13th October 2017

Department for Education

Thirty-two academy leaders elected to help schools thrive, 11th October 2017: News Story

The leaders – who were elected by their peers across the country – were chosen because they have the right experience and local knowledge to take on this important role. They will each join one of the eight regional Headteacher Boards across England. The boards provide support to the Regional Schools Commissioners in those areas as they work to provide effective oversight of local schools and advise the National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter and the government.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System, Sir Theodore Agnew, said:

Headteacher Boards have already shown they can provide invaluable support in improving the education of pupils across England and I’d like to thank everyone who has played an important role so far.

The local expertise and wisdom of the newly elected members will be vital in helping schools continue to flourish and I look forward to working with them in my new role.

The newly elected members will build on the successes of the previous Headteacher Boards, which have been in place since July 2014 when the role of Regional Schools Commissioner was created. The Headteacher Boards have already helped a growing number of academies to share expertise with neighbouring schools and within multi-academy trusts, driving improvement for thousands of pupils.

£20 million improvement programme for children’s social care, 12th October 2017.

In a speech to the National Children and Adults Services (NCAS) conference in Bournemouth, Children’s Minister Robert Goodwill announced up to £20 million for a new programme to help all councils improve their services – with a sharp focus on making sure those at risk of failure can make vital improvements.

The programme will give councils the tools they need to build stronger services for our most vulnerable children. This includes:

  • Tailored peer support for local authorities, bringing in more councils to the successful Partners in Practice programme;

  • The testing of ‘Regional Improvement Alliances’, made up of neighbouring local authorities. Alliances will see councils challenging each other on standards, agreeing local improvement priorities, and sharing best practice, in order to deliver more for children and families.

Department for Education- Further Education

Post-16 skills plan and independent report on technical education, 11th October 2017- Publication of T Level Action Plan: Policy Paper

In July, the government announced that it would be introducing T levels from September 2020 and it set out an outline timetable for introduction across the new routes. This Action Plan goes further by:

  • Outlining the key principles underpinning the delivery of T levels and how they fit within the wider 16 to 19 offer.

  • Providing more detail on the plans for implementation from 2020

  • Setting out their new approach to co-creating the next phase of T level implementation, indicating how, where and when business, education and training providers and awarding organisations can come on board and get involved in shaping the future technical education system.

‘T levels’ are new technical study programmes that will sit alongside Apprenticeships within a reformed skills training system. The reforms are at the heart of a skills partnership between government, business and education and training providers – a partnership that will create the skills revolution needed to meet the needs of our economy. The reforms will deliver the recommendations from the Independent Panel on Technical Education, chaired by Lord Sainsbury. The Panel put forward 34 recommendations to government in April 2016, including the introduction of a new framework of 15 technical routes to skilled employment, covering classroom-based training programmes (T levels) and work-based programmes (Apprenticeships). In the Post-16 Skills Plan, the government accepted all recommendations put forward by the Panel and committed to their implementation.

There will be a consultation later in the year, but if you have any comments in the meantime contact: technical.education@education.gov.uk.

See also: Education Secretary announces first new T levels

Biggest ever overhaul of technical education to deliver a skills revolution for Brexit Britain.

See also: Experimental apprenticeships data visualisations, republished since September 2017 with the following updates:

Updated with links to 2 new data visualisation examples: 'Apprenticeships starts dashboard by level and age: academic year 2010 to 2011 to academic year 2015 to 2016' and 'Apprenticeship starts by parliamentary constituency and sector subject area: academic year 2015 to 2016'.

Education Secretary opens new high speed rail college, 9th October 2017: News Story

Education Secretary Justine Greening helped launch the new National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) in Doncaster.

The college is the largest of five new national colleges created by the government to ensure young people can learn world-class technical skills, including, engineering, design, planning, manufacturing and construction.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said:

‘…………Doncaster is also one of the 12 Opportunity Areas that will benefit from a share of £72 million to raise attainment and aspirations. NCHSR is part of this work, making sure Doncaster’s local talent gets the opportunity to fulfil its potential and ensuring a prosperous future for the UK’.


