8th December 2017

Department for Education

PIRLS 2016: reading literacy performance in England, 5th December 2017

Key findings show that year 5 pupils in England perform significantly above the International Median score of 539. At a score of 559, this is England’s highest average performance across all four PIRLS cycles.

This report outlines the results of the 2016 ‘Progress in International Reading Literacy Study’ (PIRLS) in England. PIRLS is an international comparative study directed by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. The aim of PIRLS is to assess and compare the reading performance of pupils in their fourth year of formal schooling across participating countries. 50 countries took part in PIRLS 2016 and this is the national report for England.

In 2016, England’s sample consisted of 5,095 Year 5 pupils from 170 primary schools. England has consistently performed above the International Median across all previous PIRLS cycles, and was among the top-performing countries in PIRLS 2001, with an average score of 553. England’s average performance dropped to 539 in PIRLS 2006, but rose back up to 552 in PIRLS 2011. 

Pupils in England show superior performance on texts with Literary Purposes than those with Informational Purposes. England’s pupils also perform relatively better on questions requiring higher-level integrating, interpreting and evaluating comprehension skills, compared to their performance on questions requiring simpler retrieval and straightforward inferencing skills.

The gap between the highest and lowest performing pupils in England has always been one of the biggest across participating countries. This year that gap has closed. The largest improvements have been for the lower-performing pupils at the 10th percentile. Their average performance increased by 15- points from PIRLS 2011, compared to a 3-point increase at the 90th percentile.

Also See Pupils in England climb global rankings in reading and literacy, 5th December: News Story

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) ranks England joint eighth out of 50 countries, and among the highest performing countries in Europe.

The results – which are based on a study of the reading comprehension and enjoyment of a cohort of 340,000 nine-year-olds around the world - mean England’s nine-year-olds are significantly better readers than their American, Canadian and Australian

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

‘Today’s results put the success of our increased emphasis on phonics and continued focus on raising education standards on a global scale. Thanks to the hard work of teachers across the country, 154,000 more six year olds are reading better than ever before – this is fundamental to our ambition of helping every child fulfil their potential.

Our rise through the global rankings is even more commendable because it has been driven by an increase in the number of low-performing pupils reading well. This demonstrates our determination to ensure this is a country that works for everyone, regardless of background…..’

See also Nick Gibb: reading is the key to unlocking human potential, delivered on 5th December 2017

Nick Gibb, School Standards Minister spoke at a presentation of England's successful Progress in International Reading Literacy Study results at the British Library. He spoke of the success of England’s 9 year olds in the international reading teat (PIRLS) and how ‘…..reading is the fundamental building block to a successful education. Securing the mechanical ability to translate the hieroglyphics of letters on the page into words is a necessary component to achieving fluency in reading; allowing children to build their speed of reading, their comprehension and to develop a joy and habit of reading for pleasure……..reading is the foundation from which we build knowledge……’

And the NfER Blog PIRLS 2016 results and the importance of teaching, 5th Dec by Juliet Sizmur

In this blog Juliet Sizmur says ‘the good news, firstly for our children, and secondly for proponents of the reforms, is that England’s score has seen a statistically significant improvement since the previous PIRLS study in 2011. Furthermore, these gains have been greatest among the lowest attaining children’.

And NFER report on results of PIRLS 2016 for Northern Ireland

Careers strategy: making the most of everyone’s skills and talents, 4th December 2017

The new Careers Strategy designed to make sure young people have the skills they need and employers want post-Brexit.

The Careers Strategy will include:

Dedicated careers leaders - every school and college to have a dedicated careers leader, with £4 million to provide training and support for at least 500 schools and colleges, so they can give the most up-to-date advice and fully prepare young people for the world of work.

Quality interactions between schools and businesses - Secondary schools will be expected to provide pupils with at least one meaningful interaction with businesses every year, with a particular focus on employers from Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) industries to help deliver the high-skilled workers we need in these industries.

