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.