28th July 2017

Department for Education

Applications open to create 1,600 new special free school places, 27th July, Press Release

19 local authorities invite applications to run new special free schools. It will mean 19 new schools, providing high quality provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities. Organisations ranging from successful Multi-Academy Trusts to specialist charitable organisations can now apply to the 19 local authorities, setting out how they will be able to meet the specification for each project. Criteria have been developed by the local authorities, in conjunction with the Department for Education, to ensure they meet the needs of each local community and provide much-needed places for special educational needs and disability (SEND) pupils.

Setting up a new special school, 27th July 2017

Guidance and application forms on how to set up a new special free school, and the criteria new school proposers must demonstrate.

School and college performance tables: statements of intent, (republished 24th July)

Updates added to the 2017 document to clarify submission dates for requests to change pupil data, which would show in the January amended SFR publication; and the methodology and threshold for the coasting schools definition.

Improvement notice lifted on West Berkshire council, 27th July 2017

DfE issued the notice in August 2015 following Ofsted’s judgement that children’s services provided by West Berkshire council were inadequate. The notice required West Berkshire council to address all the areas for improvement identified.

Academy trusts: notices about poor performance, 28th July 2017

A spreadsheet listing all academy trusts in receipt of pre-warning notice or warning notice letters about poor or inadequate performance.

Department for Education- Further Education

School and college performance tables: statements of intent (republished 24th July 2017)

An update to the 2017 document to clarify submission dates for requests to change pupil data, which would show in the January amended SFR publication; and the methodology and threshold for the coasting schools definition.

Apprenticeship reform programme: benefits realisation strategy (republished with updates 21st July)

Added benefits realisation update document.

National achievement rates tables: transparency data, 27th July

These are not formal qualification achievement rates and should not be used as such. The implementation of the improved methodology for the 2015 to 2016 qualification achievement rates led to a significant impact on the estimates compared to previous years. The Department for Education have assessed what additional information it can publish to allow for some comparability at provider level for earlier years based on 2015 to 2016 methodology. 

Post-16 education: funding and expenditure review, 27th July 2017

This review of funding and expenditure arrangements for post -16 vocational programmes looks at data and evidence for countries with similar vocational education systems to the new system proposed in England. Countries include: Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway.

Findings show that data is not systematically collected on a comparable basis. Therefore it is necessary to exercise caution when making direct comparisons between levels of expenditure in different countries.

However, countries included in this review are investing substantial resources into post-16 VET. It is widely recognised across these countries that additional funding will be needed for the coming years to increase the quality of upper vocational education in order to: attract high performing students; improve recruitment and retention; streamline and improve the transparency of vocational pathways; and ensure that upper secondary VET is continuously adapted to meet evolving skills needs and changes in the labour market.

Upper secondary vocational education is high on the policy agendas of the countries and major reforms are currently underway, especially in Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands. These include: raising the standards of entry to VET programmes; using preparation and transition programmes to prepare students for the challenges they will face on vocational programmes; opening government-funded training centres to provide work placements; ensuring that employers and other social partners are extensively involved in the VET systems; and professionalising and up skilling VET teachers.

The researcher concludes that It will be instructive to monitor these initiatives in order to ascertain what works well or not so well and to identify lessons that can be learned from them.


Special educational needs in England: January 2017, 27th July 2017

This statistical first release (SFR) provides analyses on the characteristics of pupils by their: level of special educational needs (SEN) and type of SEN. It is based on pupil-level data collected through the school census, general hospital school census and school-level annual school census (SLASC).

Findings show that:

  • The number of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) has increased from 1,228,785 in January 2016 to 1,244,255 in January 2017. While this is the first annual increase since 2010, the percentage of pupils with special educational needs remains stable at 14.4%.

  • 242,185 pupils have a statement of SEN or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. This is an increase of 5,380 since January 2016, but remains equal to 2.8% of the total pupil population. A further 1,002,070 pupils are on SEN support. This is equal to 11.6% of the total pupil population and remains unchanged since January 2016.

