Monthly Archives: June 2015

Friday Update – 26 June 2015

This week I provide a summary of the changes to Ofsted Inspection from September and the Government’s response to the Education Select Committee Report on Extremism in Schools.

Following its consultation earlier this year, Ofsted has released its new inspection handbook and framework which will come into effect from September. The significant changes are:

  • A Common inspection framework: aligning inspection across early years settings, maintained schools and academies, non-association independent schools and further education and skills providers. While each remit will continue to have an individual inspection handbook which applies the principles of the common framework, the change is designed to provide consistency and comparability across Ofsted’s education inspections.
  • Short inspections for ‘good’ schools: from September, schools that were judged ‘good’ at their most recent inspection will receive a short inspection approximately every 3 years. Inspectors carrying out short inspections will start from the assumption that the school remains good, and will only make judgements on whether this is the case and whether safeguarding is effective. Where the inspectors believe the school may no longer be ‘good’ (either due to improvement or decline), these will be converted into full inspections.
  • Changes to the inspector workforce: Ofsted will contract directly with inspectors (rather than outsourcing) and bring training and quality assurance in-house. The majority of Ofsted Inspectors will be current leaders of ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ education providers.

Outstanding schools will continue to be exempt from routine inspection, but Ofsted will retain the power to inspect if performance drops or other concerns are raised. The exemption from routine inspection does not apply to ‘outstanding’ Special schools, PRUs and maintained Nursery schools. However, under the new CIF, these settings will have the short inspection if they have been rated ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’.

Key judgements
Ofsted will make graded judgements in the following areas:

  • Overall effectiveness;
  • Effectiveness of leadership and management;
  • Quality of teaching, learning and assessment;
  • Personal development, behaviour and welfare;
  • Outcomes for children and learners;
  • The effectiveness of Early Years and Sixth form provision, where applicable.

Ofsted will report on the curriculum under the judgement of leadership and management.

Inspection of governance
In the new inspection handbook, governance will still be evaluated as part of ‘leadership and management’ and inspectors will consider:

  • The leaders’ and governors’ vision and ambition for the school and how these are communicated to staff, parents and pupils;
  • The effectiveness of governors in discharging their core statutory functions.

Ofsted has produced a short guide to the new framework which you might find useful.

Today the Government published its response to the Education Select Committee’s Report on Extremism in Schools. It acknowledged that the risk of young people being radicalised or drawn into terrorism has risen. ISIL and others were using social media to radicalise and recruit young people, and young people formed a growing proportion of those travelling to Syria and Iraq.

It states schools have a vital role to play in protecting pupils from the risks of extremism and radicalisation, underpinned by the new duty in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 “to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”, which comes into force on 1 July. This reinforces the safeguarding role that schools already play in this area. Schools should also prepare young people for life in modern Britain. At the heart of this is their responsibility to promote the fundamental values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.

To help address the problems that emerged in Birmingham schools a new national database of school governors will be created requiring schools to publish the identities of their governors. Requirements on all state funded schools through both statutory guidance and the Academies Financial Handbook will be strengthened and schools will have to publish details of their governors and where they serve on governing bodies of schools elsewhere, to increase transparency to parents and wider communities and enable more effective oversight.

Friday Update – 19 June 2015

This week I highlight the publication of Ofsted’s new Common Inspection Framework which will come into effect from September, increased responsibilities for Regional Schools Commissioners and announcements from the Education Minister regarding the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) and the establishment of a working group to look at behaviour in the classroom.

On Monday Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw launched the new ‘common inspection framework’ (CIF) which will come into effect from September. The main changes outlined in his speech were:

  • Emphasis on leadership as part of new inspection criteria;
  • ‘Good’ schools to be inspected every 3 years;
  • Plans to set-up a scrutiny committee in each of Ofsted’s regions to assess and rule on the internal reviews of complaints about inspection;
  • Head Teachers who have played a ‘key role’ in turning around other institutions will receive a letter acknowledging their leadership as ‘exceptional’, which will also be sent to the Education Secretary.

