20th April 2018

Department for Education

National primary offer day, 16th April

Primary school places confirmed for thousands of pupils as education standards continue to rise.

Figures show 97.2 per cent of pupils were offered one of their top three primary schools in 2017, with 825,000 new school places created since 2010. In addition, the disadvantage gap index at Key Stage 2 is down 10.5% since 2011.

See also Supporting the transition to school, 17th April, PACEY

PACEY have a range of resources for those working with children who are starting school in September

Free school meals: guidance for schools and local authorities, 16th April (updated)

This provides guidance on free school meal eligibility and the introduction of transitional protection arrangements under Universal Credit for those already receiving free school meals.

The guidance has been updated to confirm manual checking arrangements for the self-employed.

Department for Education- FE

Apprenticeship and levy statistics: April 2018, 19th April (to be published monthly)

The publication provides headline experimental statistics on the use of the apprenticeship service. These include apprenticeship service account registrations (ASAs) and numbers of commitments (reported to February 2018), where an apprentice who is expected to go on to start has been recorded in the system.

Additionally, monthly apprenticeship starts information for the first six months of the 2017 to 2018 academic year are also presented (reported to January 2018).

As at 28 February 2018, there have been a total of 13,300 apprenticeship service accounts (ASAs) registered.

As at 28 February 2018, there have been a total of 132,800 commitments entered into the apprenticeship service. Of these, 123,800 were fully agreed. (59,400 commitments were for apprentices aged 25 and over).

Between August 2017 and January 2018 there were 206,100 apprenticeship starts (reported to date) compared to 269,600 apprenticeship starts between August 2016 and January 2017 reported at the same point last year.


Educational disadvantage: How does England compare? John Jerrim, Toby Greany and Natalie Perera, April 2018: Education Policy Institute/ UCL Institute of Education

Findings from the report show that the performance of disadvantaged pupils in England in maths ranks in the lower half of developed countries – standing at 25 out of 44 nations. Under the new GCSE grades, the average maths grade of disadvantaged pupils in England is 3.8 (lower than the current pass grade of 4).

The report assesses the performance of disadvantaged pupils in England, compared to other countries and the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers in England, compared to other countries. The researchers converted the latest results from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) into GCSE grades, allowing for a direct comparison of pupil performance with England. Disadvantaged pupils in England in this study are those eligible for free school meals. They are compared with disadvantaged pupils in other countries using PISA’s Economic, Social and Cultural Status (ESCS) index.

Other Key findings


  • England is marked by a long tail of underperformance amongst its disadvantaged pupils. Just 1 in 10 disadvantaged pupils in England achieve a high score in GCSE maths of grade 7 to 9 (A-A* under the old grading system). Nearly twice as many disadvantaged pupils in Singapore achieve this grade.

  • The attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers in England is equivalent to one whole GCSE grade. On this measure of educational disadvantage, England ranks in the bottom half of developed nations, standing 27th out of 44 nations.

  • The disadvantage gap in England is significantly larger than in high performing countries including Estonia (0.71 of a GCSE grade), Hong Kong (0.85) and Norway (0.84). However, in other countries, while overall pupil performance may be far higher than in England, disadvantage gaps are more severe. Countries such as China and Singapore perform poorly on levels of educational disadvantage, with gaps of 1.2 of a GCSE grade.


  • England’s performance in reading is better than in maths. Disadvantaged pupils in England scored an average grade of 4.0 (a GCSE pass grade) and rank in the top half of developed nations – standing 17th out of the 44 nations.

  • In reading, the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers in England is around three-quarters of a GCSE grade (0.76) – around the average of all other countries in the report.

  • In reading there is also no link between the performance of disadvantaged pupils, and the disadvantage gap. Again, China and Singapore are high performers overall, yet perform poorly in terms of equity – with large GCSE grade gaps of 0.92 and 0.96.

Also see England behind other developed countries in maths performance of disadvantaged pupils, 19th April, UCL, IoE

Best in Class 2018, Sutton Trust

Sutton Trust commissioned surveys of teachers and school leaders in England and the United States. The three areas of focus were: attitudes to evidence and ‘what works’ in school decision-making, how targeted money for less well-off pupils is spent, and perceptions of charter schools and academy trusts amongst teachers.

