This week I highlight the publication of new postcards from Ofqual on GCSE, AS and A Level reforms, a new on-line resource of science and maths questions for primary school governors, the launch of the DfE’s Literacy drive and the publication of updated Statutory Guidance on Behaviour and Discipline in schools and Home-School Agreements.
OFQUAL RELEASES USEFUL ‘POSTCARDS’ TO HELP UNDERSTAND EXAMINATION REFORMS
Last week the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) launched a series of eight ‘postcards’ detailing the reforms being made to GCSEs, AS and A levels. Providing information on the new grading structures and how grades are set, the postcards have been sent to all secondary schools in England. Whilst primarily for the use of students, teachers and parents they will also be useful to governors who also need to be aware of these changes.
WELLCOME TRUST PRIMARY SCHOOL QUESTIONS FOR GOVERNORS LAUNCHED
The Wellcome Trust has recently launched a free online resource for primary school governors, on the back of the success of a similar resource aimed at secondary schools. Questions for Governors has a set of questions focused on science and maths, evidence for why they are important, national benchmarks to compare against and ideas for improvement. It can be used by governors for discussions with senior leaders and identify areas to celebrate or challenge.
LAUNCH OF LITERACY DRIVE
This week the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and children’s author and comedian David Walliams urged leading publishers, schools and early years providers to join forces in a bid to make English pupils the most literate in Europe in five years. The Department for Education has created new resources in conjunction with 4Children to equip parents and early years providers with high-quality activities and resources to help children master the essentials of language.
In August 2015 Nicky Morgan announced the first steps in the Government’s Literacy campaign, including funding The Reading Agency to extend their Chatterbooks scheme and set up new book clubs in 200 more primary schools across the country and to work with schools and get more Year 3 pupils enrolled at their local library.
UPDATED STATUTORY GUIDANCE ON BEHAVIOUR AND DISCIPLINE AND HOME-SCHOOL AGREEMENTS
This week the Department for Education confirmed it had reviewed and republished its Statutory Guidance on Behaviour and Discipline in schools and Home-School Agreements.
This week I highlight the publication of the final report from The Commission on Assessment Without Levels, the expansion of Tom Bennett’s review into poor behaviour in the classroom and the launch of a project offering free Human Rights lessons.
ASSESSMENT WITHOUT LEVELS
I know many of you received Headteacher’s updates last academic year on how the school was carrying out assessment after the removal of the national curriculum levels system. The Commission on Assessment Without Levels, set up by the Department for Education to help schools to develop and implement new approaches to pupil assessment, yesterday published its final report.
The advice gives schools information on how to develop new approaches based on the needs of the pupils, following the school’s curriculum and supporting effective teaching. The Government also published its formal response to the range of recommendations outlining how it would address the recommendations going forward.
HUMAN RIGHTS LESSONS TO BE OFFERED TO SCHOOLS IN ENGLAND
The BBC has reported that on Monday the Education Secretary and Ms Kennedy, a US human rights activist, will launch a new project designed to start debates about “democracy, respect and tolerance”.
The free project called Speak Truth to Power, teaches students about human rights activists who have challenged oppression and who have faced imprisonment and torture. Teachers will be able to access online material to present the lessons.
The Education Secretary has said she wants the project “to encourage young people to be active and engaged citizens and to leave school well-rounded, confident and resilient.”
IMPACT OF SMARTPHONES ON BEHAVIOUR IN LESSONS TO BE REVIEWED
On 13 September the Schools Minister Nick Gibb, announced Tom Bennett’s review into how initial teacher training prepared teachers for tackling low-level disruption in class would be expanded to look at all of the challenges of managing behaviour in 21st-century schools. The review will also now look at wider issues such as the use of mobile phones and other devices in schools.
This week I highlight the Government’s intention to allow summer born children the right to start in Reception at age 5, the publication of the Government’s response to the Education Select Committee’s review of PSHE and SRE in schools and a new on-line tool for schools to give parents advice on preparing their children for adult life.
SUMMER BORN CHILDREN TO GET THE RIGHT TO START SCHOOL LATER
Earlier this week the Schools Minister Nick Gibb announced the Government’s intention to give summer-born children the right to start in Reception at the age of 5. The Minister said admissions rules must be changed so children born between April 1 and August 31 cannot be forced to go straight into Year 1 if they wait to start school until they turn 5.
He has written an open letter to encourage schools and local authorities to take immediate action, in advance of the proposed changes, and allow summer-born children to start in Reception aged 5 if that is what parents want.
PERSONAL, SOCIAL, HEALTH AND ECONOMIC EDUCATION (PSHE) AND SEX AND RELATIONSHIPS EDUCATION (SRE) IN SCHOOLS: GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
Back in March, Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, announced some new measures to improve the quality of PSHE, including the development of a new, rigorous PSHE quality mark and working with the PSHE Association to help them quality assure resources.
The Education Select Committee has carried out a review of PHSE and SRE in schools and the Government has now published its response to the report, setting out its commitment to improve the quality of PSHE and SRE in schools.
NEW NATIONAL SAFETY TOOL
The Government has recently launched a new on-line tool for schools to give parents advice and tips on preparing their children for adult life. The new online service, called Parent Info gives parents information to help them navigate the issues children can now face on everything from spotting the warning signs of self-harm, to having a healthy body image and managing money in a digital world. The service will also provide parents with pathways for where they can go for more hands on support on specific issues.
Welcome back after the Summer break, I hope you are all refreshed and ready for the new academic year ahead. This week I highlight updated statutory guidance on the constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools and the publication of the new Ofsted Framework.
UPDATED STATUTORY GUIDANCE ON THE CONSTITUTION OF GOVERNING BODIES OF MAINTAINED SCHOOLS
As anticipated the statutory guidance on the constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools was updated at the end of last month. From 1 September Governing bodies are required to publish governors’ details and the register of interests on their school websites. As we will have some work to do to ensure we meet the new requirements I will be providing a full update paper at our Governing body meetings this term.
Also included in the guidance is greater flexibility of terms of office for governors. Although the maximum term of office remains four years, governing bodies can now specify in the instrument of government that the term of office for an individual governor within a particular category may be between one and four years, as determined by the appointing body at the time of appointment.
NEW OFSTED FRAMEWORK PUBLISHED
At the end of August Ofsted published the final versions of the new Common Inspection Framework (CIF) and inspection handbooks which came in to effect from 1 September.
Ofsted’s National Director for Education (a new role to align with the Common Inspection Framework), Sean Harford, published a blog to accompany the revised guidance, explaining the various changes that had been made to the final versions since the documents were published in draft form back in June. Note this includes a new set of criteria specific to governance.
Inspectors will also assess the arrangements schools have in place to promote pupils’ welfare and prevent radicalisation and extremism.