27th April 2018

Department for Education

Fund for bright disadvantaged pupils launched, 27th April: Press Release

  • £23 million programme to support the brightest pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to reach their potential

  • Applications open for organisations to manage fund, which runs until 2020

The £23 million Future Talent Fund programme will test new and innovative ways of helping the most talented disadvantaged pupils to remain on their high performing trajectory and prevent them falling behind their more affluent peers.

The new fund manager will run and evaluate a trial of projects from January 2019 which will help all schools to support their most able, disadvantaged pupils – to address the drop off in academic performance between key stage 2 and key stage 4.

The announcement builds on wider efforts to support disadvantaged pupils and raise standards across the country, including:

  • £72 million to support 12 Opportunity Areas to improve the life chances of young people in disadvantaged communities;

  • The government’s social mobility action plan Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential which focuses £800million of resources on helping children make the most of their lives; and

  • 75 projects sharing £25million to provide more support for schools, many of which will increase pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills, and help to the attainment gap.

The £23 million programme will deliver at least 30 trial projects between January 2019 and July 2020 following two bidding rounds. The scheme will champion best practice and encourage evidence-led interventions, including those that could be funded by schools using their Pupil Premium funding.

In the autumn, a variety of organisations will be eligible to apply for the funding. This will include state-funded schools and multi academy trusts, charities and research organisations, independent schools and universities. Projects supported by the fund must be delivered in non-selective, state-funded secondary schools in England and will cover at least one of the following strands of work:

  • Curriculum: such as broadening or deepening what is covered in the curriculum;

  • Pedagogy: for example, individualised teaching, the use of digital technology or feedback;

  • Parental involvement: which could include aspiration interventions, engagement through technology or behavioural insight techniques;

  • Mentoring and tutoring: including academic mentoring, community based mentoring, school based mentoring, one-to-one tuition, group tuition or peer tutoring;

  • Transition between key stages: such as summer schools or transition practices in schools; and

  • Enrichment activities: which could include after-school classes, extra-curricular activities or visits.

New National Schools Commissioner to help raise standards, 27thApril: News Story

The Department for Education has confirmed that a new National Schools Commissioner is to be appointed following the excellent work of Sir David Carter, who is retiring from the civil service after four years at the department.

Data protection: toolkit for schools, 23rdApril: Guidance

To prepare for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in May 2018 all organisations handling personal data, including schools, need to have the right governance measures. This guidance will support schools with data protection activity, including compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Find, join or create a network for school business professionals republished with update), 27thApril

This guide describes how business professionals working in schools can join or create a school business professional network. It is republished to add a link to a relevant case study 'School business manager peer support improves financial health'. Also added HTML doc 'School business professional networks directory' and changed the summary and details to reflect that the directory is now included on this page.


Local area SEND inspections: information for families, republished with updates, 23rdApril 2018: Guidance

Information for families about inspections of local area services for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

This has been republished with the following updates- upcoming inspections:

·      Leicester, 30 April to 4 May 2018 (register for the webinar, 10am on Friday 27 April)

·      Newcastle upon Tyne, 30 April to 4 May 2018, (register for the webinar, 12:30pm on Friday 27 April)


New guidance report published: how to develop pupils’ metacognitive skills, 26thApril: EEF

The EEF has published its latest guidance report, designed to support teachers in changing their classroom practice to improve their pupils’ metacognitive skills – in essence, their ability to plan, monitor and evaluate their own academic progress so they become better at learning and studying.

Evidence suggests the use of ‘metacognitive strategies’ – which get pupils to think about their own learning - can be worth the equivalent of an additional +7 months’ progress when used well. However, while the potential impact of these approaches is very high, particularly for disadvantaged pupils, less is known about how to apply them effectively in the classroom.

This guidance reviews the best available research to offer teachers and senior leaders practical advice on how to develop their pupils’ metacognitive skills and knowledge. The report has recommendations in seven areas and ‘myth busts’ common misconceptions teachers have about metacognition.

The report makes the following seven recommendations:

  1. Teachers should acquire the professional understanding and skills to develop their pupils’ metacognitive knowledge
  2. Explicitly teach pupils metacognitive strategies, including how to plan, monitor, and evaluate their learning
  3. Model your own thinking to help pupils develop their metacognitive and cognitive skills
  4. Set an appropriate level of challenge to develop pupils’ self-regulation and metacognition
  5. Promote and develop metacognitive talk in the classroom
  6. Explicitly teach pupils how to organise, and effectively manage, their learning independently
  7. Schools should support teachers to develop their knowledge of these approaches and expect them to be applied appropriately

Progress 8: What if we started at the beginning? Blog Dave Thomson, 27thApril: Education Datalab

The author discusses what Progress 8 would look like if all those pupils who left school before the January in Year 11 were included.

