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Academy and School News Update Nov 1-30 2014

This Document can be viewed here, or downloaded from our Document Library

 

  • Tristram Hunt has told private schools in England they will lose business rates relief – worth an estimated £700 million over the course of a parliament – unless they are prepared to meet minimum standards of partnership with their state counterparts. He says that a Labour government will legislate to ensure the schools only qualify for this “subsidy” if they pass a new “schools partnership standard”. Under this system, private schools would be required to provide teachers in specialist subjects to state schools, and to share expertise to help state school pupils get into top universities. They will also have to run joint extra-curricular programmes with state schools as equal partners so that children from the state and private sectors mix together and learn from each other.
  • In 2014, more than one in four children did not reach the expected level in maths by the time they were 5, according to government statistics. A report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Maths and Numeracy is calling for more focus on helping preschool children to develop their mathematical thinking by incorporating maths into play. “There remains a concern that there is much emphasis on ‘counting on’ and rote learning, at the expense of developing early number sense and understanding the meaning of numbers,” the report says.
  • Teachers will be required by law to take steps to counter terrorism, the home secretary has announced. Along with colleges and universities, schools will have a statutory duty to help prevent people from being radicalised. The measures will be brought in under the new Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill. Under the new law, schools and universities would be expected to put in place “extremist speaker policies” in a bid to clamp down on possible radicalisation.  “The organisations subject to the duty will have to take into account guidance issued by the home secretary”. “Where organisations consistently fail, ministers will be able to issue directions to them – which will be enforceable by court order.”
  • Strong subject knowledge is the most important component of being a good teacher, a major education conference has heard. Experts from some of the world’s best-performing education systems emphasised the importance of teachers having mastery of their subject, even at primary level.
  • Along with six independent Muslim faith schools in Tower Hamlets, the Sir John Cass Foundation and Red Coat Church of England Secondary School was criticised in an Ofsted report. After a series of no-notice inspections, the watchdog concluded that pupils at the Muslim schools were at risk from “extremist influences and radicalisation”. These were the first snap inspections triggered by such issues since the investigation into the alleged Trojan Horse plot in Birmingham earlier this year. The Sir John Cass School has been downgraded from outstanding to inadequate, owing to concerns over behaviour, safety, leadership and management, as well as its sixth form. It has been placed in special measures. “Central to inspectors’ findings was the school leadership’s failure to respond appropriately to serious concerns raised about social media sites relating to the sixth form Islamic Society,” Ofsted claims in its report. The sites included links to extremist material. Concerns were also raised about separate entrances and social areas for girls and boys. 

Faith Schools must follow rules that “actively promote” fundamental British values, such as tolerance of other faiths and lifestyles, and law, Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, has warned. The DfE, however, dismissed any suggestion that schools would be forced to teach gay rights against their will.

  • Almost a dozen schools – including many in rural areas – have been criticised for failing to prepare pupils for “life in Britain” following a series of snap inspections by Ofsted The education regulator found 11 state schools were leaving pupils at risk of marginalisation after refusing to give them access to a “broad and balanced” curriculum. In a series of reports, it was claimed that schools were failing to promote understanding of various faiths or “tolerance of communities different to their own”. Those criticised included schools in Wiltshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Hampshire and Kent. Critics have warned that the move has led to schools in mainly white areas being criticised for being “too English”, with few ethnic minority pupils.

According to Ofsted, 35 schools across England were subjected to “no-notice” inspections between early September and late October under new rules intended to crackdown on schools that fail to offer a broad curriculum, control pupil behaviour or display weak governance. In a letter to Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, Ofsted said that 23 schools were downgraded as a result of inspections, including two that dropped by at least two grades. Only one school saw its overall ranking improve. It emerged that inspectors found “concerns about the curriculum” in 17 schools, including the 11 that were “not preparing pupils for life in Britain today”. The 11 schools were made up of three faith schools – one Roman Catholic, one Anglican and one Jewish – alongside eight community schools.

 

  • Nearly 50 of Ofsted’s most prolific lead inspectors have not judged a single school to be outstanding this year. Meanwhile, 106 inspectors who have led at least 10 routine inspections in 2014 have not yet rated any school inadequate, figures show. One of the 49 lead inspectors not to have awarded a single overall outstanding grade this year has led 36 inspections over the past 11 months – more than any other inspector. The findings collated by the Watchsted website have sparked serious concerns among headteachers about the variability of Ofsted inspections, which they say is causing “fear” in schools across the country.
  • Experts have urged ministers to delay the introduction of new maths A-levels by a year, amid concerns that the first pupils to take the courses would have sat an old, “very different” GCSE in the subject. Ofqual, the exams regulator, and the A-level Content Advisory Board (ALCAB) are among those advising the DfE to put back the new maths courses to autumn 2017. A DfE spokesman said: “We have noted the advice from Alcab and ministers are considering it. We will make a decision in due course.”
  • Schools are to be supported to do more for young people with mental health problems, under new plans set out by the government today. The PSHE Association will be commissioned to produce resources on the best ways to discuss mental health issues in the classroom and to banish the stigma that can leave young people with mental health problems feeling isolated. The DfE is also working with young people and experts on a guide on how to improve the quality of counselling services in schools.
  • A minister has called on schools to use textbooks in most academic subjects to help England close the gap with the world’s “high performing” education systems. Nick Gibb wants to challenge an “anti-textbook ethos” that he says exists in this country. But the school reform minister also criticised the quality of textbooks, warning that publishers should not “pander to the lowest common denominator in the scramble for market share”.

