2nd February 2018

Department for Education

PM to set out ambitious new approach to UK-China education, 31st January 2018: Announcement

Visiting the Chinese city of Wuhan, which has the largest student population of any city in the world, the Prime Minister announced details of a new approach covering pre-school through to post-grad education. It includes:

  • A new commitment to extend the UK-China Maths Teacher Exchange primary school programme for a further two years to 2020. This will enable an additional 140 primary teachers in England to benefit from further training in China. And also expansion of the exchange programme to include up to 45 teachers in English secondary schools. The pioneering scheme involves English teachers visiting China for two weeks and Chinese teachers visiting England for two weeks, enabling schools to experience world-class maths teaching in English classrooms. The exchange programme also supports the government’s aim of taking the total number of English schools benefitting from the East-Asian style maths Teaching for Mastery programme to 11,000 by 2023

  • An agreement to facilitate joint training of pre-school staff in the UK and China

  • Improved UK-China information-sharing on vocational education through more study exchanges

  • The launch of a new “English is GREAT” campaign, promoting proficiency in English for more people in China.

Ready reckoners and transition matrices for key stage 4: 2017, 30th January, republished with update

Transition matrices documents were updated to improve accessibility.

Omnibus survey of pupils and their parents/carers, Research Report Wave 3, January 2018

This report draws together the findings from the third wave of the omnibus survey of pupils and their parents/carers in England, which was conducted by Kantar Public on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE). Data was collected from pupils in years 7-13 in state-funded secondary schools in England (including middle deemed secondary schools and academies, and City Technology Colleges, special schools (maintained and non-maintained special schools, hospital special schools and academies, and pupil referral units), as well as their parent/carers. This included pupils in school sixth forms but not pupils from further education or sixth form colleges.

Relevant findings across key reported areas:

Behaviour and attendance

A minority of pupils and parents/carers said that the pupil missed school three times or more in a term (7% of each); Where pupils had missed school at least once or twice a term, pupils and parents/carers were asked what had stopped them going to school regularly, from a pre-coded list. The most common reason was illness (chosen by 83% of both pupils and parents/carers), followed by bullying (9% of pupils and 15% of parents/carers), and lack of support from the school for health or disability needs (8% and 9%, respectively).

Mental health, SEND, and pupil support

Most parents/carers ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that they know how to look after their child’s mental health (83%). This was higher than the proportion of pupils who ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that they know enough about how to look after their own mental health (71%)

When asked ‘Which, if any, of the following would it be useful to know more about to help you support your child’s mental health?’ from a pre-coded list, parents/carers were most likely to say that it would be useful to know ‘what support my child’s school can provide’ (49%), ‘how I can help support any mental health needs my child may have’ (42%), ‘what support is available in my local community’ (41%), and ‘how to promote good mental health at home’ (40%).

Pupils with SEN were less likely to feel comfortable using online support services. 

Department for Education- Further Education

Further Education Commissioner: annual report 2016 to 2017, 31st January 2018

The FE Commissioner’s summary highlights the successes of the last year and the challenges which remain, these include:

Of the 14 colleges and other providers that were Ofsted ‘Inadequate’ as of 1 September 2016, 13 either improved the grade, or merged with a stronger college, by 31 August 2017.

There have been fewer new Ofsted inspections with an outcome of ‘Inadequate’

On financial health, there has been good progress in strengthening those colleges that were weakest one year ago.

The creation of National Leaders of Further Education (Principals with track records of securing improvement and achieving excellent results), and the new Strategic College Improvement Fund, will accelerate improvement.

The extended FE Commissioner remit addresses two challenges- First, the relatively high number of colleges that are Ofsted ‘Requires Improvement’. Some have remained ‘Requires Improvement’ for substantial periods; and secondly, improve the financial health of colleges.

The Commissioner states:

‘We will work with college leadership teams through diagnostic assessments to look at the challenges they face, and how they can achieve more rapid improvement – including through access to the Strategic College Improvement Fund and National Leaders. There will be some cases where we find there are serious and pressing concerns, and stronger action is required. I expect this to be the exception, and that, over time, earlier action will reduce the impact on learners, and the need for intervention….’

Careers Guidance for Colleges (republished with updates), 1st February

This has been republished since 2015 to include updated benchmarking guidance for college career provision.

New project to boost diversity in apprenticeships, 1st February: News

Five major cities across England have pledged to work with the government to drive up apprenticeships among underrepresented groups and ensure they are accessible to individuals from all backgrounds.

