Free Governor training webinars – Friday 3 May 2019

This week I highlight a series of free Governor training webinars available this term from Governors for Schools and the Education Secretary’s call for evidence on the funding arrangements for pupils with SEND.

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

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.

Education Secretary calls for ideas on to improve SEND funding system
In a speech to the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) today, the Education Secretary will launch a Call for Evidence on the funding arrangements for pupils with complex Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and praise the work of schools, teachers and support workers for enabling those pupils to achieve great outcomes.

Ministers have already identified high-needs funding as one of two areas most in need of a funding uplift in the forthcoming spending review, the other being post-16 funding. The call for evidence launches today and will run until 31st July.

Confirmation of National Schools Commissioner – Friday 26 April 2019

This week I report on the appointment of the National Schools Commissioner, the Upskirting law that came into force on 12 April 2019  and funding to provide sanitary products extended to primary schools from early next year.

National Schools Commissioner appointed
The Government has appointed Dominic Herrington as its permanent National Schools Commissioner. Mr Herrington, also the Regional Schools Commissioner for south London and south east England, was appointed on an interim basis last September to succeed Sir David Carter but will now take on the job permanently.

He will also oversee “operational changes to the work of regional schools commissioners in the coming months to help schools, academy trusts and local authorities work with them by creating an even more joined-up team in each of the eight RSC regions”.

Upskirting now a crime
‘Upskirting’ – the act of taking a picture or video under another person’s clothing without their consent – has been made a criminal offence punishable by up to two years in prison, under the new Voyeurism Act.

Almost 100 cases of upskirting have been reported to the police in the last year, including incidents in schools.

Schools will need to review their Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy in line with the new law and make amendments/additions as appropriate.

Government funding to provide sanitary products in primary schools
The Government committed to fund sanitary products in England’s secondary schools and colleges in last month’s Spring Statement, and the Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi has now confirmed access to sanitary products will also be fully-funded by the DfE in all primary schools across the country from early 2020.

Extending the programme to primary schools follows feedback from teachers, students and parents, and the DfE is now working with key stakeholders in the public and private sector to roll-out the programme in a cost-effective manner.

New technology strategy launched – Friday 5 April 2019

This week I report on the publication of a new technology strategy aiming to reduce workload and improve outcomes, plans for a new register of children not in school along with providing support to parents who choose to home educate and the Education Secretary’s response to the Home Office’s proposal to give schools a legal duty to take action to prevent knife crime.

Realising the potential of technology in education
This week the DfE published a strategy to help education providers make the most of the opportunities presented by technology. It indicated there were a range of benefits to using technology including workload reduction, supporting inclusion and driving improvements in educational outcomes.

The DfE also published a range of guidance (Assessing your school ICT infrastructure, Choosing the right broadband for your school, Moving your school to the cloud) on things schools should consider when implementing or changing their use of technology.

Proposed new register of children not in school
The Government has set out plans for a register of children not in school, enabling councils to act effectively if they have concerns for a child’s education. Estimates suggest almost 60,000 children are deemed to be educated at home – a figure that is thought to be rising by around a quarter every year.

The Department is also proposing new measures to support parents who choose to educate their children at home, in the form of a legal duty for local authorities to provide assistance such as helping to pay for exam costs and providing teaching resources.

Under the plans, it will be parents’ responsibility to register their child if they are not being taught in a state-funded or registered independent school.

The consultation follows a call for evidence carried out last year which collected views from across the sector. The consultation will be open for 12 weeks until Monday 24 June.

Protecting teachers from knife crime burden
The Education Secretary, Damian Hinds has pledged to protect teachers from “unnecessary burdens” after the Home Office said earlier this week that it wanted to give schools a legal duty to take action to prevent knife crime.

In an interview with the Times Education Supplement the Education Secretary reassured the profession over the controversial proposals that unions claim are “scapegoating” teachers. “What I will make sure is that we don’t add unnecessary burdens on teachers because I have said many times before, teacher workload is a real issue, teachers are working too many hours, and we don’t want to add to that.”

The proposals would mean that schools are held accountable if they fail to spot the warning signs of violent crime among pupils. The consultation on the plan says that schools would be held to account “by their relevant inspectorates, or possibly through joint inspections”.

National Computing SCITT announced – Friday 29 March 2019

This week I report on the DfE’s announcement that its looking for organisations to run a national computing SCITT and publication of updated guidance on the standards for school food in England.

National Computing SCITT announced
The DfE has announced it is looking for organisations to run a “national computing school-centred initial teacher training” (SCITT) programme to “ultimately design a unique and high-quality school-led offer in this priority subject”. The centre would start recruitment in the autumn before delivering training from next year.

