2nd March 2018

Department for Education

Minister announces improved support for care leavers, 27th February

Care leavers across the country are set to benefit from three new projects to support young people as they make the transition from care to independence.

Speaking at first National Learning Conference, Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi, announced up to £5 million for three new Social Impact Bond projects to support care leavers into education, employment or training.

He also announced the delivery partner for the Care Leaver Covenant, which offers a platform for organisations to pledge their support for young people as they face the challenges of leaving care.

The funding available through the new Social Impact Bond projects will be targeted in Bristol, Sheffield and Lewisham to support care leavers to stay in education or transition in to employment or training.

Nationally, care leavers will also benefit from the Care Leaver Covenant, and delivery partner Spectra First will encourage private and voluntary organisations to sign up and offer ways to help care leavers with the challenges they face in making the transition to independence.

Promoting the education of looked-after and previously looked-after children, 26th February

This has been updated with the latest statutory guidance

The document details the duty local authorities and VSHs have to promote the educational achievement of the children they look after.

Statutory guidance sets out what local authorities must do to comply with the law. You should follow the guidance unless you have a very good reason not to.

Virtual school heads (VSHs) are in charge of promoting the educational achievement of all the children looked after by their local authority they work for.

(see consultation response below)

Designated teacher for looked-after and previously looked-after children, 26th February

This document has been updated with the latest statutory guidance.

It relates to the duty of governing bodies of all maintained schools to appoint a designated teacher for looked-after and previously looked-after children on the school roll.

It applies to maintained schools.

(See consultation response below)

Applying corporate parenting principles to looked-after children and care leavers, 26th February

This guidance is for local authorities and their ‘relevant partners’ (as defined in section 10 of the Children Act 2004) and others who contribute to services provided to looked-after children and care leavers.

It is designed to help local authorities consider the kinds of services that may be offered with regard to the corporate parenting principles.

(see consultation response below)

Local offer guidance: guidance for local authorities on the local offer for care leavers, 26th March

Section 2 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017 requires each local authority to consult on and publish a local offer for its care leavers. This guidance provides information for local authorities on the development of the local offer and an illustrative local offer.

Extending Personal Adviser support to age 25, 26th February 2018

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 introduced a new duty on local authorities, to provide PA support to all care leavers up to age 25, if they want this support. This document provides information to local authorities to assist them in implementing the new duty.

And Extending Personal Adviser support to age 25- guidance for local authorities

GCSE new grading scale: factsheets- for employers, FE and HE institutions and parents

Factsheets showing:

  • The new GCSE grading scale

  • Standard and strong pass marks and what this means for students, schools, parents and employers

  • When the new grades will apply to different subjects.

New Advanced Maths Premium can open more doors for young people, 28th February

During a visit to Lilian Bayliss Technology School in London, Schools Standards Minister Nick Gibb and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Elizabeth Truss announced the Advanced Maths Premium, a new fund to help schools and colleges increase the number of students studying maths after GCSE.

Data shows that pupils who do well in maths at school earn higher wages, with men seeing a premium of 12.5% and women a 23.9% increase.

The premium will also support institutions to increase the number of girls and those from disadvantaged backgrounds taking advanced maths qualifications, to help equip Britain with the skills needed to boost the future economy. The £600 premium is equivalent to 15% of the base funding per student.

Education Secretary celebrates students in the North-East, 26th February

A student from the North-East has been awarded the Lord Glenamara Memorial Prize

Mohammed Dagher, a student from Heaton Manor School in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, has received the Lord Glenamara Memorial Prize at a special event in London. He was recognised for his outstanding academic achievements and impressive voluntary work including providing one-to-one support and guidance to younger students who speak English as an additional language, producing an anti-bullying video and volunteering at a disability centre.

The annual prize – which is now in its sixth year - recognises sixth form students from the North-East who have excelled in their studies while making contributions to their school or wider community.

Training providers: governance leadership and clerking development, 26th February

Contact details for organisations contracted to offer governance leadership and clerking development opportunities on behalf of the DfE.

