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Academy and School News Update June 13 –July 3 2015

Documents mentioned below can be found on http://tonystephens.org.uk

  • The Sutton Trust has issued its review of the Pupil Premium, “Pupil Premium, the Next Steps”. In summary, it recommends:
    • Continued support for the pupil premium, to improve attainment for disadvantaged pupils.
    • Continue paying the pupil premium on the basis of disadvantage, not prior attainment. It is important that the premium is paid for all disadvantaged pupils, without discrimination between low and high attainers.
    • A strong commitment to the promotion of rigorous evidence, particularly where it has been tested in randomised control trials. Evidence is a crucial tool which schools should use to inform their decision making and ensure that they identify the “best bets” for spending, but it must be acted upon. Ofsted should consider a schools’ use of evidence in their inspections and schools should be supported to evaluate approaches themselves
    • Improved teacher training and professional development so that all school leaders and classroom teachers understand how to use data and research effectively.
    • More effective systems to allow schools to identify pupils eligible for pupil premium funding.
    • Extension of pupil premium awards so that schools that successfully and consistently improve results for all while narrowing the attainment gap are properly rewarded.

A copy of this document can be found on the above website, Documents – Latest Documents

  • The National Audit Office has also produced a report on the Pupil premium, and this is also well worth reading. It says:

More than three-quarters of schools are at risk of “diluting” the benefits of the pupil premium by using the cash to help all children rather than the most disadvantaged. It concludes that 77 per cent of schools are spending the money on all pupils, meaning that some of the poorest children miss out on the “full benefit” of the cash. The study also shows that some of the most disadvantaged schools in the country suffered a drop in funding of more than 5 per cent between 2010-11 and 2014-15, despite the extra pupil premium money. According to the National Audit Office’s report, the premium could bring about significant improvements for poorer children but its impact is being watered down by an over-reliance on “high cost” approaches. The report found that the money – worth £1,323 a year for a primary pupil and £935 for a secondary student – was having an effect on narrowing the attainment gap between the wealthiest pupils and their poorer classmates. But it concludes that not all disadvantaged pupils attract funding and some schools do not use the funding appropriately. It adds: “Most importantly, there is a risk that accountability and intervention mechanisms allow schools to waste money on ineffective activities for many years without effective challenge.” It says that:

  • 72 per cent of schools provide individual tuition, an effective but costly approach;
  • 63 per cent have sought to improve feedback which is effective and cheap;
  • 71 per cent employ extra teaching assistants, which is high-cost and only effective in certain circumstances.

A copy of a summary of this document can be found on the above website, Documents – Latest Documents

 

A copy of this document can be found on the above website, Documents – Latest Documents

 

  • The DfE has issued:
    • Advice on the Prevent duty, ie on how schools should be countering radicalism and extremism
    • This is a follow up to the Prevent duty guidance to public authorities issued in March
    • How social media is used to encourage travel to Syria and Iraq –Briefing note for schools
    • a telephone helpline (020 7340 7264) and an email address (counter.extremism@education.gsi.gov.uk) to enable people to raise concerns directly with the department.

The advice has been published to coincide with the new prevent duty, introduced as part of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, which legally requires a range of organisations including schools, local authorities, prisons, police and health bodies to take steps to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

Schools and childcare providers should have clear procedures in place for protecting children at risk of radicalisation. These procedures may be set out in existing safeguarding policies. It is not necessary for schools and childcare settings to have distinct policies on implementing the Prevent duty. General safeguarding principles apply to keeping children safe from the risk of radicalisation as set out in the relevant statutory guidance, Working together to safeguard children (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-safeguard-children–2) and Keeping children safe in education (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/keeping-children-safe-in-education–2).

Channel guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/channel-guidance)

School staff and childcare providers should understand when it is appropriate to make a referral to the Channel programme. Channel is a programme which focuses on providing support at an early stage to people who are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. It provides a mechanism for schools to make referrals if they are concerned that an individual might be vulnerable to radicalisation. An individual’s engagement with the programme is entirely voluntary at all stages.

