All posts by schoolclerkuk

Ofsted’s proposed inspection changes – Friday 12 October 2018

This week I report on Ofsted’s Chief Inspector’s keynote speech at the SCHOOLS NorthEast Summit on the reasoning behind the proposals for the 2019 education inspection framework, the launch of Opportunity North East, a £24 million programme to boost social mobility and raise aspirations and the publication of a DfE report on the information schools provide to support their pupils’ wellbeing and mental health.

Amanda Spielman speech to the SCHOOLS NorthEast summit
At yesterday’s SCHOOLS NorthEast Summit Ofsted’s Chief Inspector of Schools, Amanda Spielman announced details of planned changes to the way Ofsted inspects schools from September 2019. These changes will move Ofsted’s focus away from headline data to look instead at how schools are achieving these results, and whether they are offering a curriculum that is broad, rich and deep, or simply teaching to the test.

Ms Spielman acknowledged that the current inspection model has contributed to excessive workload in some schools, much of which falls on classroom teachers. She said that when it comes to assessing a school, Ofsted should complement, rather than intensify, performance data.

Ms Spielman announced that Ofsted will consult on the introduction of a new judgement for ‘quality of education’. This will replace the current ‘outcomes for pupils’ and ‘teaching, learning and assessment’ judgements with a broader, single judgement. The Chief Inspector also announced the three other inspection judgements that Ofsted will consult on:

  • personal development
  • behaviour and attitudes
  • schools’ leadership and management

The ‘personal development, welfare and behaviour’ judgement in the current framework will be split into 2 distinct areas. This change recognises the difference between behaviour and discipline in schools, and pupils’ wider personal development and their opportunities to grow as active, healthy and engaged citizens.

An overall effectiveness judgement will continue to be awarded, and all judgements will be made using the current 4 point grading scale.

In January, Ofsted will launch a consultation on the new inspection framework. Unlike previous consultations, views will also be sought on each individual inspection handbook. Further details of the consultation and how to respond will be published early next year.

Education Secretary launches £24 million programme for North East
On Monday the Education Secretary Damian Hinds launched Opportunity North East, pledging £24 million to boost social mobility and raise aspirations for children. It will aim to:

  • invest £12 million in targeted approaches to improve the transition from primary to secondary school, drive up standards (particularly at secondary level) and improve outcomes for pupils post 16;
  • work with secondary schools and colleges to encourage young people to consider university, degree apprenticeships and other high quality technical education options;
  • partner with local businesses to improve job prospects for young people across the region;
  • invest a further £12 million to boost early career training for new teachers and help improve the quality of teaching and raise standards in the region’s schools, ahead of roll-out in other regions.

Report on Mental health and wellbeing provision on schools
The DfE has published a report on a study it commissioned to further understanding of the extent the current content of schools’ published policies and other information demonstrates relevant approaches and activities.

This evidence will be used to inform decisions about how schools can best be supported to use existing requirements to strengthen their work in these areas and better meet their statutory duties.

Conservative Party’s key education announcements – Friday 5 October 2018

This week I report on the Conservative Party’s education announcements at its annual conference, the publication of a Sutton Trust report on parental engagement and the launch of a new programme to connect UK schools with classrooms around the world.

Conservative Party’s Education announcements
The Education Secretary announced little that was new in his speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham on Tuesday.  None of the new projects he mentioned are backed by new money from the Treasury, so they will need to be funded through the DfE’s existing budget. Projects included:

  • £10m behaviour training fund and new guidance – to improve training on behaviour for teachers to ensure they are able to manage behaviour and thrive in their primary task of teaching.  Ministers will also update government guidance on behaviour.
  • More careers leaders and employer networks – a further £5 million to go into training “careers leaders” in 500 schools, extending the number of schools affected to 1,300 and creating another 20 networks, making a total of 40.
  • English Hubs named – 32 schools have been named that will split £26.3 million to become “English Hubs”.  There are two in the North East, but they aren’t in North Tyneside.

