1st December 2017

Department for Education

£45m boost for young people with SEND, 30th November

The Government announced a package of support worth nearly £45 million to provide additional help for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Minister for Children and Families Robert Goodwill confirmed the additional funding for councils and organisations to continue transforming SEN provision and put families at the heart of the system.

The package of funding announced includes:

  • £29 million to support councils and their local partners to continue pressing ahead with implementation of the reforms to the SEND system;

  • £9.7 million to establish local supported internship forums, which will create work placements for young people with SEND to provide them with the skills and confidence they need to move into paid work. The funding could also be used to train job coaches, who are vital to the success of supporting those with learning difficulties into paid work; and

  • £4.6 million for Parent Carer Forums, which bring parents together with local decision makers and help to provide them with a voice in the process.

Nick Gibb: Importance of core knowledge sees return of textbooks, 30th November 2017

Speaking at a panel discussion at the Policy Exchange, School’s Standards Minister, Nick Gibb spoke the government’s support for a return to textbooks. He said:

‘….The new national curriculum was crucial for raising the bar and returning knowledge to the heart of schooling, but the teacher-led move back towards textbooks will be integral to ensuring that the national curriculum is as effective as we hoped……’

Department for Education- FE

Justine Greening: Speech at DfE Skills Summit, 30th November 2017

‘…..On Monday, we launched an Industrial Strategy aimed at making a Britain that’s really fit for the future for our country and our economy, competing on the global stage, and thriving in the 21st Century.

This strategy recognises that while we must invest in machinery, in buildings, in roads and in technology…this will count for nothing unless we also invest in our biggest asset and that the investment works – for our own people, our home-grown talent that we have in this country……

It’s no secret that this country needs more skilled workers. And if you look at digital skills alone, businesses will need an estimated 1.2 million new workers by 2022. Whether that’s experts on cyber security, mobile and cloud computing or big data……

This government is investing in developing our homegrown talent so British business has the skills it needs and so that young people can get the opportunities they want.

We are determined to work in partnership with business to provide them opportunities to match the talent across the country. That is why this government is investing billions in technical education and why today I am calling on employers to bring their innovation, creativity and commitment to technical education reform. Only employers can provide the work placements and apprenticeships that make these reforms a success.

See also Skills partner statement of action for government and employers, 30th November 2017 - This statement of action sets out how government and employers will commit to working together to improve the apprenticeship and technical education system. Employers can sign up to the statement of action.

Institutes of technology prospectus, 30th November 2017: policy paper

This sets out the government's plans for institutes of technology, why they are needed and who can get involved in their development.

Department for Education : Consultations

Implementation of T level programmes, 30th November 2017

The government is seeking views on the development of new T level programmes and how they should be designed to implement the Sainsbury panel’s recommendations. 

Closes 8th February 2018, 11.45am

Effective practice in the delivery and teaching of English and Mathematics to 16-18 year olds, Higton et al.,November 2017

Since August 2014, students aged 16 to 18 who do not hold GCSE Grades A* to C or a suitable equivalent qualification in mathematics and/or in English have been required to study these subjects. In August 2015, a further stipulation meant full time students with a Grade D in English and/or mathematics must be enrolled onto a GCSE rather than an approved stepping stone qualification.

The purpose of this report is to begin to address the evidence gap that exists on what constitutes the effective delivery and teaching of English and mathematics to those without GCSE A*–C within this wider context.

Key findings showed that:

Contextual factors that influence teaching and learning

  • Teachers faced a number of challeges including motivating students and supporting them in the development of positive mental attitudes. Providers also reported a higher number of students with additional support needs, including learning difficulties such as dyslexia or autism and or mental health issues.

  • There is a perceived degree of under-reporting of these issues by schools.

  • Colleges located in coastal and rural settings presented travel challenges for students. The lack of frequent, regular and direct public transport links to colleges were sometimes a challenge.

  • The local socio-economic conditions can affect both providers ability to recruit specialist teachers and managers and can influence students’ attendance.

Teaching practices that influence learning

  • Diagnostic assessments of students at outset- these though are not standardised.

  • Most providers aim for levelled rather than mixed ability classes for English and Mathematics where possible

  • Peer-led learning approaches are also believed to be more effective in mixed-ability groups.

  • Group profiles are used by teacher to identify topics and concepts that need to be prioritised for the whole class and adjustments are made to schemes of work accordingly.

  • Diagnostics also identify the additional support needed by students with specific learning difficulties. It also acknowledges that individual students may require some short-term or continuing support with English and mathematics in addition to their normal timetabled sessions.

  • Colleges adopt an adult-to-adult relationship that is based on understanding the students’ concerns, encouraging them to think differently about the subjects and themselves, and increasing confidence.

  • Personal goals and targets are also used to motivate students.

  • Teachers therefore need to have specific, detailed knowledge of the gaps in an individual’s knowledge and embed elements of the examination progress and curricula into lessons.