Sir Michael indicated Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMIs) principal task when they visited good schools was to determine whether the leadership team, including governors, had the capacity not only to maintain existing standards but to improve them further. He also gave examples of the kinds of questions HMIs will ask during these new inspections as follows:

  • Have the leaders got a grip on the institution? Do they fully understand its strengths and weaknesses?
  • Have they communicated their strategy for raising standards to the key stakeholders?
  • Are they focussed on what really benefits children and young people, rather than wasting their time endlessly preparing for an Ofsted inspection which could be years away?
  • Do they refuse to accept excuses for underachievement and are they prepared to go the extra mile to compensate for family background?
  • Are they simply presiders over the status quo, content to take the path of least resistance or are they prepared to challenge staff and students to do better?
  • Have they built, or are they developing, a culture that is calm, orderly and aspirational?
  • Are they, for example, people who tolerate scrappy worksheets? Or are they people who insist that children should have good materials to work with?

On Monday, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, Lord Nash sent a letter to all Directors of Children’s services informing them he had delegated decision-making on tackling under-performance in local authority maintained schools, through sponsored academy arrangements to Regional School Commissioners (RSCs). From 1 July 2015 formal decisions on who is the most appropriate sponsor and levels of funding will now be taken by the RSCs on behalf of the Secretary of State.

On Tuesday the Education Minister, Nicky Morgan, visited King Solomon Academy in London and announced changes to the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) and the establishment of a working group to look at behaviour in the classroom.

The old grading system of A* to U is already being replaced with a new scale of 9 to 1 and the Minister confirmed that for the new GCSEs that start being taught this September, a ‘good pass’ will be set at a grade 5. That’s at the top of the current grade C and the bottom of the current grade B.

The Minister also announced that Tom Bennett, a renowned behaviour expert, had agreed to chair a working group to look at behaviour content in training for new teachers building on the best evidence about what works to help them manage classrooms and manage behaviour.

Friday Update – 12 June 2015

This week I’m unashamedly focusing on national recognition of outstanding governance at a school I clerk in the Borough, as well as highlighting a free Governor Live session, the publication of a Sutton Trust report on the under-achievement of highly able disadvantaged pupils and the Minister of State for Schools’ recent speech setting out the Government’s plans to reinforce the importance of a core academic curriculum.

I was immensely proud to attend the national Awards ceremony held on Tuesday, at the House of Commons, with members of Churchill Community College’s Governing body. Having been part of a seven strong group of Governors that met with the judges at the end of March when we were shortlisted, it was fantastic to become national finalists along with five other Governing bodies. Facing stiff competition, Churchill was announced as the winner of the Outstanding Governance Award, presented by the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Tristram Hunt MP.

In determining the overall winner, the judges said “Churchill’s governing board’s breadth of experience and skills is wide ranging and their expertise has enabled them to challenge leaders well, holding them to account for the progress made by all. The vision of the college – “excellence for all” – has resulted in an outward-facing school prepared not only to share its experience and knowledge but also to continue to learn in the process. We were very impressed by the way this governing body interacts with its students and gives them the opportunity to share their feedback so that governors have a clear picture of how students feel about their learning experience.”

In this post-election period when the Education Bill is as yet unclear and no one is quite sure how the DfE will define the word ‘coasting’, the NGA and Modern Governor has joined forces to launch a series of ‘Governor Live’ events. These are free, live, on-line sessions for Governors and Academy Trustees and the first one takes place for 1 hour at 7.30 p.m. on Monday 22 June 2015.

Emma Knights, NGA’s Chief Executive will kick off the session with input from Ruth Agnew, a National Leader of Governance and the lead subject matter expert for Modern Governor’s E-learning modules, to help participants consider issues arising from the discussion. To take part using a web browser or on a tablet or smartphone (using the free Adobe Connect mobile app) you will need to go to the registration page, register your details, set a password and will be emailed confirmation of your registration.

