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Education News Nov – Dec 2011

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Consultations with unions have ended with agreed heads of agreement on the scheme design for the Teachers’ Pension Schemeto be introduced in 2015,

The core parameters of the new scheme are:

a. A pension scheme design based on career average;

b. A provisional accrual rate of 1/57th of pensionable earnings each year, and the resolution of outstanding issues not covered by this agreement.

c. Revaluation of active members’ benefits in line with CPI + 1.6% .

d. Normal Pension Age equal to State Pension Age, which applies both to active members and deferred members (new scheme service only);

e. Pensions in payment to increase in line with Prices Index (currently CPI);

f. Benefits earned in deferment to increase in line with CPI;

g. Average member contributions of 9.6%, with some protection for the lowest paid;

h. Optional lump sum commutation at a rate of 12:1, in accordance with HMRC limits and regulations;

i. Spouses/Partner pension in accordance with current provisions;

j. Lump-sum on death in service of 3 times FTE salary;

k. Ill-health benefits the same as those in the current open scheme;

l. Actuarially fair early/late retirement factors on a cost-neutral basis except for those with a NPA above age 65,  who will have early retirement factors of 3% per year for a maximum of 3 years in respect of the period from age 65 to their NPA; and

m. An employer cost cap to provide backstop protection to the taxpayer against unforeseen costs and risks.

The DfE has also published the outcome of the consultation for members’ contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) in financial year 2012-13. This is the first year of savings, which are being phased-in over a three year period.

The TPS next year will retain the existing index-linked, defined benefit scheme, with significant annual employer contributions worth 14.1 per cent of salaries.

But next year’s scheme will see the majority of TPS members asked to contribute more.

The changes, which will save £314 million from the TPS next year (2012-13), are part of the wider £2.8 billion savings from public sector pensions by 2014-15 which the Chancellor announced in the Spending Review 2010 – an average contribution rise of 3.2 percentage points (ppts) by that date.
Under the changes, new and lower paid teachers will be protected from the biggest contribution rises with higher earners contributing more .

To date, all employees pay exactly the same proportion of their salary into the Teachers’ Pension Scheme regardless of salary.

But the DfE argues that in a final salary scheme, higher earners get a much higher return on their pension contributions; that on average they live longer so benefit from pensions for a longer period; and that lower earners are less likely to join pension schemes so need greater incentive to participate.

Next year will see 116,000 teachers earning between £15,000 and £25,999 on a full time basis contributing 0.6 ppts more of their salary into the pension scheme. It means a classroom teacher earning £25,700 will pay around an additional £10 per month after tax relief.

A further 117,000 teachers earning between £26,000 and £31,999 on a full time basis will contribute 0.9 ppts more of their salary into the pension scheme. It means a classroom teacher earning £29,240 will pay around an additional £18 per month after tax relief.

And 505,400 members or around three-quarters of the TPS membership earning under £39,999 on a full time basis will pay up to 1.2 ppts more of their salary into the scheme.

The highest earners, those earning more than £112,000 on a full time basis, will pay an additional 2.4 ppts.

The changes in full are below:

LowerSalary HigherSalary Contribution Ratein 2012-13 (per cent) Increase (per cent)(against 6.4 per cent) Membership Percentage ofMembership
14,999 6.4 0 1,400 0.2
15,000 25,999 7.0 0.6 116,000 17.1
26,000 31,999 7.3 0.9 117,000 17.2
32,000 39,999 7.6 1.2 271,000 39.6
40,000 74,999 8.0 1.6 172,000 25.2
75,000 111,999 8.4 2.0 4,000 0.6
112,000 8.8 2.4 600 0.1

Current estimations are that the total capital costs for the first 24 Free Schools that opened in September 2011 will range from £110 million to £130 million. At the upper estimate of £130 million, this equates to 2.6 per cent of the Department’s capital budget for 2011-12, which is £5,058 million.

Dame Clare Tickell published an independent review of the EYFS in March this year. She recommended a slimmed down Early Years Foundation Stage for 0-5-year-olds, reducing the number of early learning goals from 69 to 17 and focusing on three prime areas of learning: communication and language, physical development and personal, social and emotional development.   The Government is implementing Dame Clare’s recommendations for the EYFS from Sept 2012

In light of the far-reaching and complex nature of the Expert Panel recommendations, (see below), and to allow for more radical reform of both curriculum and qualifications, Michael Gove has decided to change the planned timetable for the introduction of the new National Curriculum. Instead of new curricula for English, mathematics, science and PE being introduced from 2013, and the remainder in 2014, the new curriculum for all subjects will be introduced in 2014. The longer timescale is to allow for further debate, as well as giving schools more time to prepare for a radically different and more rigorous approach.

The recommendations made by the review’s Expert Panelraised fundamental questions about educational practice in this country, and give some idea of the type of changes that Michael Gove will be supporting. For example:

  • The Expert Panel recommend that the UK learns from the approach to assessment and pupil progression used in many high-performing jurisdictions, including the most successful South-East Asian education systems, which ensure that every pupil has mastered the subject content before the class moves on to tackle the next part of the curriculum. They express concern that our existing assessment model assumes that a certain proportion of young people will never be able to master crucial curriculum content, leading to an unjustified lowering of expectations.
  • The international evidence shows that all successful jurisdictions expect pupils to study a broad curriculum to 16, built around a core of academic subjects. The Expert Panel argues that England narrows its curriculum for the majority of pupils too early.
  • The evidence identifies the higher expectations of pupils in mathematics, English and science in high performing jurisdictions.  For example:
  • · In Singapore, pupils are expected to know all their times tables and related division facts by the end of Year 4; here our national expectation is at Year 6.
  • · Pupils in Singapore are also expected to learn about plant and animal cells in Year 6, including how cell division forms the basis of growth, while we leave this until secondary.
  • · The Canadian province of Alberta and the US state of Massachusetts both have a separate section on grammar in their curricula with clear standards which must be met.
  • · Poland, a fast improving education system, has high expectations in their recommended reading, including Homer, Chekhov and Shakespeare alongside great works of Polish literature.
  • The panel also recommends that we should look again at the “key stage” structure of the curriculum which they argue can lead to a lack of pace and ambition at key points in pupil’s education.