  • Contextualising learning is also important. Some colleges developed English and mathematics lessons that are relevant to elective courses (‘mathematics for plumbers’, for example). There remains a body of opinion that the Functional Skills qualification is a better qualification for contextualised learning than the GCSE as Functional Skills has applied rather than theoretical content.

  • Personalisation and differentiation within the classroom is central to the further education approach to teaching.

  • Another thread running through much teaching and delivery is recognising students spent many years at school without achieving the set grade during their GCSEs. For most further education teachers, trying different methods is important in order to develop subject understanding.

A summary is also given across leadership and management practices that influence teaching and learning, including strategic planning and preparation to ensure colleges are geared up to respond to policy changes.

Intervention policy in colleges and expansion of the Further Education Commissioner role, November 2017

In July 2017, the Secretary of State for Education announced that the FE Commissioner would take on a broader role. This includes engaging with colleges earlier to support more rapid improvement, and reduce the number that require formal intervention. Two new sources of support - a Strategic College Improvement Fund and a National Leaders of Further Education program - will underpin this expanded role.

The role of the FE Commissioner is to make recommendations for actions that college governing bodies should take to improve. The responsibility for effectively carrying out those actions, and for holding leadership teams to account remains with the college Corporation.

Triggering targeted support

The FE Commissioner and the ESFA will jointly consider a series of risk indicators that result in a ‘targeted support pool’ that will be the group of colleges that are in scope for a diagnostic assessment. The pool will consist of:

all colleges that have an Ofsted RI rating and/or Ofsted RI or Inadequate for apprenticeships;

all colleges assessed by ESFA to be in early intervention for financial health. The FE Commissioner and the ESFA will work together to prioritise engagement within that group, taking into account a range of information and risk factors for example:

Ofsted trend data (in particular where a college has consecutively been judged to be RI or identified issues with a substantial provision area);

whether a college has recently completed or is judged to be on track to complete a structural change and the financial/inspection position of the colleges involved;

if, generally, a college would benefit from targeted support – for instance, where a college is improving but would benefit from challenge to accelerate the process.

Further education outcome-based success measures: 2014 to 2015, republished with updated tables, 29th November 2017

Added 2 new attachments - Earnings tables (xml) and Earnings annex (pdf). Page updated to remove final paragraph which was from an old publication.

Department for Education- Research

Attitudes to education and children’s services: the British Social Attitudes survey 2016, Charlotte Saunders, 27th November 2017

In 2016 the Department commissioned NatCen Social Research to do a set of questions measuring public attitudes in relation to five topics: the role of schools; post-16 education; pre-school care and education; special educational needs and disability (SEND); and child abuse and child protection. In 2016, 2,942 participants were interviewed face-to-face at home (a response rate of 46%), with 2,400 participants completing a further self-completion questionnaire. Key findings across relevant areas:

General views on the role of schools

The proportion saying that secondary schools bring out students’ natural abilities well or very well also increased over time, from 35% in 1987 to 60% in 2016.

There was a smaller increase in those saying that secondary schools prepare students well or very well for work, at 47% (up from 29% in 1987 but down from a peak of 55% in 2000).

Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) respondents said it was essential or very important that schools aim to help young people develop skills and knowledge required for getting a good job, and 58% said this of helping students develop the skills and knowledge needed to pursue a career in science and technology.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) thought that schools should share responsibility with parents and carers for a child’s personal and social development. Similarly, around three-quarters (76%) said that it was essential or very important that schools develop personal qualities such as character and resilience in their students.

Post-16 education

Overall, just over half (52%) of respondents said that an important factor in helping young people find their first job after leaving education was having good basic skills (reading, writing and maths).

When asked about what advice they would give a 16-year-old about their future, 39% said they would advise them to remain in education and do A-levels, 14% said they would recommend they leave school to get training through a job, and 13% said they would recommend studying full time to get a vocational qualification. One-third (33%) said their advice would depend on the person.

Pre-school care and education

The most commonly cited main advantage for a child under three to attend nursery was that it is good for children to interact and socialise with others (41% of respondents). Around one in ten (11%) said it was because it helps a child’s education development, and a similar proportion (10%) said it is good for developing their confidence and independence. Other main advantages included enabling parents to work (cited by 12% of respondents).

For children aged three to four the most commonly cited main advantages of attending nursery included interaction and socialisation (28%), preparing children for school (21%), and helping educational development (17%).

When asked about the main reason they thought parents of children under five use childcare (such as a private nursery or childminder), the majority (86%) said it was so parents could work, and only 12% said it was because it is of benefit to the child.

Special educational needs and disability (SEND)

A high majority (96%) of respondents said they would be comfortable with their child (or the child of a close family member or friend) being in a class with a student who was partially or fully blind and/or deaf.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) said they would be comfortable with their child (or the child of a close family member or friend) being in a class with a child with ADHD.

