Department for Education

New funding to boost schools facilities and healthy lifestyles, 28th February.

Schools- primary, secondary and sixth-form colleges-are to receive £415 million to help pupils benefit from healthier, more active lifestyles. They will be able to use the funding to pay for facilities to support physical education (PE), after-school activities and healthy eating.

Schools will also be able to use the new healthy pupil’s capital programme to improve facilities for children with physical conditions or support young people struggling with mental health issues.

Department for Education- Early Years

Early years (under 5s) foundation stage framework (EYFS), 3rd March

The EYFS framework published in March 2014 remains in force until 2 April 2017. The EYFS framework published on 3 March 2017 will come into force on 3 April 2017.

Supporting material is available on the Foundation Years website, with a one page outline of all changes.

An outline of changes is also provided by PACEY

See also Early education and childcare, statutory guidance for local authorities, which also includes details on:

  • the introduction of 30 hours free childcare

  • how local authorities should pay providers to deliver free places

  • the requirement that local authorities publish information about childcare in their area, including free childcare entitlements

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

A model agreement for free early years provision and childcare is also available.

Government response to Literacy and numeracy qualification requirements for Level 3 early years educator staff, 3rd March  

The requirement for staff to hold a level 3 early years educator (EYE) qualification and GCSEs came into force on 1 September 2014 and was not applied retrospectively. In the last year the government has heard that employers and training providers are having difficulty recruiting level 3 candidates because they do not have the qualifications.

Half of respondents (50.2%) selected level 2 functional skills as the ‘most appropriate’ literacy qualification. Just over a quarter of respondents (28.0%) stated that a bespoke qualification should be developed, and almost a fifth (18.7%) that GCSE grade C or above was the most appropriate. As a proportion, more respondents from nursery schools attached to a primary or infants’ school and local authorities selected the GCSE option than the other types of respondent.

Responses regarding appropriate mathematics qualifications followed a similar pattern to those for English. Support for functional skills was 53.8% and for a bespoke qualification 32.3%. However, there was less support for the mathematics GCSE at 11.4%


As a result of these findings, the current minimum requirement for level 3 EYEs to hold GCSEs in English and mathematics to count in staff: child ratios as set out in the EYFS has been broadened to include other suitable level 2 qualifications, including functional skills, with effect from 3 April 2017

Early Years workforce Strategy, March 3rd 2017

The Department for Education has published its workforce strategy for early years; the aim is to increase recruitment and retention. To this end the strategy outlines the following government plans:

  • staff with an Early Years Educator (EYE) qualification and any level 2 English and maths qualification will count in the level 3 staff: child ratio

  • consulting on allowing those with Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS), and its predecessor Early Years Professional Status (EYPS), to lead nursery and reception classes in maintained schools

  • Conduct a feasibility study by March 2018 into developing a programme that specifically seeks to grow the graduate workforce in disadvantaged areas, to narrow the quality gap between settings in disadvantaged and more affluent areas. The government will engage the sector in exploring ways to target support where it is most needed

  • improve the quality of early years training and providing access to continuous professional development (CPD)

  • provide funding to support the sector to develop quality improvement support in partnership with schools and local authorities

Other government

Helping parents to parent, Clarke et al., 20 February 2017: Social mobility Commission

The report reviews the research literature on parenting behaviours and the extent to which public policy can support parents.The review explores universal parenting interventions in countries with a high index on social mobility, including Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Canada, as well as other countries such as Australia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ireland, China (specifically Hong Kong), and the United States of America.

The review aims to answer the following questions:

  • Can universal interventions positively influence the parenting behaviours and approaches that matter to child outcomes?
  • What has been shown to work, in the United Kingdom or abroad, or is showing signs of success?
  • To what extent are parenting behaviours and approaches that matter to child outcomes amenable to public policy interventions?
  • To what extent is there evidence of other ways to mitigate the impact of poverty on parents and the home learning environment?

Findings suggest that:

Parenting styles which combine warmth with firmness in setting boundaries, secure attachment between children and parents and the provision of a supportive home learning environment can improve children’s outcomes.

Interventions which focus on the following tend to be the most successful: parenting style; the creation of a supportive home learning environment; relationships within the family; and parental stress and mental health.

The most successful parenting interventions appear to include a focus on equipping parents with a greater understanding of child development (e.g. All Children in focus in Sweden)

Home visiting programmes, alongside services delivered to groups of parents, appear to have moderate to high levels of success.

See also the related press release

 Low income pupils’ progress at secondary school, Shaw et al., 27th February: Social mobility commission

The report, an analysis of national databases and a literature review, shows that young people from socio economic disadvantage make much less progress at secondary school than their more advantaged peers.

The report suggests that this is due to lower expectations for their achievement, along with the fact that they are more likely to be placed in lower ability sets and have less qualified teachers.