1,246 state school teachers across England were polled by the National Foundation for Education Research using their Teacher Voice survey. 501 teachers in US public schools were polled by YouGov. Fieldwork was conducted during March 2018.

Key findings show:


  • Use of evidence to inform school decision making has been rising in England since 2012. 68% of school leaders and 45% of teachers cite the use of research evidence. 59% of senior leaders and 23% of teachers use the Sutton Trust/EEF Toolkit to inform evidence-based teaching methods, with awareness among teachers increasing more than fivefold since 2012.

  • Early interventions are the highest priority for spending funding targeted at disadvantaged students (the ‘pupil premium’), with 31% of teachers in England citing it as the priority.

  • 34% of school leaders in England say pupil premium funding is being used to plug gaps in their budget, up from 30% in 2017. Staff cuts are also on the increase because of tightening budgets.

  • 30% of academy leaders in England feel that academy autonomy has no effect in the classroom, with 18% saying it has a negative effect. Of the teachers who believed it had a positive influence, the gains cited most were freedom over the curriculum (59%), allocation of resources (57%), along with increased collaboration across schools (45%).

United States

  • Use of evidence among US teachers polled was high, with 55% of teachers citing research as a factor in school decision making. More than half (57%) said they rely on past experience of what works, followed by learning from what works in other schools (55%).

  • Early interventions were the highest priority for funding targeted at low income students (22%), along with one-to-one tuition (12%) and hiring additional teachers or assistants (14%).

  • 25% of US teachers polled felt that charter schools have a positive effect on the day to day life of teachers in the classroom. Of those who thought so, most cited freedom to decide programmes and approaches to learning (80%), along with freedom from local bureaucracy (52%).

Building Trusts: MAT leadership and coherence of vision, strategy and operations, LkMco/Ambition School Leadership, April 2018

The research, carried out by LKMco and Ambition School Leadership, looks at how MATs are run and how they develop over time. Key findings include:

  1. When establishing their vision, CEOs begin with a view as to what they want to achieve for pupils. Whilst most MATs have broadly similar visions in terms of what they want for pupils, they have differing views on how they should pursue their goals. Trusts’ strategies are also very much shaped by what they cando, given their circumstances.

  2. MATs’ visions are shaped by the type of organisational culture leaders want to establish, as well as beliefs about how you achieve school improvement.

  3. A key distinction between MATs’ strategies is whether the focus is on maintaining individual schools’ autonomy and individual identity, or whether to prioritise consistent teaching and pedagogy across different schools.

International -Wales

Schools to share in over £90m to help disadvantaged learners, 17th April

Schools across Wales are to share in over £90m in 2018-19 to help their most disadvantaged learners, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has announced.

The Pupil Development Grant (PDG) helps schools tackle the effects of poverty and disadvantage on attainment and is targeted at learners who are eligible for Free School Meals or are Looked After Children. 

This year, the PDG for the youngest learners (pupils aged 3-4 years old) has increased from £600 to £700 per pupil. This builds on last year’s doubling of financial support from £300 to £600 per learner in the early years.

Primary and secondary schools will continue to receive a rate of £1,150 per learner, and this rate also continues to apply to learners in education other than at school (EOTAS).

From this year, schools will also have greater flexibility to support learners who have been eligible for Free School Meals in the previous two years.

Advisers and coordinators from education consortia are also on-hand to provide extra support and guidance for schools on using the funding.

New fund sees appointment of 80 new teachers to reduce class sizes, 20th April

Schools across Wales are to benefit from 80 new teachers as a result of a £36 million fund to reduce infant class sizes, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has announced.

The new teachers will be appointed to schools which have large infant class sizes and also have high levels of deprivation, special education needs and/or where teaching and learning need to improve.

The new teachers will help to create smaller infant classes, so a school which currently has two infant classes of 29 or more pupils could instead have three smaller more manageable infant classes.

The £36m fund comprises of £16m of revenue which allows local authorities to recruit the extra teachers, and £20m of capital which allows local authorities to build the additional classrooms and learning space needed to further reduce class sizes.



