12th January 2018

Department for Education

Damian Hinds appointed Secretary of State for Education, 10th January 2018

Following the resignation of Justine Greening, Damian Hinds was appointed Secretary of State for Education. He is a former member of the Commons Education Select Committee and once chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility – a key issue for both the prime minister.

He said:

“I am honoured to be appointed Education Secretary…..We are here to make sure young people and adults in this country have the chance to make the most of their talents and get on in life. That means more good school places and giving people the chance to learn and upskill throughout their lives with high-quality degrees, apprenticeships and other technical and vocational qualifications…….Working with the teaching profession, educational staff, businesses and employers, I want to continue to build on this fantastic record…….’

Education Secretary makes first visit to Cambridgeshire school, 11th January 2018

Damien Hinds was given a tour of St Andrew’s Church of England Primary School in Soham, one of nearly 19,000 good or outstanding schools across the country, which included watching pupils taking lessons. Pupils in Year 5 showed him around the school library and asked him about the world of politics, ahead of a forthcoming visit they have to the Houses of Parliament.

St Andrew’s – which is in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, one of the Department for Education’s twelve Opportunity Areas – has a strong focus on encouraging every child to realise their potential and raising standards. Recent results have shown pupils are above average for reading.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

‘It has been an absolute pleasure to meet the talented and hardworking teachers at St Andrew’s and meet school children benefiting from a school which is inspiring them to make the most of their lives………’

Boost for school standards with primary literacy drive, 6th January: News Story

The government announced the following to boost literacy in early years and primary education; the initiatives support the delivery of the Social Mobility Plan – Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling potential.

Programmes announced include:

  • A new Centre of Excellence for Literacy Teaching that will set up a national network of 35 English Hubs across the country – backed by £26 million investment - to work with schools in challenging circumstances and help raise standards. The centre will also promote and share effective practice with a particular focus on language and literacy teaching in reception. This mirrors the already successful approach with Maths Hubs – high performing schools which share their knowledge with other schools locally;

  • From April 2018, new phonics and reading partnerships will be set up, to drive improvements in teaching and encouraging more pupils to enjoy reading a wide range of literature. Another 20 phonics and reading roadshows will also be run across the country and include a specific focus on reception teaching;

  • £5.7 million through the Strategic School Improvement Fund for initiatives that boost literacy and numeracy skills in early years and primary education in 469 schools around the country, benefitting around 40,000 children; and

  • Inviting organisations to bid for the contract to launch a £5 million fund to trial approaches across the North of England that will help parents and carers to support early language development at home.


30 hours free childcare: eligibility codes issued and validated, 11th January 2018

This provides management information on the number of 30 hours free childcare codes issued and validated for the spring 2018 term. Findings show, a decrease in the number of eligibility codes as a percentage of codes issued suggesting a low take up of places in some areas:

  • Eligibility codes issued by 8th January 326,068
  • Eligibility codes validated by 8th January 266,494
  • Eligibility codes validated as a percentage of codes issued 82%


Amanda Spielman's speech at the Association for Science Education Annual Conference 2018, 8th January

Speaking at the conference at Liverpool University, Amanda Spielman, spoke not only about Science education, but education in general. She said:

‘…..While there are some, there are still too few schools that think deeply enough about how the curriculum works – from the material that is introduced, to the frequency and context in which it is revisited, learned and eventually mastered, and how links are made across the entirety of the curriculum.

This paucity of debate means that exam grades and stickers have filled the void that the lack of curriculum focus has vacated. Success in exams has often become more important than the real substance of education…..’

In the context of managing workload, she said:

‘…..Turning to what schools can do, I want to be clear that we won’t be creating an ‘Ofsted-approved’ curriculum for schools to follow. For that reason, our renewed focus on the curriculum does not imply mountains of paperwork on curriculum plans. On the contrary, I hope that a greater emphasis on the curriculum means teachers spend less time analysing performance data and more time considering the real substance of education…..’

She went on to consider the idea of schools having a two- year KS3 phase, with the extra year being spent on GCSE work.

Social care commentary: children's homes, 9th January 2018

Eleanor Schooling writes that it is possible for homes to support ‘hard-to-place’ children and still achieve a good or better inspection outcome. She says:

‘……around one in 12 children live in children’s homes. Too often, children’s homes do not get the recognition they deserve for the significant role they play in some children’s lives. For some children, residential care is a positive option and it should be seen as such. Did you know that our latest statistics show that 82% of children’s homes are good or outstanding? It might not grab the headlines, but it is a real achievement by the sector…..’

