Monthly Archives: March 2016

Seismic change in education landscape – 18 March 2016

Given the Chancellor’s Budget on Wednesday and the publication of the Education White Paper yesterday, this week I am focusing on the impact these fundamental changes will have on schools and their Governing bodies.

I have no doubt in Governing body meetings over the next 12 months we will be formulating plans to ensure the best outcomes for our children and young people whilst we get to grips with the changes we will need to make.

On Wednesday the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced the 2016 budget with headlines including:

  • all schools to be in the process of, or have already become academies by 2020;
  • from April 2017 there would be a new national funding formula;
  • £20 million a year of additional money available for schools in the North of England, as part of its Northern Powerhouse Initiative;
  • from September 2017, 25% of secondary schools to be able to opt-in for a longer school day to offer an extra 5 hours of teaching or extra-curricular activities with potential funding to pay for this;
  • from 2017 funding for the Primary schools’ sports premium doubled to £320 million a year, paid for through a levy (the ‘sugar tax’) on soft drinks companies.

Yesterday the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, laid out plans for an overhaul of the education sector with the publication of the White Paper ‘Educational Excellence Everywhere’ which will see significant changes to structure, training, support and development over the course of this Parliament.  The White Paper sets out 7 elements which the Government believes will deliver educational excellence across England and the key headlines for Governors are:

  • A move to make all schools academies or in the process of conversion by 2020 as well as plans to force schools to become academies in local authority areas that are under-performing or where the LA no longer has capacity to maintain its schools. Whilst there will be a continued push to get schools joining/forming multi-academy trusts successful, sustainable schools will still be able to continue as Single Academy Trusts.
  • Development of a new competency framework defining the core skills and knowledge needed for governance in different contexts and establishing a new database of everyone involved in governance.
  • All governing boards are expected to focus on seeking people with the right skills for governance so academy trusts will no longer be required to reserve places for elected parents. This will be offered to all open and new academies.
  • Three clearly defined core functions for LAs – (1) ensuring every child has a school place; (2) ensuring the needs of vulnerable pupils are met and (3) acting as champions for all parents and families. Shifting responsibility for school improvement from LAs with a new means to broker support and an increased focus on teaching schools, National Leaders of Education (LNEs) and other system leaders to spread expertise and best practice.
  • Consulting on making the school admissions system simpler and clearer including requiring LAs to co-ordinate in-year admissions and handling the administration of an independent admission appeals function.
  • Setting up a new online Parent Portal containing information about the school system and how to support their child; guidance for parents and pupils on complaints, making it simpler to escalate complaints beyond the governing board to the DfE, and up to a public service ombudsman.
  • Creating ‘Achieving Excellence Areas’ with a focus on areas of chronic and persistent under-performance through building teaching and leadership capacity as well as additional school improvement funding and sponsorship.
  • Meeting the needs of neglected groups of children with a focus on boosting attainment of four groups of children: ensuring schools stretch the lowest-attaining and most academically able pupils, better support children with special education needs and disability, and reforming the alternative provision (AP) system so that schools remain accountable for the education of children in AP and are responsible for commissioning provision.
  • Ofsted to consult on removing separate graded judgments on the quality of teaching, learning and assessment to focus inspections on outcomes and to reduce the burdens on schools and teachers.

As you can see from the areas listed above these are fundamental changes in which schools and Governing bodies operate.

Consultation on national schools funding formula – 11 March 2016

This week I highlight the new consultation on reforms to the national schools funding formula, a reminder that DBS checks for Governors become compulsory this month, a new requirement for schools to register their Governors on Edubase from September and the launch of a new website for school performance tables.

Further to the Chancellor’s announcement in his Autumn statement that a new school funding formula would be introduced in 2017, the Government has now drawn up its proposals and this week launched a consultation on them.

The most immediate change is that local authorities will no longer determine how core funds are distributed, which instead will go straight to schools. Their role will be limited to distributing high needs funding, on the basis that this involves making local decisions about children with SEND.

The press release issued by the DfE to announce the consultation stated that four factors would determine how core funding was to be distributed:

  • basic per pupil funding – ensuring a core allocation for the costs of teaching all pupils;
  • funding for additional needs – including deprivation, low prior attainment and English as an additional language;
  • school costs – including fixed costs and those related to schools serving rural communities;
  • area costs – ensuring more funding goes to areas that face the highest costs.

If you would like to contribute to the consultation you can do so here.

Amendments to the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012 come into effect on the 18th of this month when it will become compulsory for all Governors in maintained schools to have Disclosure and Barring Service checks. (The amended regulations do not use the term Disclosure and Barring Service but refer to “criminal record certificates”).

From 1 April Governing bodies will have to apply for an enhanced check certificate for any new Governor within 21 days of their appointment or election. For all existing Governors Governing bodies will have to apply for certificates by 1 September of this year.

The relevant regulation, The School Governance (Constitution and Federations) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 can be accessed here.

Schools are to be required to register details of all their Governors on Edubase, the Department for Education’s Register of educational establishments in England and Wales. The information to be given will include name, appointment date and the appointing body, which will be public information. Home addresses, nationality and the chair’s email address are also likely to be required, but will not be available to the public. The target dates are for schools to start uploading information in April if they wish, and for it to be compulsory to do so from September.

Academy trusts are to provide the same details on members of local governing bodies, in addition to the current requirement for them to publish information about their trustees.

The DfE has just launched a new site for school performance tables which contains  statistics about school and college performance in England, including test results, teacher assessments, Ofsted reports and financial information for academies. The old site will close at the end of this month.

Ofsted Lead for Governance video on Ofsted questions for Governors – 4 March 2016

This week I’ve provided a link to Ofsted’s Lead for Governance you tube video on questions Governors might be asked by Ofsted Inspectors, information on the phonics roadshows being offered by the Department for Education and calls by doctors and academics to ban tackling in school rugby.

Thanks to Sheena Lewington for sharing this insight from Belita Scott, Ofsted’s National Lead for Governance, who provides some examples of what governors might be asked during inspection.

To mark World Book Day yesterday, Schools Minister Nick Gibb announced a series of events to help schools share best practice and help children become confident readers. The new drive has been launched in response to the latest phonics screening check results, which show that despite strong progress there are still regional variations in the proportion of children reaching the expected standard in reading by the end of year 1. The North East roadshow is taking place at Bishopton Redmarshall C of E Primary School in Stockton on Tees on 15 March and there are only 2 places left.

In an open letter to ministers more than 70 doctors and academics are calling for a ban on tackling in rugby matches played in UK and Irish schools as they say injuries from this “high-impact collision sport” can have lifelong consequences for children.

Supporters say rugby builds character and other forms are less challenging and a spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Team sports, such as rugby, play an important role in developing character… we expect schools to be aware of the risks associated with sporting activities and to provide a safe environment for pupils.”