However as other subject-specific SCITTs set up for maths and physics, and languages have failed to recruit their target number of trainees, there is concern in the sector that it might just attract trainees who would otherwise have gone elsewhere and the net number of teachers therefore would not increase.

Updated Standards for school food in England
Guidance on the standards for planning and providing food in schools have been updated this week to include a link to healthy eating resources for schools. The guidance includes information on the planning and provision of school food, the school food plan, the provision of milk and the free fruit and vegetables scheme.

Updated Governance Handbook – Friday 22 March 2019

This week I highlight publication of the updated Governance Handbook and reports that Ofsted may rethink plans to give just 150-minutes’ notice of inspectors’ arrival in schools.

Updated Governance Handbook
This morning the DfE published a revised version of the Governance Handbook. The Handbook explains governing boards’ roles and functions, their legal duties, where governors can find support and the main features of effective governance.

The Handbook sits alongside the ‘Competency framework for governance’ which sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours that school and academy governing boards need to be effective, and the ‘Competency framework for clerking’ which sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to provide professional clerking to school and academy governing boards.

The most significant updates and changes to the content within the Handbook sections are as follows:

Section 2: Strategic Leadership
Updated section at 2.4 to place stronger emphasis on parental engagement.

Section 3: Accountability
• New sub-section within 3.1 on workload considerations, which draws attention to the latest published workload guidance and workload reduction toolkit which provides support to schools and boards.
• New section 3.2 on the robust oversight of an organisation. Due to insertion other sections have been re-numbered.
• Updated sub-section within 3.4.1 to replace RAISEonline with information on Analyse School Performance.

Section 4: People
• Clarification at section 4.1.2 on criminal records checks and s128 prohibition.
• Updated text at section 4.4 to reflect the clerking competency framework, funded clerking training and the position of a clerk (governance professional) in trusts.

Section 5: Structures
Clarification on LA associated people (LAAPs) serving as Members 5.2.1.

Section 6: Compliance
• Clarification at 6.4.1 on what a maintained school must publish in relation to the curriculum.
• Updated text at 6.4.4 to highlight the future proposed changes being made to Sex and Relationship Education (SRE).
• Updated guidance at 6.4.9 following the introduction of statutory Careers guidance, which came into force in 2018.
• Removal of out-dated text at 6.5.
• Updated advice at 6.5.3 on information the board should check as part of the pre appointment process when recruiting potential employees.
• Removal of previous section 6.5.4 on NTCL teacher services.
• Section 6.5.7, new sub section on Executive pay.
• Updated text at 6.6.3 to reflect changes to the Dedicated Schools Grant and the pupil premium.
• Updated guidance at 6.7 to provide further clarity on the board’s responsibilities under safeguarding.
• Clarification at 6.8.3 that the statutory duty to produce and publish a statement of principles applies to maintained schools.
• Updated guidance at 6.8.9 on school food and milk which reflects the updating of entitling benefits for Free School Meals and outlines the board’s responsibilities to ensure the school is complying with its obligations.
• Updated advice at 6.8.16 to alert schools to their fire safety responsibilities.
• Inclusion of additional paragraph at 6.11.2 on the responsibility of schools to ensure that any provide of childcare on site must have in place appropriate polices in relation to safeguarding children.
• Updated section at 6.14.1 to reflect the replacement of Edubase service with Get information about schools (GIAS)
• Updated section at 6.14.5 to reflect the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
• Clarification at 6.15 on dealing with complaints.

Section 7: Evaluation
• Updated to include reference to DfE funded governance development programmes and the clerking competency framework and Ofsted “myths” documentation.
• Updated content on schools causing concern and on coasting schools at section 7.4.
• Section 7.5 has been updated to include DfE areas of support and other information which may be of use to boards.

Ofsted may rethink plan to give just 150-minutes’ notice of inspectors’ arrival
On Tuesday the TES reported that Matthew Purves, Ofsted’s deputy director for schools had informed a Westminster Education Forum that Ofsted could back down on its plans for an inspector to arrive at a school the day before its inspection begins.

The consultation response so far has been very negative towards the proposal and Mr Purves said, “If there is a tidal wave of negativity we need to sit down and think about that, but we really do think that conversation prior to inspection would be a really good idea.”

Creation of a new expert advisory group on teachers’ wellbeing – Friday 15 March 2019

This week I report on the creation of a new expert advisory group to look at how to promote better wellbeing for teachers, the announcement of 30 ONE Vision schools in the North East via the Opportunity North East initiative and funding to end ‘period poverty’ in secondary schools from September this year.

