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.

A couple of reminders before the summer break – Friday 19 July 2019

Image result for summer holiday images

Before we pack our buckets and spades for the summer break remember the new Inspection Framework, Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance and revised Parent View questions come into effect in September; also this week a consultation opened on applying some of the financial measures used in academies to local authority run schools and a new School Sport and Activity Action Plan was launched.

Looking ahead to the Autumn term
In September, new versions of Ofsted’s inspection framework and the DfE’s Keeping children safe in education will be coming into effect.

Despite Ofsted’s plans to replace Parent View, the web service will remain in place for the new academic year with revised questions which will also come into effect in September.

The new questions have been included following requests from parents. They will ask whether parents believe the school has high expectations, whether children can take part in clubs and activities, and whether schools support children’s wider development. Parents of children with SEND will be asked whether the school supports their child to succeed.

Consultation on improving transparency around local authority run schools
As part of a drive to make financial reporting across all types of schools more consistent, the DfE has invited views from across the education system on applying some of the financial measures used in academies to local authority run schools.

Academy trusts already have clear financial reporting measures in place, including requirements to publish their annual accounts, declare or seek approval for related party transactions and report on high pay for executive staff. The consultation sets out proposals for these arrangements to be adopted by local authority maintained schools to help strengthen their transparency and financial health, bringing them in-line with the requirements and high standards that academy trusts already have to meet.

As part of the consultation, the DfE will also consider how any new arrangements may create additional burdens, and so the benefits of any new changes introduced for transparency measures will need to outweigh any burdens on local authorities and schools.

Children to have greater opportunities to access 60 minutes of physical activity daily
Children will have a greater opportunity to access 60 minutes of daily sport and physical activity, whether that be in school, after school or during weekends and holidays, under new Government plans revealed this week.

The School Sport and Activity Action Plan, outlined by Education Secretary Damian Hinds, Sport Minister Mims Davies and Minister for Public Health, Seema Kennedy, sets out a range of new measures to strengthen the role of sport within a young person’s daily routine, explain how teachers and parents can play their part, and promotes a joined-up approach to physical activity and mental wellbeing.

As part of the plan, the Government has committed to launch a series of regional pilots to trial innovative approaches to getting more young people active, particularly less active groups such as girls and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The pilots will be joint-funded by the DfE and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport through Sport England, and are expected to run from September 2020.

Publication of this year’s KS2 SATs results – Friday 12 July 2019

This week I report on the publication of the KS2 SATs results, the launch of a national mental health programme between schools and the NHS, new workshops for Years 12 and 13 to prepare them for independent living and the launch of a new Healthy schools rating scheme.

Key Stage 2 SATs results 2019
65% of pupils achieved the Government’s “expected standard” in reading, writing and maths in this year’s Key Stage 2 SATs, up from 64% last year, according to interim results published by the Government this week.

In reading, 73% achieved the standard, down from 75% last year, while 79% met the standard in maths, up from 76%. In spelling, punctuation and grammar tests, 78% of pupils met the expected standard, the same as in 2018, and the proportion meeting the standard in writing was 78%, also unchanged from 2018.

However, officials warned, changes to assessment frameworks for writing two years ago mean that neither the overall results for reading, writing and maths, nor the results specifically for writing, are comparable to those from 2017 or before.

DfE announces national mental health programme between schools and NHS
Today the Education Secretary set out the Government’s next steps in bringing together services for young people in need of mental health support. Every school, college and alternative provision will be offered training through a series of workshops as part of the Link Programme, with the most appropriate member of staff from each put forward to take part alongside mental health specialists. This is designed to improve partnerships with professional NHS mental health services, raise awareness of mental health concerns and improve referrals to specialist help when needed.

The four-year scheme will be led by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and starting in September, the training will be rolled out to schools and colleges in phases over four years. The programme will deliver just under 1,000 training sessions across England involving two whole-day workshops for up to 20 schools at a time to cover all 22,000 schools.

The Government also announced that 124 new Mental Health Support Teams will be created in 48 areas across the country.

New masterclass to prepare students for independent living
New workshops will be available from September to support schools and colleges teach young people about living independently. The Leapskills workshops, developed by student accommodation provider Unite Students, will offer schools and colleges resources to teach Year 12 and 13 pupils about independent living, managing money and dealing with conflict.

