1st June 2018

Department for Education

Multi-million pound investment in state of the art facilities for children with special educational needs, 29th May: News Story

Councils are set to benefit from a £50million funding boost to create additional school places and state-of-the-art facilities for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), giving families more choice and helping to meet increasing demand.

The additional investment in school places for children with additional needs builds on the £215million fund announced last year to ensure children with SEND had access to a good school place. This new boost could help create around 740 more special school places and provide new specialist facilities to support children with complex needs, such as sensory rooms and playgrounds with specialist equipment.

The combined investment is part of the £23billion being spent by the Government between now and 2021 to ensure every child regardless of their needs, background or circumstances has access to a good school place so they will be able to fulfil their potential.

The funding brings the total investment in new school places for children with additional needs to £265million, following the announcement of a £215million fund last year.

Over half the councils in England will receive more than £225,000 to increase places or improve schools for children with SEND, and every council will receive at least £115,000.

The Government has also published new school places scorecards which show 91% of all primary and secondary school places created in 2016/17 were in Ofsted rated, ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools. The scorecards show how many good school places councils have delivered, and how well they meet the demand of local parents.

See also SEND provision capital funding for pupils with EHC plans, 29th May

Special provision funding is for local authorities to create places for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and to improve facilities for them in mainstream and special schools, nurseries, colleges and other education providers. The government announced allocations of £215m of funding for 2018 to 2021 in 2017, and in 2018 announced a further £50m also for 2018 to 2021.

This guidance document explains what LAs can spend the funding on and the planning they should do.

To access the funding, local authorities must publish a concise plan to describe how they intend to use their allocation. An example template has also been provided.

Reducing teacher workload, 30th May 2018

Updated to include summer regional events and details of the Secretary of State's speech about the importance of removing unnecessary workload.

Department for Education- FE

Basic maths Centres for Excellence: application, 30th May 2018

The Department for Education invites institutions to apply to become Centres for Excellence for basic maths. The programme will provide grant funding to build teaching capacity and spread best practice on what works to improve basic maths for learners over the age of 16 with low prior attainment. This will be through trialling pedagogical approaches and sharing this expertise across the post-16 sector.

Applications should be submitted to Centres.forExcellence@education.gov.uk no later than 5pm on 10 July 2018.

New T Levels mark a revolution in technical education, 27th May: News Story

The Education Secretary has committed to working with businesses and learning from international competitors to ensure these new qualifications lead to a generational shift in technical education.

T Levels are courses, which will be on a par with A levels and will provide young people with a choice between technical and academic education post 16.

Courses in construction, digital and education & childcare will be first taught from September 2020. A further 22 courses will be rolled out in stages from 2021, which will cover sectors such as finance & accounting, engineering & manufacturing, and creative & design.

The first 52 colleges and post-16 providers to teach new T Levels were named  as Education Secretary Damian Hinds set out his vision for a world-class technical education system.

See also Implementation of T Level programmes: Consultation Response, 27th May

Overall findingsshowed strong support for T Levels across different groups of respondents, and optimism about the potential of T Levels to transform the technical education system.

The main findings included:

  • Respondents wanted us to be clearer about the purpose of T Levels and their positioning within the education system.
  • T Levels need to be rigorous, adding value for employers, as well as inclusive of students with additional needs
  • There is support for simplification of the existing qualifications system, but only where this is employer-led and does not leave gaps in high quality provision
  • T Levels need to be as accessible as possible to students with special educational needs or a disability (SEND), including reasonable adjustments in assessments and industry placements
  • Industry placements are an important part of T Levels, but will be challenging to deliver on a national scale
  • There is support for a transition offer to support progression to level 3 provision
  • There is general support for using an ‘in year’ funding model initially, rather than a lagged system
  • T Levels will require supportive infrastructure, extensive marketing and time for the benefits to be realised.

The response stated that thereforms are based on the recommendations of the Sainsbury Report, which drew upon analyses of both the domestic labour market and of ‘what works’ in other countries with high performing technical education systems. A review was also conducted.

In response the government is going to:

  • Award an overall Pass grade for T Levels so it is clear to employers that a student has successfully completed all components of the programme.