Department for Education- Further Education

Improving engagement and attainment in maths and English courses,27th February

The report looks at intervention projects based in further education colleges, workplaces and the community (here below we consider FE colleges only).

Annex A provides an overview of research that has been conducted in the areas of adult literacy and numeracy (ALN) and behavioural sciences.

Annex B uses behavioural science to examine the reasons why employers and their employees do not invest in basic skills training.

The research is accompanied by a shorter, practical guide to implementing the insights. It is available on the Behavioural Insights Team website.

In 2014, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) commissioned the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) to develop and test behavioural interventions to improve participation and completion of maths and English courses. This partnership was referred to as the Behavioural Research Centre for Adult Skills and Knowledge (ASK) for the duration of the work programme. This report provides a full catalogue of the 23 projects undertaken.

Summary of interventions in FE colleges:

A number of promising findings emerged. The legacy of these projects is a set of scalable and effective interventions that colleges and other training providers can implement with minimal additional resources.

  • Weekly text messages of encouragement to adult learners (aged 19+) enrolled on maths and English courses improved attendance rates by 22 percent (7.4 percentage points, from 34.0 to 41.4 percent) and achievement rates by 16 percent (8.7 percentage points, from 54.5 to 63.2 percent).

  • A social support intervention, where updates were texted to learners’ (aged 16+) friends and family about their progress in their maths and English courses, improved attendance rates by 5 percent (3.2 percentage points, from 63.5 to 66.7 percent) and achievement rates by 27 percent (5.9 percentage points, from 22.2 to 28.1 percent).

  • An intervention that incorporated weekly text messages of encouragement to learners (aged 16 – 19) and helpful updates to their social supporters improved attainment rates by 24 percent (5.1 percentage points, from 21.1 to 26.2 percent).

  • A short writing exercise, where learners reflect on their personal values and why they are important to them, improved attainment in maths and English courses by 25 percent (4.2 percentage points, from 16.7 to 20.9 percent).

Conclusion: The work in FE colleges leaves a legacy of high-impact, cost-effective and innovative interventions that can be implemented with minimal time, training or financial resources for colleges and other training providers.

Functional skills subject content: English

Functional skills subject content: mathematics

English and maths functional skills content: equality analysis

The DfE deem that overall the proposals for reformed Functional Skills English and mathematics subject content examined in this equality impact assessment will have a positive impact on equality of opportunity by providing respected qualifications in which students, employers and education providers can have full confidence.

Apprenticeship reform programme: benefits realisation strategy.: policy Document

The four key objectives for the Apprenticeship Reform Programme are set out below:

  • To meet the skills needs of employers - and the country, by being high quality, relevant programmes that result in apprentices becoming fully competent in their occupation

  • To create progression for apprentices - by creating high quality programmes that result in apprentices becoming fully competent with transferrable skills in an occupation that offers progression.

  • To widen participation and social mobility in apprenticeships – to ensure that more people from a diverse range of backgrounds have access to the benefits of apprenticeships at all levels.

  • To create more quality apprenticeships - through our campaign work and by creating a sustainable funding system and a high- quality apprenticeships offer.

FE Commissioner intervention report: Kirklees College

FE Commissioner intervention report: Bradford College

Department for Education-Research

Adult learners of English and maths: longitudinal survey

Learners attending English or maths Skills for Life funded courses were interviewed at 3 waves in their learning journey. These were:

  • At the start of the course

  • Soon after the course ended

  • One year after the course ended.

Each interview included tests developed for the study to assess learners’ reading and writing or numeracy skills.

Findings showed that:

  • Over three-fifths of learners on maths (64%) and English (63%) courses were under 35
  • Over three-fifths of learners on maths (64%) and English (63%) courses were under 35
  • Overall, 42% of English learners and 45% of maths learners experienced difficulties that got in the way of their learning when they were younger. These circumstances ranged from physical and mental disability through to difficulties with their family life or frequent changes in school
  • Underlining the strong correlation between adult learning and a desire to improve employment circumstances, many learners said their reason for attending the course was related to work. At the end of their course, many learners felt their course had helped with aspects of their work life.
  • 44% of learners on English courses and 59% of learners on maths courses were not currently in work at the start of their course.
  • 96% of English learners and 93% of maths learners agreed ‘the course helped with my skills.’ The majority of learners felt their course helped them to improve their skills ‘a lot’ (66% of English learners and 62% of maths learners)


Education provision: children under 5 years of age, January 2017

This has been republished since June to replace the main tables to correct an error in the 2016 3- and 4-year-old take-up rate for Darlington LA in Table 5LA and to correct the title of Table 16LA.

