Shelving of the Education for All Bill – Friday 4 November 2016

This week I report on the Education Secretary’s Written Ministerial Statement signalling schools in “unviable or underperforming” council areas won’t now be forced into becoming academies, the publication of the Rochford Review in to P scales, the increase in the number of KS2 tests appeals and new guidance on calculating progress 8 and attainment 8.

Shelving of the Education for All Bill
During the half term break the Education Secretary made a Written Ministerial Statement announcing a new Technical and Further Education Bill and, importantly, confirmed that plans to force all schools in “unviable or underperforming” council areas into academies would no longer proceed.

Ms Greening advised there would be no changes to education legislation in this Parliamentary session (which runs until next Summer) and said “Our ambition remains that all schools should benefit from the freedom and autonomy that academy status brings. Our focus, however, is on building capacity in the system and encouraging schools to convert voluntarily.”

Many in the education community have claimed the Government has now all but scrapped the proposed Education for All bill, but experts have said the Government could roll elements from the bill into the new legislation which will be needed to introduce its grammar school proposals.

Rochford Review into P scales published
The report of the Rochford Review, an independent group commissioned by the DfE to review statutory assessment arrangements for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests was recently published. Currently, P scales are used to assess and report the attainment of pupils with SEND who are not working at the standard of mainstream statutory assessments. The review recommends that P scales should not continue to be used and that a new approach should be developed. Other recommendations touch on teacher training, sharing of good practice, quality assurance, and the need for further work on the best way to support schools with assessing pupils with English as an additional language (EAL).

Increase in number of Key Stage 2 tests appeals
New statistics published by the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) this week reveal a rise in the number of key stage 2 tests that were subject to an appeal. The sharpest increase was recorded in English reading – from 17,469 reviews to 21,587 this year. The mathematics test had the fewest review applications – 0.7% of tests taken.

Overall, 9.8% of review applications resulted in a successful review this year, with the highest change recorded in the mathematics test where 12.6% of applications resulted in a different outcome. Successful reviews applied to 0.2% of all tests taken in 2016.

New guidance on calculating progress 8 and attainment 8
The Department for Education has recently released information on how progress 8 and attainment 8 measures are calculated. It aims to help governors and trustees to understand the new measures. New GCSE qualifications will be graded from 1-9, but not all GCSEs are being moved to the new system at the same time. The DfE has, therefore, developed a methodology to compare the two parallel systems from 2017. A useful table to help people to benchmark the old A* – G grading system against the new 1 – 9 system is provided in the document and shows how unreformed GCSE’s will be translated into the new grading system.