Nick Gibb also said that primary schools should start maths lessons with traditional times table memory sessions to ensure children master “instant recall” by the age of nine, Pupils should know their tables up to 12 x 12 by heart two years before completing primary education, he said.

  • Uncertainty over changes to AS-levels is the “biggest real-time issue” facing secondary education in England according to shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt.  The party has already pledged that AS-levels and A-levels would be ‘recoupled’ under a Labour government.

Cambridge University has written to all schools and colleges urging them to continue to offer AS-levels in the wake of the government’s decision to make them a standalone qualification. In the letter, Mike Sewell, director of admissions for the Cambridge colleges, writes: “We have for some years been strongly of the view that, for A-level students, AS-levels taken at the end of Year 12 are of significant educational benefit. “They allow students to assess their academic progress, review their A-level choices, and make appropriate higher education applications with confidence. “Our own research, supported by a recent study by the University of Bristol, confirms that AS is a better predictor of success at university than GCSE.” He said that in the event the reforms go ahead as planned, they are urging the government to ensure that all students at English state schools are able to take exams at the end of Year 12 in all of the subjects they are studying for A-level. “We strongly encourage potential applicants to take AS-level examinations in at least three, and preferably four, subjects, whether reformed or not, at the end of Year 12,” Dr Sewell said. He added that Cambridge is aware that some schools may not offer this option to students and is asking schools to state this in their Ucas reference for students’ university applications so that it can be taken into account. Dr Sewell insisted that would-be students will not be disadvantaged if they do not take AS-levels.

Ofqual has reported on co-teachability.” It is clear Government policy that new AS and A levels can be co-teachable. All of the AS and A levels that we at Ofqual have accredited so far are designed by exam boards to be co-teachable. As you are considering your curriculum offers you will no doubt look to the accredited specifications currently available, but even if you did not you can assume co-teachability. Exam boards are not obliged to produce co-teachable A and AS level specifications, but they are doing so universally – and that is no surprise, given that that is likely to be what you want should you be considering AS levels.”

  • Around 10 per cent of all teachers in England are said to have responded to the government survey on how ministers can reduce their workload, which ended on Nov 21, ie, the Workload Challenge
  • Foreign language exchange visits have fallen out of favour in many schools, with just 39 per cent now running them, a new survey for the British Council has found. Thirty-seven per cent of schools that have stopped them cited parental worries about safety, and 36 per cent said they were concerned about taking children out of school during term. Lack of interest from parents and pupils was another major factor. The survey also revealed stark differences between different kinds of school: less than a third of local authority-maintained schools run host-family exchanges (30 per cent), compared with more than three-quarters of independent schools (77 per cent).
  • Teachers should search for their own names on the internet to check they are not being cyberbullied by pupils or parents, according to new government guidance. The advice from the DfE has the backing of unions and also warns teachers against accepting friend requests from current or former students. It suggests they should be wary of being tagged in inappropriate photographs or videos on social media. A survey by the NASUWT earlier this year found that more than a fifth of teachers reported having had adverse comments posted about them on social media sites by pupils and parents. The new advice also “encourages heads to get tough on the cyberbullying of their staff”.

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

  • The number of teachers barred for the profession for inappropriate use of social media has more than doubled in the past year. Figures from National College of Training and Leadership disciplinary hearings show that 17 of the 100 hearings held last year stemmed from complaints about the use of social media sites, with 16 of the 17 being banned. An analysis of the figures has revealed that in more than a third of the cases, the initial contact developed from the teacher having a relationship with a pupil, in some cases sexual. The majority – three out of every four – involved male teachers.
  • Research by the Anti-Bullying Alliance shows that nearly 70 per cent of teachers have heard children using words such as “spaz” and “spastic” at school. More than half of those questioned have heard pupils aiming the words at a child with disabilities or other special educational needs. The alliance is calling on schools to recognise the bullying of disabled and SEND students. Previous studies have shown that children in these categories are twice as likely as others to suffer from persistent bullying.

