Education Update – September – October 2017

Education Update – September – October 2017

Selected items from the national scene as reported by TES


Concern over decline in PE hours on timetable

A survey by Youth Sports Trust published in 2015 found that the number of hours dedicated to PE lessons in school had dropped below two hours per week. The survey found that 5-7yr olds spent an average of only 102 minutes per week compared to 126 minutes in 2009-10.  Similar drops were recorded at all levels including secondary schools.  Schools have a statutory duty to deliver PE to pupils aged 5-16 but there is no legal level to the amount of time. Whilst some schools are outstanding the survey found as little as 30 minutes a week given to PE.

New Education Union Founded

A new union has been formed from the merger of the NUT and ATL unions – it is named The National Education Union and is the largest education union in Europe and the fourth largest in the TUC. Its creation is designed to strengthen the hand of education trade unionist in a school system fragmented by the rise of academy trusts. According to the latest figures, it will have 462,267 members.  The joint leaders, Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, plan to engage with political parties to tackle present priorities such as Sats and league table policies and funding and teacher workload.


Big increase in Exclusions

Research by the TES reveals exclusions have ‘dramatically increased in some areas of the country.’ In one local authority, Slough, they increased by more than 300% between 2015-16 and 2016-17. In several other authorities, an increase of at least 50% was experienced. Of 118 authorities, an average 12% rise was noted.  Slough, Redcar, Cleveland and Newcastle had increases of more than 200%.  Behaviour expert Jarlath O’Brien belies staff shortages due to budget cuts are part of the reason. Ineffective behaviour management systems and Ofsted are also blamed.   A DfE spokesperson says: “Any decision to exclude should be lawful, reasonable and fair.  While exclusion can be used as a sanction for schools to deal with poor behaviour, permanent exclusions should only be used as a last resort, in response to a serious breach or persistent breaches of the school’s behaviour policy.” (See also ‘The Law on Exclusion’ from our TES supplement notes for 14th July 2017).

Readiness of Children starting Primary school.

A survey of school leaders by NAHT heads’ union and the Family and Childcare Trust has found that 86% of 780 responses believe the issue has become worse over the past 5 years.

Three major issues (from 520 responses) causing concern are Speech, Language and communication: 95%; Personal, social and emotional development: 94%; Physical development including toilet training: 78%.

Ofsted Chief wants the inspectorate to ‘release the burden’ on schools

Ofsted chief, Amanda Spielman, in an article in this TES, says that Ofsted inspections should not involve weeks of preparation: what inspectors want to see is a true impression of life in the school. The Chief inspector also promised a period of stability as Ofsted is working towards a new framework for Sept 2019 and that there will be no ‘kneejerk reactions’ to outcomes from the latest GCSE results.  A national survey of curriculum in schools and colleges is showing a trend to shorten Key Stage 3 in favour of starting GCSE early; the suspension of wider curriculum to make way for Sats preparation.  Ofsted inspectors are being given a ‘robust package of training and analytical support.’ (Full article p30 in the TES).


Education Secretary Justine Greening speaks out

In an interview with the TES, Justine Greening backs the rights of schools to exclude the pupils they choose to, even if exclusion rates soar, as reported in the 8th Sept magazine. (See above) The minister also argues for classroom teachers’ salaries to remain competitive. One pledge surviving the scrapping of some policies after a disastrous election for the Conservatives, is the manifesto ‘to offer forgiveness on student-loan repayments while they are teaching.’ She also states that, over time, she would like all schools to become academies.

Ex-Education Minister Nicky Morgan’s new book

‘Taught Not Caught’ is where Nicky Morgan speaks out with a battle cry for politicians to look beyond Whitehall’s limited vison.  Schools, she writes, should help prepare pupils for “the tests of life rather than a life of tests”. She prioritises Character Education. She says: “A truly one-nation government must not accept that only some people deserve the opportunities to build character that will help them to get on in life.”

Is ‘Direct Instruction’ likely to increase?

Direct Instruction (DI) was invented by American Educationalist, Siegfried Englemann, in the 1960s.  It favours carefully scripted lessons for teachers to improve pupils’ learning. It is possible that academy chains may favour such a centralised generation of teaching resources. Critics argue that this will stunt creativity. See also the US federal government’s ‘Project Follow Through’ begun in 1968 which, when evaluated in 1977, found that students taught DI had a higher academic achievement than students in other programmes.


