspections for All’ consultation, and announced a number of changes to the inspection of schools which will come into force in September 2015:

  • A new Common Inspection Framework for all early years settings, maintained schools and academies, non-associations independent schools and further education and skills providers (a new inspection handbook will be published in the summer term 2015). Ofsted’s aim is to bring about greater consistency across inspections.
  • Schools and academies that were judged ‘good’ at their last full inspection will receive a short inspection approximately every three years (instead of the current full inspection every three to five years).
  • All non-association independent schools will receive an inspection under the new Common Inspection Framework within three years.

Ofsted carried out over 40 short inspection pilots in the autumn term last year and pilots are continuing this term. Explaining how these inspections will differ from full inspections, the report emphasises a focus on ensuring that standards have been maintained and providing an opportunity for professional dialogue on the schools’ strengths and weaknesses. Short inspections will not provide a full set of inspection judgements. These short inspections will also apply to special schools, pupil referral units and maintained nurseries which are judged good and outstanding – these settings are not exempt from inspections even if outstanding.

Ofsted has confirmed that the new inspection framework will have more focus on the breadth and suitability of the curriculum. Curriculum will be reported under leadership and management.

GOVERNMENT PLANS ANNOUNCED TO TACKLE UNNECCESARY TEACHER WORKLOAD
A series of measures designed to help tackle the root causes of unnecessary teacher workload were announced today by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.

Thousands of teachers shared their experiences, ideas and solutions by taking part in the Department for Education’s consultation – the Workload Challenge survey. The survey generated more than 44,000 returns with the same themes raised by the profession as the key drivers of unnecessary and unproductive workload e.g. Ofsted and the pressure it placed on school leaders, the impact of policies from government, as well as hours spent recording data, marking and lesson-planning.

A number of commitments have been announced including:

  • commitments by Ofsted to not change their handbook or framework during the school year, except when absolutely necessary.  To keep updating their new myths and facts document stating what inspectors do and do not expect to see.  From 2016 onwards look to make the handbook shorter and simpler, so that schools can more easily understand how inspectors will reach their judgements.
  • giving schools more notice of significant changes to the curriculum, exams and accountability, and not making changes to qualifications in the academic year or during a course, unless there are urgent reasons for doing so.
  • making it easier for teachers to find examples of what works in other schools, and research about the best way to do things like marking, data management and planning by bringing together a central repository of evidence.
  • support for Headteachers to carry out their demanding jobs by reviewing all leadership training, including reviewing the opportunities available for coaching and mentoring for leaders.
  • tracking teacher workload over the coming years by carrying out a large scale, robust survey in early spring 2016, and every 2 years from then on.

REMOVAL OF STATUTORY GUIDANCE ON THE EXCLUSION OF PUPILS FROM LA MAINTAINED SCHOOLS, ACADEMIES AND PUPIL REFERRAL UNITS
The School Reform Minister Nick Gibb has removed the current Statutory guidance on exclusions, which was only issued in January, to address some issues with process. Until the new guidance is issued schools should refer to the 2012 guidance.

Although the Department for Education has not specified the reasons for taking down the guidance it is believed to stem from a legal challenge about the wording of the January 2015 guidance in relation to the ‘test’ for whether an exclusion was justified.