Unite Students will offer schools and colleges free resources for teachers to deliver the workshops, which use video content and a digital game to present a number of student life scenarios that simulate shared living, problem solving and conflict resolution.

Healthy schools rating scheme
The healthy schools rating scheme has been designed to recognise and encourage schools’ contributions to pupils’ health and wellbeing. It celebrates the positive actions that schools are delivering in terms of healthy eating and physical activity and aims to help schools identify useful next steps in their provision.

This voluntary scheme is available for both primary and secondary schools. Schools will
complete a self-assessment and then receive a rating based on their responses around
food education, compliance with the school food standards, time spent on physical
education and the promotion of active travel.

Each participating school will receive a report based on their survey answers, and those
achieving Gold, Silver or Bronze awards will receive a certificate and information on how they might improve their healthy living policies.

Free governors webinar on the new Ofsted Framework – Friday 5 July 2019

This week I highlight a free webinar for governors on the new Ofsted Framework and a  national campaign to boost early literacy and communication.

Free Ofsted/NGA webinar for governors on the new Ofsted Framework
Ofsted and the NGA are offering governors and trustees a free webinar on Wednesday 17 July at 6.30 p.m. to find out more about the new education inspection framework that comes into operation in September 2019. Join the webinar to hear from Matthew Purves (deputy director, Ofsted), and Emma Knights (chief executive, NGA).

This is open to NGA members and non-members and provides an opportunity to join the discussion and hear first-hand about:

  • the recent consultation and the findings;
  • the changes Ofsted are making and why;
  • what the changes mean for schools.

Register for the free webinar at

New national campaign to boost early literacy and communication
On Tuesday the Education Secretary launched a new national campaign with ideas to support children’s learning at home, or as part of everyday activities like catching the bus or doing the shopping.

  • the new three year ‘Hungry Little Minds’ campaign will give parents access to video tips, advice and suggested games to help with early learning;
  • up to 1,800 new school-based nursery places will be created in disadvantaged areas so more children can access high-quality early education, backed by a £22 million investment;
  • the criteria for high quality educational apps that parents can use with their children, including promoting interactive learning and play was set out.

It builds on work by the DfE and the National Literacy Trust to bring together a coalition of businesses and organisations, including the LEGO Group, Penguin Random House, Arriva and the Greggs Foundation, who are supporting parents to play a bigger role in their child’s early education.


September 2019 version of Keeping Children Safe in Education published – Friday 28 June 2019

This week I report on a range of guidance that has been published by the Government consisting of the September 2019 version of Keeping Children Safe in Education, non-statutory guidance on teaching pupils how to stay safe online, non-statutory guidance on reducing the need for restraint and restrictive intervention in Special schools and statutory guidance on Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education which comes into effect from September 2020.

Keeping Children Safe in Education – September 2019
The 2019 draft document was published this week for information only. Schools and colleges should continue to use the 2018 documents until they are withdrawn on 2 September 2019.

It sets out the legal duties that must be followed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people under the age of 18 in schools and colleges. Governors should ensure they read part 1 of this guidance.

Teaching online safety in school
New non statutory guidance supporting schools to teach their pupils how to stay safe online, within new and existing school subjects was published on Wednesday. It complements existing and forthcoming subjects including Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education, Health Education, Citizenship and Computing. It does not imply additional content or teaching requirements.

Reducing the Need for Restraint and Restrictive Intervention
This new non statutory guidance is for special schools, health and social care services. It sets out how to support children and young people with learning disabilities, autistic spectrum conditions and mental health difficulties who are at risk of restrictive intervention.

Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education Statutory Guidance
Statutory guidance was published this week which will come into effect from September 2020 when the following subjects will become compulsory in applicable schools in England:

  • relationship education in primary schools
  • relationship and sex education in secondary schools
  • health education in state funded primary and secondary schools

School must publish policies for these subjects online and make them available to anyone free of charge.


Updated guidance on Pupil Premium funding – Friday 21 June 2019

This week I report on updated guidance on Pupil Premium funding and how schools should spend it as well as the publication of the Government’s response to its review of Children in Need and the extension of the Chairs’ training programme run by the NGA.

