22nd September 2017

Department for Education

English Baccalaureate: eligible qualifications, updated since July 2017 with list of KS4 qualifications counting towards the EBacc, 22nd September 2017

See also : Performance tables: approved qualifications and discount codes - newly approved vocational qualifications to 'Key stage 4 qualifications and discount codes have been added since it was last published in April 2016

See also: Entries to arts subjects at key stage 4, Rebecca Johnes, 21st September: Education Policy Institute - the report shows a decline in the entries to arts subjects- art and design; drama and theatre; media, film, and TV studies; music; dance; and performing arts. EBacc, Progress 8, and wider financial issues were regarded by participants as placing pressure on arts entries.

However, there is north/south divide with pupils in the south more likely to enter for an arts subject.

At the same time, since 2014, pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) have been slightly more likely to enter at least one arts subject than their peers. In 2016, 53.9 per cent of FSM pupils, compared with 53.4 per cent of non-FSM pupils, took one arts subject.

And: at the start of the decade, pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) were much less likely to enter at least one arts subject. This has now reversed, with SEND pupils now marginally more likely to have at least one arts entry, with 53.9 per cent doing so in 2016, compared with 53.4 per cent of their peers.

Back to school for thousands of pupils as new free schools open (republished with clarification of data it contains), 18th September 2017: News Story

Revised direction issued to Worcestershire county council, 19th September 2017

The letter from the Department for Education to Worcestershire CC sets out the future direction for improvement in services for children who need help and protection following their earlier ‘inadequate’ judgements, as detailed in Ofsted’s inspection report of 24 January 2017.

See also: Worcestershire children’s services: non-executive commissioner's report, 19th September 2017

This report recommends that Worcestershire county council works with the commissioner and DfE to develop an alternative way to provide children’s services.


Planned LA and school expenditure: 2017 to 2018 financial year, 21st September 2017

Key data:

The planned spend per pupil in 2017-18 is £4,475, nominally up from £4,432 in 2016-17.

As in previous years, the majority of local authorities’ planned spend is on the schools budget: £42.8 billion in 2017-18, accounting for 80 per cent of planned expenditure overall.

The planned spend on children looked after is £3.8 billion (7 per cent), followed by other education and community at £2.6 billion (5 per cent), safeguarding children and young people’s services at £2.1 billon (4 per cent) and family support services at £1.0 billion (2 per cent).

Planned spend per pupil varies between regions, with the highest planned spend being £6,027 per pupil in Inner London, compared with £4,113 per pupil in the South East.

High Needs - proposed spend for 2017/2018

Special school places £831 - a decrease of £20

Pupil referral unit places - £128 a decrease of £17

Hospital education places - £26 a decrease of £4

(NB. These figures have been affected by the number of schools converting to academy status, as well as by changes to the way that some local authorities have recorded their expenditure and other factors. This should be taken into account when making year-on-year comparisons)

Early Years

EYSFF spend: Two-year olds -£484 an increase of £9

EYSFF spend: Three and four year olds £2,624 an increase of £517

Early years pupil premium -Three and four year olds £32 a decrease of £15

Disability Access fund -Three and four year olds £12 no change

SEN inclusion fund- Two year olds £2 no change and three and four year olds £48 no change

Permanent and fixed-period exclusions in England: 2015 to 2016 (published in July 2017) republished with updates on underlying data with historical information about exclusions by pupil characteristic and exclusion review panels, 18th September 2017


Short inspections of good schools: a report on the responses to the consultation (15 June- 18 Aug) and launch of second consultation, 21st September 2017

Findings to the initial consultation showed that both headteachers and the public understand the challenges Ofsted face and support Ofsted’s desire to improve the way short inspections are converted. (A school with a good Ofsted rating receives a short inspection to affirm its rating; this may be converted to a full section 5 inspection if the school may need to be upgraded to outstanding or if there is not enough evidence to show that school remains good). The recent consultation showed mixed responses to two of the main proposals. 

The consultation proposed the following changes to short inspections of good schools:

  • extending the window for the conversion of short inspections to section 5 inspections from the current 48-hour period to a maximum of 15 working days after the short inspection

  • some schools receiving a section 5 inspection instead of a short inspection where Ofsted’s risk assessment indicates that inspectors may need to gather more evidence to reach a judgement about the school. 

Findings showed that:

Three fifths of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that some good schools should receive a section 5 inspection instead of a short inspection.

And just over half of respondents disagreed with extending the window of conversion to a period of up to 15 days, but some were prepared to accept a shorter period. 