But there was better news yesterday when the government published the findings of a major study of secondary students revealing that 10,000 fewer of them were being bullied on a daily basis than was the case a decade ago. It shows bullying among year 9 pupils has fallen dramatically since 2004. The findings show that when comparing 2013 to 2004:

  • 30,000 fewer pupils said they had been bullied in the last 12 months – a drop from 45% of pupils to 40%
  • 30,000 fewer pupils said they had been victims of violent bullying – down from 18% to 13%
  • 10,000 fewer pupils reported being bullied every day – down from 10% of pupils to 8%, a drop of a fifth

A recent Stonewall report published over the summer also showed that homophobic bullying has fallen, with the number of secondary school teachers who say their pupils are often or very often the victim of homophobic bullying has almost halved since 2009.

  • A state-funded, Orthodox Jewish school will encourage students not to answer GCSE exam questions on “inappropriate” topics such as evolution, homosexuality and “street culture” Last year, Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School in North London attracted national attention for redacting questions on evolution in GCSE science papers. In response, Ofqual issued guidance warning schools not to “tamper” with papers, because it “prevents the candidate achieving their full potential and therefore disadvantages them” The School’s principal now says that the school would no longer obscure any questions on “inappropriate” topics, but would instead advise students not to answer them.
  • Teachers are being overwhelmed by the amount of marking now required to comply with Ofsted inspections, headteachers have warned. Inspectors have stopped grading individual lessons, but are now focusing more attention on marking and assessment in pupils’ books to judge the overall quality of teaching. Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said the change had caused serious problems for teachers in terms of extra workload.
  • The head of a national charity has been appointed as the next children’s commissioner for England. Anne Longfield will take up the post next year, succeeding Maggie Atkinson as the third commissioner since the role was created in 2004 to promote the rights of children. Ms Longfield is chief executive of 4Children, a national charity working to support children, young people and families.
  • The National Audit Office has criticised Durand Academy Trust in south London for its “complex” structure that left it open to “perception of wrongdoing”. The report showed that earlier this year, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) ordered the trust to re-tender contracts, including one between the trust and a PR company which is run by one of its directors. They were also asked to look at another deal – between two companies linked to the trust for the management of leisure facilities – because the executive head of the academy, Sir Greg Martin, was also the director of one of the companies. “No company related to Sir Greg Martin or his family members would be allowed to bid,” the NAO report said. Durand, which this term launched its own boarding school in West Sussex, was also asked to strengthen its governance structure and bring in new governors “with experience of the boarding sector” the report said.

The EFA is currently taking action against 17 academy trusts because of irregular and/or improper dealings between them and companies with links to them.

The salaries of headteachers at academies are also to be investigated in the wake of huge pay rises that have seen some of them now receiving more than £200,000 a year. The NAO report showed that Sir Greg Martin, executive head of the Durand Academy, enjoyed a 56.5 per cent pay rise last year, making him “one of the highest paid executive heads in the country” on £229,138.

  • Gentrification, ambitious teacher spouses, academies, an economic boom, Teach First, the London Challenge and government policies have all been among the possible explanations for the incredible rise of London’s state schools. But now new research suggests there is a much simpler, single, reason for a decade of improved GCSE results in the capital: London schools do better than the rest of England because they have a higher proportion of ethnic minority pupils.
  • The government has announced plans to introduce a baseline assessment for children at the beginning of Reception year. But the Association of Teachers of Mathematics and the Mathematical Association have jointly written to Ms Morgan to say that the results will be “meaningless”. “Reception children will be of significantly different ages when assessed: proportionally, comparing the scores of a four-year-old with a five-year-old is akin to comparing those of a 12-year-old with a 15-year-old, which is obviously nonsense,” they said. A score obtained from a one-off test would not reveal anything useful, they added, but would put pressure on students and schools and risk labelling children.

The tests are currently being developed by outside organisations, who will submit them for approval this term.  The government has said that children’s communication, literacy and maths skills must be tested within the first six weeks of starting school. The tests will not be adjusted for age. A list of approved assessments will be published early next year and can be used from September 2015, despite 51 per cent of those responding to the consultation in 2013 opposing the plan.  Although schools will not have to use an approved baseline assessment, the government has said that from 2016 they will be the only way that schools will be allowed to demonstrate how much progress pupils have made between reception and age 11.