Updated guidance on Pupil Premium funding and how schools should spend it
On Monday the DfE updated its guidance on how much pupil premium funding schools will receive for the financial year 2019 to 2020 and added further information about how schools should plan to use the funding.

Whilst it indicates school leaders are best placed to decide how to use the pupil premium to improve disadvantaged pupils’ academic attainment it strongly encourages school leaders to consider evidence on what will have the most impact for their pupils. Since 2011 the Education Endowment Foundation has worked with thousands of schools across the country to establish what works best in raising pupils’ attainment and has published a guide that explains what schools have found works best when spending the pupil premium to improve results.

Schools must publish their strategy for using the pupil premium on their website and from September 2019 schools are encouraged to move away from full annual reviews that can be time-consuming and instead consider a multi-year strategy, such as one covering a 3 year period for pupil premium use, with light touch annual reviews that will continue to form the school’s pupil premium statement. This will help school leaders to take a longer view of the support the grant will provide and align their plan with the wider school improvement strategy. Doing this will give schools greater certainty when planning their:

  • expenditure
  • recruitment
  • teaching practice
  • staff development

The Teaching Schools Council has produced templates to help schools present their pupil premium strategy.

Review of Children in Need
The Government has concluded its review of support for children in need of help and protection to help it to understand why their educational outcomes are so poor and what further support they might require. These are children who need the support of a social worker. The response to the review was published on Monday and key findings/ conclusions are set out below:

  • Speeding up admissions – taking forward changes to the School Admissions Code and improving the speed of the in-year admissions process so that vulnerable children can access a school place as quickly as possible.
  • Improving training – making sure the mental health difficulties of children with social workers is tackled by ensuring both initial teacher training and the social work standards equip professionals with the right knowledge and skills on mental health.
  • Expansion of virtual headteachers – the Government will explore whether there’s a case for “extending and adapting” the virtual school head role.
  • Better sharing of information between councils and schools – making sure social workers are informed when a child they support is excluded from school, and closer working between schools and councils to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged pupils.
  • Making sure disadvantaged children are in education, by taking forward the Timpson Review recommendations and tackling off-rolling, absence and exclusions.

Eligibility extended for Chairs’ training programmes
All governing bodies in England can now access two fully-funded places on the Leading Governance Development for Chairs programme run by the NGA. The training is worth at least £1,000 per school and comes as a result of an agreement by the DfE.

The Development for Chairs programme is suitable for chairs, vice chairs, committee chairs and future chairs. It provides opportunities for developing leadership skills and confident governance.

New free Governor training webinars- Friday 14 June 2019

This week I report on two free governor training webinars being offered by Governors for Schools; the Ofsted Chief Inspector’s warning that a school’s inspection grade could suffer if its data collection systems created unnecessary and burdensome teacher workload and the announcement that Durham’s University’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring has been sold to Cambridge Assessment.

Free Governor training webinars
Governors for Schools (previously School Governors One Stop Shop) has announced a
couple of free webinars for Governors this half term as follows:

  • Thursday 27 June from 8 to 9 am – Headteacher recruitment
  • Thursday 18 July from 8 to 9 am – Self-evaluation of governance

All sessions will be hosted by governance experts Steve Barker and Linda Waghorn. They’ll include a mix of information and advice, opinion polls and the opportunity to ask your own questions. Recordings of the webinars will be available on their website shortly afterwards.

“Unsustainable” data workload could damage Ofsted grades
Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, has warned that schools’ Ofsted grades could suffer if inspectors find that data collection systems create “unsustainable” teacher workload.

Speaking at the recent National Governance Association’s conference, Ms Spielman said: “Internal data that your school uses certainly shouldn’t be collected in a way that puts undue pressure on teachers’ time. If someone shows you a great big spreadsheet, you might want to ask who pulled it together and for what purpose.

“Who does the data help? Does it add value beyond what you’d get from talking to a teacher or head of department? Was it worth the time taken out of the teacher’s day to enter all those numbers?”

She went on to explain that data collection systems found to be inefficient and unsustainable for staff, would be reflected in an inspection report and could affect the grade that is given.