An online general awareness training module on Channel is available (http://course.ncalt.com/Channel_General_Awareness/01/index.html). The module is suitable for school staff and other front-line workers. It provides an introduction to the topics covered by this advice, including how to identify factors that can make people vulnerable to radicalisation, and case studies illustrating the types of intervention that may be appropriate, in addition to Channel.

A copy of all these documents can be found on the above website, Documents – Latest Documents

 

 

  • The DfE is now seeking views on the newly revised subject content for GCSE design and technology for first teaching in 2017.

A copy of all the draft content and also the consultation document can be found on the above website, Documents – Latest Documents

  • The DfE has now defined what will be a coasting school:
    • For secondary schools, a school will be ‘coasting’ if in 2014 and 2015 fewer than 60% of children achieve 5 A* to C including English and mathematics and they are below the median level of expected progress and in 2016 they fall below a level set against the new progress 8 measure. This level will be set after 2016 results are available to ensure it is set at a suitable level. A school will have to be below those levels in all 3 years to be defined as ‘coasting’. By 2018 the definition of ‘coasting’ will be based entirely on Progress 8 and will not have an attainment element.
    • At primary level the definition will apply to those schools who for the first 2 years have seen fewer than 85% of children achieving level 4, the secondary-ready standard, in reading, writing and maths, and which have also seen below-average proportions of pupils making expected progress between age 7 and age 11, followed by a year below a ‘coasting’ level set against the new accountability regime which will see children being expected to achieve a new higher expected standard and schools being measured against a new measure of progress.
    • The ‘coasting’ definition will capture performance in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Therefore we will not know until 2016 how many schools will be captured within the definition. However, based on current performance the DfE expects the definition to apply to hundreds of schools.
    • Secondary schools currently fall beneath the government’s floor standards for 2014 and 2015 if fewer than 40% of children achieve 5 or more A* to CGCSEs, including English and maths, and if the proportion of pupils making expected progress between key stage 2 and 4 in English and maths is below the median. Primary schools are considered below the floor standards if fewer than 65% of children achieve level 4 in reading, writing and maths, and if the proportion of pupils making expected progress between key stage 1 and key stage 2 in reading, writing and maths is below the median.

The use of an above national average attainment grade for 2014 and 2015 as part of the definition will cause problems for all those schools and academies with low ability intakes

Three-fifths of the primary schools likely to be classed as “coasting” – and therefore subject to government intervention and possible forced academy conversion – have been rated good or better by Ofsted

Schools will be notified that they fall within the definition. Regional schools commissioners will look in more detail at the circumstances of any ‘coasting’ school and these schools will be given the opportunity to demonstrate that they have the capacity to make sufficient improvement. The government plan is not automatically to seek academy solutions for all schools that fall within the definition of coasting. They indicate that they want to challenge and support these schools to improve sufficiently and it is only where the capacity or plan for sufficient improvement is not evident that intervention will follow.

  • The DfE has issued its own report covering the performance of academies during the 2013 to 2014 academic year and explaining the academies programme.

Within it, the DfE claims that:

  • established sponsored academies have GCSE results well above those of their predecessor schools, even under new and tougher measures: 6.4 percentage points higher after 4 years, compared to 1.3 percentage points in non-academies
  • sponsored primary academies improve their test results at more than double the rate of non-academies: 9 percentage points compared to 4 percentage points after 2 years
  • results for pupils on free school meals improve faster in primary sponsored academies than in other schools
  • sponsored academies are increasing the number of pupils studying the EBacc package of rigorous academic qualifications at a faster rate than non-academies
  • almost three-quarters (72%) of academies support other schools that they did not support pre-conversion

A copy of this document can be found on the above website, Documents – Latest Documents

  • A NFER report however found no significant link between academy status and improvements in a school’s overall GCSE results; differences in overall GCSE performance between converter or sponsored academies and similar maintained schools were “not statistically significant”. It found there was “very little evidence” of pupils eligible for free school meals, or those with high or low prior ability, making greater progress at both types of academies than in similar maintained schools. However, the report did find that the proportion of students achieving five GCSEs at grade A*-C, including English and mathematics, was 2.9 percentage points higher in sponsored academies than in similar maintained schools. It said that this difference was “statistically significant”. It also found “tentative evidence of an upward trend in the performance of sponsored academies compared to similar maintained schools the longer they are open”. It found evidence that the attainment gap between pupils eligible for free school meals and those that are not eligible was “slightly narrower in converter academies than in similar maintained schools”. This “might show an increased focus on disadvantaged pupils being taken by converter academies,” it said.

