4th May 2018

Department for Education

Secretary of State speech at the National Association of Headteachers conference, 4th May: Speech

In an address to more than 350 school leaders at the National Association of Head Teachers’ (NAHT) annual conference in Liverpool on 4th May, the Secretary of State set out plans for a clearer system of accountability that will let good schools get on with their job. He set out how the Government “trusts school leaders to get on with the job” by clarifying who schools are accountable to and outlining plans for teacher professional development. He announced a consultation to replace the “confusing” system of having both floor and coasting standards to measure school performance, with a single measure to trigger support for schools.

In his speech, the Education Secretary announced:

  • The department’s initial response to the consultation on Qualified Teacher Status;

  • A £5 million fund to support more teachers to take a sabbatical – such as a year working in industry relevant to their field – and a research project to introduce more flexible hours in the profession;

  • More detail on the recruitment and retention strategy announced at the Association of School and College Leaders’ conference in March;

  • More support, offered proactively, for schools that are in danger of failing; and

  • The launch of an external advisory group and working group with teaching unions to help develop the department’s strategy.

 Related documents mentioned in the speech:

Principles for a clear and simple school accountability system, 4th May

In this document, the Secretary of State for Education set out details of how the accountability system will work in practice, outlining the following ways in which the government will work with schools:

There will be no more ‘inspections’ of schools by representatives of RSCs-Ofsted is the only body that can form an independent judgement about a school through inspection

We will always approach academy trusts and local authorities, not individual schools (unless the school is a single academy trust). RSCs will work with academy trusts on their leadership and oversight of their schools, and with local authorities if they want help to access support.

We will be more transparent about how we take decisions about schools, and the role of Headteacher Boards in particular. Headteacher Boards are made up of outstanding system leaders who know their local area. They advise RSCs on their decisions. We will make available records of their discussions, and advance notification of which schools they are discussing, in order to make the system more transparent.

Strengthening qualified teacher status and career progression: Government response to consultation, 4th May

There was strong support for the government proposal to strengthen the professional development opportunities for initial teachers and throughout their career. The response outlines the government’s plans for doing this:

We will introduce an Early Career Framework (ECF) for the induction period.

We will extend the induction period for new teachers to two years,

We will also review the ITT mentor standards to make sure they are applicable to NQT mentors in schools, as well as mentors in ITT settings. We will also amend the statutory induction guidance to create a new role of mentor in addition to the induction co-ordinator/tutor.

To ensure all new teachers have access to the high-quality professional development and support they are entitled to, we will strengthen the appropriate body function.

We will support the development of new specialist qualifications.

We will reconvene an expert group to explore options for how to improve awareness of the CPD standard in schools, and invite them to develop recommendations on how to better embed the standard into everyday practice.

We will undertake further work with the profession to understand the feasibility and desirability of developing a badging scheme or framework for CPD provision, considering existing initiatives we have become aware of that seek to help teachers identify high-quality CPD.

We will set up a work-related sabbaticals pilot for more established teachers.

Workload advisory group: terms of reference, 4th May

The group has been established to consider how to remove unnecessary workload associated with data and collection for assessment in schools. They will:

  • diagnose the specific issues related to unnecessary data collection and evidence gathering.

  • explore the evidence of what drives this culture in schools

  • take stock of existing actions to remove unnecessary workload related to data collection and evidence gathering.

  • consider how schools can be supported to assess pupils and report to parents with minimal workload burdens

  • consider how educational technology (EdTech) can eliminate unnecessary workload associated with data collection, how to mitigate the risks of increased workload associated with technology, and agree actions for each organisation or representative group in facilitating these aims

  • consider how the Ofsted framework could be aligned to the purpose of eliminating unnecessary workload associated with evidence prepared for inspections

  • consider if further content is required for the workload reduction toolkit 

UKCES Employer Skills Survey 2015: UK report, 2nd May

The 2015 Employer Skills Survey (ESS), is the third in the series of UK-wide skills surveys run by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). The survey gives insight into the skills issues employers face and the action they are taking to address them. There is no other business survey on this scale.

This year’s survey points to continued growth in recruitment. However, a growing number of jobs are being left unfilled because companies can’t find the right people with the right skills.

An area of real concern is skill shortages faced by the construction sector, a hugely important sector that contributes nearly £90bn to the UK economy, over a million jobs, and is strategically important in its contribution to housing, infrastructure and initiatives to stimulate UK growth.

The ESS findings show employers are struggling to fill one in three construction vacancies, up from one in four in 2013, because they can’t find people with the right skills.