Children’s Services Omnibus Wave 1 Research Report, Marshall et al., NatCen Social Research, 27th November 2017

This report presents the findings from the first wave of the new DfE Children’s Services Omnibus Survey. The survey explored senior local authority (LA) leaders’ perceptions on, and activities relating to, demand for, and commissioning of, children’s social services; information sharing; support for adopters and special guardians; sufficiency of childcare places; and services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The questionnaire comprised a mix of open response questions and fixed category response questions. The online survey was sent to all 152 upper tier LAs in England. In total, 101 LAs took part, representing an overall survey response rate of 66%.

Key findings relating to children with SEND:

All responding LAs offered support for parents with a disabled child in finding childcare.

This support included publishing information about childcare options (91%); Families Information Services (91%); brokering childcare places with providers (79%) and providing help with transport (23%). 11

LAs’ key systems for monitoring progress in implementing the 2014 SEND reforms were multi-agency boards, internal staff meetings, stakeholder engagement and internal self-assessment.

LAs monitored outcomes for children and young people with SEND at three main levels:

At the level of the individual child / young person, such as through monitoring outcomes in line with their Education, Health and Care Plan, or through ongoing casework and formal Annual Reviews;

At provider (e.g. school) level, such as through school visits and data audits; and

At the level of the LA, such as through Quality Assurance Groups and centralised outcomes systems.

Children’s Services Omnibus Wave 2 Research Report November 2017 Katriina Lepanjuuri and Peter Cornick NatCen Social Research, 27th November 2017

This report presents the findings from the second wave of the DfE Children’s Services Omnibus Survey. The survey explored senior local authority (LA) leaders’ perceptions on, and activities relating to children’s social care; early years and childcare provision in authorities; and services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The questionnaire comprised a mix of open response questions and fixed category response questions. The online survey was sent to all 152 upper tier LAs in England. In total, 77 LAs took part, representing an overall survey response rate of 50%. This compares to an overall response rate of 66% to Wave 1.

Key findings (relevant): Children’s social care

Reducing demand

Edge of Care was seen as the most effective intervention in reducing the number of children who become looked after, mentioned by 72% of all responding LAs. Early Help for Families and Family Group Conferencing were also mentioned as effective by over half of responding LAs (64% and 57% respectively).

Assessment of mental health needs

Most commonly LAs would assess the mental health needs of looked after children on entry to care (with 67% saying assessments taking place at that stage) and/or annual intervals during care (59%).

In eight per cent of cases LAs did not systematically assess the mental health needs of looked after children or commission an agency to do so.

Two in five (39%) responding LAs used tools other than the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) to assess the mental health needs of looked after children. Those who had used other tools frequently mentioned Outcome Rating Scale or Child Outcome Rating Scale (mentioned by 38% of relevant LAs).

Early Years entitlement

In 79% of responding LAs at least half of childcare providers offered childcare provision outside of the hours 9am-3pm.

It was much less common for childcare providers to offer childcare outside of the hours 8am-6pm. In 73% of authorities, fewer than half of providers offered provision outside of these hours.

Around three in five (58%) responding LAs paid providers twice per term for free early education entitlements for three and four year olds. Sixteen per cent made monthly payments and seven per cent made termly payments.

Most of the LAs had taken action to encourage childminders to be involved in the delivery of the 30 hours entitlement (98%)

Early Years workforce training

In the financial year running from April 2016 to March 2017, 85% of responding LAs experienced demand for training from childcare providers rated ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’.

Requests for training covered a wide range of subjects, but demand was particularly strong for safeguarding and child protection (98%), Early Years Foundation Stage framework requirements (96%) and meeting the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities (91%).

When experiencing demand from childcare providers, virtually all responding LAs provided the training requested. While 28% of LAs provided the training free of charge, 70% did charge for the training.

Main challenges to effective delivery of SEN services and provision

Influencing SEND provision in schools in an environment of increasing school autonomy was seen as the key challenge to effective delivery of SEN services and provision (71%).

Securing sufficient high quality school placements for children with SEND was also mentioned by 65%.

When asked about steps authorities are taking to use their high needs funding as effectively as possible in 2017/18, 90% said they are undertaking a strategic review of supply of specialist provision.

Working with mainstream schools and parents to manage demand were mentioned by 89% and 64% respectively.


Initial teacher training: trainee number census - 2017 to 2018, 30th November 2017

There were 27,895 new entrants starting or expecting to start postgraduate ITT

Recruitment against Teacher Supply Model (TSM) targets, which varied by subject and phase. Compared with the previous academic year, there was a decrease in the proportion of new entrants to school-led routes – from 56 per cent in academic year 2016 to 2017 to 53 per cent in academic year 2017 to 2018.

The proportion of postgraduate new entrants to HEIs increased from 44 per cent to 47 per cent between the two academic years, as Figure 2 details. In 2017 to 2018, there were 12,940 new entrants to the postgraduate HEI route. When taken together, secondary EBacc subjects recruited 84 per cent of the TSM target, secondary non-EBacc subjects recruited 69 per cent, and primary recruited 106 per cent.