A level and other 16 to 18 results: 2016 to 2017 (provisional), 12th October 2017

Key findings showed that:

The average point score (APS) per entry increased for A level, applied general and tech level students, compared to equivalent 2016 provisional data. The APS per entry expressed as a grade remained stable for all cohorts apart from A level, where it increased from C to C+. Performance measures across qualifications types should not be directly compared due to differences in entry patterns and grading structures between qualification types.

English and maths average progress increased for students still working towards qualifications below level 3

Secondary school performance tables in England: 2016 to 2017, 12th October 2017

Schools can be compared

Race Disparity Audit, 10th October 2017: Research and Analysis.

This report provides an overview of the main findings from the first release of data from the Race Disparity Audit.

As well as a review of each topic on the Ethnicity Facts and Figures website, the report presents an overview of disparities that have most impact across all aspects of people’s lives. The following provide details for education:

Attainment and economic disadvantage

  • In 2016, Black pupils were over three times more likely to be eligible for FSM than Chinese pupils. Pupils from an Irish Traveller background were most likely to be eligible for free school meals with 3 in 5 Key stage 4 pupils eligible in 2016.

  • Children eligible for FSM have lower attainment than non-FSM pupils in all ethnic groups, but White British pupils and White Irish pupils had the biggest gap in attainment between those eligible and those not. At key stage 2 the attainment gap was 26 percentage points for White British pupils and 29 percentage points for White Irish pupils.

  • For pupils in key stage 4 in 2016 the Attainment 8 scores for White British pupils eligible for FSM was 16 points lower than for those not eligible; for White Irish pupils eligible for FSM, the Attainment 8 score was 17 points lower than for those not eligible. White British and White Irish pupils not eligible for FSM were almost twice as likely to achieve A*- C in maths and English GCSEs than those who were eligible (with gaps of 33 percentage points and 37 percentage points respectively).

  • Destinations: At the age of 16, nearly all Chinese and Indian pupils stay in education, employment or training for at least two terms the year after finishing compulsory schooling (97%). Pupils from a Mixed White and Black Caribbean background were less likely to stay in education, employment or training (91%). Only around two-thirds of Gypsy or Roma pupils (62%), and those of an Irish Traveller background (58%) stayed in education, employment or training in the 2014/15 academic year.

  • Exclusions: Gypsy or Roma pupils, and those of an Irish Traveller background were also most likely to be excluded in 2015/16: 22% and 18% of pupils in these groups respectively were given fixed period exclusions, and 0.33% and 0.49% of each group respectively were permanently excluded. These figures should be interpreted carefully as these pupil populations are relatively small. Black Caribbean pupils were around three times as likely to be permanently excluded than White British pupils (0.29% compared with 0.10%) and around twice as likely to receive a fixed period exclusion (10.1% compared with 5.2%) than White British pupils.

See also Prime Minister launches world-leading project on impact of ethnicity on everyday life, 10th October

Launching the new website on Tuesday 10 October, Theresa May hosted a discussion round the Cabinet Table involving key stakeholders at Downing Street.

She told them that the audit will become an “essential resource in the battle to defeat ethnic injustice” which must be confronted at all levels of society – from central government to local communities.

NEET data by local authority, 12th October 2017

2016 figures show that 6% of 16-17 were not in education, employment or training. This is 0.5 percentage points lower than 2015. However, there is variability across the country. 

Further education and skills, 12th October 2017

Statistics about learner participation, outcomes and highest qualification held in further education and skills, reported for October 2017.

There was a 0.8 percentage point increase in the proportion who participated in apprenticeships. 912,200 participated on an apprenticeship by the end of 2016/17 academic year, based on provisional full-year data, compared to 904,800 reported at this time in 2015/16.