Careers hubs to be set up across the country - To support young people in the most disadvantaged areas, £5million funding will develop 20 careers hubs, led by the Careers and Enterprise Company. Hubs will link together schools, colleges, universities and local businesses to broaden the aspirations of young people.

Trials of careers activities in primary schools - Backed by £2million, these pilots will test out ways of engaging children from an early age on the wealth of careers available to them, helping to raise their aspirations. These trials will focus on some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country through the government’s Opportunity Areas programme.

Specialist advice for long-term unemployed and those with additional needs - The National Careers Service will provide access to specialist support for adults who need it most, ensuring that we help create opportunities for everyone, no matter where they live or their background.

The Gatsby Charitable Foundation has set out eight clear benchmarks for schools and colleges on good careers advice. The strategy puts employers at the centre of the careers programme, ensuring young people receive tailored advice about the training routes and work experience needed to secure a successful career in the future.

See also: Careers guidance for modern country unveiled, 4th December: News story

Informed Choice: using data and tools to make career decisions, 4th December: Research

This research aimed to explore the current use of careers information, data, sources and tools by learners, parents and carers, teachers and careers guidance professionals in making informed choices. It was commissioned by the Department for Education to understand how best to support and target information provision to ensure everyone has sufficient access.

Key findings

Engagement with careers provision:

Primary schools: The focus of careers education in primary schools was on increasing learners’ knowledge and raising aspirations. Delivery of careers education was incorporated into Personal, Social, Citizenship and Health Education (PSCHE) schemes of work and more broadly across learning in an informal way

Secondary schools: Learners in secondary schools and colleges were encouraged to engage with careers information in a range of ways including enterprise challenges, mock employment activities, work experience, research projects and visits from employers and careers advisors. and colleges- Most secondary schools and colleges embedded careers into the wider curriculum.

Careers information and tools: Primary schools focused on increasing learners’ knowledge of jobs and careers through ‘real person’ experiences, or specialist programmes.

Secondary schools and colleges: In contrast, secondary schools and colleges used a range of careers tools and information with learners, across age-groups and at critical decision-points making decisions based on the needs of their learners whilst considering age, stage of decision making and pathway.

Learners in secondary schools mentioned a range of sources of information about careers. Discussions with family about careers remained important, but there was more focus on formal careers advice, information and use of tools as they progressed through school. However, awareness and recall of career tools was mixed.

Parents with older secondary children (Year 9 upwards) were more proactively seeking information to support their children with key decisions; particularly those that were considering post-16 options and university. However, this was not evident across all parents. Nearly half (48%, n=128) of survey respondent parents, of secondary and college age young people, had not used any tools to help their children with their decision-making. Common sources of information used by parents included college and university websites to find out about courses and qualifications. Attendance at school based careers events or visits to colleges and universities was also cited.

Encouraging learners to engage in the use of tools independently was an ongoing challenge for secondary schools and colleges.

Those with special educational needs and/or disability (SEND) and disadvantaged learners in particular need tailored one-to-one support in using and interpreting careers tools.

Support was generally provided within allocated timetabled provision, often helping them to understand the purpose of use, navigating and interpreting information from the tool.

Careers professionals also played a role in filtering information for learners, to ensure they were mot missing out on important information within the tools. For some secondary schools in deprived areas, using careers tools with younger year groups helped them to start to think about careers and pathways earlier, ensuring a strong focus on raising aspirations.

Analysis of Ofsted outcomes for sponsored academies since 2010, 5th December 2017

Since 2010, almost 2,000 sponsored academy schools have opened, 1,670 of which had at least one local authority maintained predecessor school. Of these 1,670 sponsored academies, 965 have been inspected by OfSTED since they opened.

Of these 965 sponsored academies:

  • 115 (12 per cent) were judged as either Good or Outstanding, as a local authority maintained school, in their most recent inspection before they closed to become a sponsored academy, since 2010.

  • 657 (68 per cent) are now judged as either Good or Outstanding, in their most recent inspection since they have opened as a sponsored academy, since 2010.

