Provisional 2017 KS4 data published – Friday 13 October 2017

This week I report on the release of the provisional secondary school data for 2017, the publication of the Government’s Race Disparity Audit and what it tells us about education attainment and new non statutory guidance on the storage and disposal of hazardous chemicals in schools.

Provisional Key Stage 4 data and updated information guides
The DfE has released provisional secondary school data for 2017 and published provisional performance tables. It has also updated the accompanying guidance documents outlining how the accountability measures have been calculated in 2017, as well as providing more information about recently announced reforms that will apply to accountability measures in 2018 and 2019.

Publication of Government’s Race Disparity audit
The Prime Minister launched the ‘Ethnicity Facts and Figures’ website on Tuesday and the summary findings from the website were published examining how people of different backgrounds are treated across areas including health, education, employment and the criminal justice system.

In relation to education attainment data shows there are disparities in primary school which increase in secondary school, with Chinese and Asian pupils tending to perform well and White and Black pupils doing less well, particularly those eligible for free school meals.  Alongside publication of the report, the Government launched a programme of work to tackle some of the disparities identified in the audit. The DfE will take forward an external review to improve practice in exclusions. This will share best practice nationwide, and focus on the experiences of those groups who are disproportionately likely to be excluded.

Guidance on storing and disposing of hazardous chemicals in schools
This week the DfE published new non-statutory guidance providing practical advice for teachers, technicians and other members of staff involved in the delivery of practical science, including the purchase, storage and disposal of hazardous chemicals.  It is a useful document for school governing bodies.

 

Education Secretary outlines plans to provide opportunity for all – Friday 6 October 2017

This week I report on the Education Secretary’s plans to provide opportunity for all and ensure the country has the skills needed for a post-Brexit economy, provide a summary of the education highlights from the Conservative and Labour Party conferences and information on a new Mental Health Award for schools.

Measures to provide opportunity for all and build the skills needed for our economy
The Education Secretary Justine Greening has announced a series of measures to “provide opportunity for all and ensure we are building the skills needed to secure the nation’s prosperity”.

  • Additional support for University students – raising the earning threshold for student loan repayments from £21,000 to £25,000 and freezing tuition fees for 2018/19 at their current rate.
  • Getting great teachers in schools that need them the most – piloting a new student loan reimbursement programme for science and Modern Foreign Language (MFL) teachers targeted in the areas of the country that needs them most. Piloting new style bursaries in maths with upfront payments of £20k and early retention payments of £5k in the 3rd and 5th year of a teacher’s career. £30 million investment in tailored support for schools that struggle the most with recruitment and retention. Supporting trainer providers (including Multi Academy Trusts) with Northern Powerhouse funding to expand their reach in to challenging areas in the North that don’t currently have enough provision
  • Tackling inequality and boosting opportunity across the country – tackling the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers through a new national network of English hubs across the country with a specific focus on improving early language and literacy.  £6 million further investment to expand Maths Hubs to more challenging areas. The latest round of the £140 million Strategic School Improvement Fund to include a new focus on boosting literacy and numeracy skills in Reception year.  £5 million investment to trial evidence-based home learning environment (HLE) support programmes in the North of England which focus on early language and literacy.
  • Plans to transform alternative provision – working with school leaders, parents and local authorities to ensure it’s fit for purpose and ensures every child has access to good education, regardless of their background or their ability.
  • Building the next generation of skills needed for the economy to thrive in a modern, post-Brexit economy – diversifying the training and quality of qualifications on offer and ensuring the country remains at the forefront of higher education.

Education highlights from the Conservative and Labour Party Conferences 
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister addressing her party conference in Manchester, promised to continue the free schools programme and highlighted her concerns about the north-south divide in education. She reiterated the pledge to build 100 new free schools every year this Parliament.

Last week the Labour Party held their annual conference in Brighton with the Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner setting out the principles of a National Education Service – a cradle to the grave system that will set out the education that people can expect throughout their lives. Priorities included free high quality childcare for every 2 to 4-year-old, the implementation of a fairer funding formula, an end to the public sector pay cap, bringing back national standards for Teaching Assistants and support staff and investing £8bn in new school buildings and providing £13bn for existing school estates.

Ms Rayner did not elaborate on Labour’s plans for the free school system, nor did she provide any clarity on where the money would be found to fund the proposals.

