11th August 2017 (two weeks)

Department for Education SEND provision capital funding for pupils with EHC plans, 4th August 2017 (updated)

Published in March 2017 and republished to include special provision capital fund guidance document, and templates to use to create a special provision plan.

Independent state school partnerships (ISSP): evaluation (updated)

First published 12th July 2017 and republished on 8th August to to correct table 1.

Mainstream free school revenue funding, 9th August 2017 (updated)

Republished with information about the post-opening grant for presumption projects.

Improvement notice issued to Gloucestershire county council, 10th August 2017

The improvement notice requires Gloucestershire county council to take steps to improve its children’s services. It follows a 13 June 2017 report by Ofsted which judged the overall effectiveness of children’s services to be inadequate. In the context of children in care, the Ofsted report showed that educational outcomes are variable, and attainment and progress at key stage 2 through to key stage 4 are too low. School attendance by children in Year 11 and above is poor, and while improvement strategies are in place, these are not yet sufficiently effective in improving attainment and attendance for children.

Department for Education - Research

School funding and pupil outcomes review, 3rd August 2017

This report presents findings from the most recent analytical work by the Department for Education to understand the impact of changes in school funding on the outcomes that schools deliver for their pupils. The report contains a literature review that covers the best-quality academic evidence in this area, alongside new analysis carried out by the department to judge whether changes in school funding over the course of the 2010 to 2015 Parliament had an impact on pupil outcomes in England.

Key findings from the literature review show that, although there are few robust research studies in this area, the weight of evidence suggests that additional school resources positively influence attainment, but the effects are modest at all Key Stages.

- Overall more research is needed in this area.

- Current research shows a small effect on primary results but none at secondary.

- For schools that lost funding from 2010 to 2015 the current research found that:

- At key stage 2, lower per-pupil funding was associated with very slightly lower attainment. 

- Best estimates suggest a 1% change in funding is associated with a 0.062-0.071 percentage point (pp) change in the proportion of pupils achieving at least level 4 in 2015.

- At key stage 4, a decrease in per-pupil funding does not result in a statistically significant change in attainment (after taking into account the fact that KS4 attainment was measured differently from 2013 onwards).

Extended activity provision in secondary schools, 3rd August 2017

The research explored three key areas:

- The insight from school leaders and other school staff, parents and pupils on current out-of-normal timetable provision, and the main barriers and enablers to offering provision and pupil participation;

- The perceived benefits and disadvantages of expanding out-of-normal timetable provision, including the possibility of a compulsory extended school day; and

- The capacity/ interest there would be from CVCS organisations to support additional out-of-normal timetable provision, as well as schools’ capacity to manage these contractual relations.

The work, carried out by Ecorys UK between November 2016 and February 2017, was based on qualitative research in secondary schools, which varied across several characteristics. In total, 20 semi-structured interviews with school leaders, and seven case studies in an additional seven schools (comprising interviews and focus groups with school staff, parents and pupils) were conducted. Alongside this, 25 qualitative interviews with CVCS organisations, and a survey of 100 CVCS organisations were carried out. The research is not intended to be nationally representative, but rather presents a snapshot of current practices from a mixed sample of schools and CVCS providers, to inform DfE policy teams.

Findings showed that:

- Schools judged activity provision as good or comprehensive in most cases, but public transport issues prevented pupil participation in some activities.

- The most prominent times for activity provision were during break times as well as after school.

- Commercial providers tended to be more likely to cover unusual times for delivery (e.g. weekends or holidays) while the voluntary and community sector organisations were mainly available after school.

- Most common activity was sport.

- Activities offered by schools tended to include those that staff wanted to do.

- Several schools had experience of delivering a compulsory extended school day. The rationales for the extension focused on increased time to engage with curriculum subjects in a supported way, as well as opportunities for more experimental learning. Some schools also cited aspirational aspects, and wanted their offer to be seen as closer to that of independent schools.

- Concerns around a longer day focused on the impact on the work-life balance of pupils; the extent to which participation should be intrinsically motivated or imposed; the impact on teachers and practicalities of staffing, and the potential of disruption to family schedules.

- Schools generally believed participation of pupils in extended school activities should be voluntary.

See also: Education Business, 4th August, Extended school days could increase pressure on pupils

Supporting mental health in schools and colleges, 3rd August 2017

The DfE commissioned this research project in order to understand what schools, colleges and other educational institutions in England currently do to promote positive mental health and wellbeing among all of their pupils, to identify and support pupils who might have particular mental health needs or require specialist support, and to explore their experiences of putting this provision into place.

Overall, 2,780 institutions completed the mental health surveys. The majority of participants were senior leaders: head teachers or other members of the senior leadership team, meaning that the findings generally reflect the viewpoints of these staff.

