6th October 2017

Department for Education

New education and skills measures announced, 1st October, 2017

The Education Secretary, Justine Greening has outlined plans to provide opportunity for all and ensure we have the skills needed for a modern, post-Brexit economy. This includes:

Getting great teachers in the schools that need them most

The government wants to ensure every young person can reach their potential – and great teachers are at the heart of this. To this end the following measures are being put in place:

  • Piloting a new student loan reimbursement programme for science and Modern Foreign Language (MFL) teachers in the early years of their career, targeted in the areas of the country that need them most.

  • New style bursaries in maths will also be piloted, with generous upfront payments of £20,000 and early retention payments of £5,000 in the third and fifth year of a teacher’s career. Increased amounts of £7,500 will also be available to encourage the best maths teachers to teach in more challenging schools.

  • £30 million investment in tailored support for schools that struggle the most with recruitment and retention, including investment in professional development training so that these schools can benefit from great teaching.

  • Supporting the best teacher trainer providers, including top Multi Academy Trusts, with Northern Powerhouse funding to expand their reach in to challenging areas in the north that do not currently have enough provision so more areas benefit from excellent teacher training, and help increase the supply of great teachers to the schools that need them the most.

Tackling inequality and boosting opportunity across the country

To help tackle this, the Education Secretary has set out:

  • A new national network of English hubs will be established across the country with a specific focus on improving early language and literacy – starting with £12m in the north.

  • £6 million further investment to expand Maths Hubs to more challenging areas, spreading excellence in maths teaching.

  • The latest round of the £140 million Strategic School Improvement Fund which will include a new focus on boosting literacy and numeracy skills in Reception year.

  • £5 million investment to trial evidence-based home learning environment (HLE) support programmes in the north of England, which focus on early language and literacy.

  • Plans to transform alternative provision so that no pupils outside of mainstream education are left behind – working with school leaders, parents and local authorities to ensure it is fit for purpose and ensures every child has access to good education, regardless of their background or their ability.

Other measures include a boost for degree-apprenticeships – with 27 new projects tasked with promoting and increasing this high-quality route into employment – which allows apprentices to earn while they learn, while gaining a full degree that has been developed in partnership with employers and universities. And raising the earning threshold for student loan repayments from £21,000 to £25,000.

Direction issued to Slough borough council, 2nd October 2017

This statutory direction was issued to Slough borough council to allow services for children with special educational needs (SEN) to return to council control.

This is now the third direction and a letter from Edward Timpson. This revised Direction reflects a significant amount of work between the Council and Trust to ensure services are improving in order to protect the most vulnerable children and young people in Slough.

Department for Education- Further Education

Apprenticeship service registrations and commitments: August 2017, 5th October 2017

As at 31 August 2017, there have been a total of 10,500 ASAs registered

As at 31 August 2017, there have been a total of 34,700 commitments entered into the apprenticeship service. Of these, 26,700 were fully agreed.

A commitment is where a potential apprentice, who is expected to go on to start an apprenticeship, has been recorded in the system. The apprenticeship service provides a self-managed service on which organisations and providers can add the details of an apprentice. These commitments may be either fully agreed or pending approval.

A fully agreed commitment has agreement on the apprenticeship service from both the organisation and the training provider.


Education statistics by LA district and pupil disadvantage, 6th October 2017

This attainment data has been published by the DfE to support for the following age ranges: early years; primary school attainment; secondary school attainment; school quality; 16 to 19 education and post-19 education.

It has been published to support the DfE’s Opportunity Area programme, with detailed reports for Blackpool, Derby, North Yorks. Coast, Norwich, Oldham and West Somerset.

The delivery plans for the first 6 opportunity areas outline how the Department for Education plans to build young people’s knowledge and skills and provide them with the best advice and opportunities.

The selection methodology explains how the DfE decided which areas would be classified as ‘opportunity areas’.

The selection data spreadsheet presents the data which was originally considered when identifying the areas in greatest need.