 

  • Nicky Morgan gave a speech about school governors. She talked about moving from a stakeholder model of governance (community, parent, staff etc) to a focus on the particular skills that a governing body needs and the skills that an individual can bring. “What that doesn’t necessarily mean is a stakeholder model of school governance, and I should be clear now that I intend to look further into how we can move away from that model over this Parliament – because what makes your contribution so important isn’t the particular group you represent, it’s the skills, expertise and wisdom you bring to the running of a school.”

Ms Morgan said that schools were already benefiting from recruiting more governors with backgrounds in business. “Over the next five years we’ll go further down this path, because we passionately believe that the best-run schools are those with the highly skilled governors who can both hold schools to account and direct their future path.” The NGA understands ministers will look for advice on whether there is enough flexibility in the current regulations to recruit people with professional skills. If not, the requirement for designated parent, local authority, staff and headteacher governors could be axed.

She also talked about the responsibility of governors to ensure the financial health of the school.

  • The number of teenagers in education or training is at its highest since consistent records began more than 2 decades ago. At the end of 2014, the proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds in education or work-based learning rose by 1 percentage point on the previous year, an increase of almost 9,000 to 1,590,000. Meanwhile, the proportion in this age group who were not in education, employment or training (NEET) fell by 0.4 percentage points to its lowest level since 1994 – a fall of almost 10,000 in 12 months.
  • The Government has announced a new Child Protection Taskforce to drive forward fundamental reforms to protect the most vulnerable children in society and give them the opportunity to succeed. Chaired by Nicky Morgan, the taskforce will be responsible for leading improvements across police, social services and other agencies – focusing on transforming social work and children’s services and improving inspection. It will complement the Home Secretary’s existing work on tackling child sexual exploitation.
  • An academy on Stockton-on-Tees is the first secondary in England opened under the government’s priority school building programme – Ian Ramsey C of E Academy
  • There is still a lack of clarity about the DfE plans as regards the possibility that all students will be expected to study all the Ebacc subjects, but it is becoming a little clearer. Nicky Morgan said this:

“We promised in our manifesto that we’d work closely with teachers and heads to work out how we make sure that every child has the chance to study these crucial subjects. And that is what I’m committing to delivering today. I know this will be a big change. There may be a small group of pupils for whom this won’t be appropriate. But our goal is for pupils starting year 7 this September to study the EBacc subjects when they reach their GCSEs in 2020.”

Then she said in a later speech:

“every child starting in year 7 in September will be expected to study core academic subjects that make up the Ebacc right up to GCSE”

The press release said

“pupils starting secondary school this September must study the key English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects of English, maths, science, history or geography, and a language at GCSE.”

It then says:

“The government recognises the EBacc will not be appropriate for a small minority of pupils and so we will work to understand this and be clear with schools what we expect for this minority of pupils. The detail will be set out in the autumn and there will be a full public consultation on these proposals.”

Schools would probably have to find more than 2,000 “missing” teachers to meet the government’s demand for the inclusion of a modern foreign language in the EBacc

In a survey conducted by the SSAT of more than 1,300 headteachers and teachers, only 15 per cent of respondents said they would make the EBacc compulsory for all if that was a requirement for an outstanding judgement from Ofsted.

  • The DfE is of course replacing the old system of A* to U with a new scale of 9 to 1. Nicky Morgan has now confirmed that the ‘good pass’ will be set at a grade 5. That’s at the top of the current grade C and the bottom of the current grade B.