It is clear that these findings challenge fundamental tenets of our current system.

The Expert Panel also raises crucial questions about the complex interaction between curriculum and qualifications in secondary schools. Evidence shows that what is taught is determined as much if not more by examinations as by the National Curriculum. This means the DfE wishes to consider GCSE reform alongside the development of the new curriculum.

The Panel is also specifically recommending;

  • That History, Geography and MFL should be compulsory for all 11-16 students.
  • KS4 should be 3 years and not 2 years
  • All existing NC subjects should remain statutory, but schools should be left to decide how to teach citizenship, D and T and ICT
  • Oral language should be a strong feature of the curriculum
  • KS2 should be divided in half with new lower and upper stages
  • Current NC levels should be replaced with more precise attainment targets
  • All students should understand key elements of a body of knowledge before they move on to the next, (the “ready to progress measure”)

The results of more than 16,000 schools’ 2011 Key Stage 2 tests have been published.

The figures reveal that 1,310 primary schools were below the standard – and about 150 have been below the floor for five years in a row.
This year’s Key Stage 2 statistics show that:

  • A third of 11-year-olds are still not doing well enough in the three Rs
  • One in 10 boys leave primary school with the reading age of a seven-year-old
  • One in 14 boys leave primary school with the writing age of an seven-year-old
  • The percentage of children achieving the expected level in both English and maths rose one percentage point to 74 per cent. But the proportion achieving above that expected level is down in English and in writing – and by eight percentage points in reading.


This year’s Key Stage 2 tests (English, reading, writing and maths) were taken in May by about 550,000 11-year-olds. Children at 750 schools were tested in the science sample test.

The percentages of pupils achieving Level 4 or above in the 2011 Key Stage 2 tests are as follows:

  • English – 82 per cent (up two percentage points from 2010)
  • Reading – 84 per cent (up one percentage point from 2010)
  • Writing – 75 per cent (up four percentage points from 2010)
  • Maths – 80 per cent (up one percentage point from 2010)
  • Both English and maths – 74 per cent (up one percentage point from 2010)

The percentages of pupils achieving above the expected level, Level 5 or above, in the 2011 Key Stage 2 tests by subject are as follows:

  • English 29 per cent (down three percentage points from 33 per cent in 2010)
  • Reading 43 per cent (down eight percentage points from 50 per cent in 2010)
  • Writing 20 per cent (down one percentage point from 21 per cent in 2010)
  • Mathematics 35 per cent (up one percentage point from 34 per cent in 2010)

Pupils are expected to make two levels of progress between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. The national percentages of pupils making the expected progress by subject are as follows:

  • English 85 per cent
  • Maths 83 per cent

Floor standards

There are 1,310 primary schools below the floor – 893 schools rose above the floor from 2010 to 2011; 874 schools are newly below the floor in 2011.

A school needs to be down on all three of the measures that make up the primary school floor standard:

  1. fewer than 60 per cent of its pupils achieving level 4 or above in English and maths combined;
  2. It is below the England median for progression by two levels in English;
  3. And it is below the England median for progression by two levels in maths.

In December 2010, 962 schools were below the floor. Some 25 per cent of schools boycotted Key Stage 2 tests in 2009/10.

Today’s new tables include attainment data, progress measures and include the performance of low, medium and high attainers. The tables also highlight the performance and progress of disadvantaged groups compared with other pupils alongside a wider set of information, including school spending and pupil cohort data.

The full tables can be accessed via

12 more Studio Schools have been approved to open in 2012 – with input from employers like Glaxo, Sony, the BBC and Fulham FC. They join six Studio Schools that are already open. More are expected to follow in the coming years.

Studio Schools offer academic and vocational qualifications, but teach them in a practical and project-based way. Study is combined with paid work placements with local and national employers that are involved in the school.

Studio Schools offer a varied curriculum but have a strong academic core:

  • All will offer GCSEs in English, maths and science and other GCSEs and vocational qualifications which are recognised by employers and universities.
  • The majority of the new Studio Schools will offer students the opportunity to achieve the English Baccalaureate.
  • Studio Schools also offer other qualifications, such as A levels, Higher Diplomas or BTECs.

Pupils can choose to go to Studio Schools at age 14.

Studio Schools differ from other schools in the way they deliver these qualifications, to ensure that young people are developing the skills that local employers are looking for:

  • All subjects are taught through projects, often designed with employers. For example, a local hospital might commission pupils to create a campaign that addresses a local health issue. In developing this project, pupils will make links to curriculum subjects, from maths, to science, and marketing, for example. This supports pupils’ engagement by relating all their learning to the world of work.
  • They typically operate longer days and outside standard school terms –giving pupils a good understanding of a working day, and the importance of good attendance and punctuality in business.
  • Along with their studies pupils carry out work placements for four hours a week, with employers who work with the school. After age 16 this increases to two days a week and pupils are paid for this work.
  • Each pupil has a ‘personal coach’, which seeks to replicate the role of a supportive line manager in the workplace. Coaches also help students get the most out of the curriculum and their work placements.

