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Academy and School News Update September 1-29 2014

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

  • Ofqual has confirmed how grading will work when new GCSEs are awarded for the first time. New GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths will be taught in schools in England from September 2015, with students getting their results in August 2017. The new GCSEs will be graded 1 to 9, with 9 being the top grade. Ofqual has consulted on proposals for how standards should be set for them, and how the grading scale should work.

The approach will mean:

  • Broadly the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 4 and above as currently achieve a grade C and above
  • 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 per cent 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
  • 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. This will mean it will be of greater demand than the present grade C, and broadly in line with what the best available evidence tells us is the average PISA performance in countries such as Finland, Canada, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
  • The new maths GCSE will be tiered, with grades 4 and 5 available through both tiers.

Ofsted say: “We do need to caution against direct comparisons and overly simplistic descriptions of the approach. For example, it is not right to say simply that a new grade 4 will equal a current grade C. The read across is at the bottom of each grade, so that broadly the same proportion of students will get 4 and above as currently get C and above. A subtle but important difference.

“From our formal consultation and conversations with teachers and parents, we know some people may not have fully comprehended our plans for grade 5 and international comparisons. To try and clarify this, it is not about putting in place any direct links or ties to any grades set elsewhere. Rather, where grade 5 sits within the grading scale will place it above a current grade C, and broadly in line with what the best available evidence tells us is the average performance of 16-year-olds in high performing countries.”

“Beyond 2017, our aim will be to maintain the standards set in that first year of awarding. We will continue with the approach we currently use – statistical evidence used to help examiners make judgements on where to set grade boundaries. We will improve this approach by developing a National Reference Test to provide additional statistical information”.

Two supporting documents can be found on the above website, Documents-Latest documents

 

  • The proportion of A/A* pupils allowed to secure the new top GCSE grade could vary between subjects, Ofqual has announced. The exams regulator has decided that just 20 per cent of candidates who would have previously achieved an A or A* grade will be given a grade 9 when reformed GCSEs in English, English literature and maths are first awarded in 2017. But Glenys Stacey, Ofqual chief regulator, said that the rule could be varied for new GCSEs in other subjects being introduced in later years. “We are not at the moment committing to that 20 per cent rule for other subjects,” she said. “We want to give some more thought to that to make sure that that is as good an approach as possible or whether we need to take a slightly different approach for some exceptional subjects.” Ofqual has said that the 9-1 numerical grading for the tougher new GCSEs will be anchored to the existing system for continuity. But the new system is also the first time any kind of fixed percentage will be used in deciding how many students will be awarded a particular grade. Heads leaders are opposed to varying the proportions of top students achieving a grade 9 between subjects. But Ms Stacey said it was necessary as some subjects attract a more able cohort of pupils. For example, last year a third of candidates sitting GCSEs in classical subjects received an A* grade compared to just 3.3 per cent in English.
  • Ofqual says its annual budget needed to be increased by more than a quarter to help it introduce new A-levels and GCSEs and a national reference test. But headteachers say they are “staggered” that the money is being spent on the reformed exams at a time when school budgets and front-line services are being cut.
  • Education is reinforcing social inequality by stacking the odds against children from poorer families, according to. Danny Dorling of the University of Oxford. He said the ability of a wealthy minority to “buy” good results and access to the best universities was creating a “ruinous momentum” towards an increasingly unbalanced society. He said figures showed that half of all A and A* grades at A-level were awarded to the 7 per cent of pupils who were privately educated, and that four and a half times as much was spent on privately educated students as on those taught in the state system. “Good results can be bought through private education or by buying housing near to ‘good’ schools – so the cycle of rising domination by the richest continues, generation on generation,” he said. As a result, he added, “the number of youngsters from the poorest backgrounds found in the most elite universities…is similar to the number of people who win large sums of money on national lotteries – extremely low.”
  • Ofqual has ordered exam boards to make changes to modern foreign language A-levels that it says may result in a higher percentage of pupils achieving A* grades. The regulator analysed current exams in French, German and Spanish and discovered they were not doing the job they were supposed to. Damning findings included a “large number of questions” which were ineffective at differentiating between pupils of different abilities, particularly the very brightest. But Ofqual also found that marks for the speaking sections of the qualifications were “very high”. Ofqual’s investigation follows more than a decade of concern from language teachers about what they felt was an unfairly low proportion of A* grades in their subjects and unexplained variability in marking. This summer, 6.6 per cent of A-level French entries were awarded an A*, compared with 10.1 per cent in classical subjects and 26.5 per cent in further maths.

