All posts by schoolclerkuk

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.

Covid restrictions for schools to end at Step 4 – Friday 9 July 2021

This week I report on the new guidance issued by the DfE on Covid restrictions in education settings ending from Step 4 as well as the 2021 version of Keeping Children Safe in Education and a new version of Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment guidance.

Covid restrictions in education settings to end at Step 4
On Tuesday, the Education Secretary confirmed that Covid restrictions in education settings will end from Step 4 in line with the general removal of restrictions for England at Step 4.  Key headlines include:

  • Over the summer, staff and secondary school students should continue to test regularly if they are attending settings that remain open
  • Secondary schools are to prepare for on-site testing at the beginning of the Autumn term as all secondary school students should receive two on-site lateral flow device tests, 3 to 5 days apart, on their return in the autumn
  • Schools can commence testing from 3 working days before the start of term and can stagger students’ return across the first week to manage this
  • Secondary schools should retain a small on-site testing facility until further notice in case students are unable to test themselves at home
  • Students should then continue to test twice weekly at home until the end of September, when this will be reviewed by the DfE
  • Only students that test positive will need to self-siolate
  • Schools will no longer trace close contacts, although they will still be identified via NHS Test and Trace and those identified as close contacts will be advised to take a PCR test, and will only need to isolate if they test positive
  • Students will not need to remain in a consistent group (‘bubble’)
  • Face coverings will no longer be advised for students, staff and visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas
  • Schools should provide remote education equivalent in length to the core teaching students would usually get in school if they can’t attend due to contracting Covid
  • All schools will have outbreak management plans in place outlining how they will operate if there is an outbreak in their setting or local area. The Government may also offer local areas of particular concern an enhanced response package to help limit increases in transmission. Revised Operational Guidance has been published in relation to this.

Keeping Children Safe in Education for September 2021 Published
This week the DfE also published the 2021 version of Keeping Children Safe in Education which will come into force on 1 September 2021, in addition a new version of Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment guidance has also been published, ready to come into force on 1 September.

Free governor webinar and upcoming conference – Friday 2 July 2021

This week I report on a free governor webinar on what governors need to know about peer-on-peer sexual abuse in schools, a Governors Conference taking place in September, confirmation of guidance expected from the Education Secretary for schools on plans to lift restrictions and bubbles, a DfE call for evidence on behaviour in schools and the opening of applications for the National Leaders of Governance programme.

Free governor webinar and conference
Webinar: What governors need to know about peer-on-peer sexual abuse in schools – Governors for Schools are offering this free webinar on 8 July from 8-9.00 a.m. It will explore Ofsted’s recent ‘rapid review’ of sexual abuse allegations in schools and colleges and key conclusions, the actions being considered as a result of the review, and the potential ramifications for schools with a particular focus on governance. To book your place use this link to go to their website.

Conference: Monday 20 to Friday 24 September 2021 – this first conference from Governors for Schools will have over 20 online sessions available to watch live, with key voices in the sector and expert panellists sharing their insight on all things governance. There will be sessions for both prospective and existing governors, as well as clerks, headteachers, and other school staff. Registration isn’t open yet but towards the end of July when the agenda and links to sign up to sessions become available I will email governors so that you don’t miss out.

Guidance on Covid restrictions expected from Education Secretary
On Wednesday, the Education Secretary stated that he expected to be able to confirm plans to lift restrictions and bubbles as part of step 4 of the Government’s Covid roadmap. However, it’s not known when the step 4 announcement will be made, although the new Health Secretary has said there is “no reason” for England’s remaining Covid restrictions to last beyond 19 July.

Once the decision was made guidance would be issued immediately to schools. Mr Williamson also confirmed the plan was for any changes to kick in for the summer holidays – meaning summer schools would not have to follow Covid restrictions.

DfE call for evidence on behaviour in schools
As anticipated this week the Education Secretary launched a call for evidence on behaviour in schools. Teachers, parents and other staff were invited for their views and policies on managing good behaviour, ahead of planned updates to Government guidance later this year on behaviour, discipline, suspensions and permanent exclusions. The six-week consultation seeks views on how schools maintain calm classrooms, the use of removal rooms and creating mobile phone-free school days, among other measures.