The new consultation - Short inspections of good schools: maintained schools and academies sets out further proposals to help Ofsted reduce the number of conversions of short inspections into section 5 inspections. And proposes the following:

  • if a school is judged to be inadequate in one or more of the graded judgements it would receive a full inspection within seven days (and generally within 48 hours);

  • if serious safeguarding issues arise, the inspection would also convert to a full inspection;

  • if the school were considered to remain good, that rating would be confirmed;

  • in all other cases – where there was evidence that a rating of requires improvement, or outstanding might apply – the next inspection would be a full inspection, but that inspection would not take place immediately.

Closes 8th November 2017 11.45am

See also blog: Are Ofsted’s new short inspection proposals a good idea? Philip Nye, Education Datalab

The author questions the value of a short inspection and considers if the data led inspection process (full inspection) would give different answers.

Amanda Spielman's speech at the Birmingham Education Partnership conference, 22nd September 2017

Ofsted's Chief Inspector talks about a values-rich society. The subject of the conference was 'A values anchor in stormy seas'.

Speaking across the following four areas- common values, a rich curriculum, getting safeguarding right and recognising challenge, she said in relation to the last area:

‘……We would fully expect that a school in a disadvantaged area with the same level of pupil progress as one in a more affluent area, to have better leadership and management teams.

And this is borne out by the data on what Ofsted actually does. If you take the Requires Improvement category, you find that schools with the toughest intakes are two and a half times more likely to be graded good for leadership and management than those with the most affluent intake. And if you look at the Good category, schools with the most deprived intake are nearly twice as likely to be rated outstanding for leadership and management as those with the most affluent intake.

So we do recognise the challenge of running tough schools; it comes through clearly in how we judge the effectiveness of leadership and management. And we will be putting more emphasis on this particular judgement than we have done in the past, to make clear that no head, manager or teacher should be penalised for working in a challenging school. I hope that governors, multi-academy trusts, local authorities and school commissioners, who all make important decisions off the back of our judgements, will do the same.

I’d like to ask for your help with this, to tackle the myth that Ofsted does not recognise the challenge of running disadvantaged schools. And to spread the word that we to want to encourage ambitious, talented people to work in our toughest schools.

Ofsted will be publishing its new strategy next month

Children’s homes ownership and inspection outcomes, 22nd September 2017

This data is being released as management information as it was provided to an external body as part of a data request. This is a one-off release of the data. It provides details of the ownership and latest inspection outcomes for children’s homes, excluding secure children’s homes and residential special schools registered as children’s homes.


Mental ill-health among children of the new century: Trends across childhood, with a focus on age 14, Briefing IoE, UCL/ NCB, 20th September 2018

Based on 14 year olds reporting of their emotional problems, findings showed that almost one in four 14 year old girls are depressed in comparison to 9% of boys at the same age.

The researchers from UCL and Liverpool university analysed information on more than 10,000 children born in 2000-01 who are taking part in the Millennium Cohort Study.

At ages 3, 5, 7, 11 and 14, parents reported on their children’s mental health. Then, when they reached 14, the children were themselves asked questions about their depressive symptoms.

The research also investigated links between depressive symptoms and family income. Generally, 14-year-olds from better-off families were less likely to have high levels of depressive symptoms compared to their peers from poorer homes.

Response to survey showing child protection thresholds rising 'due to budget pressures', 13th September: The Fostering Network

In response to the findings of the survey of frontline social workers carried out on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC), Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: ‘We have read with concern the findings of the survey which found that thresholds for qualifying as a "child in need" had risen over the last three years and that the majority of social workers feel that financial considerations are a key factor when decisions are being made on whether to offer early help to vulnerable children. The survey also found that 45 per cent of social workers believe that financial considerations come into play when decisions are made about whether a care order should be given…………………

………. We have also been hearing for some time that the needs of children coming into care are becoming increasingly complex. This is inevitable given that the rising thresholds means many children are remaining in settings which are exposing them to trauma or neglect for longer periods of time. What is worrying is that while the needs of fostered children and young people are on the increase, the amount of funding available to support foster carers and to offer therapeutic input is being whittled away. The governments of the UK must ensure that the services that fostered children and young people need access to are properly resourced.

New EEF report: Good literacy skills crucial to closing attainment gap in Science, 21st September 2017

Researchers from the Department of Education at the University of Oxford reviewed the best international research to identify the interventions and approaches for which there is evidence of a positive impact on young people’s learning outcomes, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

They found good evidence that the ability to reason scientifically – by testing hypotheses through well-controlled experiments - is a strong predictor of later success in the sciences and that programmes that allow pupils to design experiments that test the impact of one thing on another can develop this skill.

The researchers found that the strongest factor affecting pupils’ science scores is how well they understand written texts. According to the report, poor literacy skills can affect how well a pupil is able to understand scientific vocabulary and to prepare scientific reports. This suggests that strategies to boost disadvantaged pupils’ reading comprehension could have a positive impact on their achievement in science too.

