22nd June 2018

Department for Education

International Textbook Summit, 18th June, Nick Gibb speech

The first international textbook summit (at the Royal Society) was hosted by Nick Gibb in collaboration with Cambridge Assessment and the Royal Society on 14thJune.

In his speech, Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards, promoted the use of textbooks to reduce teacher workload and support well-resourced lessons. He said: 

‘Textbooks support teachers to translate the vision of a curriculum into carefully sequenced and well-resourced lessons, reducing teacher workload and increasing the quality of those lessons…

'…According to the latest TALIS data, teachers spend almost 8 hours per week planning lessons. Often, teachers report spending much of this time searching for worksheets online or creating them from scratch, which bridge the divide between their instruction and their pupils’ understanding…

'…In ‘Why Textbooks Count’, the report Tim Oates wrote makes clear the stark differences in our approach to textbooks and those of the highest performing jurisdictions. In England, only 10% of pupils’ teachers use maths textbooks as the basis for their teaching compared to 70% in Singapore. Through the government’s commitment to textbooks and our investment in evidence-based approaches to teaching, we hope to put textbooks back at the heart of England’s classrooms...’

International Textbook Summit: News Story

Further details can be found here at Cambridge Assessment.

Teacher Recruitment Bulletin, 21st June

Department for Education- Statistics

Pupil absence in schools in England: 2016 to 2017, 20th June updated with:

A local authority district (LAD) characteristics file to underlying data showing absence information broken down by free school meal eligibility. 

Key stage 4 qualifications, discount codes and point scores, 21st June (updated)

Added updated documents 'Performance points for qualifications counting in the 2018 key stage 4 performance tables'.

Department for Education- Early Years

Pilot launched to boost early language skills and cut teacher workload, 22nd June

From September, 25 schools across the country are set to trial revised Early Learning Goals, the key measures teachers use to decide how prepared children are to begin Year 1 at the end of Reception year. The changes are aimed at reducing teachers’ workload to free up more time to support children’s early skills and produce engaging lessons.

The pilot will help to address the problem of children arriving at school struggling with language and social skills, helping to close the so-called ‘word gap’ – the gap between disadvantaged children’s communication and that of their peers when they start school.

Free childcare to be extended to foster carers for the first time, 21st June

Foster parents will have access to the Government’s flagship 30 hours free childcare offer for three-and-four-year-olds from September, giving them the same rights as other working families in England.

The extension marks a significant step forward in improving the support available for foster families who work, allowing them to take up the additional 15 hours of free childcare already available to other working parents since September 2017.

30 hours free childcare: summer term 2018, 21st June

Findings show that:

  • Around 339,974 children were in a 30 hours place during the summer term.

  • The total number of children in a 30 hours place is equal to 90% of the eligibility codes issued to parents for the summer term.

Early education and childcare: Statutory guidance for local authorities on the provision of early education and childcare.

Updated with new guidance for 1 September 2018.

30 hours free childcare: LA and early years provider guide: How local authorities (LAs) and early years settings should provide the entitlement for 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds.

Updated guidance and added application form.

Free early years provision and childcare: model agreement: What information local authorities should include in their agreements with early years providers (updated).

Department for Education- FE

£5million to attract over 100 industry experts into teaching, 20th June

A £5million scheme calling on experts from across a range of technical sectors to work in further education has been launched today by Skills Minister Anne Milton.

The Taking Teaching Further programme will pay for up to 150 professionals from sectors such as engineering and computing to retrain as further education teachers.

This expertise will be an important part of the roll out of the first gold standard T Level qualifications – high quality technical courses equivalent to A levels - from September 2020, as well as supporting the wider sector.

16 to 18 qualifications, discount codes and point scores (updated)

Added the updated documents 'Performance points for qualifications counting in the 16 to 18 performance tables 2018'.

Other government- Education Select Committee

Correspondence from the Minister for School Standards regarding alternative provision, 13th June

The letter from Nick Gibb to Robert Halfon MP outlined the need for permanent exclusion to be the last resort, with schools looking to avoid permanently excluding children looked after or those with an EHC Plan.

In 2017, pupils with SEN made up 77% of those attending Pupil Referral Units (this was down from an all time high in 2015 of 82%).

In addition, schools record the reasons for exclusion for a list, but the number of ‘other’ has risen since 2009/10; schools should use the ‘other’ category sparingly.


Amanda Spielman's speech at the Wellington Festival of Education, 22nd June

Amanda Spielman discussed 'intelligent' and responsible inspections, curriculum research and our work developing the 2019 education inspection framework.

She said across these areas:

Ofsted’s research - First, intelligent inspection: that is, everything we do should be valid, reliable and evidence based…

Responsible inspection - The second strand of our strategy is responsible inspection: here our concern is to use the influence that we have over the education system with deliberation and with care…

Inspection grading -…we’ve concluded, on balance, that it is right to maintain the current grading system in the new framework and that is the basis of the discussion I’m having with ministers now as we engage with them on the new framework as a whole…

Education quality and data - A second area of framework development is one you’ve heard me talk about before. How do we make our inspections and reports complement, rather than reinforce, performance data?

Behaviour in schools - I also want us to have a clearer focus on behaviour. We welcomed Tom Bennett’s 2017 behaviour review and are looking at how we can incorporate the recommendations relating to Ofsted in the new framework.

Curriculum -…I cannot stress enough, what we want is a dialogue to understand your thinking and how you’re making sure that the curriculum gives every child a full, deep, rich education.

Areas of underperformance -…My stance continues to be that our job is to provide an objective assessment of the quality of education...