Applications now open for the National Leaders of Governance (NLG) programme
NLGs are expert trustees, governors and governance professionals who will deliver targeted DfE funded governance support to help secure effective governance in schools and trusts. The National Governance Association (NGA) is delivering the reformed NLG programme on behalf of the DfE. NLGs will be contracted to the NGA and paid a daily rate of £500. Deployments will be based on a set number of days, depending on board and deployment type. Applications are now welcomed from all who meet the criteria which you can review using this link.

Governor webinar on wellbeing within and beyond the school gates – Friday 25 June 2021

This week I report on a free governor webinar on wellbeing within and beyond the school gates and provide a roundup of the latest information from the DfE.

Free governor webinar on wellbeing within and beyond the school gates
Governors for Schools are offering a free webinar on wellbeing within and beyond the school gates: nutrition, sport, travel, and community on Thursday 1 July from 12-1pm. The webinar will explore broader aspects of physical activity and health within schools and their local communities; how pupils’ physical activity can be most effectively supported and sustained outside of the curriculum and classroom.

To register your attendance please use this link to go to the Governors for Schools website.

DfE news roundup
Speaking at the Festival of Education 2021 this week the Education Secretary set out his commitment to levelling up opportunities across the country for young people.  He outlined an upcoming review on the length of the school day and whether it affected outcomes as well as a consultation on banning mobile phones alongside other revisions to the behaviour and discipline and exclusions guidance later this year.

Facing questions from MPs on the Education Select Committee Gavin Williamson said next year’s A-levels and GCSEs in England were likely to face “adjustments” to be fairer to pupils disrupted by the pandemic. The expectation was that modified exams would run next year as well as planning for a full programme of primary assessments, including the introduction of the statutory Reception Baseline Assessment and the Multiplication Tables Check.

Mr Williamson has also confirmed that there is a plan for responding to a potential winter wave of Covid or a flu outbreak but hasn’t committed to publishing it in advance.  He reiterated that the DfE had published an updated Covid-19 contingency framework for schools the previous week, setting out what measures may be needed in response to local outbreaks.

Extension of the Virtual Headteacher’s role – Friday 18 June 2021

This week I report on the extension of the role of the Virtual Headteacher, the publication of mental health and wellbeing resources for schools and additional funding to enable more schools to deliver the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Extension of the role of the Virtual Headteacher
This week the Government announced more than £16 million for councils to extend the role of Virtual School Heads from September this year, so that children with a social worker in England will benefit from further dedicated support in school and at college to help level up their outcomes in education and reach their full potential.

A further £3 million in funding has also been confirmed for a new pilot, where Virtual School Heads will support looked-after children and care leavers in post-16 education. Launching in October, the pilot will enable Virtual School Heads to expand their work into further education settings.

Both programmes will build on the existing role of a Virtual School Head, who helps champion and improve the educational outcomes for children in or on the edge of care, enhancing relationships between schools, colleges and local authorities so that pupils receive support from professionals that will help them develop and progress throughout their time in education.

Mental health and wellbeing support in schools and colleges
Earlier this week the DfE added a list of mental health and wellbeing resources for teachers, school staff and school leaders to help to develop a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing.

Additional funding for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme
The DfE has announced it will work with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, providing a £3.4 million funding boost to expand opportunities to up to 291 more schools not currently delivering it.  This will enable access for young people who may previously have faced barriers to taking part and the investment is part of the Government’s levelling up agenda to ensure all pupils have fair and equal access to high-quality enrichment activities. 

Free Primary PE and Sport Premium Governor training webinar – Friday 11 June 2021

This week I report on a free Primary PE and Sport Premium governor training webinar, new DfE information on mental health lead training for schools and publication of new research on pupil learning loss due to the pandemic.

Free Primary PE and Sport Premium Governor Training Webinar
A Governors for Schools webinar on Primary PE and Sport Premium will be held on Tuesday 15 June from 12 to 1.00pm, facilitated by David Taylor from Active Sussex. It will also feature the Headteacher and PE Co-ordinator of Little Common Primary School, a best practice school in Sussex that is rated as Outstanding by Ofsted as well as the current holders of the Sussex Sports Awards Active Primary School of the Year Award. To register for the webinar use this link to access the Governors for Schools website.