Most of the gap (88%) in progress stems from differences in achievement between children at the same school, rather than variations between schools (12%).

The research finds that poor pupils located in cities make more progress relative to their more affluent peers than those in rural areas and that the gap is greatest in large schools with average levels of pupil disadvantage.

It also finds that ethnic minority pupils make better progress at secondary schools than poor white children – partly because some evidence suggests that low-income ethnic minority parents seem to provide support that is more effective for their children at home.

Multi-Academy Trusts, 22nd February, House of Commons Education Committee.

The report outlines concerns about the expansion of MATs (their fast growth) and the accountability measures in place. The current picture across England is very mixed with academies in trusts at both the top and bottom of recent league tables. Six characteristics are outlined which the Trust believes are needed for their success: strong regional structures, robust financial controls, enhanced opportunities for career development and tangible accountability at all levels.

The report outlines the importance of the role of Ofsted and Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) in holding MATs to account as being crucial to the development of the MAT model.

There is also more work to be done to ensure that MATs are accountable to the communities in which their schools are located. There must be more engagement with parents and clarity around the role of local governing boards.

The role and responsibilities of local authorities as MATs expand in size and number must be clarified by the Government. Further to this the Government should recognise the experience and expertise of the highest performing local authorities and allow their education departments to create MATs.

There is also growing concern for ‘untouchable’ schools which trusts refuse to take on. The Government should ensure that schools which are under-performing are not left behind by a programme which was originally designed to support such schools.

High performing trusts have a role in sharing their best practice and we recommend the Government creates structures to enable this.


Local area SEND inspection outcome letters

East Sussex was published on 27th February

The vast majority of schools in East Sussex, including special schools, were judged to be good or better in their most recent Ofsted inspection. This presents a stronger picture of school provision for pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities than is seen nationally.

But the proportion of East Sussex pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities placed in non-maintained independent schools is higher than that seen nationally. Plans are well underway to increase the capacity of provision in the area and there are already additional resources in place for pupils with autism and social and emotional health needs. However, a few parents and carers are yet to be convinced that local provision can meet the needs of the children and young people with highly complex needs.

The Following documents have been published by Ofsted -updated for the new inspection arrangement from 1st April 2017.

Early Years Inspection Handbook, 2nd March

Inspecting registered childcare providers: guidance for inspectors, 2nd March

Early years provider non-compliance: action by Ofsted

Inspecting registered childcare providers: framework


Hooked on labels not on need, Report 2017, February: GL Assessment

A survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of GL Assessment found that a large majority of teachers (57%) think there is a misidentification of SEN in children; 54% say this is because of pressure from parents. 64% of teachers believed this was because some parents wanted a medical or psychological explanation rather than being willing to accept that their child had a classroom problem that could be addressed by a teacher. However, a large minority (39%) thought it was because some parents wanted a label to help their child gain a competitive advantage in exams, though a similar proportion (37%).  

Long-run comparisons of spending per pupil across different stages of education. Belfield et al.,27th February, Institute for Fiscal Studies  

Spending on education represents 4.5% of national income. After health it is the second largest public expense.

For the first time since the 1990s, spending per pupil is expected to fall by 6.5% in real terms, between 2015-2016 and 2019 and 2020.

The introduction of the National Funding Formula in 2018-2019 is the largest shake up in school funding formula over the last 25 years.

The single national formula will replace 152 different formula currently used by local authorities to allocate funding to schools. Transitional protections mean that no school will see cuts of more than 3% by 2019-2020 and no school will see an increase of more than 5.6%

See also: Funding plan will hit poor pupils hardest – campaigners, 1st March: BBC


Schools don't understand the skills employers need, Stem workers say, 28th February, TES

A survey for the Baker Dearing Education Trust of 1000 people aged between 20 and 35, currently working in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) careers, were asked about how well they felt their schooling had prepared them for work. Many felt that there was a fundamental misunderstanding between schools and Stem employers. 60 per cent believed that teachers did not have a sufficient understanding of the labour market. And a similar proportion – 63 per cent – said that schools did not understand which skills employers need.

More than half – 55 per cent – said that they had not understood as pupils how the subjects they studied at school could be used in the world of work. And 66 per cent said that students did not realise that the subjects they studied at school could affect their future.

45 per cent – said that the subjects they studied at school were useless in the world of work, with 61 per cent stating they would like to have studied technical skills instead.

Young people 'fear stigma' if they ask for mental-health help, 1st March: BBC

Almost half of 2,215 16- to 25-year-olds polled by YouGov for the Prince's Trust said they had experienced a mental health problem. A third of the young people sampled also said they would worry about appearing weak if they sought help, and most said they would not want to confide in anyone at all, with a third of these felt admitting to problems could harm their job chances.