Key points from Shadow Education Secretary’s Labour Party conference speech – Friday 27 September 2019

This week I report on the key points the Shadow Education Secretary announced at the Labour Party Conference, the publication of the Early years foundation stage profile results for 2017/18 and the publication of provisional Phonics screening check and KS1 assessments in England for 2019.

Shadow Education Secretary’s key points from the Labour Party conference
In a short speech in Brighton last week, Ms Rayner announced a number of policies that her party would enact if it wins power in a forthcoming general election as follows:

  • Integration of private schools – but no commitment on asset seizing. In government Labour would set its new Social Justice Commission to work “on making the whole education system fairer through the integration of private schools”.
  • No opt-out for equality – on relationships and sex education Labour would back headteachers who follow the rules, adding that there would be “no opt-out for equality”.
  • Scrapping Ofsted – a new system of peer review would deliver school improvement, led by experts in schools, who could achieve more working together for the common good. Also a new, independent body would ensure every provider from nursery to college delivered the education that was the right of every citizen.
  • School uniform price cap – a pledge to end the “spiralling cost of school uniforms and equipment”, by introducing a price cap.

Publication of Early years foundation stage profile results for 2017 to 2018
The information provides details on the percentage of children achieving each assessment rating in the early learning goals; the percentage of children achieving at least the expected level in the prime areas of learning and in the specific areas of literacy and mathematics (a good level of development); the average total points score across all the early learning goals (the supporting measure) and the percentage of children achieving at least the expected level within the communication and language, and literacy areas of learning.

Additional tables provide national and local-authority-level information on EYFSP attainment by pupil characteristics.

Publication of provisional Phonics screening check and key stage 1 assessments in England
The statistics show provisional 2019 phonics and key stage 1 (KS1) results for pupils in schools in England at different levels, including:

  • national
  • regional
  • local authority
  • local authority district

The results are grouped by pupil characteristics and the publication includes phonics results in year 1 and by the end of year 2, and KS1 teacher assessment for reading, writing, maths and science. Please note that 2019 KS1 results in reading, maths and science are not comparable to 2018 due to changes to the teacher assessment frameworks. Results in writing are only comparable to 2018 and not previous years.

New web pages on school governance published – Friday 20 September 2019

This week I report on the launch of new DfE web pages on school governance, the impact of changes in the format of inspection reports and the uncertain future of the national computing SCITT.

New web pages on school governance published
On Tuesday the DfE launched three new GOV.UK pages, in response to feedback from governors, trustees, chairs and clerks. The pages are designed to help those working in school governance to more easily navigate its governance content online. There are two collections of guidance, one relevant to maintained school governance and the other relevant to academy trust governance.

The list of statutory policies for schools has also been updated to create a more accessible, web page for governors, trustees and school leaders. There were no new requirements or policies announced in the update.

Changes to the Ofsted inspection report
The format of the inspection report is changing considerably and as this was not included in last year’s consultation on the framework there has been little discussion by the sector. Over the summer, Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director of education, wrote in a blog that reports “will be briefer, clearer, and better focused on the users of those being inspected”.

The NGA’s Chief Executive, having seen the new format, which is substantially different, is concerned that governing bodies have been overlooked. There will no longer be a separate section on each of the four judgements; that also means there will no longer be the paragraph on the effectiveness of governance.

The NGA has been in discussions with Ofsted to ensure that governing bodies get the information from the inspection that they need to oversee the education being provided at the school and that any relevant actions are taken. In practice this means that the final feedback meeting, to which all governors are invited, will become even more important in making sure that this happens.

Future of national computing SCITT now uncertain
Schools Week has today reported that plans for a national computing SCITT have crashed after the Government failed to attract any “suitable bids” to run it. The DfE was seeking organisations with “national reach” to run the computing school-centred initial teacher training programme. The SCITT was expected to develop a national network of eight hubs by the end of summer next year and suggested an annual recruitment target of 40.

The contract was due to begin today with recruitment set to start this autumn. But the DfE has confirmed its procurement process “didn’t result in any suitable bids” and that it was now “considering next steps”. It would not say how many bids were received.

Free Governors webinar on monitoring the quality of education – Friday 13 September 2019

This week I highlight a free webinar on how Governors can monitor the quality of education judgement under the new inspection framework, information on how the DfE is now measuring primary school accountability, a consultation on possibly extending academies insurance arrangements to maintained schools and confirmation of DfE ministerial portfolios.

