Friday, 8 October 2021

8 October 2021 Education secretary announces new white paper in education

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference this week, the education secretary committed to a new white paper in education in the new year

It seems it will include

- plans to tackle innumeracy and illiteracy

- a deep dive, by Ofsted, to look at good practice in tackling absenteeism 

- looking at ways to embed technology into the education process

- an intention for all schools to become part of a multi-academy trust

- a commitment to a review of teacher training 

Friday, 17 September 2021

17 September 2021 Ofsted to increase the number of academy trust evaluations

Ofsted will increase the number of academy trust evaluations, with smaller and specialist chains being eligible for visits

New guidance on the trust summary evaluations indicate that they will mirror the education framework and focus on 'the quality of education as seen through the curriculum'

It also says that smaller and specialist MATs, not just those that may be a cause for concern, will now get visits

Ofsted is planning 12 trust summary evaluations in the Spring term and will confirm future evaluations in due course; it visits a number of schools within the trust before discussing its findings with leaders and publishing a letter

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

20 July 2021 NGA publishes report on the development of MAT central leadership teams

The National Governance Association (NGA) has published a report on the development of central leadership teams in MATs

Based on detailed interviews with 13 MATs, and complemented by an online review of a further 88 MATs, it concluded that 

- central leadership teams are emerging as powerful drivers for realising many benefits of trust wide collaboration, including bringing services in-house, employing individuals with specialist expertise and centralising functions

- central team power and influence can contribute to tensions between individual school expression and trust control and therefore discussions about the central team should consider these tensions, seek to resolve them and include engagement with key stakeholders at local level

- governance practice in relation to designing and approving central team structures is inconsistent - there remains a lack of sector-wide knowledge and confidence around the issue of central teams which does provide an opportunity for trust boards to further drive improvement in their trusts

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

6 July 2021 Ofsted updates inspection handbook in readiness for September

Ofsted has made a number of changes to the handbook for when inspections return in September:

- inspectors will look at how the deployment of tutors supports the aims of the school curriculum

- schools without adequate processes to deal with sexual abuse are likely to be considered 'ineffective' with an inadequate leadership and management judgement

- schools are expected to put in place a whole-school approach towards sexual harassment, ensure that children are taught about safeguarding risks and supported to understand what constitutes a healthy relationship

- during inspections, Ofsted will consider external data, but will be mindful of the age of this data, especially around statutory assessment and qualifications

- teacher-assessed grades from 2020 and 2021 will not be used to assess curriculum impact

- leaders must provide support for staff teaching outside their main areas of expertise

- the inspection window may be extended by up to six terms

- Ofsted will report where a school fails to comply with the 'Baker clause' regarding careers guidance and consider how it affects their grade

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

22 June 2021 Education Committee's report highlights how disadvantaged White British pupils persistently underperform

The Parliamentary Education Committee report (The forgotten: how White working-class pupils have been let down, and how to change it) highlights how White British pupils eligible for free school meals persistently underperform compared with peers in other ethnic groups, from early years to higher education

It says that the solutions to this underperformance are

Funding to be tailor made at a local level to level up educational opportunity

Support parental engagement and tackle multi-generational disadvantage

Ensure the value of vocational training and apprenticeship options whilst boosting access to higher education

Attract good teachers to challenging areas

Find a better way to talk about racial disparities

Monday, 14 June 2021

11 June 2021 Government announces first set of measures under education recovery programme

The government has announced the first set of measures under its education recovery programme; they include

- Randstad is the provider for year 2 of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP)

- £218million for the NTP, on top of £215million planned for the current academic year

- £579million to develop local tutoring provision using new or existing staff

- £222million to extend the existing 16 to 19 tutoring programnme

- NTP will be given a target of 65% for getting tuition to pupils eligible for the pupil premium, with a focus towards areas with lowest proportions of good and outstanding schools

- Government to review the time spent in schools, with findings being set out later in the year

Friday, 21 May 2021

21 May 2021 Government launches Trust Capacity Fund for 2021-22

The DfE has launched the Trust Capacity Fund for the 2021-22 financial year which will award up to £24m to help trusts develop their capacity to grow.  It has a focus on supporting strong trusts, and strong schools forming trusts, to take on underperforming schools in areas of higher need