Early years foundation stage profile results: 2016 to 2017, republished with data by characteristic, 30th November 2017

56% of children on FSM achieved a good level of development at the end of the EYFS; this compared to 73% of all other children

23% of children with SEN (all) achieved a good level of development in comparison to 76% of all children with no identified SEN.

Department for Education- Early Years

EYFS staff: child ratios - DfE approved qualifications (republished) 29th November 2017

Updated post-Sept-2014 spreadsheet with information on Early Childhood Studies degrees.

Other Government

Social Mobility commission, 5th state of the Nation Report, 28th November

Key findings show that:

  • A divide exists between London (and its affluent commuter belt) and the rest of the country – London accounts for nearly two-thirds of all social mobility hotspots.

  • The best-performing local authority area is Westminster and the worst-performing area is West Somerset.

  • The Midlands is the worst region of the country for social mobility for those from disadvantaged backgrounds – half the local authority areas in the East Midlands and more than a third in the West Midlands are social mobility coldspots.

  • Some of the worst-performing areas, such as Weymouth and Portland, and Allerdale, are rural, not urban; while some are in relatively affluent parts of England – places like West Berkshire, Cotswold and Crawley.

  • Coastal and older industrial towns – places like Scarborough, Hastings, Derby and Nottingham – are becoming entrenched social mobility coldspots.

  • Apart from London, English cities are punching below their weight on social mobility outcomes. No other city makes it into the top 20 per cent of hotspots.

  • Some of the richest places in England like West Berkshire deliver worse outcomes for their disadvantaged children than places that are much poorer like Sunderland and Tower Hamlets.

  • Social mobility gaps open up at an early age with disadvantaged children 14 percentage points less likely to be school-ready at age five in coldspots than in hotspots: in 94 areas fewer than half of disadvantaged children are ready for school aged five.

  • Outside London, disadvantaged pupils lose out: 51 per cent of London children on free school meals achieve A* to C in English and maths GCSE, compared with an average of 36 per cent in all other English regions.

  • In some coldspot areas, participation in higher education falls to just 10 per cent.

  • Disadvantaged young people are almost twice as likely as better-off peers to be NEET (not in education, employment or training) a year after GCSEs – up to a quarter of young people are NEET in South Ribble.

The Industrial Strategy: Will the Government put its money where its mouth is? Blog Claudia Sumner,28th November 2017: NfER

In light of the Industrial Strategy, which is about improving the economy, the author discusses the need for high quality teaching, particularly in the STEM subjects for students to achieve high level technical skills. She also highlights the need to address regional differences in the number of teachers in some schools and the quality of teaching. She supports the government’s plan outlined in the Strategy including the need for greater parity between academic and vocational paths; but, she says currently with all the changes in the 14-19 pathway teachers, parents and young people do not know enough about them. She adds that, although the Industrial strategy asks many of the right questions- is the government going to support if financially?


Bold Beginnings: The Reception Curriculum in a sample of good and outstanding primary schools, 30th November 2017

During the summer term 2017, inspectors visited successful primary schools in which children achieved well. This report examines the provision in their Reception Year and how well it was preparing 4 and 5 year olds for their years of schooling and life ahead.

Findings show that:

  • Reading was at the heart of the curriculum in the most successful classes. Listening to stories, poems and rhymes fed children’s imagination, enhanced their vocabulary and developed their comprehension.
  • Systematic synthetic phonics played a critical role in teaching children the alphabetic code and, since this knowledge is also essential for spelling, good phonics teaching supported children’s early writing.
  • The teaching of early mathematics was not given the same priority. However, it was clear what children could achieve. The schools that ensured good progression frequently used practical equipment to support children’s grasp of numbers and, importantly, to develop their understanding of linking concrete experience with visual and symbolic representations. More formal, written recording was introduced, but only when understanding at each stage was secure and automatic.
  • Play, for example, was used primarily for developing children’s personal, social and emotional skills.

These successful schools made sure that they gave reading, writing and mathematics in their Reception classes sufficient direct teaching time every day, with frequent opportunities for children to practise and consolidate their growing knowledge. The headteachers made sure that their curriculum was fit for purpose, so that children were equipped to meet the challenges of Year 1 and beyond.

See also Reception - a missed opportunity for too many children, press release

Inspecting local authority children's services from 2018, 29 November 2017

Ofsted's framework and guidance for inspecting local authority services for children in need of help and protection, children in care and care leavers.

See also New children’s services inspections announced, press release- the new inspection of local authority children’s services (ILACS) will look at how well local authorities are supporting and protecting vulnerable children in their area. The new approach is more proportionate, risk-based and flexible than before, allowing Ofsted to prioritise inspection where it is most needed.

Amanda Spielman's speech at Ark's Teach 2017 conference, 25th November

The key areas over she spoke included:

  • Building curriculum expertise
  • Managing workload
  • Valuing the whole management team

In the context of recognizing the challenge faced by leaders of schools in disadvantaged areas, the HM Chief Inspector of schools said:

‘……What Ofsted can, and does do, is to recognise the performance of leadership teams in overcoming the challenges. As I have said, I have no doubt that it actually requires stronger leadership and management to achieve the same outcomes in schools with much more disadvantaged intakes.