Joint local area SEND inspection Leicester City

For education findings show that: The outcomes for children and young people who have SEN and/or disabilities are weak. The progress made by pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities is below that achieved by similar pupils nationally, between the end of key stage 2 and key stage 4. 


Schools and Youth Mental Health: A briefing on current challenges and ways forward, Menzies et al., 21st June: LkMco/Minds Ahead

Published today lays bare the scale and severity of the UK’s Youth Mental health crisis, showing that children in desperate need are being refused help. One young person was told a suicide attempt was ‘not serious enough’ for them to access support and another to put their ‘chin up’.

The report warns that despite the government’s increasing focus on mental health it is likely to miss its own targets for improved services due to patchy implementation, a severe lack of funding and a shortage of trained specialists.

The report argues that schools cannot, and should not avoid their role in tackling the crisis. The report calls for a new development programme to train mental health specialists to support young people with ‘pre-clinical’ needs within their school. It also calls for Ofsted to improve the way it inspects schools’ contribution to pupil wellbeing and for school leaders to be ‘true to their moral purpose,’ by prioritising pupil wellbeing above league table positions.

School Performance in Academy Chains and Local Authorities – 2017, Andrews: Education Policy Institute

 Key findings 

Overall school performance: academy chains vs. local authorities

  • Overall, there is little difference in the performance of schools in academy chains and local authorities. The type of school – academy or local authority – is therefore less important than being in a high performing school group.

  • At primary (KS2), the difference in pupil improvement between the highest and lowest performing groups is well over two points on the new national curriculum assessments – the equivalent of over a full term’s progress.

  • At secondary (KS4), the difference in pupil improvement between the highest and lowest performing groups is equivalent to half a grade in each GCSE subject.


EEF to manage evaluation of Early Years assessment pilot, 22nd June

The Department for Education (DfE) is planning to make changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP), and is piloting the reforms in 25 schools, selected to be a representative mix of all schools, prior to a full national public consultation. The EEF is managing the independent evaluation of the pilot, and will publish the findings of the pilot.

A team from NatCenSocial Research has been appointed by the EEF to conduct the independent evaluation. Data will be collected through a survey and interviews with Reception teachers or EYFS coordinators in the 25 pilot schools, with in-depth case studies for a sample of the schools. The evaluation will focus on teachers’ interpretation and delivery of the new EYFSP materials, and the extent to which the changes reduce teacher workload.

Closing the word gap: beyond reading and rhymes, Kirsten Asmussen (Head of What Works, Child Development at the Early Intervention Foundation), 18th June.

An abridged version of this article was originally published in the May issue of Children & Young People Now.

EIF and many others have long argued for the importance of early language development to children’s later life chances. The author summarises some of the key messages from their (EIF) forthcoming report on key competencies in children’s cognitive development:

  • First, it is not just about words, but about quality. Specifically, it is about the quality of the child-directed speech that parents use with their children on a day-to-day basis.
  • Second, it is not just about reading and rhymes. Studies show, that during the early years, language is best supported through developmentally appropriate parent–child conversations in response to the child’s interests.
  • Third, content counts! In this respect, parent–child conversations support children’s cognitive development in a variety of other important ways. For example, conversations about objects and living things help children to understand how the world works, which in turn supports their analogical reasoning capabilities as they grow older.
  • Fourth, dosage matters: the best evidence also tells us that parents need to hear these messages more than once in order to remember and act on them.

Their report report concludes with recommendations for how these messages can be shared through a well-coordinated early years’ offer, involving health visitors, children’s centres, childcare and preschool.

International - Wales

Welsh Government - Education and Skills

Major landmark reached as 100 projects completed through the 21st Century Schools and Education Programme, 19th June

Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams, announced today that the programme has reached a major milestone with the completion of the 100th project in Band A, the first wave of investment.

The Education Secretary was speaking at the inaugural Education Buildings Wales conference which is being held at Cardiff University.

£12m to boost employability, 22nd June

Ending generations of unemployment in the same family which means people don’t have the confidence to try to find work, is at the heart of a £12m scheme officially launched by Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan.

The Minister launched the scheme, which will provide intensive mentoring and support to address the complex barriers to employment whilst visiting Seion Newydd in Morriston, where Swansea Council’s Communities for Work Plus team were holding a community drop in session.

Adult learning key to helping people into work, 18th June

Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning Eluned Morganmarked the start of Adult Learners’ Week by visiting Kids Fun in Ystrad Mynach where Working Links, an organisation that helps socially excluded people maximise their potential, were holding an open day.

The soft play centre was open to families free of charge so that parents could meet local employers and receive advice on options for returning to work and accessing learning opportunities, all while their children were busy playing.

Funded by the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund and organised by the Learning & Work Institute Wales, Adult Learners’ Week is the UK’s largest annual festival of learning. It aims to inspire thousands of adults each year to discover how learning can change their lives

International -other

Education outcomes for looked after children 2016/2017, Scottish Government

Looked after children in Scotland are getting better educational outcomes, although there is still a big attainment gap. Those with the best outcomes are:in foster care rather than in other care settings; with fewer care placements in the year and those who have been looked after for the whole year, rather than just part of it.

Achievement for All Areas for consideration

Correspondence from the Minister for School Standards regarding alternative provision, 13th June

The letter from Nick Gibb to Robert Halfon MP outlined the need for permanent exclusion to be the last resort, with schools looking to avoid permanently excluding children looked after or those with an EHC Plan.

In 2017, pupils with SEN made up 77% of those attending Pupil Referral Units (this was down from an all- time high in 2015 of 82%).

Schools working with Achievement for All have fewer permanent and fixed period exclusions.