Participation increased in higher level apprenticeships (37.4 per cent) and advanced level apprenticeships (5.3 per cent) whereas participation decreased in intermediate level apprenticeships (5.4 per cent) compared to the same point in 2015/16. Adult (19+) further education participation 2,233,200 learners had participated in adult further education by the end of 2016/17, compared to 2,318,700 reported at this time in 2015/16, a decrease of 3.7 per cent.

Participation in both English and maths and Level 2 courses decreased, whereas participation on Level 3 has increased. Participation in Level 4 and above courses increased by 26.0 per cent from 58,600 in 2015/16 to 73,800 in 2016/17.

See also blog: Apprenticeships In England – are they working?, Zoe des Claves, October 17th: NfER

The author considers the intended positive impact on the economy of increasing apprenticeships and explores whether this is happening:

‘Currently the United Kingdom’s (UK) gross domestic product per hour worked is at least 20 per cent behind that of the USA, France and Germany, according to official figures from the Office of National Statistics. The green paper, Building our Industrial Strategy (January 2017) argues that the productivity gap between the UK and these other countries could be partially closed by developing the technical and higher level vocational skills of the UK workforce. This green paper argues that high-quality apprenticeships are a core way to improve these skills across the UK. The strategy also highlights that improving these skills is especially important because of the increasing mechanisation of low skill jobs and the UK’s departure from the European Union’. 

The author concludes that without training to employment statistics we can’t know if apprenticeships are having the desired impact:

‘Although the recent numbers are interesting, they crucially do not allow us to work out if apprenticeships are having the desired impact on people’s lives and to our economy. A recent CBI/Pearson report (July 2016) suggests apprenticeships are only meaningful if they lead to related skilled employment. However, as the data on education to employment is not publically available, it is currently not possible to say if these apprenticeships are leading to sustained employment related to the training provided and if these jobs are in areas of skill shortages’.

FE data library: local authority tables,12th October 2017  

These provide the final full-year table of learner participation by provider, local authority, funding stream, learner and learning characteristics for 2014 to 2015. Although general figures are promising, there was a lot of variation across the country.

Destinations of key stage 4 and key stage 5 students, England, 2015/16,

Overall, 94% of pupils were in sustained education, employment or training in the year after key stage 4, unchanged from 2014/15. 90% of pupils were in sustained education, up 4 percentage points since 2010/11 and broadly similar to the last 2 years.

Overall, 89% of students were in sustained education or employment after key stage 5, a 1 percentage point increase from 2014/15. 66% of students were in sustained education destinations, a 1 percentage point increase from 2014/15. There has been a general upward trend since 2010/11, with a spike in 2011/12 alongside changes to tuition fees.

Overall, 86% of disadvantaged students were in sustained education or employment compared to 90% of others, a 2 percentage point and 1 percentage point increase respectively. Disadvantaged students who completed key stage 5 study were less likely to continue in sustained education (65%) compared to all other students (67%). Similarly, they were less likely to be in higher education (47% compared to 52% of others) or sustained employment.


School inspection handbook, republished, 13th October 2017

Republished to include:

Changes to the outcomes for pupils section reflecting changes to GCSE grades and data reports (a new IDSR);

Updates to Clarification for schools section and mythbuster document around myths and misunderstandings;

Clarification of arrangements for meeting relevant members of the governance structure and inclusion of chief executives or equivalents in inspections of academies in multi-academy trusts;

and new content explaining what happens to schools that receive the ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’ judgements.

Handbook for short, monitoring and unannounced behaviour school inspections, 13th October 2017

Republished to reflect the outcomes of a recent consultation; clarifications to the sections on Monitoring inspections; clarifications about engaging with those responsible for governance and inclusion of chief executives or equivalents in inspections of academies in multi-academy trusts; and updates reflecting changes to data reports (Analyse School Performance and the new inspection data summary reports or IDSR).

HMCI's commentary: October 2017, 11th October 2017: Authored article

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted's Chief Inspector, discusses findings from recent research into the primary and secondary curriculum.

