19th January 2018

Department for Education

Drive to raise education standards in areas most in need, 19th January 2018: News Story

Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced the following focused on disadvantaged areas across the country:

  • More than £45million awarded to successful multi-academy trusts to help tackle underperformance and improve schools in areas that lack capacity;

  • 75 projects sharing £25million to provide more support for schools, many of which will increase pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills; and

  • The publication of the next six Opportunity Area plans in Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent.

Under the latest round of the Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF), 75 largely school-led initiatives will share £25million to help more children from disadvantaged backgrounds, including many to support to help master the basics of reading and maths in primary school. Overall, the SSIF is worth up to £280million over two years. It targets resources at the schools most in need to improve school performance, support teacher development and drive up pupil attainment.

Social mobility and opportunity areas, 19th January 2018 

The 6 latest opportunity area delivery plans have been added: Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent.

The delivery plans for the 12 opportunity areas outline how the government plans to build young people’s knowledge and skills and provide them with the best advice and opportunities. The selection methodology explains how the government decided which areas would be classified as ‘opportunity areas’. The 12 opportunity areas are: West Somerset; Norwich; Blackpool; North Yorkshire coast; Derby; Oldham; Bradford; Doncaster; Fenland and East Cambridgeshire; Hastings; Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent

Reducing teacher workload, 19th January 2018 

The document sets out what the government is doing to reduce unnecessary workload for teachers, including details of the workload challenge. It has been republished since November 2017 to include a register for events in Manchester, Sheffield, Exeter, London and Cambridge.


Local area SEND inspection outcome letters- Lancashire, 16th January 2018

In the context of education:

Leaders have not addressed the underachievement of children and young people who have SEN support or an EHC plan. The standards reached by these children are lower than those seen nationally at the end of early years and key stage 1.

At key stage 4, the progress made by young people who have an EHC plan or statement of SEN is the lowest 10% nationally.

The proportion of children and young people who have SEN and/or disabilities and are permanently excluded is too high. While the proportion of permanent exclusions has reduced in primary schools, it has increased exponentially for secondary-age pupils.

For those who have an EHC plan or statement of SEN it is more than four times the national average.

The local authority’s own information for 2016/17 shows a bleaker picture. Even though this has been the case for a number of years, insufficient action has been taken. The impact and pressure of this are felt particularly by special schools and pupil referral units, which are beyond capacity. Consequently, pupils are being inappropriately placed in schools and their experience of education worsens.

A number of parents reported a very poor transition experience for their children as they moved from mainstream primary to secondary. Although the transition itself was seen as well planned and managed, the experience has become less positive. Some children and young people and their parents told inspectors that some teachers do not know how to manage their special educational needs appropriately.

Outstanding providers, published on 13th December 2018, republished 15th January 2018

Removed references to a certificate as outstanding providers no longer receive this.

School inspections: staff and pupil questionnaire text, 16th January 2018

During Ofsted school inspections, staff and pupils can give their views via an online survey. Schools provide an online questionnaire to staff and pupils to fill in during inspections. Ofsted will give the school details of the online process when notifying them about the inspection.

Pupils can fill this in until the first day of the inspection at 11am. Staff can fill this in until the second day of the inspection at 11am.

These documents show the questions that the online questionnaire will ask. The questionnaires are confidential and complement evidence that inspectors gather from talking to pupils and staff during the inspection.

Department for Education: Early Years

EYFS staff: child ratios - DfE approved qualifications- republished, 16th January 2018

Lists of qualifications that meet the DfE criteria for counting in the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework staff: child ratios. This has been updated the pre-September 2014 spreadsheet with information about joint degrees and joint honours degrees.

Department for Education- Further Education 

Top college principals to drive improvements in further education, 18th January 2018: News Story

Country’s best principals appointed as National Leaders to use their expertise to support other colleges.

Some of the country’s top college principals have been appointed to a new group which will work with underperforming colleges to help drive up standards and improve quality of teaching.