It is part of the government's vision, announced recently, for all schools to be part of a family of schools in strong academy trusts

There are two strands - under strand A, trusts can get up to £310K to take on schools in 118 areas whilst strand B offers up to £100K for schools elsewhere in the country

Additionally, and also part of its academy trust vision, the government has named the first seven faith school trusts, including five Catholic trusts and two Church of England ones

Church schools not taking part in this pilot can still join, or set up a trust, but the DfE advises that they speak to their diocese and regional school commissioner first

Friday, 14 May 2021

14 May 2021 Education Staff Wellbeing Charter sets out actions to prioritise teacher mental health

Schools have been invited to sign up to a new charter to support teachers' mental health

The new Education Staff Wellbeing Charter includes twelve commitments by the DfE and Ofsted, including reducing unnecessary workloads, championing flexible working and diversity and improving access to mental health resources

It also includes eleven actions that schools and trusts can pledge to take to improve staff wellbeing:

  1. Prioritise staff mental health 
  2. Give staff the support they need to take responsibility for their own and other people's wellbeing
  3. Give managers access to the tools and resources they need to support the wellbeing of those they line-manage
  4. Establish a clear communications policy
  5. Give staff a voice in decision making
  6. Drive down unnecessary workload
  7. Champion flexible working and diversity
  8. Create a good behaviour culture
  9. Support staff to progress in their careers
  10. A sub-strategy for protecting leader wellbeing and mental health
  11. Hold ourselves accountable, including by measuring staff wellbeing

Friday, 7 May 2021

7 May 2021 Ofsted announce that MAT summary evaluations are likely to resume in early 2022

Ofsted's summary evaluations of multi-academy trusts are likely to resume in early 2022, the chief inspector has said

Amanda Spielman told the Confederation of School Trusts that Ofsted would resume the evaluations 'as soon as we can'

Trust summary evaluations allow Ofsted to assess the quality of education and leadership within trusts, based on inspectors' visits to a number of schools within them

The evaluations were temporarily suspended at the start of the pandemic in March 2020

30 April 2021 Government's vision for all schools to be part of a strong academy trust

The government has announced new policies to move the sector towards its vision of all schools being part of a strong academy trust.

Non-statutory guidance has been published which includes

- consultation on long standing 'requires improvement' schools joining trusts

- plans to make it easier to join multi-academy trusts

- an increase in the trust capacity fund for 2021-22 to £24million

- schools able to join a multi-academy trust temporarily before deciding whether to join permanently through the concept of 'trust partnerships'

- £1.25million to establish a new 'turnaround' trust specifically for Roman Catholic schools in need of intensive support

- a pilot programme with the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church to set up new academy trusts

- greater clarity in the academies handbook, with a clear regulatory framework that can support strong trusts

Friday, 23 April 2021

23 April 2021 Ofsted announce changes to inspections for the Summer term

Ofsted has announced a number of changes to inspections for schools in the Summer term - it will carry out some lighter touch inspections, with a return to graded inspections in the Autumn term

The changes include

- Ofsted will look at how the curriculum has been adapted and prioritised from September 2020

- It will not use teacher assessed grades from 2020 or 2021, but will consider externally published data, whilst being mindful of the age of it

- Ofsted says that inspectors will seek to understand how leaders supported the community throughout the pandemic

- Inspectors will also look at how the school ensured the best possible attendance for those pupils eligible to attend in person

- The impact of the pandemic cannot be the sole factor in an inadequate judgement

- Ofsted will be 'sympathetic' on schools' progress in implementing relationships education

- If inspectors are prevented from speaking to pupils during an inspection, safeguarding will be judged as ineffective

Friday, 16 April 2021

15 April 2021 DfE announces first lead schools for 'behaviour hubs' project

 The DfE has announced the names of the first 22 schools which will lead its behaviour hubs initiative

The behaviour hubs project aims to support 500 schools which struggle with poor discipline over the next three years; it will begin at the start of the Summer term

Lead schools and academy trusts will work closely with schools to diagnose what could be improved; they will also develop and launch new behaviour approaches and policies and provide ongoing mentoring and support

The behaviour hubs programme will run on a termly basis, with lead schools and MATs forming hubs with two different supported schools each term