Without a curriculum, a building full of teachers, leaders and pupils is not a school. Without receiving knowledge, pupils have learned nothing and no progress has been made – whatever the measures might indicate. This is why exams should exist in the service of the curriculum rather than the other way round. Exams are our best measure of what has been successfully transmitted to the pupil’s cognition. We must not forget, however, that any test can only ever sample the knowledge that has been gained. It is the whole domain that is of matter to the pupil.

A good school achieves a careful balance. Balance is the constant challenge when schools plan. Time is limited. Therefore choices need to be made about what to do when, how much depth to pursue, which ideas to link together, what resources to draw on, which way to teach, and how to make sure all pupils are able to benefit as each new concept, construct or fact is taught.

Ofsted’s chief Inspector highlighted findings from phase one of the review of the curriculum- which showed different understandings of the word ‘skills’ and of the meaning of curriculum. She commented on the three consequences of a reduced understanding of curriculum.

  1. First, the primary curriculum is narrowing in some schools as a consequence of too great a focus on preparing for key stage 2 tests.

  2. Second, leaders have often misunderstood the purpose of key stage 3 and the new GCSE assessment criteria.

  3. And third, the intended curriculum for lower-attaining pupils in some secondary schools was often associated with the qualifications that count in league tables but not with other knowledge they should be acquiring.


Making the difference breaking the link between school exclusion and social exclusion Kiran Gill, with Harry Quilter-Pinner and Danny Swift, 10th October 2017: Institute of Public Policy Research

The report considers school exclusion and how, in adulthood, it leads to social exclusion; it highlights the fact that these children and young people are being let down by the education system. The facts show that excluded children are the most vulnerable: twice as likely to be in the care of the state, four times more likely to have grown up in poverty, seven times more likely to have a special educational need and 10 times more likely to suffer recognised mental health problems.

This problem is much bigger than previously recognised. As mental ill health in young people rises, and more children are subject to interaction with social care services each year, more vulnerable children spill into the alternative provision (AP) sector. Too often this path leads them straight from school exclusion to social exclusion. Excluded young people are more likely to be unemployed, develop severe mental health problems and go to prison. The cost to society of failing excluded young people is high. It is an economic, as well as social imperative that action is taken to upskill the teaching workforce, improve outcomes for multiply disadvantaged pupils and to stem the tide of exclusions. IPPR is advocating a new programme – The Difference – to develop expertise in the teaching profession, connect exceptional teachers to schools for excluded children, and create a community of leaders to drive positive and lasting change throughout England’s education system.

Early Language Development: needs, provision and intervention, for pre- school children from socio economically disadvantage backgrounds, A report for the Education Endowment Foundation, Law et al., 10th October 2017

Commissioned by the EEF in partnership with Public Health England the report examines the most effective ways to support young children with delays in their early language development.

A team of researchers, led by Professor James Law from Newcastle University looked at the existing evidence to find out which interventions have the greatest potential for boosting toddlers’ language skills and reducing inequalities in outcomes. They also summarised the existing literature on language development. According to the report:

  • Children’s gestures, such as pointing, are key to their early language development;

  • Toddlers need to be using between 50 and 100 words before they start putting words together, a skill that can be a better predictor of later abilities than the number of words used;

  • At some point between the ages of two and three, children typically start to produce longer, more complex sentences.

  • Along with high-quality early years provision, interactions with parents are key. They highlight at need to promote positive interaction between parents and their children before they get to nursery at 2-3 years.

The researchers identified a series of intervention studies which have had positive results on developing language skills. They found one of the best ways to improve early language development for this group is through training for teachers in early years settings so that they can deliver cost-effective and evidence based interventions to those children who have fallen behind.

The report also stresses the need for better monitoring of children’s progress at different stages of their development, to catch those children falling behind and to identify those who need targeted, specialist support.

Morphological processing in children with phonological difficulties, Carroll and Breadmore, Coventry University/ Warwick University, 6th October 2017

The study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, found 25 per cent of its young participants who had reading difficulties showed mild or moderate hearing impairment, of which their parents and teachers were unaware.