The 12 opportunity areas are: West Somerset; Norwich; Blackpool; North Yorkshire coast; Derby; Oldham; Bradford; Doncaster; Fenland and East Cambridgeshire; Hastings; Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent

Other Government

Conservative Party Conference: ‘Every Child Included in Education’

The Education Policy Institute partnered with Achievement for All to host a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference, focusing on disadvantaged pupils, social mobility, and vulnerable learners.

What Theresa May had to say about schools in her Conservative Party conference speech, 4th October 2017: TES

The prime minister has promised to continue the free schools programme in her speech to the Conservative Party conference. She used the speech to highlight her concerns about the north-south divide in education and reiterated the pledge to build 100 new free schools every year this parliament.

Also see: The NfER blog, Party conferences: policy aspiration, inspiration and ideation, Karen Wespieser and Claudia Sumner, 6th October 2017

The blog considers what was said about education at both the labour and conservative party conferences. Below considers the current government.


Phonics – Schools Minister Nick Gibb declared at the Conservative Party conference that “the war on phonics has been won”. NFER analysed the latest data released on 28 September from the Phonics Screening Check (PSC) and found a pattern of steady improvement, with the distribution of PSC scores by local authority (LA) narrowing markedly. However, we also warn that the challenge for schools and LAs going forward will be to maintain, or even to try and further improve on, their current performance.

Social mobility – Secretary of State Justine Greening told a fringe meeting that social mobility is, “the most profound challenge that faces our country” but, when challenged about how teachers could be encouraged to work in the most disadvantaged areas, admitted “some of our tools in the past may have been too blunt and simplistic”. One finding of NFER’s Teacher dynamics in Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) research is that some MAT leaders are taking a strategic approach towards workforce management, in order to provide an effective mechanism for deploying staff to challenging schools.


Using Ofsted’s inspection dashboard: early years foundation stage profile to key stage 4, 3rd October 2017

The inspection data summary reports (IDSR) is a new style data report. It will replace the inspection dashboard when 2017 data is released later in the 2017 autumn term. Ofsted has published prototypes for primary and secondary inspection data summary reports (IDSR) showing proposed layout and context using example data.

Changes to the guidance about signing up to the DBS update service: this is strongly recommended but no longer mandatory. 

The following childminder documents have been republished with the following update: - Ofsted strongly recommends signing up to the DBS Update service but this is no longer mandatory, 6th October 2017.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks: childcare providers

Become a childminder: pre-registration briefing

Become a childcare provider: pre-registration briefing

Childminder agency regulation: guidance for agencies and Ofsted staff, 6th October 2017 (first published august 2014. Republished with updates)

Become a registered early years or childcare provider in England, 6th October 2017

Regulation of services on Childcare Register: framework


Preventing dropout in secondary schools, What works Clearinghouse, Educators guide, USA, September 2017

The guide is aimed at helping teachers identify pupils at -risk of disengagement and dropping out of school. The following four recommendations are made:

  • Monitor the progress of all pupils, and proactively intervene when pupils show early signs of attendance, behaviour, or academic problems (minimal evidence).

  • Provide intensive, individualised support to pupils who have fallen off track and face significant challenges to success (moderate evidence).

  • Engage pupils by offering curricula and programmes that connect schoolwork with college and career success and that improve pupils’ capacity to manage challenges in and out of school (strong evidence).

  • For schools with many at-risk pupils, create small, personalised communities to facilitate monitoring and support (moderate evidence).

Strategies are provided for each recommendation

Evaluation of a parent-delivered early language enrichment programme: evidence from a randomised controlled trial, Burgoyne et al., The journal of child psychology and psychiatry, September 2017


This study evaluated the effectiveness of a parent-delivered early language enrichment programme.


A randomised controlled trial (RCT) was carried out with 208 preschool children and their parents living in socially diverse areas in the United Kingdom. Families were allocated to an oral language programme (= 103) or an active control programme targeting motor skills (= 105). Parents delivered the programmes to their child at home in daily 20-min sessions over 30 weeks of teaching.