  • Primary schools are to receive an extra £22.5 million of Pupil Premium money to help close the gap between the poorest pupils and their wealthier classmates, it has been announced. The total available funding for 2015-16 will be protected in real terms, with just over £2.5 billion given to schools overall. The extra funding means that primary schools will be given £1,320 for every child who has been registered for free school meals (FSM) in the past six years – known as “ever 6 FSM” pupils. Secondaries will continue to receive £935 for each “ever 6 FSM” student, and all schools will still receive £1,900 for pupils who are in care. The £1,900 will also continue to go to children who have been adopted from care or left under a special guardianship or residence order.
  • The Your Life campaign has been launched, which aims to increase the take-up of Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects by 50 per cent among young people, particularly girls.
  • The creator of the Brit School has called for an end of the “enduring snobbery” that values academic over vocational education. Mark Featherstone-Witty, who is also the founding principal of the Sir Paul McCartney-backed Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, warned that the shift to more academic subjects was edging out practical subjects, such as music, dance and design.
  • Scrutiny of new free school plans has not been good enough in the past, according to Frank Green, who was appointed national schools commissioner at the DfE earlier this year when asked why so many free schools were being set up in areas with large numbers of surplus places. “A few years ago, in order to launch the programme, the scrutiny process was perhaps not as strong as it should have been,”  Mr Green said 80 per cent of “new” free schools were now in areas of basic need. The criteria [for opening free schools] are much more rigorous in terms of the two requirements – that there is a basic need or that there is weakness or there is not outstanding performance in that area.”
  • Pupils taking a religious studies GCSE will have to study at least two different faiths for the first time, under proposals for a new version of the qualification published for consultation. The DfE says it will be broader, more demanding and “more academically rigorous” than the existing GCSE and has been approved by all major churches and faith groups. Students can select two religions from Buddhism, Christianity, Catholic Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism for the qualification, which will be taught from 2016. They could choose to spend up to three-quarters of their time studying one of the two religions or opt for a 50/50 split. But they will not be able to opt for both Christianity and Catholic Christianity together.

A copy of the consultation document can be found on the above website, Documents – Subject related documents – New GCSEs, subject content

Ofqual is consulting on the new draft AS and A-level RE

A copy of the consultation document can be found on the above website, Documents – Subject related documents – New AS and A-levels, subject content

  • Teachers’ real-term wages have fallen by more than 10 per cent in less than a decade, new government figures show. The drop was revealed in evidence to the School Teacher Review Body as ministers pressed for further pay restraint. The call for average pay rises to be capped at one per cent comes despite education secretary Nicky Morgan acknowledging that teachers have an “unsustainable workload”. Unions say years of below inflation pay deals mean their members are “struggling to make ends meet”. Their calculations show an even steeper pay cut of up to 15 per cent in real-terms in just five years.
  • The application round for the CIF has been announced. The CIF replaces the Academies Capital Maintenance Fund (ACMF). This scheme now includes sixth form colleges, but remains substantially the same as previous ACMF rounds. The online application opened on 20 November and the deadline for applications is 3pm on 19 December. The vast majority of the fund is for building condition issues, with a small amount set aside for expansion. Successful projects will be announced in March 2015.

The right for academies to borrow money is now included. It will be introduced from April, according to this latest CIF document, which notes that: “Academies are currently not permitted to take out loans without the permission of the secretary of state, which is rarely granted.” In future, not only will academies and colleges be able to take out loans, for up to a maximum of 10 years, but the government will actively encourage them to do so, it explains. The document says that those “choosing to take a loan will score higher” on the points system, used to decide whether they will receive money through the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF). There is also encouragement to make the loans as big as possible. “A project funded 100 per cent through a loan will see a greater increase in score than a project funded 50 per cent through a loan and 50 per cent through a grant,” the briefing says. Unions claim that the change could trigger further financial problems in academies and lead to schools running out of money as funding is squeezed and loan repayments are prioritised. It has also been pointed out that there is potential unfairness of scoring schools more highly if they take out a loan. Academies in poorly funded authorities are much less likely to be able to meet the loan criteria and are therefore at an unfair disadvantage. The DfE says that this factor would never override urgent condition need and have promised to monitor the process to ensure it works fairly.

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

 

