Category Archives: Friday Updates

Each week School Clerk UK publishes an update for member governors on key issues affecting Governing Bodies. They are published here for easy browsing and future access.

National Computing SCITT announced – Friday 29 March 2019

This week I report on the DfE’s announcement that its looking for organisations to run a national computing SCITT and publication of updated guidance on the standards for school food in England.

National Computing SCITT announced
The DfE has announced it is looking for organisations to run a “national computing school-centred initial teacher training” (SCITT) programme to “ultimately design a unique and high-quality school-led offer in this priority subject”. The centre would start recruitment in the autumn before delivering training from next year.

However as other subject-specific SCITTs set up for maths and physics, and languages have failed to recruit their target number of trainees, there is concern in the sector that it might just attract trainees who would otherwise have gone elsewhere and the net number of teachers therefore would not increase.

Updated Standards for school food in England
Guidance on the standards for planning and providing food in schools have been updated this week to include a link to healthy eating resources for schools. The guidance includes information on the planning and provision of school food, the school food plan, the provision of milk and the free fruit and vegetables scheme.

Updated Governance Handbook – Friday 22 March 2019

This week I highlight publication of the updated Governance Handbook and reports that Ofsted may rethink plans to give just 150-minutes’ notice of inspectors’ arrival in schools.

Updated Governance Handbook
This morning the DfE published a revised version of the Governance Handbook. The Handbook explains governing boards’ roles and functions, their legal duties, where governors can find support and the main features of effective governance.

The Handbook sits alongside the ‘Competency framework for governance’ which sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours that school and academy governing boards need to be effective, and the ‘Competency framework for clerking’ which sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to provide professional clerking to school and academy governing boards.

The most significant updates and changes to the content within the Handbook sections are as follows:

Section 2: Strategic Leadership
Updated section at 2.4 to place stronger emphasis on parental engagement.

Section 3: Accountability
• New sub-section within 3.1 on workload considerations, which draws attention to the latest published workload guidance and workload reduction toolkit which provides support to schools and boards.
• New section 3.2 on the robust oversight of an organisation. Due to insertion other sections have been re-numbered.
• Updated sub-section within 3.4.1 to replace RAISEonline with information on Analyse School Performance.

Section 4: People
• Clarification at section 4.1.2 on criminal records checks and s128 prohibition.
• Updated text at section 4.4 to reflect the clerking competency framework, funded clerking training and the position of a clerk (governance professional) in trusts.

Section 5: Structures
Clarification on LA associated people (LAAPs) serving as Members 5.2.1.

Section 6: Compliance
• Clarification at 6.4.1 on what a maintained school must publish in relation to the curriculum.
• Updated text at 6.4.4 to highlight the future proposed changes being made to Sex and Relationship Education (SRE).
• Updated guidance at 6.4.9 following the introduction of statutory Careers guidance, which came into force in 2018.
• Removal of out-dated text at 6.5.
• Updated advice at 6.5.3 on information the board should check as part of the pre appointment process when recruiting potential employees.
• Removal of previous section 6.5.4 on NTCL teacher services.
• Section 6.5.7, new sub section on Executive pay.
• Updated text at 6.6.3 to reflect changes to the Dedicated Schools Grant and the pupil premium.
• Updated guidance at 6.7 to provide further clarity on the board’s responsibilities under safeguarding.
• Clarification at 6.8.3 that the statutory duty to produce and publish a statement of principles applies to maintained schools.
• Updated guidance at 6.8.9 on school food and milk which reflects the updating of entitling benefits for Free School Meals and outlines the board’s responsibilities to ensure the school is complying with its obligations.
• Updated advice at 6.8.16 to alert schools to their fire safety responsibilities.
• Inclusion of additional paragraph at 6.11.2 on the responsibility of schools to ensure that any provide of childcare on site must have in place appropriate polices in relation to safeguarding children.
• Updated section at 6.14.1 to reflect the replacement of Edubase service with Get information about schools (GIAS)
• Updated section at 6.14.5 to reflect the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
• Clarification at 6.15 on dealing with complaints.