Help for schools to spot extremism

A planned new counter-extremism commission will help to train schools to identify signs of radicalisation.  (See

10 adjustments to help pupils with dyslexia

For 10 easy steps that will cause your classroom to be more helpful for pupils with dyslexia (see

Interesting articles

  • ‘The True Path to Social Mobility’ by Jonathan Wai and Frank C. Worrell offers research to show they believe that Theresa May is going the wrong way about this. They argue for more and broader testing (pages 33-37).
  • ‘Does Technology Improve Learning?’ by Lee Elliot Major and Steve Higgins (p47)


Funding cuts

Analysis finds 88% of secondary schools will each lose, on average, a total of £1780,321 despite extra funds pledged by the Government (
World renowned Canadian researcher’s view of England’s educational climate Canadian researcher, Michael Fullan, a worldwide authority on educational reform, is highly regarded by educationalists in England. He is concerned about the ‘depressing’ state of teachers’ moral in this country. Under Blair’s government he worked closely to evaluate New Labour’s numeracy and literacy drive in England. He believes that academies are too piecemeal and he does not think that this strategy will be equitable. He has helped the Californian system to move away from its focus on testing. His desire is for teachers to move away from traditional approaches in order to develop more creativity and critical thinking as well as citizenship, character and communication. His book is ‘Big-City School Reforms’ which reflects on his time in London and other major cities.

Survey reveals Governors’ concerns

An NGA – TES Survey of 5000 governors and trustees (of whom there are 30,000 in total) reveals their concerns about the work-life balance of school leaders and teachers. More than half say it is difficult to recruit new volunteers to the role. Funding has also caused boards to make teaching posts redundant.

Three Related articles of interest

  1. ‘The Rise and Fall of the Text Book’ (TES p12). A TES/YGove Survey reveals that only 1 in 10 teachers say they use textbooks in more than half of their lessons – a drop from 13% three years ago. More staff seem to be using Internet resources due to the reduced budgets of school finance, despite Schools Minister Nick Gibbs’ resistance and ‘anti-textbook ethos’ and the DfE’s promised matched funding for certain textbooks.
  2. See Insight article on textbooks (TES p 16ff)
  3. Pedagogy article emphasising the importance of the teacher’s role as one giving direct instruction. ‘Direct Instruction is not state didactive teaching but it could be in the wrong hands.’


Government plan for ‘English Hubs’

Justine Greening has unveiled plans for the government to create new £12 million network of English hubs in the Northern Powerhouse to further improve early language and literacy.

Most ‘Coasting’ schools avoid becoming academies

Despite the Conservative election manifesto of 2015 which stated the intention to “turn every failing and coasting school into an academy”, none of the nearly 500 maintained primaries and Secondaries have been turned into academies as a result. DfE data reveals that 54% of ‘coasting’ primaries, 55% of Secondaries and 57% of non-academies were told no further action was needed. A DfE spokesperson stated that the work of RSC with these schools has ensured that support is available to secure improvements; also stated was that more formal intervention to becoming an academy was likely to happen in only a minority of cases.

Lord Nash replaced

Sir Theodore Agnew, who has served alongside Lord Nash, has become government minister overseeing much of England’s school system. He is well versed in the world of academies and free schools both from a national and personally involved perspective. He is expected to be a strong advocate of academies. He is also expected to take a businessman’s approach to making the DfE achieve his objectives.

The treatment of the NorthEast schools

The North East has grown tired of an education which chastises them on the one hand, on the basis of national attainment indicators and on the other does little to support a region with challenging societal circumstances. The research of Dr Rebecca Allen, director of Education Datalab, illustrates that the region’s schools are the best in the country, both at primary and secondary level, in terms of positive impact. The SCHOOLS NorthEast Summit takes place in Newcastle on 12th October.

Schools in Special Measures

350 schools were in special measures as of 31st August 2017. On average it takes 308 days (excluding school holidays) for schools to come out of special measures.