CEM bought by Cambridge Assessment and Cambridge University Press
Cambridge Assessment and Cambridge University Press have acquired Durham University’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM).

CEM is a not-for-profit organisation that provides formative assessments for children of all ages and is used in over 70 countries. It will remain in the North East of England.

Nine new Teaching School Hubs announced – Friday 7 June 2019

This week I report on a pilot which will provide nine teaching school hubs to strengthen support to underperforming schools, the opening of a call for evidence on character and resilience and a letter sent to all schools regarding the outcome of a report from the Children’s Future Food Inquiry.

Announcement of nine new Teaching School Hubs
On 24 May, the DfE unveiled a £2 million pilot which will see nine teaching hubs set up across the county in an effort to “simplify and strengthen” how support is given to underperforming schools.

In a press release, the DfE invited “high performing schools” to apply to lead the hubs and offer “a new way to help struggling counterparts make the most of their resources, boost professional development opportunities for teachers, and recruit and retain staff”. The three-year programme designed to showcase best practice is expected to benefit 2,000 struggling schools, the Government has said.

The pilot teaching hubs will launch this Autumn with plans for teaching hubs to be rolled out nationally in 2020/21.

Call for Evidence on character and resilience
The DfE has opened a call for evidence on character and resilience. The deadline to complete the online form is 5 July 2019. The Character Advisory Group is seeking views on the development of character and resilience in young people from school and college staff, governors/trustees, young people, parents, carers and more.

School responsibilities around school food
Today the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi MP, has written to all schools drawing their attention to the report from the Children’s Future Food Inquiry, which explored the food situation of disadvantaged children across the UK.

The letter highlights the following issues which were raised in the report, and encourages schools to consider whether they are doing all they can in these areas:

  • a positive lunchtime experience
  • avoiding stigma about entitlement to free school meals
  • access to free drinking water


Cash incentives for maths and physics teachers – Friday 24 May 2019

This week I report on a pilot to offer early career maths and physics teachers a £2k incentive to increase rates of retention in the profession, the first meeting of an expert panel reviewing teacher training and support and the announcement of the expansion of Careers Hubs.

New cash incentives for maths and physics teachers
Early career maths and physics teachers in the North East, Yorkshire & the Humber and Opportunity Areas will receive a £2,000 Government incentive as part of a drive to increase rates of retention among teachers of these subjects.

The initiative announced yesterday is backed by £10 million investment set aside from last year’s Budget and the pilot will test a new way of incentivising maths and physics teachers to remain in the profession during the first five years of their career.

The scheme is based on evidence from the Gatsby Foundation and Education Policy Institute, which highlighted the potentially significant impact of such retention payments. The pilot runs alongside Government plans set out in the Teacher Recruitment & Retention Strategy to improve incentives on offer to teachers in England to include retention-based payments for those who stay in the profession by staggering additional payments throughout the first years of their career.

New support for trainee teachers
As part of the Government’s Recruitment & Retention Strategy, the Early Career Framework guarantees that new teachers will receive a two-year package of training and support at the start of their career, including a reduced timetable to allow teachers to make the most of their training.

A panel of experts led by Professor Sam Twiselton OBE, Director of Sheffield Institute of Education at Sheffield Hallam University has now met and will be reviewing the content of teacher training and recommending ways to align this with the Early Career Framework.

Extra investment has been pledged, through the £42 million Teacher Development Premium, to roll-out the Early Career Framework early in the North East, Bradford, Doncaster and Greater Manchester.

The group is expected to make its final recommendations by the end of this summer, with publication timed to support the national roll-out of both the Early Career Framework and Ofsted’s new inspection framework.

Expansion of Careers Hubs
Last year, The Careers & Enterprise Company launched the first 20 Careers Hubs across England, with each Hub bringing together a group of up to 40 schools and colleges to improve careers support for young people in their area.

This week the DfE has announced a second wave of 18 new and two expanded Careers Hubs, backed by a further £2.5 million investment. Schools and colleges will have access to support and funding, including an expert Hub Lead to help coordinate activity and build networks, a central fund to support employer engagement activities, and training for a Careers Leader in each school and college.

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.”