The ‘5 Cities Project’, launched by the Department for Education, will see the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) work with partners in the Greater Manchester, London, Bristol, Birmingham and Leicester areas to promote the take-up of apprenticeships among under-represented groups, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Key partners supporting the drive include some of the UK’s top employers - B&Q, Rolls Royce, Optimity, and Interserve - as well as local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, apprenticeship providers, schools, and community groups.

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said:

‘I’m thrilled by the strong support we have received for this project. It’s great to be working together on our drive to make sure that everyone, whatever their background, can get onto an apprenticeship at whatever level suits them………….’

Other Government- Education Select Committee

Retaining and Developing the Teaching Workforce, 29th January 2018

The Report recommends that the Department for Education develop a plan by April 2018, setting out how they are going to retain and develop teachers. Workload is cited as the main reason teachers leave the profession.


Amanda Spielman's speech at the Church of England Foundation for Education Leadership, 1st February 2018

HM Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman discusses diversity, ethical leadership and faith schools.

She started by commending the Church of England’s establishment of the Foundation for Education Leadership. ‘In an education system that is increasingly diverse’, she said ‘the importance of establishing strong support networks for school leaders cannot be understated’. However, she was critical of their refusal to allow Sunday Schools to be inspected.


Latest categorisation reveals improvement in school performance, 1st February, Welsh government: Education and Skills

The new categorisation information just published shows that there has been an improvement in school performance.

Introduced in 2014, the National School Categorisation System places schools into one of four colour-coded support categories to demonstrate the level of support they need - green, yellow, amber and red.

There are now more schools in the green and yellow categories when compared to last year. Green schools require just four days of support and yellow schools receive up to 10 days of support.

This year sees a small change to the factors that decide a school’s category. Instead of just looking at areas such as performance, including GCSE results, there is now a much broader assessment that considers areas such as teacher assessments from other subjects, wellbeing and the quality of teaching and learning.

The purpose of including a broader and more sophisticated range of factors is to understand the kind of support needed by a school and to give parents a better picture of how a school is performing.

Out of over 1,500 schools across Wales only 4 appealed against their category.

In summary:

  • 85.3 per cent of primary schools and 68.3 per cent of secondary schools are now in the green and yellow categories. This increase from last year continues the upward trend since 2015.

  • There has been a very small rise in the proportion of red schools – those identified as needing most support – by 0.4 percentage points in the primary sector and 2.9 percentage points in the secondary sector.

  • 45 per cent of special schools have been categorised as green, and needing less support, with no schools categorised as red and in need of most support.


See also EAS to find individual school ratings in the consortium: The 2017/18 publication of national categorisation support categories, 1st February 2018

See also CSC for comment on National Categorisation and ERW for comment on National Categorisation and GwE comment


Agasisti, T. et al. (2018), “Academic resilience: What schools and countries do to help disadvantaged students succeed in PISA”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 167, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/e22490ac-en

This paper defines academic resilience as the ability of 15-year-old students from disadvantaged backgrounds to perform at a certain level in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in reading, mathematics and science that enables them to play an active role in their communities and prepares them to make the most of lifelong-learning opportunities. Using data from the most recent PISA cycles, the paper explores changes in the share of resilient students over time (2006-2015); and highlights the importance of school environments and resources in mitigating the risk of low achievement for disadvantaged students.

The findings showed that from socio-economic disadvantage are more likely to be resilient in schools where students report a good disciplinary climate and those which offer a high number of extracurricular activities Attending orderly classes in which students can focus and teachers provide well-paced instruction is beneficial for all students, but particularly so for the most vulnerable students.

(In particular, the fact that the presence of extracurricular activities is associated with a greater likelihood of resilience among disadvantaged students may reflect the fact that investments in extracurricular activities promote engagement among teachers, students and the students’ families, and can help develop a sense of belonging at school).

(The leadership style adopted by principals is a second factor associated with the disciplinary climate experienced by students. Transformational leaders foster capacity development, work relentlessly to promote a high level of commitment among teachers towards ensuring high academic results among their students, and are able to ensure that classrooms are orderly so that students make the most of their learning time in school).

See also the blog: Succeeding with resilience: lessons for schools, Johanna Boersch-Supan: 29th January 2018: OECD

How do primary and secondary teachers compare? Education in Focus, 1st February: OECD

The In Focus says that while policy debate is often focused on the whole teaching profession, primary and secondary teachers differ in more ways than one. While all countries require teachers to have at least a bachelor degree to enter the profession in primary or lower secondary education, the structure and content of the programmes vary and are less geared towards practice at secondary than primary level. Primary school teachers spend on average 10% more of their working time teaching, though their class size will be slightly smaller. Finally, primary teachers’ salaries are less competitive than their lower secondary peers in more than half of the countries. Improving the attractiveness and effectiveness of the teaching profession can only be addressed by recognising these differences and adapting a differentiated policy to address the challenges of each.