New kitemark to show schools taking mental health ‘seriously’
Leeds Beckett University’s Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools has launched an award scheme to help schools show they are “taking issues of mental health and wellbeing seriously”.

The award aims to improve pupil and staff self-confidence, resilience and mental health. Improve pupil outcomes.  Create a culture of awareness of mental health, tolerance and acceptance, helping to reduce behavioural problems and promotes positive mental health strategies.

The award takes a whole school approach and covers eight key areas, each with a series of statements that the school will use to self-evaluate their current practice.  The school will work with associates from the centre who will help them to ensure that they meet a set of criteria through the development of a portfolio of evidence. The evidence will be verified against the three levels of bronze, silver and gold.  The cost of the award is £350 and it’s valid for 3 years.

 

Ofsted consultation on short term inspections – Friday 29 September 2017

This week I report on Ofsted’s consultation on short inspections, the publication of its new 5 year corporate strategy and re-examination of the validity of its lesson observations; the publication of KS1 and Phonics Screening Check data and Governors responsibilities under the new General Data Protection Regulation.

Ofsted consults on short term inspections and publishes its new 5 year corporate strategy
Ofsted has launched a second consultation on short inspections which is “aimed at bringing greater clarity” to the process. Currently, during a short inspection, the lead inspector can call for a full inspection where they feel a school may not retain its ‘good’ rating, or where it could improve to ‘outstanding’ – the full inspection is normally conducted within 48 hours.  The proposals set out in the new consultation are that:

  • where short inspections pick up serious concerns, they will continue to convert to full inspections within 48 hours.
  • where, following a short inspection, inspectors are not confident that the school remains ‘good’ but “the standard of education remains acceptable, and there are no concerns about safeguarding or behaviour”, the inspection will not convert. The school will receive a letter setting out the inspection findings and a full inspection will take place within 1 to 2 years. It will remain a ‘good’ school.
  • where, following a short inspection, inspectors believe the school may be ‘outstanding’, the inspection will not convert. As above, the inspection findings will be set out in a letter, the school will remain ‘good’, and a full inspection will take place within 1 to 2 years.

Ofsted is also bringing back its “state-of-the-nation” reports and will inspect more ‘outstanding’ schools, according to a new corporate strategy released today on its 25th anniversary. In its new five year corporate strategy that will run until 2022, the inspectorate says it will publish more “national survey reports and research” that “aggregate the insights from inspections”.

Ofsted is looking to re-examine the validity of its lesson observations and is holding an international seminar at the start of November, bringing together experts in lesson observation from around the world. Ofsted will then look at the different systems being used, and debate which is the most valid, and how it might incorporate these systems into what it does.

Publication of Key Stage 1 and Phonics Screening Check data
Figures published yesterday indicated that 81% of pupils had met the expected standard at the end of Year 1 in 2017 – up from 58% in 2012. Those who did not reach the standard in Year 1 took the Phonics Check again in Year 2, with 92% of seven year olds then reaching the standard.

Alongside the results of the Phonics Screening Check, the DfE also published national data for Key Stage 1 (KS1), showing that the proportion of 7 year olds reaching the expected standard has increased across reading, writing and maths. This year, 76% of pupils reached the KS1 expected standard in reading, 68% of pupils in writing and 75% of pupils in maths.

Impact of the General Data Protection Regulation
From 25 May 2018, the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) will be replaced by the new more stringent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). All governing bodies need to be aware of their obligations under the new regulation and will be required to show compliance with the GDPR. The key changes introduced by the GDPR include the following:

  • It will be mandatory for schools to appoint a designated Data Protection Officer.
  • Non-compliance will see tough penalties; school will face fines of up to £20 million or 4% of their turnover.
  • It is the school’s responsibility to ensure 3rd parties (i.e. catering services, software providers etc) that process data for them also comply with GDPR.

The GDPR is intended to strengthen and unify the safety and security of all data held by all types of organisations. The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a 12-step checklist to help prepare for the changes. In addition, the Local Authority’s Information Governance Team has introduced a Service Level Agreement that schools can purchase to assist them in implementing GDPR.

 

Literacy key to Science attainment – Friday 22 September 2017

Evidence of the link between literacy skills and science attainment, two new reports highlighting concerns around young peoples mental health and news of a parliamentary inquiry into Pupil Referral Units make up this week’s Friday Update.

