21st July 2017

Department for Education

Justine Greening statement to parliament on school funding, 17th July 2017

Education Secretary, Justine Greening confirmed the government’s commitment to social mobility and education, with the announcement of an extra £1.3 billion for schools and high needs across 2018-19 and 2019-20 in addition to the schools budget set at spending review 2015. The new National funding Formula will be introduced in 2018.

She said:

‘…This funding is across the next two years as we transition to the national funding formula. Spending plans for the years beyond 2019-20 will be set out in a future spending review.

..It will mean that the total schools budget will increase by £2.6 billion between this year and 2019-20, and per pupil funding will now be maintained in real terms for the remaining two years of the Spending Review period to 2019-20. The formula settlement to 2019-20 will provide at least £4,800 per pupil for every secondary school. Changes include:

  • Increasing the basic amount that every pupil will attract in 2018-19 and 2019-20;
  • For the next two years, this investment will provide for up to 3% gains a year per pupil for underfunded schools, and a 0.5% a year per pupil cash increase for every school;
  • Protecting funding for pupils with additional needs, as proposed in December.

…For this Government, social mobility and education are a priority. The introduction of the national funding formula — from which previous Governments shied — backed by the additional investment in schools we are confirming today, will be the biggest improvement to the school funding system in well over a decade.

As well as this additional investment through the national funding formula, I am confirming our commitment to doubling the physical education and sports premium for primary schools. All primary schools will receive an increase in their PE and sports premium funding in the next academic year…’

See also news story (DfE): £1.3bn for core schools budget delivers rise in per pupil funding

And: School funding not always linked to results, Andreas Schleicher, OECD education director, 12th July 2017: BBC

The article considers the complexities of school funding across OECD countries (the first time this has been done by the OECD), pointing out that extra funding does equate with better pupil outcomes. Andreas Schieicher highlights pupil premium finding in England as a very positive system:

‘School autonomy over funding: But when school autonomy and accountability and support are intelligently combined, they can provide the leverage to make a very positive impact’…. The discretion which England has given schools in how they use the pupil premium, and the accompanying accountability requirements, are exemplary.

Creating this kind of ownership for innovative solutions seems to be a very important ingredient.

Last year, as the chairman of the selection committee for pupil premium awards, I was intrigued by the diversity of approaches in using the pupil premium, and I wonder whether government could ever be equally imaginative.

Many of the schools went beyond exams and results to prioritise efforts around student well-being, such as pastoral care, safeguarding, school uniforms, or breakfast clubs to improving student attendance…..’

And Paul Johnson from IFS in The Times, 21st July (published with permission on the IFS website) Education needs a revolution, not just more cash.

The writer asks whether, if we continue to focus on funding alone, while ignoring longstanding structural problems, will we continue to fail too many of our young people?

And see: School funding in England will have fallen nearly 5% in real terms by 2019, says IFS, The Independent

The Institute of Fiscal Studies says that overall real terms spending on schools in England by the end of the decade will have been cut by nearly five per cent. Despite an announcement on Monday by Justine Greening, the Education Secretary for an extra £1.3bn for schools, the independent IFS said that instead of a real terms cut of 6.5 per cent there will still have been a cut of 4.6 per cent between 2015 and 2019. 

School exclusion guidance: proposed revisions, consultation outcome, government response, 19th July 2017

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Issue:

Some respondents felt the guidance should be stronger in stating that schools should take into account a child’s SEND when considering whether to issue an exclusion, for example, considering whether poor behaviour is a result of unmet needs.

Response: We agree that that head teachers should consider a pupil’s SEN when deciding whether to issue an exclusion. Disruptive behaviour can be an indication of unmet needs, and where a school has concerns about a pupil’s behaviour, it should try to identify whether there are any causal factors and intervene early in order to reduce the need for a subsequent exclusion. However, as the guidance already clearly sets this expectation, we are not making any further changes.

Alternative provision- All AP must be suitable and full-time, and it should enable pupils to achieve good educational attainment on a par with their mainstream peers.

Other Issue- Some respondents asked for greater clarity on what happens when a child reaches the 45 day limit of fixed-period exclusions in one school year. Response: Once the legal limit of 45 days of exclusion in a school year is reached, further exclusion is no longer an available sanction. The guidance clearly states that if the legal limit is approaching, the head teacher should consider whether exclusion is providing an effective sanction.

