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.


New standards for pupils working below the national curriculum – Friday 25 May 2018

This week I report on the publication of new pre-key stage standards for pupils working below Key Stages 1 and 2, updated guidance on what maintained schools and academies must publish on their websites and trials of new lesson observation models that could form part of the new Ofsted Inspection Framework from September 2019.

New standards for pupils working below the national curriculum
New pre-key stage standards were published yesterday by the Standards and Testing Agency (STA), ahead of being rolled out in 2018/19. They are to be used mainly for pupils with special educational needs not working at the level of the national curriculum and will test subject-specific ability. The P-scale will continue for those pupils working below pre-key stage standards.

For Year 6 pupils and Year 2 pupils, a school may administer the Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 1 test but can still “assess the pupil against the pre-key stage standards” if they feel it is “more appropriate”, the STA document explains.

What schools must publish online
The DfE has updated the information that maintained schools and academies must publish on their websites.

Ofsted considering its options on lesson observation
Ofsted published a report earlier this week confirming that lesson observation is a “fundamental part of inspection that deserves focused attention” but must “keep pace” with “significant developments” seen in international practice in recent years.

Ofsted is evaluating six international models to see how these best fit into a lesson observation model that is fit for purpose in supporting inspector judgements. During this summer and autumn terms they will be carrying out trials to test these models and the outcomes of this will feed into the 2019 education inspection framework.


Keeping Children Safe in Education – Friday 18 May 2018

This week I highlight the publication of the draft revised statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education and revised Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges guidance; as well as research which indicates the performance of summer born children who start school a year later is not statistically significant and updated guidance on Charging for school activities.

Keeping Children Safe in Education
Yesterday the DfE published its response to the consultation on the statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education (KSIE).  The consultation had provided an opportunity to comment on proposed revisions made across all parts of the guidance as well as an opportunity to comment on the effectiveness of recently published sexual violence and sexual harassment advice.

At the same time, it published a draft of the revised KCSIE guidance for information so that schools could plan for commencement of the guidance on 3 September 2018.  Until the new revised guidance commences in September schools should continue to use the September 2016 version.

One of the actions resulting from the consultation was that the DfE will be recruiting organisations to join a new online safety working group. The body will not only help schools ensure pupils’ online safety but will also help them educate parents and carers.

The DfE also published revised Child on Child Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment advice applicable to all schools, including primary schools, on how to best support children of all ages.

Late-starting summer-born pupils don’t get better phonics check results
According to new research from the DfE summer-born pupils granted permission to start school a year later only score on average 0.87 points more on their first formal test than summer-born pupils who start school aged four.  The research found the improvement in phonics score made by those allowed to delay starting school was “not statistically significant”.  The research is the first to analyse the formal test results of a cohort of late-entry summer-born pupils since admissions rules changed in 2014.

Charging for school activities
On Tuesday the DfE published revised guidance to help schools set out their policies on charging for school activities and visits. It had been updated to reflect new Universal Credit regulations.


£50 million fund for Grammar schools to expand – Friday 11 May 2018

This week I report on the announcement that funding will be available for the expansion of Grammar schools and an increase in Faith and Free schools; publication of a series of questions for governors to use to help their schools to manage their resources and money efficiently and a programme being rolled out in the North East to bring experienced Maths and Physics teachers from other countries to work in the UK.

Funding to allow Grammar school growth
This morning the Education Secretary announced a series of measures to allow Grammar schools, Faith and Free schools to expand:

  • A new wave of free school applications, targeting areas where there is demand for places and a need to help raise school standards;
  • £50 million funding available for 2018/19 through the Selective Schools Expansion Fund, to expand the number of places at existing good or outstanding selective schools, alongside measures to give more disadvantaged pupils the opportunity to attend these schools;
  • Working with local authorities to provide support for faith schools where there is demand for good school places, and
  • fresh agreement with the independent schools’ sector to help improve outcomes for pupils of all backgrounds.

Publication of school resource management: top 10 planning checks for governors
Governors at schools and academies can use information provided by the DfE as a starting point to check if their school is managing resources and finances effectively. Particularly useful for Finance/Resources Sub Committees as the checks can be used early in the annual budget planning cycle and when looking ahead at the 3 to 5 year position.

