All posts by schoolclerkuk

New Secretary of State for Education – Friday 12 January 2018

Welcome back!

This week I report on the cabinet reshuffle resulting in a new Education Secretary, the publication of updated statutory Careers guidance and confirmation that GCSE Computer Science coursework tasks will not count towards students’ final grades this year or next.

New Secretary of State for Education
As a result of the Prime Minister’s cabinet reshuffle this week, Justine Greening resigned and was replaced by Damian Hinds as Secretary of State for Education.  Mr Hinds was previously the Minister of State for the Department for Work and Pensions.

Statutory careers guidance updated
The DfE has updated its statutory careers guidance to reflect policy changes announced in the Government’s Careers strategy. It includes information about the requirement for schools to have a careers leader from September 2018.

‘No marks’ to be awarded for computing coursework
As a result of its consultation following the discovery that GCSE computing coursework tasks had been leaked online, Ofqual has announced that these tasks will not count towards students’ final grades in 2018 or 2019.   It is not yet known what will happen in 2020.


Consultation on the Relationships and Sex Education curriculum – Friday 22 December 2017

In the final week of this term I report on the DfE’s call for evidence on the relationships and sex education curriculum, changes to the EBacc in 2018 along with research on the effects of its introduction on schools, pupils and parents and new guidance on the recruitment of a Headteacher.

Consultation on the Relationships and Sex Education curriculum
The Government is asking parents, teachers and young people to help shape a new relationships and sex education curriculum that will help them stay safe and face the challenges of the modern world.  The current statutory guidance for teaching Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) was introduced in 2000 and fails to address risks to children which have grown in prevalence in recent years, including online pornography, sexting and staying safe online.

The survey was launched on the DfE’s website on Tuesday and the deadline to submit views is 12 February 2018.

English Baccalaureate (EBacc) update
The EBacc is a school performance measure that shows how many pupils study the core academic subjects at Key Stage 4 in state-funded and independent schools. The EBacc is made up of:

  • English
  • maths
  • the sciences, including computer science
  • history or geography
  • a language

For 2017, the attainment measure shows how many pupils achieved both a grade 5 or above in English and maths GCSE and a grade C or above in science, a language, and geography or history.

In 2018 the attainment measure will change to a school’s EBacc average point score. To calculate a school’s EBacc average point score the DfE will add together the EBacc average point score for all pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 and divide by the number of pupils in the group. To calculate a pupil’s average point score the DfE will take an average of the points scored in the 5 EBacc subject areas.

Yesterday updated research was published on the effects of introducing the EBacc on schools, pupils, parents and carers.

Recruiting a new Headteacher
Last week new guidance on the recruitment of a headteacher was published by the DfE and NGA recognising that appointing a high quality leader is something under the direct control of governing bodies that positively affects school improvement.

With the recruitment of a school leader being arguably one of the most important tasks a body will undertake, the guidance aims to steer those governing through the legal context and principles of recruitment. The guidance outlines the different stages of the process including:

  • planning and setting up a selection panel
  • preparing the application pack
  • advertising and promotion
  • the interview itself and the actions to be taken once an appointment is made

New to the guidance is information relating to an employer’s responsibilities under the 2010 Equality Act and guidance around flexible working options.

Consultation on Keeping Children Safe in Education – Friday 15 December 2017

This week I report on the consultation on the statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education, the publication of new non statutory guidance on peer-on-peer abuse, the Government’s launch of a plan to boost social mobility through education and the Chief Inspector of Ofsted’s first annual report.

Consultation on Keeping Children Safe in Education opens and advice on peer-on-peer abuse is published
A new consultation seeks views on revisions to Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE), the statutory guidance to which all schools and colleges must have regard when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The aim is to help schools and colleges to better understand what they are required to do by law and what DfE strongly advises they should do to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Changes have been made throughout the document to reflect the changes being made, in parallel, to the document Working Together to Safeguard Children (WT). WT is being consulted on separately and any resulting revisions to the final version will be reflected in KCSIE.

In addition, the consultation is also seeking views on new non-statutory advice covering sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges.

Launch of plan to boost social mobility through education
The national plan for dealing with social mobility through education was published this week. Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential sets out how the Government will try to remove obstacles that could stop people from achieving their potential. There are five core ambitions: four which span across each life phase – the early years, school, post-16 education, and careers – and a fifth overarching ambition focusing on delivering better educational and career outcomes more evenly across the whole country. It sets out action and investment in a range of areas including:

  • £50 million to boost school nursery provision in some of the most challenging areas, so more children benefit from early education support before they arrive at primary school.
  • A consultation on proposals to enhance early careers support and professional development for teachers, in particular those working in challenging schools and areas.
  • A new £23 million Future Talent Fund to trial a range of new teaching approaches to support the education of the most-able children from less well-off communities.

