Department for Education

Justine Greening: education at the heart of our plan for Britain, 13th April 2017: Speech

The Education Secretary set out her vision to support all young people to access a good school and make the most of their talents in her speech at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham.

Outlining the Prime Minister’s plan for Britain she said:

‘But the final part of the plan for Britain is a fairer society - a society based on merit. And delivering a fairer society surely must start with education and our schools - making sure that our children and young people can do their very best and reach their potential, wherever they’re growing up. That’s the means by which we build a better country. It’s how we build a better Britain. In short, we are the means. Our country’s people. Each and every one of us’.

She went on to outline the following key areas where change was needed/change had been made in education:

Reforms have taken steps to improve quality and diversity (with all children being taught well, supported through the new gold standard in curriculum and assessment and the expectation that the majority of children will study the EBacc subjects).

‘We need an education system that works for everyone’, she said, ‘including ordinary working families (good schools for everyone); What gets measured gets done (closer monitoring of wider outcomes for families); more schools that work for everyone (more disadvantaged children attending grammar schools- she said: universities, independent schools and faith schools can have a real role in creating better options for parents. And I believe that selection - in new 21st-century state grammar schools - will add to the options available to young people, to truly help make the most of their talents’.) and finally, a country that works for everyone’.

Careers guidance provision for young people in schools, Statutory Guidance (first published March 2015, republished with updates), 12th April 2017.

This has been republished to include updated information about the new single national careers quality award (paragraph 67)- details as follows:

67. In developing careers provision for pupils, there are currently three aspects of quality assurance that schools should take into consideration:

The quality of the school careers programme. The Government recommends that all schools should work towards the national quality award for careers education, information, advice and guidance as an effective means of carrying out a self-review and external evaluation of the school’s programme– this is the Quality in Careers Standard.

The quality of independent careers providers. The recognised national quality standard for information, advice and guidance (IAG) services is the matrix Standard. To achieve the Standard, organisations will need to demonstrate that they provide a high quality and impartial service. Schools can access an online register of organisations accredited to the matrix Standard.

The quality of careers professionals working with the school. The Career Development Institute has developed a set of professional standards for careers advisers, a register of advisers holding postgraduate qualifications and guidelines on how advisers can develop their own skills and gain higher qualifications. The main qualifications for careers professionals are the Qualification in Career Guidance (QCG) and the Level 6 Diploma in Career Guidance and Development. Schools can view a register of careers professionals or search for a career development professional who can deliver a particular service or activity.

Congratulatory letters for schools at key stage 4, 19th April 2017

A list of schools which received a congratulatory letter from the Minister of State for School Standards Nick Gibb based on their 2016 key stage 4 results.

Governance handbook and competency framework, 21st April 2017 (republished with the following update)

Added 'Clerking competency framework'.

More than 130 new free schools to create more good places, 12th April 2017: Press Release

The Department for Education announced the approval of 131 new schools, creating more than 69,000 places. These schools will be led by high-performing institutions, including a grammar-school-led multi-academy trust (MAT) and the largest state boarding school in the country, demonstrating how existing high-performing schools can help raise attainment more widely, as set out in the government’s education proposals.

Nick Gibb: England’s education reforms- speech at the Centre for Independent Studies, Sydney, Australia, 11th April: Speech.

In his speech, Nick Gibb outlined the impact of the education reforms in England since 2010 and how he hoped that ‘hearing about England’s recent education reforms will help to inform education policy in New South Wales’. Mentioning ‘Greg Ashman (Australian blogger), a prolific writer, as well as a researcher and classroom teacher’, he went on to say that ‘his blogs dissect constructivist and so-called ‘child-centred’ teaching approaches with robust research and he advocates powerfully for evidence-led practice in schools. His blog site, ‘Filling the pail’, is a must-read for anyone following the education debate’.

He concluded that:

‘The reforms that the government has enacted since 2010 demonstrate what it is possible to achieve when you provide teachers and head teachers with the autonomy, within the right framework of incentives, to drive improvement. By setting teachers free to innovate, spreading what works in these innovative schools and cultivating a culture in the profession that is prepared to challenge and engage with research, education will flourish’.

