DfE dispels myths about the academies programme – 15 April 2016

Welcome back after the Easter break. The Education White Paper continues to make headlines and spark much debate and this week I highlight the DfE’s publication of a ‘10 facts’ document about the academies programme, the Government’s decision not to use Reception baseline assessments as an accountability measure this year and the opportunity for schools to buy tablet devices through a DfE led procurement process.

DISPELLING POPULAR MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ACADEMIES 
Earlier this week the DfE published information about the academies programme to help clarify some potential misconceptions that had been voiced since the publication of the Education White Paper, before the Easter break. Of particular note the DfE states “successful, sustainable schools will not be forced to join up in a trust with other schools”, although the White Paper states that it expects most schools will form or join Multi Academy Trusts (MATs). Clearly Governing bodies will have to consider carefully how to proceed to ensure they make the best decision for their school.

RECEPTION BASELINE ASSESSMENTS NOT BEING USED AS AN ACCOUNTABILITY MEASURE IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS  
The DfE has decided not to use the Reception baseline assessment as a starting point to measure pupil progress. Results from their recent comparability study found that the three providers schools could use for the assessments were incompatible, making it difficult to compare schools. As a result, Key Stage 1 will continue to be used as the starting point to measure pupils’ progress to Key Stage 2, rather than Reception. The DfE outlined that schools can choose to continue using baseline assessments in 2016 and 2017 but the outcomes from the assessments will not be used for accountability. Over the coming months the DfE will be considering options for improving assessment arrangements in Reception beyond 2016 to 2017 and will make an announcement in due course.

OPPORTUNITY TO REGISTER TO BUY CHEAPER TABLET DEVICES THROUGH THE DFE 
The DfE is facilitating a further procurement to allow schools to buy tablet devices (Apple iPad, Microsoft Surface Pro, LearnPad or a generic tablet) using ‘collective buying power’, after the pilot saved 12% on the price. The procurement will be completed by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and schools should register their initial interest by 6 May 2016 by emailing CG.Communications@education.gsi.gov.uk.