The Studio Schools now approved are

  • Bradford International Food and Travel Studio School, Bradford
  • Da Vinci Studio School of Science and Engineering, Hertfordshire
  • Discovery Studio School, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Fulham Enterprise Studio School, Hammersmith and Fulham
  • Hull Studio School, Hull
  • Hinckley Studio School, Leicestershire
  • Hyndburn Studio School, Lancashire
  • Bournemouth Learning and Achievement Foundation Studio School, Bournemouth
  • Ockendon Studio School, Thurrock
  • Parkside Studio School, Hillingdon
  • Tendring Studio School, Essex
  • The Studio, Liverpool

Six Studio Schools are already open. These are Barnfield Studio School in Luton, Kirklees Studio School in Huddersfield, Durham Studio School, Harpurhey Studio School in Manchester, Stephenson Studio School in Leicestershire and the New Line Studio School in Maidstone.

There is no fixed capital allocation for each Studio School project. Ministers take into account the value for money of estimated or potential cost of each application when deciding which ones to approve. The DfE publishes capital costs when they are finalised.

The independent exams watchdog Ofqual has today confirmed important short-term reforms to current GCSEs from September 2012.

It follows plans outlined in last year’s White Paper to return exams to the end of each course and stop the culture of re-sits. The changes also mean that students will once again be marked on the accuracy of their spelling, punctuation and use of grammar in GCSEs in key subjects.

The reforms effectively end modular GCSEs. They were introduced widely from 2009 but Coalition Ministers believe they have encouraged teaching to the test and prevented young people achieving a full understanding of the whole subject.

The Government is planning to make longer-term changes to GCSE syllabuses and exam requirements to reflect the new National Curriculum – focusing on the essential knowledge in key subjects and in-depth study.

Under the proposals:

  • Students starting two-year GCSE courses starting in September 2012 will have to sit their exams at the end of the course in summer 2014.
  • Pupils will no longer be able to re-sit individual unit exams in order to boost their marks – although they may retake the whole GCSE exam. Students will, however, be given an early opportunity to resit maths, English and English Language GCSEs every November because these are key subjects needed to progress to further study or employment.
  • Students will be marked on the accuracy of spelling, punctuation and grammar and their use of specialist terms. In the first instance, these will be those subjects that involve extended writing – English Literature, geography, history and religious studies. Five per cent of total marks in these subjects will be for spelling, punctuation and grammar. Marks assessing written communication skills already exist in English and English Language. The changes will affect externally assessed units from September 2012.

The DfE/Ofqual has not yet made similar decisions over A levels, about which they are currently consulting generally with universities The DfE is asking Ofqual to change the rules on re-sits to prevent students from re-sitting large numbers of units, and will then consider with Ofqual in the light of evaluation evidence whether this and other recent changes are sufficient to address concerns with A levels.

The DfE has announced details of education funding for 2012-13..

School funding education funding for 2012-13..

The DfE will continue with the current methodology for funding schools in 2012-13 through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). The underlying school budget will be kept at flat cash per pupil for 2012-13. To protect local authorities with falling pupil numbers the DfE will continue with arrangements to ensure that no authority loses more than 2 per cent of its budget in cash terms.

Although the overall schools budget will stay at the same level on a per pupil basis before the addition of the Pupil Premium, the actual level of each school’s individual budget will vary.  It will depend on local decisions about how best to meet needs and priorities.  This does mean that some schools will see budget reductions, either because they have fewer pupils or local changes to funding distribution. To protect schools from significant budget reductions, the DfE will continue with a Minimum Funding Guarantee that ensures no school sees more than a 1.5 per cent per pupil reduction in 2012-13 budgets (excluding sixth form funding) compared to 2011-12 and before the Pupil Premium is added.

Funding for 16-19 provision

The YPLA has published a statement setting out the funding to be made available for 16-19 education and training for 2012-13. The DfE plans to fund 1,577,000 places in the 2012/13 academic year compared with the 1,543,000 learners it expects providers to have recruited in 2011/12.. Transitional protection was introduced in 2011/12 in order to help schools and colleges to manage unit cost savings that need to be made.  The DfE will continue to provide transitional protection for these policy changes for 2012/13 and will continue to make this available until 2015/16.

Capital funding

The capital announcement covers funding for 2012-13 and includes allocations for basic need (funding for additional pupil places), maintenance and devolved formula capital. This is a further one-year allocation only, with how this is allocated likely to be different in future years At a national level, overall capital funding remains the same as last year – £800 million to address the shortage in pupil places and £1.4 billion for maintenance, including £200 million for devolved formula capital.  Funding for pupil places needs to take account of the capacity of schools.  For this reason, the DfE has agreed that basic need allocations for 2012-13 will be decided using both numbers on roll and capacity data. That is, it combines the two methodologies used in 2011-12 for allocating basic need funding.  Moving to this method will result in changes in levels of funding for some local authorities.  Because of this, he DfE has introduced a protection so that no local authority will receive, in 2012-13, less than 80 per cent of the funding they would have received had it taken the same approach as taken for 2011-12.  This allocation does not include the additional £600 million for basic need allocated to the DfE in the autumn statement. The DfE is considering how best to allocate this funding

Maintenance funding for local authorities will remain at the same level as last year and will be allocated in the same way. Some local authorities will see a reduction because their maintained schools have converted, or are about to convert, to Academy status. Local authorities have to take into account the maintenance needs of all maintained provision, including Sure Start Centres, when deciding how to prioritise this funding.

