New Academies Minister – Friday 24 September 2021

This week I report on the new Academies Minister, the announcement that Ofsted will review whether the DfE’s Covid catch up plans work and the expansion of the Glasses in Classes scheme to boost literacy.

New Academies Minister
Baroness Berridge has been replaced as Academies Minister by Baroness Diana Barran, who joins the DfE from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport where she was the minister for civil society, youth and loneliness.

Ofsted to judge whether DfE’s Covid catch-up plans work
Ofsted has been asked by the government to review the effectiveness of its two main Covid catch-up plans – tutoring and teachers’ professional development. The watchdog has said its independent reviews will investigate how the government’s policies are working on the ground by gathering evidence through research visits and from its school inspections.

Tutoring and teacher development were the two key elements of a £1.4 billion catch-up plan announced by the DfE earlier this year. In relation to tutoring Ofsted has said the review will consider the overall quality of tutoring offered by schools regardless of whether it is provided directly or through National Tutoring Programme tuition partners. The evaluation will also consider how well schools are integrating tutoring into their curriculum, its effect on the overall quality of education, and the likelihood that it will actually help children catch up.

Glasses in Classes scheme rolled out to boost literacy
A pilot scheme launched in Bradford to give pupils free glasses is now being rolled out to other Opportunity Area schools. Children identified as needing glasses will receive one pair for home and one for school, helping them concentrate in the classroom and improve their literacy skills.