  • 405 were judged as Inadequate as a local authority maintained school in their most recent inspection, before they closed to become a sponsored academy. Of these, 262 are now judged as Good or Outstanding based on their most recent inspection since they have opened as a sponsored academy.

  • Since 2010, 65 per cent of all schools that were Inadequate before they closed as a local authority maintained school are now judged as Good or Outstanding (based on their latest OfSTED inspection grade) since opening as a sponsored academy.

Department for Education- FE

Post-16 institutions omnibus: wave 5 survey, 4th December 2017

Topics covered in the post-16 institutions omnibus wave include: AS and A level reform; technical education and vocational qualifications; provision of other qualifications at post-16, post-16 maths and further maths; careers education; mental health; SEN support and teacher workload and budget management

Relevant findings include:

SEN Support: The majority (83%) of institutions (excluding special schools) had learners who they identified as requiring special educational needs (SEN) support, i.e. those that were considered to have a special educational need and therefore did not have a statement of SEN, Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA) or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. This may have been because these learners did not require a statement of SEN, LDA, or EHC Plan, or because they were waiting for an assessment. The vast majority of institutions with post-16 learners requiring SEN support were confident in their abilities to identify and meet their needs, with over nine in ten agreeing that: staff were equipped to identify learners who are making less than expected progress and may have SEN/a disability; staff know when to engage the SENCO or access other support, and; institutions were confident that when support is put in place, it based on evidence of what will work best and enables learners to make progress towards good outcomes.

Teacher workloads and post-16 budget management (Chapter 9) Nearly all schools had taken some action to evaluate and reduce unnecessary teacher workload (94%). Most had used advice from Ofsted (e.g. Ofsted handbook or #OfstedMyths) to change practice in the school (81%). The next most commonly reported actions were carrying out a workload survey of staff (47%), actively addressing the recommendations for schools in DfE’s independent reports on marking, planning and resources and/or data management (44%) and using the independent reports to review current policies (38%). Small proportions of institutions reported that these actions had reduced teacher workloads (between 23% and 34% for the top 4 most commonly reported actions).

Schools were also asked about the actions they had undertaken to help the institution get the most out of their post-16 budget. Reviewing staff structures (83%) and reviewing how they buy goods and services (76%) were the two most commonly reported activities, followed by sharing resources (including staff) with other schools (65%). Reviewing staff structures and sharing resources (including staff) with other schools were the activities considered the most useful (both mentioned by 26%).

User insight research into post-16 choices, 4th December 2017

The aim was to assess how young people make educational choices post-16 and what information they use. Overall findings show that although most young people perceive that they have access to the information they need to make informed decisions, there are calls for improvements in the careers support they and their peers receive. There is evidence that for some, access to impartial and independent IAG is limited and, as a result, young people turn to informal sources including parents, friends and class teachers who try to do their best for students but who may have limited knowledge and experience of the full range of options.

In addition, although most young people don’t start looking for career pathway until year 11, grammar school pupils, learners on academic pathways, young people with a least one parent with a university education, and those with Special Educational Needs (SEN) start thinking about their post-16 options earlier than other groups. Young people typically leave the final decision until the final year of study prior to making a transition – Year 11 for those progressing into some form of FE and Year 13 for those progressing into HE. However, those on academic routes are more likely to make a final decision earlier than those on a technical pathway.

The researchers suggest that the following factors would create improved careers support for learners:

  • Understanding that different young people will have different requirements at different times in their lives and that support should be personalised and tailored accordingly.

  • Focusing on the needs of particular groups of learners who experience difficulty in course choice and decision making such as BAME groups and learners with SEN.

  • Raising awareness of the full range of opportunities amongst young people and their informal and formal support networks, particularly from Year 9 onwards.

  • Supporting young people to access and make effective use of IAG in order for them (and their families) to have meaningful careers dialogue that supports their education and career decisions.


Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: a green paper, 4th December 2017

Closes midday 2nd March 2018

The government is seeking views on a green paper setting out measures to improve mental health support for children and young people.