The study compared children with dyslexia to youngsters who had a history of repeated ear infections to see if they had a similar pattern of literacy difficulties. 195 children aged between eight and 10 – including 36 with dyslexia and 29 with a history of repeated ear infections – completed a series of tests. They were retested 18 months later, when a hearing screening was also carried out.

Around one third of the children who had repeated ear infections had problems with reading and writing, although the researchers suggest repeat ear infections will only result in reading difficulties when accompanied by weaknesses in other areas. Children with a history of repeated ear infections mainly had problems with the phonology tasks; showing that they still had subtle difficulties with the perception of spoken language.

The researchers suggest that teachers should be made aware if youngsters have had a history of repeated ear infections, so they can consider the possibility of any hearing loss and understand how the consequences of these infections may impact on children as they learn about the sound structure of words and begin to read.

A randomized controlled evaluation of a secondary school mindfulness program for early adolescents: Do we have the recipe right yet? Johnson et al., Behaviour Research and Theraphy, Vol. 99, Dec 2017

The researchers found no differences between students who had the nine week mindfulness programme and those who did not have the programme. Carried out with 555 pupils in four secondary schools in South Australia participated (mean age 13.5 years). The researchers conclude that further research is required to identify the optimal age, content, and length of programmes delivering mindfulness to teenagers.

Life Lessons: Improving essential life skills for young people, Cullinane and Montacute, Oct 2017: Sutton Trust

This report highlights the recognition among teachers, employers and young people on how important life skills are to the success of young people, exploring current provision for life skills development in state schools and the level of demand for improvement.

Key findings show:

  • Essential life skills such as confidence, motivation, resilience and communication are associated with better academic outcomes and better prospects in the workplace, and there is an increasing emphasis on their value, given labour market trends towards automation.

  • Three quarters of young people believe that better life skills would help them get a job in the future, and 88% say that they are as or more important than getting good grades. However, only 1 in 5 pupils say that the school curriculum helps them ‘a lot’ with the development of life skills.

  • Extra-curricular activities can contribute to the development of these skills, but there are substantial gaps between the level of provision of clubs and activities reported by teachers, and actual take-up by pupils.

  • There are also substantial socio-economic gaps in access to extra-curricular activities, with pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds less likely to take up activities than their better off peers (46% compared to 66%), with just half of those receiving free school meals (FSM) taking part. There are also substantial gaps in provision, with schools with higher numbers of FSM pupils less likely to offer certain activities. Schools with the lowest proportion of FSM pupils are twice as likely to offer debating clubs as schools with the highest (70% compared to 35%).

  • 94% of employers say that life skills are at least as important as academic results for the success of young people, with nearly one third saying even more so, however 68% say 18 year old school leavers they are looking to recruit don’t have the required skills for the workplace.

  • Employers believe that young people who have completed apprenticeships are best prepared with the life skills needed in the workplace, with two thirds (64%) agreeing that apprentices have the right skills, significantly higher than university graduates.

New teaching programme helps students from under-represented communities engage with science, 13th October, Professor Louise Archer: UCL, IoE

Professor Archer said:

 “The approach works with any science curriculum. It’s not a new set of materials and doesn’t mean diluting science concepts. It’s a reflective framework through which teachers make small tweaks to re-orientate their lessons to better connect science with the reality of their students’ lives and experiences.

“The approach is about broadening what counts as teaching and learning science. It comprises three main pillars: the first, personalising and localising, goes beyond contextualising science, to help students find personal meaning and connection with science. The second pillar involves eliciting and valuing students’ experiences, identities and interests in class, linking these to the science content. The third pillar seeks to build the different dimensions of science capital – for instance, a teacher might regularly highlight how what the class are learning can be useful for any career, not just science jobs.”

The programme, part of the Enterprising Science Project now based at the IOE, builds on the team’s prior research in which they developed the concept of ‘Science Capital’ -  the science-related resources that someone possesses, such as their science-related attitudes and dispositions, knowledge, interests, behaviours and social contacts.