NEET statistics quarterly brief: October to December 2017

The 19-24 and overall 16-24 NEET rates remained relatively stable, both decreasing slightly by 0.2 percentage points (to 13.2% and 11.1% respectively) from the comparable quarter in 2016.

Over the same period, the 16-18 NEET rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points (to 6.2%). None of these annual changes to the NEET rates were statistically significant

Further education: indices of deprivation, England: 2015 to 2016

31.7% of those studying at FE Colleges live in one of the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods. This is the highest proportion of learners, with just 12% coming from the least deprived neighbourhoods.

Multi-academy trust performance measures: 2016 to 2017

At key stage 2 over half of MATs had progress at or above average in writing and in maths, but over half had below average progress in reading

At key stage 4, over half of MATs had Progress 8 scores that were below the national average for state-funded mainstream schools

At key stage 4, just over 30% of MATs have EBacc entry above the national average for state-funded mainstream schools


Revised guidance for virtual school heads and designated teachers, 26th February

The government invited views on changes to 2 statutory guidance documents: “Promoting the education of looked after children” and “Roles and responsibilities of designated teachers for looked after children”.

Main findings from the consultation showed that respondents were broadly supportive, with high levels of positive response to both statutory guidance documents (at least a 69% positive response to all questions).

The key concerns raised by respondents were:

  • Feeling that both guidance documents needed to be clearer about what is expected of VSHs and designated teachers and more detail on how to do what is required;

  • Whilst supporting the increased focus on mental health, many respondents highlighted that mental health services for young people are under-resourced and the challenge of getting access to mental health support for young people;

  • Concern over available funding and capacity to fulfil the new role for previously looked-after children.

The Government’s response:

‘We do not propose to make significant changes given the positive overall response to the draft guidance. We have, however, sought to give greater clarity where requested. Where possible we have clarified terms; provided greater clarity on particular issues identified by respondents; and have added case studies to illustrate what practice might look like. This has, however, been balanced against the need to allow professional judgement, and the fact that the needs of individual children, and local circumstances, will vary. The government published a new financial burdens assessment for the Children and Social Work Bill, estimating the additional cost of extending Virtual School Head support to previously looked-after children at between £30,000 and £50,000 per local authority. It set out that savings from regionalisation of adoption, leading to efficiencies and further improvements in the timeliness of adoption, would offset this new burden. However, in response to respondents’ significant concern about the lack of additional funding for the extended role and when savings from regionalisation of adoption will be realised, the Department will now provide funding for the extended role until 2020. The Department will revisit funding for this duty as part of the broader Spending Review in 2020.’

Corporate parenting, the local offer and personal adviser support, government Response, 26th February 2018

The consultation sought views on:

  • Draft statutory guidance for local authorities on applying the corporate parenting principles to care and pathway planning

  • Draft statutory guidance on extending the personal adviser duty to care leavers age 25

  • An illustrative local offer for care leavers and accompanying guidance on the local offer for local authorities

Respondents welcomed the corporate parenting principles, the local offer and the extension of Personal Adviser support to all care leavers to age 25. Most respondents identified the CPP guidance as both clear and aspirational and found the case studies useful in demonstrating how the principles could be effectively applied. Respondents were also supportive of the local offer guidance and illustrative local offer. A number of organisations commented that the care leavers they worked with were often unaware of the support available to them; and said that a clear description of the support that was available from a local authority was something that would be welcomed by care leavers. Most respondents said that the guidance on extending PA support was clear and that the balance between prescription and allowing PAs flexibility to use their professional judgement to decide how to respond to care leavers who take up the offer of support was right.

Some concerns were raised by respondents and these are addressed in the government’s response.