School to school (S2S) data transfer system: guides, 12th April 2017: Guidance (republished with updates)

The guidance, setting out how schools and local authorities access and use the S2S secure data transfer system has been republished to include updated S2S ULN service guide information with warnings about sending unsecured, personal information.

School census 2016 to 2017: guide for schools and Las, 19th April 2017 (republished with updates).

Republished to include -replaced document with version 1.6. The changes are described in the document's annex A.

Department for Education-Early Years

Tax-Free Childcare launches today for children under four, 21st April 2017: News Story

The government announced that working parents of children, who will be aged under 4 on 31 August 2017, can now apply through the new digital childcare service for Tax-Free Childcare and receive a government top-up of £2 for every £8 that they pay into their Tax-Free Childcare account. All parents of disabled children (under 17 years old) will also be able to apply for Tax-Free Childcare.

In addition, parents of 2-3 year olds, who will be eligible for a 30 hours free childcare place in September, can apply through the childcare service and start arranging a place with their childcare provider.

The Childcare Choices website provides information on the government’s childcare schemes and explains how parents can pre-register or apply. It also includes a childcare calculator to show eligible families how much they could receive.

30 hours free childcare: LA and early years provider guide, 21st April 2017

The guide sets out:

  • What LAs should do to fulfil their statutory responsibilities
  • What early years settings should do to fulfil their agreement with the LA
  • How LAs and early years settings can support parents and children

Families to benefit from £55 million boost to childcare schemes, 11th April: Press Release

Early Years Minister Caroline Dinenage announced £50 million capital grants to help nurseries, pre-schools and playgroups. This will deliver more than 9,000 additional childcare places – helping to deliver the government’s commitment to give working families 30 hours free childcare from September.

Alongside this, nearly £5 million will go to organisations that are helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds or with additional needs to access high-quality early education, so that every child can reach their full potential, regardless of their background.

The £5 million of voluntary and community sector (VCS) grants will be shared among 13 projects working to improve the quality of early education and supporting professionals to deliver the 30 hours offer. This includes:

  • More than £1.5 million for 5 organisations working with parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), delivering workshops and training that will raise awareness of the support available for these families
  • Nearly £1.7 million to directly support disadvantaged children by boosting outreach programmes in areas such as early literacy and home learning
  • More than £1 million to groups working directly with providers, developing tools and resources to support the delivery of 30 hours

The government has also relaunched its Childcare Business Grant Scheme, aimed at supporting new childminders or childminder agencies who are looking to start their own businesses. Eligible professionals could receive grants of £500 or £1,000 to help with the costs of setting up, making it easier for those who want to offer 30 hours free childcare to prepare. Childminders will also benefit from grants to Action for Children and PACEY, worth £370,000 and £381,000, which will help upskill and empower them to deliver 30 hours and make sure their businesses are sustainable.

Supporting early years providers to run sustainable businesses (first published Dec 2016, republished with updates), 11th April 2017

The documents include:

  1. Insights from successful early years providers
  2. Childcare Works
  3. Future resources

Updates on the 11th April 2017 relate to information on new business sustainability resources for childcare providers.

Department for Education- FE

Public sector apprenticeship target (republished with updates), 21st April 2017

The document provides guidance for public bodies in scope of the public sector apprenticeship target. It has been republished with added guide list of bodies in scope of public sector apprenticeship target.

FE data library: apprenticeship vacancies archive, 20th April 2017

Archive updated to include files for March 2017, which show a drop in the number of apprenticeship vacancies since the same time last year and since February 2017.

Institute for Apprenticeships: operational plan, 18th April 2017: Policy Paper.

This document provides details of the institute’s policies and functions and how it will:

  • Regulate the quality of apprenticeship proposals, standards and assessment plans
  • Collaborate with partners
  • Lead reforms to technical education
  • Implement the new system

16 to 18 level 3 value-added ready reckoner (first published Jan 2017, republished with updates), 12th April 2017

This provides a spreadsheet for schools and colleges to calculate level 3 value-added measures. It has been republished to correct the points table on the subject chart page.