Section 7: Evaluation
• Updated to include reference to DfE funded governance development programmes and the clerking competency framework and Ofsted “myths” documentation.
• Updated content on schools causing concern and on coasting schools at section 7.4.
• Section 7.5 has been updated to include DfE areas of support and other information which may be of use to boards.

Ofsted may rethink plan to give just 150-minutes’ notice of inspectors’ arrival
On Tuesday the TES reported that Matthew Purves, Ofsted’s deputy director for schools had informed a Westminster Education Forum that Ofsted could back down on its plans for an inspector to arrive at a school the day before its inspection begins.

The consultation response so far has been very negative towards the proposal and Mr Purves said, “If there is a tidal wave of negativity we need to sit down and think about that, but we really do think that conversation prior to inspection would be a really good idea.”

Creation of a new expert advisory group on teachers’ wellbeing – Friday 15 March 2019

This week I report on the creation of a new expert advisory group to look at how to promote better wellbeing for teachers, the announcement of 30 ONE Vision schools in the North East via the Opportunity North East initiative and funding to end ‘period poverty’ in secondary schools from September this year.

Support on wellbeing for teachers in schools
At the Association of School and College Leaders’ (ASCL) annual conference today the Education Secretary will announce the creation of a new expert advisory group to look at how teachers and school leaders can be better supported to deal with the pressure of the job.

The Advisory Group will bring together head teachers and principals, teaching and college unions, professional bodies and mental health charity Mind to work with the Government to look at how to promote better wellbeing for teachers.

Government drive to boost attainment in North East schools
Yesterday the Education Secretary set out plans to support up to thirty schools through the Opportunity North East (ONE) initiative – a multi-million pound Government-led programme to improve social mobility and raise aspirations for children.

These ONE Vision schools, as they will be known, will be partnered with high-performing institutions and given bespoke support to raise standards and help up to 25,000 young people learn the skills and knowledge that will help unlock their potential.

Government funding to provide sanitary products in secondary schools
The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, announced plans to fund sanitary products for pupils in secondary schools and colleges to end so-called ‘period poverty’ in his Spring statement on Wednesday. The funding will be made available from September, although no further details on how much schools would receive has been announced yet.

Article updated at 15:11 on 15 March due to issues with some website filters.

Off-rolling schools could be judged ‘inadequate’ – Friday 8 March 2019

This week I report on Ofsted’s confirmation that schools found to be off-rolling could be judged inadequate, the DfE’s desire for all primary schools to provide careers education and free tree saplings for schools from the Woodland Trust.

Ofsted confirms off-rolling schools are likely to be judged ‘inadequate’
This week the TES has reported that Ofsted has said that schools found off-rolling under its new inspection regime are likely to get an “inadequate” judgement for leadership and management and judged to be failing overall.

The inspectorate is planning to tackle off-rolling, where schools remove pupils in order to improve exam results, under its new framework. A spokesperson said: “The draft school inspection handbook makes clear that, if inspectors find off-rolling, leadership and management is likely to be judged inadequate.” “It also says that overall effectiveness is likely to be judged inadequate when any one of the key judgements is inadequate. But this isn’t automatic. Inspectors will have to use their professional judgement when coming to a judgement.”

Careers education for all primary schools
Earlier this week the DfE confirmed it was working with major companies to bring careers education to all primary schools but didn’t indicate when this would roll out. Whilst research shows only 4% of primary schools currently don’t provide any careers education to pupils, the Education Secretary is committed to ensuring this reaches 100% by working with industry professionals.

Woodland Trust: A million saplings to be given to schools
More than a million saplings have been sent out to schools and communities as part of the Woodland Trust’s free trees initiative.

The charity has suggested that there has been a huge increase in the “passion for planting” recently and schools can apply now for trees to be delivered in November 2019.  The charity has also produced an online resource to help schools plan, plant and care for their tree pack. All activities are linked to the KS1 and KS2 curriculum. They include a planning tool, planting advice and interactive quizzes.