School exclusion (Guidance from 1st September 2017), 19th July 2017

This statutory guidance on the exclusion of pupils from local-authority-maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units has been updated to consider the exclusion review process and has included non-statutory annexes for headteachers and parents. The changes are factual and aim to provide clarity. They do not change the rights of, or requirements on, schools, children or parents; that is, legislation remains unchanged. 

Progress 8 accountability measure: schools’ responses, 19th July 2017

This research report provides a valuable insight into the level of understanding school leaders have of Progress 8, and the strategies they introduced following its implementation in 2016. The format of the research – qualitative telephone interviews – allowed participants to express their views about what they felt to be the positives and negative aspects of the measure, and the changes they introduced to respond to its implementation. The responses show that the participants’ overall understanding of Progress 8 was high, but there were some points of misconceptions of the policy detail. This document seeks to address any policy misconceptions found during the research to ensure that the findings of the report are not misinterpreted and to clarify some of the finer details of the policy.

Implementing the English Baccalaureate, Government consultation response, July 2017

This document sets out how the government’s commitment to the EBacc will be implemented.

From 2018, the government’s intention is that an EBacc average point score that measures pupil point score across the five pillars of the EBacc will replace the existing headline EBacc attainment measure in secondary school performance tables.

At this point, there will be two EBacc headline measures: EBacc entry and EBacc average point score. Ahead of this, the Department for Education will share data with schools about their performance in 2017 under the EBacc average point score measure to help them prepare.

This 2017 data will not be published. From 2019, the Department for Education also intends to publish EBacc entry and attainment data for mainstream secondary schools with similar intakes, and a value added measure on EBacc entry.

Ahead of September 2018, the intention is that Ofsted will issue a note to clarify how the inspection of provision at key stages 3 and 4 will reflect the government’s EBacc policy, taking into account the starting point of each school and the steps the school has taken to respond to the EBacc policy

The Department for Education intends to continue to publish the same performance data, including EBacc data, for all institutions included in the key stage 4 performance tables.

The government intend to work with schools to help them to increase EBacc up-take including supporting schools to learn from those that have already increased participation and working with the sector to support the improvement of the teaching of languages.

See also: English Baccalaureate: Equality analysis, July 2017

It showed that some respondents expressed concern about the appropriateness of the EBacc for some pupils, particularly for pupils with SEN but without a statement of SEN or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan (i.e. those on SEN support). Respondents felt that the EBacc suite of subjects was, in some cases, beyond the ability of some pupils with severe and complex needs including some with disabilities, and that they would have problems accessing the curriculum. They suggested that some of these pupils should focus on mathematics and English as their key aim for education.

Department for Education- Research

SEN Support: a survey of schools and colleges, 19th July 2017

The evidence was collected through an online survey sent to primary schools, secondary schools and colleges throughout England. In total, 1566 settings were contacted and 219 members of staff completed the survey. The research was carried out between January and March 2017 by a team from Coventry University. The survey was open to all members of staff including teaching assistants, teachers, Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) and members of senior management team to gather views and experiences from a range of educational professionals who work with children and young people on SEN support.

Key Findings

Identification of SEN

A third of staff across all schools said they did not have responsibility for identifying CYP with SEN, with most other members of staff reporting that if they identified a student as potentially having SEN, they would pass this information to their SENCO.

Support for children and young people on SEN support

The most common action to support students with language and communication difficulties was to make a referral to a Speech and Language Therapist.

A wide variety of classroom resources were suggested by respondents across all settings to support students with fine motor control difficulties,

Across all settings respondents used similar strategies to support students with high levels of anxiety.

Staff also described a number of issues and barriers that impact their ability to provide effective support for students with SEN. Respondents said that implementing interventions could be difficult, often due to not having access to staffing issues and difficulty matching programmes to students needs. It was also highlighted that resourcing issues could act as a barrier, as there could be difficulty accessing outside professionals.

Deployment of teaching assistants

The majority of primary and secondary schools reported that teaching assistants provided in-class support working with individuals or groups of students.

Sources of information

Over three-quarters of respondents said they used their SENCO frequently as a source of information, and over half frequently used teachers and other staff in their school or college.

The wellbeing of secondary school pupils with SEN, 19th July 2017

The research was carried out by a team from the Department of Sociology from the City University, London. The report focuses on the wellbeing of children with SEN. The main findings are summarised below, first for subjective wellbeing (i.e. unhappiness) and then for psychological wellbeing (i.e. risk of mental health difficulties). It uses data from the Understanding Society survey (USoc) matched to the National Pupil Database (NPD). The findings from this research relate to 1600 secondary school children aged 10-15 who go to school in England, of whom 299 had SEN.