The green paper focuses on earlier intervention and prevention, especially in and linked to schools and colleges.

The proposals include:

  • Creating a new mental health workforce of community-based mental health support teams

  • Every school and college will be encouraged to appoint a designated lead for mental health

  • A new 4-week waiting time for NHS children and young people’s mental health services to be piloted in some areas

See also News Story Government proposals on children and young people's mental health, 4th December 2017

Free early years entitlement for 2 year olds under Universal Credit, 4th December 2017

The government is inviting views  on its proposals for the free early years entitlement for 2 year olds under Universal Credit.

This consultation document explains:

  • The general principles applied in considering changes to the eligibility criteria for the free early education entitlement for 2- year-olds under Universal Credit – the government’s intention is that these entitlements reach less-advantaged households in a way that is consistent, fair and simple

  • The government’s plans for communicating these changes to parents, early years providers and local authorities, and how it will support their implementation

See also Views sought on early years education for disadvantaged children, 4th December 2017: News Story

The government wants to expand the offer to ensure that around 8,000 more disadvantaged children will benefit from high quality early education, once Universal Credit is fully rolled out. As of January 2017 around 160,000 two-year-olds are already taking up the free offer. Under the proposals, all children who are taking up the offer will continue to have access, and the entitlement will be targeted to ensure it reaches those most in need in the future, seeing thousands more families benefit as a result.

Minister for Children and Families Robert Goodwill said:

‘Expanding access to high-quality early education is essential if we are to give every child the best start in life, which is why we are investing a record amount in childcare – £6 billion by 2020…..This is an important issue and it is important that we get this right. We want to hear from families, early years’ professionals and other experts throughout this consultation so we can identify those children who need our support most….’

Early education and childcare workforce: level 2 qualifications, 7th December 2017

Closes 11.45am 28th February 2017

The government is seeking views on the proposed early years assistant (level 2) criteria and their suitability for qualifications in early education and childcare. 

The government would like your views on the proposed criteria for the minimum content of level 2 early years assistant qualifications.

Read the: early years workforce strategy setting out its intention to develop criteria for level 2 childcare qualifications and criteria for early years educators (level 3)


Apprenticeship service registrations and commitments to October 2017 (Since January 2017), 7th December 2017

As at 31 October 2017, there have been a total of 11,800 Apprenticeship Service Accounts registered.

As at 31 October 2017, there have been a total of 75,200 commitments entered into the apprenticeship service. Of these, 64,000 were fully agreed.

Children looked after in England including adoption: 2016 to 2017

First published 28th September 2017 and republished 6th December 2017 with updates

Added additional national tables, additional tables text, underlying data, looked-after children statistics guide and an additional pre-release access list.

GCSE and equivalent results: 2016 to 2017 (provisional), 6th December 2017 (republished since 12th October 2017)

Republished with updated subject table S2b to correct figures in columns B to AD.

Department for Education- Early Years

Early years provision quality, 7th December 2017 (Part of SEED research)

This research is part of the study of early education and development (SEED) which investigates the effects of early childhood education and care.

The main aims of this report were to explore the:

  • Differences in childhood education and care quality in different group settings

  • Relationship between the characteristics of a provider and the quality of care and education it offers

Findings showed that:

Quality across all types of providers was generally at least adequate, and comparison with findings from the previous DfE funded longitudinal study suggests that quality of ECEC as well as staff qualification levels appear to have improved in England over the past 16 years.

Some regional variation in quality was observed, although quality of provision was similar across advantaged and disadvantaged areas.

Across most settings, higher quality was associated with staff training and development including having a training plan, a training budget or more frequent Continuous Professional Development. Higher quality was also associated with having a lower staff turnover and having a narrower age range of children accepted at the setting. In private and voluntary settings, higher quality was also associated with having a higher mean level of staff qualification and a higher staff to child ratio across the whole setting, i.e. fewer children per member of staff.