Department for Education-Statistics

Pupil absence in schools in England: 2015 to 2016, 19th April 2017 (first published 23rd March 2017, republished with updates)

The underlying data file has been updated to include absence data by pupil residency and school location, and updated metadata document.

Department for Education-Consultations

Analysing family circumstances and education, 12th April, 2017

Closes: 30th June 2017 11.45am

The Government has set out its Plan for Britain, which aims to deliver the right deal for Britain abroad and a better deal for ordinary working people at home. Central to this plan is the education system. Currently, analysis of education data focuses on the educational experience of children captured within the Department’s measures of disadvantage. This means that the government has very limited understanding of the experiences of children in families with modest incomes compared to the experiences of children in the wealthiest 10% of families. By knowing more about the experience of these families in the education system, the government believes it can ensure it has the necessary insight to better inform policy making for ordinary working families – as is the case for disadvantaged children and children with special educational needs, and also to prevent discrimination based on gender and ethnicity.

The government would welcome views on:

Expanding the number of years for analysis to provide time-series and improve its ability to understand the links between family circumstances and education.

Developing the database to include more sources of income, for example from self-employment.

How to develop and improve the methodology for adjusting for housing costs.

The statistical analysis and methodology outlined in the document for looking at ordinary working families, and how to refer to them in DfE publications.

National fostering stocktake: call for evidence, 21st April 2017

Closes: 16th June 2017 5pm

Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers have been appointed by the Secretary of State for Education to conduct a National fostering stocktake. As a first step, they are seeking views on the current state of foster care in England and how the prospects of children in care might be improved through changes to fostering.
They would like to hear from the following about how to make fostering more effective in meeting the needs of children:

  • Practitioners
  • Academics
  • Foster carers
  • Children in care
  • Children and adults who have left care

They are considering:

  • The types of fostering currently offered by providers
  • The status, role and function of foster carers in relation to other professionals
  • How we commission, regulate and inspect fostering settings
  • What works best in fostering settings to improve outcomes for children and young people
  • How we can improve the experiences of young people entering foster care, transitioning between placements, and leaving foster care


School inspections outcomes: management information as at 31st March 2017

Management information published monthly and a one-off publication of inspection outcomes from 2005 to 2015.

Further education and skills inspections outcomes: management information as at 31st March 2017

Management information showing in-year and most recent inspection outcomes.


From inadequate to outstanding: making the UK skills system world class, April 2017: CIPD

The report by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) states that Britain is facing a severe skills shortage as poor education at schools followed by weak training for adults has left young workers struggling to meet basic standards for reading and maths. Its analysis found that England and Northern Ireland rank in the bottom four OECD countries for literacy and numeracy among 16-24 year olds, while employers invest less in skills than most other EU countries.

The report raises concerns over Britain’s future after Brexit, when young people lack the skills needed for building a successful economy.

Hillary, J., Bamford, S., Bernardinelli, D. and Gee, G. (2017). A Tale of Eight Regions. Part 2: Challenge and Support Across the Regional Schools Commissiioner Areas. Slough: NFER, 20th April 2017.

NFER has analysed the latest performance data of all schools in England and identified the number of schools in each of the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) areas that require support in order to improve. It found dramatic regional differences in the level of challenge faced by individual RSCs.

Two of the eight RSC regions (Lancashire and West Yorkshire, and East Midlands and the Humber) have more than 500 underperforming schools in each of their jurisdictions. These same two regions also have the most schools in immediate need that are likely to require rapid attention. In contrast, the North of England has nearly half this number of underperforming schools.

Researchers also investigated the capacity of Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) to expand to take on and provide support to the most seriously underperforming schools in the different regions. Although nationally there appears to be available capacity among existing MATs, at a regional level there are stark differences.

Lancashire and West Yorkshire region faces the most serious shortfall in available sponsors although most other RSCs could face supply shortfalls when matching schools in need with available capacity. A priority for these RSCs will be to identify and attract new sponsors.