DfE publishes information on mental health lead training
Following the DfE’s announcement last month that grants for training of senior mental health leads will be available for a third of schools from September this year, further information has been released on the focus, funding and eligibility for training.  Schools can’t apply yet for funding but are encouraged to identify a senior mental health lead in their setting with the capacity and authority to implement a whole school approach to wellbeing, or for those with existing leads to consider their professional development needs for delivering the approach ahead of the new school year.

The DfE also published guidance on the whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing, signposting current information and support available. This includes how schools can enquire about accessing the Mental Health Support Teams and other support services and training. 

New research on pupil learning loss published
New research carried out by the Education Policy Institute and Renaissance Learning analysing learning loss experienced by primary and secondary pupils in England was published by the DfE last week. It explores the impact of the pandemic on attainment at both national and regional levels and is comprised of two reports, covering learning loss during the autumn term (2020) and the spring term (2021).

Key findings highlighted learning losses of 3.7 months in maths and 1.8 in reading for pupils in primary school by October 2020, briefly recovering by December and then regressing to similar levels by March 2021. The reports also found that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds were disproportionately affected by the pandemic as well as disparities in learning losses at a regional level.

Amanda Spielman continues as Ofsted Chief Inspector – Friday 28 May 2021

This week I report on Amanda Spielman continuing as Ofsted Chief Inspector and the DfE is considering producing a Queen’s platinum jubilee book for primary school children

Amanda Spielman to continue as Ofsted Chief Inspector
The Education Secretary has today confirmed the reappointment of Amanda Spielman as Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills (HMCI) for a new term of two years.

The new term will commence on 1 January 2022, at the point the Chief Inspector’s initial five-year term concludes and will run until 31 December 2023.

The reappointment was confirmed by the Privy Council, following an appointment process conducted in line with the requirements set by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

The Education Secretary and Chief Inspector will work closely together to support the early years, schools, colleges and children’s services as they support children to recover from the impact of the pandemic. Ofsted inspections are expected to resume in full across all settings from September 2021, while remaining sensitive to the context of the pandemic.

DfE considers producing Queen’s platinum jubilee book for primary schools
The DfE is considering paying for the production of a commemorative book marking the Queen’s platinum jubilee that it can send out to every primary school child in the UK.

In an early engagement notice, published earlier this week, the DfE said it was notifying the market of its intention to run a procurement to produce the commemorative book for primary school children by May 2022.

As part of this tender, or as a separate contract, the DfE also wants to commission resources for primary and secondary school teachers to “assist them in delivering a lesson and/or assembly on the Queen and her reign” in the run-up to jubilee celebrations.

Next year will mark the Queen’s 70th anniversary as monarch, the first time any British monarch has reached this milestone.

Ofqual consultation on arrangements for NEA assessment next year – Friday 21 May 2021

This week I highlight the Ofqual consultation on arrangements for NEA assessments next academic year, the dropping of the Institute of Teaching’s pilot year and information on the final NTLT governor workshop for this academic year.

Ofqual consultation on arrangements for non-exam assessment in 2021/22
Ofqual has launched a two week consultation on arrangements for non-exam assessment in 2022, focussing on subjects where pupils taking exams next Summer will begin to prepare this term e.g. geography, dance and drama.

This year, some non-exam assessment requirements were relaxed, such as those for group performances in dance, music, drama and theatre qualifications. Ofqual has said that it understood schools may have questions about “other activities” and how they may be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, such as practical work in science and externally-set tasks in art and design.

The regulator said it was “hopeful that, with further lifting of public health restrictions, it will be possible for students to complete work as usual during the next academic year”, and therefore, it does “not propose to carry forward the 2021 arrangements for these subjects at this point in time to avoid possible negative effects on teaching and learning”.

New Institute of Teaching has dropped plans for its pilot year
The government’s new Institute of Teaching (IOT) will not be taking on its first trainee teachers until 2023 after plans for a limited pilot next year were dropped.

