Latest DfE School governance update – Friday 4 December 2020

This week I report on the latest DfE School governance update, publication of Ofsted’s annual report for 2019/20, confirmation that inspections won’t recommence until the Summer term 2021 and the Government’s plans for GCSE and A level examinations in 2021.

DfE school governance update
The DfE has released their December School governance update thanking governors for their commitment and signposting vital resources which may be of interest. It reminds governing bodies to be pragmatic in their approach to meetings and continue to hold them virtually where possible. While meetings can be held face-to-face if considered essential and with appropriate risk assessments taken, no governors should feel pressurised into attending a meeting on school premises.

The update also calls for governors to encourage their schools to support the ‘Something’s Not Right’ campaign. Launched by the Home Office last month, it aims to build awareness of the support available to children and young people who suffered harm during lockdown.

Finally, the DfE highlight’s the information available for schools to help them prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020. Governors should ensure their schools are aware of the potential impact leaving the EU may have on them.

Ofsted report 2019/20 and inspection plans for 2021
Ofsted published their latest annual report earlier this week, reflecting on the year that had consisted of ‘two very different halves’ which had changed their regulation and inspection activities. The report outlines the emerging findings from the introduction of the new education inspection framework (EIF) in September 2019 while also highlighting concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on pupils. The key findings are summarised below:

  • Nearly two- thirds of state schools inspected under the EIF kept the same overall effectiveness
  • A strong curriculum is underpinned by clear central aims and accountability, but also acknowledges that individual subjects require different approaches to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach
  • There are serious weaknesses in SEND provision overall
  • It has become more difficult to identify children’s and families’ need for early help and protection; instead, local authorities are more likely now to be responding to a legacy of abuse and neglect.

The Government has announced that regular Ofsted inspections will be suspended until the summer term 2021. Ofsted will conduct monitoring visits in schools graded ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’.

Government announce plans for examinations in 2021
Students due to sit exams and assessments in 2021 will be provided with a set of measures to ensure fairness and effective management of the disruption caused by COVID-19. The new measures include:

  • Generous grading in line with the national outcomes from 2020;
  • Students will receive advance notice of some topic areas to focus revision;
  • Exam aids will be provided;
  • In the event of illness or self-isolation, students have a second chance to sit a paper;
  • An expert group will be formed to understand the impact of the pandemic on students across the country.