Brandy et al. (2017), Mindfulness-based interventions for improving cognition, academic achievement, behavior, and socioemotional functioning of primary and secondary school students, USA: Campbell collaboration

The study examines the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) implemented in school settings on cognition, behaviour, socio-emotional outcomes and academic achievement. MBIs are interventions that use a mindfulness component, broadly defined as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally”, and is often combined with yoga, cognitive-behavioural strategies, or relaxation-skills training. 61 studies are included in the review, but only the 35 randomised or quasi-experimental studies are used in the meta-analysis, with a total of 6,207 pupil participants. Most of the studies were carried out in schools in the US (74%), with some in Asia (5%), Europe (16%) and Canada (5%).

The findings show that MBIs in schools have a small positive effect on cognitive outcomes and socio-emotional outcomes, but do not improve behaviour or academic achievement. Overall, Brandy Maynard and colleagues find a lack of support at post-test to indicate that the positive effects on cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes then translate into positive outcomes on behaviour and academic achievement.

Thousands of children seeking help for 'loneliness', 13th April 2017: Children and Young People Now

More than 4,000 children contacted the Childline telephone support service for help after suffering loneliness last year because they were feeling isolated and "lonely". Girls were more likely than boys to contact Childline about loneliness. This was the first year the organisation collected data about the problem, after noticing a rise in calls related to the issue.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said :"What is clear is that the world is becoming an increasingly complex place to grow up in with children and teenagers' facing daily pressures to achieve what society defines as a successful life - grades, relationships, physical appearance. It is therefore vital that children and teenagers have people around them, in particular parents, who they can really open up to about how they are feeling."

See also Schoolchildren will get access to NHS mental health workers in wake of Prince Harry's 'brave' intervention, 18th April: The Telegraph

Teacher Polling 2017, Sutton Trust, 12th April 2017

The survey of 1,361 teachers, conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research for Sutton Trust as part of their Teachers Voice Omnibus survey, highlights how budget cuts are affecting schools across the country. Findings showed that:

Almost a third (30%) of heads say the funding they get for poorer pupils is being used to plug gaps in their school’s budget.

32% of senior leaders in primary schools said they’re using their pupil premium funding in this way, slightly more than those who teach in secondary schools (27%).

Almost two-thirds (65%) of the secondary school heads polled said that their school had cut back on teaching staff to save money.

Four-fifths (80%) said they had cut back on either teaching staff or teaching assistants and 50% said they had cut both.

Primary school heads were much less likely to report that their school had got rid of teaching staff (21%), over half (54%) still said their teaching assistants had been cut and over a quarter (29%) said their support staff had been cut back.

Poorer children half as likely to get into best schools, research shows, Richard Adams, 17th April, The Guardian

Children from poor families are only half as likely to get places in outstanding schools compared with their wealthier peers, according to new research published on the eve of national primary school offer day in England.

Only 15% of children from the poorest 30% of families currently attend a primary school rated as outstanding by Ofsted inspectors, compared with 27% of children from the richest 30% of families. Eleven per cent of children from the poorest families attend a primary school rated as inadequate or requiring improvement, Ofsted’s two lowest tiers, compared with 6% of children from the richest households.

Brett Wigdortz of Teach First said: “These figures show that social mobility remains a serious issue in our country.”

Also see ‘National Offer Day for primary schools will show just how misguided government policy has become’, Bowen, 18th April: TES

And Analysis: Primary school offer day, 18th April: Education Policy Institute

And Proportion of children getting place at their preferred primary school rises, analysis finds, 18th April : TES


Students’ Well-Being: PISA 2015 Results, OECD, 19th April 2017

The research based on a survey of 540,000 students in 72 participating countries and economies, who took PISA test s show that:

Parents can make a big difference. Students whose parents reported “spending time just talking to my child”, “eating the main meal with my child around a table” or “discussing how well my child is doing at school” regularly were between 22% and 39% more likely to report high levels of life satisfaction. The academic impact is also significant: students who spent time talking with their parents were two-thirds of a school year ahead in science learning, and even after accounting for socio-economic status, the advantage remains at one-third of a school year.