The survey reports on the skills left unused by UK employers. One in three employers had at least one member of staff whose skills were underused. For example, 40 per cent of employers in the Hotel and Restaurants sector report having staff with unused skills compared to 20 per cent in Agriculture.

Further details are available in the report.

See also: UKCES Employer Skills Survey 2015: England and local toolkit, 2nd May

UKCES Employer Skills Survey 2015: Northern Ireland Toolkit, 2nd May

UKCES Employer Skills Survey 2015: Scotland toolkit, 2nd May

UKCES Employer Skills Survey 2015: Wales Toolkit, 2nd May

Department for Education- Early Years

Multi-million fund to boost children's early language skills, 30th April: News Story

Families to receive extra support to help with children's early language and communication skills at home.

A new £5million scheme will be run by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to trial projects to provide practical tools and advice to parents so they can help their children learn new words through simple steps like reading and singing nursery rhymes.

Alongside this, an £8.5million programme has opened for local authorities to fund projects to improve early language and literacy development for disadvantaged children.

The projects aim to give parents and carers the tools to widen children’s language, vocabulary and social skills in the pre-school years to tackle the ‘word gap’ that exists between disadvantaged children and their better off peers at age five, and there is evidence that shows this has a long-term effect on educational outcomes.

See Early years social mobility peer review programme- DfE is partnering with the Local Government Association (LGA) to deliver a new peer review programme to spread best practice on improving early language outcomes.

The guidance covers:

  • what a peer review is

  • what the peer review will focus on

  • what you will get from participating

  • what being a peer reviewer involves

  • how to let us know if you are interested


 Early years provider non-compliance: action by Ofsted, 2nd May (updated)

This Ofsted handbook sets out the policy and approach to its compliance, investigation and enforcement work for providers registered on the Early Years and/or the Childcare Register.

There are changes over 6 areas of which a summary is found here

Local area SEND inspections: information for families (updates), 4th May

Added inspection dates and webinar link for West Berkshire and North Somerset.


EEF publishes new evaluation reports

Family literacy sessions could boost learning, but supporting parents to attend is hard

Offering parents ‘family learning’ sessions that aim to give them the tools they need to aid their child’s learning at home might improve literacy, but supporting them to turn up regularly can be difficult.

115 primary schools in England took part in a randomised controlled trial of Family Skillsa programme delivered by a partnership led by Learning Unlimited that aimed to improve the literacy and language of children learning English as an Additional Language (EAL).

The trial was funded by the EEF with The Bell Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy, as part of a funding round focused on raising the attainment of EAL pupils.

The trial was funded by the EEF with The Bell Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy. Over the course of one term, parents of four and five year olds were offered weekly sessions with family learning tutors. The two and a half hour sessions focused on topics like reading to children, phonics, making the most of bilingualism, learning through play, and understanding primary education in England. Families were encouraged to do learning activities at home with their children, and were also given opportunities to visit a local library and take a tour of their child’s school.

The evaluation suggests that children whose parents actually attended Family Skills sessions made greater progress in literacy than children whose parents did not. While the evaluators are cautious about this figure (noting the impact might have been between 0 and +2 months’ additional progress), this may indicate some potential if ways can be found to ensure more parents attend.

Other evaluation reports published

A pilot of RETAIN, a one-year professional development programme for early career teachers (ECTs) who are teaching key stage 1 (KS1) pupils in schools in disadvantaged areas. The project was led by the Cornwall College Group and evaluated by a team from Sheffield Hallam University.

A pilot of Positive Action, a school-wide programme led by Lady Joanna Thornhill Primary School and evaluated by a team from Queens University Belfast, that aims to develop positive attitudes and behaviour, and improve peer relationships and engagement in learning.

A trial of GraphoGame Rime, a computer game designed to teach pupils to read by developing their phonological awareness and phonic skills. The game is delivered in small groups supervised by a teacher or teaching assistant, with pupils working on individual devices, as the game is designed to constantly adjust the difficulty to challenge the learner at an appropriate level. The project, delivered by the University of Cambridge and evaluated by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), was funded as part of joint initiative with Wellcome to explore how insights from neuroscience can be used to improve education.

