Announcement of increased core school funding – Friday 21 July 2017

In my final update this academic year, I highlight the Government’s announcement of additional funding for schools, the reduction in EBacc targets, the expectation that KS1 and 2 writing assessments will move to a ‘best fit’ model and publication of revised statutory Exclusions guidance to be used from September.

Additional £1.3bn for core schools budget will deliver a rise in per pupil funding
This week the Education Secretary Justine Greening announced that £1.3bn will be diverted into core school funding from other pots including money earmarked for new free schools and the ‘healthy pupils’ programme. The Education Secretary also confirmed the Government’s commitment to deliver the national funding formula in 2018.

One of the chief concerns that has been raised is that the £1.3 billion is not ‘new’ money from the Treasury, but will instead be recouped from savings to be made in other areas of the DfE’s budget.

EBacc target reduced to 75% following consultation
In 2015, the Government pledged that 90% of pupils would be entered for the full raft of EBacc subjects by 2020.  Responding to a 2015 consultation on the EBacc published this week, the Government is now aiming for 90% “starting to study EBacc GCSE courses” by 2025, meaning that they would not achieve the original target of 90% entered for the EBacc until 2027.

Justine Greening has stated that the consultation has allowed the Government to listen to the concerns of schools and the barriers they face in achieving the original target. As a result, they have now set a new target of 75% of pupils studying EBacc subjects by 2022. Since 2010 the numbers of pupils studying the EBacc has risen from 22% to 40%.

Headteachers advised to prepare for ‘secure-fit’ writing assessments to be scrapped Headteachers across England have been told this week to expect changes to the way pupils’ writing is assessed next year. The SATs were reformed in 2016 to make them tougher and included changes to the statutory writing assessments in Year 2 and Year 6.

These have proved controversial because they use a “secure-fit” system in which pupils must reach all the criteria set out by Government before being judged at the expected standard. Opponents have said that this discriminates against children with dyslexia and that pupils who have reached all but one of the 18 criteria are given the same judgement (working below the expected standard) as those pupils who do not reach any.

The Government has been consulting on plans to move to a “best fit” model, which would place more weight on the judgment of teachers. The wider consultation on primary testing also includes proposals to scrap Key Stage 1 SATs and replace them with a new baseline assessment for Reception children.

Whilst the Government is not expected to respond until September the NAHT headteachers’ union has advised its members that it has been “encouraged by the level of engagement from Government on this issue”. It goes on to say that, while it cannot guarantee things will change, it is urging all members “not to do any further work or planning using the current writing frameworks and await the Government’s response to the consultation in September”.

Revised Statutory guidance on the exclusion of pupils from local authority maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units.
On Wednesday, the DfE published its response to the consultation on proposed revisions to school exclusion statutory guidance.

The guidance sets out the process to which relevant schools must have regard when issuing an exclusion, and the process by which parents can make representations against a decision to exclude. The proposed changes were intended to provide greater confidence to Headteachers on their use of exclusion and to provide greater clarity to independent review panels (IRPs) and governing bodies on their consideration of exclusions.

The new guidance will come into force in September 2017. Any pupil who was excluded before September 2017 and whose exclusion is still subject to review should be considered on the basis of the September 2012 guidance.

Following the responses requesting a guide for governors, it is DfE’s intention to produce a further non-statutory guide for governors which will be issued in due course.