Subjects overlooked by Ofsted reports

A TES analysis of existing Ofsted reports has found that subjects other than Maths and English are barely mentioned in the key findings of Ofsted inspectors. History, Geography and languages featured in the key-findings of only 1 in 20 reports.


In 2015-16 6,685 pupils were permanently excluded. The average per day is 35 pupils permanently excluded.

Primary schools lose out in school funding

Justine Greening’s pledge at the start of this term was to give primary schools at least £3,500 per pupil. This came after much lobbying. New analysis carried out by NEU teaching union shows that pupils will attract 5% less cash in real terms by 2020 compared with 2015.

Recommended book

‘How to Think: a guide for the perplexed’ by Alan Jacobs explores factors influencing our thinking and how to improve. The book is published by Profile Books and is recommended by Mark Lehain, director of Parents and Teachers for Excellence.

Significant Article

‘Online Safety Special’ revealing police findings and experiences re: pornography and child abuse, p35ff

Posted in Educational Updates | Leave a comment

Education Update – July – August 2017

Education Update – July – August 2017

Selected items from the national scene as reported by TES


SAT Reading, Writing and Maths Results

61% of Y6 pupils reached the expected standard

71% of pupils reached the expected standard in reading: the lowest of any Sats. subject.

Mental Health Funding

The government has announced it will pay £20,000 to fund the first year of a three-year programme for every secondary school with a member of staff trained in mental health first aid.


The Law on Exclusion

All exclusions, fixed term or permanent, are covered by primary legislation: the most frequently used is the 2012 exclusion guidance.  Permanent exclusions, under the law, should only be used as a last resort.  This is to be in response to serious or persistent breaches of the school behaviour policy, and where allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of pupils or others in the school.  The headteacher is the only person who can exclude and must notify the parent of the period of the exclusion and the reasons for it. (For further details see p.38 of this TES.)

Should Art be Compulsory?

A new poll shows that three fifths of British people think that art should be taught as a compulsory subject until the age of 18.

EBacc. Target delayed

Education Secretary, Justine Greening, confirmed that the target of 90% take-up rate will be delayed.

Humanist’s Legal Challenge

A humanist parent is challenging her local authority over its decision to exclude a humanist representative from the local body responsible for overseeing religious education.

BBP University offers UK new PGCE Course

Brierly Brice Prior University is now set to offer the UK’s first PGCE course to focus on ‘knowledge-based secondary and primary school teaching’ from September.  The course will be the first to align itself with a movement that is against more ‘progressive’ teaching styles.

Lack of advice from Councils on Peer Sexual Abuse

TES has established that nearly 50% of all local councils do not provide any written guidance to schools on how they should deal with peer-on-peer sexual abuse.  The DFE statutory safeguarding guidance is ‘Keeping Children Safe in School’, devotes only three paragraphs relating to peer-on-peer abuse.


Exclusions on the rise in England

In 2011-12 there were 690 permanent exclusions in primary schools in England.

By 2015-16 numbers have risen to 1,145 in primary schools and 5,445 in secondary schools.

By comparison, in Scotland:  In 2010-11 only 60 permanent exclusions were made in all schools.

In 2014-15 only 5 were made.

11th August

Sexual Misconduct on the increase

New figures show that hundreds of pupils, some as young as 5 years of age, have been temporarily or permanently excluded for sexual misconduct. (

Accusation that new GCSE Targets have a Racist Impact

A new paper, ‘Moving the Goalposts: education policy and 25years of the black/white achievement gap’, clams that the introduction of tougher GCSE benchmarks for schools has actually had ‘a marked regressive and racist impact’ that ‘served to maintain a black disadvantage’.  The paper will be published in the British Education Research Journal.


Lack of Support for new numerical GCSE grades

A survey of 1,000 parents in England revealed that nearly two thirds of those with children studying GCSEs do not support the numerical system. The TES and Mumsnet poll reveals that three quarters of parents do not think enough information was provided and two thirds do not know that a 9 represents a top grade in the new system. There is also confusion over what represents a pass.

Let Toys be Toys Campaign

This group challenges gender stereotypes and uses social media to persuade retailers to offer their wares in broader, less gender-specific categories.