Free Governors webinar: Monitoring the Quality of Education
On Thursday 26 September 2019 from 8-9 a.m. Governors for Schools will be hosting a webinar looking at how governors can provide effective and targeted oversight in light of Ofsted’s key judgement on the quality of education under the new inspection framework.

They will consider the main areas of focus under this new judgement, and the questions governors should be asking to assure themselves of the school’s readiness for inspection under the new, broader criteria. If you would like to sign up for the webinar please use this link to register.

Primary School Accountability in 2019
The DfE is changing the way it measures primary school accountability from September this year. The latest technical guide outlines some significant changes, starting with the removal of the floor and coasting standards and a new support offer for schools that were identified as ‘requires improvement’ in their latest Ofsted report.

It has also outlined the headline measures, which will be published in the performance tables in December 2019, include attainment and progress measures. These are:

  • The percentage of pupils achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths at the end of KS2.
  • The pupils’ average scaled score in reading and in maths at the end of KS2.
  • The percentage of pupils who achieve at a higher standard in reading, writing and maths.
  • The pupils’ average progress in reading, writing and maths.

The progress measure is a school-level accountability measure, meaning that individual pupils’ progress is only calculated to determine the school’s overall progress score, separate progress scores are calculated for reading, writing and maths.

A school’s progress score for a subject is the mean average of its pupils’ progress scores in that subject and these are allocated for reading, writing and maths.

Extending the RPA to Local Authority Maintained Schools
The DfE is seeking views on extending the self-insure arrangement currently operational for academy trusts to the local authority sector so that the sector can benefit from the financial savings academy trusts have attained through membership of the Risk Protection Arrangements (RPA).

The consultation ends in early November and the findings will then be considered with a view to rolling out the RPA to all LA maintained schools in England if there is a valid basis for doing so.

Ministerial portfolios confirmed at the DfE
On Wednesday the Government confirmed Michelle Donelan as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, as Chris Skidmore returns as joint Minister of State for the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Revised NGA Skills Audit and Code of Conduct – Friday 6 September 2019

This week I highlight the NGA’s revised Code of Conduct and Skills Audit and Matrix, confirmation of school spending over the next 3 years and a series of DfE announcements including the removal of Outstanding schools from Ofsted inspections; the publication of the latest version of Keeping Children Safe in Education and guides on what parents and schools can expect from new inspections.

Revised NGA Skills Audit and Code of Conduct
Today the National Governance Association published its updated skills audit and matrix and revised model Code of Conduct. I will compare our current Code of Conduct with this revised model and bring any proposed changes to Governing body meetings this term.

The skills audit remains structured around the DfE’s six features of effective governance, as referred to in the Competency Framework for Governance. However, it now includes an additional section titled “positive contribution”, which covers the experience and skills that characterise an effective and experienced governing team with capacity to develop and improve further. At the same time the skills audit has been streamlined with fewer questions to make it more manageable.

Announcement on school spending
On Wednesday the Chancellor of the Exchequer used his autumn statement to officially announce that school spending will rise by £7.1bn over the next three years. Secondary schools will be given a minimum of £5,000 per pupil by 2020-21, while primary schools will receive £4,000 per pupil by 2021-22.

The Government also plans to raise the starting salary for teachers to £30,000 within three years whilst the budget for supporting children and young people with special educational needs will rise by £700m compared to 2019-20 funding levels. A further £400m was pledged to boost further education for 16-19 year olds.

Recent DfE announcements
Improving school standards – the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson has revealed a number of new measures designed to improve school standards. One of these measures includes schools judged as ‘outstanding’ no longer being exempt from Ofsted inspections. The new measures are intended to ensure that parents have up to date information regarding the quality of education being provided as well as ensuring that school standards remain high.

Safeguarding guidance – the latest edition of the Government’s safeguarding guidance, Keeping Children Safe in Education 2019, was released this week with minor revisions. Governors must ensure that they are compliant with the document and are aware of their responsibilities as a board.

Guides on inspections – Ofsted has confirmed that the primary audience for inspection reports will be parents and has released guides on what parents and schools can expect from new inspections. It details what schools can expect before, during and after inspection and how parents and schools can share their views with the inspectorate.

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

Image result for summer holiday images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Register for the free webinar at

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Updated guidance on Pupil Premium funding – Friday 21 June 2019

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

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

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

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

  • expenditure
  • recruitment
  • teaching practice
  • staff development

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

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

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

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

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

New free Governor training webinars- Friday 14 June 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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