The English and maths and the EBacc measures will be based on a new GCSE grade 5 when new GCSEs are first reported in the performance tables; so 2017 for English and maths followed by others as they come on line. So the incoming Y10 will be the first cohort to have the more difficult English and Maths examinations and the higher pass mark. As for what this would mean for students post-16 who did not achieve grade 5, the DfE says that it will confirm in due course how and when the 16-19 English and maths funding condition will be adapted to reflect the new GCSE good pass.

The bottom of a current grade C will be broadly equivalent to the bottom of the new grade 4. Grade 5 will be positioned in the top third of the marks for a current Grade C and bottom third of the marks for a current Grade B.

Broadly the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 7 and above as currently achieve an A and above. For each examination, the top 20% of those who get grade 7 or above will get a grade 9 – the very highest performers.

The bottom of grade 1 will be aligned with the bottom of grade G.

In 2014, 25.6 per cent of grades across all subjects were Cs. Under the new system where only a third of those pupils will get a grade five, 8 per cent would continue to pass, but 17 per cent would fail.

Ofqual has issued a new “postcard” showing the comparison between the new and old grades

A copy of the post card can be found on the above website, Documents – Latest Documents

  • Tom Bennett, a behaviour expert, has been asked to chair a working group to look at behaviour content in training for new teachers building on the best evidence about what works to help them manage classrooms and manage behaviour. The aim is to help cut down low level disruption in the class room
  • Nicky Morgan in a speech reiterated her belief in the importance of developing character education within schools
  • Ofsted has published data on the latest inspection results for schools in England, which reveal the proportion of schools rated good or outstanding is at its highest level on record. As of March this year, the figures show:
    • 82% of schools are rated good or outstanding, up 1 percentage point since August last year
    • the proportion of good or outstanding schools has risen by 1 percentage point for primary schools, and 2 percentage points for secondary schools since August last year
    • more than 1 million more pupils are in good or outstanding schools than in 2010

A copy of this document can be found on the above website, Documents – Latest Documents

 

 

  • Only the new reformed GCSEs will be included in the key stage 4 performance tables, as reformed GCSEs are introduced. The new rule states that if new reformed GCSEs, with their 9-1 grades, exist, then any old GCSE results, with their A*-G grades, taken by Y10 pupils the year before, will not count in the performance measures. So, if a Y10 pupil sits legacy History GCSE, for example, in 2017 and scores an A grade, his/her result will count for nothing when it is reported in 2018. This applies to all subjects and not just English and maths as was first indicated, This may cause problems for schools that early enter students in Y10 over the period when the new grading system replaces the old one

 

 

  • Full details of the new Ofsted schedule can be found on the above website, Documents-Ofsted – Sept 2015 Ofsted. There are also some useful summaries in the same place and also within Latest Documents

 

  • Ofsted’s newly announced scrutiny committees, which will review complaints about inspections, will comprise a Her Majesty’s Inspector (HMI) and an “external school leader”, both chosen by “appropriate national representative bodies”, the watchdog has said.

 

 

 

  • The DfE has issued suggested privacy notices for schools and local authorities to issue to staff, parents and pupils about the collection of data.

A copy of this document can be found on the above website, Documents – Latest Documents

 

  • The DfE has issued;
    • research on the educational attainment of different ethnic groups
    • research into the effectiveness of schools’ phonics teaching practices. It does not find any evidence of improvement in pupils’ literacy or in progress that could clearly be attributed to the introduction of the PSC. According to the evaluation, the absence of a control group meant that “no conclusive statement” could be made on enhanced literacy as a result of the PSC.