Programme to recruit Maths and Physics teachers rolls out to the Northern region
Following a successful pilot in the South-East region last year, a new DfE-funded programme is being rolled out to the Northern region to help to address the teacher recruitment crisis, by bringing across experienced Maths and Physics teachers from the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to work in the UK.

Schools will be required to pay the teacher’s salary, but the recruitment costs are being covered by the DfE and schools will also be given logistical support by the DfE’s appointed international recruitment provider, Prospero Teaching.

The international teachers will receive pre-arrival support, attend an acclimatisation residential and receive an on-going package of quality-assured professional support led by the Great North Maths Hub. If you would like to hear more about the programme, SCHOOLS NorthEast will be hosting a webinar at 4.00pm on Wednesday 16th May (go to for more information), or alternatively your school can register its interest in the programme by contacting Paul Johnson at




Education Secretary’s ‘vision’ for a clearer school system – Friday 4 May 2018

This week I report on the Education Secretary’s plans to overhaul the system of school accountability, the announcement of funding to boost children’s early language skills and funding to help the country’s brightest pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to support their continued academic attainment.

Consultation to overhaul the system of school accountability
Today the Education Secretary is addressing the National Association of Head Teachers’ (NAHT) annual conference, setting out plans for a clearer system of accountability in the education sector.

A series of key principles have been published by the DfE on how the accountability system for educational performance will operate, and how the different organisations fit within it. The DfE will work through the detail of how this will be implemented with the sector by the Autumn.  Headlines include:

  • removing floor and coasting standards as this can be confusing and replacing them with a single, transparent data standard;
  • the removal of ‘inspections’ of schools by representatives of Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs);
  • academy conversion, leadership change or re-brokerage of a school will only be mandated on the grounds of educational underperformance if Ofsted has judged it Inadequate;
  • identification of schools that are underperforming and would benefit from an offer of support, which could be provided from a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT), an accredited system leader such as a teaching school, or a school improvement provider using evidence-based programmes.

MPs to investigate the impact of early years education on life chances
An inquiry into the impact that early years education has on children’s life chances has been set up by the parliamentary education committee.  The inquiry will look at the effect early years education and social policy has on children later in life and will examine current government policy in those areas.

The launch of the inquiry comes days after the DfE announced £13.5 million funding for two schemes aiming to help boost early language and literacy development for disadvantaged children.

  • a £5m programme introduced by the DfE and run by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) which will trial projects in the north of England to provide “practical tools and advice” to parents so they can help their children learn new words.
  • £8.5 million committed to the Local Government Association (LGA) for a new early-years social mobility peer review programme, which will help fund councils to work together to improve disadvantaged children’s early language and literacy skills.

Launch of a fund for bright disadvantaged pupils
The DfE has launched its Future Talent Fund programme, which aims to test new ways of helping the brightest children from disadvantaged backgrounds to fulfil their potential. Schools and multi-academy trusts will be eligible to apply for the funding this Autumn and projects supported by the fund will cover at least one of the following strands of work:

  • Curriculum: such as broadening or deepening what is covered in the curriculum;
  • Pedagogy: for example, individualised teaching, the use of digital technology or feedback;
  • Parental involvement: which could include aspiration interventions, engagement through technology or behavioural insight techniques;
  • Mentoring and tutoring: including academic mentoring, community based mentoring, school based mentoring, one-to-one tuition, group tuition or peer tutoring;
  • Transition between key stages: such as summer schools or transition practices in schools; and
  • Enrichment activities: which could include after-school classes, extra-curricular activities or visits.

New GDPR Schools Toolkit from the DfE – Friday 27 April 2018

This week I report on the DfE’s publication of a GDPR Schools toolkit, changes to Ofsted inspection timeframes and information on the new Reception Baseline assessment that will be implemented in all primary schools by the end of 2020.

New DfE GDPR Schools Toolkit
Guidance to support schools with data protection activity, including compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was published by the DfE this week.  The guidance will help schools develop policies and processes for data management, from collecting and handling the data through to the ability to respond quickly and appropriately to data breaches.

