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.

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

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

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

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

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


Future Talent Fund cancelled – Friday 14 September 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safeguarding update – Friday 7 September 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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







New SEND review guide for governors – Friday 29 June 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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



Ofsted not scrapping its current grading system – Friday 22 June 2018

This week I report on the Ofsted Chief Inspector’s confirmation that the existing grades in its new inspection framework due out next year will not change, the publication of updated statutory guidance on Early Education and Childcare for next academic year and new data on the mental health of young people due to be released in October.

Ofsted Framework from September 2019
This week Ofsted’s Chief Inspector of Schools, Amanda Spielman, confirmed in her keynote speech at the Festival of Education at Wellington College, that the existing inspection grades won’t change in the new inspection framework due out next year.

Following speculation about a move to a pass/fail system, persuasive lobbying by teachers and parents has convinced Ms Spielman to continue with the current system.  School leaders had argued that scrapping the ‘outstanding grade’ would “send the wrong message about aspiration and excellence in the system”.

Early Education and Childcare Statutory Guidance
The new guidance which will come into force from 1 September 2018 and applies to the free entitlements for two, three and four year olds; securing sufficient childcare for working parents; providing information advice and assistance to parents; and providing information, advice and training to childcare providers.

It supports the introduction of 30 hours free childcare for children in foster care, and makes clear that the eligibility of children in foster care will be determined by the responsible local authority. It provides more clarity on how local authorities should pay providers, updates content on charging to ensure that the guidance aligns with current policy (set out in the early years entitlements operational guidance published in 2017), and provides guidance for local authorities when parents have applied for 30 hours before the deadline and received their eligibility code after the deadline.

Publication of new data on the mental health of young people
Schools Week has revealed that the Government will publish new data on the mental health of young people in October.   No data on the prevalence of mental health issues among children has been collected since 2004, before which it was collated on a five yearly basis by the Office of National Statistics.

Back in 2015 the former Health Minister, Norman Lamb had confirmed that he had secured funding for a new prevalence study to be published in 2017, but it was pushed back after delays and the survey will finally see the light of day in October.

Since the general election last year, the Government has introduced new plans to tackle young people’s mental health issues and proposals released in a green paper said the Government would establish “senior mental health leads” to work in schools from 2019. However, a subsequent joint report between MPs on the education and health committee was critical of the proposals, insisting they would put additional pressure on teachers without providing schools with extra resources.


Funding boost for training for governors and trustees – Friday 15 June 2018

This week I highlight additional DfE funding for governor and trustee training, research into effective anti-bullying practices with case studies from schools and funding to deliver national pilots trialling high quality mental health assessments for children and young people entering the care system.

Plans to boost training for governors and trustees
The Education Secretary announced at the recent NGA annual conference that governors played a vital role in providing the highest standard of education and opportunity for children and young people to fulfil their potential.

He recognised the need to boost governor recruitment and retention and a new recruitment video online for social media is being produced which he asked Governors to add their voice to.  He is writing to the members of the Institute of Directors urging them to encourage employees to take on the role and give them the time it requires.  As well as increasing the funding for governor and trustee training (£6 million) up to 2021 and working with organisations to develop and improve the guidance and other materials available to governors, trustees and clerks.

Approaches to preventing and tackling bullying
This week the DfE published research into anti-bullying practices used by schools to prevent and tackle bullying, including a range of case studies. The report contains common themes found throughout the research and its intended to be used as a resource by schools and other stakeholders looking for examples of anti-bullying practices.

Improved mental health support for children in care
The DfE has awarded £240,000 to a group of organisations (led by the Anna Freud Centre) to deliver up to 10 national pilots over two years, trialling new high quality mental health assessments for children and young people as they enter the care system.  It is hoped that these will ensure young people are assessed at the right time, with a focus on their individual needs as they enter care. The pilot areas will also benefit from a share of £650,000 to deliver the scheme.

A consortium led by SQW, an economic development and social research organisation has been awarded £150,000 to carry out an independent evaluation to look at the effectiveness and impact of the pilots.



£9.8m fund to research world’s best teaching methods – Friday 8 June 2018

This week I highlight the new £9.8m fund launched to research the world’s best teaching methods to help disadvantaged children, the DfE’s pilot of a new national teaching job website and the announcement of further investment to create additional school places for children with special educational needs.

£9.8m fund to research world’s best teaching methods
This week a new £9.8 million fund was launched to gather global evidence on the most effective teaching methods to help disadvantaged children. The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and global development charity BHP Billiton Foundation will fund the 5-year project, which will build “a global evidence network” of strategies to tackle common challenges and boost attainment in schools.  It will specifically look at how to teach children to read, and how to engage parents in their children’s learning.

The project will help further develop the EEF’s ‘Teaching and Learning Toolkit’, test different teaching and learning approaches across different countries, build a global network of evidence hubs (similar to EEF’s Research Schools) and establish EEF-style organisations in partner countries to act as evidence brokers and encourage the adoption of evidence-based policy at a national level.

Launch of new national teaching job website
Last weekend the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, announced a free website had been launched to advertise vacancies, which currently costs schools up to £75 million a year. The website is being piloted here in the north-east and in Cambridgeshire, with a “view to rolling it out nationally” by the end of the year.

Mr Hinds indicated he will also launch a new nationwide deal for Headteachers from September 2018, developed with Crown Commercial Service, providing them with a list of supply agencies that do not charge fees when making supply staff permanent after 12 weeks.

Announcement of multi-million pound investment in state of the art facilities for children with special educational needs
Last week the DfE announced that councils are set to benefit from a £50 million funding boost to create additional school places and state-of-the-art facilities for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), to give families more choice and help to meet increasing demand.

The additional funding could help create around 740 more special school places and provide new specialist facilities to support children with complex needs, such as sensory rooms and playgrounds with specialist equipment.