Key findings show that:

Similar to other research (such as DfE, 2016b), the report finds that certain characteristics of secondary-school children are associated with having SEN; such as being a boy, being eligible for free school meals, having a parent with a long-standing illness or disability or low wellbeing, and being bullied (physically or non-physically). These factors may also be associated with low wellbeing.

SEN and subjective wellbeing:

Subjective wellbeing measures children’s satisfaction with different aspects of their lives (school, school work, appearance, family, friends and life as a whole) and is rated on a scale of 1 ‘happy’ to 7 ‘unhappy.

Children with SEN have higher levels of unhappiness than children without SEN on a number of issues.

On the 7-point unhappiness scale from happy (1) to unhappy (7) children with SEN were on average:

  • 0.6 points unhappier with their school work (mean score 3.1 compared to 2.5)
  • 0.4 points unhappier with their school (mean score 2.7 compared to 2.3)
  • 0.3 points unhappier with their friends (mean score 1.9 compared to 1.6)
  • Children with SEN are more likely than children without SEN to be unhappy (or, for friends and life as a whole, indifferent) about: the school they go to (19 per cent compared to 7 per cent), their school work (13 per cent of children with SEN compared to 6 per cent of children without SEN), their friends (8 per cent compared to 4 per cent) and their life as a whole (17 per cent compared to 11 per cent)

SEN and psychological wellbeing

Psychological wellbeing focuses on risk of mental difficulties and is measured across five domains (emotional difficulties, conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention, peer relationship problems and prosocial behaviour), each on a scale of 1 to 10.

Research shows that children with SEN have higher average psychological difficulties across all domains: Emotional difficulties, Conduct problems, Hyperactivity/Inattention, Peer relationship problems, and the Total difficulties score (which aggregates the previous four domains), and the Prosocial behaviour measure

The fostering system in England: review, 18th July 2017

The review was commissioned to inform the national ‘stocktake’ of fostering announced by the government in 2016. It brings together quantitative and qualitative research to contribute to an overview of the fostering system by:

  • providing a brief, high-level description of the current fostering system including how it operates and the impact of foster care on the children placed with foster carers;
  • reviewing what works and where improvements could be made to improve outcomes for children; • reviewing the quality of the evidence and identifying gaps in the evidence base to provide a deeper understanding of the foster care system and what works and for whom. 

Key findings on education show that:

Children who have been in care are significantly more likely than other children to suffer adverse outcomes across all measures, including physical and mental health, education, employment, homelessness, offending behaviours, substance abuse and general wellbeing (see the systematic review conducted by Gypen et al., 2017).

Research is increasingly focusing on outcomes for distinct groups within the care system. More attention is now focused on comparing looked after children’s outcomes with those of children ‘in need’ or on the edge of care, and on outcomes for different groups of looked after children (for example, children who have entered care at an early age compared with those who have longer care experiences, and between children in different types of placement).

While the attainment gap between looked after and non-looked after children widens with age, getting increasingly worse to the point where only 6% of care leavers attend university compared with 50% of the non-looked after population, the gap is partially explained by the high numbers of looked after children identified as having a special educational need, four times that of the general population.

However, children in care have relatively positive outcomes when compared with children in need. Research has shown that those who were looked after for at least 12 months performed better at GCSE level than children in need and those looked after for less than 12 months (Sebba et al., 2015). 

This suggests that care can act as a protective factor educationally.

Other factors have been identified as having an impact on outcomes at GCSE, including being male and having a high score on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The association is complex and likely to be the result of a range of influences such as previous attainment, genetic intelligence, SEN, the impact of family breakdown and instability, and a low priority given to education, as well as low expectations on the part of some professionals.

The health of children and young people is often poorer than that of the general population at the time of their entry to the care system, which may reflect the impact of poor early life experiences and environmental risk factors (NICE, 2010).

Most children who are in care do not become involved with the criminal justice system but the proportion that does is higher than amongst their non-looked after peers.

Academies Insight project: understanding system capacity, 19th July 2017 

This report has outlined the wide range of motivations, concerns, attitudes and perceptions towards the academy sector and the academy-sponsorship journey, based on policy directives, direct experiences and opinions of pre-conversion schools, trusts and sponsors.