  • Primary need for those on SEN Support: 25.2% of pupils on SEN support have Moderate Learning Difficulty as a primary type of need in January 2017.

  • Primary Need for those with a Statement /EHC Plan: 26.9% of pupils with a statement or EHC plan have Autistic Spectrum Disorder as a primary type of need in January 2017.

  • 6% of pupils with special educational needs are eligible for free school meals compared to 11.8% of pupils without special educational needs.

  • Pupils with statements or EHC plans are more likely to be eligible for free school meals than pupils on SEN support (31.4% compared to 25.4%).

Initial teacher training performance profiles: 2015 to 2016

Findings show an increase in the number of trainee teachers for 2015-2016. Even allowing for the inclusion of Teach First trainees (first year included), there was still an increase. In addition 91% of post graduate trainees were awarded QTS.

See also: The ups and downs of teacher recruitment, blog by Maire Williams, 27th July 2017: NfER - Maire Williams suggests that recruitment and retention of teachers is likely to continue as starting salaries and pay progression remain lower for teaching than other graduate professions.

See also: More than 600,000 pupils in England taught by unqualified teachers, says Labour, 25th July 2017: The Guardian

Income and expenditure in academies in England: 2015 -2016

Changes in expenditure for the year showed that expenditure on teaching staff fell by 3.2 ppts since 2011/12 when the data were first collected. However, it rose by 1.2 ppts between 2014/15 and 2015/16, and remains the largest expenditure at 50.1% of all expenditure by academies. The longer term fall has been offset by increases in the proportion of expenditure on back office functions, education support staff and supply staff, although much of this change occurred between 2011/12 and 2012/13, where back office expenditure rose from 9.5% to 12.6% of all expenditure.

See also Academy funding falling for secondary pupils, 27th July: BBC

The article highlights the lower amount of funding received by secondary academies in 2015-2016. The median income per secondary pupil in academies for 2015-16 was £5,714, down from £6,340 in 2011-12, not taking into account inflation.

International: Wales

Wellbeing of fostered children in Wales to be improved thanks to innovative project, 20th July 2017

The Fostering Network announced the launch of the new Fostering Wellbeing programme in partnership with Cwm Taf Social Services and Wellbeing Partnership Board. The aim is to recognise foster carers as a key part of the education team as well as improving engagement, knowledge and confidence among carers, social workers and health and education professionals. The programme will encourage aspiration and ambition among fostered young people as well as shared values among all those involved with looked after children.

Summer update of the Pioneer School Networks, ERW

Pioneer Professional Learning Schools will assist in the development of training for the implementation of the new curriculum and will join up with Curriculum Pioneers to develop the AoLEs in the Autumn. Their focus will be to pilot aspects of the new curriculum as they are created by the AoLEs. Further details will be made available in the Autumn term. Their current work has centred around developing aspects of the twelve pedagogies of Successful Futures, working on pilot projects and assisting with the delivery of the ERW professional learning programme. Pioneer Professional Schools will continue to disseminate information to partner schools to involve them more fully in Successful Futures


Impacts of the Retired Mentors for New Teachers program, Dale DeCesare Abby McClelland: Institute of Education Sciences in the US

A randomized controlled trial of a two-year intervention using retired mentors to support teachers who were in their first three years, conducted in collaboration with Aurora Public Schools in Colorado and using 2013/14 and 2014/15 data, showed some causal findings:

  • At the end of the first year math achievement was significantly higher among students taught by teachers in the program group than among students taught by teachers in the business-as-usual group.

  • Although the differences were not statistically significant, reading achievement was higher among students taught by teachers in the program group than among students taught by teachers in the business-as-usual group.

  • The program’s effect on teacher evaluation ratings and teacher retention was not significant after two years, although more teachers in the programme group left after two years than in the control group.

Informing Progress: Insights on Personalised learning (PL) implementation and effects by Pane et al.: RAND Corporation

A study by RAND Corporation aimed to describe the practices and strategies used by a sample of schools to implement PL, understand some of the challenges and facilitators, and consider these alongside achievement findings to discern patterns that may be informative.