National Audit of Ofsted

NAO is conducting an investigation into Ofsted to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the watchdog.  It will also examine whether Ofsted’s approach to school inspection is providing value for money to the taxpayer.

GCSE Exam results are down

Results are down from 66.9% to 66.3% for A* to C or 9-4.  Intentionally tougher Maths, English Language and English Literature papers were used for the first time.

Number of EAL pupils in schools in England

The number of EAL pupils in primary schools has steadily risen from 518,020 (16%) in 2010 to 771,083 (20.6%) in 2017.  In secondary schools 378,220 (11.6%) in 2010 has risen to 520,083 (16.2%) in 2017.

Posted in Educational Updates | Leave a comment

Education Update – May – June 2017

Education Update – May – June 2017

Selected items from the national scene as reported by TES


Education Datalab

Rebecca Allen is the director of Education Datalab, the research organisation she co-founded 2 years ago.  It has established a reputation as one of the most authoritative voices in the research world of education.  Datalab is part of the non-profit company FFT Education Ltd and aims to provide research to inform education policy and improve teaching practice.


Article on PSHE interviewing Jonathan Baggaley, Chief Executive of PSHE Association

Jonathan Baggaley urges that teachers be trained in SHE.  He believes it helps young people develop values and attributes such as resilience and confidence.  He feels strongly that sex and relationships education (SRE) should only ever be taught as part of the PSHE curriculum.  Sex has become an increasingly safeguarding issue.  The national Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) was launched to deal with the difficult issues relating to such issues as sexting etc.  He believes it vital for every school to have a PSHE specialist teacher and for the subject to be assessed.  The PSHE association exists to provide resources for its 3,000 members.

Sir Michael Wilshaw’s eight steps for heads to be more successful at running a Comprehensive school

  • Ensure that the school culture promotes good behaviour, such as punctuality and smart attire
  • Be a powerful presence in the corridors – do not spend lots of time outside of school
  • Make sure you have high expectations of pupils – do not ignore the needs of the most able
  • Do not be frightened to set and stream
  • Improve teaching and learning through good CPD
  • Make sure the literacy and numeracy is right in the school
  • Be competitive and ambitious – aim to be better than grammar schools
  • Strive to get top students into top universities


SATS Stage 2, Confusion

After the confusion last summer over how teachers are to assess pupils’ writing, a TES investigation reveals two-thirds of the moderators trained for this summer, incorrectly assessed pupils’ work when tested earlier this year.  There are fears for problems this summer.  53% were judged to require further training and 12% were officially judged to have failed.

DfE guidance for flexible employment

The DfE published ‘Flexible working in Schools’ to set out how employees have a legal right to ask for flexible working, which employers can only refuse if they have reasonable grounds to do so.  An increasing number of teachers want to work flexibly and could help address the teacher shortage crisis.  Related to this, a government recruitment scheme aimed at persuading 1000+ people back into teaching, resulted in only 49 returning to the classroom, according to official figures.  The failure of the scheme has been partly blamed on teachers’ need for flexible hours.

An argument for a new vision of education

Peter Hyman, headteacher and co-founder of School 21 in East London, has written ‘Success in the 21st Century: the education of head, heart and hand’.  (For more information visit  He argues that literacy and numeracy will still underpin everything.  Expertise in maths, science and computer science will still be important.  In addition, communication, interpersonal skills, problem-solving, collaboration and networking, analysis and synthesis, creativity and agility of mind will matter more to employers than some of the more routine thinking skills being presently tested in exams.  Pupils must be taught to question, challenge and discern real from fake and need a moral compass.


Heads views of EBacc

Eight in ten heads say EBacc is limiting opportunities for less academic pupils and more than two fifths of heads surveyed believe that splitting the curriculum into separate academic and vocational streams would be a good idea.

Maths Crisis?

A TES investigation has revealed that teacher shortages, constant change to exams and funding ‘turmoil’ are creating a crisis.  The government want to make mathematics a compulsory subject post-16 yrs and are planning a network of specialist maths schools across the country.  Leading mathematicians warn that the Conservatives’ plan to open a specialist maths school in every major city in England will be counter-productive, draining expertise (which is already scarce) away from mainstream schools.