Becoming an academy or a sponsor takes time and careful planning. Shared ethos and vision appeared as a primary consideration for schools joining or creating a MAT, planning to grow as a MAT and sponsor a school.

On deciding to become an academy, schools tended to explore many options, thinking about geography, phase and religion, with shared ethos being the most important factor.

These considerations were echoed by sponsors when matching with a school to sponsor, though school leaders were primarily concerned with the trust’s resources to sponsor a school depending on the needs.

Perceived barriers to converting to an academy or becoming a sponsor can be categorised as practical reasons and attitudinal reasons. Practical reasons typically involved considerations of resources (financial and staff) and the suitable matching to a MAT or potential sponsor school. Attitudinal reasons included views among preconversion schools that becoming an academy would not have added benefits compared to their current situation, and among trusts that becoming a sponsor could result in a loss of their trust culture.

School leaders expressed interest in case studies that are open about both successes and failures in the process. This would help school leaders to work out what works best and how to develop their own schools.

Academy trust survey 2017, Research Report, July 2017

A representative sample of 326 multi-academy trusts (MATs) and 542 Single Academy Trusts (SATs) completed a survey that examined the reasons for conversion amongst their schools, use of their autonomy, collaboration, trust management and achieving financial efficiencies.

The headline findings were: 

  • 82 per cent of MATs felt the creation of new opportunities to collaborate contributed to the decision of their schools to become academies.
  • Virtually all MATs (96 per cent) with two or more academies believe their structure has facilitated collaboration, and most have formal relationships with schools outside their trust.
  • The Trust Board predominantly handles financial compliance, senior appointments, legal compliance, risk management and holding headteachers to account. 

The vast majority of trusts (and all larger trusts) have a qualified finance director.

See also below in research: The impact of academies on educational outcomes: Education Policy Institute:

Department for Education- Further Education

16 to 19 study programmes: guide for providers, 20th July 2017

Information for education and training providers on how to plan and apply the study programmes.

Further education providers: variation in learner outcomes, 20th July 2017

Research looking at variations in learners' employment and earnings across further education providers. Findings show significant variation between providers. The report calls for further research in this area.

Post-16: effective curriculum practice below level 2, 18th July 2017

The report provides an analysis of the course planning, content and curriculum that most effectively support the progression of students participating in below Level 2 programmes at the age of 16. While the focus of the research was curriculum content, institutions were keen to emphasise a number of other factors as important, particularly centring on pastoral support.

Findings showed that curriculum flexibility and relevance in terms of addressing students’ individual needs and developing and exploring students’ career interests are vital to secure effective engagement, retention and progression.

Flexibility was required both in terms of qualifications to allow students to join throughout the year, and to work at the most suitable level, and in regard to progression to allow students to advance their studies over different time periods. Relevance was important for students in terms of individualised and tailored programmes to meet their needs – e.g. for a more personalised and intensive level of support – and vocationally.

Post-16 occupational standards in international education systems, 18th July 2017

The aim of this study was to explore examples of standards used internationally in order to inform and support the work of the panels of professionals that will take forward the development of the technical routes being introduced in England.

Five European and English speaking nations were prioritised. The evidence indicated that the vocational education and training (VET) system in each reflected economic and social traditions. The point at which VET becomes available varies although is typically within upper secondary and the 16-19. It was conducted through selective, rapid desk research combining a selective literature review and direct interrogation of (VET) websites in a small selection of countries.

Overall findings showed that direct comparisons between different countries and systems cannot easily be made. The content and structure of standards varies according to their type, and, while at the heart of developments, specific occupational profiles may not be published as part of educational standards.

Most countries use a common format to describe training. There is a growing emphasis on transversal competence (broadly equivalent to key skills) which provides a foundation for professional conduct as well as specialism.

It is also common for descriptions to be unitised or modularised. Both of these assist equivalence across sectors and the movement of trainees between qualifications as necessary.

Further work to support the panels could include attempts to access the occupational profiles that underpin educational standards via contact with VET specialists and bodies in selected countries. In addition, evidence suggests that a review of transversal competencies (key skills for professional practice) would be valuable.

16 to 19 accountability headline measures, (republished) 19th July 2017

The guidance has been republished to include an updated technical guide with details about the 2017 national performance tables calculations. Added further details to existing measures including the completion and attainment measure, and disadvantage measure.