Support on wellbeing for teachers in schools
At the Association of School and College Leaders’ (ASCL) annual conference today the Education Secretary will announce the creation of a new expert advisory group to look at how teachers and school leaders can be better supported to deal with the pressure of the job.

The Advisory Group will bring together head teachers and principals, teaching and college unions, professional bodies and mental health charity Mind to work with the Government to look at how to promote better wellbeing for teachers.

Government drive to boost attainment in North East schools
Yesterday the Education Secretary set out plans to support up to thirty schools through the Opportunity North East (ONE) initiative – a multi-million pound Government-led programme to improve social mobility and raise aspirations for children.

These ONE Vision schools, as they will be known, will be partnered with high-performing institutions and given bespoke support to raise standards and help up to 25,000 young people learn the skills and knowledge that will help unlock their potential.

Government funding to provide sanitary products in secondary schools
The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, announced plans to fund sanitary products for pupils in secondary schools and colleges to end so-called ‘period poverty’ in his Spring statement on Wednesday. The funding will be made available from September, although no further details on how much schools would receive has been announced yet.

Article updated at 15:11 on 15 March due to issues with some website filters.

Off-rolling schools could be judged ‘inadequate’ – Friday 8 March 2019

This week I report on Ofsted’s confirmation that schools found to be off-rolling could be judged inadequate, the DfE’s desire for all primary schools to provide careers education and free tree saplings for schools from the Woodland Trust.

Ofsted confirms off-rolling schools are likely to be judged ‘inadequate’
This week the TES has reported that Ofsted has said that schools found off-rolling under its new inspection regime are likely to get an “inadequate” judgement for leadership and management and judged to be failing overall.

The inspectorate is planning to tackle off-rolling, where schools remove pupils in order to improve exam results, under its new framework. A spokesperson said: “The draft school inspection handbook makes clear that, if inspectors find off-rolling, leadership and management is likely to be judged inadequate.” “It also says that overall effectiveness is likely to be judged inadequate when any one of the key judgements is inadequate. But this isn’t automatic. Inspectors will have to use their professional judgement when coming to a judgement.”

Careers education for all primary schools
Earlier this week the DfE confirmed it was working with major companies to bring careers education to all primary schools but didn’t indicate when this would roll out. Whilst research shows only 4% of primary schools currently don’t provide any careers education to pupils, the Education Secretary is committed to ensuring this reaches 100% by working with industry professionals.

Woodland Trust: A million saplings to be given to schools
More than a million saplings have been sent out to schools and communities as part of the Woodland Trust’s free trees initiative.

The charity has suggested that there has been a huge increase in the “passion for planting” recently and schools can apply now for trees to be delivered in November 2019.  The charity has also produced an online resource to help schools plan, plant and care for their tree pack. All activities are linked to the KS1 and KS2 curriculum. They include a planning tool, planting advice and interactive quizzes.


New sex and health education guidance published – Friday 1 March 2019

This week I report on the new statutory guidance on compulsory sex, relationships and health education as well as a new Schools Financial Value Standard for 2019/20.

New sex and health education guidance
The Government has published new guidance on compulsory sex, relationships and health education which will become compulsory in September 2020. The guidance includes some minor changes since it was published in draft form last year.

Under the new guidance, pupils will be taught relationships education at primary level, relationships and sex education at secondary level and health education throughout all stages.

Primary pupils will be taught about relationships, staying safe online and the link between physical and mental health. Secondary pupils will be taught about issues such as FGM, grooming, forced marriage and domestic abuse.

Health education will cover the importance of getting enough sleep, the dangers of sexting and how to spot the signs of mental health issues.

Changes to the Schools Financial Value Standard for 2019/20
Maintained schools and Management Committees of pupil referral units currently complete the annual Schools Financial Value Standard (SFVS) assessment form, consisting of 25 questions to help them manage their finances and provide assurance to the LA that they have secure financial management in place.

The standard for 2019 to 2020 has been revised and consists of a checklist and a dashboard. The checklist asks questions of governing bodies in 6 areas of resource management similar to the existing SFVS form and the new dashboard shows how a school’s data compares to thresholds on a range of statistics identified by the DfE as indicators of good resource management and outcomes.

The checklist guidance provides clarification for each question, examples of good practice, and details further support available to assist schools in addressing specific issues. The dashboard guidance provides explanations of the each of the indicators and helps schools in filling in their data and understanding the results.

Review to demand excluded pupils count in schools’ results – Friday 15 February 2019

This week I report on the review of exclusions expected to be published before Easter which would require excluded pupils to count in school’s results and the DfE has announced it’s expectation that schools fund a 2% cost of living teacher pay rise in 2019/20.

