Department for Education

Funding for special educational needs support confirmed, 10th January 2017

Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families, Edward Timpson, confirmed funding from April 2017 of nearly £60 million. This funding will help embed the reforms made to the system of support for SEND and continue the support for the groups who have been instrumental in bringing about the progress seen to date.

The funding announced includes:

  • £15 million for the Independent Supporters programme in 2017 to 2018, run by the Council for Disabled Children, this has been a real driver of change for families navigating the SEND system and improving the experience for them

  • £2.3 million for Parent Carer Forums in 2017 to 2018, who bring parents together and provide a voice to influence local decision-making

  • £1.8 million to Contact a Family, to support individual Parent Carer Forums and their National Network, and to run a national helpline for families

The package also includes funding for councils worth £40 million; an increase of £4.2 million from last year (2016 to 2017) it will support them to make effective plans for the final year of transition to the new SEND system.

Prime Minister unveils plans to transform mental health support, 9th January 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May announced in her speech at the annual Charity Commission a package of measures to transform mental health support in schools, workplaces and communities.

The plans aim to make mental health an everyday concern for every bit of the system, helping ensure that no one affected by mental ill-health goes unattended. For schools it includes:

  • new support for schools with every secondary school in the country to be offered mental health first aid training and new trials to look at how to strengthen the links between schools and local NHS mental health staff. There will also be a major thematic review of children and adolescent mental health services across the country, led by the Care Quality Commission, to identify what is working and what is not and a new green paper on children and young people’s mental health to set out plans to transform services in schools, universities and for families

Figures show mental illness also disproportionately affects young people and those on lower and middle incomes with over half of mental health problems starting by the age of 14 and 75% by 18.

In 2014 mental health conditions affected almost 1 in 5 of all working-age people and around 1 in 7 of people in full-time employment. In the workplace 18 million days were lost to sickness absence caused by mental health conditions in 2015 at a cost of around £9 billion a year to employers.

The government is currently investing more in mental health– spending an estimated £11.7 billion a year and has already legislated to give mental and physical health equal priority in law.

The first ever access and waiting standards have also been introduced for both talking therapies and early intervention in psychosis and the government is investing £1.4 billion over the course of this Parliament into mental health support for children and young people.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity, said:

‘…..We welcome the announcements around a focus on prevention in schools and workplaces and support for people in crisis. The proof will be in the difference it makes to the day-to-day experience of the 1 in 4 who will experience a mental health problem this year. Mental health is everyone’s business and we need to see sustained leadership to make sure services and support improve for all of us with mental health problems. Having been neglected for decades, we need to see it made a priority for decades to come to make sure everyone with mental health problems can live the life they want to lead’.


Read the Prime Minister’s article for the Huffington Post on the mental health reforms.

Also read Dr Tim Cook Principal of Liskeard Hillfort Primary school Developing the role of the school in supporting mental health provision

 Governance handbook and competency framework (first published in November 2015; republished with updates 12th January 2017)

This provides guidance on the roles and duties of governing boards (for schools/academies/ diocesan/ other educational organisations) and advice on the skills, knowledge and behaviours they need to be effective.

In January the following was added: the ‘Competency framework for governance’. Also updated the ‘Governance handbook’ - the January 2017 version is structured around the 6 main features of effective governance.

SEND reform funding for local authorities

This provides details of the total amount allocated to each local authority

Department for Education: Research

The lives of young carers in England, first published 11th February 2016, republished 12th January 2017 to include the omnibus edition

The omnibus report presents findings from a survey of young carers (11-17 years) and their parents. It follows on from the previous survey and aimed to add to the evidence already gathered from the earlier qualitative study by quantitatively assessing:

a) the nature of the care and support that young carers are providing;

b) their perceived impact of their caring responsibilities on their own physical and mental health, education and development; and

c) the types of support they are receiving, whether formal or informal

The findings showed that the majority of young carers managed to combine caring and their educational participation. However, they were more likely to report that they had been late for school, absent from school or had fallen asleep at school than those in the comparison group who were not carers. At the same time young carers were more likely to say that they felt happy than the comparison group; less likely to say they had fun and more likely to ‘feel angry’ than the comparison group. Only 1 in 10 received support from their school, which helped a lot.


National curriculum assessments: key stage 2, 2016 (revised)

At the end of KS2:

35% of pupils on FSM achieved the expected level in reading, writing and maths; this compared to 57% of all other children

14% of all pupils with SEN achieved the expected level in reading, writing and maths; this compared to 62% of pupils with no identified SEN 

Data on coasting schools was also released showing that 477 primary schools have been identified as meeting the coasting definition in 2016. This represents 3% of schools included in the coasting calculation.

The east of England has the highest proportion of coasting schools (6%), with London and the north east with the lowest (1%)

Department for Education- FE

Further education area reviews: standards colleges can expect, 10th January

This provides details of what colleges can expect from the teams carrying out further education area reviews in their area.