Devolved Formula Capital will remain at similar levels to last year so that the limited capital available can be more strategically targeted.

The DfE has retained £276 million centrally to meet the maintenance needs of Academies. This amount is based on numbers of Academies already open and those due to open in the coming months. The DfE expects local authorities to honour any commitments they have made to fund projects in their maintained schools, including where those schools may be intending to become Academies during the next year.

The Academies central fund next year will be administered in a similar way to this year, and the DfE will provide further details early in 2012 when it is ready to receive applications for funding. The DfE will also consult with sponsors and Academy chains to explore options for giving them more flexibility to address the maintenance needs of their whole Academy estate.

Capital funding for 16-19 provision

Over £107 million of capital funding will be available in 2012-13 to meet maintenance and building needs of sixth form colleges and demographic pressures for new 16-19 places in schools, Academies and sixth form colleges.  £59 million of this funding will be allocated to the sixth form college Building Condition Improvement Fund (BCIF) in 2012-13 to address priority building condition needs within the sixth form college sector. All sixth form colleges will remain eligible for Devolved Formula Capital (DFC) and it will remain at the same rate as 2011-12.  In addition the DfE wants to ensure that funding is available to meet the need for additional places where there are demographic pressures in schools, Academies and sixth form colleges. The DfE therefore made a further £44 million available in the coming financial year for basic need funding for additional places for 16-19 year old students in these areas.  This funding will also support the provision of new places in mainstream settings, including in FE colleges, for students with learning difficulties and disabilities.

The Capital Review

The consultation on the capital review ended in October and the DfE intends to publish a final Government response to its recommendations in January 2012.

The Priority School Building Programme

As regards the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP), Partnerships for Schools (PfS) is currently reviewing applications to ensure there is a fair and rigorous selection of schools for admission to the programme. Until applications have been fully assessed, the DfE will not be able to announce which schools will be in the programme, but expects to be able to make an announcement in the New Year.

The Pupil Premium will extend to cover 1.77 million eligible children whose funding is set to benefit from £600 each after the DfE announced next year’s Pupil Premium will increase by £112 for each pupil. Over half a million additional children will also qualify for the premium as the Government has extended its reach to cover any child that has been registered for Free School Meals (FSM) in the past six years. For 2012-13, the premium will be worth £1.25 billion in total.

The DfE is also reminding schools and parents across England to make sure those children eligible for Free School Meals are registered as soon as possible so that schools receive the full funding they are entitled to. The school census is on 19 January 2012. Schools will be able to help parents to apply and their local authority will be able to say the last date applications can be submitted in time for them to confirm eligibility before the census. Data shows that between three to five per cent of school children could be missing out on the extra cash – between around 200,000 to 350,000 children in England.

It is for schools to decide how the Pupil Premium, allocated to schools per FSM pupil, is spent. To monitor progress on attainment, new measures will be included in the performance tables that will capture the achievement of pupils covered by the Pupil Premium. From September 2012, the DfE will also require schools to publish online information about how they have used the premium.

Almost 2,000 teachers applied for the National Scholarship Scheme for teachers, offering scholarships worth up to £3,500 each. The DfE has confirmed the successful applications:

  • 280 scholarships for teachers working in priority subjects and specialisms – English, maths and science.
  • 391 scholarships for Special Education Needs (SEN) teachers.

A new ‘Master Teacher Standard’ to recognise outstanding teachers should be introduced, according to an independent review commissioned by the Government.

The review team, led by Sally Coates, Principal of Burlington Danes Academy in London, was asked to simplify the current teachers’ standards, which define the qualities and skills expected of teachers at various career stages. Their first report, published in July, raised the bar in terms of defining the minimum requirements for all teachers.

The review team has now considered the standards expected for more experienced and higher performing teachers. They are recommending scrapping the existing system, which has three separate categories, and introducing a single ‘Master Teacher Standard.’ This will recognise truly excellent teachers and provide a focal point for all good teachers to plan their professional and career development.

The Government has welcomed the review team’s recommendations and is now considering how they might be implemented. This will include asking the School Teachers Review Body to consider the implications for teachers’ pay of the report’s recommendation to discontinue the Post-Threshold, Excellent Teacher and Advanced Skills Teacher standards.

The ‘Master Teacher Standard’ describes a clear set of characteristics for high-performing teachers. They include:

Deep and extensive knowledge of their specialism, going beyond the set programmes they teach.

Command of the classroom, skilfully leading, encouraging and extending pupils. They will have the respect of both pupils and parents.

Excellent planning and organisation to ensure pupils are well-prepared for all forms of assessment.

Their classes demonstrate a stimulating culture of scholarship alongside a sense of mutual respect and good manners.

They are highly regarded by colleagues, who want to learn from them. They play a role in the development of school policies and they engage with professional networks beyond the school.

The DfE has begun a consultation setting out my “minded to” decision in relation to the academies funding transfer for 2011-12 and 2012-13. The decision takes account of the need to ensure that both academies and local authorities are funded fairly for the pupils they provide services for and the responsibilities which they hold.  The DfE has also considered how best it can ensure that the amount transferred better reflects the distribution of academies between local authorities. The DfE plans to make changes from April 2012 to the methodology for calculating the level of the transfer to ensure that the amount transferred properly reflects the services which transfer to academies from their local authority.  The DfE will do this in two ways.  Firstly it will, in future, only take account of net expenditure on education services; and secondly, in areas where some responsibilities remain with the local authority, it will only use a proportion of spend in those areas to determine the amount to be transferred. To provide further certainty to local authorities the DfE plans to make no changes to the action to redistribute costs at this stage in the financial year would cause unnecessary turmoil and instability.