The Ofqual report can be found on the above website, Documents-Latest Documents

 

  • Ofqual has confirmed the assessment arrangements for new GCSEs in modern foreign languages and ancient languages. In modern foreign languages, speaking assessments will be retained within the grade calculations, unlike in English, where speaking and listening is reported separately. Ofqual is working with exam boards to finalise the way the speaking assessment should be conducted in all modern foreign languages, so as to make sure the right skills are tested and the arrangements are fair to all. For new modern foreign language GCSEs:
    • 25 per cent of marks to be allocated to each of listening, speaking, reading and writing
    • Reading, writing and listening skills to be assessed by exam
    • Speaking to be assessed by non-exam assessment
    • Where a qualification is tiered, students must take all their assessments in one tier, not across a combination of both.

Ofqual will work with exam boards to establish a common approach to deciding whether or not GCSEs in low entry modern foreign languages are tiered

New GCSEs in French, German and Spanish are due to be introduced for first teaching in September, 2016, with the first results in Summer 2018. New GCSEs in any other modern foreign languages will be introduced for first teaching in 2017, with first results in 2019. New ancient languages GCSEs are due to be introduced for first teaching in September 2016, with results in 2018. Currently, only one exam board (OCR) offers GCSEs in ancient languages – Classical Greek; Latin and Biblical Hebrew.

  • Schools are facing the most severe teacher shortage in a decade with the number of vacancies going unfilled increasing and while some subjects are meeting recruitment targets, others are falling far short. School Direct has been unable to tackle the recruitment shortfall in key subjects. There are warnings of “a teacher supply crisis of a magnitude not seen since the early 2000s”. Physics, design and technology, computing, music, RE and biology are particularly at risk

The DfE yesterday announced a significant increase in the value of bursaries for trainees, with awards of £25,000 available to graduates with good degrees in physics, maths, computing, chemistry and languages.

A new teacher recruitment campaign, Your future, their future, has been launched by the government. Around 35,000 trainee teachers need to be recruited every year. To help with this, the National College for Teaching and Leadership runs an annual recruitment campaign. This year’s campaign launches with an interactive online film featuring television’s Mr Burton. Details can be found on the Get into teaching website.

  • New statistics show that 74 per cent of six-year-olds passed the phonics test this year, a significant rise from last year’s figure of 69 per cent. Children on free school meals (FSM) performed considerably worse than their peers, with 61 per cent reaching the expected level compared with 77 per cent of other pupils. Just 56 per cent of boys on FSM met the standard this year compared with 66 per cent of girls
  • Draft content for the new cooking and nutrition GCSE and other GCSEs in D&T; drama; citizenship studies; and AS and A levels in drama and theatre, have been published by the government for consultation; these are for teaching as from September 2016. Ofqual has started a parallel consultation on how these subjects should be assessed

These consultation documents can be found on the above website, documents-latest documents

All these draft GCSE subject contents can be found on the above website, Documents, Subject related documents-New GCSEs subject content

This draft AS and A-level subject content can be found on the above website, Documents, Subject related documents-New AS and A-level subject content

  • Students will be encouraged to master the “vital life skills” of how to prepare and cook healthy meals under plans for this new GCSE unveiled this month. The ‘cooking and nutrition’ qualification, to be taught in schools from September 2016, will include food science alongside practical cooking techniques. It follows cooking and food education becoming “an entitlement” from this month for all pupils up to the age of 14. But the new GCSE has provoked fears among design and technology teachers that a major aspect of their subject is being marginalised. The Design and Technology Association (Data) fears it could lead to schools taking food out of design and technology (D&T) lessons, even though it is included under the new national curriculum. “Schools could misinterpret the [new GCSE] criteria as signalling a complete separation of food from D&T.”
  • School leaders, teachers, pupils, parents and the public are all losing faith in GCSEs and A-levels amid concerns about “constant change” and incorrect marking in the exam system, new research shows. A YouGov survey commissioned by Ofqual has found that more people had lost confidence in both sets of exams over the last year than had gained it. Opinions of GCSEs were particularly low among headteachers, with more than half – 53 per cent – saying they had less confidence in the qualification compared to the previous year. Just 6 per cent said they had more. But major government reforms of A-levels and GCSEs being introduced from next year look set to make perceptions worse, as all five groups cited “constant change” as their biggest concern about the exams. Fears about the lack of stability in the system were highest for GCSEs, where 79 per cent of headteachers said continuous change was a worry, with 69 per cent of teachers taking the same view. Quality of marking was seen as another big problem, with school leaders the most dissatisfied. More than half – 57 per cent – disagreed when asked if they were confident about marking accuracy for GCSEs and 53 per cent said it had declined since 2012. For A-levels, 49 per cent of headteachers said they did not have confidence in marking, with 46 per saying they thought that accuracy had decreased in the last two years. More than half of headteachers – 55 per cent – thought that at least 20 per cent of A-level students ended up with “the wrong grade”, with 49 per cent of believing that the same proportion of GCSE students suffer the same injustice.
  • Teachers are having to give A-level maths students catch-up lessons in algebra to make up for shortcomings at GCSE, new research has found.  “They can achieve an A at GCSE with 65 per cent and little algebraic ability,” one teacher said. “They think they are good at maths but, not surprisingly, bomb at A-level, because it is so algebraic.” Reforms to maths GCSEs, which will be implemented next September, will include more algebraic problem-solving work. But, the researchers said: “The new content does not necessarily cover the entirety of the areas…identified as problematic.”