Sutton Trust Report on Parental Engagement
In 2013 the Sutton Trust published Parent Power?, a landmark piece of work demonstrating how social class influences parents’ ability to support their children in their schooling.  Five years later Parent Power 2018 revisits the cultural and financial resources parents use to boost their children’s chances of educational success.

Based on a survey conducted by YouGov, the Sutton Trust found similar trends to those found in 2013.  From choosing the best school to attend, to paying for out of school extracurricular activities, better-off parents continue to have the upper hand when it comes to navigating the education system and preventing their children from falling behind in school.

The report also reveals new challenges.  The ‘hidden costs’ of education such as uniforms and travel expenses are an increasing concern for parents from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, while schools are demonstrating increasing reliance on extra financial contributions from parents following recent school budget cuts.

UK aid to connect UK schools with classrooms around the world
Last month saw the launch of the Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning programme by the International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds and Love Actually director Richard Curtis.

The programme is co-funded by the British Council and unites pupils in the UK with school children in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It will offer grants to fund visits by UK and developing country teachers to the partner school and mobile digital platforms (such as WhatsApp and Zoom) will also be used to enable classroom-to-classroom activities between teachers and pupils.

The programme is for children aged between 7 to 14 years and schools can sign up by going to the British Council’s website and selecting the part of the programme they are interested in, or by emailing

Labour Party’s key education announcements – Friday 28 September 2018

This week I report on the Labour Party’s education announcements at its annual conference, the release of the draft 2018/19 Pay policy and Sport England’s announcement of a £13.5m scheme to train 17,000 teachers in delivering PE and sport in secondary schools.

Labour Party’s Education announcements
This week the Labour Party convened in Liverpool for its annual conference. The Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner’s education policy announcements included:

  • Tighter controls on academies and expanded powers for local authorities
  • The right of councils to create new schools would be re-established.
  • Councils would again become the admissions authorities for all schools, including academies.
  • End the requirement for local authority schools to convert to academies if they are rated “inadequate” following inspection.
  • Local authorities would be able to take back academies that are being re-brokered.
  • Local authorities will be able to force academies to expand to meet demand for school places.
  • “National pay rules” would be imposed across all schools, including a 20:1 ratio for CEO pay, meaning academy chiefs could only earn 20 times the salary of the lowest paid employees.
  • Encouragement of ‘community-run schools’, a now obscure type of school promoted under the Blair Government that allows parents and teachers to get involved in running schools.

The Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn also made some announcements on early years, indicating that Labour would extend the 30 hours of free childcare programme to the parents of all three and four year olds with no means testing; establish a national pay scale to raise standards of care by creating a graduate-led workforce, increase average early years funding rates to help the childcare providers that are struggling as a result of the 30-hour policy and launch a national childcare online access portal, which would replace the existing mix of vouchers and credits.

2018/19 Pay policy
Earlier this week schools in North Tyneside received information from the LA’s HR Team advising that the DfE had only published the 2018 school teachers pay and conditions document on Friday 14th September, when it was laid before Parliament. Therefore, HR was only now in a position to issue the proposed guidance pay policy for 2018.

There were various increases in teachers pay across the pay ranges for this year and a significant increase in employer pension contributions (rising from 16.47% to 23.6%) from September 2019.

Whilst it is not practical for some school governing bodies to review their existing pay policy, undertake consultation with their employees on changes and adopt a Schools Pay Policy for 2018/19 by 31 October 2018. It’s been suggested that at our governing body meetings we formally minute that its our intention to put a Pay policy in place using the LA’s HR guidance, that we have instructed the Headteacher and the relevant committee (e.g. Finance and Staffing or Resources) to review and bring the proposed policy to our next full Governing body meeting. Any pay increases will be appropriately back dated.

Sport England launches £13.5m drive to boost secondary school PE
Sport England is launching a £13.5m scheme to train 17,000 teachers in delivering PE and sport in school, after research found that almost 20% of secondary students hated PE lessons. The scheme will run through the national network of teaching school alliances, training teachers in new activities from zumba to volleyball and encouraging school leaders to value PE.