New research pinpoints literacy as strongest indicator of science grades 
Good literacy skills are crucial to closing the attainment gap in science subjects according to a report published yesterday by the Education Endowment Foundation. The University of Oxford researchers behind the report concluded that the strongest factor affecting pupils’ science scores is how well they understand written texts.

According to the report, poor literacy skills can affect how well a pupil is able to understand scientific vocabulary and to prepare scientific reports. This suggests that strategies to boost disadvantaged pupils’ reading comprehension could have a positive impact on their achievement in science too.

Young people’s mental health highlighted in two powerful new reports
Research from the UCL Institute of Education and the University of Liverpool on Wednesday found almost one quarter of girls (24%) and one in 10 boys (9%) are depressed at age 14.

The research was also highlighted by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families which published a survey of primary school teachers in England as part of its You’re never too young to talk mental health campaign, which found that many teachers do not feel adequately trained to support children with mental health problems.

Parliamentary investigation into ‘Additional Provision’
The House of Commons Education Committee has launched a new inquiry looking at Alternative Provision, and whether young people in Pupil Referral Units and others types of alternative provision receive the best quality of education.

In launching the inquiry, the Committee’s Chair, Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP commented that “Students in alternative provision are far less likely to achieve good exam results, find well-paid jobs or go on to further study. Only around 1% of young people in state alternative provision receive five good GCSEs.”

The Committee, which includes Gateshead MP Ian Mearns among its 11 members, has issued a public call for evidence for the inquiry which is examining:

  • Routes into alternative provision
  • The quality of teaching in alternative provision (including pupil referral units)
  • Educational outcomes and destinations of students;Safety, accommodation, and provision of resources for students
  • In-school alternatives to external alternative provision;Regulation of independent providers

More information on the inquiry is available on the Committee’s website.

Confirmation of the national funding formula – Friday 15 September 2017

This week I report on the Government’s confirmation of the new national funding formula, changes to the primary assessment system and the scrapping of P-scales for assessment of pupils working below national curriculum level.

Confirmation of the national funding formula
This week Justine Greening, the Education Secretary announced that primary schools will get at least £3,500 for every pupil on their roll from 2019/20, an extension of the £4,800 per-pupil funding guarantee for secondary schools that was announced in July. However, she later clarified that the formula was only “notional” and that the actual levels of funding for the first two years for each school would be reviewed and distributed by local authorities based on their own factors.

Every school in England will also receive a lump sum of £110,000 to help with fixed costs, and there is also a £26 million fund to help “rural and isolated” schools to manage their “unique challenges”.

Changes to the primary assessment system
Yesterday the Education Secretary announced changes to the primary assessment system stating, “These changes will free up teachers to educate and inspire young children while holding schools to account in a proportionate and effective way.” She confirmed the DfE will:

  • introduce a new teacher-mediated assessment in the Reception year from 2020 to provide a baseline measure to better track pupils’ progress during primary school. The check, which will be developed in conjunction with the teaching profession, will ensure schools are given credit for all the work they do throughout a child’s time at primary school;
  • improve the Early Years Foundation Stage profile – a check on a child’s school readiness at the end of their early years education. This includes reviewing supporting guidance, to reduce burdens for teachers;
  • make Key Stage 1 tests and assessments non-statutory from 2023 and remove the requirement for schools to submit teacher assessment data to the Government for reading and maths at the end of Key Stage 2, as these subjects are already assessed through statutory tests, from 2018/19;
  • introduce a multiplication tables check to aid children’s fluency in mathematics from 2019/20;
  • improve teacher assessment of English writing by giving teachers greater scope to use their professional judgement when assessing pupils at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2 from the current academic year (2017/18).

Removal of P-scales for assessment of pupils working below national curriculum level
This week the Government also confirmed it had accepted the final recommendations from last year’s Rochford Review looking at how pupils who are working below the standard of the national curriculum tests should be assessed.

The statutory requirement for teachers to use performance scales (P-scales) to assess pupils with SEND who are not working at the standard of national curriculum assessments will be removed from the 2018/19 academic year, to allow the Government to make the necessary changes to legislation.

In its consultation response to the review, the Government said it would make interim pre-key stage standards, which assess ability in reading, writing and mathematics, permanent for all pupils engaged in subject-specific learning. For the pupils who are not engaged in subject-specific learning, which is a small number of pupils nationally, the Government will pilot using seven areas of cognition and learning instead of P-scales.

