Monthly Archives: December 2016

Stage 2 of the National Funding Formula consultation opens – Friday 16 December 2016

Merry Christmas to all Governors and a Happy New Year

This week I report on the next stage of the consultation on a new national funding formula, the publication of Ofsted’s new ‘improving governance’ study, information on subsidised funding for the Chairs and aspiring Chairs programme and the release of revised Key Stage 2 SATs results and Primary School performance tables .

Schools National Funding Formula
On Wednesday the Department for Education published its response to stage 1 of the consultation on a new national funding formula. The new formula will be introduced in 2018 to 2019 and there will be a transitional year during which local authorities will continue to set local schools funding formulae. The Government also provided an interactive spreadsheet illustrating the impact of the proposed formula on individual schools. You can look up your school on the first sheet of the document or see a full list of schools in the tab ‘NFF all schools’.

The Government announced the second stage of its consultation on the new funding formula and at the same time opened a consultation on High Needs funding. High needs funding is for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities who need extra support at school, college or alternative provision settings. The Government is looking for views on the weighting for each factor in the proposed formula as well as the transition to and implementation of the formula.

Ofsted ‘Improving governance’ study
Yesterday Ofsted published its ‘improving governance’ study looking at the challenges facing governing bodies in schools. The report draws on evidence from visits to 24 improving primary, secondary and special schools  situated in some of the poorest areas of the country to look at their governance arrangements. It also uses evidence from routine inspections and monitoring visits over the last year and from 2,632 responses to a call for evidence initiated by HMCI in November 2015. The report identifies the barriers faced by governors in these schools and the actions taken to strengthen their professional skills and fulfil their roles as effective, strategic school leaders.

Funded training for Chairs and aspiring Chairs
Leading Governance is running the Governors’ Leadership Development programme for governors in Spennymoor, Durham, with the support of the Governor Services teams from Durham and Middlesbrough. The programmes are open to all chairs and aspiring chairs in the North East.

These six month accredited programmes normally cost £399, but the National College of Teaching and Leadership has made scholarships available, meaning that the cost to you/your school is just £79.

The first session will start on 23rd January 2017. For more information and to register for the programme, please go to or call 0121 237 4600.

Primary School Performance Tables and revised Key Stage 2 SATs results
Yesterday the DfE published the Primary Schools performance tables as well as the revised Key Stage 2 SATs results at national, regional and local authority level.

Project to collect data on the northern education gap launched – Friday 9 December 2016

This week I report on the launch of the “growing up north’ project, the publication of the PISA rankings with additional Government funding for Science and the announcement that the National Teaching Service will not be continuing.

Children’s Commissioner launches a project to collect data on the northern education gap
Over the next year, the Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield will be leading a project aimed at addressing educational inequality in the north of England. She will be joined by an advisory panel (although it should be noted that there isn’t currently a North East representative) to gather data on children in the region to examine factors that influence their progression.

The project will bring together data on pupil outcomes to “increase understanding” of regional differences, look at the ways in which children’s ambitions are shaped by their experiences and assess the opportunities available to young people between and within different regions.

It’s not known if there’s a specific budget for the project or if it will be funded through the Commissioner’s office’s existing funding. This follows numerous other projects/reports that have looked at educational inequality in the north including the Ofsted chief inspector’s last annual report, Sir Nick Weller’s review of schools and the northern powerhouse and a Social Market Foundation commission on educational inequality, chaired by the former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

PISA tests: UK lags behind in global school rankings
This week the influential PISA rankings were published showing the UK is still lagging behind leading countries at education and has made little progress in international rankings since results were last published.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), led by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), provides evidence on how the achievement and abilities of 15-year-olds varies across countries. PISA is conducted every three years and pupils are tested in four subjects (science, mathematics, reading and collaborative problem solving), with one subject the focus each time.

As the data enables countries to benchmark themselves against the rest of the world and to spot strengths and weaknesses in their education system, they have become increasingly influential on politicians.