A copy of these documents can be found on the above website, Documents – Latest Documents

  • The DfE has delegated decision-making on tackling underperformance in maintained schools through sponsored academy arrangements to Regional School Commissioners (RSCs). This change represents the next step to creating a more regionalised system. Decisions will be taken locally by RSCs, with the advice and challenge from the experienced professional leaders represented on their Headteacher Board; this is from 1 July 2015. What this means, in practice, is that formal decisions on who is the most appropriate sponsor and levels of funding will now be taken by the RSCs on behalf of the Secretary of State.
  • The DfE has issued revised list of qualifications for the 2017 performance tables for the following:
    • KS4 Tech Awards
    • !6-19
      • Tech certs
      • Tech levels
      • Applied general

A copy of these documents can be found on the above website, Documents – Latest Documents

 

  • In May. Ofqual concluded that OCR, Pearson and WJEC Eduqas needed to refine their higher and foundation tier mathematics papers to sufficiently differentiate across student abilities, and AQA needed to lift, to some extent, the expected difficulty of their foundation tier papers. Ofqual now says that there is greater consistency of difficulty between the boards’ papers and that each board’s specification effectively differentiates across the full ability range of GCSE maths students. Sample assessment materials are now being issued
  • More than 50 free schools have postponed opening in the past two years amid concerns that some would not offer a good standard of education. Figures released under Freedom of Information laws show 53 free schools have pushed back their opening dates since September last year. All free schools receive a pre-opening grant, set at £220,000 for primary and £300,000 for secondary schools. It means these schools were given at least £11.7 million before educating a single child, although some now have pupils on roll.
  • The number of unqualified teachers in schools has increased by more than 20 per cent, figures released by the DfE show. And the number of job vacancies has increased from 750 in November 2013, to 1,030 this November – the month when the annual workforce census is carried out. Free schools and academies have been able to employ teachers without any academic or professional qualifications since 2012. Since 2010, the number of unqualified teachers in all schools in England has remained steady between 16,000 to 16,700. In November, there were 20,300. Proportionally, 5.8 per cent of teachers working in academy schools are unqualified compared to 3.7 per cent in local authority maintained schools. In free schools, specifically, 15.4 per cent of the 2,600 teachers employed are unqualified. The figures do not distinguish between those teachers who are working towards qualified status through schemes such as School Direct or Teach First.
  • Management consultant and former Blair adviser Claudia Harris has been appointed to lead the new Careers and Enterprise Company. The company’s role is to connect schools to employers. From September, the company will roll out a programme to connect employees from firms of all sizes to schools through a network of enterprise advisors, who will be volunteers from the business community. Over the next year it will roll out further elements of its plan including research, a £5m investment fund to scale good ideas and fill gaps in provision and a digital ‘enterprise passport’ for young people.
  • The education secretary has reassured school leaders her department is doing all it can to bring in a national fair funding model – but warned it will not be ready until September 2017 at the earliest.
  • Analysis reveals that only two of the 563 teaching schools – outstanding schools that work with others to provide high-quality training and development – are in areas that serve the 25 per cent most deprived populations. Just 10 per cent are in areas serving the poorest half of the population.
  • A report on school productivity will be a priority for the education select committee, says its new chair Neil Carmichael, a Conservative MP.  “One of the key reports I intend to do through the education committee is on productivity – so that we can tease out the ways in which we can improve.” School productivity came under the spotlight in a speech earlier this year by education secretary Nicky Morgan when she said qualifications could be linked to information on tax data to show the “true worth” of certain subjects. The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act passed through Parliament in March this year allowing the link to go ahead. Mr Carmichael also said school governance was a priority as was the role of RSCs.
  • Education and adoption Bill as presented to parliament:
    • Clause one adds coasting’ schools into the definition of schools eligible for intervention. The clause says that schools will be considered coasting if the education secretary informs them that they are. The clause allows Nicky Morgan to define ‘coasting’ later in the process with another piece of legislation.
    • Clause two will give the education secretary the power to issue maintained schools with three different types of warning notice: performance, standards and safety ones. It also removes the current 15-day period currently allowed for schools to respond, giving councils or the education secretary, whoever issues the notice, to set the length of time they will have. It also removes the procedure under which governors make representations to Ofsted against a notice.
    • Clause three removes the same 15-day compliance period for teachers’ pay and conditions warning notices, again allowing it to be set by the notice issuer instead. It also removes governors’ ability to make representations on this issue to local councils
    • Clause four gives the education secretary the power to require governors of maintained schools which are ‘eligible for intervention’ to begin the conversion process.
    • Clause five gives the education secretary the power to give directions as to the size and make-up of interim executive boards replacing boards of schools considered ‘eligible for intervention’. The government will be able to instruct on the size of the board, who will be appointed, the terms of their appointment and the termination of their appointment.
    • Clause six requires councils to inform the education secretary before requiring a school governing body to begin academy conversion, suspend a delegated budget or appoint additional governors. It also means the education secretary must inform councils when they are going to intervene. The clause requires that councils get permission from the education secretary to use powers of intervention in schools where the government has already intervened.
    • Clause seven places a duty on the education secretary to make academy orders for schools requiring ‘significant improvement’ or in special measures. It also gives powers, but not a duty, to make academy orders for schools which fail to comply with a warning notice or those designated as ‘coasting’.