Lord Nash

As a minister in the Department of Education, Lord Nash could be about to play a key role in the operation of new grammar schools depending on the election result.

Private Schools move towards Co-education

New research from the independent Schools Council (ISC) has highlighted that the number of single-sex independent schools (with roughly an equal number of boys or girls) has fallen between 2008 and 2017 from 65 in 2008 to 13 schools in 2017.


Statistics re teachers

8.7% of secondary teachers left state education in 2015 (6.6% left in 2011)

Maths GCSEs damaged pupils’ confidence

Even able students and their teachers have warned that the first of the new maths exams have damaged pupils’ confidence and one teacher who sat the exam said that it included some ‘ridiculously difficult’ questions.

Mental Health Crisis in Schools

The TES has established that stretched health resources are a cause of increasing numbers of pupils making apparent suicide attempts so as to be seen by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs).  Camhs have also seen a dramatic increase in calls from teenagers expressing suicidal thoughts.  A survey by The Association of School and College Leaders in 2016 found that almost one in five pupils are experiencing anxiety and stress.  In 20125 (the latest figures) of all those referred to Camhs (28%) were not allocated a service; 58% were placed on a waiting list and 14% received provision immediately.

Brendan Cox speaks out

Husband of murdered MP Jo Cox urges teachers to ‘be brutally honest with young kids about extremism’.  He also insists that teacher and parents have a duty to emphasise to children that society is not full of people actually looking to cause harm.

Overruling Ofsted’s negative judgement does not succeed

In 2013-14, 3 of all formal complaints about Ofsted resulted in a change of judgement but in 2015-16 none succeeded.  Of 7 legal challenges, none resulted in the report being altered or not published.  John Denning, chairman of governors at Durham Free School, claims his experience of the complaints process is a ‘whitewash’.  He highlights the fact that schools are not normally given the evidence base for Ofsted inspectors’ decisions.

Concern over pressure on the SEND support system

Latest government figures show that the number of children refused an assessment for an educational health and care plan (EHC) rose by more than a third last year.  Funding is regarded by the Local Government Association as a root cause of the problem.


Some facts from TES.Com

  • Education Minister Justine Greening is reappointed Education Secretary but her majority in her Putney seat dropped from 10,180 to 1,554.
  • More than half of MPs in the Commons went to comprehensive schools.
  • Lauren Child is named as Children’s Laureate. She is the author of the Charlie and Lola books.

Increase of Sex Offences in Schools

New police figures, obtained by the TES, show that the annual number of sexual offences reported in schools has more than tripled in four years.  The annual number of sex crimes reported in schools rose by 25% in 4 years.   Figures also suggest that teachers, as well as pupils, have been victims: approximately 1 in 10 crimes were committed against adults.  NSPCC’s advice to schools is to intervene early by integrating relationships and sex education in the school curriculum.


Failed then forgotten

A TES investigation has established that out of 18 schools judged ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted solely because of safeguarding concerns, 4 have not had follow-up inspections since September 2015.  A spokesperson for the inspectorate says that schools judged to have inadequate safeguarding will normally have their first monitoring inspection within 3 to 6 months of the publication of the report that judged them ‘inadequate’.

Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield shares concerns

Appointed in 2015, Anne Longfield has a statutory duty to protect and promote the rights of all English children.  She reports that a major concern of children is anxiety over exams.  She would like children to get more support.  She also wants to focus on children who are falling through gaps by looking at referral units, alternative provision, home-schooling and madrassas.  Another area of focus will be on lower-level mental health.  She would like to see counsellors in every school.

Ollie: a registered charity Funding Suicide Prevention Training

‘Ollie’, founded in 2016, stands for ‘one life lost is enough’.  Suicide is the biggest killer of young people under the age of 35 in the UK.  In 2014, 1556 young people took their own lives.  The charity trains teachers in a two-day course ‘ASIST’ to equip them to help vulnerable young people.