PACEY Chief Executive, Liz Bayram, commented on the findings:

“This latest SEED study reinforces what Ofsted has demonstrated too, that quality in early years settings has increased over the past few years. This is something everyone working in early years should be immensely proud of, but no one in early years needs reminding that quality is now at risk.

"Increasing costs alongside poor funding levels for ‘free’ places for two-, three-, and four-year-olds are beginning to take their toll. Our own research shows that providers’ investment in training and CPD is in decline as they struggle to maintain sustainable businesses. We know that high staff turnover continues to be a problem for many settings due to the low wages and poor career progression available to early years practitioners. None of this is news to anyone in early years.

"What matters now is how government responds to these challenges, and ensures adequate funding to support well qualified practitioners to stay in the sector and deliver high quality care. Just this week, England came in eighth place in a global ranking of the reading skills of 10-year-olds. The OECD has again reinforced that investing in early years is what matters most when supporting all children, especially our most disadvantaged, to succeed at school. Government has the policy levers to ensure the high quality experiences our pre-school children are enjoying today are not lost to future generations.”


Short inspections of good schools: maintained schools and academies, government response, 5th December 2017

This is a report on the outcomes of the consultation that ran from 21 September to 8 November 2017 on proposals for changes to Ofsted’s approach to short inspections from January 2018.

The changes relate to short inspections of good maintained schools and academies, and outstanding and good maintained nurseries, special schools and pupil referral units.

Responses to the consultation supported the 3 proposals put forward by Ofsted:

  • Converting short inspections, normally within 48 hours, if there are serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education

  • If inspectors are not fully confident that the school would receive its current grade if a full section 5 inspection were carried out, the short inspection will not convert; we will send a letter that sets out the school’s strengths and priorities for improvement and we will carry out a section 5 inspection at a later date, typically within one to two years but no later than five years since the previous full section 5 inspection.

  • If inspectors identify strong practice that could indicate that the school is improving towards outstanding, we will send a letter setting out the school’s strengths and priorities for further improvement and we will carry out a section 5 inspection, typically within less than two years and possibly much sooner. 

From January 2018, these proposals will be taken forward. But it should be noted that these changes will not affect most good and outstanding non-exempt schools. In most cases, the short inspection will confirm that they have maintained their good or outstanding performance and will remain eligible for a short inspection 3 years after.

See also Press Release: Ofsted confirms new arrangements for short inspections, 5th December 2017

Local area SEND inspection outcome letters, 4th and 7th December 2017

Outcome letters from inspections of local area services for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities; recent publication include letters for Oxfordshire and Lewisham. 

Oxfordshire - The local area’s work to implement the reforms and improve outcomes for children and young people who have special educational needs (SEN) and/or disabilities has not been effective enough.

Some weaknesses highlighted in the delivery of services including (where relevant):

  • Some mainstream schools are not making sure that staff have the skills needed to identify and meet the needs of pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities consistently effectively. Several parents spoke of teachers and support staff in mainstream schools who had failed to recognise signs that a child might have a special educational need. These parents identified a lack of suitable training as a key weakness.

  • The needs of children and young people with social, emotional and mental health needs who do not have a statement of special educational needs or an EHC plan are typically not met well enough in mainstream schools. This is evident in the high level of fixed-term exclusions, which contribute to poor attendance


Bamford, S. and Worth, J. (2017). Teacher Retention and Turnover Research. Research Update 3: Is the Grass Greener Beyond Teaching? Slough: NFER.

This report looks at what happens to teachers who leave the profession and considers what their destinations tell us about how schools and policymakers might better retain teachers. In this third Research Update, the researchers use data from the Understanding Society survey to track teachers for several years after they leave.

The analysis shows that, on average, teachers’ pay does not increase after they leave, suggesting leavers are not primarily motivated by increased pay. Instead, leavers appear to be more motivated by improved job satisfaction, reduced working hours and more opportunities for flexible working.

Key Findings show that:

Teachers’ job satisfaction improves after leaving. The job satisfaction of teachers who leave teaching for another job increases considerably after they leave. Teachers’ job satisfaction had been declining in the years before they left teaching, suggesting that low job satisfaction was an important factor contributing to their decision to leave.