Progress 8 is a school-level attainment measure that takes account of pupils’ prior attainment at the end of Key Stage 2. However, the measure only includes those who reach the end of Key Stage 4 at a school.

In 2017 atotal of 516,000 pupils were in the cohort data analysed by the author, almost 483,000 of whom (93%) were included in the national Progress 8 calculations in 2017 at a state-funded mainstream school excluding schools which admit at age 14 (UTCs and studio schools)

The destinations of the remaining 7%, almost 7,000 pupils completed Key Stage 4 at a state-funded pupil referral unit, 4,000 moved to state-funded establishments which admit at age 14 (studio schools, UTCs and some FE colleges) and another 4,000 moved into the independent sector (including independent alternative provision). The destinations of almost 17,000 young people are recorded as unknown. These will include those in home education and those who have emigrated, among other outcomes.

But while an average of 7% of pupils leave the state-funded mainstream sector, this figure is much larger for certain pupil groups. These include:

  • Over half of Gypsy/Roma and Irish heritage Traveller pupils

  • 15% of pupils classified as long-term disadvantaged[

  • 10% of black Caribbean and mixed white/black Caribbean pupils

When these pupil groups are included, the Progress 8 measure is ‘damaged’; the author suggests publishing a P8 measure, including all these groups of pupils, alongside that already published.

The teacher labour market: a perilous path ahead? Luke Sibieta. 25thApril: Education Policy Institute

Almost all recent figures suggest the teacher labour market is in trouble, particularly in subjects where graduates can earn relatively high salaries outside of teaching. This also has potential consequences for the quality of education pupils can access in these subjects  For example, recruitment targets for physics teachers have been persistently missed over time and, partly as a result, only half of current physics teachers have a degree in a relevant subject. The author of the report  suggests that if the government is considering easing the public sector pay cap for schools, it might be worth targeting any additional funds on explicit salary supplements for early career teachers in shortage subjects.

International -Wales

Kirsty Williams outlines ‘mixed economy’ education vision, 23rdApril 2018, Welsh Government: Education and Skills

As part of this, she previewed a consultation asking whether sixth form provision should be added to the remit of the new authority for post-16 education and training, which will also include further and higher education.

Setting out the Welsh Government’s commitment to raising standards for all in a non-selective comprehensive system, the Education Secretary emphasised the benefits of the “mixed economy” of schools, colleges and universities in Wales.

In addition, she set out the direction of travel on:

  • A reformed school accountability system which values the progress of all learners

  • Greater freedom for schools on curriculum indicators within performance measures

  • Improved measures on post-16 performance across 6th form and FE sector

On an equitable education she said:

 “We don’t write off anyone, or anywhere. We have high expectations, with the right support, at the right time, for all students, schools and settings.

“By believing in a non-selective comprehensive system, I admit that we are setting ourselves a challenge, when compared to other systems. But it is a challenge with a moral conviction. As a small country, we can’t leave anyone behind.

“We may not spend most of our time and energy discussing structures, as happens across the border – but that doesn’t mean we prescribe the same solution for all. A progressive comprehensive system is a system that suits each and every learner’s needs and requirements in their education journey.”

Empowering Education in Wales: An EWC special event, 23rdApril: Education Workforce Council

On Tuesday, 22 May, the EWC will hold a special public event at the Angel Hotel, Cardiff, featuring Professor John Furlong and Professor Jennifer Gore. Both speakers will discuss the latest developments in educational research, evidence of impact on learners and the empowerment of teachers to enhance professional practice and student learning. The event is free and you can register at this link



Reduce workload by improving feedback.

Training has been organised for a national programme to support leaders in reducing workload across the school. You can register at this site.


Summer 2018 Examinations Questionnaire

Have your say - summer 2018 examinations questionnaire

As in previous years, Qualifications Wales is inviting learners, teachers, lecturers and anyone with an interest in the summer exams to share their views by completing a short online questionnaire. The feedback will directly help to regulate the qualifications system in Wales. 

The questionnaire should only take around five minutes to complete and is completely anonymous - we will not ask for the names of either individuals or centres. 

The questionnaire will be open from 8 May until 6 July

Hwb Platform - Changes to Access Arrangements

The Welsh Government has changed the way schools provide access to the Hwb education portal and managed learning environment (the Hwb Platform) for their staff and learners.
This letter explains those changes.