International- Wales

New national strategy for a more prosperous Wales, Welsh Government, 19th September

The Welsh Government has published ‘Prosperity for All’ – a national strategy to deliver its key priorities for the rest of this Assembly term, and set the right foundations to tackle the challenges faced by the nation

Building on the headline commitments in the Programme for Government, the strategy is designed to drive integration and collaboration across the Welsh public sector, and put people at the heart of improved service delivery.

The strategy sets out a vision and actions covering each of the key themes in the Programme for Government – Prosperous and Secure, Healthy and Active, Ambitious and Learning, and United and Connected.

It also identifies 5 priority areas – early years, housing, social care, mental health and skills, which have the potential to make the greatest contribution to long-term prosperity and well-being. These are areas where it has been shown that earlier intervention and more seamless services can make a real difference to people’s lives.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said, 

“Yesterday we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Yes vote that brought devolution to Wales. Devolution has been a journey of political maturity, a story of growing confidence and a firm determination to deliver for Wales.

“Today we publish a new national strategy designed to bring together the efforts of the whole public sector towards this Government’s central mission of delivering Prosperity for All.

“Prosperity is about far more than material wealth and cannot be delivered by economic growth alone. It is about every person in Wales enjoying a good quality of life, living in a strong, safe community and sharing in the prosperity of Wales.

“This strategy takes our commitments in Taking Wales Forward, places them in a long-term context, and sets out how they will be delivered in a smarter, more joined up way that cuts across traditional boundaries, both inside and outside government.”

Details about Ambitious and Learning can be found on p 15ff and is based on the following objectives:

The three objectives for this strategy are: supporting young people to make the most of their potential, building ambition and encouraging learning for life, and equipping everyone with the right skills for a changing world.

School-to-school support and collaboration – a summary and discussion paper, September 2017: Estyn

In June 2015, Estyn published a report on ‘School to School Support and Collaboration’ in response to a request for advice from the Welsh Government in the Minister’s annual remit letter to Estyn for 2014-2015 (Estyn, 2015). This second report follows on from that first report. The report describes the main policy developments and initiatives relating to school-to-school support and summarises and synthesises existing evaluations for each development. The report is based on evidence gathered from various sources.

Key findings

Inspection findings and thematic reports on secondary and primary improvement journeys (Estyn, 2013; Estyn, 2016) suggest that schools must have a strong culture of professional learning for school-to-school support and collaboration to be successful.

The evaluation of the Lead and Emerging Practitioners Project came to similar conclusions (Welsh Government, 2013). It also identified that school needs to know and accept when there is a need to change.

The emerging findings from the evaluation of Schools Challenge Cymru suggest that the schools that were already on their improvement journey, recognised what needed to change and why, were able to make effective use of support from other schools (Welsh Government, 2014a).

Schools with weak leadership, poor approaches to self-evaluation and a climate of blame and distrust require rigorous intervention and challenge to benefit from the opportunities provided by the funding, and intervention is needed when a school is failing to provide an acceptable standard of education.

Regional consortia recognise that a differentiated approach to the support and challenge they offer schools is necessary. In each consortium, an increasing amount of support for schools is provided by other schools. However, school-to-school work is not monitored or evaluated carefully enough to ensure that the support is having the intended impact and not having a detrimental effect on the school providing the support.

Based on the above findings, it is possible to identify common success factors and barriers that need to be overcome before school-to-school collaboration can be effective. Schools do not benefit from working with others until most success factors are in place and barriers removed. Success factors are listed as:

  • The school needs well-trained and effective leadership

  • The school needs to know and accept when there is a need to change

  • School-to-school support should arise from a clear identification of need, have a clear rationale and be based on a strategic objective

  • The focus must be on the core business of teaching and learning and on improving outcomes for pupils

  • Schools need a strong culture of professional learning

  • The participants should experience the collaboration as mutually beneficial

  • The participants should be at similar stages of their journey of improvement – it is less likely that the support will be successful if the difference in effectiveness between the schools involved is too great.

EWC annual statistics digest 2017

New initiative to put specialist emotional & mental health support in Wales’ schools, 25th September 2017

Children and teachers in Wales will receive the emotional and mental health support they need when they need it in schools as part of a unique new initiative unveiled by the Welsh Government.

Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething and Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams have agreed a £1.4m investment to strengthen the support from specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to schools.

Dedicated CAMHS practitioners will be recruited to work with pilot schools in three areas across Wales.  The practitioners will provide teachers with on-site help and advice, ensuring pupils experiencing difficulties such as anxiety, low mood, and compulsive self-harm or conduct disorders receive early help in schools from suitably trained staff, preventing more serious problems occurring later in life.

