Department for Education

Education Secretary visit to Arsenal football club, 30th January, News

A joint literacy initiative between Arsenal and Institute of Education’s Reading Recovery

Education Secretary Justine Greening visited Arsenal football club to mark the launch of a joint reading initiative between Arsenal in the Community and the University College London’s Institute of Education (IOE). The partnership aims to raise educational achievement with access to reading programmes for more children in north London through Arsenal’s Double Club initiative and the IOE’s Reading Recovery literacy intervention.

Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, said: "It is brilliant to see literacy and sporting activities working together with the Reading Recovery Read Aloud initiative. I loved reading as a child, and its really important that children can read well. That's why the curriculum now has more focus on reading and writing, and our phonics work is helping 147,000 more children to get on track to become great readers."

See also Education Secretary launches UCL and Arsenal literacy initiative, UCL (IOE)

Robert Halfon: careers speech at Westminster Academy, 30th Jan, Speech

The Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, Robert Halfon outlined his thoughts on the future of careers in the context of the Industrial Strategy Green Paper. The development of skills is one of the 10 pillars of the strategy and he sees high-quality careers advice playing a key part in realising this ambition.

He said that not only are the conditions right to transform the nature of careers guidance, but of technical education and apprenticeships as well. He believes the starting point in creating a careers system that works for everyone is to build on what works. He outlined examples of good practice in colleges which needed to become more widespread.

He outlined the work of the Careers & Enterprise Company, which has been at the forefront of developing careers, founded on an evidence based approach of what works.

He said:

‘…..£90 million is being invested in careers over this Parliament, which includes further funding to the company. And their work is beginning to have an impact. There are now 80 enterprise coordinators and over 1,300 enterprise advisers working with a third of all secondary schools and colleges across the country. Our goal is for 25,000 young people a year to be benefiting from business mentoring by 2020.

As its network of enterprise advisers and coordinators grows, so will its ability to support schools and colleges in delivering real and lasting change in high-quality careers and enterprise strategies, influenced by strong relationships with employers.

For adults too, the National Careers Service continues to offer free and impartial information, advice and guidance on careers, skills and the labour market, with high rates of satisfaction’.

In going forward, he outlined the following areas as key starting points for careers, with particular support for those from economic disadvantage of with SEN:

  1. Improving the prestige of careers

  2. Expand the quantity and quality of careers provision

  3. Meeting the needs of a skills economy

  4. Support for the most disadvantaged

‘We need a careers system that nurtures the aspirations of those who are disadvantaged or have special educational needs, providing them with the additional and targeted support that they need to make those aspirations become a reality. This will mean different things for different people. And this isn’t just about our young people. This is about tailored support for people most in need, at whatever stage of life. I will consider what more we can do to help organisations try out different approaches, and find new and innovative ways to make sure we reach those who need our help most. High quality careers advice and support must be for everyone’.

  1. Job security

See also Robert Halfon’s speech at BETT 2017, delivered 26th January, where he spoke about the importance of digital skills.

Building our industrial strategy, Green Paper, MH Government

Consultation closes: 23rd April 2017

The government wants to build an industrial strategy that addresses long-term challenges to the UK economy. The aim is to improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth across the whole country.

This green paper sets out our vision for a modern industrial strategy and some early actions we have committed to take. It aims to start a genuinely open and collaborative conversation about the skills, research, infrastructure and the other things needed to drive long term growth in productivity.

The Industrial Strategy confirms the government’s commitment to strengthen vocational education, so that it becomes a credible alternative for those who do not go to university.

See also: The Industrial Strategy: What does it mean for skills and education? Education Policy Institute

Dedicated schools grant (DSG): 2016 to 2017 (last updated Nov. 2016, republished with updates)

The document details how much funding local authorities are getting for their schools budget for the 2016 to 2017 financial year. It is republished to include an update to the dedicated schools grant allocations 2016 to 2017 financial year spreadsheet.

Statistics (other Government)

Phonics screening pilot at year 3, 2nd Feb, Transparency Data

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) was commissioned by the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) to pilot the Phonics Screening Check with year 3 pupils who had not met the required standard by the end of year 2. As well as testing year 3 pupils’ phonics standard, the pilot also asked schools to complete a teachers’ questionnaire (212 schools responded to the questionnaire).

 Key findings showed that:

 Of the 1,625 year 3 pupils who took part in the year 3 Phonics Screening Check pilot, 51% met the expected standard.

 39% of pupils with special educational needs support or statement met the expected standard, compared with 65% of pupils with no special educational needs.

 59% of pupils who took part in the pilot with a first language other than English met the expected standard.

 The majority of teachers when asked ‘has the extension of the Phonics Screening Check into year 3 had any positive impact on teaching of phonics to pupils who have fallen behind?’ stated that it had no impact.

Ofsted: Early Years

Registering school-based childcare provision (update), 3rd Feb

Factsheet about registering school-based provision of childcare with Ofsted.

This was first published in August 2012 and is republished with updated additional text about an academy becoming a sponsored academy and an additional scenario for nursery schools.

Other Government

Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) Annual Report: September 2015 to August 2016 (School admissions cases), 26th January

The number of cases referred to OSA was lower this year than in previous years.

The majority of local authorities continued to report that in the normal admissions round the interests of looked after and previously looked after children, those with disabilities and special needs or who are vulnerable for other reasons are well served.

However, this was not always the case for vulnerable children (those returning to school after having been excluded, children from families in difficult circumstances or asylum seekers) who often could find a place at a school.


FE students just as happy as those who go to university, study reveals, 26th Jan, TES

Research carried out jointly by the UCL Institute of Education and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that those who take a FE pathway are just as satisfied with life as those who go to a HEI. The study- Next Steps- involving nearly 10,000 young people living in England looked at young people's transitions from Year 9 to the age of 26. It concluded that there was no "right way" to transition into adult life, and that there were "multiple pathways to a successful transition".

