Latest DfE school governance update – Friday 16 July 2021

This academic year has been challenging and incredibly busy for everyone working in and with schools. We are all ready for a summer break to recharge our batteries ready for what September will bring.

As ever this final update of the year is jam packed with information as I highlight the latest DfE governance update for maintained schools and academies, the launch of a consultation on GCSE and A level adaptations for the 2022 examinations series, updated statutory Careers guidance and a new School Admissions Code as well as non-statutory guidance on Fair Access Protocols.

DfE Governance update
Yesterday the DfE published its July school governance update for LA maintained schools and academies. Both documents contain:

  • A thank you to governors for the voluntary work they do from Baroness Berridge;
  • Information on the opening of the application round for National Leaders of Governance;
  • Information on the updated statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education for September 2021;
  • Information on the opening of a consultation on proposed arrangements for exams in 2022 (see below for further details);
  • Non statutory guidance for Trust Partnerships;
  • Information on Early Career Framework reforms.

In addition the Academy update provides information on the Academy Trust Handbook 2021, updated Model Articles of Association and a reminder that Chairs of Trustees in Academy Trusts must complete a suitability check on appointment or re-appointment if it wasn’t completed at the original time of their appointment.

Consultation on GCSE and A-level adaptations for 2022 examinations opens
The DfE and Ofqual have launched a new consultation proposing a range of measures to help mitigate the impact of education disruption to pupils sitting GCSE and A-level exams in 2022. The measures under consideration include:

  • Giving schools some choice about the topics or content their pupils will be assessed on for GCSE English literature, history, ancient history and geography;
  • Providing advance information of the focus of exam content, to help students focus their revision;
  • Providing pupils with a formulae sheet in GCSE mathematics and an expanded equation sheet in GCSE physics and combined science;
  • Changing requirements for practical science work and art and design assessments.

The plans for summer 2022 GCSE, AS and A level exams are expected to be confirmed early in the coming Autumn term. Ofqual is also considering how best to grade qualifications in 2022 to be as fair as possible to that cohort, as well as to past and future students, and will announce a decision in the Autumn. It’s expected these arrangements will not be necessary for exams in 2023.

Updated statutory Careers guidance and access for education and training providers
Yesterday the DfE published its updated statutory Careers guidance and changes include:

  • Bringing together the statutory guidance for schools and the guidance for colleges on careers guidance into a single document;
  • A new section to bring the key points for governors and senior leaders into one place;
  • Text added to describe the range of support made available by the department, particularly through The Careers & Enterprise Company and the National Careers Service, to help schools and colleges achieve the Gatsby Benchmarks;
  • New paragraphs explaining the importance of the skills and technical education reforms set out in the department’s white paper, ‘Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth’ and how schools and colleges should highlight the opportunities these reforms will create for students;
  • Text added to make it clear that schools and colleges should not promote HE as a better or more favourable route than FE and apprenticeships; and should inform students when evidence suggests that courses they are considering lead to poor career outcomes;
  • Changes to reflect the coverage of careers guidance in Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework, published in 2019 and Ofsted’s school inspection handbook, updated in June 2020;
  • References to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how schools and colleges can adapt their careers provision.

New School Admissions Code for September 2021
On Tuesday, the DfE published its new statutory School Admissions Code which comes into force on 1 September as well as non-statutory guidance on Fair Access Protocols.