Changes to Ofsted inspection timeframes
Ofsted has announced changes to its inspection timeframes to give regional directors greater discretion about the date of re-inspection. This will allow them to reflect the circumstances and progress of the schools in question.  From this term:

  • schools previously judged ‘good’ will now receive a short inspection approximately every four years rather than every three years
  • schools judged ‘requires improvement’, ‘serious weaknesses’ or ‘special measures’ will be re-inspected within 30 months (previously the timeframes were 30, 18 and 24 months respectively) while monitoring inspections will continue as before

The Section 8 and Section 5 Inspection Handbooks have been updated and a new Inspection Framework is expected in September 2019.

Reception Baseline Assessment
The DfE recently announced that the new Reception Baseline Assessment, designed to allow for a progress measure from the start to the end of primary school, will be designed and delivered by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER).

The new baseline assessment, which will be implemented in all primary schools by the end of 2020, is described as “a twenty minute, teacher-recorded assessment of children’s communication, language, literacy and early mathematics skills”. There will be no requirement to prepare for the test and in time it will replace the statutory tests that pupils currently sit at the end of Key Stage 1.

The new progress measures will not apply to first schools, as they will be responsible for evidencing progress based on their own assessment information.

SCHOOLS NorthEast Northern Governance Conference – Friday 20 April 2018

This week I am reporting from the SCHOOLS NorthEast Northern Governance Conference at St James’ Park in Newcastle.  The conference aimed to support those in school governance roles in carrying out their duties confidently and effectively.

Keynote Speeches
Laura McInerney, Contributing Editor, Schools Week
Laura talked about the 3 key education trends this year which were funding, teacher workload and a teacher shortage.  She didn’t believe more money would be given to schools because the Education Secretary was a firm believer in using finances more effectively rather than providing more money into the system.  Laura discussed teacher workload and issues around when the working day ended and expectations around responding to emails.  She also talked about the teaching shortage which will develop over the next 5 years when there are less NQTs in the system and that there had been an  increase in teachers leaving to teach abroad.

Julia Harnden, Funding Specialist, ASCL
Julia looked at the next steps for school funding with the implementation of the national Funding Formula.  She explained how the system would work for 2018/19 and 2019/20 and that the additional £1.3 billion additional investment over the next 2 years was not new money the DfE had been given.  Julia talked about the implications of next year’s Comprehensive Spending Review and that schools needed to be honest when submitting their 3 year budget forecasts.  In the sector schools had dwindling reserves and growing deficits and the unfunded cost pressures of cost of living rises, on costs risks, the Apprenticeship levy and supply costs would all impact on budgets.

Iain Veitch, Vice Chair of SCHOOLS NorthEast and Head Teacher of Park View School
Iain talked about preparing for inspection and that the new Chief Inspector for Schools had opened a new research facility looking at evidence based approaches.  He talked about the new short inspections and that there were now two types of ‘Good’ judgements and there would be a new Inspection Framework in September 2019.  The IDSR had replaced the Inspection Dashboard and Governors must familiarise themselves with this as the first page identified areas to investigate which Inspectors would look at when they came to inspect the school.  Iain emphasised that Governors needed to understand the narrative of their school’s curriculum as they signed off the school’s Curriculum policy.

A range of sessions for attendees to choose from included:

  • using evidence to support your school
  • what the General Data Protection Regulations meant for Schools and Governors
  • does the Headteacher’s Report help you to hold the school’s Senior Leadership Team to account
  • how to be an effective Link Governor for SEND/Pupil Premium

If you would like more information about SCHOOLS NorthEast you can visit their website or contact them on 0191 204 8866 or via email –




New funding for school breakfast clubs in disadvantaged areas – Friday 23 March 2018

This week I report on support for new school breakfast clubs in disadvantaged areas around the country, the publication of the consultation document on eligibility for free school meals and the early years pupil premium under Universal Credit and updated non-statutory guidance on using children’s biometric data.

Funding for new school breakfast clubs in disadvantaged areas around the country
On Monday the Education Secretary announced the appointment of two charities (Family Action and Magic Breakfast) to run school breakfast clubs around the country from this Spring.

The boost to breakfast provision will be funded through the soft drinks industry levy and will benefit over 1,770 schools. The investment will be targeted at the most disadvantaged areas of the country, including the DfE’s Opportunity Areas, but further details have not been released at this time.