    • Clause eight scraps the requirement to hold a consultation before the education secretary begins the academy conversion of a school.
    • Clause nine adds a consultation requirement if schools are not eligible for intervention, but requires no consultation when they are considered to be eligible. The clause requires a consultation with ‘specified bodies’ where a foundation school or voluntary school with a foundation is facing conversion
    • Clause 10 requires councils and governors to take ‘all reasonable steps’ towards academy conversion of eligible schools.
    • Clause 11 allows the education secretary to require governors or councils to take ‘specified steps’, which may include time limits, in order to facilitate the conversion of a school to an academy.
    • Clause 12 gives the education secretary the power to revoke an academy order if, for example, it is decided that another approach to school improvement would be preferable. It also requires ‘certain parties’ to be notified.
  • More than a third of schools across the poorest regions are having to cover posts in science and maths with “temporary staff who lack the right skills”, says the chief inspector. He also said that some schools in Ofsted’s “requires improvement” category should be allowed to train teachers, because restricting trainees to “good” and “outstanding” schools is making it harder for struggling schools to recruit, However the Schools’ Minister Nick Gibb insists that there is no recruitment crisis
  • Parents have faced extra costs of new uniforms as schools convert to academies and an increasing number of schools require pupils to wear blazers, a DfE report has found. The report says nearly one third of parents had experienced changes in their child’s school uniform in the last three years, with almost half of those having to fork out for new uniform in the last year alone. The report said: “This was more likely to be the case where the child went to an academy than to another type of state-funded school (35 per cent compared with 19 per cent in the primary phase, and 43 per cent compared with 39 per cent in the secondary phase).” The average total expenditure on school uniform for the 2014/15 school year by February was £212.88. The report found it was less expensive for those in primary school (£192.14 for boys and £201.04 for girls) than in secondary school (£231.01 for boys and £239.93 for girls). The proportion of parents/carers who told the survey they had to purchase blazers for their child has increased by more than a third – up from 26 per cent in 2007 to 35 per cent in 2015.
  • A new immigration rule could force non-EU teachers out of the UK, the head of the the NAHT has warned. From next April, workers recruited from outside of the European Union who entered the UK since 2011 and earn less than £35,000 a year will be ordered to leave after six years in the country.
  • Less than half the current “additional inspectors” asked to join Ofsted’s new in-house inspection team made it through the watchdog’s tough new assessment process. Ofsted’s upcoming reforms include bringing all school inspectors in-house, rather than contracting from third parties.  “We took a system that had between 2,800 and 3,000 additional inspectors. Those people were asked to apply for the new inspection arrangements. “They went through an application sift, they did online assessment, they did training and as a result of that we’ve now got something around the order of 1,200 to 1,300. “By January we will have 1,500 people”
  • There have been calls to end the required daily act of worship. At present, any school could ask their local SACRE (Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education) board, which is run through the local authority, to be exempt from the Christian nature of statutory collective worship.
  • The Independent Academies Association (IAA) has gone into liquidation
  • Headteachers should be given the power to impose fines on “feckless” parents who do not attend parents’ evenings or make sure their children arrive at school with the right books, Ofsted’s chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has said.
  • Almost two-thirds of 16-year-olds are unaware that there is government funding of up to £1,200 a year available to support sixth-formers in need, according to new research.
  • Ministers are considering bringing back national tests for seven-year-olds, it is understood. Results from the government tests would be collected centrally by the DfE and then published to hold schools accountable for pupils’ progress. The new Sats would replace the current key stage 1 teacher assessments used to measure attainment in reading, writing, maths and science.
  • Students applying to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge often fall at the first hurdle of the personal statement
  • More than a quarter of primary teachers do not feel qualified to teach PE and many more would welcome additional training in the subject, according to a survey
  • The number of teachers working in state secondary schools with a degree from Oxford or Cambridge has more than doubled in a little over a decade, research published today shows. There are now nearly 11,000 Oxbridge graduates teaching in state secondaries, up from fewer than 5,000 in 2003
  • Details of how accurately exam boards mark GCSE and A-level papers will be published from 2017, Ofqual has said.
  • One in six 11-year-olds have not been offered a place in their preferred secondary school this year, as pupil numbers continue to rise in England, government statistics  reveal. They also show that more than 26,600 secondary applicants did not get into any of their top three choices. There were 12,040 more applications from 11-year-olds for September 2015 than last year and a slight drop in the proportion of secondary applicants getting into their first choice of school. This year 84.2 per cent of secondary applicants were offered a place at their favoured school. Last year it was 85.2 per cent. The statistics also show that the chances of getting into your preferred school vary widely across the country. Among primary applicants, 95.9 got into one of their top three schools. This means that about 26,000 primary pupils did not get into any of their top three choices.
  • The DfE requires all post-16 education and training providers funded by EFA to supply information, by the end of September 2015, about the courses they plan to offer to 16-19 year-olds in 2016/17. EFA-funded providers can now submit their course information and have been sent details about the different ways that can be done. Once the information has been provided, it will be made available as open data at the National Careers Service Course Directory and data.gov.uk to help inform young people’s choices about post-16 education and training.
  • Important updates have been issued for all schools employing School Direct or running school-led ITE from NCTL on behalf of the DfE, This latest advice is important reading for schools delivering ITE programmes in partnership with HE, particularly if employing School Direct trainee teachers.