The DfE said that the programme will expand next year, with further lead schools and MATs being appointed to support more schools

Friday, 26 March 2021

26 March 2021 Edurio publishes report on staff retention in academies

Edurio has published a report on staff retention in academies, based on their 'Staff well-being and working conditions' survey

The main conclusions are

- School leaders should evaluate both working conditions and relationships within their schools, as both areas have a strong link with staff retention

- In order to reduce staff workload, most gains can be found in reducing marking and assessment as well as data input and administrative tasks

- There needs to be a strong focus on building a culture of engagement for staff members, where their feedback is heard and seen to be taken into account

- Multi-academy trust leadership teams need to adapt interventions for the different conditions in each of their schools - a 'one-size-fits-all' solution for all schools in a trust is unlikely to help them retain staff

- Communication emerged as a key concern, with 11% of staff mentioning it as an area for improvement

Friday, 19 March 2021

19 March 2021 Full Ofsted inspections not to return until September

The chief inspector of schools has announced that full graded Ofsted inspections will not return until September

Speaking at the Association of School and College Leaders virtual conference, Amanda Spielman said that Ofsted was discussing 'a sensible and proportionate next step before returning to our normal inspection programme in the autumn'

She went on to say that the current Education Inspection Framework is 'quite flexible for the situation we are in now with exams cancelled'  However, she admitted that there would be need for flexibility and transitional arrangements when inspections return

Friday, 12 March 2021

12 March 2021 HMCI says that Ofsted recognises the relative strength of schools in poorer areas by rating leadership more highly

Speaking at the Northern Powerhouse Partnership's Education Summit on Wednesday, the chief inspector of schools, Amanda Spielman, says that Ofsted recognises the relative strength of schools in poorer areas by rating leadership more highly

She said that Ofsted has looked at the judgement profiles for schools with various levels of disadvantaged intakes, finding that the overall effectiveness judgements are on average lower for the most disadvantaged schools

But she went on to say that, compared with more advantaged schools, disadvantaged schools are quite a lot more likely to have Ofsted rate their leadership and management more highly than overall effectiveness - that shows how their relative strength is recognised in more difficult circumstances

The chief inspector warned that there is a 'deep and difficult tension between judging schools in terms of the experience children get and how well schools are doing with the hand they've been dealt'

She believes that whilst parents are interested in overall judgements, decisions about school interventions should be based on schools' relative performance which is reflected in the leadership and management judgement

Friday, 5 March 2021

5 March 2021 Education secretary says that the government is 'looking at' how to get more schools into MATs

The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has said that the government would like to see 'far more schools' in multi-academy trusts by 2025 and is actively looking at 'how we can make that happen'

He told the Foundation for Education Development summit on 1 March that partnerships between schools were fundamental, especially in the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic

The government has previously used growth funding (such as the Trust Capacity Fund) to encourage more academies to be part of larger trusts

Mr Williamson told the summit that schools 'benefit from being in a strong family.  In other words, a multi-academy trust'

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

24 February 2021 Ofsted publishes research on the education of pupils living in children's home

Ofsted has published research on the range and quality of the education of pupils living in children's homes; the research was conducted across a sample of 2600 children living in 815 children's homes between April 2018 and March 2019

The key findings are

- Children's home residents are less likely to attend good or outstanding schools

- Around 9% of children in the sample attended unregulated provision

- Children living in children's homes were 18 times more likely to attend a pupil referral unit than all pupils attending state-funded provision nationally

- They were also 20 times more likely to attend special schools than all children nationally

Thursday, 11 February 2021

11 February 2021 77 schools selected to run new teaching school hubs

77 schools have been selected to run 81 new teaching school hubs across England, with £65million of funding from the government.  It takes the total number of hubs to 87, with six initial hubs being announced last year

Teaching school hubs will provide professional development for teachers and leaders, as well as supporting trainee teachers.  They will help to deliver the new early career framework of support for new teachers and provide national professional qualifications and initial teacher training

Each of the 81 new hubs will have its own geographical area and begin operating in September.  Four schools have been given funding for two geographical areas, with the remaining 73 running one

Friday, 5 February 2021

5 February 2021 Government launches first phase of school rebuilding programme

The government has launched the first phase of its ten-year school rebuilding programme, with 50 projects being announced