New sex and health education guidance published – Friday 1 March 2019

This week I report on the new statutory guidance on compulsory sex, relationships and health education as well as a new Schools Financial Value Standard for 2019/20.

New sex and health education guidance
The Government has published new guidance on compulsory sex, relationships and health education which will become compulsory in September 2020. The guidance includes some minor changes since it was published in draft form last year.

Under the new guidance, pupils will be taught relationships education at primary level, relationships and sex education at secondary level and health education throughout all stages.

Primary pupils will be taught about relationships, staying safe online and the link between physical and mental health. Secondary pupils will be taught about issues such as FGM, grooming, forced marriage and domestic abuse.

Health education will cover the importance of getting enough sleep, the dangers of sexting and how to spot the signs of mental health issues.

Changes to the Schools Financial Value Standard for 2019/20
Maintained schools and Management Committees of pupil referral units currently complete the annual Schools Financial Value Standard (SFVS) assessment form, consisting of 25 questions to help them manage their finances and provide assurance to the LA that they have secure financial management in place.

The standard for 2019 to 2020 has been revised and consists of a checklist and a dashboard. The checklist asks questions of governing bodies in 6 areas of resource management similar to the existing SFVS form and the new dashboard shows how a school’s data compares to thresholds on a range of statistics identified by the DfE as indicators of good resource management and outcomes.

The checklist guidance provides clarification for each question, examples of good practice, and details further support available to assist schools in addressing specific issues. The dashboard guidance provides explanations of the each of the indicators and helps schools in filling in their data and understanding the results.

Review to demand excluded pupils count in schools’ results – Friday 15 February 2019

This week I report on the review of exclusions expected to be published before Easter which would require excluded pupils to count in school’s results and the DfE has announced it’s expectation that schools fund a 2% cost of living teacher pay rise in 2019/20.

Timpson review to demand excluded pupils count in schools’ results
A landmark review of exclusions will demand the Government revives plans to make schools retain responsibility for the results of pupils they exclude. According to leaked documents seen by Schools Week the Timpson review will call for a “significant shift” for schools, alternative provision settings and councils, demanding that ministers “remove the potential” for Headteachers to game the system by “permanently excluding children at the most crucial time in their education”.

Edward Timpson, a former children’s minister who was commissioned to look into the practices around exclusions last year, was supposed to publish his report by the end of December. It was later widened to look at the illegal off-rolling of pupils, with ministers promising it will be published before Easter.

In extracts of the draft, seen by Schools Week, Timpson said the Department for Education should make heads “continue to be responsible for children who have been permanently excluded, including for commissioning high-quality and safe alternative provision where this is needed and remaining accountable for the educational outcomes of this”.  In practice, that means the performance of excluded pupils would count towards the school’s league table position.

Publication of evidence to support the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) consideration of the 2019 pay award
The Secretary of State wrote to the STRB on 21 November, asking for their recommendations on the September 2019 teachers pay award. The letter stressed the importance of focusing on how the pay award can best address recruitment and retention challenges, while taking account of affordability across the school system.

The DfE has now published evidence to support the STRB’s consideration of the 2019 pay award and concluded that a pay increase for teachers of 2% (in line with forecast inflation) is affordable within the overall funding available to schools for 2019 to 2020, without placing further pressure on school budgets. This is supported by the Government’s proposals to fund increases in teachers’ pension contributions from September 2019.

New vision for character and resilience – Friday 8 February 2019

This week I report on the Education Secretary’s five foundations for character education, a series of trials testing different approaches to supporting young people’s mental health and an EEF trial of an English mastery programme at Key Stage 3.