The author identifies the following areas as those which homes find the most challenging and considers how they can deal with them: supporting children with their behavior; child sexual exploitation; children who go missing and supporting children with autism and disabilities.

In the context of autism and disabilities, the author says:

‘…Many homes specialise in caring for children with autistic spectrum disorder or other complex disabilities, and do so very well. This group of children has unique needs, so specialist training and expertise are essential to ensure that children achieve the very best outcomes. Those homes doing particularly well first and foremost ensure that placements are stable. Staff in the best homes: have an in-depth understanding of children’s needs; are nurturing and show emotional warmth towards children….’

She goes on to cite similar practical examples of what some homes are doing to support children and young people with autism and disabilities.

Early Years

Complaint and compliance action summaries: guidance for inspectors, 8th January

Guidance for Ofsted inspectors writing outcome summaries for providers on the Early Years and/or Childcare Registers. The guidance has been republished with the following update: Ofsted will no longer publish outcome summaries after an inspection (the inspection report will cover details of actions taken) and reports will be shorter, focusing on the breach of regulation and actions taken rather than the concern that was raised.

Become a childminder: pre-registration briefing, 9th January 2018

Republished to make the text more readable. There are no policy changes. 

Further Education 

Further education and skills inspections and outcomes: management information from December 2015, 10th January 2018

Published management information as at 31 December 2017. 


Using Ofsted’s IDSR: early years foundation stage profile to key stage 5, 10th January 2018 - first published January 2017

This has been republished to include an anonymised secondary example of the inspection data summary report for use in training.

School inspections and outcomes: management information, 12th January 2018

Published monthly management information as at 31 December 2017.

Diocese of Leicester Academies Trust: inspection outcome letter, 12th January 2018

Although one academy is outstanding, five academies are good, five academies require improvement and three academies are yet to be inspected since joining the Trust (all of which are currently judged to be good); Ofsted has made the following recommendations:

  • Establish and communicate effectively a clear vision for the Trust’s purpose and aims

  • Ensure that the Trust’s strategic plans are sufficiently precise and detailed, so that all those involved are clear about their role and responsibilities in bringing about improvement

  • Establish effective lines of communication and accountability between local governing bodies and directors

  • Improve the progress and attainment of pupils by the end of key stage 2, particularly those who are disadvantaged

  • Improve disadvantaged pupils’ rates of attendance and reduce the proportion of those who are persistently absent from school

  • Ensure that the Trust acts more swiftly to support and challenge academies when weaknesses are identified.


Employer engagement in education: Insights from international evidence for effective practice and future research January 2018, by Anthony Mann, Jordan Rehill and Elnaz T. Kashefpakdel: Education Endowment Foundation

Employer engagement in education can include activities like reading support programmes that aim to boost attainment, or activities like mentoring or work experience that are designed to influence attitudes and aspirations.

The researchers, reviewed the literature base and identified four broad areas of employer engagement in education that could benefit young people:

1. Boost young people’s understanding of jobs and careers

Broadening and raising career aspirations and supporting young people to make decisions on what to study, where to study, and how hard to study.

2. Providing the knowledge and skills demanded by the contemporary labour market

Helping young people to build the skills that modern workplaces need, such as creative problem-solving and team-working.

3. Providing the knowledge and skills demanded for successful school-to-work transitions

Giving young people relevant work experiences as well as practical insights into how recruitment processes work and contemporary workplaces operate.

4. Enriching education and underpinning pupil attainment

Using employers to support teaching resources for the classroom and helping young people to see the connection between what they learn at school and employment outcomes.

The review will inform the EEF’s grant-making, as they look to grow the evidence around careers education and employer engagement in education. 

Straw, S. (2018). Evaluation of The SpringBoard Bursary Foundation: Year 4. Slough: NFER. 12th January

NFER is undertaking an evaluation of The SpringBoard Bursary Foundation (SpringBoard) between 2013 and 2018. This report presents the findings of the fourth year of the evaluation.

Established in 2012, SpringBoard aims to transform the lives of disadvantaged young people through providing full bursaries at state and independent boarding schools.

Key Findings:

SpringBoard continues to positively transform the lives of pupils, as well as achieving wider impacts. In particular:

  • The tripartite and ongoing support from partners, member schools and SpringBoard is central to the success of the programme, enabling pupils to quickly settle and thrive at boarding school.