 

 

 

Provisional data KS2 SATS – Friday 8 September 2017

WELCOME BACK TO A NEW SCHOOL YEAR

This week I report on the provisional data for KS2 tests taken this summer, the increased funding for the PE and Sports premium, a free webinar on implementing the GDPR in schools and new research on the attainment gap between pupil premium pupils and their peers.

Primary school performance and accountability
The DfE has published provisional data about attainment in the 2017 Key Stage 2 tests taken this summer. 61% of pupils reached the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics. This is an increase on 53% in 2016, which was the first year that pupils were tested on the new curriculum.

Alongside these statistics, the DfE has updated its primary school accountability guidance with confirmation of the 2017 floor standard. In 2017, a school will be above the floor if either of these conditions are met:

  • at least 65% of pupils meet the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics
  • the school achieves progress scores of at least -5 in reading, -7 in writing and -5 in mathematics (all three subjects)

The coasting definition for 2017 is expected to be published later this term.

Rate of funding doubles for the PE and sports premium
Just after the end of the last school year the DfE released the latest rate of funding for the PE and sports premium in primary schools, and due to the levy on soft drinks which was introduced in 2017, the rate of funding has doubled when compared to 2016.

Schools will now receive £1,000 per pupil (if there are 16 or fewer in a school) or £16,000 (with 17 or more pupils) and an additional £10 per pupil. This money can be used for a range of sporting and exercise activities in schools, but can’t be used to “teach the minimum requirements of the national curriculum” or “employ coaches or specialist teachers to cover planning preparation and assessment (PPA) arrangements”.

Like the pupil premium, governors are responsible for ensuring that this money is well spent.

How to implement GDPR in your school webinar
From May 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will apply to all schools and some governing bodies are starting to think about what this will mean. Browne Jacobson (the National Governance Association’s legal partner) is giving a free webinar on the GDPR and how this will impact schools across the country. The webinar will look at the approach schools should be taking to reach GDPR compliance and will cover:

  • Where does the responsibility for GDPR lie and who should be the Data Protection Officer (DPO)?
  • What does ‘explicit consent’ mean and how is ‘personal data’ defined?
  • What do we need to audit?
  • Will GDPR be a priority for Ofsted?
  • What are the risks and costs to our school?

The webinar will take place on Tuesday 12 September at 4.00 p.m. To register, use this link to go to Browne Jacobson’s website.

Closing the gap? Research on disadvantage and achievement
Research conducted by the Education Policy Institute was published in early August and found that if current trends continue it will take around 50 years for the gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their peers to close completely.

The report looked at the attainment gap between pupils eligible for pupil premium and their peers at the end of key stages throughout their time in school. Key findings include:

  • between 2007 and 2016, the attainment gap as measured at the end of secondary school has narrowed by 3 months – but the gap for persistently disadvantaged pupils has widened slightly by 0.3 months
  • disadvantaged pupils were on average 19.3 months behind their peers by the time they took their GCSEs (in 2016)
  • there are variations between regions and local authority areas, with the biggest attainment gap found in the Isle of Wight (29 months) and the smallest in the London boroughs of Southwark, Wandsworth and Tower Hamlets (7 months)

Governors should ensure that they consider the progress of disadvantaged pupils (in comparison to other pupils in their school and nationally) when assessing the impact of their school’s pupil premium spending.

Announcement of increased core school funding – Friday 21 July 2017

In my final update this academic year, I highlight the Government’s announcement of additional funding for schools, the reduction in EBacc targets, the expectation that KS1 and 2 writing assessments will move to a ‘best fit’ model and publication of revised statutory Exclusions guidance to be used from September.

Additional £1.3bn for core schools budget will deliver a rise in per pupil funding
This week the Education Secretary Justine Greening announced that £1.3bn will be diverted into core school funding from other pots including money earmarked for new free schools and the ‘healthy pupils’ programme. The Education Secretary also confirmed the Government’s commitment to deliver the national funding formula in 2018.

One of the chief concerns that has been raised is that the £1.3 billion is not ‘new’ money from the Treasury, but will instead be recouped from savings to be made in other areas of the DfE’s budget.

EBacc target reduced to 75% following consultation
In 2015, the Government pledged that 90% of pupils would be entered for the full raft of EBacc subjects by 2020.  Responding to a 2015 consultation on the EBacc published this week, the Government is now aiming for 90% “starting to study EBacc GCSE courses” by 2025, meaning that they would not achieve the original target of 90% entered for the EBacc until 2027.