Teachers do not leave for higher-paid jobs. The monthly pay of teachers who leave teaching and take up a new job is, on average, ten per cent less than it was as a teacher. This does not necessarily imply that increasing teachers’ pay will have no impact on teacher retention, but policy responses need to consider pay alongside other factors.

Leavers’ working hours decrease and many secondary leavers take up part-time positions. Among secondary teachers who leave, the proportion working part-time increases by twenty percentage points after leaving, suggesting that secondary schools are less good than primary schools at accommodating part-time working.

The report calls on the government and other secondary-sector stakeholders to urgently look at ways of accommodating more part-time working in secondary schools, to retain teachers who are at risk of leaving.

UK Poverty 2017, 4th Dec., Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Key Findings show that:

Over the last 20 years the UK has seen very significant falls in poverty among children and pensioners. Twenty years ago, a third of children lived in poverty; this fell to 27% in 2011/12. In 1994/95, 28% of pensioners lived in poverty, falling to 13% in 2011/12. This progress is now at risk of reversing: poverty rates for both groups have started to rise again, to 16% for pensioners and 30% for children.

Three factors led to falling poverty:

  • Increased support through benefits and tax credits

  • Rising employment

  • Containing the impact of rising rents through housing benefit and increased home ownership.

All are now under question:

  • The continued rise in employment is no longer reducing poverty
  • State support for low-income families through benefits and tax credits is falling in real terms
  • Rising rents, less help for low-income renters and falling home ownership leave more people struggling to meet the cost of housing.

International- Wales

Education Secretary outlines proposed implementation plan for new additional learning needs system in Wales, 11th December 2017

Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams has published a report summarising the responses to a consultation on options for implementing the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill today, and outlined her proposed approach for how the new system will be implemented in Wales if it becomes law.

Key elements of the approach include:

  • A mandatory phased approach to the introduction of Individual Development Plans (IDPs), which will provide tailored support to the learning needs of each individual and replace current statutory and non-statutory plans including the statement of Special Educational Needs; with those with the most severe learning needs prioritised.

  • The new system should commence in September 2020. This will allow sufficient time for the range of supporting measures, subordinate legislation and the Additional Learning Needs Code (which will sit alongside the Bill), to be developed and put into place, and a comprehensive programme of multi-agency training and development, to aid a smooth transition to the new system.

  • The implementation of the new system should last three years, with completion expected by the end of 2023.

The report and proposed approach is available here

Welsh Government publishes new Framework for Action to support those educated other than at school, 4th December 2017

The new Education Other than at School (EOTAS) Framework for Action is the culmination of two years of work by the EOTAS Task and Finish Group and marks the start of the biggest reform of Pupil Referral Units and EOTAS provision in Wales.

Chaired by former Estyn Chief Inspector, Ann Keane, the EOTAS Task and Finish Group was established in September 2015 with the purpose of developing practical solutions to the recommendations of a number of reports which highlighted where current EOTAS provision in Wales could be strengthened. The group included representation from the Welsh Government, local authorities, schools, Pupil Referral Units (PRU), Estyn and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales.

The new Framework is a long-term plan, consisting of 34 actions across six key areas, although some of the actions will be implemented in the short to medium term. The key areas it seeks to improve are Leadership, Accountability, Resources, Structures, Learner Wellbeing, and Outcomes.

An annual report collated from examination bodies on the results of external examinations taken by pupils aged 15 or 17, which includes GCSE and A Levels by subject.

Key points

Pupils in Year 11

  • 54.6 per cent of pupils in Year 11 achieved the Level 2 inclusive threshold (Level 2 including a grade A*-C in English or Welsh first language and Mathematics).

  • The average Capped 9 score was 350.9.

  • 28.6 per cent of pupils eligible for Free School Meals achieved the Level 2 inclusive threshold.

  • 62.5 per cent of pupils achieved A*-C in Mathematics/Mathematics-Numeracy (best of).