This arrangement, whilst providing financial certainty and stability to local authorities, means that the government will continue to provide a considerable amount of double funding in this area. Given the poor value for money which this provides the taxpayer these arrangements should only be seen as transitional. The government is committed to resolving the double funding of local authorities for services which devolve to academies permanently from 2013-14.  As part of the Local Government Resource Review, the DfE will explore removing the funding for these services from formula grant into the budget of the Department for Education. In this option, the Department would then administer a grant to authorities and to academies proportionate to the number of pupils for which they are responsible according to a national rate. The DfE plans to consult, jointly with the Department for Communities and Local Government, in 2012 on how they could put this commitment permanently to solve this issue into effect.

The DfE has announced that:

  • NPQH will become optional with effect from early 2012 – subject to the Parliamentary process – and developed for all prospective heads in both the maintained and the non-maintained sector such as academies and independent schools.
  • The bar for entry and assessment for the qualification will be raised.
  • The content made more demanding through the introduction of a core curriculum focusing on the key skills of headship including leadership of teaching and learning, and with a greater emphasis on behaviour.
  • The revised qualification will be launched in spring 2012 with the first participants starting in September 2012.
  • The National College, working with key stakeholders including existing head teachers, will revise the content of the new NPQH:
  • All participants will have to pass five modules of which three are compulsory and focus on leading pupil behaviour, developing leadership skills and managing teacher performance.
  • Trainee head teachers will be required to undertake a school-based and a placement related assignment and spend more time on the placement, increasing from a minimum of five days to nine days.
  • It will place more emphasis on the role of an applicant’s line manager in providing a reference and ‘sponsoring’ the applicant through the programme as we know from research that the best way to spot a future head teacher is to watch them working, and handling a range of leadership issues.
  • The new NPQH will now link more closely to Masters and other postgraduate qualifications and so allow trainee heads to move more seamlessly onto a higher degree if they wish.

The Government has launched its first national plan for music

The In Harmony programme, based on the inspirational El Sistema scheme from Venezuela, will be rolled out across the country under plans announced today. The first ever national plan for music education The Importance of Music will also enable every child to have the chance to learn to play a musical instrument for at least a term and ideally for a year by transforming the way music is delivered to schools. From 2012 music education will be provided by new ”hubs” which will deliver music education in partnership, building on the work of existing local authority music services. In Harmony is currently run in Liverpool, London and Norwich. The programme provides intensive instrumental training to children from deprived backgrounds, teaching them to play in ensembles and orchestras.  The Government will provide £500,000 per year and, working with the Arts Council England and with an additional £500,000 matched funding, will expand the programme across the country, seeking new projects in, for example, the Midlands and the North East.

Other announcements in the new national plan for music education include:

  • A new national funding formula to make sure all parts of the country get fair funding for music on a per pupil basis, with a weighting for deprivation. There will be protection for areas that would otherwise have seen reductions of more than 10 per cent funding in 2012-13 and more than 20 per cent in 2013-14.
  • Funding of £77 million, £65 million and £60 million confirmed for the next three years. Most of this will go to the music education hubs.
  • A new music teaching module will be developed for trainee primary teachers, to give them extra skills to teach music.
  • Continued funding of £500,000 per year to the National Youth Music Organisations fund, matched by the Arts Council England currently via Youth Music.
  • Continued support for the internationally recognised Music and Dance Scheme – which provides money for exceptionally gifted young people to attend the highly specialist music and dance schools.

Working in partnership with the new music education hubs, schools will have the opportunity to consider their provision and to ensure that they are not only catering for those children who have shown an interest or aptitude for music. From August 2012, music education hubs will be funded to bring together local authorities and local music organisations, like orchestras, choirs and other music groups. They will work in partnership to make sure every child has a high-quality music education, including the opportunity to learn to sing, to play an instrument and to play music with others. The hubs will be fully operational from September 2012. The hubs, which will be held accountable for their effectiveness, will also help improve the consistency around the country and make sure all pupils receive a high-quality music education.

The Department has asked the Arts Council for England to run the application and approval process for the new music education hubs. Applications will need to demonstrate how they will deliver at least the core roles, which are to:

  • Ensure that every child aged 5-18 has the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument (other than voice) through whole-class ensemble teaching programmes for ideally a year (but for a minimum of a term) of weekly tuition on the same instrument.
  • Provide opportunities to play in ensembles and to perform from an early stage.
  • Ensure that clear progression routes are available and affordable to all young people.
  • Develop a singing strategy to ensure that every pupil sings regularly and that choirs and other vocal ensembles are available in the area.

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have made remarkable progress in attainment, behaviour and attendance under a Government-funded pilot, according to a new report published today.

Results from the Achievement for All programme, which has been running in around 450 schools for the last two years, saw children make greater progress in English and maths than other SEND children across the country. A significant number even exceeded the progress of non-SEND children.

The independent evaluation, carried out by the University of Manchester, also shows pupil attendance significantly improved – with an average reduction in persistent absence of 10 per cent.