Justine Greening has stated that the consultation has allowed the Government to listen to the concerns of schools and the barriers they face in achieving the original target. As a result, they have now set a new target of 75% of pupils studying EBacc subjects by 2022. Since 2010 the numbers of pupils studying the EBacc has risen from 22% to 40%.

Headteachers advised to prepare for ‘secure-fit’ writing assessments to be scrapped Headteachers across England have been told this week to expect changes to the way pupils’ writing is assessed next year. The SATs were reformed in 2016 to make them tougher and included changes to the statutory writing assessments in Year 2 and Year 6.

These have proved controversial because they use a “secure-fit” system in which pupils must reach all the criteria set out by Government before being judged at the expected standard. Opponents have said that this discriminates against children with dyslexia and that pupils who have reached all but one of the 18 criteria are given the same judgement (working below the expected standard) as those pupils who do not reach any.

The Government has been consulting on plans to move to a “best fit” model, which would place more weight on the judgment of teachers. The wider consultation on primary testing also includes proposals to scrap Key Stage 1 SATs and replace them with a new baseline assessment for Reception children.

Whilst the Government is not expected to respond until September the NAHT headteachers’ union has advised its members that it has been “encouraged by the level of engagement from Government on this issue”. It goes on to say that, while it cannot guarantee things will change, it is urging all members “not to do any further work or planning using the current writing frameworks and await the Government’s response to the consultation in September”.

Revised Statutory guidance on the exclusion of pupils from local authority maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units.
On Wednesday, the DfE published its response to the consultation on proposed revisions to school exclusion statutory guidance.

The guidance sets out the process to which relevant schools must have regard when issuing an exclusion, and the process by which parents can make representations against a decision to exclude. The proposed changes were intended to provide greater confidence to Headteachers on their use of exclusion and to provide greater clarity to independent review panels (IRPs) and governing bodies on their consideration of exclusions.

The new guidance will come into force in September 2017. Any pupil who was excluded before September 2017 and whose exclusion is still subject to review should be considered on the basis of the September 2012 guidance.

Following the responses requesting a guide for governors, it is DfE’s intention to produce a further non-statutory guide for governors which will be issued in due course.

Report on measuring the quality of school governance – Friday 14 July 2017

This week I highlight new research into whether it’s possible to define and collect metrics to measure the quality of school governance, a reminder that RAISEonline will close at the end of this month and a new report has been published on the impact of the Prevent duty in schools since it was introduced two years ago.

Research into defining and collecting metrics measuring the quality of school governance
On Wednesday, the Department for Education (DfE) published the results of a feasibility study it had commissioned to determine whether it was possible to define and collect metrics on the quality of school governance. The study aimed to establish a set of criteria showing whether a governing board was effective or not; it assessed the quality of governance in a sample of schools through an external review of governance (ERG) and compared the results of the ERG and survey to test whether the survey correctly measured the quality of governance.

Key findings and recommendations:

  • The study demonstrated that defining and collecting metrics on the quality of governance is broadly feasible. However, to secure confidence in the metrics, further validation was recommended.
  • Nine statistically-reliable metrics were developed, validated to a certain extent by expert reviews, that broadly identified the components of effective governance.
  • With further developmental work these metrics could possibly be applied on a large scale.

Update on Analyse School Performance and RAISEonline
On 31 July the RAISEonline service will close and the DfE is asking schools to save any data needed from RAISEonline such as school summary reports before this date. Schools are also being asked to log into the replacement service, Analyse School Performance (ASP), before the end of the summer term.

New report on the impact of the Prevent duty in schools Cov-Uni-EandI-logo
The Prevent duty for schools was introduced two years ago this month. To mark the occasion, the University of Coventry has published a research report on what the Prevent duty means for school and colleges in England. The report found that:

  • The message that Prevent is about ‘all forms of extremism’ and that it should form part of a schools’ wider safeguarding duty, is widely accepted.
  • There has been some opposition around the requirement to teach British values, which is linked to Prevent. In particular, schools are uneasy about calling the values “British” and are unsure about how to embed this into the curriculum effectively.
  • Staff who are not part of “safeguarding teams”, or are relatively junior in a school, are less confident about fulfilling the Prevent duty. Nevertheless, many practitioners reject the idea that Prevent has had a “chilling effect” on students in the classroom.
  • There were “widespread concerns” that the Prevent duty caused “increased stigmatism of Muslim students”.