  • 65.0 per cent of pupils achieved A*-C in either English or Welsh first language.

See also: Final exam results do not yet show full picture, says Education Secretary, 6th December 2017

Changes to qualifications and performance measures mean that comparisons between this year and last year’s GCSE results are not appropriate or accurate, the Education Secretary has warned.



Invitation to tender Leader of support school, 11th December

The ERW Leadership Menu of Support has evolved this year in line with the principles of the self-improving school system. The menu drives and supports collaboration and partnership between schools across the region in order to respond to local needs and variations. The strategy is a flexible and responsive approach to support school development following Core Support Visit 1 where required.

As a region, ERW already have 27 ‘Lead Support Schools’ who are available to collaborate on the ‘Menu of Support’. They need to further build this capacity and are inviting more schools to put themselves forward and apply to be an ERW Lead Support School.

These schools will need to have a proven record of strong leadership and self-improvement and be able to demonstrate a capacity for effective partnership working.

Following successful selection, these schools will receive training (probably week beginning January 15th) before being commissioned as ERW ‘Lead Support schools’. These schools will be linked up with schools requiring support in line with the needs of the school for a set period of time (expected to be in the range of 3-10 days). Support will be brokered by Challenge Advisers through the ERW Central Team.

ERW Lead Support Schools will receive capacity building funding to support the school in engaging in school to school collaboration in line with agreed success criteria that will be monitored and evaluated by the Challenge Adviser. The degree to which a school is engaged in collaboration will be variable and be determined by the identified needs of schools needing support arising from Core Support Visit 1.

Please read the ‘Expression of Interest’ document and if you are interested in becoming an ERW Leader of Support School then please complete the attached expression of interest and return to mark.ford@erw.org.uk. by Friday, January 12th.

Other International

Social and Emotional Skills Well-being, connectedness and success, 5th Dec, OECD

The report considers the development of a metric for social and emotional skills. Over the last years, social and emotional skills have been rising on the education policy agenda and in the public debate. But for the majority of students, their development remains a matter of luck, depending on whether this is a priority for their teacher and their school. A major barrier is the absence of reliable metrics in this field that allow educators and policy-makers to make progress visible, and to address shortcomings. The OECD is now developing a comprehensive international assessment of the social and emotional skills of students. The study will help education leaders and practitioners better support students in the development of these critical skills. It will provide insights and guidance for jurisdictions to better understand the policies and practices that foster the development of social and emotional skills amongst students. And it will enable us to look inside a number of education systems, and understand where and how success is being achieved, for students of different ages and backgrounds.

Educational opportunity for all, 6th Dec: OECD

The report considers equitable educational opportunities, which the report states can help to promote long-lasting, inclusive economic growth and social cohesion. Successful education and skills policies can empower individuals to reach their full potential and enjoy the fruits of their labour, regardless of their circumstances at birth. However, as this report shows, far too many children, students and adults from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds fall behind. In many countries, substantial learning gaps exist between students at opposite ends of the socio-economic scale, and these differences tend to increase in the transition into adulthood.

Findings show that all countries have ample room for improvement to ensure better learning outcomes for all. Early childhood education has been identified as an important element in future success, and requires investment, as do family and community-based support and programmes for children from families that have not attained a high level of education and skills. In the schools, targeted support is necessary for low performers from disadvantaged backgrounds and for poorly performing schools. As for the adult population, learning should be focused on improving employability, through a combination of education and practical job training. Barriers to participation in learning need to be removed, and delivery methods need to be more innovative and flexible. Targeted support is needed for the most vulnerable members of society.

And see: More efforts needed to help children from disadvantaged families succeed, 6th Dec: OECD


500 schools wanted to take part in trials, 5th Dec: EEF

60,000 pupils in 515 primary and secondary schools across England will take part in four new trials to test different teaching and learning strategies, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) announced today.

The programmes – including an intervention to promote fluent handwriting and an online assessment tool that helps maths teachers to identify and address pupil misconceptions - will be independently evaluated through large randomised controlled trials that will test their impact on academic attainment.