Compulsory log-ins for all pupils

From September 2018, it will be compulsory for all pupils in maintained schools in Wales to be provided with a secure log-in to the Hwb Platform. From that date, online Personalised Assessments will be phased in over three years to replace the paper National Reading and Numeracy Tests, and certain assessments must be completed online via the Hwb Platform. 

In order for learners and staff to be provided with secure log-ins to the Hwb Platform, schools will need to share personal information about them with Welsh Government. This will now be done via the All-Wales Education Identity Provider service, details of which will be made available. Local authorities will be able to provide the support and assistance to use this service. Details of what you need to do next are available at this site.


SEC's response to exclusion guidance, 27thApril: Special Educational Consortium

This document is the Special Educational Consortium response to the Government consultation on exclusions guidance.

The response covers key issues including:

  • Children with special educational needs accounting for over half of exclusions

  • Clarifying the role of the SEN expert, and expanding it to cover disability

  • Developing a better understanding of what takes place at Independent Review Panels

  • Unlawful exclusions

  • Local authority attendance at governing body review meetings where the school is an academy

Oscar’s Book Prize: Shortlist of best early years picture books unveiled, 25thApril: National Literacy Trust

Oscar’s Book Prize celebrates the best early years picture book of the year. It is awarded in memory of Oscar Ashton and in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, Amazon and the London Evening Standard.

Oscar Ashton was three-and-a-half-years-old when he died from an undetected heart condition in December 2012. Oscar’s parents, James Ashton and Viveka Alvestrand, subsequently launched Oscar’s Book Prize to find the best early years picture book of the year, to celebrate their son’s love of magical stories.

The following books have been shortlisted:

  • Lucie Goose by Danny Baker and Pippa Curnick

  • There’s a Pig Up My Nose by John Dougherty and Laura Hughes

  • Sunk! by Rob Biddulph

  • The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd Stanton

  • That Bear Can’t Babysit by Ruth Quayle and Alison Friend  

The prize will be announced at a ceremony in May at St James’s Palace, where the winning author will receive a cash prize of £5,000.

Response to The Times article on kinship care, 23rdApril: Fostering Network

On Saturday there was a detailed article in The Times about kinship carers (behind a paywall) - relatives who care for children that are not their own, usually because their parents aren’t able to care for them. The article highlighted the incredible role that kinship carers play in the lives of tens of thousands of children and young people, as well as some of the major issues facing this group of carers.

However, the Fostering Network is critical of the fact that the article, to emphasise the lack of support facing kinship carers, the article chooses to denigrate the role of fostering and foster carers. They go on to say that the introduction to the article says that children entering the care system face a ‘stark choice: either go into a foster home or be looked after by a relative.’ This sort of language paints a negative picture of foster carer which is far from reality. Good foster care transforms lives and enables young people to thrive. The vast majority of young people in care are living with foster families who love them and provide the stability and support that will see them grow into confident adults.

Rather than setting up a false conflict between kinship care and foster care (indeed many foster carers are related to the children they look after), the Fostering Network would prefer to see the benefits of both extolled and for it to be recognised that what is important is finding the best possible setting to enable each child to be safe and to reach their full potential – for many this may well be with relatives, but for others the most appropriate setting may be with foster carers who can provide a caring, family environment along with other therapeutic input that these children so desperately need.

Time for reform of the apprenticeship levy? Williams and Van den Brande, 23rdApril: NfER

The authors consider, a year on from the levy being introduced, what kind of impact the policy is having. They conclude, after analyzing the available statistics, thatoverall, it is still early days for the levy. Yet one year on from its introduction, the historical issues associated with apprenticeships – namely the level of apprenticeships offered and creating opportunities for young people where they are most needed – remain the same. The levy still has a long way to go if the government is to meet both its promise of providing high quality apprenticeships and its target of 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020.

Achievement for All Areas for consideration

New guidance report published: how to develop pupils’ metacognitive skills, 26thApril: EEF

The report makes the following seven recommendations:

  1. Teachers should acquire the professional understanding and skills to develop their pupils’ metacognitive knowledge
  2. Explicitly teach pupils metacognitive strategies, including how to plan, monitor, and evaluate their learning
  3. Model your own thinking to help pupils develop their metacognitive and cognitive skills
  4. Set an appropriate level of challenge to develop pupils’ self-regulation and metacognition
  5. Promote and develop metacognitive talk in the classroom
  6. Explicitly teach pupils how to organise, and effectively manage, their learning independently
  7. Schools should support teachers to develop their knowledge of these approaches and expect them to be applied appropriately

Achievement for All works with schools to support the development of metacognitive skills in pupils. Further resources to support this are available on the Achievement for All Bubble