In a separate study, academics found that there was a significant gap between the demands of A-level and undergraduate maths courses. A-level maths and further maths courses were found to rely far more on routine use of procedures than was the case for university courses, which tended to require much more independent thought from students.

  • Labour has vowed to continue the policy of linking teachers’ pay to performance should it form the next government.

Labour will introduce a national version of the London Challenge if it wins the general election in a bid to boost standards in schools in coastal areas.

Schools should continue to collect information on what their students are doing for three years after they have left in a bid to tackle youth unemployment, Labour’s education spokesman has said

  • Teachers assume that quiet girls need help learning to socialise, but that shy boys are self-contained and self-sufficient, new research shows.
  • The NUT is launching a consultation with its members on the next phase of its campaign of industrial action over pay, pensions and working conditions. While the union’s executive voted against joining support staff unions Unison, GMB and Unite for their strike on 14 October, the NUT will seek approval from its members to call “up to two more days” of strikes by 7 May 2015.
  • Academies are using taxpayers’ money to pay for services provided by members of their own trusts in clear conflicts of interest, a report released today says. Measures to stop abuse of the system are “too weak”, according to research produced on behalf of the Commons Education Select Committee, which calls for an overhaul of how academies and their umbrella trusts are held to account.  “Conflicts of interest are common in academy trusts” the report states. The report backed recommendations set out by the Public Accounts Committee, which called for fit-and-proper persons tests for all academy trust members. Larger trusts should be forced to hire part time company secretaries to ensure financial probity and strengthen financial regulation within trusts, the document says.
  • The London Assembly has criticised the geographical areas of the Regional Commissioners. “It is nonsense to have separate regional commissioners for neighbouring London boroughs but to have the same commissioner for a school in the Isle of Wight as for Lambeth. London should have one regional commissioner who is accountable to the secretary of state for education.” In reply, the DfE says “Rather than keeping London’s expertise and proven track record in school improvement concentrated within the city, the structure is designed to spread that excellence into the outlying counties”.
  • Poor numeracy skills are still a “national scourge” that risk harming the UK economy, a charity has warned, as it called for a new GCSE in everyday maths. The importance of maths in everyday life has been overlooked for too long, according to National Numeracy, which has set out a new seven-point plan to tackle the problem. It calls for teenagers’ numeracy skills to be checked at age 14. It also wants a new numeracy, or core maths, GCSE qualification to be introduced alongside the current maths GCSE as part of the reforms currently taking place in England. Around half the adult population have the everyday maths skills expected of primary school children, the document argues, while three-quarters cannot show the numeracy levels needed to get a decent GCSE grade. In a new manifesto, the charity says that poor numeracy – or everyday maths – is a “massive challenge” for the UK. “As a nation we have overlooked the importance of numeracy for too long, often distracted by the understandable demands of literacy,” it says.
  • Around 40 schools have been targeted in a wave of no-notice Ofsted inspections across England. Schools targeted included those where concerns have been raised about safeguarding, rapidly-declining standards, the curriculum, leadership or governance. There has been a fortnight of inspections without the usual half-day notice this month. The crackdown was carried out under the inspectorate’s existing powers and included schools already scheduled for inspections and others where concerns have emerged in recent weeks. Sir Michael Wilshaw say  “I’m currently giving thought to whether Ofsted should move to more routine no notice inspections as part of our wider education inspection reforms, which we will be consulting on later this year. “In the meantime, under our regional structure, inspectors are well placed to use their local knowledge and contacts to identify where these sorts of problems may be taking hold so we can respond swiftly and report publically on what we find.” More unannounced inspections will be conducted throughout the academic year, Ofsted confirmed.

