22nd December 2017

Department for Education

The English Baccalaureate and GCSE choices: brief, Sam Clemens, National Centre for Social Research, 21st December 2017

The Department for Education (DfE), through the Centre for the Analysis of Youth Transitions (CAYT), commissioned the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) to undertake a survey to assess the effects of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) on secondary schools in England.

Key findings show:

  • Around half of the schools taking part in the survey (52%) said that the EBacc had influenced their curriculum offer, and most schools (88%) had provided information or advice on EBacc to parents/carers and to pupils.

  • The survey found that a higher proportion of pupils are choosing to take EBacc subjects. Among Year 10 pupils, on average, 33% had selected GCSE subjects that, if passed at ‘C’ or above, would lead to them achieving the EBacc. For Year 9 pupils, this stands at 47%.

  • Looking at the specific subject choices made by Year 9 pupils, double science is far more popular than triple science. On average, 29% of Year 9 pupils were taking triple science, while 54% were taking double science. This reflected the curriculum policies of schools. Only a minority of schools (27%) offered triple science to all pupils, most (65%) offered it to some and 8% of schools did not offer triple science at all. Double science was more widely offered, being offered to all pupils in 54% of schools.

Primary school accountability, 20th December 2017- republished with updated information about progress measure bandings.

Rural primary schools designation, 19th December 2017

This is the latest list of local authority-maintained primary schools in England the Secretary of State has designated as rural under the Designation of Rural Primary Schools (England) Order 2017.

English Baccalaureate (EBacc), 18th December- republished with updates

Updated HTML document to show changes to which qualifications count towards the EBacc and how the accountability measure is changing.

Academy conversion: important dates, 18th December

Deadlines for schools converting to academy status- added dates for April to September 2018 academy conversions.

Department for Education - Early Years

EYFS staff: child ratios - DfE approved qualifications, 19th December 2017

Republished with updated information on the pre-September 2014 spreadsheet with information about sector-endorsed Foundation Degrees.

Early years providers can use these early years qualifications lists to:

Department for Education - FE

Multimillion-pound contracts awarded for apprenticeship training, 20th December

Hundreds of training organisations across the country are being given a boost as government begins awarding contracts (21 December) worth nearly £500m to provide apprenticeship training for learners and small businesses.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is awarding contracts to hundreds of organisations to provide apprenticeship training to non-levy paying employers. Each of these employers does not pay the apprenticeship levy because they have an annual pay bill of less than £3million.

This will ensure all businesses have a real choice of high quality apprenticeship training provision, no matter where they are in the country or what sector they operate in. It will also mean that more people of all ages and backgrounds will have the opportunity to get into skilled employment. Employers looking to find an apprenticeship provider can do so through find apprenticeship training, which will be updated in early January.

See also: Skills partner statement of action for government and employers, 20th December


Childcare and early years survey of parents: 2017, 21st December

This publication provides information on a survey of parents with children aged 0 to 14. It covers parents’ use of childcare and early years provision, and their views and experiences, including:

  • What childcare is used by different types of families

  • Changes in take-up of childcare over the years

  • Parents’ reasons for using or not using childcare and for choosing particular providers

  • Parents’ views on the providers they used and on childcare provision in their local area in general

  • The influence of childcare arrangements on mothers’ decisions about whether to go out to work and working patterns

  • The home learning environment, including the type and frequency of activities undertaken by parents with their children, such as reading and learning about words and numbers.

Key findings show: 

  • Overall, in 2017, 79% of families in England with children aged 0 to 14 had used some form of childcare during their most recent term-time week.
  • This equated to 4.4 million families or 6.3 million children.
  • Formal childcare was used by 66% of families, up from 63% in 2010-11 due to increased use of breakfast clubs, after-school clubs, and day nurseries.
  • Informal childcare was used by 36% of families, down from 40% in 2014-15 due to lower take-up among families with school-age children.
  • Around two in five (42%) parents in 2017 felt the number of local childcare places was ‘about right’ - a fall from 2014-15 (46%) but in line with earlier surveys in the series.
  • Most parents (62%) felt the quality of local childcare was very or fairly good, in line with 2014-15.
  • Two in five (39%) parents in 2017 rated the affordability of local childcare as very or fairly good, while 34% rated it as very or fairly poor.

Home Learning Environment

Looking at books or reading was the home learning activity most frequently carried out with children aged 0 to 5, with 70% of parents reporting that someone at home does this activity at least once a day with their child. The next most frequently conducted home learning activities were learning songs, poems or nursery rhymes (59% of parents reported that someone at home does this at least once a day with their child), and learning numbers or to count (58% of parents reported that someone at home does this at least once a day with their child).

30 hours free childcare: autumn term 2017, 19th December

This gives data on the use of 30 hours free childcare in the first term of national rollout, from September to December 2017 (Experimental Statistics).

Key data shows:

  • Around 202,800 children were in a 30 hours place during the autumn term.
  • The total number of children in a 30 hours place is equal to 90% of the eligibility codes issued to parents for the autumn term.

FE data library: apprenticeships, 21st December 2017

Republished to add new apprenticeship pivot table tools by sector subject area for provider and demographic breakdowns for the 2016 to 2017 academic year.

See also: FE data library: local authority tables, 21st Dec

Added new tables for provider data by local authority and data for delivery in each local authority district for 2016 to 2017.