HMCI launches her first Ofsted annual report
In her first annual report as HMCI, Amanda Spielman has said the life chances of the majority of young people are “the best they ever have been”. However, she also noted “areas of persistent under-performance”, with the report identifying about 130 schools which have not improved for up to 10 years.

Ofsted confirmation of changes to short inspections – Friday 8 December 2017

This week Ofsted confirmed changes to short inspections, the Government’s new Careers Strategy was launched, the green paper on children and young people’s mental health provision was published and consultations on eligibility for the free early years entitlement for 2 year olds under Universal Credit and Early Education and Childcare Workforce Level 2 qualifications opened.

Ofsted confirms changes to short inspections following consultation
Ofsted will go ahead with plans to change the way it carries out short inspections of good-rated schools from next month. Under the new plans inspectors will continue to convert short inspections into full inspections, usually within 48 hours, if they have serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education provided.

However, if there are no “significant issues” with safeguarding or behaviour, but inspectors have concerns about the quality of education, leadership or management, instead of converting the inspection Ofsted will publish a letter outlining areas for improvement.  A full inspection will then take place within one to two years, to give the school time to address weaknesses. In the meantime, Ofsted’s letter will make it clear that the school’s overall rating has not changed.

If inspectors believe a school is moving towards an outstanding judgement, Ofsted will publish a letter confirming the school is still good and setting out how it can improve. A full inspection will then take place in one to two years, but these schools can apply for an early inspection.

Ofsted ran its consultation after receiving feedback that short inspections that immediately convert to full inspections were challenging for schools and inspectors.

New national Careers Strategy
Earlier this week the Skills Minister Anne Milton launched the long-awaited Careers Strategy which sets out how the Government intends to improve careers advice and guidance across the education system. With detailed plans to the end of 2020 the key actions by September next year are as follows:

By January 2018

  • Schools and colleges should use the Gatsby Benchmarks to improve careers provision, as set out in new statutory guidance.
  • Schools must give providers of technical education and apprenticeships the opportunity to talk to all pupils.
  • Ofsted must comment in college inspection reports on the careers guidance provided to young people.

By September 2018

  • The Careers Employment Company (CEC) will launch a new investment fund of £5 million to support the most disadvantaged pupils.
  • Schools and colleges are expected to publish details of their careers programme for young people and their parents.
  • Job specification and standards for Careers Leaders developed and started to be used by schools and colleges.
  • A named Careers Leader should lead the careers programme in every school and college.
  • The CEC will begin to take on a broader role across all the Gatsby Benchmarks.
  • 20 “careers hubs” will be funded by Government and supported by a coordinator from the CEC.
  • Government sponsors two UK Career Development Awards for 2018.

Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision Green Paper
The Government is asking people for their views on a green paper setting out measures to improve mental health support for children and young people. The proposals include:

  • every school and college encouraged to appoint a designated lead for mental health;
  • creating a new mental health workforce of community-based mental health support teams;
  • a new 4-week waiting time for NHS children and young people’s mental health services to be piloted in some areas.

Consultation on eligibility for the free early years entitlement for two-year-olds under Universal Credit 
On Monday the Government launched a consultation inviting views on its proposed approach to setting eligibility for the free early education entitlement for two-year-olds under Universal Credit.  The consultation seeks views on the level at which to set a net earned income threshold under Universal Credit and explains the general principles the Government has taken into account in considering changes to the eligibility criteria in light of the introduction of Universal Credit and its plans for communicating these changes to parents, early years providers and local authorities, and the steps it will take to support their implementation.

Early education and childcare workforce level 2 qualifications consultation
The Government has also launched a 12 week consultation seeking views on the proposed early years assistant (level 2) criteria and their suitability for qualifications in early education and childcare.

£45m boost for young people with SEND – Friday 1 December 2017

This week I report on additional funding to help embed SEND reforms, a report indicating parental engagement could improve pupil progress and publication of a new Ofsted report suggesting reading should be central to the reception curriculum.

