Education Update – 6th January 2012 to June 2012

Selected items from the National scene as reported by TES

TES 6th January 2012

New Ofsted Inspection Framework

Under Sir Michael Wilshaw, inspectors will now be asked to report on just 4 areas:

  1. Achievement of pupils
  2. Quality of teaching
  3. Quality of leadership and management
  4. How well behaved and safe children are.

In the summer term approximately 500,000 5 to 6 year olds will sit a phonics screening test.

Key Stage 2 National Curriculum tests will take place as usual and a Year 6 writing test will be sent to pupils for schools to choose when to hold it and for it to be marked internally.

TES 13th January 2012

Drop in graduates applying for teacher training

There were only 34,314 applicants as opposed 39,719 in 2011 – a drop of 13.6%.

TES 20th January 2012

Another change in Ofsted’s proposals

The ‘satisfactory’ category will be removed and be replaced by ‘requires improvement’.  Any school receiving that grade will be re-inspected within 18 months.  This will affect approx. 6,000 of ‘satisfactory’ schools.

TES 3rd February 2012

New schools

New legislation, part of the Education Act, comes into effect this week.  It means that all new schools must have either academy of free school status.

Bishop’s policy changes admissions

50% of the C of E’s 4,800 schools control their own admissions policies.  The Bishop of Oxford, the Right Rev. John Pritchard, Chairman of the C of E’s National Board of Education, has stated that he wants to limit places reserved for Anglicans and other Christians to 10%.  This has created a storm of protest.

Welsh schools

Literacy and numeracy skills are still causing great concern because 40% of pupils entering secondary schools have a reading age 6 months below their chronological age.  However, standards of well-being are high.

TES 10th February 2012

New Chief of Ofsted’s proposals

From September it is proposed that:

  • All schools will have no-notice inspections.
  • Schools will not be graded outstanding unless teaching is outstanding.
  • Only good and outstanding schools will be regarded as offering an ‘acceptable standard of education’.
  • ‘Satisfactory’ is renamed ‘requires improvement’.
  • After a 3rd such labelling a school will automatically go into special measures.

Eton head’s suggestion

The headmaster of Eton, Mr. Little, is asking for GCSEs to be replaced by a basic school leaving certificate.  This would include a limited number of subjects as core (eg. English, maths, science and a foreign language) allowing schools to offer pupils courses that would be more appropriate in preparing them for work.

EY education benefits last into teen years

The EPPSE 3-14 project (Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education) has evidence from its research tracking 3,000 pupils through their school lives, that EY gives long-term benefits.  Pupils performed better in Key Stage 3 Tests if they had attended pre-schools.

TES 17th February 2012

New specialist maths schools

The government plans to open 16 specialist maths schools for 16-18 year olds in the next 3 years.  The plan is that these would enable talented mathematicians to flourish.

A Bible for every school

The government plans to send a copy of the King James Bible to every primary and secondary school in England to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

Free schools increase

Since 2009, 24 Free Schools have opened and more than 70 are being processed.  350 new groups wish to open Free Schools from 2013.

TES 24th February 2012

Performance related pay for teachers

Automatic pay rises may not be secure since Michael Gove has verbalised his intention to introduce performance related pay for teachers.

RE concerns

Research by James Conroy, Professor of Religious and Philosophical Education at the University of Glasgow, indicates the subject is under-funded and suffering insufficient time and resources.  His study of 24 UK schools warns that RE lessons now cover everything from relationships, sex and citizenship but are not exploring issues of faith which they would be expected to do.

TES 2nd March 2012


  • 1,580 schools are now academies
  • 1243 have become academies since the election
  • 578 of these are outstanding
  • 47% of all secondary schools are academies
  • 53% of all outstanding secondary schools are academies
  • Only 37 schools sponsor a weaker school

New teaching standards from September 2012

The government is likely to introduce payment by performance and heads will have the freedom to set their own expectations of their teachers.

Exclusion of pupils

Reforms to be introduced in September mean that head teachers will have to pay £4000 if they press ahead with exclusions against the recommendations of a panel of independent review.  Heads will receive the funding originally used by local authorities in order to pay for alternative provision for a referred pupil.

TES 9th March 2012

Schools must be accountable for their use of finance

New proposals as of September 2012 mean that schools will need to publish the money they receive for the pupil premium.  Sarah Teather claims that these new proposals will give parents a greater say over how money is allocated.

Teacher training

From September 2012 the primary PGCE will mean that trainees spend an extra 6 weeks in school, bringing the total time of their training in school to 24 weeks i.e. two thirds of their course.

TES 16th March 2012

Government insists on phonics

All trainees must be taught the phonics method of learning to read and schools are being asked to embrace it.

TES 23rd March 2012

Religious groups and militant secularism

The rise of so-called ‘militant’ secularism has prompted the Church of England to encourage their schools to be ‘robustly asserting’ their Christianity.  The Rt Rev John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford and chair of the C of E National Board of Education has called schools to be more explicit over their Christian faith and values.  ‘Our schools are a gift to the nation’ he said.  ‘They have been serving communities for more than 200 years and are very popular with parents.’

GCSE grades 2011

Entrants gaining 5 or more A* to C grades including English and Maths:

  • N Ireland         60%
  • England           58.3%
  • Wales              49.6%

Ofsted chief’s warning

Sir Michael Wilshaw warned heads of outstanding schools that they could be downgraded if they refuse to support struggling primaries or secondaries nearby.