The programme is due to deliver 500 projects over the next decade; the schools include primary, secondary and special ones as well as a sixth form college in West Yorkshire; more than 70% of the schools are in the North and the Midlands

Construction will begin on the first projects from Autumn 2021, with the majority of them being completed within three to five years

The projects will range from replacing or refurbishing individual buildings through to whole school rebuilds; the DfE plans to consult this year on how schools are prioritised for future rounds of the programme 

Additionally, 21 free schools have been announced as part of wave 14; ten are in some of the most deprived areas and three in opportunity areas

More than £10million will also be invested to support school sports and swimming facilities in England, and will be distributed through Sport England

Friday, 29 January 2021

29 January 2021 Ofsted publish research on the role of MATs during the pandemic

Following its visits to schools in the Autumn term, Ofsted has published the findings of some research, based on discussions with school leaders, on the role of multi-academy trusts (MATs) during the pandemic

School leaders valued a strong MAT-wide approach to managing risk assessment and planning, including the support provided to schools for managing social distancing, setting up 'bubbles' and reviewing safeguarding, attendance and behaviour policies

In most cases, this central support complemented local autonomy, so that school leaders could design policies suited to their own context.  MATs also helped schools in practical ways, such as organising recruitment and sourcing PPE

MATs helped schools to develop their remote learning offer, source IT equipment and learning platforms as well as organising training. Some MATs supported schools with the curriculum, particularly through their subject networks and specialists

School leaders also said that they appreciated MATs monitoring and supporting the health and well-being of all staff 


Wednesday, 20 January 2021

20 January 2021 DfE confirms that that the early years profile will not be mandatory this year

The DfE has confirmed that the early years foundation stage profile (EYFSP) will not be mandatory this year; whilst the process will continue to go ahead, schools are being asked to use their 'best endeavors' to carry out the assessment instead

The Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, said that the assessment was being made optional 'in recognition of the additional pressures reception teachers face'

Schools that do decide they can complete the EYFSP this year, and provide information to parents and Year 1 teachers, will not be externally modified.  Additionally, the requirement to submit the data to LAs, or confirm whether they have completed it, has been removed

The EYFSP was not completed last year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic

Thursday, 14 January 2021

14 January 2021 Ofsted releases guide for schools on what works well within remote education

Based on research and visits to schools, Ofsted has released a guide to what is working well within remote education:

- live lessons have advantages, including making it easier to align the curriculum and keeping pupils' attention, but it can make it harder to build in interaction and flexibility which means that feedback can be less effective than using recorded segments followed by interactive tasks

- feedback and assessment are still as important as in the classroom, but can be harder to deliver remotely; Ofsted says that it is important for teachers to stay in regular contact by using technology such as automated check-in emails

- Ofsted has warned that there is only so much that teachers can do to engage pupils remotely, and says that schools should ensure that efforts to engage don't distract from teaching the curriculum

- peer interaction can provide motivation and improve learning outcomes' and Ofsted advises schools to use chat group and video-lining functions to facilitate this

- the guide states that pupils using a laptop tend to spend longer accessing a remote lesson than those using a phone or tablet; schools should therefore think carefully about whether pupils have access to the right kind of device

- schools should consider about where they choose to host content, so pupils are not more easily distracted; platforms such as YouTube can distract pupils because of their advertising content

- the guide advises that sometimes it is more effective to deliver remote education through worksheets or a textbook because they can provide the curriculum content and sequencing that pupils need

Thursday, 7 January 2021

7 January 2021 DfE to establish a new 'Institute of Teaching'

The DfE has announced that it will establish a new Institute of Teaching to train up to 1000 teachers each year, with an emphasis on knowledge-based curriculum and high standards of pupil behaviour

It will begin offering initial teacher training courses from September 2022 and will also deliver the early career framework for new teachers as well as national professional qualifications for more experienced staff

The new 'Institute of Teaching' will provide lifelong training and development for teachers through at least four regional campuses, with the training likely to be delivered through a mixture of online, face-to-face and school-based means

At full capacity, it is expected to train around 1000 ITT trainees, 2000 early career teachers, 2000 mentors and 1000 national professional qualification participants each year