Average Salaries in 2016

Headteachers of state schools   £68,300
State classroom teachers            £35,100

Inclusion Report

The report: ‘The SEN in Secondary Education’ (SENSE) can be downloaded from  In primary schools pupils with Education and Health Care Plans (EHCPs) spend the equivalent of more than a week away per year from their class and, when working in groups, were mostly with low attainers and those with SEND.  In Secondary schools 75% of lessons in English Baccalaureate subjects were taught in attainment groups.   It is judged that separating children too much into low attainment groups is highly problematic and detrimental for pupils.  The report wants the quality of SEND coverage in initial teacher-training addressed and for Heads to make SEND a priority.  Mixed attainment groups for some subjects would improve the social mix for pupils.

Posted in Educational Updates | Leave a comment

Education Update – March – April 2017

Education Update – January – February 2017

Selected items from the national scene as reported by TES


Academy chains’ plan to open ‘pupil premium grammars’

Academy chains are considering opening these schools dedicated to disadvantaged children.  The first new selective schools could be opened in one of 12 ‘opportunity areas’ set out by the government.  These areas have been named as Blackpool, Bradford, Derby, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridge, Hastings, Ipswich, Norwich, Oldham, Scarborough, Stoke-on-Trent and West Somerset.  These areas will share £72 million funding.

Many overseas schools will lose UK badge of quality

More than 100 British International Schools will lose their British School Overseas ‘Kitemark’ quality because they cannot comply with the new requirement to promote the rights of gay people.  The UK government believes it right to hold overseas British schools accountable to the same measures as The Independent School Standards, which require all institutions to ‘actively promote’ British values.

To instruct or not?

For years, there have been opposing views about direct instruction by a teacher to a class versus an enquiry-based approach.  East Asian countries, where the former method is favoured, tend to have more success in International League tables.  However, others argue that it stifles creativity.  Professor Yong Zhao argues for both sides to acknowledge the effects and defects of instruction.


Pisa admits changes may make results incomparable

Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) has admitted that making the tests computerised for the first time in 2015 may have meant it is now possible results with those done on paper may be incomparable.  Students taking the computerised tests are unable to return to previous questions if they wished to revise their answers.  The changes may also have affected the apparent decline in the ability of East Asian Maths super-powers such as South Kores, Taiwan and Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.

“Behaviour Tsar” wants funding for inclusion units

Schools running internal inclusion units for challenging pupils have found them effective but cuts in funding mean some have had to close.  Government behaviour advisor, Tom Bennett, has made this one of his recommendations in a new report, commissioned for the DfE, called ‘Creating a Culture – how school leaders can optimise behaviour’.  His report is only advisory.  It also emphasises the importance of a strong culture of good discipline, initiated by the headteacher and running throughout the school.  Tom Bennett also recommends that data on behaviour across schools should be collected – this would be useful for Ofsted.


More assessment changes for teachers

Primary teachers can expect more changes in the way they assess pupils 2018.  Ofsted is apparently reluctant to use this year’s writing assessments again this year.

Grammar schools ‘jump’ to admit more disadvantaged pupils

Before the demand is made on them by the government, more than 36% of existing grammar schools are planning to increase the numbers of disadvantaged pupils; some are lowering the entrance pass mark.

Trainee teachers need more preparation in safeguarding issues

The NSPCC believes trainee teachers are not enough aware of these issues and research by the charity shows that trainees have barely more than a day of instruction in how to handle safeguarding issues.


New grading system

New GCSEs being graded 9-1 (with 9 as top A* grade) will be introduced over a 4-year period.  First exams are being set this summer in English Literature, English Language and Maths.  There has been concern that the top 9 grade will be achieved by a very few as it will be harder to achieve than the current A*.  Exam regulator Ofqual predicts that about 20% of all grades above level 7 will be awarded a grade 9.  Tim Benton, a Cambridge Assessment researcher, believes level 9 is not much harder than A*.  Justine Greening, Education Secretary, last week announced that grade 5 (equivalent to a high C or low B) would be classed as a strong pass and a grade 4 as a standard pass.  In English Baccalaureate only a grade 4 will be needed to pass.

Finland’s new core curriculum

Finland, regarded as worthy of emulation in educational terms has made the following changes to its core curriculum: –

  • Familiarisation with computer programming
  • Developing where children learn (both in the real world, getting out into nature, visiting museums or businesses) and the virtual world (where games should be recognised more often as learning environments)
  • An hour each day of physical activity for every pupil
  • At least one multi-disciplinary learning module a year – which pupils participate in planning
  • An emphasis on 7 cross-circular competencies within each subject – including ICT competence and entrepreneurship

The new core curriculum will be in place till 2024.