Entry Through the Narrow Door: The Costs of Just Failing High Stakes Exams, Machin et al., April 2018: Centre for Vocational Education Research

In many countries, important thresholds in examinations act as a gateway to higher levels of education and/or good employment prospects. This paper examines the consequences of just failing a GCSE in English. It uses unique administrative data to show that students of the same ability have significantly different educational trajectories depending on whether or not they just pass or fail this exam. Three years later, students who just fail to achieve the required threshold have a lower probability of entering an upper-secondary high-level academic or vocational track and of starting tertiary education. Those who fail to pass the threshold are also more likely to drop out of education by age 18, without some form of employment. The moderately high effects of just passing or failing to pass the threshold in this- high stakes exam are therefore a source of educational inequality with high potential long-term consequences for those affected.

Vulnerable children and social care in England: a review of the evidence, 30th April: Education Policy Institute

Key findings

  • Analysis of expenditure trends suggests that local spending per child has fallen since 2010.  In order to maintain statutory provision, local authorities have cut back on early support services, and/or have used reserves.

  • The provision of social care staffing varies considerably, and in many areas is showing signs of strain. In London, workers’ caseloads are slightly lower – yet agency workers fill a high proportion of vacancies. In the Midlands and parts of the North, workers’ caseloads are higher, but vacancies and agency rates are lower.

  • A greater proportion of local authorities in regions with higher children’s social care caseloads have received poor Ofsted ratings.

  • The number of workers entering the children’s social care profession was substantially higher in 2017 compared to previous years –effective local recruitment and retention payment schemes may have contributed in some areas.

  • However, turnover rates are still very high, standing at 14% – around 50% higher than the teaching profession.

  • In particular, staff burn-out appears to be a significant problem – just under two-thirds of those leaving local authority employment in 2017 had worked for less than five years.

The future of the children’s social care system

  • With research indicating that child poverty is projected to increase, growing pressures on the care system are unlikely to decrease without measures that address the underlying connections between poverty and child protection risk.

  • In light of financial constraints, additional resources at a local level may also be necessary to prevent the outcomes of vulnerable children deteriorating.

Did the Baby Boomers fulfil their childhood dreams?

30 April 2018, IOE, UCL

In 1969, more than 10,000 11-year-olds, taking part in the National Child Development Study (NCDS), were asked to write an essay imagining what their lives would be like at 25. 

This year, these children, and the study turn 60 years old. The Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS), based at the IOE, which manages the NCDS, contacted a number of the study members to share their essay with them and to see how their lives have unfolded. For most, this was the first time they had seen their essay since they wrote it some 50 years ago.

The following are 4 examples of how their lives turned out (there are more examples at the website):

Steve - At age 11, Steve imagined he would be a policeman when he reached 25. He had a tough childhood, as his family struggled financially and his father battled alcoholism. After leaving school at 16 with no qualifications, he eventually launched a successful career in the insurance industry, and then set up his own business. He has been married for 30 years and has one daughter.

Claire - In her essay, Claire imagined she would be a nurse when she was 25. She had an idyllic childhood in the countryside, and after showing a flair for drawing and painting during school, she obtained a degree in art. She went on to work in social services, and then raised three children, before retraining at age 39 to become an art teacher. She spent more than 20 years in the profession before retiring last summer.

Nigel - At age 11, Nigel thought he would be an army corporal at age 25. His childhood was full of adventure, as his family went sailing, surfing and horse riding. While at grammar school, Nigel passed his English and maths ‘O’-Levels a year early, but he decided not to pursue his studies after age 16. Nigel has worked in various professions, but now feels settled as a carpenter and builder. A car and motorbike fanatic, he has been married for 30 years.

Sally - When Sally was age 11 she imagined she would be a nurse at age 25. Although her father was a doctor, she didn’t think girls could pursue such a career. Sally experienced tragedy as a child when her mother committed suicide days after her 11th birthday. She found stability at school, and followed in her father’s footsteps to become a doctor. Two of her children are also doctors.

Early Years- 30 Hours - Policy into Practice 30 hours free childcare policy A survey of providers by NAHT

The survey by the NAHT of early years providers shows that the majority are delivering the government’s 30 hours' free childcare offer, but they are struggling to do so because of a lack of funding.

Key findings show that: 

  • Almost four-fifths of respondents (77 per cent) said they were delivering the 30 hours offer

  • Almost four-fifths (78 per cent) said 10 per cent or fewer of the children accessing the 30 hours were low-income families entitled to free school meals

  • Less than a fifth (19 per cent) said the funding they received was sufficient to cover their costs

  • More than two-thirds (70 per cent) said they were cross-subsidising from another part of the school/setting to enable them to offer the additional hours

  • Almost nine out of 10 (87 per cent) said they probably would or definitely would be looking to continue offering the additional hours next year. 

