Monthly Archives: July 2016

New Prime Minister and Education Secretary – Friday 15 July 2016

In my last update this academic year we can reflect on what a tumultuous year it has been. We started back in September with a new Ofsted Common Inspection Framework, new curricula and assessment. The publication of the Education White Paper in March heralded a move to make all schools academies by 2022. Following a public outcry in May the Government backed down confirming it wouldn’t now be legislating to force all schools to become academies. At the end of June, the UK voted to leave the EU raising concerns around the loss of substantial EU funding of research in our Universities and this week we have a new Prime Minister and Education Secretary.

This week I report on the new Education Secretary, evidence presented at the Education Committee’s enquiry on MATs and the announcement of further funding to expand the south asian method of teaching maths in primary schools.

Have a relaxing and enjoyable Summer break and I look forward to seeing you all again in September for what promises to be another unpredictable academic year.

New Secretary of State for Education
Justine Greening is the new Secretary of State for Education, replacing Nicky Morgan who had served in the role for two years. Ms Greening moves to the role from the Department for International Development, where she had been Secretary of State for nearly four years. She will be taking on both the higher education portfolio and the skills brief as part of a dramatic overhaul of Whitehall departments. We wait to see how her appointment impacts on education policy going forward.

MAT inquiry: Academy Trust CEOs give evidence to the Education Committee
The parliamentary Education Committee heard on Wednesday from eight witnesses about multi-academy trusts (MATs) and their role, size, governance and performance. Chief executives of academy chains and leading education figures outlined their vision for the future of the multi-academy trust (MAT) system. Some of the main points that came out of the session included:

  • Trusts had been encouraged to grow “too fast” in the past
  • There was a lack of clarity over what size is most effective
  • Academy trust chiefs agree that Ofsted should inspect MATs
  • Parents need to play a greater role in the MAT system
  • Tight regional clusters can help – but trusts also need to help each other

South Asian method of teaching maths to be rolled out in schools
As many of you are aware the North Tyneside Learning Trust is one of the 34 regional Maths Hubs that has been involved in the DfE’s England-China Maths Innovation Research Project. This week the Government announced that the south Asian ‘mastery’ approach to teaching maths is set to become a standard fixture in England’s primary schools. With the help of up to £41 million of funding spread over the next four years, more than 8,000 primary schools will receive support to adopt the approach which involves children being taught as a whole class, building depth of understanding of the structure of maths, supported by the use of high-quality textbooks.

The Government has also announced the launch of a tender for the national maths education centre, which will help in the training of specialist maths teachers and the review into the feasibility of compulsory maths study for all pupils up to 18 will report by the end of 2016.

Schools now required to publish Governors’ information – Friday 8 July 2016

This week the DfE has clarified the information schools need to provide for the national database of governors from 1 September, the Key Stage 2 SATs results have been released and the Secretary of State has proposed Amanda Spielman as the new head of Ofsted.

All schools are required to provide information for the national database of governors
The DfE has recently issued a statement clarifying that the requirement for governors’ details to be published on the Edubase website must be met by 1 September 2016. Edubase is the DfE’s open-access register of educational establishments in England and Wales.

Between now and 1 September all state schools must give Edubase information about their governors. Governing bodies of maintained schools have to supply all of the required information, whilst most academies have an easier job as the Government already holds a lot of what is required and has populated their entries with it. Academies will however need to check that what is published is correct and fill in any blanks. Both academies and maintained schools are required to keep the information up to date.

Most of the information required will be available to the public on Edubase, but some is only for use by the DfE and a number of officials such as Regional Schools Commissioners. For the public part the following information is required:

  • the full name of each governor
  • the body that appointed them
  • the date of their appointment
  • the date their term of office ends, or ended if they ceased to be a governor during the current school year
  • for maintained schools, whether they are the Chair of Governors or a member of the Governing body, and for academies whether they are a trust member, a trustee, the Chair of Trustees, or a local governor on a local governing body

At the same time the following details must be given for each governor, which will not be made public:

  • their postcode
  • their date of birth
  • any previous names
  • their nationality
  • the Chair’s email address must also be given

From September the requirement for academies to supply this information will be in the Academies Financial Handbook and for maintained schools the specific duty will be spelled out in the September edition of the Governance Handbook.

Key stage 2 results for 2016 published
National results published this week for the new, tougher primary school testing system in Maths and English, confirmed that 53% of pupils had met the expected standard in reading, writing and maths.

The Government was keen to emphasise that this year’s results were not comparable to test results from previous years which were under an entirely different system of assessment. The Government has also reiterated its intention for a Year 7 resit for those children that didn’t meet the expected standard.

Whilst the Education Secretary has proposed Amanda Spielman as the new head of Ofsted, to replace Sir Michael Wilshaw at the end of the year, she has written to the Education Committee Chair (Neil Carmichael) calling their report, which rejects Ms Spielman as the preferred candidate, “factually wrong”, stating that it reflects a “misconception of the role”.

One day NUT strike on 5 July 2016 – Friday 1 July 2016

This week I highlight the NUT strike taking place on Tuesday next week with many schools in our Borough affected, news on the Competency Framework for Governors promised in the Education White Paper and the requirement for schools to collect data on immigrant children from the Autumn.

NUT strike on Tuesday forcing many schools to close in England and Wales
Members of the National Union of Teachers have voted to hold a one-day strike on Tuesday (5 July) in protest at cuts to school budgets as well as workload concerns.  Support for the strike was high among those who voted, at about 92% supporting the move. But only about 50,000 votes were returned by the 210,000 members balloted, a turnout of just 24%.

The Department for Education (DfE) said the union’s reasons for holding a strike were unclear. It said: “It is disappointing the NUT has chosen to take unnecessary and damaging strike action, which less than a quarter of its members voted for. It is even more disappointing when we have offered and committed to formal talks between ministers and the unions to address their concerns about pay.”

The DfE has recently updated its Guidance on handling strike action in schools in relation to managing school meal options on a strike day.

Working group to develop a competency framework for governors
The DfE has provided further information about the competency framework for governance promised in March’s Education white paper. The National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter, has convened a working group of experienced Chairs of Governors and one Clerk to support the production of the framework, which will set out the skills, knowledge and behaviours required for effective governance.

A first draft will be produced by early July and will be put out to consultation with stakeholders. It is the DfE’s intention that the final framework will be published in the Autumn term. The framework will be used as a basis from which to make recommendations about the content of the National College of Teaching and Leadership’s professional development programmes for Chairs and Clerks from September 2017. It will also be used to produce a national standard for governor induction training.

Schools must collect data on immigrant children from the Autumn
The Government is to start collecting data on how many children from immigrant families are being taught in England’s schools. The DfE has changed the information that will be collected from schools this Autumn to include details about pupils’ nationality and country of birth. The change in the census records will expand the current collection, which just records pupils’ ethnicity – i.e. black, white British, Asian, etc.

The information about pupils’ nationality will come in addition to a new measure also being introduced this Autumn, which will ask schools to assess how good at English are those pupils classed as “having English as an additional language”, on a five-point scale.

A DfE spokesperson said: “The department will collect data on pupils’ country of birth, nationality and level of English proficiency through the school census in line with the national population census. “The information will be used to help the DfE better understand how children with, for example, English as an additional language, perform in terms of broader learning.”