Ofsted also announced it has revisited the five Birmingham schools placed in special measures in June in the wake of the Trojan Horse investigation, with Sir Michael personally joining the inspection team at Park View Academy to assess the school’s improvement plan. The outcomes of the monitoring inspections will be published “shortly”, according to the watchdog.

  • Inset days are “universally reviled” by teachers and largely used for keeping school staff up-to-date with policy changes rather than for professional development, school leaders and education experts have warned.
  • Education secretary Nicky Morgan has written to the teachers’ pay review body spelling out the need for “continued pay restraint” when it comes to deciding any pay rises next year. After a two-year pay freeze, teachers were handed a 1 per cent increase to their salaries this year along with the rest of the public sector, and the same has been offered for next year. And in writing to the STRB, Ms Morgan reaffirmed the government’s stance that there would be no public sector pay rises above inflation for the foreseeable future, stating there was a compelling case for more restraint.  As with this year, any rise is likely to be administered only to the upper and lower ends of the teacher pay scale, with schools able to set their own criteria for teacher salary increases for the rest of the scale.
  • Schools should be prepared to get tough with governors who fail to fulfil their responsibilities, a minister has warned. In a letter sent to all chairs of governors, schools minister Lord Nash advises governing bodies to be prepared to suspend any governors who fail to attend training sessions or uphold their school’s “professional ethos”.