Children receiving the language programme made significantly larger gains in language (= .21) and narrative skills (= .36) than children receiving the motor skills programme at immediate post test. Effects on language were maintained 6 months later (= .34), and at this point, the language group also scored higher on tests of early literacy (d values=.35 and .42). There was no evidence that the movement programme improved motor skills.


Evidence suggests, with this small scale programme, that a parent-delivered language enrichment programme is effective. However, further large-scale evaluations of the programme are needed to confirm and extend these findings.

International- Wales

Carmarthenshire’s looked after children get their just rewards for educational attainment, 6th October

Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams attended the Carmarthenshire Celebration of looked after children awards at Ffos Las Race Racecourse in Llanelli.

Kirsty Williams joined the Children’s Commissioner Sally Holland, council leaders, foster carers and school teachers to acknowledge the hard work and educational achievements of looked after children in Carmarthenshire who come from a background of family crisis or breakdown.

The children and young people were awarded for good school attendance and educational achievement as well as their contribution to sports, music and volunteering.

Kirsty Williams said:

“Children who enter care often come from very difficult family circumstances. We cannot change their personal experiences, but we have to mitigate the impact and  support them into a rewarding, fulfilling and independent adulthood. Research shows that too often simply being ‘in care’ lowers the expectations placed on these young people.

This culture impacts negatively on their ability to achieve in all aspects of their lives, including education. Today’s awards ceremony proves that this needn’t be the case and showcases just what our looked after learners are capable of given the right support.”

(In the summer. 2017- 23% of looked after children in Wales achieved L2 Inclusive (5 GCSEs at Grade A*-C in English or Welsh and mathematics) representing  a 10 percentage point increase since 2013.

Wales secures the highest number of finalists for WorldSkills UK competition, 4th October 2017

The best of Wales’ vocational skills and talent will be taking to a national stage next month after Wales secured the highest number of entrants of all UK regions to the WorldSkills UK finals.

The WorldSkills UK finals will take place at Birmingham’s NEC between 16 and 18 November as part of the NEC’s annual Skills Show, the largest skills and careers event in the UK. The competition is used to benchmark excellence across a range of vocational skills areas. It is also used as part of the selection process for WorldSkills, a global competition held every two years where the UK regions compete as one team. These finals are part of the selection process for WorldSkills 2019, which is being held in Kazan. 

A total of 462 competitors are taking part in the WorldSkills UK finals, which consists of up to 60 national competitions where entrants battle it out for Gold, Silver and Bronze award recognition. Of that figure, 74 competitors are Welsh, which is 16% of the UK total and by far the highest regional representation. 

Consortia: ERW

Written statement - Update on the National School Categorisation system, Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education, 4th October 2017

Kirsty Williams said:

‘This government’s vision for an education accountability system is one that is fair, coherent, proportionate, transparent, and based on our shared values for Welsh education.

Working with the teaching profession, local government, consortia, unions and international experts, we have been undertaking a fundamental review of the accountability system. As set out in our action plan ‘Education in Wales: Our National Mission’, we will publish a new assessment and evaluation framework for the entire education system during autumn 2018.

‘Our National Mission’ also sets out the actions that we will take between now and next year. International evidence, and the message within Wales, is clear. We must ensure a coherent approach that avoids unintended consequences and contributes towards the raising of standards in every classroom and for all our learners. Raising standards, reducing the attainment gap and ensuring a system that enjoys public confidence and is a source of national pride is at the heart of our action plan.

……self-evaluation features more strongly in the model. School data, including that which was part of Step 1, will continue to be shared with the regional consortia and used to form the starting point of discussions within the school, and with their Challenge Adviser, about their capacity to improve in relation to leadership, teaching and learning.

To ensure consistency, steps have been taken to strengthen Step 2 of the process, ensuring that any judgements of a school’s capacity to improve are made fairly, and applied consistently to all schools in Wales.

To further ensure consistency in determining categorisation outcomes for schools, a two step Regional and National moderation process remains. Schools will still be given a colour coding for the level of support that they need and this will continue to be published on My Local School. The timelines and processes for the National Schools Categorisation System remain the same.