The results suggest the government’s funding to early years providers is insufficient to cover costs, let alone higher qualifications. Underfunding the 30 free hours offer risks negatively impacting quality. 

Most of the respondents to the survey find they can only make things work by borrowing money from other parts of their budgets. 

The government’s 30 hours' free childcare promise should be a boost to parents. But there is some evidence that the 30 free hours appears to be having a detrimental impact on children from deprived backgrounds. 

Only working families are eligible for 30 free hours – children from non-working families only qualify for 15. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of our survey respondents felt the 30 hours offer had displaced more disadvantaged three and four-year-olds only entitled to 15 hours of free childcare. Help is not reaching the families that most need it, and children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds could risk being pushed aside. 

International -Wales

Kirsty Williams steps in with £200,000 to support armed forces children, 28th April

Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams, has announced that the Welsh Government will provide £200,000 to support the children of Armed Forces personnel in Wales following the closure of a Ministry of Defence fund.

Up until March this year schools in Wales were able to bid for funding from the MoD’s Education Support Fund (ESF) which was open to schools across the UK and provided targeted support for Service children. The fund has now come to an end, and a new interim £200,000 Supporting Service Children in Wales Fund will be established. This will be administered by the Supporting Service Children in Education (SSCE) Project and hosted by the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA). Schools are being invited to bid this term for funding ready for the new term in September. 

EWC responds to Children, Young People and Education Committee Inquiry into Youth Work: Follow-up Consultation, 2nd May

Robin Hughes - OMG! Is there a teacher in the house? EWC blog, 3rd May

In this blog the author considers the centrality of teacher professional development- how teachers want it and the government supports and promotes it. Yet in practice it isn’t happening. The author says that there needs to be a stronger more embedded culture of CPD for this to happen in practice.



Professional standards for teaching and leadership roadshows

The new professional standards for teaching and leadership are intended to support the people who work to build the best opportunities and outcomes for learners; the staff in our schools. This session will offer information about the standards and show ways in which they can be used to best effect.

he main issues to be addressed will be:

  • the purpose of the professional standards and the wider educational context

  • the architecture of the new standards

  • timescales

  • ways of using the standards...for ourselves and colleagues

  • how the new standards differ from previous ones

  • frequently asked questions

The session will last two hours and will be fast paced but allow opportunity for discussion.

REGISTER: 17.05.18 9.00 – 11.30 @ Village Hotel Swansea



17.05.18 – 13.30 – 15.30 @ Pavilion, Llandrindod Wells


New and aspiring middle leaders course

The ERW New and Aspiring Middle Leaders Program is aimed at colleagues in the primary, secondary or special school sectors and has been designed to offer practical advice about the role of a middle leaders. The course is free of charge.

This program is an integral part of the work of ERW in delivering the regional offer for professional learning in partnership with University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Delegates who enrol and participate the ERW new and aspiring middle leaders course can gain credits towards a Graduate Certificate of Professional Learning: Leadership.

Participants are also able to access the New and Aspiring Middle Leaders Network on Hwb.

For further information about this course, visit: http://www.erw.wales/schools/leading-learning/middle-leaders/


Reduce Workload by Improving Feedback

Courses are available for school leaders to support workload reduction across the school


The mental health dividend, 2nd May, Stephanie Waddell, Early Intervention foundation

In light of the government’s, Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision green paper published in December, the author considers the centrality of developing children’s social and emotional skills, not just in PHSE, but as a whole school approach. She concludes that: ‘We need to support heads, teachers, and other school staff, notably school nurses, SENCOs (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) and educational psychologists, to create caring, safe and nurturing school environments and to teach children the skills they need to be happy, healthy and successful in their lives. These are the kinds of environments that promote emotional wellbeing and mental health and support children who may already show the signs of mental health problems. They are the bedrock of the system changes proposed by government in the children’s mental health green paper. To overlook this and consign the conversation about social and emotional learning to the PSHE debate risks severely limiting the impact of the new investment in sub-clinical mental health provision in schools’.

Achievement for All Areas for consideration

EEF publishes new evaluation reports

Family literacy sessions could boost learning, but supporting parents to attend is hard.

The findings from the report highlight the benefits of parental engagement in children’s learning, but the difficulties in parents actually attending the sessions. This is not the case with schools working with Achievement for All, where parental engagement is supported through use of the structured conversation model; parents and carers engage with their childrens learning in school and at home, contributing to better outcomes for their children.