The Sutton Trust, in collaboration with the FFT Education Datalab, has produced a report looking at disadvantaged pupils who are high achieving in primary schools but end up with comparatively poor GCSE results. The report found that:

  • the majority of ‘missing talent’ pupils are boys in receipt of the pupil premium
  • pupil premium pupils who are ‘highly able’ achieve, on average, half a grade less than their peers who are similarly as able
  • there is a lack of take up for GCSEs in History, Geography, Languages and Triple Science from pupil premium students who are highly able

Of particular significance for Governors, the report recommended that schools ‘must be made accountable for the progress of their most able pupils’. Governing boards should be monitoring different ability groups, and those who find schools that are successful in raising the attainment of the highly able should be invited to deliver extra-curricular activities to help raise the attainment of others in the area.

The report highlighted North Tyneside as one of among the 20 worst-performing local authorities in England and a spokesperson for the Council, as reported in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, said “Having read the research with interest, we think the data for North Tyneside is skewed as a consequence of some of our schools teaching some subjects that do not score in the equation used by Sutton Trust. “This does not mean that the young people have not gone on to achieve well and move on to employment, further education, or training. Affected schools have since changed their curriculum offer.”

Yesterday, speaking at the Policy Exchange in London, the Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb MP, set out the Government’s plans for “ensuring that all school children up to the age of 16 are properly educated in those academic subjects that best equip them for their future; either for high-quality vocational education after 16, or further academic education until ultimately going on to engage in training for a vocation.”

With more rigorous GCSE and A Levels, increasing the use and availability of high-quality textbooks in schools, and improving standards of Maths by supporting schools to adopt the proven mastery approach to teaching Maths, the Minister suggested this would continue to raise academic standards so that every pupil received the education to which they were entitled.

In due course, the Government will set out details of its expectation that Secondary school pupils should take English Baccalaureate subjects at age 16. In doing so, the Minister indicated the Government would listen to the views of teachers, Headteachers, and parents on how best to implement this commitment, as well as ensuring schools had adequate lead in time to prepare for any major changes.

Friday Update – 5 June 2015

Welcome back after the half term break.  This week I’m concentrating on the new Education Bill and its impact on schools as well as details on a new fund to help rugby coaches build character and resilience in pupils.

The Queen outlined the proposed legislation of the new Government on 27 May, in her first Conservative-only speech in nearly 20 years. Whilst the new legislative plans for education had already been outlined in the 2015 Conservative Manifesto not much further detail was added. The main measures were:

  • New powers to academise coasting schools
  • Quick intervention in failing schools, including forced academisation
  • New powers for the Regional Schools Commissioners to bring outstanding Heads into underperforming schools

It was made clear that in the future every single school rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted will be turned into an academy. Coasting schools will be put on a notice to improve and given support from a team of expert Headteachers. Those schools that continue to be unable to demonstrate a clear plan for improvement will be given new leadership.

The Government will reveal a clear definition of ‘coasting’ schools in due course, but Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said last week that Ofsted judgements will not be the only factor considered when defining a ‘coasting’ school – mediocre performance and unsatisfactory pupil progress will also weigh heavily.

The Queen’s Speech also introduced measures to increase the hours of free childcare for three and four year olds in England from 15 to 30 hours a week by 2017, for families where all parents are working.

It is estimated the scheme will cost £350million a year and will be funded through reductions in tax relief on pension contributions for people earning more than £150,000. While the additional hours for children has been largely welcomed by the early years sector, there are still concerns over funding and that nursery providers need to be funded properly to make these plans sustainable.

This week the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced that rugby coaches from premiership clubs will be drafted into schools to instil character and resilience in disaffected children, as part of the government’s “core mission to deliver real social justice”.

In the year England is hosting the Rugby World Cup, the Government is funding 14 professional clubs to design and deliver programmes to use the sport’s ethos of discipline and respect to build character and resilience in pupils. All 12 Aviva Premiership clubs plus Worcester Warriors and Bristol will work with local pupils through the scheme.