ERW research projects, 18th April

In 2017 ERW set-up a research project in partnership with colleagues from UWTSD Yr Athrofa and three schools. Each of the schools prioritised different aspects of their practice related to effective feedback to pupils alongside reducing teacher workload. The schools involved were Ysgol Bae Baglan (Neath, Port Talbot), Morriston Comprehensive School (Swansea) and Cwmrhydyceirw Primary School (Swansea).

In each of the schools the research indicates that the most effective feedback is that which is given immediately, and which makes ‘invisible’ processes visible whilst also recognising the need for teachers to demonstrate effective marking of work.

Cross-regional working, 18th April

Wales’ 4 regional consortia (CSC, EAS, ERW and GwE) have come together to manage 9 cross-regional projects to improve the outcomes for all learners in Wales.

Dolen - 4 new featured items, 20th April

DOLEN is an ‘ever-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 include:

  • A whole school approach to monitoring and tracking – Llanrhidian Primary
  • Emotion Coaching  - Cadle Primary
  • Non-judgemental lesson observation – Penyrheol Comprehensive
  • Siarter Iaith – Glyncollen Primary.


Primary Supported Marking Sessions - Numerical Reasoning 2018

GwE will be offering support for primary schools on the marking of the Numerical Reasoning test again this year. These sessions will be led by GwE's numeracy team, who have been given additional training on this by NFER. The aim will be to upskill the numeracy leaders from each school to have a greater understanding and knowledge about the mark schemes for the full primary range (Years 2-6) and to act as the resident expert within school, supporting other members of staff. There will also be an opportunity to discuss the diagnostic analysis of the results.

National Tests 2018 - A Quick Guide for Schools

The purpose of the national tests is to provide schools with information on the reading and numeracy skills of learners in years 2-9 in order to plan next steps in teaching and learning. 

You can download a printable copy of the Quick Guide for Schools, click here.


How is depression related to education? Education in Focus, no. 60: OECD

People with higher levels of education report less prevalence of depression in all OECD countries with data. A greater share of women than men report suffering from depression, but the share decreases more steeply for women than for men as educational attainment increases. Employment is associated with a lower share of self-reported depression, especially among low-educated adults. Given that mental illness has its onset in childhood or adolescence, these findings highlight the important role education systems play in ensuring students complete their education and successfully transition into the workplace.


Difficult questions about some schools’ Key Stage 2 results, Dave Thompson, 18th April: Education Datalab

The author of the blog compares KS2 results from ‘feeder’ primary’ schools (Prior attainment) with KS 4 results at a secondary school in an Ofsted Category; the secondary school has been criticised in its latest inspection for the progress of its most able pupils. At KS4, pupils from an outstanding primary school, whose prior attainment was higher than pupils from other feede primary schools, performed the worst at KS4.

The author says:

‘We need to ask difficult questions about the Key Stage 2 results of the outstanding primary school (School H)’

Was it really the case that pupils performed at such a level at School H that they simply could not maintain their progress at secondary school?

Could they have received additional assistance when taking their KS2 tests?

Does test security need to be improved?

The author concludes that: both DfE and Ofsted consider making adjustments for pupils who attended primary schools with anomalously high KS2 results.

Better still-,he says- don’t rely on a single metric to decide which (if any) schools are performing poorly.

(The Department for Education plans to cap the P8 scores of pupils with anomalously large scores. Ofsted’s Inspection Data Summary Report (IDSR) shows the effect of removing outliers on schools’ value added scores  [PDF, p.5])

This blogpost supports a new report available for secondary schools in FFT Aspire but may be of interest to a wider audience. The school performance data in FFT Aspire and this blogpost is provided by the Department for Education under FFT’s accredited access to Analyse School Performance data.

Prestigious Founding Fellowship launched to celebrate contributions to teaching profession, 18th April

The Chartered College of Teaching, the professional body for teachers and leaders, has launched a new, prestigious category of membership. Founding Fellowship is aimed at those who have been in the profession for 10 years or more and recognises their significant contribution to the teaching profession.

Joint letter on teacher shortages, 18th April, Ben Ashmore: Chartered college of Teaching

The Chartered College of Teaching together with the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT), the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) and the Teaching Schools Council (TSC), have all signed a letter to the government with five recommendations to combat the recruitment shortage.