And if you look at our grade profiles that is precisely what we recognise. If we look first at schools that are judged requires improvement (RI). Within that RIgroup, schools in the bottom quintile of disadvantaged areas are two and a half times more likely to be graded good for leadership and management than those in the top quintile. And we see a very similar pattern for those rated good overall……..’

Ofsted Statistics

Maintained schools and academies inspections and outcomes as at 31 August 2017, 30th November 2017

Data is provided for the most recent inspection outcomes as at 31 August 2017 and provisional data for inspections completed between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2017

Key findings show that:

  • The proportion of good or outstanding schools has increased for secondary schools, special schools and pupil referral units this year
  • Overall the proportion of good or outstanding schools has remained unchanged since 31 August 2016 at 89%, but has increased for:
  • Pupil referral units - 88% good or outstanding, an increase from 86%
  • Secondary schools - 79%, a small increase from 78%
  • Special schools - 94%, a small increase from 93%
  • Schools that require improvement that do not improve to good or outstanding commonly have higher proportions of deprived pupils
  • Fifty-five per cent of the schools which currently require improvement have high proportions of pupils from deprived areas.
  • Of schools inspected this year that had previously been judged to require improvement, those with high proportions of pupils from deprived areas were less likely to improve than those with pupils from more affluent areas.

Further education and skills inspections and outcomes, as at 31st August 2017

This provides:

  • Provisional data for the most recent inspections and outcomes as at 31 August 2017
  • Provisional data for inspections conducted between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2017 and
  • Revised data for inspections conducted between 1 September 2016 and 28 February 2017

Key data shows that:

The number of sixth form colleges judged good or outstanding has reduced by a fifth- this can be attributed to a drop in performance at inspection this year and to the reduction in the number of good and outstanding sixth form colleges as a result of mergers and conversions to academies.

This affected the proportion of sixth form colleges judged good or outstanding, which declined by eight percentage points.

The proportion of community learning and skills providers judged good or outstanding during 2016/17 was higher than last year, at 78%

Forty-two general further education colleges went through the mergers process this year, affecting around 285,000 learners.

Ofsted Consultation

Changes to Ofsted’s statistical reporting of inspection outcomes for maintained schools and academies, 30th November 2017

This consultation seeks views on proposed new arrangements for the reporting of maintained school and academy inspection outcomes, namely:

  • Making the data more comprehensive and accessible

  • Changing the presentation of some of the aggregated analysis

  • Minor changes to releases to improve naming and usability

Closes: 18th January 11.45am


Online Mental Health Support for Young People, Emily Frith, 28th Nov. EPI/ XenZone

As the Government prepares to publish its green paper on children’s mental health, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has launched a report on the efficacy of online counselling for children and young people. The report focuses exclusively on Kooth online counselling, using user data (April 2016 - April 2017) along with feedback from Kooth users and commissioners.

Findings show that Kooth online counselling is popular and effective in increasing access to care and providing choice. The anonymous nature of the service was found to be a big benefit for children and young people.

Testing the Water, W. Millard, 30th November 2017, LKMco

The report, focusing on assessment is based on a year-long research project involving: a national survey of over 1,000 teachers in England by YouGov; focus groups with parents, governors pupils and teachers around the country; an online consultation; think-pieces from fourteen leading educationalists; and, three international case studies.

The report found that:

  • Only a third of classroom teachers in England feel ‘very confident’ about assessment.

  • One in five classroom teachers would not know where to look for information on assessment if they needed it.

  • Under half of teachers received training in assessment as part of their initial teacher training.

The report calls for reform of assessment, including a compulsory test at the end of teachers’ initial training to ensure they have mastered key elements of a training curriculum, including assessment. At the moment teachers’ are primarily certified based on a portfolio of evidence.

Lead author of the report, Will Millard said:

“This report’s revelation that only a third of teachers feel ‘very confident’ undertaking assessment is deeply worrying, although I fully sympathise. Despite having been a teacher myself, I learned a huge amount undertaking this research and have come to realise that assessment is as important as it is technical. A Central Assessment Bank and greater access to in-person and online training would therefore make a real difference for classroom practitioners, and improve confidence and pedagogy in our schools.”

New EEF trial results: ‘light-touch’ approaches to research unlikely to impact pupil outcomes, 1st December

Three independent evaluations of randomised controlled trials published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) suggest that providing light-touch support for teachers to engage with research is not an effective way to improve pupil outcomes.

The EEF funded the trials – called the Literacy Octopus - and Research Learning Communities - to find out more about how academic research can have an impact on classroom practice and pupil outcomes. They are published after earlier EEF research found that many teachers struggle to interpret and act on findings from academic research, despite there being a growing appetite to do so.