Findings showed that:

- Schools and colleges have a broad range of activities and approaches aimed at promoting positive mental health and wellbeing among all pupils, identifying those who might have particular mental health needs, and supporting those with identified needs.

- In particular, institution-wide approaches to mental health provision were commonly adopted. A shared vision and ethos, established processes and strong relationships between staff and pupils were seen to be key to the promotion of positive mental health and supporting pupils with particular needs, as well as early identification of those in need.

- Institutions referred to and/or worked in tandem with external mental health services to offer specialist mental health provision, though a lack of time and capacity within these services were highlighted as problematic.

- It should be noted that though this research identified some key factors that institutions felt were key to success, such as a shared vision for mental health, strong leadership, trusting relationships and high quality training, this research did not attempt to capture the quality or effectiveness of current provision.

Developing character skills in schools, 3rd August 2017

This report provides a summary of the key findings from the Department for Education (DfE) research into the provision of character education in schools. The DfE commissioned the research to understand how schools in England currently develop desirable character traits among their pupils, and to explore their experiences of this. The research included a national survey of provision and case studies exploring decision making, models of delivery and experiences of different approaches to developing character, followed by a workshop to consolidate learning from the research. This report summarises part of a wider, mixed methods project exploring mental health and character education provision in schools and colleges across England.

Key findings showed that:

- 97% of schools sought to promote desirable character traits among their students, although fewer (54%) were familiar with the term ‘character education’ prior to being approached to take part in the research.

- Schools primarily aimed to develop character in order to promote good citizenship (97%) and academic attainment (84%). Across all school types, the character traits most highly prioritised were honesty, integrity and respect for others (a high priority for 94% of schools). Less importance was placed on curiosity, problem-solving and motivation, although these traits were still a high priority for more than two-thirds (68%) of schools.

- Most schools used school-wide, cross-curricular approaches to develop character.

- Less than one in six (17%) schools had a formalised plan or policy in place for character education.

- The biggest barriers for schools seeking to provide character education centred around competing demands on staff time and capacity.

- Successful character education was felt to depend on a clear vision and whole school approach embedded across the curriculum. It needed to be driven forward by strong leadership, and delivered and modelled by staff with the appropriate skills, time and access to activities that could be tailored appropriately to the needs of students.

Children’s services omnibus, 3rd August 2017

An 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%. However, as indicated throughout the report, not all 101 LAs answered all of the survey questions.

Key findings relating to SEND show that:

- Support for families with a disabled child in finding childcare- All responding LAs offered support for parents with a disabled child in finding childcare. Nine in ten (91%) LAs published information about childcare options, and the same proportion supported these parents through their Families Information Service.

- LAs used a range of means for monitoring implementation of SEND reform- multiagency boards, internal staff meetings and engaging with stakeholders.

- Systems for monitoring pressures on high needs budgets included: Firstly, finance departments tended to be responsible for monitoring total spend, allocation of spend and anticipated pressures (e.g. through waitlists) and periodic review of existing spend.

- LAs monitored outcomes for children and young people (CYP) with SEND at three main levels: at the level of the child / young person; at provider (e.g. school) level; and at the level of the LA.

- LAs reported that the accountability brought about by the monitoring systems helped them to ensure that education, health and social care services worked together to fulfil their duties for SEND under the Children and Families Act

Department for Education- Further Education

The following FE area reviews were published on 3rd August:

Area reviews are intended to ensure that the further education sector has a strong and sustainable future – in terms of efficiency of operation, quality of provision, and the responsiveness of courses to the needs of individuals and employers.

All highlight a need for change, details of which can be found on the page’ key areas for change’

Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire FE area review

Dorset further education area review

Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire FE area review

Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly FE area review report

South east Midlands further education area review report

Hertfordshire further education area review report

Kent and Medway further education area review report

Lancashire further education area review report

Leicester and Leicestershire further education area review report

Norfolk and Suffolk further education area review report

North east England further education area review report

York, North Yorkshire, East Riding and Hull FE area review report

Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough FE area review

Greater Essex further education area review

Greater Lincolnshire further education area review

Apprenticeship service registrations and commitments to June 2017, 10th August 2017

This release provides headline experimental statistics on the use of the apprenticeship service. These include apprenticeship service account registrations (ASAs) and numbers of commitments, where an apprentice who is expected to go on to start has been recorded in the system.

A commitment is where a potential apprentice, who is expected to go on to start an apprenticeship, has been recorded in the system. The apprenticeship service provides a self-managed service on which organisations and providers can add the details of an apprentice. These commitments may be either fully agreed or pending approval. These were able to be entered from March 2017.

As at 30 June 2017, there have been a total of 13,500 commitments entered into the apprenticeship service. Of these, 11,400 were fully agreed.

