9th February 2018

Department for Education

Foster Care in England, 6th February 2018

Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers's independent review of the fostering system in England with recommendations to the government about improving foster care.

The independent review, commissioned by the Department for Education looked at the purpose of foster care and what it means to those closely involved in the system.

It makes 36 recommendations for government, local authorities and independent fostering agencies including:

  • Ensuring foster carers are supported and included in decision-making;

  • Improving foster placement commissioning, and matching;

  • Greater stability and permanence for children and young people in foster care.

In the context of education the report states that the fact only 6% of those in foster care go on to university should be viewed in context:

‘It is not a useful comparison, when you consider the extent of abuse and neglect many children in care have suffered before entering care. Furthermore, the proportion of children with special educational needs is four times higher in the care population than in the general population. The reality is that when it comes to education, far from failing children, the care system can serve children well.

Research by Sebba and colleagues (2015) compared the educational progress of in children in care with similar groups. They found that: Care generally provided a protective element and that early admission into care combined with longer placements were associated with consistently better outcomes than those experienced by children who entered the care system later (post Key Stage 2), those who stayed in care for short periods of time, and children classified by the local authority as being in need (children on the edge of care).

This is not to say that the educational attainment of children in care cannot be improved. It can be and it should be. David Berridge demonstrated how things like previous poor academic attainment and genetic inheritance before care can be exacerbated by low teacher expectations and a failure to prioritise education in the life of a child in care. But the care system’s reputation as failing children educationally is not deserved……’

See also Anne Longford, children’s commissioner Response, 6th February 2018

She disagrees with the recommendation to remove Independent Reviewing Officers

Also Looked-after children in foster care: analysis

At 31st March 2017- there were 53,420 children in foster Care

At KS2- 25% of children in foster care reached the expected standard in reading, writing and maths

At KS4: Attainment 8 scores of children in foster care- All: 29.1; No SEN: 38.8; All SEN 22.7

Eligibility for free school meals and the early years pupil premium under Universal Credit

Government responds to consultation on disadvantage support, 7th February 2018

The proposals that will be taken forward include:

  • Introducing a net earnings threshold of £7,400 per annum for free school meals eligibility under Universal Credit, to take effect from 1 April 2018. A typical family earning around £7,400 per annum would, depending on their exact circumstances, have a total household income of between £18,000 and £24,000 once benefits are taken into account

  • Mirroring this eligibility criteria for the early years pupil premium, which gives additional funding to early years settings to boost the attainment of pupils from low income families

  • Introducing a net earnings threshold of £15,400 per annum under Universal Credit for eligibility for the 15-hour free early education entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds, to take effect from 1 April 2018.

Any household earning below these thresholds and claiming Universal Credit will be eligible to claim these benefits for their children.

The policy will protect every child in receipt of free school meals at the point at which the threshold is introduced, and every child who gains eligibility before the end of the rollout of Universal Credit, until Universal Credit is fully rolled out. Following this, protected children still in school will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their phase of education (for example primary or secondary school). No child who has started their two-year-old early education place will lose it as a result of this new proposal.

The government will work with schools and local authorities to help ensure families who are entitled to these benefits feel confident in how to claim them.

Free early years entitlement for 2 year olds under Universal Credit- Government response to the consultation

Next steps:

Free school meals: ‘We are laying regulations in parliament that will bring the proposed thresholds into force in April 2018 for free school meals and the early years pupil premium. The regulations and commencement orders will also introduce protection arrangements for existing recipients of free school meals, so that no child will lose free school meals during the transitional period because of these changes.

We will provide schools, local authorities, early years settings and further education providers with guidance on the new eligibility criteria. This will support them in implementing the new arrangements and determining what evidence could be accepted to determine eligibility if they are not using our Eligibility Checking System. The guidance will also include information that they can share with families. We will communicate these changes through our newsletters and online services for local partners and will use our online channels to reach families.

Free early education entitlement for two-year-olds: We intend to lay regulations in parliament that will bring the proposed thresholds into force in April 2018 for the free early education entitlement for two-year-olds. We will update our current guidance for local authorities with the new eligibility criteria, including information that they can share with providers. We will also update our guidance on using the Eligibility Checking System to support local authorities with checking potentially eligible families. The Department for Work and Pensions will continue to provide the Department for Education with lists of households who may potentially be eligible for its free early education entitlement for two-year-olds to assist local authorities with their marketing to parents who may be eligible for the offer.

And the Free early years entitlement for 2 year olds under Universal Credit: equality analysis 

Free school meals and the early years pupil premium (EYPP) under Universal Credit: equality analysis, 7th February

School performance tables: how we report the data, 5th February (updated)

Updated to amend 2017 changes to school performance tables.