In the two ‘Literacy Octopus’ trials - named after their multi-armed design – 13,323 English primary schools were involved in testing commonly used ways of disseminating evidence like online research summaries, magazines, webinars and conferences. The resources were designed to support literacy teaching in primary schools and were provided by four delivery partners – the Institute for Effective Education, Campaign for Learning, the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, and NatCen Social Research with ResearchEd - all with extensive expertise in education research.

The first Literacy Octopus trial - which ran across 12,500 schools - tested whether sending schools high-quality evidence-based resources in a range of formats could have an impact on pupil outcomes. The second trial - which involved 823 schools - tested whether combining the resources with light-touch support on how to use them would have greater impact. Some schools were just sent evidence-based resources, while others received the resources with simple, additional support, such as invitations to seminars on using the resources in the classroom.

The independent evaluators from the National Foundation for Educational Research found that neither of the approaches in the ‘Literacy Octopus’ trials had an impact on attainment for the ten and eleven year olds whose teachers took part in the trials.

119 primary schools took part in a trial of Research Learning Communities,delivered by the UCL Institute of Education. The intervention aimed to improve teaching quality and learning outcomes by raising teachers’ awareness, understanding, and use of educational research in their teaching practice.

Two teachers from each school were designated ‘Evidence Champions’. They attended workshops that examined research in specific areas of interest to the school like phonics teaching or metacognition. The Evidence Champions were then required to develop school improvement strategies using their learnings from the workshops; and to support other teachers in their schools to engage with research.

While the evaluators from the University of Bristol found no evidence that the programme led to improvements in reading outcomes for ten and eleven year olds, the findings suggests that there may be a relationship between how engaged teachers are with research, and the attainment of their pupils. There was also some evidence that being in a Research Learning Community increased teachers’ engagement with research.

See also Independent evaluation of the Literacy Octopus suggests more effective ways for research evidence to impact on classroom practice and pupil outcomes. 1st December: NfER

IOE researchers develop database for early years measures, 1st December 2017

As part of a wider suite of projects by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to close gaps in attainment and disadvantage between pupils in the nursery and reception years or Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), the IOE was commissioned to carry out a review of measures to assess 0-6 year old children in England. Professor Julie Dockrell led a team of researchers through a two stage review of measures, defining the following developmental domains:

  • Language

  • Literacy

  • Numeracy

  • Social-emotional development

  • Omnibus measures

  • Home environment

  • Early years learning environment

After a robust evaluation of the reliability and validity of 146 measures, this was shortlisted to 46 in order to form the database.

Professor Dockrell said:

“….The database will allow teachers, researchers and students to make informed decisions about the assessment tools they choose to use.”

The database is being launched as a first version and further updates will take place based on user feedback and as more is learnt about the best approaches to evaluating outcomes in the early years.

See EEF, How to use the Early Years Database

Children as young as three grouped by ‘ability’ for high-stakes tests, 1st December 2017

New research conducted by the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) has found that using ability groups takes place with children as young as three and that teachers worry that ‘low ability’ labels could have a lasting negative impact on children.

The study, carried out by Dr Alice Bradbury and Dr Guy Roberts-Holmes involved more than 1,400 teachers and leaders who took part in focus groups, interviews, and a large-scale survey.

Findings revealed that grouping is seen as experienced practice, encouraged by Senior Leadership Teams, and viewed as a ‘necessary evil’ in preparation for high-stakes tests such as the Phonics Screening Check and key stage 1 SATs.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: 

“The pressure on schools to ensure pupils pass tests means children as young as three consider themselves ‘low ability’ right at the start of their academic life, a belief which could impact on their self-esteem, carry on throughout their schooling and determine the direction of their adult lives…..’

Better Apprenticeships, Fuller et al., 30th November: Sutton Trust/IoE

Better Apprenticeships draws on research by teams from the Centre for Vocational Education Research at LSE and UCL Institute of Education to analyse the current state of play for apprenticeships in England.

Findings show that disadvantaged young people are substantially less likely than their better-off peers to start the best apprenticeships. Just 7% of young men and 11% of young women who were eligible for free school meals take up an apprenticeship at Level 3– A-level standard – much less than 14% in the cohort as a whole. 

The Sutton Trust wants to see any young person who starts on a level 2 apprenticeship – GCSE standard – automatically progressing to level 3. It also wants to ensure that all apprenticeships are of high quality, with many more higher and degree level apprenticeships available for young people.

See also The reform of technical education in England, 29th November: IoE UCL

A policy briefing by the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE) at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) outlines the new design and regulatory framework for technical education in England.

In the briefing, Professor Gareth Parry highlights the role of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education which, from April 2018, will be responsible for the development and regulation of the technical education sector.

The overall aim is to establish technical education as a credible, coherent and high-quality alternative to A-level qualifications and the bachelor degree. Technical education will comprise apprenticeships, college-based programmes and approved technical qualifications. Professor Parry argues that, although designed as a two-type system of ‘academic’ and ‘technical’ education, the reforms will potentially multiply the overlaps and collaborations between the two sectors at the higher levels. He points out that higher and degree apprenticeships already bring universities into technical education and its regulatory requirements. In future, responsibility for higher-level technical education will be anchored in a single sector.