  • Provide additional support to enable T Level industry placements to be successfully delivered, including widening the remit of the National Apprenticeships Service (NAS) to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for advice and support to employers

  • Fund maths and English for students who have not yet achieved level 2 in addition to the hours required for the other parts of the course

  • Work closely with providers delivering the first T Levels to co-create the programmes and to address the delivery concerns raised by respondents

  • Increase the level and pace of communication, as delivery gets nearer

  • Show how the government is learning lessons from previous attempts to reform vocational and technical education, particularly from the 14-19 Diplomas

£170m competition launched for new Institutes of Technology, 29th May

Employers, education and training providers can now apply for a share of £170m to establish prestigious new Institutes of Technology (IoTs), which will specialise in delivering the higher level technical skills that employers need.

The government has confirmed its aim to achieve a network of IoTs across the country. They expect the first IoTs will be open in 2019.

See the Institutes of Technology prospectus page for the list of applicants chosen to progress to Stage 2 of the competition.

See also A top education official has warned that T-Levels are a problem. He is right, David Laws, Prospect, 1st June

In this article, David Laws, executive chairman of the EPI, says the new technical qualification has worrying design flaws

He says:

‘...T-Levels will only be a success if they are seen as being a credible and high quality vocational route, likely to last and gain labour market value. It would be far better in my view for the government to take time to get this new qualification right than to rush the process of design, consultation and development…’

Institute for Apprenticeships: strategic guidance 2018 to 2019, 31st May

This document explains the purpose of the Institute for Apprenticeships. It provides directions for the Institute to consider when carrying out its duties to ensure quality apprenticeships and technical education reform.

Apprenticeship standards developed by employers are also available.

Children’s Commissioner’s Office

Stability Index 2018, 1st June 2018. (Children in care)

The Children’s Commissioner created the annual Stability Index last year to encourage councils to hold themselves to account for children moving around the system and to work towards improving the system and ultimately the lives of children in care.

Stability is important for any child, and unwanted moves or school changes and the disruption they can bring can be particularly difficult for children in care. Stable relationships and a secure environment provide a sense of belonging and identity. Where there is instability relationships with trusted adults and other children suffer, succeeding at school becomes more difficult and vulnerability increases, leading some children to fall through the gaps and others open to exclusion, exploitation and abuse.

The report also shows just how disruptive changing school can be: around 4,300 children in care moved school in the middle of the year, and their new school was 24 miles away on average. Meanwhile around 400 children who moved school ended up missing a whole term as a result.

The research suggests that older children – especially those entering care from the age of 12 to 15 – are most at risk of instability and may need extra support to prevent placements breaking down.

It also highlights the importance of getting children in care into the best schools: children at poor-performing schools are more likely to experience a school move, and less likely to move to a better school. By comparison, those in good schools are less likely to move, and when they do it is usually to another good school.

See also Children’s Commissioner’s annual Stability Index for children in care warns thousands of vulnerable teenage ‘pinball kids’ are pinging around the care system, 1st June

See Fostering Network Response to the England Children's Commissioner's Stability Index - which they say calls for more families to come forward to foster children, 1stJune


Amanda Spielman at the Pre-school Learning Alliance annual conference, 1st June

Ofsted's Chief Inspector discussed the importance of the early years and developing a love of reading at the 2018 Pre-school Learning Alliance conference. She said of reading:

‘…I’d describe reading as the linchpin of a good education. Children who can read learn through their own reading. If they can’t read, they can’t grasp other subjects properly. And reading empowers children, giving them independence to discover what most interests them. So, when you make a reader, you give them the world.

'Of course, this isn’t new. We know that at the most basic level, poor literacy holds a person back at every stage. As a child, you will do worse at school. As a young adult, you may struggle to find work. And as a parent, you won’t be able to help your own children learn. This is a vicious cycle. Failure at every stage hurts achievement, and it hurts happiness and self-esteem, with obvious consequences for people’s lives.

'It’s well understood that reading to young children builds their vocabulary and their knowledge of the structures of language. And this helps them to understand, think and communicate. This is why children who read a lot often have wider vocabularies and better problem-solving skills. They also have the words they need to express the complexity of their own emotions and those of others.