  • All UK schools are being offered the chance to participate in tests designed to show how they compare to results in the world’s top-ranked schools systems. The Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) test for schools’ will cost £3,550 a time and will be administered twice a year in the spring and autumn, starting next year. They are based on the global education rankings of the same name. The tests in reading, maths and science are being sold to schools as allowing them to measure the extent to which their 15-year-old pupils are “prepared to succeed in a global economy”.
  • Schools should consider increasing class sizes to free up time and money for teachers to receive proper professional development, education experts have suggested.  Professor Robert Coe, director of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University, said a debate needed to be opened as to whether class sizes or better teachers were to be a priority in the future.
  • An E-act academy spent £15,000 from its pupil premium money on ferrying students by taxi to school last academic year. The same school, the Oldham Academy North spent a further £85,000 on free bus travel for pupils living around a mile away, also coming from its pupil premium money. It plans to spend a further £75,000 on bus transport and £13,500 on taxis this academic year.
  • The hidden extent of suicide attempts among young transgender people has been highlighted in a study. A survey found that 48% of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide, and 30% said they had done so in the past year, while 59% said they had at least considered doing so. By comparison, about 6% of all 16- to 24-year-olds say they have attempted suicide, according to the Adult Psychiatry Morbidity Survey.
  • Nearly 300 teachers are working in Croydon’s classrooms despite not being qualified, figures have revealed. Croydon’s schools employ 293 teachers without formal qualified status, a rise of 57 per cent since the Government loosened restrictions on academies in 2012. The rise far outstrips a 16 per cent national increase and 26 per cent jump across London,
  • Parents of children at a secondary school in Bradford, West Yorkshire complained after more than 200 pupils were sent home because they were not wearing the right clothes, as part of a crackdown on school uniform. Staff at Hanson Academy turned away 152 pupils when they arrived for school on the first morning after half term, and a further 63 pupils were barred on Wednesday for a variety of breaches including the wrong trousers (drainpipes not allowed), the wrong shoes (trainers not allowed) and no tie.
  • Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney, east London, is inviting applications for up to 10 extra places in year nine based on pupils’ potential to become elite rowers. It is believed to be the first state school in Britain to use rowing as a selection criterion. Students will be chosen according to physical characteristics such as height and arm span as well as fitness, strength and “coachability”.
  • Campaigners have called on Ofsted to name and shame primary schools that fail to teach pupils to swim after figures showed almost half leave at 11 without being able to complete a length in the pool.
  • The majority of state schools will be forced to cut their budgets next year despite a Coalition Government promise to maintain spending on education, says a report out today. A survey of nearly 500 school leaders showed 55 per cent were looking to reduce their costs in the next 12 months. The situation in secondary schools was more acute, with 71 per cent set to prune their spending.
  • Bright girls from poor backgrounds are falling behind in class as cash to raise standards is concentrated on boys. Research into school spending reveals that boys on free school meals make 50 per cent more progress in secondary school than girls. It concludes “Highly able boys appear to benefit more from an increase in spending of £1,000 per pupil [the pupil premium] than girls of similar ability.” Boys still perform worse than girls overall, the study adds, but the more able catch up during secondary schooling. Education experts, including head teachers and academics, say that they believe the report’s findings show that schools could have focused too much on helping boys from disadvantaged backgrounds, as a result of earlier research showing that white working-class boys performed the worst of all ethnic and gender groups in exams. “Boys in this group may have a tendency towards truancy and bad behaviour while girls may be present in class but quietly under-achieving,” it concluded.
  • Grammar schools are no more successful than comprehensives at getting their pupils into elite universities, according to new research Working-class pupils are just as likely to get a degree after attending a comprehensive school as a grammar school – contradicting claims that bringing back grammars would improve social mobility. This month it was revealed that two new “satellite” grammar schools are being planned for Berkshire and Kent, in what would be the first expansion of selective schooling for 50 years.
  • The Government has broken its promise to give every child in Britain the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, according to leading figures in the music industry. They want Ofsted rules to be changed so that a school cannot be rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ unless it offers good or outstanding music provision. The Government unveiled its National Plan for Music in 2011, claiming it would “enable every child to have the chance to learn to play a musical instrument for at least a term, ideally a year”. However, the funding model is a postcode lottery and access to instruments is “simply out of reach” for a great number of children, said James Rhodes, the concert pianist and lead signatory to the letter
  • Schoolchildren should be streamed at the age of 14 as part of a “fundamental shift” in the education system, according to the head of Ofsted. Pupils should transfer between schools before sitting their GCSEs depending on their aptitude for an academic or vocational education, said Sir Michael Wilshaw. In a major speech, he suggested that a new form of streaming should be introduced half-way through secondary education to give pupils access to specialist teaching and properly prepare them for the world of work. The move is likely to draw parallels to the post-war education system in which pupils were split between grammar schools, secondary moderns and technical schools.  But Sir Michael insisted his recommendation “isn’t about selection” but is focused on “maximum opportunity at 14”.

He said that schools should form into local “clusters” centred round a top-performing school or college, with at least one institution specialising in advanced vocational qualifications. Pupils could then “transfer across institutions in the cluster to provide a route to high-level academic or vocational study”.

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As part of the address, Sir Michael also:

  • Backed head teachers who suspend children en masse for breaching school uniform rules, saying such policies are needed to give pupils “a lesson in how to be employable”;
  • Told employers that they had a “moral and long-term economic imperative” to train their own British staff rather than recruiting people from abroad;
  • Criticised Britain’s “ingrained bias” towards sending school leavers to university even if they were not fit for academic study;
  • Attacked the country’s “lamentable” record on vocational qualifications.
  • The Education Secretary is backing major proposals for a new “College of Teaching” as part of reforms designed to drive up standards in the classroom. Nicky Morgan is set to announce a funding package aimed at setting up the new body, which will provide training, carry out research and set professional standards for teachers. It is hoped that the organisation will be seen as an education equivalent of similar bodies in the medical profession such as the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons.
  • Students will benefit from life-saving defibrillators in their schools, as the government announces it has negotiated a substantial discount on hundreds of the machines. Schools can now opt to buy defibrillators – easy-to-use machines that could mean the difference between life and death for someone suffering a cardiac arrest – at a reduced price. The deal is initially for 500 machines. The government intends to order additional batches of defibrillators, with quantities based on school demand. The machines, which require no training to be used, work by delivering a controlled electric shock to the heart through sticky pads placed on the chest. The shocks interrupt the irregular heart rhythm that often characterises a cardiac arrest, causing it to return to normal.