The 5 new headline measures in the performance tables, covering 16 to 19 education in 2016 and 2017 are: progress; attainment; progress in English and maths; retention and destinations. The technical guide explains how the headline measures are calculated. The briefing note presents a summary of the measures.

FE Commissioner intervention report: Moulton College, 19th July 2017

Department for Education- Early Years

30 hours free childcare: early implementation evaluation, 17th July 2017

In preparation for the rollout of the 30 hours free childcare from September 2017, the government trialled it in 8 local authorities.

In addition to delivering places, early implementer LAs were required to:

  • Test different approaches that drive market innovation and efficiency
  • Generate models of flexible provision which match parental working patterns and meet different child needs including those with SEND and others
  • Increase market capacity to secure sufficient places in a range of different geographical areas and local markets, including bringing in new providers.
  • Work with Government to test how to maximise parental take-up and employment.
  • Positively promote the 30 hours childcare offer, to help build momentum and maximise parental take-up on national rollout.

At the same time, the early innovators programme was introduced in 32 LAs (including the eight LAs undertaking early implementation) with funding for LAs to explore innovative approaches to support the national rollout of the 30 hours free childcare.

Findings arranged around 10 questions showed that:

Were providers willing to offer the extended hours? A high proportion of providers were willing and able to offer the extended hours during early implementation.

Were providers able to offer sufficient hours and were there any adverse impacts on other provision? There was sufficient delivery of extended hours places to meet demand during early implementation.

Did providers work in partnerships? Some 20 percent of providers reported in the evaluation survey that they had formed new partnerships to offer the extended hours.

How flexible and free were the extended hours? most providers did not need to extend their opening hours as they were already offering full-day provision (83 percent) and year-round provision (66 percent), but there were indications that some providers had increased their opening times (11 percent).

What was the financial impact for providers? 62 percent of providers reported that there had been no impact on costs, while 7 percent reported that delivery costs had decreased due to the delivery of the extended hours and 30 percent reported they had increased. • 38 percent of providers reported that there had been no impact on profits.

Did parents take up places? Families using the extended hours tended to be more educated and to have higher income than other families. The evaluation survey of parents using the extended hours showed that: • 52 percent of parents had degrees. • 34 percent had household annual gross income of less than £31,200; 34 percent had income between £32,000 and £52,000; and 33 percent had income of £52,000 or greater.

How did the use of childcare change? During early implementation, most children used the full 15 additional hours, but a substantial proportion (42 percent according to the census data) used fewer than 15 extended hours.

How did parental work change? Compared to the time prior to taking up the extended hours, 1 percent of mothers reported that they had entered work and 23 percent had increased their work hours. Compared to the time prior to taking up the extended hours, less than 1 percent of fathers reported that they had entered work and 9 percent had increased their work hours. These effects were notably stronger for families with relatively lower incomes

What other effects were there on families? In the evaluation survey, some 78 percent of parents reported that the extended hours had given them greater flexibility in their work choices.

What challenged and what supported implementation?

Factors at the local and national level that facilitated programme implementation included: Early innovator funding was reported to have been critical to provide the LA staffing resources required to enable early implementation.

30 hours free childcare: LA and early years provider guide, 17th July 2017

This guidance has been republished with updates from the sector and following above research)


Permanent and fixed-period exclusions in England: 2015 to 2016, 20th July 2017

The number and rate of permanent exclusions have increased since last year:

The number of permanent exclusions across all state-funded primary, secondary and special schools has increased from 5,795 in 2014/15 to 6,685 in 2015/16. This corresponds to around 35.2 permanent exclusions per day2 in 2015/16, up from an average of 30.5 per day in 2014/15.

The number and rate of fixed period exclusions have increased since last year:

The number of fixed period exclusions across all state-funded primary, secondary and special schools has increased from 302,975 in 2014/15 to 339,360 in 2015/16. This corresponds to around 1,790 permanent exclusions per day in 2015/16, up from around 1,590 per day in 2014/15

Persistent disruptive behaviour remained the most common reason for permanent exclusions in state funded primary, secondary and special schools - accounting for 2,310 (34.6 per cent) of all permanent exclusions in 2015/16.


Pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals (FSM) were around four times more likely to receive a permanent or fixed period exclusion than those who are not eligible


Pupils with identified special educational needs (SEN) accounted for almost half of all permanent exclusions and fixed period exclusions

  • Pupils with SEN support had the highest permanent exclusion rate and were almost 7 times more likely to receive a permanent exclusion than pupils with no SEN
  • Pupils with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan or with a statement of SEN had the highest fixed period exclusion rate and were almost 6 times more likely to receive a fixed period exclusion than pupils with no SEN

See also: Number of children under 7 being excluded is on the rise, expert says, 16th July: TES

School workforce in England: November, 22nd June 2017

Republished with new data Correcting table 9c showing salary data for school leadership group teachers. 


Local area SEND inspection outcome letters, 20th July

The outcome letters for Brent and Telford and Wrekin have been added.

For Brent (education) details show that: Children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities in Brent achieve well academically because education providers are of a high quality. Leaders of special schools are held in high regard by their peers in mainstream schools because of the good or better standard of their provision and inclusive ethos.

For Telford and Wrekin (education) details show that: A large number of annual reviews of statements of special educational needs and education, health and care plans are not completed in time. Leaders are taking effective action to reduce the backlog. The vast majority of special educational needs coordinators (SENCos) in schools are qualified teachers and have the necessary experience or qualifications to carry out their role effectively. Many of the parents who spoke to inspectors were grateful for the information, help, support, advice and guidance they and their children receive. However, a few parents were concerned that a minority of primary and secondary schools do not identify, assess and meet their child’s needs quickly enough.

Annual teachers survey 2017, 18th July 2017

The 2017 research consisted of an online survey that was developed in conjunction with Ofsted and was carried out with teachers between 8 and 21 February 2017. The total number of respondents was 1,026 teachers. The survey focused on teachers' awareness and perceptions of Ofsted. Findings showed that as length of service of teachers increased, agreement that Ofsted acts as a reliable and trusted arbiter, or a force of improvement decreased. Over two-thirds of teachers saw Ofsted as existing to primarily help the government of the day advance its education agenda.

Annual parents survey, 18th July 2017

The 2016 research consisted of an online survey that was developed in conjunction with Ofsted and was carried out among parents between 28 September and 9 October 2016. The total number of respondents was 1,168 parents.

Findings showed that:

A majority of parents agree that Ofsted provides a reliable measure of a school’s quality (66%) and a childcare provider’s quality (60%) 6. A majority of parents agree that Ofsted’s work helps to improve standards of education (65%)

Parents are most likely to use an Ofsted report to inform them about the school or childcare their child already attends. Parents of pre-school children also use Ofsted reports to help them choose childcare


How much of a problem is bullying at school? PISA In Focus no.74 July: OECD

The 2015 round of PISA was the first to collect data on students’ exposure to bullying. These data show that bullying is widespread across OECD countries. On average across OECD countries, 4% of students reported that they are hit or pushed and 8% reported that they are victims of nasty rumours at school at least a few times per month. Students in schools where bullying is more frequent perform worse than students in schools where bullying is less frequent. And bullying is more frequent in schools where students reported a poor disciplinary climate and negative relationships with teachers.

Schools where the incidence of bullying is high by international standards (more than 10% of students are frequently bullied) score 47 points lower in science, on average, than schools where bullying is less frequent (schools where less than 5% of students are frequently bullied). These relationships suggest that bullying can both stem from and may exacerbate students’ disengagement with school and underperformance.

See also Can bullying be stopped? Blog by Mario Piacentini, Analyst, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills, 18th July: OECD

International: Wales

Reporting and interpreting national test results 2017, 20th July: Learning Wales

The notes can be used when working with the reading and numeracy results from the 2017 national tests.

The New Curriculum development process, 17th July

An infographic sets out the steps

Qualifications Wales: Spotlight articles, 20th July: EAS

Summer 2017 is the first award of new GCSE, AS and A level qualifications, as well as the new Key Stage 4 and Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate. From early July onwards, EAS will be publishing a series of articles by our Director of Regulation, Jo Richards (links given). The series will include a summary of the key changes to the new qualifications and what they might mean for the results in August, along with themed articles intended to increase understanding of the awarding process.

Personalised numeracy assessments- sign up for trials!

In September and October 2017, Learning Wales are running the first trial for the new onscreen test questions for procedural numeracy. The purpose of the trial is to test the questions in the online environment and to establish question difficulties.

They are inviting schools to participate in the trial of the new assessments on a pre-arranged date between Monday 18 September and Friday 27 October.