Other findings showed that: 45% of those who participated in the survey remained in full-time education after the compulsory school leaving age; 42% took up employment-including 6.5% who engaged in vocational training and 14.5% who entered employment after some time in FE.

IFS Green Budget 2017: Reforms to apprenticeship funding in England, 31st January, Institute for Fiscal Studies  

The IFS says that significant expansion and design of the new apprenticeship system risks it being poor value for money and could end up being particularly damaging to the public sector. Their report forms part of the forthcoming IFS Green Budget 2017. Earlier this month, apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon had set a 200,000 additional apprenticeships target for the public sector, to be achieved by 2020. But the report is scathing of the large expansion required to meet the government’s 3 million apprenticeships target, which it states risks increasing quantity at the expense of quality. It states: ‘There is a good case for expanding apprenticeships, but perhaps more gradually and where we can ensure high-quality provision.’

The report states that most of the revenue from the apprenticeship levy to be introduced from April 2017 (a 0.5% tax on employers paybill over £3 million) will not be used to fund apprenticeships. In addition, the government will pay over 90% of off the job training costs, which will significantly increase the incentive of some businesses to employ an apprentice, particularly those over 19 years (previously the government subsidised p to 50%).


PISA in focus: Where did equity in education improve over the last decade? 31st Jan: OECD

The report shows that, rather than assuming that inequality of opportunity is set in stone, school systems can become more equitable over a relatively short time. The United States stands out as the country where, between 2006 and 2015, the impact of a student’s socio-economic status on his or her performance in school weakened the most, and where the likelihood that disadvantaged students perform at high levels increased the most.

Support Mechanisms for Evidence- based policy-making in Education, Eurydice.

The Eurydice Unit at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) provided the information on the picture in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The European Commission authored the full report, which explores:

  • what types of evidence are used in making education policy

  • the similarities and differences between European countries' approaches to using evidence

  • the mechanisms which support evidence-based policy-making.

The report sets out that:

  • Having a high quality evidence-base for effective policy-making is a key factor in improving education systems.

  • Most countries have official arrangements with a range of different types of organisations that could potentially provide evidence to education policy-makers. Across the UK, policy formulation can involve a particularly wide range of evidence sources, including research agencies, national statistics agencies and public/stakeholder consultations.

  • Only about a third of countries have official arrangements for facilitating education policy-makers’ access to evidence. England, Wales and Scotland are among these, with organisations such as the What Works Network contributing to this.


The new Speech, Language and Communication Framework is here! – Communication Trust

The SLCF is a free online professional development tool, accessible to all, which sets out the skills and knowledge that everyone working with children and young people need in order to support children and young people’s speech, language and communication.

The SLCF self-evaluation tool enables individuals to evaluate their skills, knowledge and confidence in SLC, to highlight their professional development needs, and to find training, resources or information to ‘fill the gaps’ identified by the SLCF. Individuals can track their CPD progress over time, allowing them to see where their knowledge and confidence has increased.

Are secondary schools making enough progress in closing the attainment gap?

Blog, Caroline Sharp, NfER, 26th Jan

In the blog Caroline Sharp suggests that secondary schools need to be doing more to close the gap between their pupil premium pupils and their peers at GCSE level. She says with the current rate of progress it would take until 2088 for there to be no gap in GCSE attainment. More successful schools were more likely to be using metacognitive strategies, collaborative and peer-to-peer learning. They were also targeting pupil premium spending on high-achieving students as well as low achievers and they were using fewer strategies overall.

Schools that work for everyone: Tackling disadvantage

Blog Joana Andrade, NfER, 26th Jan

Joana Andrade says that a better definition and measurement of disadvantage is an important and much needed development in the approach to tackling disadvantage. It is equally critical that this in turn leads to better targeted allocation of resources, and better spending decisions to ensure these resources are deployed in ways that tackle the underlying causes of educational underachievement – particularly over the coming years as a new national funding formula is implemented.  Only then will we truly realise a system that works for everyone.

Carter plan to tackle 'desperate' teacher retention problems, 27th Jan, TES

Sir David Carter, National Schools Commissioner, speaking at Whole Education’s annual conference in London, suggested groups of schools could work together to tackle the teacher recruitment and retention problems. Emphasising that this was not official Department for Education policy, he suggested the following plan for teachers entering the profession:

  1. Years one and two: induction

  2. Years three and four: work with other new teachers to develop their pedagogy together; lead pedagogy for their organisation

  3. Years five and six: getting ready for a leadership role

  4. Years seven and eight: start fulfilling leadership roles

  5. Years nine and 10: take senior leadership roles

Term-time holiday fines are under review in some areas, 29th Jan, BBC

An investigation by the BBC has found that 35 councils in England have changed their policy on fining parents who take their children out of school during term time. It follows the recent successful high court case of a father from the Isle of Wight who took his daughter on holiday during term time. He argued his daughter’s attendance was over the 90% set by the council. The high court ruled in his favour.

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations

 Phonics screening pilot at year 3, 2nd Feb, Transparency Data

The phonics screening pilot showed that children with SEN are not doing as well as their peers in the Phonics Screening Check in year 3 pupils (they had not met the required standard by the end of year 2). Achievement for All works with schools to support Children’s development in literacy and numeracy; there is still a lot more to be done for children with SEN across all schools.

PISA in focus: Where did equity in education improve over the last decade? 31st Jan: OECD

The report shows that, rather than assuming that inequality of opportunity is set in stone, school systems can become more equitable over a relatively short time. Evidence shows that Achievement for All works well with schools. Achievement for All schools are closing the attainment gap for their pupil premium pupils and others vulnerable to underachievement.