  • Pupils are experiencing impacts in four key areas: academic progress and attainment; raised aspirations, broadened horizons and enhanced future prospects; improved social skills and interactions and increased awareness of social diversity; and increased confidence and well-being. Many of these impacts are a result of pupils benefitting from a stable and secure environment.

  • Wider impacts include: the development of the knowledge, skills and personal satisfaction of boarding school staff; raised awareness of social diversity within schools and SpringBoard pupils acting as positive role models; and other young people in SpringBoard pupils’ home communities aspiring to follow in their footsteps or having raised aspirations.




£2,000 Project grants to develop global learning

The Global Learning Programme -Wales is offering all schools the opportunity to apply for a £2,000 grant to carry out a specific project.  The application process is very straightforward and you can find the application form and guidance on the title link.

The deadline for submissions is Thursday, January 18th, 2018.


Primary Action Research, 9th January

Engaging underachieving groups of learners within mathematics using IZak9

Applications are welcomed from individual schools/groups of schools/cluster of schools to participate in a project using the commercial resource IZak9 to develop pupil’s number fluency, problem solving skills and reasoning ability in an innovative and collaborative approach. 

This project is specifically designed for year 5 and 6 teachers, and successful teachers will lead their own action research to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics. 


BookTrust Cymru Oracy Projects

BookTrust Cymru has been looking at ways of developing our current Welsh-Government funded programmes to increase oracy-related outcomes. 

Their work is focusing on piloting Pori Drwy Stori for Nursery children, supporting the current Pori Drwy Stori programme and piloting an Early Years Letterbox offer for children wo are looked after. It will also include a small oracy-focused addition to the Bookstart Dechrau Da packs (usually given to families at 6 and 27 months). 

This announcement is to update contacts shared by the Languages, Literacy and Communication and Cross Curriculum Responsibilities Branch to update Consortia contacts on project progress. The key contact in the Branch is Joanne Sharp. 

Book Trust Cymru welcome feedback and input from partners in all areas of their work.


For Achievements in speech, language and communication - The Shine a Light Awards 2018, The Communication Trust

Back by demand and presented by a secret celebrity host, this year’s awards on 22nd March 2018 feature the following categories:

  • The Katie Rough Memorial Award for innovative or excellent practice in work with children and young people affected by selective mutism – a new category held in honour of Katie Rough who had selective mutism, and sadly died at the age of 7 this year

  • Child / Young Person of the Year Award

  • Early Years Setting of the Year Award

  • Primary School of the Year Award

  • Secondary School or College of the Year Award

  • SEN School or Group of the Year Award

  • Youth Justice of the Year Award

  • SLCN Innovation Award

  • Communication Champion Award

  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication Award

  • Pearson Outstanding Achievement Award

The awards website is now open for applications. Further details on how to apply can be found at www.shinealightawards.co.uk. Applications must be received by 11:59 pm on the 23 January 2018 to be considered

News Wise: helping primary pupils tackle fake news, 12th January: National Literacy Trust

Launching in autumn 2018, the pilot programme of News Wise will provide teachers of pupils in Years 5 and 6 with a suite of curriculum-based lesson plans and online resources, as well as school workshops delivered by journalists.

National Literacy Trust developed News Wise in partnership with the Guardian Foundation and the PSHE Association. The programme is being funded by Google for the pilot year.

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said:

“In this digital age, children who can’t question and determine the reliability of the information they find online will be hamstrung – at school, at work and in life. Worryingly, our research shows that this is a reality for far too many children across the UK. Working with the Guardian Foundation, PSHE Association and Google, we will help children develop the critical literacy skills they need to survive and thrive in a digital world.”

Schools can register to take part: Register your interest in News Wise today.

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations

Amanda Spielman's speech at the Association for Science Education Annual Conference 2018, 8th January

Amanda Spielman says evidence shows that ‘..too few schools think deeply enough about how the curriculum works – from the material that is introduced, to the frequency and context in which it is revisited, learned and eventually mastered, and how links are made across the entirety of the curriculum. This paucity of debate means that exam grades and stickers have filled the void that the lack of curriculum focus has vacated….’

This is not the case at schools working with Achievement for All, where there is a whole school approach, initiated through a needs analysis, to achieving better outcomes for all pupils.