(These statistics will be published on a monthly basis)


Schools, pupils and their characteristics: January 2017 (updated), 2nd August

This was released on 29th June 2017 and has been republished to replace the underlying data file as some ward codes were incorrectly listed.


Local area SEND inspection outcome letters for Bury and Wakefield, 11th August 2017

Bury: In relation to schools, findings showed that the inaccurate identification of special educational needs and/or disabilities by schools means that Bury has a higher than average proportion of children and young people needing special educational needs support, a statement of educational needs or an education, health and care (EHC) plan. The lack of capacity within schools to meet the needs of these children and young people is evident by the high numbers educated out of borough and far too many being excluded from school.

Wakefield: A strength in Wakefield is the effective approach to identifying, assessing and meeting the needs of children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities in many schools. Special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) in these schools work in close partnership with families and monitor children and young people’s learning and progress well. As a result, children and young people who may need additional help or support are identified quickly and get the help they need.

School inspections and outcomes: management information, 11th August 2017.

Data published for the month of July 2017 and a one-off publication of inspections and outcomes from 2005 to 2015.

Further education and skills inspection handbook, 31st July 2017 (updated, previously updated April 2017)

The handbook describes the main activities Ofsted inspectors undertake when they inspect further education and skills providers. It sets out the main judgements that inspectors will report on. It has been republished showing change to the arrangements for sharing reporting letters resulting from support and challenge visits. Other minor updates and clarification have also been made.

Further education and skills inspections and outcomes: management information from December 2015, 10th August

In-year and most recent inspection outcomes for month of July 2017.


Closing the gap: trends in educational attainment and disadvantage, Andrews, Robinson and Hutchinson, August 2017: Education Policy Institute.

In this report, the authors examine how well the school system is serving disadvantaged young people. They do this by measuring the gap between disadvantaged pupils (those eligible for the Pupil Premium) and their peers; the gap variation between local areas is also considered.

Key findings show that:

Persistently disadvantaged pupils:

The most disadvantaged pupils in England have fallen further behind their peers, and are now on average over 2 full years of learning behind non-disadvantaged pupils by the end of secondary.

Disadvantaged pupils:

There has been some progress in closing the gap for disadvantaged pupils on average in England since 2007, which has narrowed by three months by the end of secondary.

- However this gap is closing slowly and inconsistently – this is despite considerable investment and targeted intervention programmes by the government.

- In 2016, disadvantaged pupils were on average 19.3 months behind their peers by the time they took their GCSEs – meaning they are falling behind by around 2 months each year over the course of secondary school. From 2007 to 2016, the gap by the end of primary school has narrowed by 2.8 months and the gap by age 5 has narrowed by 1.2 months.

- At the current rate of progress it would take a full 50 years to reach an equitable education system where disadvantaged pupils did not fall behind their peers during formal education to age 16.

Regional trends

- Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds face the biggest struggle in the Isle of Wight, where they are almost two and a half years (29 months) behind their peers across the country by the end of secondary.

- Other areas showing considerable gaps include Derby, Cumbria, and Knowsley (27 months), South Gloucestershire and Northumberland (26 months), and Dudley and Darlington (25 months).

- At the opposite end of the scale, more successful areas include Hackney, Islington, Newham, Rutland and Barnet, where gaps are 8 months, and Southwark, Wandsworth and Tower Hamlets, where it stands at just 7 months.

When considering areas with similar gaps at the beginning of education, and comparing how they have changed by the end of secondary, stark differences are found:

- Areas such as Darlington, Derby, Luton, South Tyneside and Thurrock are taking a step backwards with closing the gap, having performed particularly badly since 2012 compared with similar areas.

- Several areas have been successful in improving outcomes for the disadvantaged. Rutland, Waltham Forest, Islington, Brent, Barnet, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Richmond on Thames have seen significant declines in the gap since 2012.

Opportunity Areas

- While the 12 Opportunity Areas identified by the government have growing and larger than average disadvantage gaps, there are areas where the disadvantage gap has grown even faster.

- The government should consider expanding Opportunity Areas to other local authority districts which have sizeable gaps which have increased since 2012 – including Darlington, Rossendale and Boston.

Pupil characteristics

- England's education system also neglects those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), who struggle to keep pace with their peers.

International: Wales

See also iNews Educational gap between richest and poorest ‘will take 50 years to close’

Quality Talk and dialogic teaching—an examination of a professional development programme on secondary teachers’ facilitation of student talk, Davies et al., 26th July: British Educational Research Journal

The study used the Quality Talk and dialogic teaching approach with a group of secondary school teachers (N = 7) to train their facilitation of dialogical discussions by small groups of students. Results show that although the number of high-quality questions from the teachers did not increase, the quality of the questions students asked of each other did improve, and resulted in extended periods of dialogic spells. Positive developments were found for teachers’ beliefs about the use of dialogue to foster deeper thinking with their secondary school-aged students.