Schools wishing to purchase a defibrillator through this programme are able to do so by contacting NHS Supply Chain by emailing medicaldevices@supplychain.nhs.uk or telephoning 0113 385 4858.Further details can be found in the guide for schools,

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in schools’, which includes details of how schools can obtain a defibrillator under the arrangements announced today.

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

The British Heart Foundation is also offering free cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training kits to all secondary schools as part of its Nation of Lifesavers campaign. Secondary schools wishing to take advantage of this can do so by visiting the BHF website. Each eligible school that applies will receive a pack of 35 kits, each containing a lightweight manikin and a 30-minute training DVD.

  • The number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) in England has fallen to its lowest level for the July to September period since 2007, according to official figures published today (20 November 2014). The quarterly figures show a fall of 136,000 young people NEET compared to the same period last year, continuing a general downward trend under this government since 2011.

These figures show that in the third quarter of 2014 (July to September) compared to the same period in 2013 the proportion of:

  • 16- to 24-year-olds who were NEET had fallen by 2.2 percentage points to 15.4%, down 136,000 to the lowest number and rate since 2007
  • 19- to 24-year-olds who were NEET had fallen by 2.4 percentage points to 17.6%, a reduction of 107,000
  • 16- to 18-year-olds who were NEET had fallen by 1.6 percentage points to 10.6%, which is down by 29,000
  • The Government is widening access opportunities in to traineeships. Changes (2015 to 2016 except where stated) include:
    • 19 to 24 year olds who already have the equivalent of a full Level 2 qualification will become eligible – in line current eligibility for 16 to 18 year olds (from January 2015)
    • better use of destination and progression data for traineeships, based on improved definitions of positive outcomes for trainees
    • simplified funding arrangements to bring closer alignment across the 16 to 24 age group but taking an evolutionary approach following consultation feedback
  • Projects involving independent and state primary school partnerships were rewarded with a share of a new funding package. Applications were invited in September for the independent/state school partnership (ISSP) primary curriculum project, in which schools were asked to submit projects showing how they could work together across sectors. The successful projects were expected to demonstrate ways in which they can strengthen the teaching of subjects in key stages 1 and 2, such as maths, science, IT, design and technology, and modern foreign languages, including Latin and Mandarin. A total of 39 applications were received, and 18 were successful. The projects will begin in January. The successful applicants – including 1 special school being partnered with a mainstream school – will receive a share of £176,288. Examples of initiatives included in the projects include maths master classes, a Mandarin club involving the local Chinese community, and a hands-on science project with a day school and a special school.
  • Primary schools have received a fresh funding boost of over £150 million to improve PE lessons as part of the PE and sport premium.
  • Minister of State for Skills and Equalities Nick Boles has asked advice on the findings of Ofqual’s review of functional skills qualifications and help on rebranding the qualifications. In the letter, he emphasizes the importance of a reliable test of literacy and numeracy skills for students who are not able to achieve a GCSE. In reply, Ofqual say they will report on their findings later in the year
  • Ofsted has produced a document in relation to inspections, “Schools’ use of exclusions, FAQs”

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

 

  • The Academies Enterprise Trust which has 75 academies has announced its intention not to pursue its joint venture proposal with Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), whereby AET would have outsourced non-teaching roles to PwC, and is now looking at in-house solutions, which could include sharing business managers across schools or directors of particular subjects working across institutions.
  • National Insurance changes. The introduction of the new Single Tier Pension means the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) will no longer attract an employer’s discount. This will mean a 3.4 per cent increase in employer’s contributions between £5,568 and £40,040 (based on the 2013/14 limits) from April 2016. Employees will also pay an increased rate equivalent to 1.4 per cent of relevant earnings. For an employee earning £35,000 this would equate to an increase of £1,000 for the employer and £400 for the employee. The Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) is looking at the possibility of rolling up some of this increase, but the TPS cannot do the same. The increases will affect schools directly, but final amounts will depend on scheme membership. This will affect maintained schools from the start of the 2016/17 financial year and academies seven months into their 2015/16 year. The increase will come after the next general election, but as the decision was in the 2013 Budget Statement, it seems very likely to go ahead.
  • From September, maintained schools are under a duty to include on their school website a report on their policy for pupils with SEND called a special educational needs (SEND) report. ASCL has produced a summary of the information that schools are required to include in their report

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

 