Ready reckoners and transition matrices for key stage 2: 2017, 9th February 2018

Republished since December 2017, with transition matrices for 2017

Annual report of the Chief Schools Adjudicator for England, 8th February 2018

The second annual report of the Chief Adjudicator Ms Shan Scott, to the Secretary of State for Education records the progress made by admission authorities in England in complying fully with the School Admissions Code and achieving fair access to schools for all children; it covers the period (1 September 2016 to 31 August 2017).

In her report, Ms Scott states:

That the main admissions rounds for entry to schools works well and serves well the interests of looked-after and previously looked-after children, those with disabilities and special needs or who are vulnerable for other reasons. She is less confident that the needs of children who need a place outside the normal admissions round are so well met and is concerned that some children, particularly the more vulnerable, spend more time out of school than they should.

Concerns about admission arrangements continue to make up the largest part of the work of the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) and accounted for 100 of the total of 163 new cases of all types referred to OSA.

The Chief Adjudicator reports many positives in achieving fair access to schools for all children while highlighting areas in which admissions procedures can be strengthened. She notes that:

  • Local authorities report that fair access protocols typically work well and do much to support timely admission to school

  • More schools are giving priority in their oversubscription criteria to children eligible for the pupil premium and service premium and these cover all age ranges, rural and urban schools, large and small schools and different categories of schools

  • Clarity and fairness are at the heart of sound admission arrangements. Clearly written admission arrangements that parents understand are least likely to be the subject of successful objections

Department for Education- Further Education

Characteristics of young people who are long-term NEET, 8th February 2018

This report includes new analysis of the characteristics of young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) for a year three years after completing key stage 4 in the 2010/11 academic year. The vast majority of this cohort were 18 at the start of the 2013/14 academic year.

The aim of this analysis was to look at the characteristics of young people who were long-term NEET, so it focuses on the 4.8% of the cohort who were NEET for the whole year.

These are not mutually exclusive (excluding the ‘Looked after child’ and ‘Children in 5 Need (not LAC)’ groups), so one individual can be in multiple categories. Key characteristics show:

  • 37% of the cohort who were looked after children were NEET for the year in 2013/14.

  • Those who attended a pupil referral unit (PRU) or were in alternative provision at some point,

  • Pupils who had been permanently excluded during secondary school were the other groups where more than a fifth spent the year NEET.

Teaching, leadership and governance in further education, 8th February 2018: Research and Analysis

In April 2017 Professor David Greatbatch (working with Sue Tate) was appointed to conduct a rapid evidence review in order to synthesise the available evidence on teaching, leadership and governance in the FE sector. The evidence reviewed covered the whole FE sector but with a specific focus on FE colleges.

Key findings show:

Teacher quality - is variable because of the different academic backgrounds of those teaching in FE- But there is evidence that English and maths provision remains an area of weakness in FE due to a shortage of specialist English and maths teachers on the one hand, and a lack of English and maths expertise among vocational teachers on the other. There is some evidence to suggest that FE learners benefit from integrated approaches to teaching English and maths that contextualise learning within vocational areas.

CPD - variable and the evidence is limited

Leadership - The literature indicates that middle leaders play an important role in implementing organisational change policies and programmes. It also suggests that effective leadership behaviours for middle leaders differ from those for senior leaders because they are primarily occupied with day-to-day people management rather than the leadership activities associated with Senior Management Teams (SMTs), such as strategic planning, legacy building and developing mission statements and visions.

Governance - Several relatively small-scale studies suggest that while strong and effective governance is widely regarded as critical, there is an absence of both an articulated rationale and model for governing and a clear understanding of any connectivity between board and institutional performance.

Supply issues - Recent research evidence indicates that FE managers believe that: reforms of the FE sector will have a significant impact on the recruitment of teaching because they are reshaping skills that are required; there is likely to be a greater need to recruit in subject specialisms (English and maths - followed by science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects - than more generic teaching specialisms.


Multi-academy trust performance measures: 2016 to 2017, updated, 8th February 2018

Updated to correct the key stage 4 MAT EBacc weighting and the key stage 2 MAT writing progress bandings 

30 hours free childcare: eligibility codes issued and validated, 8th February 2018

Management information on the number of 30 hours free childcare codes issued and validated for the spring 2018 term. Republished with the February 2018 update added.

FE data library: apprenticeship vacancies, 9th February

Apprenticeship Vacancies reports have been suspended following review.

See also: Public sector apprenticeship target, 9th February 2018

This statutory guidance applies to most public bodies with 250 or more staff in England, including schools and academy trusts

It outlines how these public bodies should:

  • Aim to meet the public sector apprenticeship target

  • Use the data publication and apprenticeship activity return to report their progress towards meeting the target.