A copy of these documents can be found on the above website, Documents – Latest Documents

  • Too many schools are giving students “scrappy worksheets” rather than library books to use for homework, with some not trusting children to return books the following day, the head of Ofsted has said. Headteachers must be prepared “to fight the good fight on this basic issue”, said Michael Wilshaw
  • White working-class children should receive additional help with English so they can catch up with their ethnic minority peers, who are outperforming them in school, according to a new report. Although English may be their first language, white children from deprived backgrounds are being held back by poor language and literacy skills, the DfE study said.
  • Students in state education in the UK say their schools fail to provide enough middle class extra-curricular activities such as debating, volunteering or camping compared with their peers in private schools, according to a study backed by the Scout Association. The survey of 1,000 pupils in secondary schools across Britain found that pupils in the state sector had less access to such activities outside the curriculum, but that the pupils themselves were eager for more. Children on free school meals were among those with the fewest opportunities to be involved in school-led charity work or outdoor events such as horse riding, but were in fact more likely to be involved in creative activities such as art or drama, as well as sport.
  • The Oasis academy chain has received a strong rebuke from Ofsted inspectors for its inability to help struggling schools and confusion within senior management. In its first focused inspection of a single academy chain, Ofsted said it found “limited leadership capacity within the trust”, and painted a picture of “inadequate communication” and “potential confusion” between regional staff and the trust’s central management. The chain runs 44 academies, making it one of the largest of its type. Of its 32 schools that have been inspected by Ofsted, 17 are rated as requiring improvement or inadequate, while only two are rated as outstanding
  • More than one in five secondary school maths lessons is now taught by a teacher without a degree in the subject, official figures have revealed. The figure for English is 17% and Science, 14 %
  • A study, by UCL Institute of Education and Cambridge University, shows that children who were taught through the Singaporean “maths mastery” approach learn faster than their classmates – making, on average, an extra month of progress in a calendar year.
  • The latest statistical bulleting from Ofsted reveals there are still ten local authority areas where more than half the secondary schools are “less than good”. The ten – named in the report – are Bradford, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Doncaster, Dudley, Hartlepool, the Isle of Wight, Knowsley, North East Lincolnshire and Oldham.
  • Academies in poorly funded areas of the country could face bankruptcy, according to a cross-party campaign group for a fairer financial system for schools. The fear is that individual, or “single converter”, academies that are not part of a wider chain nor financially linked to a local authority. Without that link, it is not clear how an academy would be rescued should it start losing money.
  • Top sixth-form centres are warning that their ability to offer A-levels is in jeopardy because of impending government spending cuts. Principals of the leading 11 best-performing sixth-form colleges in the country for A-level results are also warning of the prospect of rising class sizes and teacher redundancies.
  • Teachers can lawfully “confiscate, keep or destroy” unhealthy snacks in children’s school lunch boxes, a Government minister has said. Lord Nash said that the child in question and a second member of staff should be present during the search. Parents must also be warned that the searches might take place.
  • School governors will have to be publicly named and be registered on a national database for the first time in the wake of the ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal. There is presently no central register of who serves as a school governor, raising concerns that schools could be taken over by groups with radical agendas. The DfE has promised to “toughen up” requirements for schools to publish the identities of governors, as well as creating a national database.
  • Boys lag behind girls at school from an early age, according to a new study. The gender gap can be detected as early as age five, when small children attend Reception year at school.
  • Teachers are routinely helping primary and secondary school children cheat in their exams, undercover investigation has claimed. Some of the tricks include lenient marking, altering students’ test papers and grades, inflating schools’ GCSE pass marks and removing difficult pupils from the school register, a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation showed.
  • The British Academy has published a report calling for ‘a dramatic improvement in the UK population’s mastery of basic numeracy and statistics’, to enable the country ‘to take advantage of the data revolution now sweeping the globe.’