Are you a middle leader aspiring to become a senior leader? 6th October 2017

As part of the ERW Leadership Programme, ERW are offering school based secondment opportunities for effective middle leaders to work at senior level predominantly at their own school, whilst benefitting from the experiences of working with colleagues across schools.  

This opportunity will provide aspiring senior leaders with an opportunity to lead on identified school improvement priorities, whilst developing their skills and competencies to become an effective senior leader. Email: yan.james@erw.org.uk


EEF blog: Keeping up-to-date with the evidence on early years, Jonathan Kay, 6th October 2017

The Education Endowment Foundation, have published their latest update to the Early Years Toolkit. This is an accessible summary of educational research which aims to help early years practitioners use their resources to improve learning outcomes, particularly for disadvantaged children.

For each update of the Toolkit, this blog reviews the most recently published research to make sure that it reflects the latest evidence. Some highlights in this latest update include:

  • The impact on attainment of early numeracy approaches – which aim to develop number skills and improve young children’s knowledge and understanding of early mathematical concepts – has increased from +5 months’ additional progress to +6 months’.

  • Two new high-quality studies investigating earlier starting age – increasing the time a child spends in early years education by beginning at a younger age – back up existing findings, so we have increased our evidence security rating from 2 to 3 ‘padlocks’. This means the evidence suggesting the average impact on attainment is +6 months has moved from ‘limited’ to ‘moderate’.

  • A positive new study on play-based learning approaches – broadly defined as an enjoyable activity that is pursued for pleasure or its own sake – has helped increase the average impact on attainment from +3 months’ additional progress to +5 months’.

One of the most striking changes in this update is that increase in the impact on attainment for Play-based learning. Does this mean that early years practitioners should be investing more in play-based learning approaches? The author says before deciding follow three steps:

1) Look carefully at all three of the Toolkit’s headline figures

2) Read what the Toolkit entry says in detail

Here, for example, from the entry on play-based learning:

‘Tentative recommendations include ensuring that learning environments for play are literacy-rich (for example, by providing writing materials or written props for role play activities), and balancing more structured, adult-directed activities with opportunities for child-initiated play.’

When introducing any new approach, it is crucial to check that it is making a positive difference for your children in your context.

While there might not be enough evidence conclusively to support an approach, learning from past examples of effective practice can maximise the chances of success.

3) Evaluate the approach in your context

When introducing any new approach, it is crucial to check that it is making a positive difference for your children in your context. This becomes even more important when, as with play-based learning, the current evidence base is very limited. The EEF has developed the DIY Evaluation Guide, an interactive online tool, which can help those working in early years settings to evaluate the impact of new programmes and approaches.

STEM in schools: conference Thursday 30th November 2017, central London

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is acknowledged as essential for producing well-rounded school-leavers and a skilled, future-focussed workforce. It is crucial to look closely at the learner journey that underpins this as sectors across the UK economy STEM industries report an alarming shortage of key skills.

We need to improve the number of school leavers with the qualifications and desire to go into STEM careers. By bringing together a variety of stakeholders from primary and secondary education, industry, and local and national government, this event will allow delegates to explore the latest education developments in STEM, share knowledge and expertise, and champion best practice. This event is FREE for teachers.    

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations

Education statistics by LA district and pupil disadvantage, 6th October 2017

This attainment data has been published by the DfE to support for the following age ranges: early years; primary school attainment; secondary school attainment; school quality; 16 to 19 education and post-19 education.

It has been published to support the DfE’s Opportunity Area programme, with detailed reports for Blackpool, Derby, North Yorks. Coast, Norwich, Oldham and West Somerset.

Achievement for All works successfully with schools in these Opportunity Areas. More schools in these areas would benefit from working with Achievement for All. 

Conservative Party Conference: ‘Every Child Included in Education’

The Education Policy Institute partnered with Achievement for All to host a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference, focusing on disadvantaged pupils, social mobility, and vulnerable learners.

Preventing dropout in secondary schools, What works Clearinghouse, Educators guide, USA, September 2017

This is a useful guide, with many of its recommendations reflected in the Achievement for All approach.