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.

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.”

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.