A copy of this letter is on the above website, Documents, Latest Documents

  • Tens of thousands of post-16 students forced to retake GCSE maths or English failed to gain a grade C or higher, government figures show. Last September ministers made it compulsory for students on post-16 courses who had not achieved at least a grade C in either English or maths to continue working towards these qualifications. But new statistics out today show that just 7 per cent (14,782) of post-16 students secured the floor target at GCSE maths, while only 6.5 per cent (12,244) achieved the grade in English. Ofsted has said that too much teaching in the subjects was not good enough and noted a shortage of good teachers. Sue Pope, chair of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics, said there needed to be a different approach to the subjects if there was going to be an improvement. “Schools put such an enormous effort into getting as many children as they can to grade C at age 16, so these numbers are not very surprising as it is such an awful experience for people to repeat what they have already failed,” Dr Pope said. “What we really need is a different GCSE for post-16 and mature learners which is fresh and appealing. The issue is about providing a worthwhile learning experience for young people post-16 and just retaking the same GCSE that they’ve failed over and over again, is not it.”
  • Ministers have announced that 100 “exceptional” school leaders will be recruited to improve some of England’s worst performing schools. Officially known as the government’s Talented Leaders programme, the scheme will aim to recruit 100 of the country’s best school leaders and place them in schools facing the toughest challenges. The first recruits will be deployed next September in 13 areas of the country with low results, including North Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Bradford and Blackpool. Launching the scheme, schools minister David Laws called on the country’s best school leaders to apply to become a Talented Leader. “If you are a head or an aspiring head who already has a proven track record of raising standards and improving the education offered to all children and you think you have what it takes to make a real difference to a school in need of a great leader then we want to hear from you,” Mr Laws said. For more details about the programme, eligibility criteria, and how to apply visit The Future Leaders Trust: Talented Leaders website.
  • Children who attend pre-school get better GCSE results and earn more money in later life, according to the findings of a major research project. The benefit of going to any type of pre-school, rather than staying at home, was equivalent to getting seven B grades at GCSE, rather than seven C grades, the researchers from the Institute of Education, Birkbeck, University of London, and the University of Oxford found.
  • Around 1.5 million children will leave primary school struggling to read by 2025 unless urgent action is taken, according to new research published today by a campaign group set up to eradicate illiteracy. The report published by Save the Children, on behalf of the Read On Get On campaign, shows that England is one of the most unequal countries in Europe when it comes to children’s reading. The Read On Get On campaign, a coalition of charities, businesses and educationalists, is calling on all political parties to pledge to support the “bold but achievable” target of making sure every child born this year is able to read well by the time they leave primary aged 11 in 2025. The campaign defines reading well as reaching national curriculum level 4b – this means children should be able to read words and have a wider understanding of the meaning behind stories. They should also be able to read and understand a range of different books, magazines, newspapers and websites. Last year, two in five children eligible for free school meals did not reach this level by the time they left primary school, compared to just one in five of those not on free school meals.  Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children, said: “Read On Get On is not just about teachers, charities and politicians – it’s about galvanising the nation so that parents, grandparents and volunteers play their part in teaching children to read.” The campaign is calling on parents to read with young children for ten minutes a day, urges volunteers to sign up to help children with reading in their local school and calls on schools to lead the way locally.
  • A pilot project is aiming to revolutionise the way schools use teaching assistants. The initiative is seeing researchers from the Institute of Education, University of London (IoE), work with schools to examine ways of using TAs more effectively in the classroom, amid fears that their impact is being lost through poor deployment, lack of training and inadequate preparation. A six-year study by IoE academics cast doubt on the impact of TAs, concluding that the more support pupils received, the less progress they made. Rob Webster, a researcher at the IoE and one of the authors of both the original report and the follow-up study, said their work had identified three major obstacles to making good use of TAs: the way they were deployed, the way they interacted with pupils, and lack of preparation. He said TAs were frequently used to support children with special needs, but their presence had the unintended consequence of separating these pupils from the rest of the class. TAs were also more likely to spoon-feed children and be concerned with finishing a task than ensuring learning was taking place, and had no forum for exchanging information, he added. A key part of the new project is working with school leaders to come up with a more effective way of using support staff, and formulating a role for TAs which is more about helping pupils develop soft-skills, such as independent learning. Approaches used so far include teachers spending more time with pupils normally supported by TAs, TAs working with a wider range of children and teachers spending part of the lesson co-teaching with a TA. Schools have also been adjusting support staff contracts to allow for preparation time. Schools interested in taking part in the pilot can contact Mr Webster on r.webster@ioe.ac.uk or go to the project website: www.maximisingTAs.co.uk
  • A major research project is to look at the effect of grouping by ability on disadvantaged and low-attaining pupils. Previous studies have found that setting has benefits for high-achieving students but not for those in lower sets, while summer-born and ethnic-minority children have also found to be adversely affected. Setting was at the centre of a political storm when education secretary Nicky Morgan was forced to deny claims that she was about to endorse compulsory grouping by ability in secondary schools, after the suggestion had been roundly condemned by the Liberal Democrats, as well as Labour and the teaching unions. Researchers at King’s College London have been commissioned to carry out the new study, which will involve Year 7 and 8 students at 120 secondary schools.
  • The Sutton Trust is suggesting that low-income families should get vouchers for private tuition to help them catch up with wealthier classmates,
  • Education secretary Nicky Morgan has refused to rule out the introduction of for-profit schools should the Conservatives win next year’s general election. Ms Morgan said that the issue of allowing schools to be established by profit-making companies would need to be thought about “very carefully”. She praised the work done by existing academies and free schools, which are barred from being set up for profit, but left the door open to the introduction of for-profit schools, saying it was a policy on which she was happy to take further advice.
  • A charity set up to help children from some of the poorest communities in the country benefit from a top boarding school education is set to triple the number of people it supports within the year. The SpringBoard Foundation says it has placed 38 new pupils in boarding schools this term, on top of 25 who started last September. By 2015, it hopes that 120 children from deprived backgrounds will be attending UK boarding schools as a result of its work. The pupils’ backgrounds include neglect by parents, suffering physical or mental abuse at home, having a parent who is seriously ill or living in over-crowded accommodation. There is a growing list of boarding schools signing up to take part, from the elite Eton College, to Marlborough, Repton and the state-funded Wellington Academy. The schools are given special advice and support on how to welcome children from a wide variety of backgrounds which they may not already be familiar with. Bursaries are either provided by the schools themselves, SpringBoard or other charities. The news comes after a report from the Centre for Social Justice think-tank said sending more children from challenging backgrounds to state boarding schools was a vital measure for solving educational failure.
  • The Government has been recommended to extend its Trojan Horse investigation beyond Birmingham
  • More than half of state-school staff have faced aggressive behaviour from a student in the past year, with a quarter facing the same problems from parents, a new survey by the ATL reveals.
  • No school should be allowed to select more than half of its pupils on faith grounds, according to an education manifesto launched today. The move would bring all schools in line with the regulations governing free schools and has been put forward as a first step towards ending religious discrimination in school admissions altogether. The proposal is contained in a manifesto unveiled by the Accord Coalition, which brings together faith and non-faith groups to promote inclusive education. Accord is urging the political parties to adopt the measures ahead of next year’s general election. Around one-third of all state-funded schools in England are faith schools, two-thirds of which are Church of England schools, with most of the remainder Roman Catholic.
  • Independent schools’ desertion of the GCSE in favour of its international counterpart is continuing to snowball, figures reveal. Nearly two-fifths of Year 11 exam entries from England’s major private schools are now for IGCSEs rather than the GCSEs, according to the Independent Schools Council (ISC). The GCSE received more bad publicity as results of what was billed as the “first ever direct comparison of GCSEs with international GCSEs” were published. The independent Guildford High School, in Surrey, found that its brightest pupils did better in French, German and Spanish at IGCSE and claimed that this was because marking for domestic GCSEs penalised their responses to extended-answer questions. But there is the threat to the IGCSE on the horizon. Last month the DfE announced that the international qualification would not, in its current form, count towards official school performance tables in any subjects where the new reformed GCSEs have been sat. The ruling will start to kick in from 2017 – the first year that the revamped GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths are taken. But I has been noted that independent schools had been prepared to sacrifice league-table positions when they first started using the IGCSE and would probably be willing to do so again. The international GCSEs could still end up counting in the performance if exam boards decide to change them to bring them in line with the reformed domestic versions.
  • Ofsted has published “Transforming 16 to 19 education and training: the early implementation of 16 to 19 study programmes” The purpose of this survey was to evaluate how effectively further education and skills providers and schools and academies with sixth forms have implemented the 16 to 19 study programmes introduced in August 2013 and made the best use of the changed funding arrangements for 16-19 year olds