The seven National Leaders of Further Education (NLFE) will provide support to the further education sector, to help improve provision so that more people have access to high quality education and training:

Name College
Lindsey Whiterod Tyne Coast College
Peter McGhee St John Rigby College
Gill Alton Grimsby Institute of Further & Higher Education
Lowell Williams Dudley College of Technology
David Gleed North Kent College


Graham Razey East Kent College & Canterbury Colleges
Paul Phillips Weston College

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said:

‘We have a number of fantastic leaders across the FE sector, who have already achieved great results. Now we want them to use their expertise and experience to help other colleges to improve.

This is an exciting new programme that will provide colleges with practical advice and support from experts within the sector, who have a proven track record of delivering results, giving learners a greater chance of gaining the skills and knowledge they need in later life.

It has also been announced that seven new members have been appointed to the Principals’ Reference Group, made up of experienced principals from good or outstanding colleges, who will advise and challenge the FE Commissioner and help inform policy development affecting colleges.

Additionally, more Deputy FE Commissioners and Advisers have been selected to support the FE Commissioner in leading interventions to help struggling FE and sixth form colleges.

Anne Milton: speech at Sixth Form Colleges Association conference, 17th January 2018

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister speaks to the Sixth Form Colleges Association about the importance of social mobility in post-16 education

Anne Milton spoke about the need for ‘all post-16 education to be prestigious and you are the key leaders in providing consistency and continuity up to and beyond the introduction of T-levels, encouraging pupils into the direction that is right for them and allowing them to be achieve their potential….

She went on to say: ‘You know, and I know, how powerful the education and the college environment you provide is for social mobility. Social mobility is dependent on education. A few succeed without it – we all know of exceptions - but for the vast majority of us, social mobility doesn’t happen without education. You are there for young people who wish to pursue further education, particularly in academic subjects, and who are ready to study somewhere that is not school.

At the Association of Colleges Conference, I spoke about changing the way we work together. I want to continue that discussion with you, both directly and through the Sixth Form College Association about your particular challenges and discuss any upcoming opportunities and how we can work together differently.

She mentioned the importance of government support for the sector, and collaborative working, referring to the new Strategic College Improvement Fund and with the new National Leaders for Further Education programme. She also mentioned ‘additional money as an incentive to grow participation in level 3 maths, with an extra £600 per year for those above the baseline.

….Only by working together, will we realise our shared ambition of world class sixth form provision for everybody. Richard Atkins’ work as FE Commissioner is an example of this……For those of you that lead 16-19 academies, Regional Schools Commissioners play a similar role.

The area review programme has also helped colleges to think differently. For example, Priestley College in Warrington, Cheshire was a trailblazer, converting to academy status as part of the newly formed The Challenge Academy Trust. Formalising some of the partnerships that emerged as part of the borough wide work during the area review, the Trust brings together existing academies and maintained schools.

If we are to produce world-class provision, every educator in a region must work together for the good of their learners and local communities. Priestley College, at the centre of their learning community, is a shining example of this.

The third area I want to touch on is the role you have to play within the local communities you serve, going further in looking outwards to your local communities.


Drawing the Future: Exploring the career aspirations of primary school children from around the world, Chambers et al., 19th January 2018: Education and Employers

Children’s career aspirations are too often based on gender stereotypes, socio-economic backgrounds and TV, film and radio, according to a report published today.

The report found that children’s career aspirations only marginally differ from age 7 to age 17. It also showed that some sectors vital for economic health look set to be under-resourced in future. 

In the biggest survey of its kind, primary school children aged seven to 11 were asked to draw a picture of the job they want to do when they grow up.

Based on results from 13,000 UK primary pupils, the report demonstrates that children’s aspirations are shaped from a young age.

The report showed that 36 per cent of children from as young as seven years old, base their career aspirations on people they know. For those who didn’t, 45 per cent stated that TV, film and radio were the biggest factors influencing their choice.