Bullying was a major issue in schools, with a large proportion of students reporting being victims. On average across OECD countries, around 4% of students – roughly one per class – reported that they are hit or pushed at least a few times per month, a percentage that varies from 1% to 9.5% across countries. Bullying is lower in schools where students have positive relationships with their teachers. Parents need to be involved in school planning and responses to bullying, and schools need to collaborate with other institutions and services to put in place comprehensive prevention and response plans.

On average across OECD countries, most 15-year-old students are happy with their lives, reporting a level of 7.3 on a scale of life satisfaction that ranges from 0 to 10. But there are large variations across countries: while less than 4% of students in the Netherlands said that they were not satisfied with their life, more than 20% of students in Korea and Turkey were. Girls and disadvantaged students are less likely than boys and advantaged students to report high levels of life satisfaction. The lower life satisfaction reported by 15-year-old girls in PISA is possibly a reflection of girls’ harsh self-criticism, particularly related to their image of their own bodies at a time when they are undergoing major physical changes. PISA 2015 does not collect data on students’ body image, but the results on eating habits reveal that girls were much more likely than boys to skip breakfast and more likely to skip dinner.

See also BBC Parents make a big difference just by talking, Andreas Schleicher, OECD education director, 19th April 2017

Decision to retain forced maths and English GCSE resits ‘extremely’ disappointing, Paul Offard, FE Week, 10th April 2017

FE Week had been told by multiple senior sources that the policy to retain forced maths and English GCSE resits was going to be scrapped – which would allow all such students to study functional skills. Confirmation of this was expected in funding guidance for 2017/18.

But the document, now published online by the new Education and Skills Funding Agency, appears to show no change, with the key section stating: “Full time students starting their study programme who have a grade three or D GCSE, or equivalent qualification in maths and/or English, must be enrolled on a GCSE, rather than an approved stepping stone qualification”

Association of Employment and Learning Providers’ director of research and development, Paul Warner, said, ‘We’re extremely disappointed. A functional skill level two is equally indicative of ability as a GCSE grade C/four’

Teach maths in the morning to boost grades, R. Vaughan, i News, 11th April 2017

A study by Velichka Dimitrova a researcher at Royal Holloway, University of London, suggests maths should be taught in the mornings to boost results. Analysing a data set documenting academic achievement, absence rates and class schedules for over a decade within a Bulgarian high school, Dimitrova found there were optimal times of the day to study different types of subjects; subjects like maths which require repetition should be taught in the mornings, whereas history can be taught in the afternoon.

The study concludes: "The findings indicate that afternoon classes lowered maths test scores and increased history test scores, which relate to psychology and neuroscience research about optimal functioning in different times of the day.”

Dimitrova said: "Rearranging school schedules in a more optimal way does not require investment of additional resources and could be a cost-effective intervention leading to improvements in academic performance."

See also the Telegraph

Teachers trained via school-led routes more likely to go into classroom, 11th April 2017, Schools Week

The Good Teacher Training Guide 2017, published by University of Buckingham, has shown that school-based teacher training routes are getting teachers into classrooms at higher rates than university providers. The guide shows the top ten providers based on the entry qualifications of trainees, the course quality (its Ofsted grade), and how many trainees achieved qualified teacher status after completing courses in 2014-15.

Eight of the ten are school-centred providers, with the King Edward’s Consortium – which provides training in a range of Birmingham schools – coming highest among them. The University of Cambridge is at the top with Loughborough University as the only other university in the top ten.

While trainee numbers are falling, the report found “reasons for optimism” that nine in ten trainees on school-based programmes took up teaching posts in the following year, compared to eight in ten (79 per cent) who trained via university-led courses.

Professor Alan Smithers, one of the report’s authors, said the difference could be explained by trainees in schools being more committed to teaching, and schools selecting trainees “more carefully” than universities given trainees are future colleagues.

The study found teacher training places on university courses had fallen by a third since 2009 (from 30,246, to 20,195), in line with the government’s drive towards an “increasingly school-led initial teacher training system”.