The impact of academies on educational outcomes, 19th July, Andrews and Perera: Education Policy Institute

The main conclusion that is drawn from the research is that academies have not provided a panacea to school improvement. In the early days of the programme, potentially due to additional resources and improved leadership and governance, sponsored academies recorded a discernible positive impact on pupils’ attainment. This has not, however, been sustained in new academies as the programme has expanded since 2010. With the exception of outstanding convertor academies, the report concludes that there is no visible, positive impact on outcomes amongst any other type of academy (both sponsored and convertors).

The researchers recommend that: The significant variation in performance between different types of academies and within Multi Academy Trusts should be explored further. It is evident that the structure of the school is less meaningful to the outcomes of pupils than what is happening within those schools. Features of effective practice and process should be identified through rigorous analyses in order to draw the right conclusions from this programme. Such research should also consider whether and to what extent academies are using their greater freedoms in order to drive improvements.

Wespieser, K., Sumner, C. and Bernardinelli, D. (2017). Capacity for Collaboration? Analysis of School-to-School Support Capacity in England. Slough: NFER

The Government’s consultation paper (2016) Schools that work for everyone, highlighted the importance of ‘leveraging the expertise of high performing institutions to… turn around existing schools’ (DfE, 2016). In order to assess capacity within the system for collaboration, the NfER conducted analysis to identify and match underperforming schools and high-performing schools within a set radius. Schools within the same phase were matched. Underperforming schools that were already in a multi-academy trust (MAT) were excluded from the matching process as these were assumed to already have support arrangements in place. High performing academies in a MAT were included within the group of available high-performing schools unless, based on school performance measures alone, their MAT was not considered ‘ready for further expansion’ (see Hillary et al. 2017).

Findings showed:

There are 5,677 high-performing schools and 2,511 underperforming schools (categorised for the purpose of this analysis as schools ‘in need’ of support), across all regions and phases of education in England. 27 per cent of primary schools are high-performing institutions and 12 per cent are in need of support. Amongst secondary schools, we identified 33 per cent as high-performing and 17 per cent in need.

There are considerable regional differences:

Primary schools in need in London have the most choice, with on average 18 high-performing primary schools nearby which they could potentially approach for collaboration. This is twice the national average and three times the amount of high-performing schools that primary schools in need in Yorkshire and the Humber have.

For secondary schools in need, each one in London has on average five high-performing secondary schools that they might approach for support, which is considerably more than North-East England, Yorkshire and the Humber or the South-West England regions, where each secondary school in need has, on average, just one high-performing school nearby.

The report recommends that the capacity to collaborate should be prioritised as a potentially cost neutral activity at a time of budget constraint. The NFER suggests that the Government promotes this capacity for collaboration to demonstrate its commitment to the self-improving school system that is flourishing in England.

See also the TES: Struggling schools do not need help from grammars, independents or universities, study finds, 19th July

Cribb et al., Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2017: IFS

The report looks at income and poverty since the Great Recession. Key findings show that Nearly a quarter of poor children live in the 10% most deprived areas of Britain; the Midlands have seen the slowest growth in average incomes over the last 40 years; young adults have less stable incomes than older individuals but absolute poverty (according to the government’s official measure) has changed little. This lack of progress is historically unusual and reflects the more general lack of real income growth.

New project aims to raise learning outcomes in South Africa, 18th July 2017, UCL, IoE

A new project undertaken by the Centre for Educational Evaluation and Accountability at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) aims to understand how accountability, trust and capacity interconnect to improve children's learning outcomes in South Africa. The four year project, which starts in September, is the first of its kind in South Africa. Focusing on the country’s public primary education system, the researchers will assess how these three themes impact on one another over time and how they affect the improvement of schools in different areas.

Researchers in the field have highlighted South Africa’s widening performance gap between rich and poor students and its high dropout levels - especially among black Africans. The project will build on the Centre’s recent systematic review, which argues that a lack of trust inhibits the implementation of effective assessment and inspection systems. 

The researchers will look at how the relations between accountability, capacity and trust produce (or fail to produce) a pattern of change in learning outcomes over time and create a divided, unequal system. For example, teacher unions can reject inspections of teachers and block the publication of assessment data, and limited capacity prevents key stakeholders from effectively using the data that is available. 