Socio-economic background was one of several factors influencing children’s decisions. Gender stereotypes also influenced children’s choices: 34.1% of boys wanted to be sportsmen and 9.4% wanted to work in social media or gaming, while 18.6% of girls wanted to be teachers. 

Williams, M. and Grayson, H. (2018). School Funding in England Since 2010 - What the Key Evidence Tells Us. Slough: NFER

Key findings show:

  • Schools face significant cost increases moving forward, especially in terms of staffing

  • The observed benefits of higher spending are typically greater for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds

  • There are encouraging signs that the pupil premium is being put to good use, but funding cuts may undermine its future success

  • The new NFF could significantly reduce differences in funding between schools with very similar characteristics, if fully implemented

  • It is pupils living in the least deprived areas who will experience the highest relative gains in funding as a direct result of the NFF.

This report presents the findings from a review of key evidence documents on how recent changes to school funding have impacted on school spending in England. The review appraises literature published from 2010 onwards to examine how funding levels have changed overtime, how what funds are actually spent on has changed, and how educational outcomes appear to vary with expenditure. Within this there is a focus on how disadvantage pupils and schools with high proportions of disadvantaged pupils have been affected.

How does personalized learning affect student achievement? Pane et al.,Rand Corporation (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)

The research team analyzed mathematics and reading scores for approximately 5,500 students in 32 schools (NGLC schools- Next Generation Learning Challenges) who took the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) mathematics and reading assessments for one academic year: autumn 2014 to spring 2015. The team compared the NGLC MAP scores with the scores of students who did not attend NGLC schools, but who were otherwise similar to their NGLC peers in terms of gender, grade levels, starting test scores, and geographic locations.

Key findings showed that:

  • Early evidence suggests that personalized learning (PL) can improve achievement for students, regardless of their starting level of achievement.
  • Benefits of PL may take some time to emerge. Analyses suggest that effects may be more positive after schools have experience implementing PL

Combining a kindergarten readiness summer program with a self-regulation intervention improves school readiness, Duncan et al., Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 42 (2018) p: 291-300 (read the full article)

Self-regulation and academic skills in kindergarten are strong predictors of later achievement. The current study examined a kindergarten readiness summer program (Bridge to Kindergarten; B2K) that served children with no prior preschool experience. The first study goal was to examine the effects of adding a self-regulation intervention to the B2K program on children’s self-regulation, maths, and literacy. The second study goal was to compare changes in self-regulation, maths, and literacy during the kindergarten transition period for children attending the B2K program with the intervention to expected development. Results from a randomized trial indicated that children who participated in the B2K program that included the self-regulation intervention experienced more gains in self-regulation relative to children who participated in the B2K program alone. There were no significant effects on maths or literacy at the end of the program. However, change during the kindergarten transition period, showed that participation in the B2K program with the self-regulation intervention was associated with improved growth in self-regulation, maths, and literacy into the Autumn of kindergarten compared to expected development. Collectively, the findings suggest a kindergarten readiness summer program that incorporates a self-regulation intervention leads to improved school readiness in children at higher risk for later school difficulties.

The impact of providing performance feedback to teachers and principals, American Institutes for Research/ Institute of Education Sciences

A total of 127 schools from five US states participated in the study. Schools were assigned to either a treatment or control group. In both the treatment and control group schools, teachers and principals continued to receive the performance feedback they had received in the past. For those in the treatment group schools, additional feedback was also given for classroom practice, pupil achievement and principal leadership. The study focused on principals and teachers of reading/ English and maths in grades 4–8 (Years 5–9).

Findings show that even small amounts of the right kind of feedback to teachers and principals can have an impact on pupil achievement.


What does teaching look like? Video Study by OECD, 17th January 2018

The TALIS Video Study is a new OECD project that aims at understanding what teaching practices are used, how they are interrelated, and which ones are most related to students’ cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes. It will use video observation to capture, literally, what teaching looks like in different countries, along with surveys of teachers and students, student assessments, and other instructional materials, to obtain as complete a picture as possible of teaching and learning.