The four new trials are of:

  • Helping Handwriting Shine: an intervention delivered by Leeds University that trains teachers and teaching assistants to use approaches normally used by occupational therapists to improve handwriting.

  • Realistic Maths Education: a programme that trains Key Stage 3 maths teachers to teach maths through modelling and problem solving, using an approach originally developed and used by schools in the Netherlands.

  • Diagnostic Questions: an online assessment tool developed delivered by the Behavioural Insights Team, that helps maths teachers to identify and address pupil misconceptions

  • Same Day Intervention: where pupils are given a 40 minute maths lesson, answer some questions independently and then have 15 minutes away from their teacher (attending assembly or a teaching-assistant-led activity) while the teacher marks their answers using a rapid marking code.

Cressida Cowell crowned UK literacy champion as she wins Ruth Rendell Award 2017, 6th December 2017

Cressida Cowell has won the Ruth Rendell Award 2017 for her tireless championing of literacy throughout the UK. The children’s author and illustrator was presented with the award by John Wittingdale MP at the All-Party Parliamentary Writers Group Winter Reception in the House of Commons. 

The award, launched in memory of bestselling author Ruth Rendell in 2016 by the National Literacy Trust and Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, celebrates the author who has done the most to champion literacy throughout the UK over the past year. 

Over the course of the year, Cressida Cowell: 

  • Travelled the length and breadth of the UK to deliver reading for enjoyment and creative writing events and workshops to 15,000 school children

  • Was an author ambassador for a wealth of literacy campaigns on behalf of charities and organisations including the National Literacy Trust, BookTrust, The Reading Agency, World Book Day and the Premier League

  • Judged several creative writing and drawing competitions for children, including Blue Peter’s Design a Dragon for the Kew Garden Pagoda competition, as well as a number of book awards, including the Costa Book Award, the Wicked Young Writer Awards and the Carmelite Prize

  • Won the prestigious Hay Festival Medal for Fiction (the first children’s author to pick up the prize in the award’s history)

See also Book ownership and reading outcomes

Research by the National Literacy Trust and timed to coincide with the announcement of the winner of the Ruth Rendell prize shows that one in 11 (9.4%) children and young people said they do not have a book of their own at home, rising to one in eight (13.1%) children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Of these children, those who receive free school meals, boys of all ages and teenagers are the most likely to say they have no books of their own at home.

The research also found that children who say they own a book are 15 times more likely to read above the level expected for their age than their peers who say they don’t own a book (28.8% vs 1.9%) and are four times less likely to read below the expected level (12.9% vs 48.1%). 

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations

PIRLS 2016: reading literacy performance in England, 5th December 2017

The gap between the highest and lowest performing pupils in England has started to close, with the largest improvements have been for the lower-performing pupils at the 10th percentile. Their average performance increased by 15- points from PIRLS 2011, compared to a 3-point increase at the 90th percentile. This gap still needs to be closed further. Although there is an improvement in the performance of the lowest performing pupils, more can still be done; and schools working with Achievement for All have seen the gap with reading, writing and maths close considerably.

Local area SEND inspection outcome letters, 4th and 7th December 2017

Oxfordshire - The local area’s work to implement the reforms and improve outcomes for children and young people who have special educational needs (SEN) and/or disabilities has not been effective enough.

Some weaknesses highlighted in the delivery of services including (where relevant):

  • Some mainstream schools are not making sure that staff have the skills needed to identify and meet the needs of pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities consistently effectively. Several parents spoke of teachers and support staff in mainstream schools who had failed to recognise signs that a child might have a special educational need. These parents identified a lack of suitable training as a key weakness.

  • The needs of children and young people with social, emotional and mental health needs who do not have a statement of special educational needs or an EHC plan are typically not met well enough in mainstream schools. This is evident in the high level of fixed-term exclusions, which contribute to poor attendance

Schools in Oxfordshire would benefit from working with Achievement for All.