Inspection visits to further education and skills providers judged to require improvement: Response to the consultation, 28th February

Ofsted proposed: instead of carrying out support and challenge visits that result in unpublished letters, we conduct a single monitoring visit with a published report that has progress judgements.

Results: 65% of respondents supported the proposal

Ofsted will be taking forward the proposal. This will apply to any provider found to require improvement since 10 November 2017 (i.e. those notified of inspection on or after 10 November). Ofsted will write individually to providers directly affected and make necessary revisions to the ‘Further education and skills inspection handbook’. For providers that are judged to require improvement, Ofsted will conduct a single monitoring visit, normally around 7 to 13 months after the inspection at which the provider was judged to require improvement.


Access to special schools in England, Jon Andrews, March 2018: EPI

The report looks at the distance children in special schools have to travel.

Key findings

The report finds that pupils with SEND are having to travel more than 3 miles to reach any special school:

  • In cities, the average pupil at an urban special schooltravels around 4 miles each way. In rural areas the average travel distance is 10 miles each way.

  • There are a significant number of pupils that are travelling much further still. Even in wider city areas, around 1 in 10 pupils travel around 9 miles each way in order to get to school.

  • In the most rural areas in England, the figure is even more striking – with around 1 in 10 special school pupils having to travel over 23 miles one way just to get to school.

  • Overall, pupils in special schoolsare, on average, travelling around three times as far as pupils in mainstream schools.

While longer travel distances to special schools are to be expected, improving access to other school types with shorter travel distances has been prioritised over special schools:

  • A key justification for the government’s prior plans to open new selective schools was that pupils currently travel further to get to them. This is correct – we find that on average pupils in grammars are having to travel further than those at non-selective mainstream schools.

  • However, comparing this with special schools, we find that, on average pupils attending a special school travel at least as far as those in selective schools.

  • The government has set out a commitment to improve access to good schools – yet it is unclear as to why measures to address the long travel distances made by pupils to all special schools have not also been considered.

Changes to school transport provision for those with SEND:

  • For those attending special schools reliant on home to school transport services, there is a risk that pressures on local authority budgets and changes to local provisions could pose a threat to the place of some pupils in the school system.

Sense and Accountability: Holding our primary schools to account for what matters most, Final report of the ASCL Primary Accountability Review February 2018

The report was developed in response to a panel bought together by ASCL to focus on the pressure children and schools are under with the KS2 SATs. The ASCL’s Blueprint for a self- improving school (2015) outlined the role of government in accountability as “defining a slim, smart and stable public accountability framework with a small number of ambitious goals”. This framework should “incentivise schools, trusts and federations to implement policies and behaviours that contribute to a high-quality education for all”.

This report takes this definition of accountability as its starting point. It focuses mainly on what a “slim, smart and stable” (and fair and effective) public accountability framework might look like in a primary context, proposing a set of principles for such a framework. It also begins to explore how school leaders and teachers can be encouraged and supported to become “agents of their own accountability”.

The report states that an effective and fair accountability system should be based on the following principles:

1. Start from a shared understanding of what outcomes we, as a society, want for our children and young people

2. Be based around a set of measures which incentivise schools to deliver on these outcomes, seeking ways to recognise and reward aspects which are important but difficult to measure, as well as those which are more easily quantifiable

3. Drive positive behaviour

4. Be based on information which is as accurate as possible, and not try to read too much into a small, unrepresentative amount of data

5. Be fair to schools in different circumstances and contexts, while recognising the importance of enabling every child to reach their potential

6. Lead to fair, proportionate, transparent and constructive consequences for schools which fall short of its desired outcomes, aligned with the best current evidence of what is most likely to lead to improvements

7. Be relentlessly self-critical, regularly evaluating impact and modifying as necessary

Also see LKMco blog How should primary schools be held to account? Will Millard

Childcare survey 2018, Harding and Cottell: Family and Chidcare Trust

This is the 18th annual childcare survey. Findings show that only half of local authorities in England and Wales have enough childcare for parents working full time. The majority of local authorities do not have enough childcare available for children needing after school care, parents working outside normal office hours, or disabled children. 33% of local authorities in England, 40% in Wales, and 14% in Scotland, do not have enough early education for three and four year olds eligible for the universal free entitlements.