The list is a guide to the scope of the public sector apprenticeship target and which bodies must follow the target. Due to factors including limitations in the data available, this is not a definitive list for determining the coverage of the target.

Statutory guidance sets out what public bodies must do to comply with the law. The guidance should be followed unless you have a very good reason not to.

See also: Department for Education government consultation - Implementation of T Level programme: Submission of evidence by NFER

And see blog: NfER blog by Claudia Sumner, 9th February 2018- Vocational studies and T-Levels: what will be different this time around?

In this blog, the author says that: ‘T levels provide a much-needed opportunity to ‘rebalance’ the qualifications system. Their success will depend on employers rising to the challenge and being more deeply involved in training than has been the case until now, and young people (and colleges, teachers and parents) being aware of this brand new qualification and the prospects it offers’.

She refers to ‘Vulnerable young people, including those with learning difficulties and disabilities, or those at high risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment of training), needing additional support to reach their potential and succeed in their studies. We found that the most effective colleges invest in procuring appropriate work experience and offer one-to-one support to help young people travel to and from a place of work, as well as offering guidance as to what will be expected of them while they are there. Investing in young people maximises their chances of succeeding in their chosen path.

If the Government is serious in its commitment to fostering social mobility, it must ensure that all young people have access to high-quality, impartial careers advice and well-informed teachers. Mentors and careers advisors can help all young people make the choices that are right for them. Students who rely exclusively on family and friends for advice risk having their own ambition curtailed by the experience of those closest to them…’.


Local area SEND inspection outcome letters- Medway, 8th February 2018

Relevant findings show that:

Leaders across the local area have not implemented the SEN reforms well enough. Medway’s education and service leaders do not share one vision and strategy for SEN and/or disabilities.

Some schools have highly effective systems to identify and support pupils with SEN. However, not all mainstream primary schools identify and meet pupils’ SEN early enough. This means that pupils do not always get the support they need from the beginning. As a result, some parents believe that the EHC process is the only way to ensure that their children’s needs are met. The recent spike in requests for children to be assessed for an EHC plan signals that this is a growing concern.

Overall, schools are improving and this has resulted in an improvement in outcomes, including for pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities

Further education and skills inspection handbook, 8th February 2018

Republished with amended footnotes 6 and 11 to clarify re-inspection in certain circumstances.


Educational outcomes of children with English as an additional language, Jo Hutchinson, Education Policy Institute

Key findings

Performance of EAL pupils

  • Average attainment scores of EAL pupils are deeply misleading and conceal considerable variation.

Primary performance

  • Looking beyond headline figures, this new analysis finds that some groups, including those with a first language of Pashto, Panjabi, Turkish, Portuguese, Czech and Slovak, perform below national standards in primary assessments– despite having entered the English school system at an early stage as infants.

  • Conversely, other groups, including Tamil, Chinese and Hindi pupils, perform above national standards at primary– despite having arrived in the school system as late as Year 5.

Secondary performance

  • Some EAL pupils, such as late arrivals with Pashto as a first language, score, on average, between an F and an E at GCSEin Attainment 8 having arrived into the English school system in Year 9.

  • At the other end of the scale, children with Chinese as their first language perform well, averaging between a B and a C at GCSEin Attainment 8 – despite having also entered secondary school in Year 9.

Arrival time of children vs. attainment

  • In Key Stage 2 assessments, on average EAL pupils in reception scored 2 points above the expected standardin reading and maths. However, performance declines to 2 points below the expected standard by Year 3, and continues to fall to a striking 17 points below for pupils arriving before exams in Year 6.

  • At GCSE level, pupils with EAL scored an average grade of a Cif they arrived between reception and Year 7. This decreased to a grade of around a D if they arrived in Year 8, 9 or 10 – falling further to below an E if they arrived in Year 11.

Specialist expertise in English schools

  • Compared to other countries, England’s system for developing support for EAL pupils through specialist roles is insufficient.

Key recommendations

  • With current funding provision for pupils arriving late into the English school system inadequate, a ‘late arrival premium’ is needed in the national funding formula for schools to provide intensive support, and, in particular, to help address the large attainment differencesbetween those arriving in Year 7 and those arriving later in Year 10 or 11.

  • The government should develop new policies to generate and maintain EAL expertise in schools. Lessons can be drawn from other English-speaking jurisdictions – where there are effective policies for establishing specialist EAL roles, programmes for staff development and graduate level specialist qualifications.

Effective evidence-based teaching strategies can fail with poor implementation, 9th February 2018

The EEF guide is aimed at teachers putting evidence- based teaching strategies into practice in the classroom research.