Social care commentary: hidden children - the challenges of safeguarding children who are not attending school, Ofsted's National Director, Social Care, Eleanor Schooling, 21st Dec 

In this article Eleanor Schooling considers the risks of children educated at home as the profile of children changes. The children she refers to are:

  • Children not attending school nor on a school roll, including children who have been excluded either on a permanent or an informal basis and for whom no suitable alternative provision is arranged.

  • Children who fall under the heading ‘educated at home’, but may not be receiving effective, efficient and suitable education or any education. This includes some children who may not be known to their local authority (LA) or any agencies.

  • Children attending unregistered schools, sometimes under the guise of being electively home educated.

  • Children in alternative provision that is of insufficient quality or is not provided for the required hours.

  • Children without a school place in LAs in which the protocols are not working well enough for hard-to-place children. 

In relation to Children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, she says:

Our report ‘Local area SEND inspections: one year on’ highlighted the findings from the first year of inspections of how LAs respond to children who have special educational needs (SEN) and/or disabilities. We found that these children and young people were excluded, absent or missing from school much more frequently than other pupils nationally. School leaders had used unofficial exclusions too readily to cope with them. Across nearly all local areas inspected, a high number of parents said that they were asked by the school leaders to take their children home.

A significant number of children de-registered from school have additional needs (social, medical, SEN). Many parents report to feeling they felt they had no other option.

(Quote from LA in the ADCS survey)

We want to support the rights of those parents who enable their children to thrive through home education. However, I recognise that the cohort of children being educated at home is changing. For too many children and families, it is not a positive option and leads to children not receiving an effective education. And for some children, it increases the risk of harm.

Local authority and children’s homes in England inspections and outcomes, 20th December

All 52 LAs were inspected. As at 31 October 2017, 36% of LAs were judged good or outstanding, an increase from 29% in March. Over the same period, there was a decrease in LAs judged inadequate from 24% to 19%.

Experiences and progress of care leavers as at 31 October 2017: Nine authorities were judged outstanding for experiences and progress of care leavers and 61 were judged good. Of the 15 authorities judged inadequate in this sub judgement, eight were requires improvement to be good for the Children looked after and achieving permanence key judgement; and seven were inadequate.

School inspection handbook, 21st December 2017

Guidance for inspecting schools under the common inspection framework, with a mythbuster document on common misconceptions. This has been updated for changes to 'Requires improvement' monitoring and changes arising from the second consultation on short inspections.

Handbook for short, monitoring and unannounced behaviour school inspections, 21st December

Updated for changes to 'Requires improvement' monitoring and changes arising from the second consultation on short inspections.

School inspections and outcomes: management information, 20th December 2017

Updated to show all publication dates up until 11 May 2018.


Access to high performing schools in England, 21st December 2017, Jon andrews and Natalie Perera

The report by the Education Policy Institute, looks at the density of high quality secondary school places across England, comparing high quality places in 2015 with 2010 in order to identify whether geographic access to high performing schools is improving.

Widening access to high performing schools is crucial if the government’s policy objective of improving social mobility is to be met. Indeed, the Department for Education’s recently published Social Mobility Action Plan has a strong emphasis on ‘place’, and states that ‘where you live will affect where you get to in life – while in some areas opportunity can become self-perpetuating, in other communities, disadvantage can become entrenched’.

Key Findings

Availability of high performing secondary schools:

  • Access to high performing schools in England has become more geographically unequal over the period 2010-2015. This is in spite of government policies aimed at improving school performance outside higher performing areas such as London. Virtually all local authorities with consistently low densities of high performing school places are in the North, particularly the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber. In Blackpool and Hartlepool local authorities there are no high performing secondary school places.

  • From 2010 to 2015, local authorities with consistently good access to high performing secondary schools saw the proportion of pupils with access to such schools rise from 49% in 2010 to 58% in 2015. Many of these areas are in London.

  • In areas with consistently low densities of high performing school places, the proportion of pupils with access to such places fell from just 6% in 2010 to 5% in 2015. These include areas such as Blackpool, Hartlepool, Barnsley, Redcar and Cleveland, Knowsley, and Middlesborough.

  • When analysing access to schools at a disaggregated, neighbourhood level, in both 2010 and 2015 the authors also find one fifth of local areas in England had no high performing secondary schools within reasonable travel distance. This means pupils in these neighbourhoods are unlikely to have had any opportunity to access a place at a high performing school.


Popular NFER blog posts of 2017

EEF Blog: Starting early - what are we doing to examine disadvantage before year 1? 19th December

Anneka Dawson, Senior Evaluation Manager at the EEF, explores some of the challenges of evaluating early years programmes and interventions...

The increased focus on this age group is welcome. We know that the gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates emerges before school starts - the latest data shows there’s a 19 percentage point gap in school-readiness between disadvantaged children and their peers. We also know that high-quality early years support can make all the difference.

The author discusses the various trails and reports led by EEF. To cite some: The EEF expanded its remit to include the early years in 2015. Since then it has commissioned seven trials to test different early years strategies, including the Nuffield Early Language Intervention, an EEF Promising Project that’s currently being evaluated through a large-scale effectiveness trial in almost 200 settings.

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations

Ensure schools are aware of the Ofsted updates on inspection and also the mythbuster about inspections.