Announcement of 6 new ‘opportunity areas’ – Friday 20 January 2017

This week I report on the expansion of the ‘opportunity areas’ programme, the publication of final KS4 figures and performance tables based on last year’s GCSE results, guidance on Progress 8 and Attainment 8 headline measures and confirmation from the DfE for funding for SEND from April this year.

Expansion of ‘opportunity areas’ programme
Yesterday Justine Greening the Education Secretary announced the expansion of the ‘opportunity areas’ programme by adding Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent as areas of focus.

The Government will also partly fund a new £3.5m programme that will see the Education Endowment Foundation establish a research school for each of the 12 opportunity areas. These schools will lead the development and dissemination of evidence-led practice in local schools.

All opportunity areas are social mobility cold spots identified by the Social Mobility Index, published by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. A key aim of the programme is to build young people’s knowledge and skills and provide them with the best advice and opportunities, including working with organisations such as the Careers and Enterprise Company, the CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses and the National Citizen Service.

Finalised KS4 figures and performance tables and Guidance on Progress 8 and Attainment 8
Yesterday the Government released the final Key Stage 4 figures and performance tables based on last summer’s GCSE results. Schools are now judged against a new Progress 8 measure, rather than the proportion of pupils that achieve five A* to C at GCSE.

This week the DfE has also published guidance on how the two new headline measures (Attainment 8 and Progress 8) were calculated last year and changes that will apply this year, in 2018 and 2019.

Funding for special educational needs support confirmed
Last week the Government confirmed funding from April this year of nearly £60 million to support children with special educational needs and disability (SEND). The funding includes:

  • £15 million for the Independent Supporters programme in 2017 to 2018, run by the Council for Disabled Children;
  • £2.3 million for Parent Carer Forums in 2017 to 2018, which aims to give parents a voice in influencing local decision-making;
  • £1.8 million to Contact a Family, to support Parent Carer Forums and their National Network, and to run a national helpline for families.

The funding also includes £40 million (up by £4.2 million last year) to support councils planning for the final year of the transition to the new SEND system.