Vision for character and resilience
This week the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds laid out the 5 Foundations for Building Character and pledged to work with schools and external organisations, including membership bodies and charities, to help every child access activities within each of those foundations. The foundations are:

  • Sport – which includes competitive sport and activities such as running, martial arts, swimming and purposeful recreational activities, such as rock climbing, hiking, orienteering, gym programmes, yoga or learning to ride a bike.
  • Creativity – this involves all creative activities from coding, arts and crafts, writing, graphic design, film making and music composition.
  • Performing – activities could include dance, theatre and drama, musical performance, choir, debating or public speaking.
  • Volunteering & Membership – brings together teams for practical action in the service of others or groups, such as volunteering, litter-picking, fundraising, any structured youth programmes or uniformed groups like Beavers, Brownies, Cubs, Guides, Scouts, Cadets and Duke of Edinburgh.
  • World of work – practical experience of the world of work, work experience or entrepreneurship. For primary age children, this may involve opportunities to meet role models from different jobs.

To help to make this happen the Education Secretary announced:

  • Plans for an audit of the availability of out of school activities across the country, to help understand where more focus is needed to increase access and choice.
  • A call on businesses and charities to offer more work experience and volunteer placements to young people.
  • Relaunching the Department for Education’s Character Awards, which highlight innovative or outstanding programmes that develop a wide variety of character traits.
  • A new advisory group will develop a new framework to help teachers and school leaders identify the types of opportunities that will help support their pupils to build character. The framework will also provide a self-assessment tool for schools to check how well they are doing.

Mental Health trials launched in 370 schools
To mark Children’s Mental Health Week (4-10 February), the Education Secretary Damian Hinds has announced that up to 370 schools in England will take part in a series of trials testing different approaches to supporting young people’s mental health.

Children will benefit from mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to help them regulate their emotions, alongside pupil sessions with mental health experts. The study will run until 2021 and aims to give schools new, robust evidence about what works best for their students’ mental health and wellbeing.

Mr Hinds also confirmed the nine areas across the country that will trial new high-quality mental health assessments for young people entering care, helping them get the support they need to meet their individual needs at a time when they are more vulnerable.

English mastery programme trial by the EEF
A Key Stage 3 English mastery programme has been selected for a trial by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). The EEF will test the approach, which is supported by Ark Ventures, an arm of Ark Schools, in 110 schools over two years to find out if it will boost pupil progress. Around 700 teachers and 40,000 pupils are expected to be involved.
Ark recently announced that it is developing a school curriculum programme covering “all the major subjects” that it plans to sell to other schools. It comes as Ofsted’s new framework shifts its focus from exam results to how schools deliver curriculum.

The new trial is one of five unveiled today by the EEF, which exists to test approaches that “break the link between family income and educational achievement”. Other successful projects include a scheme to improve access to glasses, and programmes for struggling readers.

New teacher Recruitment and Retention strategy – Friday 1 February 2019

This week I highlight the launch of the new teacher Recruitment and Retention strategy, a consultation on making it easier to identify schools that could benefit from support to improve performance, an online energy switching service added to the DfE’s new deals service for schools and publication of advice to schools in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Launch of a new teacher Recruitment and Retention strategy
Earlier this week the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, launched the new teacher Recruitment and Retention strategy. It includes plans for an early career framework which will fund schools to provide an extra year of induction for new teachers, including a 5% off-timetable requirement.  Working with Ofsted to simplify the accountability system and reduce any unnecessary pressure it places on teachers.  Launch a new job-share service to help those interested find opportunities and provide free timetabling tools to make it easier for schools to manage.  As well as simplifying the application process by introducing a new ‘one-stop’ system for initial teacher training.

Consultation on making it easier to identify schools that would benefit from support to improve their performance
The consultation seeks views on proposals for a clearer, simpler approach to identifying schools that may benefit from an offer of support to help improve a school’s educational performance.

The proposal is that all schools judged as ‘Requires improvement’ by Ofsted will be eligible for support, and that schools with two consecutive ‘Requires improvement’ judgements will be eligible for more intensive support.  To simplify accountability it also proposes removing floor and coasting data standards.