Last year the government doubled the funding for PE in primary schools to £320m a year, and 1 million primary school children are now taking part in the Daily Mile running programme, but secondary schools have been without any financial investment or national schemes in the subject for the last decade.

Curriculum will be a central focus of the new Inspection Framework – Friday 21 September 2018

This week I report on Amanda Spielman’s view that the new inspection framework due in September 2019 will have curriculum as a central focus, the publication of the Teachers’ Pay Grant methodology and a new report from the EEF on improving Secondary Science teaching, particularly for disadvantaged pupils.

Curriculum will be ‘central focus’ in new Ofsted framework
Following the findings of Ofsted’s latest curriculum research, HMCI Amanda Spielman has said it’s “imperative” that the curriculum is a central focus of Ofsted’s new framework.  Ofsted has promised to give the curriculum “greater coverage” in its new framework after admitting inspectors have placed “too much weight on test and exam results”.

Teacher Pay Grant methodology released
The DfE has today confirmed teachers’ pay rises for 2018/19 in the finalised version of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document, as well as initial information about how the Teachers’ Pay Grant will be calculated. The grant is designed to help schools cover the pay rise that was announced back in July and the formula uses pupil numbers to calculate the Grant for mainstream schools and capacity for special and alternative provision.

New report from the EEF on improving Secondary Science
The Education Endowment Foundation has published a new report on ‘improving secondary science’, which gives seven recommendations to try out in the classroom.  Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF, said he hoped the research will help to boost science teaching, particularly for disadvantaged pupils.


Future Talent Fund cancelled – Friday 14 September 2018

This week I report on the cancelling of the DfE’s Future Talent Fund, updated guidance on school attendance and a report from the Commission on Religious Education suggesting RE should be renamed Religion and Worldviews.

£18m ‘future talent fund’ cancelled
The Government has cancelled a key strand of its social mobility action plan, withdrawing £18 million of funding that would have helped secondary schools improve the performance of the brightest disadvantaged pupils.

The future talent fund was unveiled by former education secretary Justine Greening only last December and the DfE has said its choosing to prioritise improvements in the early years instead.

Updated guidance on school attendance
This week the DfE released updated non statutory school attendance guidance which provides information on pupil registers and attendance codes, the school day and school year, as well as information on interventions to address pupils’ poor attendance and behaviour at school.

Report recommends teaching religion and worldviews instead of RE
Two years ago, the Religious Education Council of England and Wales set up an independent commission amid growing concerns about the quality of RE lessons.  The Commission has now produced its report suggesting RE in England’s schools should be renamed Religion and Worldviews to reflect the diversity of modern Britain.

The new subject would allow pupils to study the different traditions of major religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism but alongside these they would also look at non-religious worldviews like humanism, secularism, atheism and agnosticism.  The DfE has said it will look into the report’s recommendations.

Safeguarding update – Friday 7 September 2018

welcome back 2

This week I provide details on safeguarding updates that happened during the summer, the publication of the Government’s response to the Select Committees report on the children and young people’s mental health green paper and the production of DfE documents designed to provide help and support for schools to reduce cost pressures.

Safeguarding update
Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) guidance was updated earlier in the year, and on Monday this week the changes came into effect. Updated Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance also came into effect over the Summer.

In late August the DfE announced that a new national response unit will be established to help local authorities support vulnerable children at risk of exploitation by criminal gangs.

On 31 August, revisions to the ‘Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006’ came into effect, meaning that schools are no longer required to establish whether a member of staff is disqualified by association.

Government response to the select committees report on the children and young people’s mental health green paper
Just after the end of last academic year the Government published its response to the joint report of the Education and Health and Social Care Committees on ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: a green paper’.  It rejected the Committees’ assertion that the plans lacked ambition in terms of scale and pace, indicating recruiting and training a cadre of new staff to form teams would take time.

Supporting excellent school resource management
The DfE has produced a document Supporting excellent school resource management which summarises the help and support it provides to help schools reduce costs and get value for money.  Supporting excellent school resource management: strategy has also been published which aims to provide schools with practical advice on how to reduce the £10 billion non-staffing spend spent across England last year.