A copy of this document can be found on the above website, Documents – Latest Documents

  • Researchers at the University of Essex have reported an accelerating drop in schoolchildren’s fitness. Perhaps surprisingly, they also found the children tested were thinner than those measured six years ago
  • A report by the UK-based online student community The Student Room indicates that more than one in ten students cheat in exams. As well as traditional approaches like smuggling notes into the exam, the report suggests an increased use of technology including:
    • using UV light pens to create notes using invisible ink
    • recordings of key information accessed through hidden headphones
    • statistical calculators, which students can use to store information.

Students also admitted to developing complex codes to signal answers to questions in multiple-choice exams. Common techniques included coughing, hair flicking and chair scraping. Notes written on a wide range of body parts, or on items permitted in exams, remained the most popular method. Students witnessed information being smuggled into the exam hall in pen lids and on water bottle labels.

  • It is now possible for a new headteacher to discuss the timing of the RI re-inspection with the monitoring HMI and, following that discussion, for the Regional Director (RD) to programme the re-inspection beyond the current window, at the RD’s discretion. So from September, depending on circumstances, the re-inspection can be scheduled up to 30 months after the publication of the inspection report that judged the school to require improvement. In practical terms, this means that if the new headteacher joins the school a year after it was judged to require improvement, she/he can have up to 18 months to make and embed the changes necessary. For schools in special measures Ofsted will keep with termly monitoring by HMI as they have good evidence that this works and supports inadequate schools. However, they are changing the judgement for the monitoring inspections to be one of ‘taking effective action’ rather than just ‘making reasonable progress’, as they feel this better reflects the hard work put in by teachers and leaders to turn these schools around.
  • Thinking, Doing, Talking Science is a creative approach to teaching science in primary schools. The independent evaluation of the trial, published on the EEF website  found that this approach improved pupils’ science scores by as much as an additional term over a school year. Their attitudes towards lessons were better too, with half of pupils reporting they found science lessons interesting, compared with 37% of pupils who were not involved in the intervention. Thinking, Doing, Talking Science, at £26 per pupil, is thought to be particularly effective for disadvantaged children, which might make it a good way to spend pupil premium funding.

Tony Stephens

 

 

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