In maths the UK is ranked 27th, slipping down a place from three years ago, in reading the UK is ranked 22nd, up from 23rd and the UK’s most successful subject is science, up from 21st to 15th place.

To support the teaching of science in schools the Government has announced a £12.1 million investment until 2019. The funding will provide CPD for science teachers, support schools to share best practice and offer tailored in-school support. The programme will be delivered through a network of national science learning partnerships (North Tyneside Learning Trust forms part of the collaboration for the North East Hub) and support schools to encourage more teenagers to take GCSE triple science – physics, chemistry and biology.

Government scraps National Teaching Service
The Government has announced that it will not be pressing ahead with plans for a National Teaching Service (NTS) following an unsuccessful pilot in the North West of England. The initiative, launched by former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan in 2015, was intended to recruit good teachers to work in deprived areas. The goal was to see 1,500 of the country’s “top teaching talent” matched to the schools that need them the most, by 2020.

The North West pilot aimed to enlist up to 100 teachers to work in eligible primary and secondary schools across the region from September 2016. Its been reported that just 54 teachers were recruited after only 116 applied and in total only 24 of those recruited have so far been matched with schools.

Review looking at evolving schools’ landscape is published – Friday 2 December 2016

This week I report on the publication of the NFER’s research into the evolving schools’ landscape since the introduction of Regional Schools Commissioners, the announcement of additional Government funding to help address school underperformance and the publication of the Government’s response to the Early Years Funding consultation.

Research looking at the educational landscape since RSCs were introduced
New research published by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) looks at the evolving schools’ landscape since Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) were introduced in 2014 and explores how regions have changed in terms of the number and proportion of academies and free schools. Key findings include:

  • 29% of all state schools in England are now academies;
  • the proportion of academies continues to vary by phase and RSC region;
  • in 2016 primary academisation has exceeded secondary growth for the 1st time;
  • the difference in academisation within regions is greater than differences between regions;
  • there are variations in the proportions of underperforming LA maintained schools becoming sponsor-led academies;
  • the number of schools in single and multi-academy trusts by region also varies; this may make it more difficult for some RSCs to find sufficient sponsors in the future.

The NFER’s second report will be published in early 2017 using the latest performance data to explore the future challenges RSCs face to support schools in their areas.

New funding for school improvement
On Wednesday, the Education Secretary announced a new wave of funding meant to address underperformance and “help ensure every child has a good school place”. These include:

  • from September 2017, a £50m a year fund for local authorities to continue to monitor and commission school improvement for low-performing maintained schools;
  • a new “Strategic School Improvement Fund” of £140m will also be set up for academies and maintained schools to ensure that resources are targeted at schools most in need of support to drive up standards;
  • the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has committed to spend a further £20m over the next 2 years to “scale up” and disseminate evidence-based programmes and approaches.

The Government’s ambition remains that all schools will become academies forming a fully school-led system, where Headteachers and school leaders collaborate to drive improvement in their schools.

Government response to Early Years Funding consultation
Yesterday the DfE published its response to the Early Years funding consultation which ran for six weeks from 11 August to 22 September 2016. The funding formula will allocate funding for three and four-year olds, both the existing universal 15 hour entitlement and the new 30 hour entitlement for children of working parents. It will commence in April 2017 for the existing 15 hours alongside the funding rate uplift announced in the 2015 Spending Review; and for the additional 15 hours when 30 hours of free childcare is implemented nationally from September 2017.

The formula will feature three funding factors that determine the funding per child that each local authority receives as follows:

  • a base rate of funding for each child;
  • an additional needs factor, reflecting the extra costs of supporting children with additional needs to achieve good early learning and development outcomes; and
  • an area cost adjustment, reflecting the different costs of providing childcare in different areas of the country.

Though nearly 80% of LAs will see hourly funding rates rise, no local authority will face a reduction in its hourly funding rate of more than 10% against its 2016-17 baseline as a result of introducing this formula.