A copy of this report is on the above website, Documents, Latest Documents

 

  • Too many young people in England drop out of sixth-form or college and are not being given the chances that will help them in future, Ofsted is warning. High numbers of youngsters are “not well served” by their courses, it says. Inspectors say it is “simply not enough” to keep teenagers in education until 18 if they fail to leave with decent qualifications and experience. Instead, this will delay an “inevitable fall” into becoming “Neet” – not in education, employment or training. Figures show that nearly 1.18 million 16 to 24-year-olds are classed as Neets and in addition to this, the number of people whose whereabouts are unknown is rising, inspectors said. The education inspectorate’s annual report on further education (FE) and skills said “too many learners were not progressing from their prior attainment to a higher level of study to meet educational and career aspirations”. Ofsted fears the 18 to 24 age group could become the “new Neets”

The Ofsted research warns:

  • too many education providers are not ensuring their programmes meet the needs of learners
  • too much teaching of English and mathematics is not good enough
  • too few students progress to an apprenticeship, employment or higher levels of learning
  • too much careers guidance is weak, not giving teenagers a clear idea of the paths available to them.

 

  • The DfE is launching f a project inviting independent/state school partnerships (ISSPs) focussed on specific subject teaching at primary level. It is seeking to support a small number of new ISSPs which have, at their core, a shared commitment to:
    • raise the standards of teaching and learning
    • have a positive and measurable impact on the education of all the children in their schools

It is inviting applications from schools from all sectors to establish new ISSPs which strengthen the teaching of subjects in key stages 1 and 2. It welcomes proposals from schools which value cross-sector links as an effective way of achieving this. A limited amount of funding will be awarded to projects which are innovative and have a commitment to long-term self-sufficiency.

Schools can submit their proposals by completing the ISSP primary curriculum project: application form.

  • The former Chief Inspector of Schools Sir Mike Tomlinson has been appointed as the new education commissioner for Birmingham.
  • Nine out of 10 primary schools have improved the quality of PE lessons helped by the £150 million PE and sport premium, new research has shown. The fund, introduced in 2013, goes directly to primary school headteachers who can use it however they want, to provide PE and sporting activities for pupils. Schools have used the money to recruit more PE teachers and sports specialists to improve the quality of lessons or after-school clubs, buy new equipment and offer a wider selection of sports and free after-school clubs.
  • From September, schools across England will teach the new, more challenging languages curriculum – including a new requirement for languages to be compulsory for children aged 7 to 11 years. The DfE has given £1.8 million to 9 projects that will work with more than 2,000 primary and secondary schools over the next 2 years across England.

