Friday Update – 6 November 2015

This week has seen the announcement of the re-introduction of formal testing for 7 year olds, plans for a technical and professional education system, the publication of a new DfE report on the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and the creation of a new National Teaching Service.

PLANS FOR THE RE-INTRODUCTION OF KS1 NATIONAL TESTS
On 3 November the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced controversial plans for the re-introduction of formal SAT examinations for 7 year olds. The Department for Education has said these plans were triggered by a need for more confidence in knowing that students are progressing well through primary school. The Government has said it will be working with Headteachers in the following months to ensure clarity, while holding schools to account and also giving them “full credit for the progress they achieve”.

PLANS FOR A TECHNICAL AND PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION SYSTEM
Yesterday the Skills Minister Nick Boles announced plans for up to 20 specific new professional and technical routes leading up to employment or degree-level study, which will be as easy to understand as academic routes.

These new routes will lead young people from compulsory schooling into employment and the highest levels of technical competence, which for many will mean moving on to apprenticeships as quickly as possible. The government has pledged to deliver 3 million quality apprenticeship starts by 2020.

To deliver the reforms, the government will work closely with an independent expert panel, headed by Lord Sainsbury, former Minister of Science and Innovation.

SUPPORTING THE ATTAINMENT OF DISADVANTAGED PUPILS
On Saturday 17 October I attended the NGA’s Northern Regional Conference and we heard from Professor Steven Higgins of Durham University on his research around pupil premium. The formal report has now been published by the DfE and the findings suggest that schools which have been more successful in raising the performance of disadvantaged pupils have put the basics in place (especially addressing attendance and behaviour, setting high expectations, focusing on the quality of teaching and developing the role of TAs) and have moved on to more specific improvement strategies.

CREATION OF A NEW NATIONAL TEACHING SERVICE
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan also unveiled plans this week to create a National Teaching Service (NTS) which will deploy the country’s teaching elite to work in underperforming schools. A pilot of the service has been launched in the North West to recruit 100 teachers and leaders to start work in primary and secondary schools from September 2016.