International- Wales

Duggan, B., Grover, T., and Glover, A. (2017). Formative Evaluation of the Pioneer Schools Model: Paper on Strand 1 and early Strand 2 activity. Cardiff: Welsh Government, GSR report number 72/2017.

The Pioneer Schools model is an innovative approach that involves collaboration between national and regional partners and schools. The evaluation, which is ongoing, places an emphasis on providing real-time feedback to Welsh Government on how the Pioneer Schools Model is working in practice. It aims to understand how the model is being delivered and to capture any learning that can inform subsequent stages of delivery.

This paper is in three parts. Part A focuses on Pioneer Schools’ experiences of Strand 1 activity. Part B presents a summary of research with an additional 20 schools in June and July 2017, focusing on Strand 2 activity. Part C of outlines remaining research tasks and timetable.

For Curriculum Pioneers, Strand 1 was focused on the strategic design of the new curriculum.

For Strand 2, they worked in groups for each Area of Learning and Experience (AoLE) to develop the high-level scope of each area.

Findings showed that schools feel more supported and confident in their work developing six different Areas of Learning and Experience – the subject areas that will make up the new curriculum to be rolled out from 2022. Interviews carried out as part of research with the pioneer schools revealed that they felt confident that they understood the aims and objectives of their AoLE groups and were happy with how they were being run. They also felt sufficiently supported to progress independently and work with other schools.

See also: Pioneer schools report shows journey of improvement, 30th November, 2017

Responding to the report, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said:

“……There will always be challenges when introducing a new curriculum but it’s encouraging to know that schools are feeling confident and supported in taking this vital work forwards. There is a clear sense of momentum here and it demonstrates that our approach is the right one. We will continue to monitor progress, listen on where and how we can improve and ensure that the curriculum is fully fit for purpose when we start rolling it out in 2022."

Also see Formative evaluation of the pioneer schools model: summary of findings in relation to the development of the Digital Competence Framework, 30th November 2017

This short document summarises key messages arising from the formative evaluation of the pioneer schools model. It focuses on the development of the Digital Competence Framework (DCF), and presents the findings of interviews with digital pioneer schools, external experts and stakeholder organisations during October and November 2016. The evaluation is continuing until December 2017 and further short reports will be published within this period.

Issues identified as being key to the success of the pioneer model were:

  • Leadership – ensuring suitably experienced and qualified facilitators with specialist knowledge of relevant subject area.

  • Ensuring schools are clear about the expectations on them – this should be linked to a timeline of activity over the current academic year, specifying checkpoints to review whether milestones/achievements have been met

  • Providing a clear role for consortia to be closely involved – helping to support schools and enabling the use of the DCF.

  • Accountability and quality assurance – ensuring that there is a monitoring system in place that builds greater accountability into the model.

  • A systematic approach to engaging with partner schools – engagement with partner schools through DCF activity was perceived to have been ad hoc; there is a need to be more systematic in how digital pioneers, supported by consortia, engage with schools in their clusters and wider regions.

  • Communicating progress and ensuring that developments are tangible – having the DCF as a ‘product’ helped give shape and structure to digital pioneers’ activity.

Google for Education to be rolled out in Welsh schools next year, 27th November 2017: Welsh Government, Education and Skills

Kirsty Williams said:

"We want our teachers to have access to the best digital tools and resources and the best quality superfast broadband.

"We have listened to the feedback we’ve been receiving from schools and I’m very pleased that, as a result of their feedback, we will be rolling out Google for Education in 2018.

"This will give our teachers a much wider range of digital tools and resources and will lead to greater collaboration and communication within the classroom."

Google for Education will be made available via the Hwb platform. As a result of ongoing feedback, the Welsh Government will also not be renewing the Hwb+ virtual learning platform once the current contract expires in August 2018.

Schools, local authorities and regional education consortia will be contacted to ensure they are ready to take advantage of the new digital tools and can make the transition from the Hwb+ platform next year.

New teaching standards for further education and work-based learning workforce, 30th November 2017

The standards are aimed at setting high expectations for all practitioners. They reflect the importance of ongoing professional learning for staff and the role vocational learning plays in creating the skilled, innovative and adaptable workforce Wales needs.

Eluned Morgan Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning said:

"Vocational learning is every bit as important as academic education and if we want the best for our vocational learners their teachers, tutors and assessors have to be supported in their role.  These new standards set out a clear, aspirational framework for the sector to work to.

"The critical principle of vocational education is that those working in both FE and WBL tend to operate as dual professionals, as experts both in a ‘vocation’ and as ‘teachers’. This has been made a central strand throughout the standards.

"I am confident that these standards will further engage and motivate practitioners and their employers in their pursuit for excellence and improved outcomes for all."