TES 30th March 2012

Pupil violence

A survey of members of the ATL education union shows that a third of school and college teachers have dealt with violence from pupils during the current school year.  1 in 4 teachers said that violence had been directed at them.

EYFS reforms

The new EYFS aims to cut bureaucracy and has reduced the 69 goals to 17 ‘early learning goals’.  The 17 goals will be under the following 3 main headings:

  • Communication and language
  • Physical development
  • Personal, social and emotional development

Other goals include:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design

TES 27th April 2012

Growth of faith schools

Numbers of faith secondary schools:

  • 631 compared to 613 in 2010
  • Non-faith secondary schools – 2679 compared to 2717 in 2010
  • Number of pupils attending faith secondary schools has grown to 587,170 compared to 565,120 in 2010

TES 4th May 2012

Union supports performance related pay

NAHT heads’ union suggests that automatic pay rises based on length of service be removed allowing heads to reward high-performing teachers regardless of their experience.

Academies have to repay finance

Due to a government funding mistake 128 academies have received too much funding fron the government (according to a freedom of information request).  A total of nearly £15,000,000 has to be repaid meaning that each school will have to repay an average of nearly £118,000 by the end of the year.  The DFE was aware of the problems and is working to ensure that schools are funded more fairly.

TES 11th May 2012

Reform of SEN

  • SEN statements and learning difficulty assessments for 16-25 year olds will be replaced by single education, health and care plans from 2014.
  • Statutory protection for SEN people in FE up to the age of 25 will be provided.
  • Local authorities must publish details of support available for SEN disabled children and young people and their families.
  • This gives parents the right to a personal budget for their support.

TES 18th May 2012

SEN proposed reforms – Government planning may greatly reduce pupils categorised SEN

  • SEN statement to be replaced by a single education health & care plan
  • Personal budgets to be given to parents
  • Legal protection for people with SEN up to 25 yrs

Troops to Teachers

50 former service men and women with degrees are invited to apply to join the GTP programme.  Most of the 50 places are for secondary – foreign languages, maths, physics and chemistry

Literacy plan for Wales

‘The National Literacy Programme’ for Wales will include yearly reading tests for 5 – 14 year olds.  Literacy and numeracy are to be embedded in all subjects.

TES 25th May 2012

iPads and exams

  • University      of Cambridge International Exams (CIE) is first board to experiment with      the use of iPads in exams.
  • Ofqual’s      former chief executive had warned, earlier in the year, that retaining      traditional writing materials in exams cannot continue long-term as it      would lead to problems for pupils whose natural medium is IT.
  • Key      Stage 2 writing tests have been voted out by 75% of primary schools.  Only 2,700 schools voted to keep an      externally marked Sats exam.


Kazakhstan invites British teachers to help overhaul the country’s education system.

Every Child Matters

The government wishes to redress the focus on academic learning whilst recognising that the 5 outcomes were valid for their time but they are not now to be so prominent.  The government wants to use the general aim for pupils ‘to achieve more’.

Other changes

Ofsted has dropped specific grades for pupils’ spiritual, moral and cultural development. Grades for the development of work-place skills, and contributing to the school and wider community have also been dropped.  There are fears that the change of the government’s focus could mean adverse consequences for vulnerable pupils.

TES 1st June 2012

Free Schools

  • 24 Free Schools now open
  • 79 more approved for      September
  • 100+ expected to be      approved in November
  • 330 applications to open      in 2013
  • £337,000,000 was spent on      Free Schools up to April 2012
  • Assistance for groups      wishing to open a Free School in a deprived area is to be doubled.  The new schools network has announced      £500,000 has been made available to support 40 projects.

Independent schools opting out of EYFS

500 pre-prep schools may refuse the framework on the grounds that parental choice is paramount.  David Hanson, IAPS chief executive, explained that the main concern was that the government imposed a methodology on all schools.  ‘We believe that it is a fundamental breach of human rights: parents should be able to choose the education they want for their children.’

TES 15th June 2012

Review of GCSE controlled assessment

Ofqual has responded to comments from a Chief Executive that controlled assessment should be scrapped.

Reformed National Curriculum

  • The reformed National      Curriculum sets out what should be taught year by year and emphasises such      aspects as the learning of tables; foreign languages from age 7 years;      long-division, fractions and decimals in the primary school.
  • Phonics test – more than      550,000 pupils aged 5 to 6 years took the government’s 10 minute Phonics      Test.  Although many schools      reported that the test didn’t show them anything new about their children,      the evaluation of the pilot test found the opposite in nearly half of the      schools.

Foreign Languages in English Primary Schools

90% offer French

25% offer Spanish

10% offer German

TES 29th June 2012

Government reform of GCSEs

TES understands that 2 types of exams are still planned, although ministers minimise the idea of a 2-tier system.  More demanding O-level style qualifications will be introduced allowing flexibility for pupils to take them at any stage up to the age of 18 years.  There would also be exams which are less demanding which have been compared to the N-levels used in Singapore.

Ofsted’s judgement of inadequate schools

It was originally announced that the real figure of inadequate schools, out of the 2075 state schools visited between January and March 2012, was 13%.

The chief examiner warns of low standards and inflation of grades.

TES 13th July 2012

Assessment for learning – most schools are doing it wrong

The two academics who co-authored ‘Inside the Black Box’ (Prof Dylan Wiliam and Paul Black) which introduced teachers to the concept of using assessment to help pupils improve, claim that it has been misused in order to grade pupils’ knowledge.  It was meant to enable pupils to become owners of their own learning.