Fewer new teachers are being trained

Ucas figures show that 10,350 trainees had places on training courses in England for Primary by the end of September.  This is 10% fewer than the government’s 11,489 target. The overall target was for 29,176 trainees to start post-graduate training courses last September but 24,950 began teacher training in England, a 14% shortfall.  Only 2,340 people were placed on Maths teacher training courses this year, three-quarters of the 3,102 target.


New national director of Ofsted

Mr Sean Harford is the inspectorate’s new national director, who is to make Ofsted ‘more open and approachable’ says James Pembroke, TES’s Data Doctor.  Mr Harford became an Ofsted inspector after graduating as a science teacher and becoming assistant head.  He was regional director for the East of England.  He is seeking to move the inspectorate away from over-reliance on data and says “Data is the signpost not the destination”.


Bullying still a major issue in UK

Programme for International Assessment (PISA), based on a survey of 15yr olds, has shown that, whilst 18.7% of pupils are bullied on average across developed countries, the figure for UK rises to 23.9%.  Bullying may be more physical for boys, whilst for girls it tends to be bullying through the spreading of ‘nasty rumours’ about them.

Posted in Educational Updates | Leave a comment

Education Update – January – February 2017

Education Update – January – February 2017

Selected items from the national scene as reported by TES


First government approved free school to operate in the evenings and weekends

The Campus school in Haringey, North London, will serve teenagers who are subject to court orders or who have recently been released from custody.  Young people will be ordered to attend by the courts.  They will be picked up by car and taken to the school before 10am and returned home after 7pm every day of the year, including Christmas and New Year’s Day.

C of E face criticism by headteachers

Nearly 600 church schools in central and southern England educating about 200,000 pupils are likely to be converted into academies.  The control of the schools would be by the school’s diocese, or its representative.  Headteachers are concerned that such plans would erode schools’ autonomy and could amount to ‘forced academisation by the back door’.

Change as Pisa is set to measure social and emotional learning (SEL)

In the next round of Pisa surveys, countries are likely to be judged on how well they prepare students for life in a globalised world including skills like resilience, empathy and self-esteem rather than simply on their cognitive skills in reading, science and maths.  Concerns have been expressed that different cultures may struggle with teaching SEL and may be reluctant to do so, as in Oslo, Norway.


Rural schools face cuts

More than 1000 small schools face cuts that could threaten their viability through having their budgets reduced.  This is despite Justine Greening’s assurance to Parliament than new funding arrangements would ‘protect small schools’.  A DfE spokesperson said that small rural schools will gain on average 1.3% and small and remote primary schools will see 5.3% gains.

Performance tables

Under the government’s floor standard, a progress 8 is a score of below -0.5.  282 secondary schools fell below it and 319 secondaries were classed as ‘coasting’; meaning that fewer than 60% of pupils achieved 5 A*-C GCSEs in 2015 and 2014.

7000 extra teacher examiners needed

Due to the significant challenges presented by GCSE and A-level reform, thousands more teachers are needed to be examiners.

Schools urged to offer CBT to pupils

Psychologists have called for schools to offer cognitive behavioural therapy to pupils facing mental health problems.  It is considered particularly effective in teaching depression and anxiety, which are 2 of the biggest problems facing pupils today.  CBT helps to change negative thought patterns by breaking them down into smaller parts.

ICT survey reveals lack of protection for pupils from online radicalisation

A survey of more than 1300 ICT lead teachers in schools show that 51% of teachers in primary schools and 49% in Secondaries ‘need training in e-safety issues’.


Measuring character: by a new app

Pendle Vale College in Lancashire is the first school in the UK to attempt to measure pupils’ character, including ‘grit’ and problem-solving.  Staff and students will be able to give pupils instant credit for certain behaviours through a system called Lengo.  It works by pupils carrying a computer chip that teachers can scan with a mobile device to record how they have behaved.  Credits can be issued immediately if the desired skill or character trait is exhibited.  The system can work in the playground too.  In January policymakers, advisers, academics and campaigners from 19 countries came together to discuss the best methods for assessing non-cognitive skills.  Concerns were expressed about the accuracy of tools used.