Government pledges £45 million to ‘fully embed’ SEND reforms
The Government has announced an extra £29 million for councils “to continue pressing ahead with implementation of the reforms to the SEND system.” A further £9.7 million will go on setting up “internship forums”, which will aim to create work placements for young people with SEND so they can move into paid work. The funding could also be used to train job coaches, said the Government’s release. Finally, £4.6 million will go towards parent-carer forums, which aim to give parents a voice in the processes involving children with SEND.

However, there was concern from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission back in October that pupils categorised as needing “SEN support” were getting a worse deal than those with a full Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). The summary report on local area inspections concluded that these children are more likely to have their needs overlooked, be excluded, and achieve less well than those with a legally binding EHCP.

Parental engagement ‘improves pupil progress’
A Sutton Trust report has found training staff to aid parents of disadvantaged pupils in getting involved with their education helps improve children’s progress. Results of a trial with 18 schools, where parents were provided with resources, showed a “boost to academic progress” in most schools.

Publication of a new Ofsted early years curriculum report called Bold Beginnings
Yesterday, a new report was published by Ofsted indicating a third of five year olds do not have the essential knowledge and understanding they need following their first year at school.  They say the picture for children from poorer homes is worse, with nearly half failing to gain necessary skills.

It recommends headteachers put reading at the heart of the reception curriculum, focus on developing children’s spoken language and teaching them to read using systematic synthetic phonics.  Ofsted is also recommending that the Department for Education:

  • reviews the Early Years Foundation Stage to make sure that it provides sufficient clarity for the effective teaching of reading, writing and numbers
  • streamlines the EYFSP in order to reduce teachers’ workload
  • raises the profile of early mathematics teaching, and makes a similar investment to that made in teaching phonics

The impact of this week’s budget on the Education sector – Friday 24 November 2017

This week I report on the impact of this week’s budget on the Education sector, the National Schools Commissioner’s view that schools can join academy trusts as Associate members and the new requirement for schools to give education and training providers the opportunity to talk to pupils in Years 8-13 about technical qualifications and apprenticeships.

Impact of the budget 2017 on the Education sector
In this week’s budget the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, announced a series of measures aimed at getting Britain fit for a science and technology-based future. He said that schools would benefit from:

  • an expansion of the Teaching for Mastery Maths programme to a further 3,000 schools;
  • an additional £40 million to train maths teachers across the country, delivered through new Further Education Centres of Excellence;
  • the introduction of a £600 “maths premium” for schools, for every additional pupil who takes A level or core maths. With more than £80 million available initially there is no cap on numbers, according to the Treasury;
  • an invitation of proposals for new maths schools across England, with £350,000 available for each one set up from a fund of £18 million;
  • an £8.5 million pilot that will test innovative approaches to improve GCSE maths resit outcomes;
  • the trial of a £1,000 teacher development premium for teachers working in “areas that have fallen behind”, with £42 million of initial funding to pay for continuing professional development opportunities;
  • a guarantee that every secondary school pupil can study computing, ensured by trebling the number of trained computer science teachers to 12,000 and the setting up of a new National Centre for Computing;
  • £20 million to support the roll out of the new technical vocational training, or T-levels. T-levels will allow 16 to 19-year-olds to study across 15 sectors in subjects like hair and beauty or construction.

‘Associate member’ option in joining trusts
At a training event held by the Church of England on Wednesday, the national Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter, said that schools can join academy trusts as “associate members”. Such an arrangement means a school can access shared resources and leadership upon joining an academy trust, without legally transferring into it.

In some cases, the school will pay into the trust’s central funds via a “top-slicing” arrangement, where a fee is taken for each pupil in the school. However, in other cases the membership may be free, especially where the school is able to offer training support to others in the trust. In both instances, the school retains the right to leave the academy trust if the arrangement is unsatisfactory.

“The arrangement could last for something like two years, on the basis that once the time is up school and trust leaders will know if it is the right thing for them and are likely to sign up,” Sir David said.

New technical education provider talks requirement
The DfE has announced that from 2 January 2018, all maintained schools and academies will be required to give education and training providers the opportunity to talk to pupils in years 8-13 about approved technical qualifications and apprenticeships.

Schools must publish a policy statement outlining how providers can access the school, the rules for granting and refusing access and what providers can expect once granted access. Schools must also have “clear arrangements in place” to ensure that all pupils have opportunities to hear from providers of post-14, post-16 and post-18 options at, and leading up to, important transition points.


50,000 extra pupils eligible for free school meals under new Government proposals – Friday 17 November 2017

This week I report on the Government’s consultation on a new earnings threshold for pupils eligible for free school meals, the announcement of the coasting schools measure for 2017, new health eating guidance for the early years sector and new KS3 and 4 lesson plans on surviving terror attacks.