Full national funding formula roll-out delayed until 2021- Friday 20 July 2018

In my final update this academic year, I report on the delay of the full national funding formula roll-out until 2021, the latest information on what areas Ofsted is focusing on during inspections and a consultation on new regulations and statutory guidance on the teaching of relationships, sex education and health education from 2020.

Full national funding formula roll-out delayed until 2021
Yesterday Schools Week and the TES reported that the Government’s new national funding formula would not be rolled out fully until 2021, after ministers delayed its implementation by a year to “support a smooth transition”.

The news was buried in analysis of local authorities’ schools block funding formulae and the document said that 73 local authorities had changed the way they set school budgets to bring their own local formula closer to the national formula, while 41 were “mirroring the NFF factor values almost exactly”.

It added: “…In light of this significant progress in the first year of the NFF, and to continue to support a smooth transition, local authorities will continue to determine local formulae in 2020-21.”

Ofsted’s July Inspection Update
Ofsted’s ‘School inspection update’ documents are published on a termly basis, primarily for the use of inspectors, offering a useful insight into what areas Ofsted is focusing on, how inspectors are told to look at these areas, and the implications for schools.  The July 2018 update looks at a number of issues, including:

  • Safeguarding concerns about children absent from school – ‘Keeping children safe in education’ 2018 has been updated to strengthen schools’ procedures for safeguarding pupils that are absent from school – where reasonably possible, schools should hold more than one emergency contact number for each pupil. As part of assessing a school’s safeguarding arrangements, inspections will continue to strongly focus on pupils who are missing from school.
  • How inspectors will be looking at the EBacc from September 2018 – by 2022, the Government wants 75% of Year 10 pupils to be starting to study EBacc GCSE courses. From September 2018, during their discussion with school leaders about the curriculum, inspectors will ask whether they are aware of the Government’s ambition and what they are doing to reflect this ambition in the curriculum. Inspectors will not, however, expect schools to have developed and present separate plans about the EBacc or provide additional information outside their normal curriculum planning.
  • Informing governors about an inspection – after hearing that some schools had not been informing governors of inspections, inspectors have been asked to make clear to the Headteacher at the start of the inspection that all governors and trustees must be informed and that arrangements should be made for inspectors to meet the Chair of Governors and as many governors/trustees as possible during the inspection, and that as many governors/trustees as possible should also be invited to attend the final feedback meeting.

Proposed draft regulations and guidance on relationships and health education in schools
The DfE is proposing that from 2020 schools are required to teach relationships education at primary school, relationships and sex education at secondary school and health education at all state-funded schools.

The draft regulations and associated statutory guidance build on the findings from the call for evidence and DfE’s engagement with a wide range of expert organisations and interested parties.  The consultation closes on 7 November 2018 and the responses to the consultation will help inform any further refining of the draft regulations and statutory guidance before the regulations are put before Parliament and the guidance finally published.


Launch of 20 Careers Hubs in England – Friday 13 July 2018

This week I highlight the launch of 20 Careers Hubs across England along with continued funding for the hub in the North East, the publication of this year’s KS2 SATs results and the confirmation of Pupil Premium funding for 2018/19.

Launch of 20 Careers Hubs
This week the Secretary of State for Education announced the names of 20 new Careers Hubs across England.  Each Careers Hubs will consist of up to 40 local schools and colleges working together with universities, training providers, employers and career professionals to improve careers education for young people in the region.

The Hubs are based on a successful model, piloted here in the North East. The North East Local Enterprise Partnership piloted the Careers Hub model during 2015-17. During the pilot, the majority of schools in the area managed to meet most of the ‘Gatsby Benchmark’ standards for excellent careers guidance.  Funding will continue for the North East Hub and all Careers Hubs will have access to support and funding that will include a ‘Hub Lead’ to coordinate activity and build networks.