Key findings from the evaluation show:

  • The pilot was successful in narrowing the attainment gap between SEND and non-SEND children.
  • 37 per cent of children achieved or exceeded expected levels of progress for all pupils nationally in English.
  • 42 per cent of children achieved or exceeded expected levels of progress for all pupils nationally in maths.
  • Improvements in attendance with a decrease of just over 10 per cent in persistent absenteeism.
  • Behaviour of pupils improved, with reductions in teacher-reported bullying and behaviour problems.
  • Awareness and focus on SEND improved – with more personalised teaching and learning.
  • There was better engagement with parents and teachers – with schools reporting excellent relationships with parents rising from 12 per cent to 48 per cent.
  • 90 per cent of schools have put Achievement for All in their school plan, and nearly all said they will continue with regular conversations with parents.
  • For children with complex needs, those on free school meals (FSM) and those with English as an additional language (EAL), progress was good but slower than their peers.

Achievement for All was a large-scale pilot, funded by the Government and supported by the National College, to improve the attainment of pupils with SEND in English and maths. It ran in around 450 schools across 10 local authorities and tracked the progress of pupils with SEND in Years 1, 5, 7 and 10. The pilot included children across the full spectrum of need, including those with statements, school action, and school action plus.

To help support the successful roll-out of Achievement for All in more schools, the report recommends:

  • A strong focus on school-led improvement to transform the outcomes for children with SEND. The most successful schools in the pilot had strong leadership from the head teacher or senior leadership team – rather than relying purely on the SEN co-ordinator (SENCO).
  • Teachers should carry out regular target reviews with parents to monitor progress of children and assess where extra help may be required.
  • Regular, scheduled conversations on educational outcomes between parents and teachers should take place, with teachers given extra training in managing these relationships.
  • Achievement for All is most successful when schools build on existing good practice and share ideas between schools.
  • For schools with high proportion of FSM, EAL and children with complex needs, schools should think about focusing additional resources on supporting these groups when implementing Achievement for All.

The Government is investing £14 million to roll out the programme across the country so more children can benefit. The programme is being delivered by a new charity, Achievement for All 3As, chaired by Brian Lamb, supported by PwC. The charity is working with the New Schools Network to support Academies and Free Schools to take up the Achievement for All offer. Achievement for All 3As is currently working with 41 local authorities and 598 schools. The Government estimates that overall 1,000 schools will have signed up to the programme by April next year

The total number of new free school applications approved has reached 87. One which is proposed in Suffolk has recruited a for profit partner to manage the running of the school with a £21 million project over 10 years, (IES, UK)

At the start of 2012, 1463 secondary schools will be, or will be about to be, academies, which is about half of them; there were just 407 at the start of 2011

Ofqual has defended Exam. Boards holding seminars to give teachers advice on qualifications, as long as “lines are not crossed”. The WJEC ICT GCSE January paper has however been withdrawn because teachers were told too much about it

The Coalition Government’s Education Bill has been granted Royal Assent. This completes the legislative framework for the Government’s key education reforms, and paves the way for important changes in schools in England.

Provisions in the Act include:

  • a power for schools to search pupils without consent for any dangerous or banned items
  • the removal of restrictions that prevent schools from issuing detentions to pupils without providing 24 hours’ written notice
  • new pre-charge reporting restrictions on allegations of criminal offences made by pupils against teachers at their school
  • a power to create an entitlement to free early years provision for disadvantaged two-year-olds
  • reforms to the procedure for the establishment of new schools, to give preference to Academies and Free Schools
  • a re-focusing of Ofsted routine school inspections on four key areas that matter most to parents
  • a power to exempt schools from routine Ofsted inspections
  • new powers to tackle underperforming schools, including extended powers for the Secretary of State to close them
  • the abolition of five existing arms-length bodies, with some of their functions transferring to new executive agencies, which are directly accountable to the Secretary of State.

Most provisions in the Act will take force within the next two months; those relating to abolition of most arms-length bodies will take effect around the end of the financial year; and the remainder of the Act commencing at the start of the next school year.

Free early education will be extended to 140,000 disadvantaged two-year- olds, and parents will be able to access the free entitlement more flexibly, under plans published by the Government

The consultation includes proposals to:

  • Make the free entitlement to 15 hours per week of early education more flexible, so it can be taken between 7am and 7pm, and spread across two days instead of the current three days.
  • Use the criteria which is used for free school meals to decide which disadvantaged two-year-olds should qualify for free early education,
  • Include two-year-olds who are looked after by the state in the eligibility criteria for free early education.

People training as Educational Psychologists will have their tuition fees paid by the Government, and will be offered bursaries to help them cover the costs of training, under new plans outlined today. £16 million of Government funding will be available to support the training of new Educational Psychologists over the next three years. The decision follows a Government review of training and funding for Educational Psychologists which recommends that training needs to become more sustainable

The Department has launched a consultation with local authorities on regulations so that local authority land can be transferred more quickly when a maintained school becomes an academy. The consultation will run for ten weeks from today until 18 January 2012.

Around 100 scholarships worth £20,000 each will be available every year for graduates with a 2:1 or first class degree who are intending to do a mainstream physics, or physics with maths, Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course.

Voluntary and community organisations will help deliver key reforms to support children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities, and their parents. The Department for Education is providing funding of around £6 million a year for two years to deliver the support. The organisations will support the delivery of short breaks, provide greater information and help to parents, and help disabled young people and those with SEN prepare for employment, training and independent living after they leave school.