The projects are based in Warrington; Reading; Warwick; Winchester; Birmingham; Gloucestershire; Cornwall; Leicester, as well as in various schools across the north east; east of England; north Midlands

  • Low-level disruptive behaviour in classrooms across the country is impeding children’s learning and damaging their life chances, according to an Ofsted report. The report finds that pupils are potentially losing up to an hour of learning each day in English schools because of low-level disruption in the classroom – the equivalent of 38 days of teaching lost per year. The findings draw on evidence from nearly 3,000 inspections of maintained schools and academies conducted this year, together with findings from two specially-commissioned YouGov surveys of parents and teachers and 28 unannounced inspections targeted at schools where there were concerns about poor behaviour. Two thirds of teachers questioned for the survey complained that school leaders are failing to assert their authority when dealing with poor discipline and pupils flouting the school rules. Typical examples of the sort of behaviour identified in the survey of teachers include pupils making silly comments to get attention, swinging on chairs, passing notes around, quietly humming and using mobile phones. Secondary school teachers identified a greater impact on learning from low-level disruption than those in primary schools. Over two thirds of those surveyed said that it was a major problem, having medium or high impact on learning. Parents agreed, with over two fifths of those surveyed agreeing that their child’s learning was adversely affected by the behaviour of others. The report also confirms that the inconsistent application of school behaviour policies in some schools is a source of annoyance to teachers, pupils and parents. Only a quarter of secondary teachers agreed that the behaviour policy in their school was applied consistently. Of parents who took part in the survey, just under two thirds said that the headteacher should make sure all staff applied the behaviour policy as a way of improving the learning culture.

Commenting on the findings, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw said:

‘While the days of chaos in the classroom are thankfully largely behind us, low-level disruption in class is preventing too many teachers from doing their jobs and depriving too many young people of the education they deserve. ‘I see too many schools where headteachers are blurring the lines between friendliness and familiarity – and losing respect along the way. After all, every hour spent with a disruptive, attention-seeking pupil is an hour away from ensuring other pupils are getting a decent education. ‘If we are going to continue to improve our education system to compete at the highest levels, we need to tackle the casual acceptance of this behaviour that persists in too many schools. Classroom teachers must have the support of their senior leaders to tackle these problems. It isn’t rocket science. Children need to know the rules and teachers need to know they will be supported in enforcing them. ‘That’s why Ofsted has tightened the guidance on behaviour for inspection and increased the number of unannounced inspections undertaken as a result of concerns. In the last year schools serving almost 450,000 pupils have been judged less than good for behaviour. That is far too many.’

The report concludes that in the best schools, creating a positive climate for learning is a responsibility shared by leaders, teachers, parents and pupils. Leaders in these schools are uncompromising in their expectations and do not settle for low standards of behaviour. They do not shy away from challenging teachers, parents or pupils, where this is necessary. These leaders:

  • are visible in classrooms, school corridors and grounds
  • know if – and where – low-level disruption occurs and ensure that all staff deal with it
  • have high expectations of behaviour and are consistent in dealing with disruptive pupils
  • explain and enforce their expectations successfully to staff, pupils and parents.

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

 