This year’s KS2 SATs results have been published and 64% of pupils met the expected standard in all of reading, writing and mathematics.  To reach the expected standard a pupil must achieve a scaled score of 100 or more in reading and maths tests and an outcome of ‘working at the expected standard’ or ‘working at greater depth’ in writing Teacher Assessment.

Pupil Premium Funding for 2018/19
The DfE has published information on the funding schools will receive in the 2018 to 2019 financial year, for each pupil registered as eligible for free school meals (FSM) at any point in the last 6 years:

  • £1,320 for pupils in reception to year 6
  • £935 for pupils in year 7 to year 11

In addition, the Virtual School Headteacher for the Local Authority will manage funding of £2,300 for any pupil:

  • identified in the January 2018 school census or the alternative provision census as having left local authority care as a result of:
    • adoption
    • a special guardianship order
    • a child arrangements order (previously known as a residence order)
    • who has been in local authority care for 1 day or more
    • recorded as both eligible for FSM in the last 6 years and as being looked after (or as having left local authority care)

Revised statutory guidance on disqualification under the Childcare Act – Friday 6 July 2018

This week I report on revised statutory guidance on disqualification under the Childcare Act, updated statutory guidance for safeguarding children across sectors and a new report which explores the barriers to educational achievement adopted children can face.

Revised statutory guidance on Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006 and updated Working Together to Safeguard Children statutory guidance
From 31 August 2018 revised statutory guidance comes into effect, meaning schools will no longer be required to check whether an individual lives with someone who is disqualified from working with children under 8.   Schools will need to review their staffing policies and safer recruitment procedures to ensure they are in line with the changes and should not ask their staff questions about cautions or convictions of someone living or working in their household.

Working Together to Safeguard Children is the statutory guidance for safeguarding across sectors and has also been updated for 2018, setting out new requirements for improved partnerships to protect children.  North Tyneside is one of the Local Authorities included in 17 areas around the country known as ‘early adopters’ who will work with the National Children’s Bureau to implement new local safeguarding arrangements before they are established across the rest of the country.  The new safeguarding arrangements will replace existing Local Safeguarding Children Boards.

New report exploring the barriers to educational achievement facing adopted children
A new report, Bridging the Gap, written by adoptionUK, explores the barriers to educational achievement which can impact upon adopted and previously looked-after children. The report outlines that schools and policy makers need to focus on four gaps (understanding, empathy, resources and attainment) which adopted and previously looked-after children often face.







New SEND review guide for governors – Friday 29 June 2018

This week I report on the publication of a new SEND review guide for governors, a call for schools to publish clearer financial information on their websites and a pilot to boost east language skills and cut teacher workload.

SEND review guide for governors launched
A project part-funded by the DfE and Driver Youth Trust has published a SEND Governance Review Guide to help governors to understand not just what “should” be happening in their school, but also to appreciate the importance of how the governing body operates and what it prioritises. The guide is structured around the “six features of effective governance” and aims to ensure that governors are able to properly interrogate SEND support and planning.

Call for schools to publish clearer financial information online
Meg Hillier, the chair of the Government’s Public Accounts Committee has highlighted in her annual report that schools should have to publish more financial information about themselves on their websites to make it easier for parents to hold them to account.

She proposes that academy and LA maintained school websites should have to carry basic financial information, such as details of executive pay and a “basic budget” for what is spent on each area, alongside details of who is in charge, from governors right up to members who control academy trusts.

Pilot launched to boost early language skills and cut teacher workload
From September, 25 schools across the country are set to trial revised Early Learning Goals, the key measures teachers use to decide how prepared children are to begin Year 1 at the end of Reception year. The changes are aimed at reducing teachers’ workload to free up more time to support children’s early skills and produce engaging lessons.  This should also help to address the problem of children arriving at school struggling with language and social skills, helping to close the so-called ‘word gap’ – the gap between disadvantaged children’s communication and that of their peers when they start school.

The pilot builds on two schemes announced by the Education Secretary in April that aim to improve children’s early language and literacy skills at home before they start school and funding open for councils to fund projects that help disadvantaged children’s language and literacy.