Deals for Schools
The DfE’s Schools Commercial Team provides information on the national deals available to schools to help them save money on some of the things they buy regularly. The deals are assessed for compliance with procurement regulations, ease of use, suitability and value for money. An online energy switching services has just been added.

Advice to schools on preparing for the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal
Yesterday the DfE published advice to schools in England on how to prepare in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal. This relates to the EU Settlement scheme, school places, recognition of teaching qualifications, travel to the EU, school meals and the supply of food and the Erasmus programme.

Secondary performance tables published – Friday 25 January 2019

This week I report on the publication of the secondary performance tables and revised guidance explaining how the secondary school accountability measures are calculated, as well as the Education Secretary’s speech calling for the technology industry and educators to work in partnership to transform education, cut teacher workload and improve pupil outcomes.

Secondary accountability measures and the publication of performance tables
A new secondary school accountability system was introduced in 2016. The DfE has published revised guidance explaining how the measures are calculated and further clarification on the support available to schools falling below the floor or coasting standards, following the Education Secretary’s speech in May 2018, on his vision for a clearer school accountability system. It also follows publication of the Government’s response to the Workload Advisory Group’s recent report Making Data Work.

This week the secondary school performance tables were published and show:

  • attainment results for pupils at the end of Key Stage 4
  • the progress made by pupils between the end of primary school to the end of secondary school
  • data on the performance of disadvantaged pupils
  •  differences in the performance of:
    • pupils who had low attainment at the end of primary school
    • pupils who had high attainment at the end of primary school
    • pupils who were at the expected level at the end of primary school

There is also data about school income and expenditure, the workforce, pupil characteristics and absence.

Education Secretary speech on the technology industry and educators to work in partnership to transform education, cut workload and improve pupil outcomes
On Wednesday, Damian Hinds the Education Secretary, addressed more than 800 of the world’s leading tech companies and start-ups, as well as school representatives and international education ministers, at the Bett Show in London. He told teachers and school leaders to make smarter use of technology, both inside and outside of the classroom, to make sure that it does not add to teachers’ responsibilities. He suggested teachers should not have to email outside of office hours and should instead embrace innovative technology such as AI to help to reduce their workload.

Mr Hinds also outlined his plans to launch an EdTech strategy later this year to harness the power of technology in schools, strengthening the training teachers receive, reducing their workload, and unleashing young people’s potential – backed by a £10 million fund to support innovative uses of tech in schools and colleges across England.

Consultation on draft inspection framework opens – Friday 18 January 2019

This week I report on the opening of the consultation on the draft inspection framework and the changes this will mean for schools and governors as well as the publication of updated guidance for maintained schools about setting up or reviewing complaints procedures.

Consultation on draft inspection framework
Earlier this week Ofsted opened its consultation on the draft education inspection framework to be implemented from September 2019. The framework sets out how it proposes to inspect schools, further education and skills provision and registered early years settings. Alongside the framework Ofsted also published draft inspection handbooks and a reports on its research. The consultation is open until 5 April 2019 and if you would like to submit a response you can do so by responding online or via email at

Key Headlines

  • Increased curriculum focus – shift from scrutiny of pupil data to more discussion of curriculum structure, coherence and sequencing.
  • Continued importance of assessment – published pupil performance data will continue to figure strongly in future inspections under “Curriculum Impact”. However, it’s unclear how much weighting the inspectorate will give to this factor in forming an overall judgement.
  • Pause on full implementation – following concerns around the timetable for implementation Ofsted has inserted a significant caveat on the new curriculum criteria to ensure ‘inspectors will evaluate ‘intent’ favourably’. However, the language surrounding this is vague and open to interpretation.
  • No-notice inspections – Ofsted has proposed that the lead inspector will arrive at the school within hours of notifying the school of inspection but has termed this “on-site preparation” rather than the beginning of an inspection. The scope of activities covered on this first half-day is minimal.
  • Longer short inspections – Section 8 inspections of good schools would double in length to two days, the same length as full inspections, to allow inspectors to cover more ground within an expanded framework. The original intention of short inspections, as a check with conversion to full inspection when inspectors identify problems, appears to have been discarded.