  • Ofsted is to review whether primary school inspections are focusing too narrowly on English and maths to the detriment of a broad and balanced curriculum.
  • Ofsted is expected to launch its consultation on drawing up a single framework for all education providers next month.
  • Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, has offered an olive branch to teaching unions by suggesting talks on steps to reduce teachers’ workload. Before her first meeting with all the unions representing teachers and head teachers, Ms Morgan published a letter saying that she wanted to free teachers to spend more time teaching and promised “constructive dialogue”.
  • New teachers in England may have to work in the classroom for at least two years before they achieve qualified teacher status (QTS), under radical government plans to toughen up entry to the profession. The DfE proposals would raise the level of QTS from a basic entry qualification to a much more demanding certificate of competency. Ministers have been working with officials on the plan since before Christmas. The matter is still being considered
  • Careers services for young people in England need to be urgently improved, says a report from an advisory body set up by the government. The National Careers Council, which has been investigating the current state of careers provision, highlights a lack of consistency and availability. It warns too many youngsters do not get the advice they need about work. Deirdre Hughes, who chaired the council, said a “culture change in careers provision was urgently needed”. The report from the National Careers Council says there are “massive variations” in the advice available, depending on where young people live. It says in one region there are 134 careers advisory services, and in another there is only one. There are also concerns that the National Careers Service has been structured to focus mainly on the needs of adults, leaving a gap in school-age advice services. The service provides over a million face-to-face advice sessions for adults, but there is no provision for such individual advice for young people. Instead young people are offered phone advice lines and online information.
  • From 1 October, schools will be allowed to purchase and keep a supply of emergency salbutamol inhalers for children suffering from asthma.
  • National Leaders of Education and National Support Schools (NLE/NSS)
    The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) has announced that the next NLE/NSS designation round will open on 3 October and close on 3 November 2014. Visit their webpage for further information.
  •  In a response to a freedom of information (FoI) request, Ofsted has said it cannot say how many of its inspections have been found to be “flawed” in the past two years; it does not keep records.
  • Nearly half of all children in England are not ready for school when they finish reception at around age five, a failure by society that could impede their progress throughout life, a report warns.
  • Children on free school meals continue to underachieve in the classroom, regardless of whether the school they attend is rated highly by Ofsted or not, according to a paper by a leading education academic. Professor Steve Strand, of Oxford University, says the stubbornness of the attainment gap across all types of schools suggests that the quality of a school is not enough to overcome a disadvantaged background.
    • The largest academy chain in the country is seeking to outsource all non-teaching posts in its 77 schools, from librarians to caretakers, to a for-profit organisation within the next month. In a step that critics fear is a major step to putting profit-making at the heart of the state school system, the Academy Enterprise Trust has selected PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the world’s largest auditors as a partner in the plan. The controversial proposal, which AET admits is entirely new to academy trusts, is being reviewed by the government. AET wants to set up a limited liability partnership with PwC, which would be paid up to £400m of taxpayers’ money over 10 years for its role. The new organisation, created by the partnership with AET, would take over responsibility for providing school business managers, IT staff, secretarial staff, and financial expertise, along with speech and language therapy provision, education psychology, education welfare, curriculum development and professional development. PwC does not have a background in such services, so it is expected that it would subcontract to other private firms and mainly manage the budgets. The move has caused outrage among staff.
  • Growing numbers of teenagers with top-class vocational qualifications are being recruited by UK universities while the number with A-levels dwindle, according to figures released this month
  • One of the Government’s new free schools has opened up in premises bought for £18m with only 17 pupils, it has emerged. Trinity Academy in Brixton, south London, has a planned admission number of 120 per year, and had 90 parents on its books earlier this summer ahead of the new school year. However, difficulties over moving in to its new premises meant many of the parents pulled out over the summer months.
  • A growing number of parents support the idea of ballots to determine which children are successful in applying to oversubscribed schools, according to a new poll published today. The poll of 1,129 parents by YouGov for the education charity the Sutton Trust showed nearly half backed the idea of ballots for schools – with 28 per cent believing a ballot should be introduced for all places while 19 per cent believed the allocation should be split between ballots and proximity to the school.
  • An online app could be developed for children to safely report bullying in schools, under plans being considered by the education secretary, Nicky Morgan. Another phone app could be used to allow parents to sign permission slips for children’s school trips under the proposals,
  • Nearly a third of teachers say they do not feel confident teaching online safety, while two in five say they have never attempted any lessons in the subject, according to a new study. The research also highlights growing concerns among teachers that online safety risks are increasing, with over 70 per cent of those surveyed saying they believe ‘sexting’ – sending sexually explicit pictures by mobile phone – and cyber bullying to be on the rise. According to the survey, seven in ten secondary school teachers say they have encountered cyber bulling or trolling among their pupils, while two in five have encountered sexting, prompting concerns that schools are not doing enough to protect pupils from online risks.

Latest Published Documents

The following documents can be found on the above website, Documents-Latest Documents

  • Governors’ Handbook, Sept 2014
  • Guide to statutory policies required for a school, Sept 2014
  • DfE Facts and myths document, Sept 2014
  • EYFS Handbook
  • Schools Guide to the new SEND arrangements
  • Early years guide to the new SEND arrangements
  • The various mandatory and “useful” DfE timelines for schools
  • School teachers’ pay and conditions document 2014 and guidance on school teachers’ pay and conditions
  • Implementing your school’s approach to pay, DfE advice for maintained schools and local authorities
  • Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions Statutory guidance for governing bodies of maintained schools and proprietors of academies in England
  • Templates associated with the above Guidance
  • Information from Ofsted for teachers about inspection: lesson observations

Ofsted

All latest documents are added to the Ofsted section of the website, eg, this month were added the revised School Inspection handbook; policy on unannounced inspections; monitoring documents for schools with sm, sw and ri; monitoring document re safeguarding; policy on inspecting boarding schools and residential accommodation

Tony Stephens

 

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