The model will enable:

  • Support for teachers to better understand childhood distress, emotional and mental health problems, and reduce stress experienced by teachers concerned about their pupils, by up-skilling them to recognise and deal with low level problems within their competence 

  • Ensuring that when issues are identified that are outside teachers’ competence and skills, that specialist liaison, consultancy and advice is available to enable the young person to be directed to more appropriate services such as CAMHS or Local Primary Mental Health Support Services, and to support the teacher and school in providing for the young person’s educational needs

  • Ensuring systems are in place to share appropriate information between CAMHS and schools, shared care arrangements are agreed for those young people requiring more intensive support, and that arrangements are in place to escalate/de-escalate as the young person’s needs dictate.


ERW new and aspiring middle leaders, 18th September

The ERW new and aspiring middle leaders programme is aimed at those in the primary, secondary or special school sectors and has been designed to offer practical advice about the role of a middle leader. This programme is an integral part of the work of ERW in delivering the regional offer for Professional Learning in partnership with University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Delegates who enrol and participate on the ERW new and aspiring Middle Leaders course can gain credits towards a Graduate Certificate of Professional Learning: Leadership. The programme is designed to offer practical advice about the role of a middle leader. Applications for the January 2018 course are open until 30th November 2017. For further details and how to apply, follow the link: http://www.erw.wales/schools/leading-learning/middle-leaders/


Teaching in Focus no. 18: How do teachers teach? Insights from teachers and students, OECD

Findings are presented by TALIS (Teaching and Learning International Survey)- the first international survey examining teaching and learning environments in schools. In the 2013 cycle of TALIS, an option was provided to survey teachers in schools that also participated in PISA 2012. Eight countries chose this option: Australia, Finland, Latvia, Mexico, Portugal, Romania, Singapore and Spain. The following results are a comparison of these countries.

Findings showed that:

  • Almost all mathematics teachers across participating countries use clear and structured teaching practices, according to both teachers and students. A vast majority of teachers also use student-oriented practices and enhanced learning activities in their classroom.
  • Cross-country differences are weak regarding the use of structuring practices, but moderate regarding the use of student-oriented practices and enhanced learning activities.
  • Overall, mathematics teachers tend to report, more often than students, that they use a given teaching practice.
  • The gap between teacher and student reports about the use of a given teaching practice varies across countries. Overall, the highest degree of convergence is observed for structuring practices, and the smallest is observed for student-oriented practices.

See also: Entering the “black box”: Teachers’ and students’ views on classroom practices, Pablo Fraser, 18th September : OECD - the author says that:

‘…..what happens in the classrooms still often remains an open question for those outside it.  Research has shown that the practices used in the classroom are the most important factor affecting students’ outcomes. In other words, it is the interactions between teachers and students that, ultimately, shape the learning environment. Thus, it becomes crucial to know, “What are the teaching strategies that help create quality classroom practices?”

However, classrooms are often described as a “black box”; we know that certain things go into the box (e.g. learning materials, time and human resources, school tests) and we expect certain things to come out (e.g. the development of students’ skills, the reinforcement of their well-being, and an increase in teachers’ job satisfaction). But what about the complex interactions that take place within the black box that are responsible for the alchemy that transforms inputs into outputs? Who better than teachers and students to tell us about these interactions?’


Ambitious about Autism launches new guide to help parents get justice for illegal school exclusions

The charity finds that thousands of children and young people with autism and special educational needs have been subjected to informal or ‘unofficial’ exclusions, such as sending a pupil home ‘to cool off’ – which are not reported. This means schools are not being sanctioned when the law is broken. 

Its new guidance aims to help families affected by illegal exclusions to understand their rights, as well as raise awareness of the scale of the problem with decision-makers.

Nicky Morgan on character education, 22nd September: Policy Exchange

Policy Exchange hosted the launch of “Taught Not Caught”, Nicky Morgan’s new book on the necessity of character education in schools. John Blake – Policy Exchange Head of Education and Social Reform – explains how Nicky Morgan makes a strong case for ensuring that children are raised at school with the values they want and need.

He writes:

….Morgan’s book reflects both aspects of this legacy: as noted, she argues that to choose between educating for academic success and educating for character is a false dichotomy. But, whilst she does want government to support her ideas, most of the book is taken up with describing how current practitioners, in the school system right now, do effective work on character. In a way few of those who have served in central government have managed, she has remained committed to the value of freeing schools from unnecessary bureaucracy and therefore is most interested in what teachers are doing for themselves and for their pupils, without state instruction.

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations

Mental ill-health among children of the new century: Trends across childhood, with a focus on age 14, Briefing IoE, UCL/ NCB, 20th September 2018

Findings from the research show that almost one in four 14 year old girls report they are depressed in comparison to 9% of boys at the same age. This is less likely to be the case in schools working with Achievement, where pupil well-being is an integrated part of the whole school approach