International Wales

Leading in the current context - performance and personal effectiveness, 9th August: Learning Wales

In the series of modules developed for teachers and leaders, this module considers effective people management to improve organisational performance.


How Canada became an education superpower, Sean Coughlan, 2nd August: BBC

So how has Canada overtaken so many other countries in education?

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's education director, says Canada's "big uniting theme is equity". Despite the different policies in individual provinces, there is a common commitment to an equal chance in school. He says there is a strong sense of fairness and equal access - and this is seen in the high academic performance of migrant children.


Income and expenditure in academies: new data raises more questions than answers, blog by Claire Easton, 2nd August: NfER

In this blog, Claire Easton says that the recent Department for Education staisitcs- income and expenditure in academies in England, leaves more questions than answers. She discusses this over the following areas: Are academies propping themselves up with reserve funds? Are there differences between SATs and MATs? Do MATs in deficit differ by size? Are there differences by phase of education? And concludes that additional data is needed to enable the real story of academies’ income and expenditure to be told within the wider context of schools’ financial challenges and increasing pupil numbers. Having access to this data would enable users to assess whether or not ‘we’ should genuinely be concerned about academy funding.

'Music education needs to be fought for – let's not allow it to slip away', Philip Viveash, 29th July 2017: TES

The author highights the importance of music in children’s learning and development and says that too many schools are cutting music from the curriculum because of budget cuts and teacher shortages.

Teach pupils to avoid gangs' - children's commissioner, 30th July: BBC

Following the recent research by Childrens Commissioner Anne Longford, she said that pupils should be taught in school how to avoid being sucked into gangs or exploited by older criminals. She said that personal, social, health and economics education (PSHE) lessons should help children spot when they are being targeted by gangs.

She said children looking for "a sense of belonging, fast money" or "glamour" were at risk.

Out with the old school? The rise of ed tech in the classroom, 1st August: The Guardian

The author says the rapid evolution of technology means there’s a need to advance how education is delivered to young people. Schools now spend £900m on education technology every year, and it is estimated the global market will be worth £129bn by 2020. In particular Kahoot! Is cited as an emerging “edtech” ventures which is helping teachers tackle subjects such as maths and English in a more innovative way. Kahoot!, the top education app on the UK and US Apple app stores, launched in 2013 and now has 50 million users every month.

'We need to confront the GCSE resits crisis', Jenny North, 2nd August, TES

Jenny North of Impetus-PEF says that facing Britain’s long-term Neet problem will begin with confronting the crisis in the resit market and giving young people a real second chance to succeed.

How can we create a culture of excellence in schools? Mark Enser, 2nd August, The Guardian

The author, head of geography at Heathfield Community College says that what is needed is a culture of excellence that permeates every classroom, department and school; a focus not on simply getting the best grade, but on getting the best education and creating a lifelong passion for learning.

This shift in focus matters, he says. Research from The Equality Trust suggests that countries with low levels of educational achievement suffer from higher levels of inequality. It concludes that: “The link between educational achievement and high aspiration is a key explanation for the association between low educational achievement and inequality.” This is not to deny the importance of qualifications – there is little doubt that educational attainment improves your life chances – but simply chasing data will never lead to a culture of high aspiration from individual pupils.

One in five children with special needs left in limbo without secondary school place, 7th August: The Independent

The author says that at least 2,421 special needs children who are due to start secondary school in September were not given education plans before the legal deadline, according to data released under freedom of information laws. This uncertainty about what school they will go to and whether their support provision will be cut, says the author has left vulnerable children anxious.

Isolated In Class: How Can We Make Sure There Are No Invisible Children? 7th August, Clare Owen: HuffPost

The author highlights the need to help every child succeed- including those with SEND, and those eligible for pupil premium, along with EAL children. She says: Schools want to help every child succeed, but with increasing importance placed on results and rising numbers of unqualified teachers in the classroom, it’s more important than ever for us to ensure these children aren’t missed. We must intervene, get to know students as individuals and ensure they feel significant, safeguarding their opportunities. Small gestures can make a big difference. It is difficult. Some students do loom larger in the classroom, but we mustn’t let it be the case that invisible children’s voices are only heard when they answer the call of the register.

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations

Closing the gap: trends in educational attainment and disadvantage, Andrews, Robinson and Hutchinson, August 2017: Education Policy Institute

The report highlights the big attainment gap in some regions of England for children from socio-economic disadvantage and their more advantaged peers. Schools working with Achievement for All are closing this gap.