The What Works Clearing House (WWC), Washington

The WWC has launched a new area looking at the impact of Charter Schools in the USA on pupil outcomes. To mark the launch, they have published reports on the following 3 intervention programmes:

Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), a non-profit network of more than 200 US public charter schools (all ages form early years). Findings showed positive effects on maths, English language, potentially science and social studies achievement for pupils in Years 7 to 13 (middle to high school).,

Green Dot Public Schools, a non-profit organisation that operates more than 20 public charter middle and high schools in California, Tennessee and Washington. Findings show potentially positive impact for maths achievement, pupil progression, attendance and English language achievement for high school pupils (Years 10 to 13).

Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) Promise Academy Charter Schools, a non-profit organisation designed to serve low-income children and families living in Harlem in New York City. WWC could not draw any conclusions from the evidence available.

Later school start times for supporting the education, health, and well-being of high school students: a systematic review, Dec. 2017, Marx et al., CampbellCollaboration

The researchers looked at the evidence from 17 eligible records reporting on 11 studies with 297,994 participants; the studies examined academic outcomes, amount and quality of sleep, mental health indicators, attendance, and student alertness.

Overall, the quality of the body of evidence was very low, the researchers rated most studies as being at high or unclear risk of bias with respect to allocation, attrition, absence of randomization, and the collection of baseline data. They concluded that evidence was not strong enough to comment about the effects of later school start times.


IOE celebrates success of young readers in London, 31st January 2018

UCL Institute of Education (IOE) and the British Library celebrated the achievements of London school children who have overcome problems with literacy through the IOE’s Reading Recovery Programme. 

In 2016-17, 7125 children in the UK and Ireland received literacy support through Reading Recovery from 1001 Reading Recovery teachers in 893 schools.  Four out of five pupils who completed their Reading Recovery programmes were lifted to age-appropriate levels of literacy in an average of 18 weeks. 44.5% of Reading Recovery pupils were reported as disadvantaged compared to the 14% of pupils who are eligible for free school meals in England.

The launch of Reading Recovery ‘Read Aloud’ marks the start of a month-long series of events and activities aimed at encouraging children to read their favourite books out loud in various locations to increase awareness of how literacy problems can be tackled. 

Spotlight on multi-academy trusts: A glimpse into performance, blog by Jens Van den Brande, 2nd Feb, NfER

In this blog the author considers the challenges in considering the performance of MATs, when the government often changes the criteria for inclusion in the data (currently, only MATs with three or more academies that have been in the MAT for at least three full academic years are included).

Exploring available data, the author states in conclusion:

  1. The primary MATs which we have two years results are unchanged in maths and show a small decline in reading, which are the subjects that are independently tested. There has been a larger improvement in writing, which is teacher assessed.

  2. There has been very little change in progress made by the 44 secondary MATs between the two years (2015-2017).

  3. There were large variations in the KS2 subject progress scores for some MATs between 2015-16 and 2016-17. It will be important to continue to monitor these year-on-year changes to identify whether this variation settles down. If it does not, it may be difficult to robustly measure changes in primary MAT performance over time.

The NfER suggest that the DfE carry out more research on possible measures and then set out publicly how they propose to measure MAT performance over time.

The evidence base on social and emotional learning is complex and far from comprehensive, but teachers need our ‘best bets’ now, blog Stephanie Waddell, Dissemination Lead for High Risk Children and Young People at EIF.26th January

In January the EIF and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) hosted a roundtable on social and emotional learning in the UK. Together, they are aiming to produce guidance for schools in the autumn on social and emotional learning, wellbeing and mental health- a roadmap by which to navigate the tricky questions of what approach is right for their school and their children. In this blog the author discusses some of the competing ideas at the roundtable.

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations

Agasisti, T. et al. (2018), “Academic resilience: What schools and countries do to help disadvantaged students succeed in PISA”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 167, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/e22490ac-en

The findings across OECD countries and economies, showed that students from socio-economic disadvantage are more likely to be resilient in schools where there is a good disciplinary climate and in those which offer a high number of extracurricular activities. Attending orderly classes in which students can focus and teachers provide well-paced instruction is beneficial for all students, but particularly so for the most vulnerable students. Achievement for All provides schools with a framework for develop the right environment for students from socio economic disadvantage to succeed.