Timpson review to demand excluded pupils count in schools’ results
A landmark review of exclusions will demand the Government revives plans to make schools retain responsibility for the results of pupils they exclude. According to leaked documents seen by Schools Week the Timpson review will call for a “significant shift” for schools, alternative provision settings and councils, demanding that ministers “remove the potential” for Headteachers to game the system by “permanently excluding children at the most crucial time in their education”.

Edward Timpson, a former children’s minister who was commissioned to look into the practices around exclusions last year, was supposed to publish his report by the end of December. It was later widened to look at the illegal off-rolling of pupils, with ministers promising it will be published before Easter.

In extracts of the draft, seen by Schools Week, Timpson said the Department for Education should make heads “continue to be responsible for children who have been permanently excluded, including for commissioning high-quality and safe alternative provision where this is needed and remaining accountable for the educational outcomes of this”.  In practice, that means the performance of excluded pupils would count towards the school’s league table position.

Publication of evidence to support the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) consideration of the 2019 pay award
The Secretary of State wrote to the STRB on 21 November, asking for their recommendations on the September 2019 teachers pay award. The letter stressed the importance of focusing on how the pay award can best address recruitment and retention challenges, while taking account of affordability across the school system.

The DfE has now published evidence to support the STRB’s consideration of the 2019 pay award and concluded that a pay increase for teachers of 2% (in line with forecast inflation) is affordable within the overall funding available to schools for 2019 to 2020, without placing further pressure on school budgets. This is supported by the Government’s proposals to fund increases in teachers’ pension contributions from September 2019.

New vision for character and resilience – Friday 8 February 2019

This week I report on the Education Secretary’s five foundations for character education, a series of trials testing different approaches to supporting young people’s mental health and an EEF trial of an English mastery programme at Key Stage 3.

Vision for character and resilience
This week the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds laid out the 5 Foundations for Building Character and pledged to work with schools and external organisations, including membership bodies and charities, to help every child access activities within each of those foundations. The foundations are:

  • Sport – which includes competitive sport and activities such as running, martial arts, swimming and purposeful recreational activities, such as rock climbing, hiking, orienteering, gym programmes, yoga or learning to ride a bike.
  • Creativity – this involves all creative activities from coding, arts and crafts, writing, graphic design, film making and music composition.
  • Performing – activities could include dance, theatre and drama, musical performance, choir, debating or public speaking.
  • Volunteering & Membership – brings together teams for practical action in the service of others or groups, such as volunteering, litter-picking, fundraising, any structured youth programmes or uniformed groups like Beavers, Brownies, Cubs, Guides, Scouts, Cadets and Duke of Edinburgh.
  • World of work – practical experience of the world of work, work experience or entrepreneurship. For primary age children, this may involve opportunities to meet role models from different jobs.

To help to make this happen the Education Secretary announced:

  • Plans for an audit of the availability of out of school activities across the country, to help understand where more focus is needed to increase access and choice.
  • A call on businesses and charities to offer more work experience and volunteer placements to young people.
  • Relaunching the Department for Education’s Character Awards, which highlight innovative or outstanding programmes that develop a wide variety of character traits.
  • A new advisory group will develop a new framework to help teachers and school leaders identify the types of opportunities that will help support their pupils to build character. The framework will also provide a self-assessment tool for schools to check how well they are doing.

Mental Health trials launched in 370 schools
To mark Children’s Mental Health Week (4-10 February), the Education Secretary Damian Hinds has announced that up to 370 schools in England will take part in a series of trials testing different approaches to supporting young people’s mental health.

Children will benefit from mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to help them regulate their emotions, alongside pupil sessions with mental health experts. The study will run until 2021 and aims to give schools new, robust evidence about what works best for their students’ mental health and wellbeing.

Mr Hinds also confirmed the nine areas across the country that will trial new high-quality mental health assessments for young people entering care, helping them get the support they need to meet their individual needs at a time when they are more vulnerable.

English mastery programme trial by the EEF
A Key Stage 3 English mastery programme has been selected for a trial by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). The EEF will test the approach, which is supported by Ark Ventures, an arm of Ark Schools, in 110 schools over two years to find out if it will boost pupil progress. Around 700 teachers and 40,000 pupils are expected to be involved.
Ark recently announced that it is developing a school curriculum programme covering “all the major subjects” that it plans to sell to other schools. It comes as Ofsted’s new framework shifts its focus from exam results to how schools deliver curriculum.

The new trial is one of five unveiled today by the EEF, which exists to test approaches that “break the link between family income and educational achievement”. Other successful projects include a scheme to improve access to glasses, and programmes for struggling readers.