Liz Bayram of PACEY said:

“It has become a truism of our time that there is not enough affordable, flexible childcare to go around, fuelled by regular reports such as these. However, childminders remain a great untapped source of potential for funded places. PACEY research has found that half of childminders have at least one spare place they would like to fill, and 40% of childminders haven’t been asked to provide a free entitlement place – despite the more flexible service they offer. The FCT report found that only 53% of childminders are delivering funded places compared to 82% of nurseries. Childminders could deliver substantially more funded places if four key barriers were removed: the low hourly rate for funded places; delayed/uncertain payments and other burdensome red tape associated with the administration of the entitlement; and low levels of parental awareness about childminders.”

International -Wales

Kirsty Williams announces £3 million of support for Wales’ brightest and most talented pupils, 27th February

Wales’ brightest and most talented pupils are set to benefit from £3 million of support over two years as part of plans announced today by Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams.

The funding will support a new national approach for identifying and supporting more able learners, backed with comprehensive new guidance. This will include a new definition for more able learners, supporting schools in this work.

The Cabinet Secretary also announced that the successful Seren Network, which supports Wales’ brightest sixth formers gain access to leading universities, will be expanded to target younger learners.

From September, the Network will begin targeting learners before their GCSEs - connecting learners from different schools and communities and building on Seren’s existing links with leading global universities.

The £3 million investment will also include funding to further develop the Welsh Government’s policy for more able and talented learners, ensuring that any future measures are based on the most reliable evidence.



Service Children

There are children of Armed Forces personnel living and attending school in every local authority in Wales, not just in areas close to Armed Forces bases. 

As a result of their parent’s frequent moves/postings and deployment, Service Children can be affected at school and at home in a variety of ways. 

A Service child is defined as:

  • A child who has one or both parents currently serving in the armed forces;

  • A child whose parent/s have served in the armed forces within the last six years (Veteran); or

  • A child whose parent/s are currently serving as Reservists.

The GwE aims to provide the best possible educational support to children, by ensuring education professionals understand the issues Service Children in Wales may face. The project is a Welsh Local Government Association project. 

Since the project began in 2014 the GwE have worked with schools, local authorities, Armed Forces families and support organisations to gather their views and experiences, build their networks across Wales and continue to raise awareness and understanding amongst education professionals, local authorities and the Welsh Government. They have developed guidance and digital resources for schools and families, held their first national conference and commissioned research to better understand the needs of Service Children in education. 

They would like you to help them gather data on the number and location of Service Children so that they can ensure your school gain maximum benefit from the vast amount of resources and support that is available. Complete the form in the following link to indicate the number of Service Children in your school (even if it is currently 0) or enter ‘Unknown’ if this isn’t something that your school currently include on enrolment forms.


EEF blog: School improvement and taming the ‘marking monster’, Alex Quigley, Director of Huntington Research School, discusses marking and getting implementation right, 28th February

Using the implementation model proposed in the EEF guide to implementation - Explore, prepare, deliver, sustain - the author considers how to make changes in marking policy within the school. It provides good insights into using the guidance in practice.

EEF Blog: Whole-class reading - choose your strategy carefully if you don’t want to miss the mark, 27th February

In this blog, Robbie Coleman – a secondary school English teacher and a Senior Associate at the EEF – surveys the research on whole-class reading and draws two important lessons for teachers wanting to know which strategy works best...

Quoting Shanahan, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chi­cago, he warns about regular practices which are not being done well. For example children reading aloud in class. This needs to be done very frequently to get an improvement in reading. Teachers often ‘pick’ people to read.

Secondly, he highlights the need for more research into the bread-and-butter activities that teachers use regularly.

Achievement for All Areas for consideration

Improving engagement and attainment in maths and English courses,27th February

The report looks at intervention projects based in further education colleges, workplaces and the community (here below we consider FE colleges only).Achievement for All through its Achieving Further programme works with colleges and other post 16 providers to secure better outcomes for young people in English, maths and wider outcomes.