See also Professional Standards which apply in Wales

Information on professional standards that apply to practitioners in Wales, 30th November 2017: Learning Wales

Professional standards are intended to:

  • Set clear expectations about effective practice during a practitioner’s career including, where applicable, entry to the profession

  • Enable practitioners to reflect on their practice, individually and collectively, against nationally agreed standards of effective practice and affirm and celebrate their successes

  • Support practitioners to identify areas for further professional development

  • Form a backdrop to the performance management process.

The new professional standards for teaching and leadership are now available.

NQTs commencing induction on or after 1 September 2017 are required to work to the new standards. NQTs who commenced their induction before this date will complete their induction using the same standards they started with. All other serving teachers and leaders will move to the new standards by September 2018 to allow a year for a managed transition.



Closing the gap event, 25th November 2017

Speakers from across the region shared their good practice at ERW’s first Closing the Gap event on Friday 24th November. It was a full day of workshops and presentations to a diverse range of educators from across the sector. The purpose of the day was to introduce new ideas and strategies in closing the gap in attainment between various groups of learners including boys and girls and FSM and Non-FSM.


Curriculum for Wales: A new school curriculum needs a new learning culture., 28th November 2017

A thriving learning culture in schools across Wales is essential if the new curriculum is to be successfully implemented. A pilot group of schools, supported by the OECD has been developing a model to achieve that. The ‘Schools as Learning Organisations’ (SLO) model for Wales has been designed to help schools adapt to change by working with other schools and consortia to explore new ways to improve learning and outcomes for learners. Identifying teachers’ professional learning needs and working together to provide solutions as part of a self- improving system is integral to this approach.  The starting point for schools is to self-evaluate against seven dimensions of good practice and use the results to plan for improvement and development. Each dimension is linked to the four purposes, with well-being at the heart 

The model provides practical guidance on how school staff can individually and collectively learn together as schools evolve into learning organisations. 

The seven dimensions of the model are:

  • Developing a shared vision centred on the learning of all learners;

  • Creating and supporting continuous learning opportunities for all staff;

  • Promoting team learning and collaboration among all staff;

  • Establishing a culture of enquiry, innovation and exploration;

  • Embedding systems for collecting and exchanging knowledge for learning;

  • Learning with and from the external environment and wider learning system;

  • Modelling and growing learning leadership. 

The full model can be accessed here

The SLO will link with Welsh Government’s national commitment to continuous professional learning, reflected in the new professional standards for teaching and leadership and will complement the emerging assessment and evaluation framework. 

From September 2017, Estyn’s new inspection arrangements consider to what extent leaders have created a culture and ethos to support the professional learning of all staff. This self-evaluation model will help schools to evaluate the progress they are making in developing as a learning organisation. 

A formal launch of the model, including the showcasing of exemplary SLO practice across Wales, will take place in the Summer term 2018.

Act on STEM - Your Feedback, 25th November 2017

Have you used this resource in your school? 

GwE would be grateful if you would please complete the anonymous and very short, ACT ON STEM evaluation questionnaire via this link, by the 18th December. 

ACT ON STEM resource booklets have been delivered free to over 300 Primary Schools in North Wales in November 2016 as well as promotional messages by GwE, Dysg and appearance on the TV programme HENO, and it is available on the HWB resources site. 

ACT ON STEM is the first bilingual STEM resource for Years 5-6 of its kind in Wales. It brings employer and industry messages into the classroom and highlights STEM skills needed in the region and promotes the future of our local economy amongst pupils aged 10-11. 


London Review of Education examines the impact of music education, 28th November 2017

The latest issue of the UCL Institute of Education's (IOE) journal, the London Review of Education (LRE) focuses on the effect of music education in specific contexts. The power of music to enrich and enhance people’s lives is well documented. There are so many examples of the positive impact of music education. The contexts in which people of all ages learn about music vary widely, yet each can provide an opportunity for engagement with music that can have both individual and more extensive benefits. At a time of financial constraints and global unrest, it is vital that the contribution of education in the arts, such as music, is kept to the fore. You can access the latest issue

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations 

Effective practice in the delivery and teaching of English and Mathematics to 16-18 year olds, Higton et al.,November 2017

Colleges working with Achievement for All -through their Achieving Further programme,- have a sharper focus on getting the best outcomes in maths and English for their students.

Social Mobility commission, 5th state of the Nation Report, 28th November

And Maintained schools and academies inspections and outcomes as at 31 August 2017, 30th November 2017

Achievement for All works with schools in low income communities to support them in getting better outcomes for their children and young people. The particular framework provided by the prograame, enables schools to embed and sustain change at the systems level

Bold Beginnings: The Reception Curriculum in a sample of good and outstanding primary schools, 30th November 2017

The report highlighted the need for a focus on reading, writing and maths. Across even the good schools, there was less focus on maths than literacy. The closing the attainment gap in maths: a study of good practice in early years and primary settings (Achievement for All and KPMG) can support primary schools, in developing a whole approach to maths, which leads to better pupil outcomes.