The letter recognises steps which the government has already taken, notably: the removal of caps on most recruitment to ITT programmes; the relaxation of skills test requirements; efforts to reduce teacher workload; the continued payment of ITT bursaries; and the introduction of some retention incentives.

In addition to this, the letter calls for a series of further measures, including:

  • To consider waiving tuition fees for those on postgraduate ITE programmes and the usage of bursaries to directly fund ITT

  • Giving all teachers an entitlement to CPD

  • Simplifying the way different routes into teaching are described

  • Improving to the application process

  • Replacing the skills tests with on-course assessments of literacy and numeracy skills.

Launch of new National Literacy Trust Hub in Nottingham, in partnership with Nottingham City Council and Small Steps Big Changes, 20th April.

The Hub will be known locally as Read On Nottingham. 

The Hub will encompass a range of projects and initiatives to give young people the literacy skills they need to succeed in life. In 2017 more than a third (34%) of children in the city did not achieve a good level of development at age five increasing to 42% of disadvantaged children. Hub activity will focus on ensuring the city’s youngest residents have the communication skills they need to start school. 

Urgent action needed to prevent loss of Early Years Teachers, 20th April

PACEY (Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years) and Voice: the union for education professionals are calling on the Government to take urgent action on the pay and status of Early Years Teachers to prevent the loss from the teaching profession. The call follows a joint survey of Early Years Teachers (EYTs), Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) course leaders and past EYITT students about:

  • The availability of EYITT courses and different routes;

  • Career aspirations, prospects and pathways of EYTs;

  • Barriers to recruitment and retention of EYTs; and

  • How to improve graduate early years qualifications.

The online survey ran between 27 November 2017 and 15 January 2018 and received 428 responses. A majority of these (286 or 67%) were from past EYITT students, whilst 18% (78) were from EYITT course leaders and 15% (64) from current EYITT students. Respondents to the survey displayed a striking commitment to and passion for working in the early years. However, there was also widespread agreement that the status quo is not working.

Nearly all respondents were concerned about the fact that an Early Years Teacher does not earn the same or have the same recognition as a teacher with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), even though they receive training of a comparable rigour, and are delivering the same curriculum.

If the pay and conditions of Early Years Teachers do not improve, the sector will lose talented and dedicated teachers who understand the uniqueness of a child’s early development.

EEF: EAL pupils: “We invested heavily in the expertise of all teachers”, TES cover story (13 April 2018) focuses on pupils with English as an additional language (EAL). It looks at the reasons given for the strong overall academic progress of this group. It includes quotes from the EEF's chief executive, Sir Kevan Collins, based on his leadership experience in Tower Hamlets.

In the article: Sir Kevan Collins said: ‘Primary schools embraced the literacy and numeracy strategies and developed systematic and structured teaching in these areas, albeit as part of a broad and creative curriculum. Teachers were a vital component. “We invested heavily in the expertise of all teachers,” Sir Kevan says. “The numbers meant that everyone had to be an expert on teaching EAL: it wasn’t sidelined to a ‘specialist’ unit.” The local authority leadership maintained a tenacious accountability framework backed up with support, and resources were well used and aligned to deliver impact. “Our schools were well-resourced and demonstrated what can be done when funding is targeted to need.”

Details of EEF research projects on EAL can also given.

Increase in the number of sibling groups being separated in care, The Fostering Network, 18th April

Commenting on the report by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme , which highlighted the increase in the number of sibling groups being separated in care, The Fostering Network calls on Fostering services to do all they can to recruit foster carers who have the skills and room to look after sibling groups. They must provide sufficient financial support to foster families who look after siblings, the fostering Network states, as well as essential practical support. Central governments must ensure that sufficient funding is in place to enable this to happen.

Achievement for All Areas for consideration

Educational disadvantage: How does England compare? John Jerrim, Toby Greany and Natalie Perera, April 2018: Education Policy Institute/ UCL Institute of Education

Findings from the report show the poor performance in maths of disadvantaged pupils in England. This is not the case for pupils in schools in England working with Achievement for All.