How this affects governance
Inspectors will make judgements on the following:

  • overall effectiveness

and the four key judgements:

  • the quality of education
  • behaviour and attitudes
  • personal development
  • leadership and management

The role that governors and trustees play in the school’s performance is evaluated as part of the judgement on the effectiveness of leadership and management, and each report will contain a separate paragraph that addresses the governance of the school.

The framework references the Governance Handbook indicating it sets out the purpose of governance, which is to provide confident, strategic leadership and to create robust accountability, oversight and assurance for educational and financial performance.

In addition, those with governance/oversight are responsible for ensuring that the school fulfils its statutory duties, for example under the Equalities Act 2010, and other duties, for example in relation to the ‘Prevent’ duty and safeguarding. Inspectors will explore how governors carry out this responsibility. The framework notes that inspectors are not expected to construct or review a list of duties.

The draft inspection handbook for maintained schools and academies provides a section on applying the Education Inspection Framework in different contexts such as junior and middle schools, special schools and pupil referral units.

Updated DfE guidance on school complaints procedures
This week the DfE also published updated guidance for school complaints procedures for maintained schools. There are key additions to the original guidance as follows:

  • Establishing a complaints procedure – the DfE has clarified that responsibility for establishing procedures for handling complaints lies with the governing board. The board must have regard to any guidance from the Secretary of State when establishing and publishing its complaints procedures but that doesn’t mean that schools must adhere to every detail in the DfE’s guidance.
  • Publishing a complaints procedure – where a school deems it necessary or reasonable to deviate from its published complaints procedure this deviation should be documented.
  • Stages in the procedure – though the decision still lies with schools, the DfE now recommends implementing a complaints procedure that consists of two stages.
  • Complaints about the Headteacher or the whole governing board – the guidance confirms that a school’s complaints procedure must also outline the steps to follow if the subject of the complaint is the entire governing board. When a complaint is made against the whole governing board, they need to be made aware of the allegations made against them and respond to any independent investigation. Complaints against the headteacher should be dealt with by a suitably skilled member of the governing board at stage 1 of the complaints process, then by a committee of members of the governing board at stage 2.
  • Managing serial or persistent complaints – schools should establish a policy for managing serial and unreasonable complaints and this should be included in the published complaints procedure. Where a decision to enforce a bar on an individual due to poor behaviour has been confirmed, the individual will be notified in writing, explaining how long the bar will be in place and when the decision will be reviewed.
  • Legal representation – where a complaint progresses to a committee of members of the school governors, it is recommended that neither the complainant or the school brings legal representation. The DfE does, however, recognise that there will be occasions where legal representation may be appropriate.
  • Mediation – including a mediation stage in a complaints procedure can be useful in helping schools and complainants to reach an agreement and move forward; however, there may be occasions where this is not an appropriate course of action.
  • Complying with the GDPR – before disclosing information regarding a complaint to a third party, schools must obtain written consent from the complainant. Notes of meetings and telephone calls should be kept securely and encrypted, where possible, to prevent any later challenge or disagreement over what was said. Recording meetings – consent must be obtained from all involved parties before conversations or meetings are recorded. Audio and video evidence – the DfE may accept independently notarised transcriptions of recordings and may ask for the written consent of all recorded parties. Schools will be supported should they choose to refuse to accept recordings of conversations that were obtained without the informed consent of all parties being recorded as evidence.
  • Communicating the outcome – schools should inform the complainant of the conclusion and reasons for any decisions in writing and any further rights of appeal. Copies of minutes should be issued to the complainant, as failure to do so could lead to further complaint.  The guidance clarifies that when responding to a complaint, schools should advise the complainant of any escalation options at each stage of the procedure, e.g. when communicating the outcome of the stage 1 process, the details of the stage 2 process should be included.

I will review our current Complaints procedures and will bring a revised version, if that is required, to this term’s Governing body meetings for discussion and adoption.