An ‘extra 50,000 pupils’ eligible for free school meals under new Government proposals
The Government estimates an extra 50,000 pupils will receive free school meals under proposals for a new earnings threshold put out for consultation yesterday.  Under the proposals, developed in response to the roll-out of the new benefits system, pupils from universal credit-claiming households with incomes of up to £24,000 will be eligible for free school meals. This is higher than the £16,200 earnings threshold that currently entitles pupils to free meals.

Universal credit is currently being rolled out in some areas of the country, replacing several different benefits that currently dictate which pupils can claim free school meals. This also affects schools’ pupil premium funding, which is based on free school meals’ claimant numbers.

2017 ‘coasting schools’ threshold announced
The Department for Education (DfE) has announced the 2017 threshold for the ‘coasting schools’ measure, which is the same as it was in 2016. The coasting measure looks at a school’s performance over 3 years, so for schools to be classed as ‘coasting’ they will need to fall below the thresholds for 2017, 2016 and 2015.

Schools defined as coasting by the Government can be targeted for intervention. For local authority maintained schools, this could include forced transfer to an academy sponsor, while coasting academies could face being re-brokered to a new sponsor.

Healthy eating guidance published for the early years sector
The DfE, together with the Department of Health and Public Health England, has published new example menus and recipes to support early years providers with planning healthy meals for children, and to help them meet the EYFS framework welfare requirements.

New lesson plans on surviving terror attacks
Advice for pupils on how to survive terrorist gun and knife attacks is to be made available to schools across the country for the first time. Lesson plans for Key Stage 3 and 4 pupils have been produced by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) and the PSHE Association, and are backed by the Department for Education.

The materials are an extension of the government’s Run, Hide, Tell campaign and address the threat of terrorist attacks in crowded places. A separate lesson plan has been devised by St John Ambulance. Called TREAT, it aims to teach pupils life-saving first-aid techniques to use if they need to help someone who has been stabbed or shot.



Study finds lesson observations made no difference to pupils’ GCSE results – Friday 10 November 2017

This week I report on the results of a study that found a structured lesson observation programme made no difference to pupils’ GCSE Maths and English results, the publication of the STA’s report on cases of maladministration of the SATs in 2016, data from NASEN indicating more children with SEN are being pushed out of mainstream schools into special schools and the launch of KS3 and KS4 resources to support PSHE delivery around health and wellbeing in schools.

New research casts doubt on impact of teacher peer observations
A new study has found that a structured lesson observation programme, aimed at helping teachers learn from each other, made no difference to pupils’ GCSE Maths and English results.

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) funded an evaluation of the University of Bristol’s Teacher Observation intervention following a US study which had found that structured lesson observation led to gains in student and teacher performance. The study was conducted in 82 English secondary schools over two years with one group of teachers asked to carry out at least 3 (recommended to carry out 6) observations per year and the other group asked to carry out at least 4 (recommended to carry out 12) observations per year.

The programme, evaluated by the National Foundation for Educational Research, found no impact on English and Maths GCSE scores and also pointed out that many teachers failed to complete the recommended number of observations. In the US where an impact had been seen, lesson observation was linked with professional development, outside observers and annual performance bonuses, none of which were used in the English trial.

Government investigated 524 cases of SAT maladministration in 2016
The Standards and Testing Agency’s latest report into maladministration in the 2016 primary SATs exams confirmed they had investigated 524 cases in total. Investigations into the maladministration of Key Stage 1 tests increased by more than 50% while 65 sets of Key Stage 2 exam results were either annulled or amended.

The term “maladministration” refers to any act that could jeopardise the “integrity, security or confidentiality” of the tests and lead to results that “do not reflect the unaided abilities and achievements of pupils”. This includes incorrectly opening test papers, cheating pupils, or test administrators offering too much help to children. It can also refer to changes made to test scripts by someone other than the pupil, or the inflation or deflation of teacher assessment judgements.

It’s not possible to say how many schools are affected, as one school can have multiple exams annulled or amended. Half of the 524 cases were based on schools reporting themselves to the STA, in 18% of cases the Council reported the problem and 14% were reported anonymously.

New data shows SEND pupils ‘pushed out’ of mainstream schools
Data published by the National Association of Special Educational Needs (NASEN) has revealed that more pupils with statements of special educational needs or education health and care plans (EHCPs) are being “pushed out” of mainstream schools into special schools.