New Chartered College of Teaching

More than 1000 teachers had joined the College a few days after its official opening last week.  Dame Alison Peacock wants to encourage teachers to engage with research-informed pedagogy.  Her ambition is for the college to be “massive” and self-sufficient by 2021 and no longer reliant on government funding.  The college aims to be voluntary, teacher-led and to support professional development, promote and share evidence-informed practice and to recognise excellence.  An early priority is to develop a ‘chartered teaching’ programme which is intended to provide “high-quality professional development beyond your initial teacher training years”.

TES study on the ‘skewing’ of the government’s proposed national school funding formula

A TES analysis reveals that the government’s national school funding formula would fund deprived pupils in secondaries at a rate which is nearly a third higher than in primaries.  It is calculated this will cancel £385 of extra pupil premium money that primary school pupils currently receive.


Pisa boss warns about funding pressures damaging schools in England

In December, The National Audit Office warned that schools will face cuts to make savings of 8% by 2019-20.  Andreas Schleicher, education director of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which publishes pupils Pisa world rankings, voiced concerns over schools struggling to cut budgets by 8% to cope with increasing cost pressures.  The DfE said it had protected ‘core school funding’ and it is at a record level.  It added that it will help schools facing cost pressures and will provide advice and support to help them use their funding in cost effective ways.

It is estimated a minimum of 1,101 small rural schools will lose out on ministers’ proposals.

Nearly a third of secondaries to cut mental health support

Almost a third of secondaries are cutting back on the mental health support they offer pupils.  31% of secondary leaders in an NAHT headteachers’ union poll, reported there would be a reduction in the services provided.  67% were reducing mental health support due to budget pressures.

New book on assessment

‘Making Good Progress?: The Future of Assessment for Learning’ by Daisy Christodoulou (published by OUP).  “Assessment should improve learning, not just measure it.”


Phonics re-sit plans dropped

The DfE is dropping plans for Year 3 pupils taking resits of phonics tests after a trial found that nearly half failed for a third time.

Are some secondary schools distorting GCSE statistics by some pupils being ‘managed’ out of main stream schooling?

Education Datalab has published research suggesting that unnamed secondary schools have moved pupils from their schools to boost league-table positions.  Reasons given by some of 35 secondaries who gained up to 7 percentage points through early leavers were ‘high pupil turnover’ and the ‘mobility’ issue.  Mary Bousted, General Secretary of ATL teaching union has demanded action.  The DfE stated that statutory guidance on exclusions must be followed when taking any decisions to remove pupils.


Grammar Schools warning

The Grammar School Heads Association (GSHA) has warned that, if the government’s funding proposals go ahead, they will be forced to abandon or curtail their work with disadvantaged primary school pupils.  This is in spite of the government’s Green Paper which wants Grammar Schools to take part in this sort of outreach to “raise aspirations, improve educational practice and promote wider access” in primary schools.

More than 25% of school leaders preparing to quit

A YouGov survey of findings commissioned by the Education Support Partnership Charity, exclusively shared with TES that 27% of senior school leaders said they did not expect to be working in education beyond the next 2 years unless workloads are reduced.  Of the 865 teachers and school leaders, 43% did not expect to be working in the education sector beyond 5 years.  A DfE spokesperson reported that the DfE is focusing on unnecessary workload and the management of poor pupil behaviour.  The spokesperson also reported that teacher retention has been “broadly stable for the past 2 years”.  However, no reference was made to school leaders.

GCSE High flyers – the male/female divide

Of the 2,500 pupils achieving 10 or more A* grades in 2015’s GCSEs, almost ⅔ were girls.  In addition, out of the 26,914 students achieving at least 5 A* grades, again 60% were girls.

Professor wants government to recognise Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Professor Barry Carpenter wants recognition on FASD and guidance for teachers on this disorder.  FASD encompasses a range of birth defects and neurodevelopmental disorders caused by maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.  Children with FASD may have learning difficulties and other distinctive facial or physical abnormalities.

Posted in Educational Updates | Leave a comment