  • Some schools made the decision to enter students for both the combined English GCSE and also for a further English literature GCSE. A year after students had started these courses, the government then decided to change the rules on how performance tables reported GCSE results. The new rules meant that only a student’s first entry to a GCSE examination will count in a school’s performance tables. Specifically, the DfE decided that because the English literature GCSE exam was taken a few days before the combined English GCSE exam, and they had overlapping content, first entry rules were applied and so the results of the combined English GCSE exam were ignored. Therefore only the English literature results counted in the 5+A*-C including English and maths measure and English levels of progress measures, and this has had a damaging effect on the schools’ league table performance.
  • The Cooperative Academies Trust has written to the DfE asking to be inspected because they believe in full accountability
  • A free school is to offer bright pupils £500 to sign up to courses, it has emerged. New College Doncaster – a new sixth-form – is believed to be one of the first in the country to offer cash incentives to encourage teenagers to apply. Under the plan, 16-year-olds from poor families could claim the money – or resources with the same value – if they are predicted to achieve more than five A grades in their GCSEs. The sixth-form will be run by nearby New College Pontefract as part of the Coalition’s “free school” programme that allows teachers, parents and charities to open wholly new educational institutions independent of local council control. It needs to win backing from 1,000 parents as part of its application to open by 2016, it emerged.
  • Almost half of heads and a quarter of teachers are regularly clocking up over 18 hours of overtime each week, new figures reveal. A YouGov survey reveals 48 per cent of headteachers, and 26 per cent of classroom teachers, routinely work significantly more hours outside the normal school day.
  • Concerns about a looming teacher supply crisis have deepened after government figures were released showing that there has been a fall in the number of people starting teacher training courses this September. The statistics reveal that less than half (44 per cent) of design and technology teacher training places were filled. Targets in maths (88 per cent), languages (79 per cent) and physics (67 per cent) were also missed. In total, 93 per cent of places were filled, down from 95 per cent last year. The statistics also reveal that just 61 per cent of School Direct places were filled this year; 6,451 of the 11,335 fee-paying places allocated and 2,781 of the 3,919 salaried places. This compares to 90 per cent of university places. Last year 68 per cent of School Direct places were filled.
  • One in five children born in the UK at the beginning of the new century were obese by the age of 11, a new long-term study shows.
  • Poor children in small towns and rural areas are lagging behind in reading at the age of 11, according to a study. Nationally, two in five children receiving free school meals were not reading well at the end of primary school last year, compared with one in five of their better-off classmates. But research published by charity Save the Children reveals this high levels of variation in reading ability in different parts of the country.
  • Schools in England will be required by the government to actively promote fundamental British values to their pupils, both in lessons and in extracurricular activities, according to new documents published by the DfE. The guidance significantly hardens the language used in setting out how schools teach what is known as spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development, replacing the previous language of “respect” for British values with the requirement to actively promote them. The DfE document says pupils should be taught “how democracy and the law work in Britain, in contrast to other forms of government in other countries”, and advises teachers to “consider the role of extracurricular activity, including any run directly by pupils, in promoting fundamental British values”. According to the document: “Actively promoting the values means challenging opinions or behaviours in school that are contrary to fundamental British values. Attempts to promote systems that undermine fundamental British values would be completely at odds with schools’ duty to provide SMSC.” The new rules are likely to set the DfE into further conflict with faith schools, including Catholic, Jewish and Muslim schools, because of its clear requirement that they give priority to secular law rather than religious teachings. The guidelines also respond to critics of the promotion of British values by providing greater detail as to what the DfE defines as British values and how they should be taught. According to the document, pupils should be expected to have “an understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process” and “an appreciation that living under the rule of law protects individual citizens” Schools will be expected to “use opportunities such as general or local elections to hold mock elections to promote fundamental British values and provide pupils with the opportunity to learn how to argue and defend points of view”.

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

  • Growing numbers of teenagers are suffering from eating disorders and self-harm due to the pressure of exams, leading child psychologist Professor Tanya Byron has said.
  • Britain’s first state-funded “virtual school” could open next year under plans to give hundreds of children lessons without leaving their own home  Proposals submitted to the DfE would see children as young as nine log in to a web-based classroom at 9.15am before receiving up to four hours of direct tuition each day. The school – created by the Wey Education Schools Trust – will provide lessons for children aged up to 19, with around 100 pupils in each year group. The proposal forms part of the Coalition’s “free schools” programme. The move follows a growth in the number of “Moocs” – massive open online courses – run by large numbers of universities across the world. It would principally cater for families that already choose to home-educate their children although the trust insisted it would also provide greater choice for other parents unhappy with the standard of education being provided at local schools.
  • The DfE has issued;
    • !6-19 performance tables, inclusion of tech levels, revised
    • 14-16 performance tables 2015, inclusion of non GCSE qualifications
    • 14-16 performance tables 2016, inclusion of non GCSE qualifications

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

  • Ofqual on Nov 28 has issued a list of GCSEs, AS levels and A- levels that Ofqual have accredited to be taught from September 2015.