Sir Kevan Collins says:

'There are many barriers to implementing new programmes and approaches effectively in schools - the bombardment of new ideas and initiatives, limited time and resources, and the pressure to yield quick results, to name just a few. As a result, it can be too easy to overlook the critical steps needed to maximise the chance of success. Creating the right conditions for implementation – let alone the structured process of planning, delivering and sustaining change – is hard grind.

Yet good and thoughtful implementation of a new teaching and learning strategy can mean the difference between it succeeding or failing. It really is that stark. With so much at stake, it is absolutely crucial schools give their innovations the very best chance by working carefully through the who, why, where, when and how of managing change’.

The report provides guidance on how schools can create the right environment for change, from supporting staff to getting leadership on board. This report sits alongside the EEF’s other guidance reports – focused on literacy, maths, and making best use of teaching assistants – providing the basis for an overall advance towards evidence-informed school improvement.

See also blog by EEF Blog: Putting evidence to work in your classroom, Shaun Allison, Director of Durrington Research School.

State schools often better managed than private schools, 5th February 2018

Bryson and Green looked at 406 schools, including 79 that were private, and studied 48 human resource management practices that are known to be associated in many industries with high levels of staff commitment and performance.

They covered eight domains: incentives, record-keeping, targets, teams, training, total quality management, participation and selection. 

“Although private schools were ahead of state schools in terms of record-keeping, on the whole it is the state schools who scored more highly across most domains, as well as in terms of our summary management score,” said Professors Bryson and Green in a blog for the IOE about their research.


£100m to deliver 21st Century Schools, 8th February 2018

£100m is to be invested over the next three years to accelerate the delivery of the flagship 21st Century Schools and Education programme, Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams and Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning Eluned Morgan have announced.

Kirsty Williams said:

‘Our national mission is to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and confidence. Our 21st Century Schools and Education Programme plays a key part in this and is the largest investment in our schools and colleges since the 1960s.

“Having a comfortable, modern, fit-for-purpose environment in which to learn is vital to ensuring young people have the best possible education. This extra funding will mean that even more of our students will be able to benefit from having the best possible facilities in their schools and colleges’.



Foundation phase assessments for 2017-18

Welsh Government have issued a statement clarifying arrangements for undertaking the end of Foundation Phase assessments for 2017-18

Arrangements for undertaking the end of Foundation Phase assessments for 2017-18

The Foundation Phase Profile was introduced in September 2015 and it is statutory for schools to use the Profile to undertake baseline assessments of children at the start of Reception Year. I am aware that many schools are using the Foundation Phase Profile to track children's progress throughout the Foundation Phase and are intending to use it to undertake the end of Foundation Phase assessments in the summer term, 2018. It is, however, not compulsory to use the Foundation Phase Profile for the end of Foundation Phase assessment. Schools should continue to use an approach of best fit against the outcome descriptors, using the results from the Foundation Phase Profile to inform their judgement as they feel necessary.


School Performance Reporting - KS4 Performance Measures

Update from Welsh Government regarding key stage 4 performance measures including guidance clarifying the early entry policy and how it will impact on school examination entry processes

GwE Regional Workshop for New Headteachers

GwE Regional Workshop for New Headteachers: ‘Effective Leadership in a Fast Changing World’

OpTIC, St Asaph - 8 March 2018

For all new Headteachers in the first year of their substantive post. First-time Acting Headteachers in their first year are welcome. 

A day of presentations from experienced leaders from the region on a range of topical subjects. They will share their experiences with the aim that there will be good practice to take back to your own schools, they will encourage you to evaluate your own practice and you will have the opportunity to network with like-minded professionals. Registration details to follow. 


Preparing our youth for an inclusive and sustainable world: The OECD PISA global competence framework

The framework defines global competence as a multidimensional capacity. Globally competent individuals can examine local, global and intercultural issues, understand and appreciate different perspectives and world views, interact successfully and respectfully with others, and take responsible action toward sustainability and collective well-being. These dimensions of global competence can be found on p11. The report says schools have an important role in developing them.


EEF Blog: Do teachers need theories that would bore researchers? 5th February 2018

In this blog, Robbie Coleman – a secondary school English teacher and a Senior Associate at the EEF – looks at Prof. Daniel Willingham's recent article, ‘A Mental Model of the Learner', and asks: should teacher training include a set of well-defined, robust generalisations about what learners have in common?

Overall, he concludes, the proposal to make a tight set of principles about what learners have in common a core component of teacher training is convincingly argued.

Achievement for All: possible areas for considerations 

Foster Care in England, 6th February 2018

The report says that the educational performance of children in foster care can still be improved. Achievement for All works successfully works with schools support them in getting better outcomes for those in foster care.