Schools, parents and social media companies all have a responsibility to promote good character online. The moral web: youth character, ethics and behaviour, Peter Harrison-Evans Alex Krasodomski-Jones, DEMOS

In this research project, Demos explores the interrelationship between adolescent character development and social media use. By drawing on research methodologies, the study assesses how young people can be best prepared for the ethical challenges of the online world.

Demos’ research finds:

  • Social media creates opportunities for young people to display moral and civic virtues, and acts of courage that counter online abuse.

  • However, a quarter of 16-18 year-olds say they have engaged in cyberbullying or trolling on social networking sites, with boys and frequent social media users more likely to say they have done this.

  • Young people were more likely to choose a positive course of action, although a substantial minority said they would do nothing if they saw someone being bullied online.

  • Young people are attuned to moral situations over social media, although gender appears to be a significant factor in influencing levels of moral sensitivity.

  • There’s evidence of there being an implicit code of conduct among many young people, which fosters action in response to significant harm inflicted on close friends, but engenders the response ‘it’s not my business’ to becoming involved in anything beyond this.

  • There is a link between character and online behaviour and decision making.

  • Despite the chronic lack of evaluative evidence on what is effective in helping young people make healthy choices on social media, digital citizenship is a promising approach to support healthy choices on social media.

International- Wales

Recommended web filtering standards for schools in Wales, 11th October 2017

These standards will provide teachers with the opportunity to teach safe, responsible and considerate online behaviours.

Consortia: ERW


 new digital case studies uploaded.

DOLEN is an ‘ever-growing’ resource to support collaboration between schools in line with the principles of ‘by schools, for schools’. It is an area containing practice worthy of sharing accessible through Hwb for school staff across the region.

The new case studies relate to work at St John Lloyd (Carmarthenshire), Holy Name (Pembrokeshire), Ysgol Pennant (Powys), St Thomas (Swansea). 

To view these, login to Hwb, click on the ERW tab and you will see the button to take you to DOLEN.


Neurodiversity in education, Trends shaping education spotlight 12, 12th October 2017: OECD

Diversity in the classroom includes differences in the way students' brains learn, or neurodiversity. Diagnoses of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) have risen dramatically in the last two decades across countries.

This spot light looks at how education systems work to meet the needs of these students and ensure that all types of learners thrive at school and beyond. There is a growing trend towards all children having the right to be included in typical classrooms if the families so choose (i.e. inclusive education).

In order to deliver on inclusive education, teachers need support; teachers feel un prepared for this.

See also blog: Different, not disabled: Neurodiversity in education, T. Burns, 11th October 2017: OECD


Author David Mitchell visits Brixton prison as part of Books Unlocked, 13th October 2017, National Literacy Trust

David Mitchell, author of seven books including Cloud Atlas and Slade House, visited HMP Brixton to take part in a reading group with a number of prisoners. The reading group was recorded for National Prison Radio, who are one of our partners on Books Unlocked.

David Mitchell’s popular book, Cloud Atlas, was chosen as the book of the month for October on National Prison Radio. He visited the prison to meet with prisoners who have been reading or listening to the book, to answer their questions about the title. The visit marked the first time he had been inside a prison.

David also shared advice for some of the prisoners who are writers themselves. He told them about the importance of editing and re-editing their work, saying that it’s important not to expect to get a sentence right on the very first try.

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations

Making the difference breaking the link between school exclusion and social exclusion Kiran Gill, with Harry Quilter-Pinner and Danny Swift, 10th October 2017: Institute of Public Policy Research

The schools with which Achievement for All works have better attendance and reduced exclusions

Early Language Development: needs, provision and intervention, for pre- school children from socio economically disadvantage backgrounds, A report for the Education Endowment Foundation, Law et al., 10th October 2017

Early years settings and schools working with Achievement for All provide appropriate and timely interventions to support language development and closely monitor the interventions.