Changing the subject? How EBacc is changing school timetables, Joanna Andrade and Jack Worth Blog, 20th July: NfER

The authors looked at the extent to which schools have adapted their timetables in response to the incentives that EBacc presents, including for younger year groups not studying towards GCSE qualifications. Findings showed that there has been an increase in curriculum time dedicated to EBacc subjects at Key Stage 4 (KS4), rising from 55 per cent in 2010 to 65 per cent in 2016. While more modest, there have also been changes to the percentage of the Key Stage 3 (KS3) curriculum dedicated to EBacc subjects, increasing from 56 per cent in 2010 to 62 per cent in 2016.

Top NFER research reports to read over the summer, 21st July 2017

The NfER have put together a list of the most popular NfER research reports and guides based on downloads from the website in the last six months. The list includes the following:

  • Teacher Retention by Subject - Research Update 1 (May 2017)

    This is one of the first pieces of research to explore the differences in teacher retention rates in English secondary schools by the subject they teach.

  • Engaging Teachers: NFER Analysis of Teacher Retention (September 2016)

    This report explores how engaged and supported teachers feel, and how this relates to their intention to remain or to leave the profession.

  • Keeping Your Head: NFER Analysis of Headteacher Retention (April 2017)

    This report explores if the same is true for headteachers, who play a vital role in leading and sustaining good school performance.

  • Executive headship (March 2017)

    A summary of the executive headteacher (EHT) role, with practical questions and exemplar role descriptors to consider when creating the position.

  • Refocusing Assessment (March 2017)

    This is a resource that provides a framework for school leaders and department heads to plan a coherent whole school approach to assessment that will support the learning of each and every student.

  • A Tale of Eight Regions. Part 2: Challenge and Support Across the Regional Schools Commissioner Areas (April 2017)

    This report explores the challenges Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) face in terms of schools requiring action and the availability of Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) that are ready to expand to meet this need. It is the second of two reports focusing on how the schools’ landscape has changed by region since RSCs were introduced.

  • Supporting the attainment of disadvantaged pupils: articulating success and good practice (November 2015)

    This research, published in November 2015, continues to be a popular download. It investigated the role of school characteristics; school strategies; and implementation approaches in raising disadvantaged pupils’ attainment.

EEF Blog: ​5 summer reading suggestions from the EEF, Stephen Tall, 21st July: EEF

The EEF has published a number of new reports and resources over the year. They have recommended a list of reports which may be of interests to readers over the summer. The reports are in the following categories:

  • Evaluation reports
  • Improving Primary-Age Literacy Guidance Reports
  • Assessing and Monitoring Pupil Performance
  • Research Schools Network 
  • DIY Evaluation Guide

Most teachers believe maths mastery improves pupils' engagement, poll shows, 17th July: TES

A Tes survey also reveals that half of teachers have seen attainment levels rise since they adopted the method

Six out of 10 teachers believe that using the maths mastery teaching approach will raise pupils’ engagement, research suggests.

And half say that they have seen attainment levels rise since they adopted the method.

Tes survey of 1,100 teachers also reveals that more than 80 per cent feel confident in their ability to teach since adopting the method.

See also: The Essentials of Numeracy A new approach to making the UK numerate: National Numeracy/ KPMG.

The report says that people’s poor numeracy is often not detected and that employers should recognise that some of the millions of people who struggle with numeracy may be in their own workplace. Poor maths skills among adults is now too big a problem to be left to the education and training system alone –  and we have developed an alternative approach that we know can make a big difference to people’s confidence and competence with numbers. We now want to work with employers and others to embed the Essentials of Numeracy in their own organisations.

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations

School funding not always linked to results, Andreas Schleicher, OECD education director, 12th July 2017: BBC

It is what schools do with the funding that matters. Those that work with Achievement for All have used funding in a focused and creative way to improve children’s outcomes.

SEN Support: a survey of schools and colleges, 19th July 2017

The survey highlights the centrality of the SENCO in supporting SEN in schools.

The wellbeing of secondary school pupils with SEN, 19th July 2017

The report shows that Children with SEN have higher levels of unhappiness and well being than children without SEN on a number of issues. This is not always the case in schools working with Achievement for All

Permanent and fixed-period exclusions in England: 2015 to 2016, 20th July 2017

CYP identified with SEN and those eligible for FSM are more likely to receive to permanent or fixed period exclusions than other CYP

How much of a problem is bullying at school? PISA In Focus no.74 July: OECD

Pupils who are bullied get poorer outcomes than their peers. This is not the case in schools working with Achievement for All