The organisations and contracts are:

  • The IMPACT consortium (SERCO in partnership with the Short Breaks Network): to help local authorities deliver their legal obligations to provide short breaks and involve parents in how short breaks are provided.
  • The Council for Disabled Children: to support local parent partnership services across England that provide parents with clear information about their rights and responsibilities under SEN legislation, along with local information about options and choices to meet their child’s SEN.
  • A consortium led by the National Development Team for Inclusion: to improve outcomes for young people with SEN and disabilities. The consortium will work with local authorities, schools, young people and their femployment, training and independent living after they leave school.
  • The ES Trust with the National Children’s Bureau: to extend the successful Early Support programme to improve the quality, consistency and coordination of services for disabled children over five years old (the programme is currently designed from birth to five years old) and help develop key worker training.
  • The Early Language Consortium, led by I CAN, the children’s communication charity: to introduce Early Language Development Training for people working with children up to five years old. The training amilies to raise aspirations in secondary school and plan for will focus on the importance of early language development to improve communication and language skills for all children, particularly those with SEN.

Ministers are consulting on simplifying and reducing the regulations around school buildings, as part of the independent Capital Review recommendations, which proposed how to build and maintain school buildings better and more cost effectively.

Revised school admissions and appeals codes have been published following a 12-week consultation on proposals to overhaul the current system
The new codes, include two new proposals:

  • Streamlining the primary school place offer system by introducing a new “national offer day There is already a secondary school national offer day, on March 1 each year. The primary school day is set to be on April 16 each year, starting in 2014. A three-week consultation on the codes’ regulations, including this date, starts shortly.
  • Giving adopted children who were previously looked after (and children who leave care under a special guardianship or residence order) the same, highest priority for places as they had as looked-after children.
  • The revised codes confirm most of the plans set out in the consultation. They:
  • Give greater freedom to successful schools so they can increase the number of places they offer to children in their area.
  • Allow schools to give some priority to children of those staff who have been employed for at least two years or who have been recruited to meet a school’s particular skills shortage.
  • Allow schools to take twins and other multiple-birth children, and children of armed forces personnel, into infant classes even if it takes the class over the 30-child legal limit..
  • Allow academies and Free Schools to prioritise pupils from the poorest backgrounds.
  • Introduce a new in-year admissions process so fewer children face delays in finding a new school. Parents will apply direct to schools, rather than having to go through a local authority.
  • Ban councils from using area-wide “lotteries” as the principal method of allocating places across a local authority area..
  • Cut bureaucracy by requiring admission authorities to consult on arrangements only every seven years, rather than every three years, if no changes are proposed..
  • Allow anyone to object to admissions arrangements.

Prescription has also been stripped out of the draft Appeals Code to reduce costs and bureaucracy for local authorities and schools.

  • Parents will have at least 20 days to lodge an appeal against primary or secondary school decisions..
  • Guidance against hearing appeals on school premises will be overturned.
  • Admission authorities will no longer be required to advertise for lay appeal members every three years, but must ensure that panel members are independent and that they retain their independence for the duration of their service.

The Department intends to bring them into force on February 1, 2012. Admissions for the September 2013 intake will be the first to be operated under the new codes.

There is some concern about a new clause has been inserted, which bans objections in two key areas: where governing bodies have decided to increase their planned admissions number (PAN) and where independent state schools have been allowed an “agreed variation” to the requirement that they follow the admissions code in their funding agreements. There is a worry that this could leave these schools able to do very much what they like in terms of admissions policies

From HMCI’s Annual Report


  • Overall, in a context of targeted inspection, 11% of schools were judged outstanding; 46% good; 38% satisfactory and 6% inadequate this year.  This compares to last year’s figures where 13% were outstanding; 43% good; 37% satisfactory and 8% inadequate.
  • The ‘state of the nation’ picture, looking at the most recent inspection judgement for all schools in England, shows that 20% of schools are outstanding; 50% are good; 28% are satisfactory and 2% are inadequate.  This is similar to the overall picture at 31 August 2010 when 18% of schools were outstanding, 50% were good, 30% were satisfactory and 3% were inadequate.
  • In the fifth of schools serving the least deprived pupils, 27% of schools were satisfactory.
  • A third of all schools inspected during 2010/11 improved their performance compared with their previous inspection and nearly half maintained their performance. Nearly a fifth received a lower overall effectiveness grade. This is a slightly more positive picture than in 2009/10.
  • Forty percent of schools previously judged to be outstanding that were inspected this year declined. The large majority of these schools were selected for inspection following a risk assessment.
  • Primary schools which were most successful in teaching children to read by six had a very rigorous, systematic approach to teaching phonic knowledge and skills. This laid the foundations for successful reading, writing and spelling.
  • Most of the academies inspected this year were sponsored academies where previously the school had experienced a history of failure or low performance. Of the 75 academies inspected this year, 40 were judged to be providing a good or outstanding education for their pupils and five were inadequate.
  • 800 schools are stuck at satisfactory, inspection after inspection

As with last year’s findings, the need to improve the quality of teaching is highlighted as a key issue in the Annual Report. Although there has been a slight improvement, teaching was no better than satisfactory in 41% of schools overall; just 3% of teaching in secondary schools was rated outstanding

The report highlights continuing concerns about the quality of provision for those children and learners from deprived backgrounds or who may be vulnerable. The more deprived the family a child comes from, the more likely they are to attend an inadequate school. The fifth of schools serving the most deprived pupils were four times more likely to be inadequate at inspection this year than the fifth of schools serving the least deprived. In addition, 11% of education provided directly by children’s homes is inadequate. There are also substantial differences in quality of childcare between more and less affluent areas. But there is also evidence of how it can be done well – this year alone, 85 schools serving pupils from the most deprived families were judged outstanding and the gap in standards between early years providers in the most and least deprived areas has closed slightly.

