Alternative provision fund and Exclusions review announced – Friday 16 March 2018

This week I report on the creation of a new Alternative Provision fund and an Exclusions review, the publication of the Integrated Communities Strategy green paper and its implications for schools and confirmation of the chief executive of the new Teaching Regulation Agency.

£4m ‘alternative provision fund’ and Exclusions review announced
Today the Government announced a new £4 million alternative provision fund to support excluded pupils to return to mainstream schools. The fund will be used to test and develop projects that support children back into mainstream or special schools, as well as encouraging parental and carer involvement in the education of their child. It will also fund schemes that support young people as they move from alternative provision in to training or further education at post-16.

This is part of a series of Government measures which includes a review of exclusions led by former Children’s Minister Edward Timpson, to look at how the use and levels of exclusions vary from school to school focusing on those children who are more likely to be excluded. As well as a ‘roadmap’ setting out how the Government will transform alternative provision to make sure these education settings provide high-quality teaching and an education that meets the individual needs of young people in their care.

The DfE has also published updated guidance which beefs up the role of “designated teachers” with responsibility for pupils in or previously in care, requiring them to be trained in attachment issues and emotional trauma, and to share their knowledge with other staff. Research by The Difference, a teacher training programme for the alternative provision sector indicates that excluded pupils are twice as likely to be in care, seven times more likely to have special educational needs and ten times more like to suffer a recognised mental-health problem.

Publication of the Integrated Communities Strategy green paper
Earlier this week the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published its Integrated Communities Strategy green paper and the main proposals relevant to schools are:

  • Free school bids must address integration explaining how they will prepare children for life in modern Britain and how they will attract pupils from different backgrounds and communities, encouraging them to work together and learn about each other’s customs.
  • Admissions rules will change in five areas (Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Peterborough, Walsall, and Waltham Forest) to improve diversity.
  • Unregistered schools will be more closely monitored to ensure the children attending are safe and receiving a suitable education and Ofsted’s powers in relation to unregistered schools will be reviewed.
  • Tougher guidance and enforcement for private schools.
  • New guidance on home education to explain the respective rights and obligations of Local Authorities and parents more clearly.
  • Parents must support school leaders’ policy decisions in relation to pupils’ rights to express their religion or belief.
  • Ofsted will review its British values approach ensuring there is “strong coverage of schools’ promotion of fundamental British values and integration” within its new inspection framework, which comes into effect from September 2019.
  • A new strategy for English language learning will be published, including plans for new community-based programmes and local “conversation clubs”.
  • A bid to improve the data held on pupils from a Roma background will help local service providers to “better understand and meet their needs” and clamp down on truancy.

Chief Executive of the new Teaching Regulation Agency confirmed
The DfE has confirmed Alan Meyrick has been appointed as the Chief Executive of the new Teaching Regulation Agency responsible for the regulation of the teaching profession. He is currently a deputy director in the teacher services division at the DfE and has experience of regulating the profession, having worked as a registrar at the General Teaching Council for England for 11 years before spending a further year as its Chief Executive.

The Teaching Regulation Agency will support employers, schools and headteachers with safeguarding responsibilities. This will include taking action on allegations of serious teacher misconduct and helping employers to complete pre-recruitment checks to ensure that they are employing teachers who are appropriately qualified for their role.