Monthly Archives: April 2017

Surprise General election and new Clerking Competency Framework – Friday 28 April 2017

Welcome back after the Easter break. With a General election in June the country continues to experience change and the DfE has published a new Clerking Competency Framework before restrictions on the activity of civil servants are put in place. The NFER has produced a new report highlighting that the Northern RSC region has one of the lowest sponsor capacity to need ratios and the Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a report on disability inequality which includes a focus on education.

Current position
2017 continues to surprise, with more political uncertainty and a General election taking place on 8 June. If the Conservatives return to Government will the Education Secretary remain in place? Is Justine Greening seen as a safe pair of hands or has she not been supportive enough of the grammar schools’ agenda?

With the onset of ‘purdah’, the DfE will go quiet until after the election. In the meantime, it has published a new Clerking Competency Framework. This is non-statutory guidance setting out the competencies required to deliver professional clerking in maintained schools and academies. I have prepared a briefing for this half term’s Governing body meetings and will spend time this term reviewing my practice and identifying any training needs.

New report finds sponsor capacity to need ratio in the North RSC region amongst the lowest
A new report by the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) has found that the North of England RSC region has one of the lowest available sponsor capacity to need ratios and finding new sponsors could be a challenge. The ratio in the region is second lowest at 1.1 to 1, with Lancashire and West Yorkshire having the most need of new sponsors with a ratio of 0.7 to 1.

The report has identified 59 underperforming schools in the Northern region that have an immediate need for a new sponsor. There are currently 49 MATs that are ready for expansion in the area, with the capacity to take on 63 underperforming schools. Whilst the NFER said growing sponsor capacity is now a key priority for RSCs, it points out that RSCs will struggle matching suitable sponsors, as the available sponsors and schools in need could be at opposite ends of the large regions they are in charge of.

Equality and Human Rights Commission report on disability inequality in Great Britain
This new report looks at 6 core areas of life: education; work; standard of living; health and care; justice and detention; and participation and identity. It highlights areas where there has been progress and where improvements still need to be made.

In relation to education, the report looks at attainment for children and young people, exclusions from schools, bullying in schools, young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and also educational qualifications for adults.

The report highlights that in 2014/15 the overall proportion of children with SEND in England who achieved at least five A*-C GCSEs, including English and mathematics, was 20%, whereas this was 64.2% for non-disabled children. In 2014/15, pupils with identified SEND accounted for just over half of all permanent exclusions and fixed-period exclusions.

As no government department collects regular data on bullying, the report cites various studies that support the view that bullying amongst pupils with SEND is higher than those without. In 2015/16, the proportion of disabled 16-18-year-olds who were NEET (13.2%) was higher than for non-disabled 16-18-year-olds who were NEET (5.8%). Finally, in 2015/16, the proportion of disabled people with no qualifications was higher (17.4%) compared with that of non-disabled people (6.3%).

Governing bodies should try to ensure that pupils with SEND are receiving the support they need and, where appropriate, are receiving all the opportunities available to pupils without SEND.

Parent loses term-time holiday legal challenge – Friday 7 April 2017

This week I report on the parent from the Isle of Wight who’s lost his case in the Supreme Court allowing him to take his child on holiday during term-time, new rules requiring schools with more than 250 workers to publish their gender pay gap statistics have come into force and the DfE has published a form that new Chairs of Trustees of academies, free schools and independent schools must complete in conjunction with their DBS application.

Parent loses landmark term-time holiday legal challenge
Yesterday the Supreme Court upheld the Isle of Wight Council’s right to fine a father who took his daughter out of school to go on holiday to Florida in April 2015.  The decision overrules the High Court decision and Isle of Wight magistrate’s court, which both ruled in the father’s favour.

Mr Platt had argued that because his daughter still had a 90.3% attendance record, even when she returned from their seven-day holiday to Disneyland, he had not broken rules requiring his child have “regular attendance” at school.  However, the five judges ruled unanimously that regular attendance at school had to follow the rules of the school.  They found that attending “regularly” must mean in accordance with the rules set by the school or the “appropriate authorities” such as a council.  The Department of Education (DfE) welcomed the ruling and had covered the Isle of Wight Council’s costs for the case.

Schools now have 12 months to publish gender pay gap statistics
New rules requiring academy trusts and schools with more than 250 workers to publish their gender pay gap statistics came into force yesterday. Employers that fall under the new requirement have until April next year to publish figures on their websites, as part of a Government pledge to champion gender equality.  Statistics will then have to be published every year thereafter.

Mandatory figures for reporting include the median and mean gender pay gap, the proportion of men and women in each quartile of the pay structure, and pay gaps in any bonuses paid out during the year. Employers will also be encouraged to publish an action plan alongside their figures showing how they will close any pay gap.

Completion of an identity verification form for new Chairs of Trustees for academies, free schools and independent schools now required
On Wednesday, the DfE published a form that new Chairs of Trustees of academies, free schools and independent schools must now complete in conjunction with their Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) application.

They are required to complete the new form and take it to one of an approved list of professionals to verify their identity and then must submit it along with their DBS application form to the DfE. It is not yet clear how that process will work if an on-line DBS application is usually applied for.