A copy of the document can be found on the above website, Documents-Latest Documents or from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/new-gcses-as-and-a-levels-accredited-to-be-taught-from-2015

  • Ofqual has issued grade descriptors of GCSEs graded 1-9 for English, English Literature and mathematics

A copy of the documents can be found on the above website, Documents-Latest Documents or from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/grade-descriptors-for-gcses-graded-9-to-1

  • The Institute of Education has merged with UCL
  • The government has launched a procurement exercise to replace a Becta framework contract in use since October 2010. Becta, once responsible for promoting the use of technology in learning, was closed in the “bonfire of the quangos” after the coalition government came to power. The Becta IT contract was transferred to DfE ownership, with schools still free to use it after this point. The Crown Commercial Service is now looking to find up to 20 companies that will offer IT services and goods for use in education settings. By using such a contract, schools avoid having to complete a full procurement process of their own. The ICT Services for Education framework will replace the Becta framework, which included RM Education, Capita and Dell among suppliers.
  • Schools have saved £12 million in the past academic year by entering more pupils for exams on time. Ofqual’s latest figures show that in 2013/14, half the number of pupils sitting GCSEs or A-levels were entered late compared with the previous year. In 2012/13 there were more than 1.2 million late entrants, whereas this figure fell to just over 500,000 this year for GCSEs. Among A-level students, late entrants dropped from almost 300,000 to about 175,000.
  • The largest academy trusts have low numbers of schools rated at least good by Ofsted, with most operating more ‘not- good’ schools than good and outstanding ones. Of the five chains with the most schools, none has more than 65 per cent of its academies rated as either good or outstanding, with all bar one below 50 per cent. The proportion of schools given a good or outstanding rating across the country is 81 per cent, the government said recently. The five biggest academy chains are: Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), School Partnership Trust Academies (SPTA), Oasis Community Learning, the Kemnal Academy Trust (TKAT) and United Learning. Each has at least 40 schools. In contast, The Harris Federation has 35 open primary and secondary academies. Of the 18 schools that have been inspected since they opened or converted to academy status, 17 (94 per cent) received either a good or outstanding rating. The trust said that in the 16 cases where there had been a predecessor school. 15 had been rated less than good. Meanwhile ARK has 17 schools that have been inspected since the trust has had responsibility for them, with 15 (88 per cent) achieving one of the top two inspection grades. The trust said that, of the 10 schools which transferred to it, only two had then been rated at least good.
  • Funding for a scheme to encourage former soldiers and other service personnel to train as teachers is to be quadrupled, despite a slow start in recruitment. About £2 million has been spent on Troops to Teachers to date, with a new £8.7m tender offered for an extension of the scheme from February 2015 to September 2018.
  • Nick Clegg has announced that the government will set up a “fully-comprehensive national database” of post-16 skills and employer led-courses and opportunities in England from next September. However, UCAS’ Chief Executive Mary Curnock Cook responded to say UCAS Progress, their service for post-16 choices, had been expanded “and it now offers national coverage of vocational and academic courses in England and Wales.”
  • The DfE has launched a consultation in a bid to make the distribution of special educational needs and disability (SEND) funding fairer. The consultation said: “We have no specific funding changes in mind, although we are planning for a distribution that is more formulaic, and less based on past levels of allocation that have become outdated, and on local decisions on spending that have partly determined how much is allocated.” It added: “In particular, we would be interested in finding out why the same pupils and students with SEND, or pupils and students with very similar needs, can be assessed very differently in different local authorities; and how this has made a difference to the allocation of funding.” The DfE is seeking responses by February 27, 2015.

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

 

  • Local authorities will no longer be given an overall judgement of their school improvement functions, Ofsted has said in a new framework.  Instead, a narrative judgement will be published for local authorities, describing Ofsted’s findings after an inspection. Ofsted will now carry out two week inspections of local authorities. The first week will include a “focused inspection activity” in which a number of section 5 and, in some cases, section 8 inspections of maintained schools within the local authority area will be carried out, together with a telephone survey of schools not under inspection. The second week will consist of an on-site inspection of the local authority.
  • Most young people in Britain whose native language is not English believe speaking a second language is an advantage in life. However only just over a third take a qualification in their mother tongue, according to a poll. Despite the fact that almost one in five pupils in primary schools in England now has a first language other than English, the findings suggest that the linguistic capabilities of the majority of those students will go unrecognised by the exam system. And while a majority view their home language as a plus, almost four in 10 do not. Most young people in Britain whose native language is not English believe speaking a second language is an advantage in life. However only just over a third take a qualification in their mother tongue.
  • Heads and teachers will be barred from working in schools in future if they live with someone who has a conviction for a violent or sexual crime, according to new rules. The regulations, which also cover school support staff such as teaching assistants and dinner ladies, originally only applied to child-care centres – where they have been in place for around five years. Now, however, heads have been told they will also apply to schools.

All documents relating to finance, funding and resource management can now be found on the above website, Documents – Misc documents relating to leadership, management and curriculum – finance , funding and resources, except for post 16 documents which can be found in Documents- Misc documents relating to achievement – Post 16

 

 

Tony Stephens 

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