 

KS2 SATs results announced – Friday 7 July 2017

This week I report on the release of this year’s interim KS2 SATs results, confirmation that universal infant school meals will continue and that the Government is still considering the responses received from the consultation on proposals for a new national funding formula and the publication of updated guidance on preventing bullying.

Increase in pupils achieving the expected standard in this year’s KS2 results
On Tuesday, the Department for Education (DfE) released the interim 2017 Key Stage 2 attainment figures with 61% of pupils reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics, compared to 53% last year. Scaled scores which indicate how many marks pupils need to achieve the expected standard were also released.

The results are the first of several statistical publications that will analyse pupils’ performance in the SATs. The local authority results are due to be published in August. The floor standard thresholds, which are used to highlight which schools may require intervention will be published in September, and the number of schools below the floor standards will be revealed in December when the performance tables are published.

The Government has already said that “a broadly similar” proportion of schools will be below the floor standard compared to 2016, when 665 schools were below the floor standard.

Confirmation that universal infant school meals will continue
This week the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, confirmed in Parliament that plans to remove universal infant school meals had been scrapped. The  plans to save £650 million by stopping free meals for all infant schools in favour of an entirely means-tested policy for all primary school pupils had prompted criticism when they were announced during the election campaign. However, the announcement has raised fresh questions about the Government’s manifesto pledge to increase the overall schools budget by £4 billion, most of which was due to be funded through scrapping universal infant free school meals.

Mr Gibb said the Government was in the process of looking at the 25,000 responses to its consultation on proposals for a new national funding formula, and would respond with its plans in due course.

Guidance for schools on preventing and responding to bullying
The DfE has merged its publications ‘Supporting children and young people who are bullied: advice for schools’ with ‘Preventing and tackling bullying’. The new version of ‘Preventing and tackling bullying‘ includes additional information about how schools can support children and young people who are bullied.

 

 

Mental Health training for teachers – Friday 30 June 2017

This week I report on new mental health training that will be offered to teachers over the next 5 years, the review of fire safety in schools following the Grenfell Tower fire, the announcement of the pass mark for this year’s Phonics screening check and that schools will now get the opportunity to appeal GCSE and A Level marking errors.

Mental Health training for teachers
The Government has pledged that every secondary school in the country will receive mental health training by 2020 and that this will be extended to primary schools by 2022. The programme will be delivered by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, a social enterprise organisation, and is backed by £200,000 in Government funding.

Staff will receive practical advice on how to deal with issues such as depression and anxiety, suicide and psychosis, self-harm, and eating disorders. They will also be invited to become ‘first aid champions’, sharing their knowledge and experiences across schools and communities to raise awareness and break down stigma and discrimination.

Fire Safety in schools
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy the Government is analysing school buildings to identify those that are over four storeys high and establish which, if any, external cladding has been used on them. At the end of last week, the Government had instructed councils and academy trusts to carry out fire safety checks on school buildings to identify any that may need further investigation in light of the blaze.

The DfE is also reportedly dropping proposals to change fire safety rules around the installation of sprinklers and teaching unions have called on the Government to officially confirm they have abandoned the proposed fire safety rule changes.

Phonics screening check pass mark announced
On Monday, the Government announced the pass mark for the phonics screening check will be 32 out of 40, for the sixth year running. The phonics check was taken by more than 600,000 five and six year old pupils in Year 1. It is a test of 40 words, half of which are nonsense words, and is administered and marked by a teacher or staff member who is known to the pupil. Last year, 81% of pupils met the expected standard in Year 1, up from 77% in 2015.

Schools to get right to appeal GCSE and A-level ‘marking errors’
This week the exams regulator Ofqual has announced that schools will be given the right to appeal against GCSE and A-level results if they suspect there has been a marking error. This comes on the back of a successful pilot last year in which it allowed schools to appeal on the grounds of marking errors in three A level subjects.

The exams regulator changed the rules in recent years so that schools could only appeal an exam result if they felt exam boards had not properly followed procedures. Schools could not appeal if they believed there had been an error in the marking or moderation of an exam. The new rule will be phased in over the next 2 years, starting with all AS and A-level subjects from this summer.