Findings showed that:

Teachers and students reported higher levels of many aspects of personalization than their counterparts in a national sample. These included time for one-on-one tailored support for learning; using up-to-date information on student progress to personalize instruction and group students; students tracking their own progress; competency-based practices; and flexible use of staff, space, and time. However, some more-difficult-to-implement aspects did not appear to differ from practices in schools nationally, such as student discussions with teachers on progress and goals; keeping up-to-date documentation of student strengths, weaknesses, and goals; and student choice of topics and materials.

The researchers estimated that study students gained about 3 percentile points in mathematics relative to a comparison group of similar students. In reading, there was a similar trend, though it was not statistically significant. Low-performing and high-performing students appeared to benefit.


Intervening early to prevent gang involvement: our South London collaboration, Early Intervention Foundation, 27th July 2017

The EIF has been funded by the Battersea Power Station Foundation to conduct a three-year project looking at and testing opportunities for early intervention to prevent gang involvement in the London boroughs of Wandsworth and Lambeth. The first stage of this work is a piece of qualitative research involving primary schools in areas affected by gang activity or youth violence, to gauge the extent to which the early signals of risk are currently being identified, and the type of support available to vulnerable primary school-age children.

The researchers are also mapping the range of support available for primary school-age children, and assessing how this provision matches up to their understanding of what works to reduce their level of risk and to increase protective factors like self-esteem and good relationships with their parents. The evidence suggests that approaches based on deterrence and discipline – so-called ‘tough love’ – are likely to be ineffective. And, despite its popularity, the jury remains out on the effectiveness of mentoring as a way of reducing gang involvement.

Dedicated reading time needs to be at the heart of the school day, Dirk Foch, 26th July 2017: The Telegraph

The article highlights the close connection between time spent reading and reading progression. Yet, says the author, for various reasons, too few schools are able to find enough time in the day to build dedicated reading time into the academic timetable. While many independent schools do factor in the time, a recent survey of young people found that, overall, just half of six to eight-year-olds, 25 per cent of 12 to 14-year-olds, and 11 per cent of 15 to 17-year-olds, get the opportunity to read for pleasure during the school day. 

Over 100 schools now have headteachers in their 20s, data shows, Clare Shapero, 27th July 2017

The analysis, carried out by the Labour Party, shows that less experienced teachers are being promoted into senior positions while their more experienced colleagues are leaving the profession in droves.

Alex Reppold, who was 28-years-old when he was appointed as headteacher of Pocklington Community Junior School, East Yorkshire, said that when it comes to senior leadership positions, age should not be a factor.

“I think all new leaders or managers have a certain duty to prove themselves - I don't know if age really factors into that,” said Mr Reppold, who is now 31.

Other Early Years

PACEY launches new business resource for childminders, 26th July 2017

The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) has launched a new business toolkit to support the sustainability of new and established childminding settings. The free online resource, Business Smart, has been developed by childminders for childminders. It will help new childminders gain the business skills, knowledge and confidence they need to build up their childcare and early years businesses.

PACEY and Institute of Health Visitors join forces to raise parental awareness of childminders, 27th July 2017

PACEY and the Institute of Health Visitors (iHV) have launched a campaign to help parents understand the childcare choices available to them, and of the important role that childminders can play. The project forms a key part of the Childminder Champions campaign, funded by the Department for Education. As well as celebrating the vital role childminders play in building bright futures for children, Childminder Champions aims to increase parental knowledge and understanding of childminding as a high quality childcare option.

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations

Special educational needs in England: January 2017, 27th July 2017

Pupils with special educational needs are also more likely to be eligible for free school meals than pupils without special educational needs. Schools working with Achievement for All focus on raising aspirations, increasing access to learning and getting better outcomes for these pupils; they have developed and embedded an inclusive approach.

Dedicated reading time needs to be at the heart of the school day, Dirk Foch, 26th July 2017: The Telegraph

The article highlights that too few schools are able to find enough time in the day to build dedicated reading time into the academic timetable. Schools working with Achievement for All make time to support and develop children’s reading skills.