Originally, the DfE had stated in tender documents for the £121 million, six-year contract, that they were expecting the IoT to deliver a pilot ITT from September 2022, before expanding delivery to 500 trainees in 2023.  Contract documents have now been revised to simply state that the IoT “will commence delivery of ITT cohorts from September 2023”.  It will still deliver the early career framework (ECF) and national professional qualifications (NPQs) from 2022.

NTLT Governor Workshop on Generating Income: the governance role
A quick reminder that the final workshop for this academic year is taking place virtually on Monday 21 June from 5.30-7.30 p.m. 

The session will provide the opportunity for governors to develop a realistic and practical approach to working with senior leaders to generate additional funding suitable for their school and which stands a good chance of success. Using case studies and a four stage approach the workshop explores the positive impact governors can have. Exploring different types and sources of funding and support, including partnerships with the community and beyond it will help those governing make informed judgements and contributions to help their senior leaders focus on the development and implementation of viable strategies and projects.

If you would like to attend please contact me directly and if you have any areas you would like the Trust to deliver a workshop on next academic year just let me know.

Funding to boost mental health support in schools – Friday 14 May 2021

This week I highlight the Government’s announcement of £17 million funding to build on mental health support in education settings, publication of an education staff wellbeing charter, the end of the requirement for students to wear face coverings and a new webinar on reducing avoidable school exclusions.

Schools to benefit from boost in expert mental health support and publication of an education staff wellbeing charter
As part of Mental Health Awareness week, the Government has announced more than £17 million to build on mental health support already available in education settings, as it continues to prioritise wellbeing alongside academic recovery. The funding will cover:

  • A Wellbeing for Education Recovery program providing free training and resources for staff to support pupils experiencing additional pressures from the last year.
  • Funding to the ‘Link’ programme run by the Anna Freud Centre which promotes joint working between schools and mental health services.
  • Grants for training of senior mental health leads in up to 7,800 schools and colleges from September. Information on applying for funding and a list of approved training providers is expected to be announced before September.

In addition the DfE has published an education staff wellbeing charter which schools can sign up to when it is available in the autumn, as a shared commitment to protect, promote and enhance the wellbeing of their staff. Schools can use the charter to:

  • show staff that their wellbeing is taken seriously
  • open a conversation with staff about their wellbeing and mental health
  • create a staff wellbeing strategy
  • create a wellbeing-focused culture

Mandatory use of face coverings to be removed
On Monday the Prime Minister confirmed that pupils would no longer be required to wear face coverings in schools from 17 May. This would improve interaction between teachers and students, ensuring the clearest possible communication to support learning. Staff have been advised to continue to wear face coverings in communal areas where social distancing is not possible.

Governors for School webinar on reducing avoidable school exclusions
The webinar will take place on Tuesday 25 May from 12.30-1.30 pm and will explore the role of governors in a fair and robust exclusions process. To register please use this link to the Governors for School’s website.

NGA Annual Governance Survey – Friday 7 May 2021

This week I encourage you all to complete the NGA’s annual governance survey and note the DfE has updated its guidance on improving school attendance.

NGA Governance Survey
Add your views and experiences to the biggest annual survey of school governors and trustees. The NGA wants to understand your experience of volunteering, your views on topical education policy and your insight into your governing body’s practice.

Depending on the answers you give, the survey will take around 20 minutes to complete. Once you have started the survey, you can save and return to your answers whenever you like before submitting them. If you govern on more than one governing body, choose your answers based on the governing body you have been a part of the longest. Please use this link to complete the survey and note it is open until Thursday 10 June at 9am.

Updated guidance to help schools improve attendance
The DfE has updated its guidance for schools and local authorities on improving school attendance.

The guidance sets out the principles underpinning an effective whole school strategy for attendance, with targeted actions for all pupils, pupils at risk of poor attendance and pupils who are persistently absent. It also outlines what commitment to improving attendance looks like across the school community, beginning with leadership and management and requires governing bodies to have an accurate view of school attendance and engaging in escalation procedures where appropriate.