The charity’s analysis of Government statistics also showed that there had been increased pressure on special needs schools to take on more pupils over the past decade. The proportion of pupils with statements or EHCPs in special schools rose from 36% in 2007 to 44% this year. Other pupils in these schools need SEN support but don’t have a formalised statement.

Public Health England launches ‘Rise Above’ lesson plans for support in PSHE
This week Public Health England launched a series of lessons plans which are designed to support PSHE delivery around health and wellbeing in schools in KS3 and KS4. With topics including cyberbullying, exam stress and body image in a digital world there are a range of activities with accompanying films/videos that teachers can use.



Consultation on ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ – Friday 3 November 2017

This week I report on the launch of the consultation on changes to statutory guidance on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, new pilot programmes on promoting flexible working for teachers and the opening of the Institute for Teaching which will provide bespoke training programmes for teachers.

Working Together to Safeguarding Children
The DfE has released a consultation on changes to the statutory guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ and new related regulations.

The consultation, seeks views on significant revisions to the guidance, which sets out what is expected of organisations, individually and jointly, to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. These revisions are being made largely to reflect the legislative changes introduced through the Children and Social Work Act 2017.

DfE pledges new flexible working support
Earlier this week the Education Secretary brought together leading figures from the education sector and the world of business at the first Flexible Working in Schools Summit. She announced new pilot programmes looking at employing teachers flexibly and coaching schemes for women who work in education.

The Government is also publishing a new ‘myth buster’ to help school leaders with questions on recruiting for positions with flexible hours.

Opening of the Institute for Teaching
Yesterday, the Education Secretary opened the Institute for Teaching which has received Government funding to set up bespoke training programmes for teachers at all stage of their careers.

The Institute will operate mainly in the North and central England, including in the Education Secretary’s Opportunity Areas which have been identified as social mobility ‘cold spots’.  The first eight projects to benefit from the fund have now been announced and include programmes focused on leadership, managing challenging pupil behaviour, improving the quality of teaching and phonics.

EYFS development levels improve nationally – 21 October 2017

This week I report on the 2017 EYFS results, updated guidance on Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch up premium funding, new model private notices and the latest data on pupil absence rates.

Improvement in EYFS development levels
On Thursday the DfE published the 2017 Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) profile results. The results show an increase in the percentage of children achieving “a good level of development” and a decreasing gender gap that continues to see girls outperform boys overall, but with boys improving at a faster rate.

70.7% of pupils met the department’s definition of  a good level of development based on achieving expected levels within communication and language, physical development, personal, social and emotional development, literacy and mathematics. While 69% of pupils, an increase of 1.7% when compared to 2016, achieved at least expected in all 17 learning goals, which are the knowledge, skills and understanding pupils are expected to have by the end of the academic year in which they turn five.

Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium funding and guidance
On Tuesday the DfE updated its guidance on strategies schools can use to spend the Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium effectively. The funding is provided to support those Year 7 pupils that didn’t achieve the expected standard in reading or maths at the end of Key Stage 2,

The DfE also confirmed that this year schools will receive the same amount of Year 7 catch-up premium funding as they received in 2016-17 (with some variation based on difference in cohort size). Like the pupil premium, Governors should ensure that they receive information on how the funding is spent and that the report is published on the school’s website.

New model privacy notices issued by the DfE
Late last week the DfE released updated model privacy notices for schools and local authorities to issue to staff, parents and pupils about the collection of data. The documents let relevant stakeholders know how schools process data and how personal data about themselves can be accessed.

The model privacy notices were updated to help schools comply with the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which as you are all aware comes into force on 25 May 2018. Schools need to ensure compliance with the GDPR or risk substantial financial penalties from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

Further information is available on the ICO’s website and there is a free webinar on how to implement the GDPR in schools available on the Browne Jacobson website. As you are also aware the LA is offering a new SLA which you can access via the LA’s SLA online portal .

DfE latest data release on pupil absence rates
The DfE has published the latest data on pupil absence rates in England, covering the period Autumn 2016 to Autumn 2017. Key findings from the data are:

  • overall absence rates are relatively stable, increasing by 0.1% between 2015/16 and 2016/17
  • the number of unauthorised absences has risen by 0.2%, partly “due to increased levels of unauthorised family holiday and other unauthorised absence”
  • the number of persistently absent children has risen by 0.1%
  • as in previous years, the most common reason for absence was illness (60.1% of all absences)