Friday Update – 26 February 2016

This week I highlight the Education and Adoption Bill passing through Parliament and its impact on coasting or failing schools, the DfE’s initiatives to improve children and young people’s mental health and the launch of an initiative to encourage more reading of literature in secondary schools.

EDUCATION AND ADOPTION BILL PASSED THROUGH PARLIAMENT
The Education and Adoption Bill completed its passage through Parliament on Tuesday evening and included new measures that allow swifter intervention where a school is coasting or failing. Inevitably we will see more schools become academies and key clauses in the Bill include:

  • Coasting schools, as labelled by the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC), will be eligible for intervention. The definition of a coasting school has not yet been finalised and will be part of a second piece of legislation subject to MPs’ vote.
  • New powers are given to RSCs to issue schools with a performance, standards or safety warning notice. The RSC issuing the notice will also have the power to decide how much time the school is allowed to respond and improve.
  • The academy conversion for Inadequate schools must be ordered by the Education Secretary. They can also make academy orders for schools deemed to be coasting, but this is not a mandatory duty.
  • Consultation is no longer required for forced academisations.
  • LAs and Governors are now required to co-operated in the event of forced academisation.
  • Education Secretaries will be given powers to set the actions Governors will be required to take in forced academy takeover, and impose deadlines.
  • Education Secretaries can also revoke an academy order if other means of improvement or closure are deemed a better option.
  • Academy trusts and chains taking over maintained schools are responsible for communicating their improvement plans to parents. This does not mean they will be consulted on the changes.
  • Academy funding agreements must include a provision which allows education secretaries to end agreements for coasting academies.

In the next and final step, the Education and Adoption Bill will be taken to Her Majesty the Queen for royal assent. This will turn the bill into an act of Parliament and its measures will come into force as soon as possible.

 
IMPROVING CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE’S MENTAL HEALTH
The Department for Education (DfE) is seeking views on the most effective support methods to help improve the mental health of children and young people. The Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, has announced a £1.5 million fund driven by young people to help them develop support networks and talk about mental health, with online advice and workshops to help set them up.

The DfE has also updated its counselling guidance, which provides practical, evidence-based advice, informed by experts on how to make sure school counselling works for children and young people.

 
LAUNCH OF 100 CLASSIC BOOKS IN SCHOOLS INITIATIVE
One hundred titles are being offered as part of a new initiative from Penguin Classics, following a call for action by Schools Minister Nick Gibb to ensure there is more classic literature being taught in schools. The 100 titles – taken from Penguin’s Black Classics series – range from the earliest writings to early 20th century works, span fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose, and are intended to offer a springboard for children to discover the classics. All the titles are by authors who died before 1946 and are therefore out of copyright.

Penguin is offering Secondary schools classroom sets of 30 copies of each of the 100 titles for a package price of £3,000, allowing pupils to read along with their teacher and classmates. The offer will run between March and June 2016 for delivery in time for the new school term in September 2016. Schools can register for further information at: edu.penguinclassics.co.uk