Further education area reviews: policy and reports

 The following were published on 10th January. Each shows the how FE can be more closely aligned with particular local needs. In the Black Country, there is a need to address poor engagement in education, lack of qualifications and higher number of NEETS- one clear recommendation in this area review is the need for FE colleges to offer more apprenticeships. In Liverpool City and Coventry and Warwick there is a need for greater collaboration and a more coherent approach for those with SEN and widening the breadth of the apprenticeships. In Cumbria the focus is on sustaining he presence of strong FE provision and provision of higher level technical skills to meet the needs of local employers. In Hampshire, there is a focus on FE colleges and sixth forms developing partnerships/ becoming Academy Trusts to provide support to local schools; andin the Black country the focus is on Specific details on each are available at the following:

Cumbria further education area review report

Liverpool city region further education area review report

Coventry and Warwickshire further education area review report

Black Country further education area review report

North and mid-Hampshire further education area review report

16 to 19 accountability headline measures

In 2016 the government introduced five new accountability headline measures for schools, colleges and other institutions providing education for 16-19 year olds. From 2017 the government will expand the performance tables to include level 2 outcomes and will introduce disadvantage measures showing how students who were eligible for the pupil premium in year 11 compare to their peers in each of the five headline measures. From 2018 the government is planning to include apprenticeships and work based learning in performance tables. This update provides key dates and further guidance for all 16-19 year old providers on the new measures in the 2016 performance tables.

Department for Education: Early Years

Families to benefit from £50 million boost to childcare schemes, 10th January 2017

The Education Secretary Justine Greening announced a £50 million grant scheme to provide thousands of new childcare places. The government has confirmed a list of successful projects benefitting from grants worth £50 million, which will help to deliver the government’s landmark 30 hours free childcare offer. The confirmed projects will create almost 9,000 free places for eligible 3- and 4-year-olds, saving parents around £5,000 per year when it is rolled out from next September. Almost 200 nurseries and pre-schools will receive a share of this funding to invest in new buildings, convert old ones and upgrade facilities. Some of this funding will be invested in the Education Secretary’s opportunity areas which are: Blackpool; Derby; Norwich; Oldham; Scarborough and west Somerset


Local area SEND inspection outcome letters, 13th January

The following Outcome letters from inspections of local area services for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities are published:

  • Bexley - published 13 December 2016

  • Bolton - published 14 July 2016

  • Brighton and Hove - published 14 July 2016

  • Derbyshire - published 12 January 2017

  • Enfield - published 24 August 2016

  • Gloucestershire - published 3 August 2016

  • Herefordshire - published 22 November 2016

  • Hertfordshire - published 7 September 2016

  • North Yorkshire - published 23 November 2016

  • Nottinghamshire - published 10 August 2016

  • Plymouth - published 7 December 2016

  • Rochdale - published 9 November 2016

  • Sefton - published 13 January 2017

  • Stoke - published 8 September 2016

  • Surrey - published 8 December 2016


Prince’s Trust 2017 Macquarie Youth Index

Published on 9th January, the annual survey of approximately 2,200 young people between the ages of 16 and 25 showed that they were less optimistic about their future than they have been in previous years.

Key findings showed that:

45% said that they did not believe in themselves when they were at school.

48% said that they experienced problems during their school years that prevented them from concentrating on their academic work.

28% do not feel in control of their lives

36% do not feel in control of their job prospects

18% do not think they have the ability to change their circumstances if they want to

Dame Martina Milburn, chief executive of the Prince’s Trust, said: “This report paints a deeply concerning picture of a generation who feel their ability to shape their own future is slipping away from them.”

Early Math Trajectories: Low-Income Children's Mathematics Knowledge From Ages 4 to 11, Rittle Johnson et al., Child Development. December 2016

Early mathematics knowledge is a strong predictor of later academic achievement, but children from low-income families enter school with weak mathematics knowledge. An early math trajectories model is proposed and evaluated within a longitudinal study of 517 low-income American children from ages 4 to 11. Findings show that by the end of first grade, symbolic mapping, calculation, and patterning knowledge were the important predictors. Furthermore, the first-grade predictors mediated the relation between preschool math knowledge and fifth-grade mathematics achievement. Findings support the early math trajectories model among low-income children.

Other Government

EEF announcement, 13th January: Making the best use of Teaching Assistants

New evidence from the EEF has shown that when Teaching Assistants (TAs) are trained to deliver structured one-on-one or small group interventions they typically add 3-4 additional months of educational progress for struggling pupils, compared with more standard ways of using TAs. 

In order to support the best use of teaching assistants, the EEF has partnered with the TES to create a free online course. This includes practical examples of how to implement the recommendations, as well as interviews with head-teachers who have changed the way they deploy their TAs and step-by-step guidance. The course, hosted on the EEF website, consists of text, video, curated links and downloadable documents.


General Teaching Council Scotland Response to Education Governance Review, 10th January  

The GTCS called for head teachers to have “more direct ownership” over the appointment and deployment of staff, as well as greater freedom in deciding how to spend money on driving up attainment.

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations

National curriculum assessments: key stage 2, 2016 (revised)- the gap of 48% between the performance of SEN pupils at KS2 and those with no identified SEN is too big. Achievement for All is doing a lot to address this and should be working with more schools.

And Coasting schools- Achievement for All can work with schools that are at risk of falling into the coasting definition. There is a particular need to work with primary schools in the East of England.

Prime Minister unveils plans to transform mental health support, 9th January 2017

Schools working with Achievement for All have a better focus on children’s well-being through the Schools framework- can this be further developed?

Local area SEND inspection outcome letters, 13th January

Some of the inspection letters highlighted parent dissatisfaction with aspects of the new system. Achievement for All provides a platform for schools to better engage parents and carers- particularly through the structured conversation. Could this be further developed for local area SEND provision? 

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