'And that’s where you come in. Investing time early on, whether it’s reading aloud, singing, reciting nursery rhymes or just talking to children as much as possible. This is so important and makes a real difference. Stories, songs and rhymes spark emotions; they stimulate imaginations and they broaden minds. Helping children to enjoy and join in with them gives them a language for life…’


Children and young people’s writing in 2017/18, National Literacy Trust, 31st May 2018

The report is based on a survey of 47,786 children and young people aged 8 to 18 in the UK. The report found that, in 2018:

  • Only half of children and young people enjoy writing very much or quite a lot (49.2%)

  • Fewer than 1 child in 5 writes something that isn’t for school on a daily basis (17.3%)

  • More girls than boys enjoy writing (57.4% vs 40.9%) and write daily (19.9% vs 14.3%)

  • Younger children enjoy writing almost twice as much as their older peers (68.5% of 8 to 11-year-olds, 46.5% of 11 to 14-year-olds, 36% of 14 to 16-year-olds).

For the past 20 years, the power of football and major sporting events has been used to inspire children’s writing – with hugely positive results. After taking part in a writing competition around the Women’s FA Cup last year, teachers said their students’ enthusiasm for writing (80%), motivation to write (76%) and confidence in writing (68%) had improved.

The National Literacy Trust is using the excitement surrounding the 2018 FIFA World Cup as an opportunity to launch a series of football-themed activities aimed at inspiring more children and young people to get writing in the classroom and outside of it:

See: World Cup activities launched in response to decline in children’s writing enjoyment, 31st May, National Literacy Trust.

Free For All? Analysing Free Schools in England, 2018, Garry et al., 31st May 2018: NfER/ Sutton Trust  

This report examines the free school programme, looking at the types of free school set up, the characteristics of their pupils, and their academic outcomes.

Key Findings

  • Free schools are not fulfilling their original purpose. Only one third of free schools set up to date were found to demonstrate a novel approach, while only one in five free schools have had parents involved in their inception.  In contrast, the number of free schools which have had MATs involved in their inception has increased. Overall, 178 free schools have been set up by MATs, nearly 60 per cent of all free schools.

  • Free schools have largely been set up in areas with a need for more school places. Almost all secondary free schools have opened in areas which had insufficient available capacity to meet its forecast need for pupil places.  Conversely, a number of the earliest primary free schools were opened in areas that had enough capacity. However since 2013/14, most primary free schools have been opened in areas with at least some need.

  • Secondary free school pupils achieve slightly better attainment outcomes. At Key Stage 4 in 2016/17, pupils at secondary free schools performed slightly better than pupils with similar characteristics at other types of school.  Disadvantaged pupils in free schools performed the equivalent of a quarter of a grade higher in each subject compared to their peers with similar characteristics in other school types.

International - Wales

Learning Wales

Social mobility summit, Speech by the Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams, 30th May

Kirsty Williams started by saying:

‘I am delighted to be here today and would like to offer my thanks to The OU in Wales for organising this summit. Can I also thank Alan for giving up his time, and offering us some insight, as well as challenges, for this important agenda.

'Quite simply, social mobility matters more than ever. But it’s also more complicated than ever.

'The divides in society, between the generations, and across communities is a moral, economic and educational imperative.

'I will focus my remarks today on the role of education in meeting those challenges…’

Kirsty Williams outlined her ambitions for Wales and social mobility across the following areas:

  • The number of Welsh students who progress onto Master’s study – the next big challenge in improved social mobility- she promised a commitment that over the lifetime of this government, there will be an increase of at least 10% in the number of Wales domiciled students studying at Master’s level

  • The number of Welsh students who should benefit from international experience

  • How the Seren Network will expand opportunities for students to reach the leading universities

  • A substantial increase in the number of students taking science GCSE

  • And a reaffirmation of the government’s ambitions on a more qualified workforce.

Achievement for All Areas for consideration

Children’s Commissioner’s Office

Stability Index 2018, 1st June 2018

Schools working with Achievement for All provide stability for children in care/ looked after children. See LiFT programmes and resources- designed specifically to bring the expertise of Achievement for All, schools and virtual schools together, based on learning from the London Fostering Achievement programme. Since 2014, Achievement for All has worked in partnership with virtual schools and local authorities to deliver tailor-made coaching options for school leaders, governors, teaching staff, support staff and foster carers to improve the wellbeing and educational attainment of looked after children.