Consultation outcome on eligibility for free school meals and the early years pupil premium under Universal Credit
The Government has published its consultation document outlining the general principles that were applied in considering changes to the criteria for free school meals and the early years pupil premium under Universal Credit. It sets out the measures the Government plans to take to protect those families who would otherwise lose entitlement to free school meals because of the changes and its plans for communicating these changes to parents, providers and local authorities.

Updated non-statutory guidance on using children’s biometric data
This week the DfE published updated non-statutory guidance for schools and colleges on using children’s biometric data. It states that schools and colleges using automated biometric recognition systems, or planning to install them, should make arrangements to notify parents and must obtain the consent required under the duties as set out in the body of the advice.

Interestingly the guidance only refers to the General Data Protection Regulation in the final paragraph, when it advises that new data protection legislation is due to come into force in the UK by 25 May 2018 and it strongly recommends that schools and anyone with responsibility for processing pupils’ biometric data should seek independent legal advice to ensure that they comply with any changes to data protection law.


Alternative provision fund and Exclusions review announced – Friday 16 March 2018

This week I report on the creation of a new Alternative Provision fund and an Exclusions review, the publication of the Integrated Communities Strategy green paper and its implications for schools and confirmation of the chief executive of the new Teaching Regulation Agency.

£4m ‘alternative provision fund’ and Exclusions review announced
Today the Government announced a new £4 million alternative provision fund to support excluded pupils to return to mainstream schools. The fund will be used to test and develop projects that support children back into mainstream or special schools, as well as encouraging parental and carer involvement in the education of their child. It will also fund schemes that support young people as they move from alternative provision in to training or further education at post-16.

This is part of a series of Government measures which includes a review of exclusions led by former Children’s Minister Edward Timpson, to look at how the use and levels of exclusions vary from school to school focusing on those children who are more likely to be excluded. As well as a ‘roadmap’ setting out how the Government will transform alternative provision to make sure these education settings provide high-quality teaching and an education that meets the individual needs of young people in their care.

The DfE has also published updated guidance which beefs up the role of “designated teachers” with responsibility for pupils in or previously in care, requiring them to be trained in attachment issues and emotional trauma, and to share their knowledge with other staff. Research by The Difference, a teacher training programme for the alternative provision sector indicates that excluded pupils are twice as likely to be in care, seven times more likely to have special educational needs and ten times more like to suffer a recognised mental-health problem.

Publication of the Integrated Communities Strategy green paper
Earlier this week the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published its Integrated Communities Strategy green paper and the main proposals relevant to schools are:

  • Free school bids must address integration explaining how they will prepare children for life in modern Britain and how they will attract pupils from different backgrounds and communities, encouraging them to work together and learn about each other’s customs.
  • Admissions rules will change in five areas (Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Peterborough, Walsall, and Waltham Forest) to improve diversity.
  • Unregistered schools will be more closely monitored to ensure the children attending are safe and receiving a suitable education and Ofsted’s powers in relation to unregistered schools will be reviewed.
  • Tougher guidance and enforcement for private schools.
  • New guidance on home education to explain the respective rights and obligations of Local Authorities and parents more clearly.
  • Parents must support school leaders’ policy decisions in relation to pupils’ rights to express their religion or belief.
  • Ofsted will review its British values approach ensuring there is “strong coverage of schools’ promotion of fundamental British values and integration” within its new inspection framework, which comes into effect from September 2019.
  • A new strategy for English language learning will be published, including plans for new community-based programmes and local “conversation clubs”.
  • A bid to improve the data held on pupils from a Roma background will help local service providers to “better understand and meet their needs” and clamp down on truancy.

Chief Executive of the new Teaching Regulation Agency confirmed
The DfE has confirmed Alan Meyrick has been appointed as the Chief Executive of the new Teaching Regulation Agency responsible for the regulation of the teaching profession. He is currently a deputy director in the teacher services division at the DfE and has experience of regulating the profession, having worked as a registrar at the General Teaching Council for England for 11 years before spending a further year as its Chief Executive.

The Teaching Regulation Agency will support employers, schools and headteachers with safeguarding responsibilities. This will include taking action on allegations of serious teacher misconduct and helping employers to complete pre-recruitment checks to ensure that they are employing teachers who are appropriately qualified for their role.