“Worryingly, the quality of teaching in our schools is still too variable. Good teaching is absolutely essential to the provision of a good education and quite simply too much of what our inspectors saw this year was not good quality. Our new inspection framework will focus more attention on this important issue which must be a priority for improvement in the school system.”

The Church of England is looking to expand its number of schools, and form close links with others

An Ofsted report says that teaching of ICT is inadequate in one fifth of secondary schools, with a lack of challenge and poor coverage of key aspects of the curriculum. The industry is calling for programming to be a key focus of the curriculum

A large number of new academies are having their funding adjusted, often downwards, in the middle of the school year by quite large amounts, and some are still waiting to hear their final budgets; the problem is caused by the deficiencies of the YLPA

NAS teachers are currently operating a work to rule over workload, job losses and pension issues, which includes not supervising students at lunchtime, invigilating public exams, cover, implementing school policies that have not been evaluated for impact on workload, undertaking clerical or admin. tasks, being observed by anyone who is not a qualified teacher, accepting any classroom observation that is not agreed in their annual performance management review and attending after hours unscheduled meetings.

A survey of parents reveals that 80% believe that they should just send their children to the nearest secondary school; 63% said choice was not a priority

The Prime Minister has told independent schools that they have a duty to sponsor academies. Most do not seem keen, but Manchester Grammar is planning to start a free school in 2013

Research shows a strong statistical link between poor student attendance and parents being unemployed

The DfE is suggesting that calculators should be banned from primary classrooms, and has asked the NC review to look at this

With more and more schools having sixth forms, there is evidence of strong competition between providers to recruit students

The Chancellor has indicated his intention to introduce regional pay deals for teachers. In his autumn statement, and has instructed the School teachers Review Body to report by July on this. He also announced that there will be a cap on the pay rises of teachers of 1% per year once the public sector pay freeze ends in 2013

The new Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has made an early statement of some of his views which include;

  • He is in favour of performance related pay, with an end to automatic pay rises when not enough lessons are good
  • Schools should be described as just “grade 3” and not “satisfactory”
  • Ofsted should comment on teachers’ “demeanour and dress”
  • The need for local supervision of academies
  • Some children are designated as SEN to cover poor teaching of them
  • “if anyone says to you that staff morale is at an all time low then you will know that you are doing something right”

As part of its crackdown on satisfactory schools with behavior issues, Ofsted has launched a campaign of one day no notice inspections

The DfE continues to plan the introduction of a national funding formula for schools, but there is no decision as yet. The IFS has warned that one version of it that has been looked at, that would delegate the money directly to schools could mean a 10% cut for urban schools

New figures show that numbers applying to teacher-training courses have fallen by almost a third despite the generous bursaries on offer

Schools using any form of biometric identification system will need the permission of both parents of each child if the present Protection of Freedoms Bill becomes law

The number of employee disputes at academies that are serious enough to require the intervention of ACAS, has risen fourfold in the last year

Al the Exam Boards have announced that they are stopping offering Diplomas, in some cases as early as next September

Schools around the country are facing enforced conversion to academy status against the wishes of parents, staff and governors and this especially true of primary schools, with Michael Gove using his new powers against “failing schools”

Michael Gove faces new controversy over claims that private schools that switch sectors could continue to choose pupils by ability, thus increasing the amount of selection in the state sector. It also is the case that that parents are to be stripped of the right to object to the expansion of grammar schools under the new school admissions code. The DfE denies that it is prepared to allow an expansion of selection

Research reveals that children from low-to-middle income families are half a year behind their better-off peers when starting school, so we need to support them as well as those from the poorest families

More children than previously thought miss school because of misdiagnosed chronic fatigue syndrome or ME, according to research

TV chef Jamie Oliver has accused the education secretary, Michael Gove, of letting unhealthy food back into schools, reports the BBC. The row relates to meal provision in academies, some of which are seeking to end the ban on sausage rolls, sweets and other snacks banished by law from school dinner menus in 2008. Academies are exempt from the regulations which restrict the amount of sugary, fatty and salty foods in school meals. Catering representatives told the BBC that some academies are asking them to put these foods back on the menu.

Schools must do more to engage children who are passively “opting out” of lessons, the government’s adviser on behaviour has warned From next year school inspections will focus more on children who are “switching off” in class, a move which, Taylor said, could lead to some schools rated as outstanding being downgraded

The existing 24 free schools are taking only half the proportion of deprived pupils compared with other state schools in England, data revealed under the Freedom of Information Act shows

Academies have 50% more senior staff on salaries in excess of £80,000 than maintained secondaries, according to a 2010 National Audit Office report. The trend continues, with a new workforce analysis from the DfE confirming that academies pay their senior staff more, and have a higher proportion on leadership grades; why this should be is being questioned. At the same time, Charities that run chains of academies are using public funds to pay senior staff six-figure salaries, with some on £240,000 or more whilst senior staff at three chains – Ark Schools, Harris Federation and the United Learning Trust – awarded already high-earning staff performance-related bonuses, or increased their pension, salary and bonus packages from the previous year.

David Cameron plans to widen the definition of coasting schools ‘so that average schools are pressed to do better’. Many schools in wealthy villages and market towns are “smothering” the potential of their middle-class pupils, the prime minister has warned. David Cameron said comprehensives in these areas often had a decent reputation because they had “respectable” results, but this hid the fact that they had pupils who could be performing much better.

Children born in August, the youngest in each school year, are less likely to go on to study at top universities than their older classmates, a think-tank study has found.

Tony Stephens

For the Ormiston Academies Trust

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