Teacher Recruitment and Retention Advisory Board meets for the first time, 15th January 2018

The TRRB will provide the challenge, rigour and quality assurance to inform key areas of workforce planning policy development, including implications arising from the Welsh Language Strategy – Cymraeg 2050.  

The Board will also provide expert advice to the Welsh Government on the continued progress of ITE reform and supporting the existing teaching workforce, taking into account excellent practice elsewhere in the UK and internationally.

The Board is chaired by Professor John Gardner, Deputy Principal (Education and Students) at the University of Stirling.

Take Time to Talk, Listen and Play, 18th January 2018

Welsh Government launches new campaign aimed at parents backed with £700,000 support for schools.

The ’Take time’ campaign is part of a wider Welsh Government approach to oracy which includes £700,000 of extra funding and support to schools in 2018-19 through regional consortia to help improve the language skills of learners. Funding of £700,000 is already in place for 2017-18.

The campaign will provide practical tips to parents/carers to help children aged 3 to 7 improve their language skills and prepare for school.



Dolen - 3 new featured items, 18th January

3 new digital case studies have been uploaded. To view these, login to Hwb, click on the ERW tab and you will see the button to take you to DOLEN.

DOLEN is a growing resource to support collaboration between schools in line with the principles of ‘by schools, for schools’. It is an area containing practice worthy of sharing accessible through Hwb for school staff across the region.

The new case studies - Catwg Primary School (NPT) - Provision for pupils in a specialist unit; Abermule Community Primary School (Powys) - Lead Creative Schools Project and Coedffranc Primary School (NPT) - Attachment Aware schools. 


National Categorisation 2017-2018

The Regional Standardisation and Moderation process was completed in December to secure consistent implementation of the national categorisation system across all four regional consortia and their respective local authorities. The National Verification was undertaken by the Quality and Standardisation group on January 10th and 11th 2018. Following these meetings, the National Verification of this year categorisation process has now been completed. Every school’s category is now final and will be published at the end of January 2018 on the My Local School website. 


First early years setting joins growing network of 23 Research Schools, 19th January 2018

Highfield will be the first early years setting to join a growing network of 23 Research Schools across the country, including in the other 11 Opportunity Areas. The first five Research Schools were announced in October 2016, with a second six established in January 2017 and a further 11 in July 2017.

Since then, they have delivered a wide range of activities nationally to help teachers to use research to improve their teaching. They include programmes to help schools make the most of teaching assistants, training to support literacy in the early years and an initiative to develop Research Leads to spearhead the use of evidence in the classroom. The Research Schools have also hosted conferences for schools in their areas and disseminated Research Schools Network newsletters, sent to thousands of teachers around the country.

Blog- Spotlight on multi-academy trusts: Pupil outcomes, January 18th, Karen Wespieser: NfER

Based on a lecture given by the author before Christmas, she aims to answer one of two questions: What does the research say about the success of the MAT movement? The author highlights the variable picture and highlights the lack of research in this area: She says that we do not know how the best MATs improving the outcomes for pupils and we need more and accurate research in this area.

Bradford schools pledge to improve literacy in the classroom and community, 19th January 2018: National Literacy Trust

20 local nursery, primary and secondary schools have signed the Bradford Schools Literacy Pledge, committing to an increased focus on literacy in their schools and settings.

The Bradford Schools Literacy Pledge, which National Literacy Trust developed as part of our Bradford Stories campaign in the city, asks schools to commit to improving literacy in three key areas: in their overall school strategy, in their community engagement and in the classroom day-to-day.

UK summer schools applications launch, Sutton Trust

For students thinking of going to university, applications are open now and will close at 5pm on Thursday 8th March. For more details on the range of summer schools available this year, details are given on how to apply etc.

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations

First early years setting joins growing network of 23 Research Schools, 19th January 2018

There is growing government interest in the Teacher as Researcher- Schools involved in Achievement for All can access resources on the Bubble to support this. Also, the framework of the Achieving Schools/ Achieving Early programmes supports teacher CPD and reflection.