News and Information for Head Teachers and Governors
28th November 2016
Editorial: John Pearce, Director of Children, Adults and Health
I am really pleased to see, first hand and in the media, the more flexible approach of the government to the governance of schools. The emphasis Sir David Carter placed in his speech in early November on standards not structures was really striking and fits with the discussions we’ve been having about the future role of South Tyneside council in school governance, and supporting and challenging our schools.
The Secretary of State for Education said on 27th October, that there will be no changes to education legislation until the end of 2017. Moreover, there are no proposed changes in the government’s consultation paper (see here) regarding LAs’ legal powers to maintain schools, and their intervention powers with regard to ‘schools of concern’ are welcomed by this council.
We also welcome the delay in the implementation of the national funding formula for schools, and the possibility that a national formula could be implemented using local schools forums, which would enable our forum to continue to make decisions about the way funds available are distributed. We have a strong forum, and the decisions it has made have contributed significantly to the strong performance of our schools – including academy schools.
I can assure you that the council will remain, for the foreseeable future, committed to funding all of the services required to maintain its schools, and provide the wide range of services schools need to purchase in order to support learning and teaching.
But we don’t just want to ‘maintain’ services. As I wrote at the end of October in my letter to chairs of governing bodies, we are ambitious to support our family of schools. Senior local authority officers are available to attend any governing body meeting, at its invitation, to discuss governance, ambition and vision to enable 'world class' education in the borough. The local authority is committed to progress from the current good system to create an outstanding system by working in partnership with the school leadership and governing body.
I want to work with all of you what might define an ‘outstanding’ or ‘world-class’ system – the performance indicators and ‘benchmarking’ we might use, and the opportunities to use a new national context to focus resolutely on ‘what makes a difference’ to our learners and their families.
Council members and officers are also interested in getting your views on families who are ‘just about managing’. Those of you who have read the government’s consultation paper will have noted that it said that ‘schools should take greater account of those children of people on modest incomes, who do not qualify for such benefits but who are nevertheless just about managing’…. Given that in South Tyneside it is certain that there are many such families – and possible that there are more of our pupils in families who are just managing than are entitled to free school meals.
It is schools that know who these families are – and it is probably that some or many pupils from families just above the ‘poverty’ threshold are benefitting from things you do. In the coming months, we’d like to hear your views about how we might work together to identify and benefit these pupils, without stigma.
SOUTH TYNESIDE INFORMATION AND NEWS
The revised Early Help paperwork and guidance is here. The processes are as before, with the added first step of registration. Sending us the registration document allows us to open a contact on our system and to check the history of a child and family for you.
Could nursery and special schools that have not yet done so sign up their staff for the early help threshold briefing by contacting Karen Davison at the address below.
Health and Safety
Stephen Bell, the council’s health and safety advisor, has written to the Head Teachers of all community and voluntary controlled schools about the annual health and safety self-inspection checklist. The completion of the checklist is a mandatory requirement, since the LA is ultimately responsible for health and safety in community and VC schools. It gives the authority assurance that an audit has been undertaken, and that issues are being addressed through an appropriate plan.
The Mental Health of Children
An independent commission has recently advised Ofsted to inspect provision for pupils' mental health and wellbeing. The link between a child's emotional health and the impact on learning is proven. The report is here.
Amongst a raft of recommendations are that teachers should be given better training to identify children in need of support, and that every school senior leadership team should have a member who has undergone full mental health training
Maria Thompson is a lecturer at the University of Warwick looking at values and human rights in English primary classrooms. She is doing a research project, the first phase of which involves an initial scoping survey to determine the current extent of teaching in this area within primary schools. Take part through this link.
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
The RSPB is working in 15 cities across the UK delivering wildlife workshops to primary schools with funding from Aldi. It started in the Newcastle area in September 2015 and is now expanding to cover the whole of the Tyne and Wear area.
All sessions take place in schools’ grounds, are free and led by trained staff. If you wish to find out more about the project follow this link.
Connexions South Tyneside has met the matrix quality standard – so many thanks to all of you whose work has contributed to this. The assessor gave many examples of really positive quotes from young people and partner agencies, and fed back that we have a really positive culture within the team and that staff feel valued, well supported, and appreciate the CPD opportunities available.
Jarrow Hall has re-opened on the former Bede’s World site. Communities charity Groundwork has developed a brand new programme of hands on, immersive educational experiences for schools.
There are currently eight engaging sessions on offer, all designed help pupils truly understand Anglo-Saxon life, and the history of this important site in line with the KS2 history curriculum. Download Groundwork’s education pack for details of the Jarrow Hall and other offers here.
Social Mobility Foundation
This is a charity that runs a programme that supports high-achieving year 12s from low-income backgrounds from the beginning of the 6th form to graduation. It covers a number of courses – information for teachers and pupils is here.
A Correction and Further Congratulations to...
Boldon nursery school, which won the 2016 TES nursery school of the year award, they also won the school of the year award – meaning judges voted it the best school out of all the categories of school. For the first time ever, all 18 judges voted for the winning school.
Since the consultation paper was issued the government has confirmed that there will be no changes to education legislation in the next year. This means that there will be no proposed ending to LAs’ legal powers to maintain schools, and their intervention powers with regard to ‘schools of concern’ – most likely into the foreseeable future. Moreover, there will be no fundamental change to the current funding process for schools until 2018/19 at the earliest.
Key Stage 2
The DfE has confirmed that no more than 6 per cent of primary schools will be below the floor standard in 2016. No decisions on intervention will be made on the basis of the 2016 data alone.
Moreover, the government now expects Regional Schools Commissioners and Local Authorities to work together with the Head Teachers of the small minority of primary schools below the floor or coasting to help and support the schools to move forward in a positive direction.
No new national tests or assessments introduced before the 2018 to 2019 academic year, and there will be no statutory mathematics and reading resits on pupils’ arrival in year 7.
Diane Rochford’s report into the assessment of pupils working below the standard expected in national curriculum tests is here.
Key Stage 4
The DfE has published provisional statistics for 2015 to 2016 on GCSE and equivalent results (see here), which includes information about Attainment 8 and Progress 8 scores, EBacc entry and achievement, and attainment in English and maths (A*-C) . It has also issued a set of documents about Progress 8 in 2016 and in the future –see here.
A new report has been issued by the various inspectorates, “‘Time to listen’− a joined up response to child sexual exploitation and missing children. It says schools have a critical role to play here, as do parents and carers, public services such as transport and recreation, and the local business community. See here.
Apparently Ofsted will be making specific enquiries about schools’ use of the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL), in both short and long inspections this term, focusing on the number of pupils entered and the allocated curriculum time. This is because two or three days’ work can contribute to higher tariff results.
A new report by the Education Policy Institute suggests that teachers in England are working longer hours than in most other countries. This EPI report examines teachers’ working hours, pay, and experience in secondary schools using the OECD’s latest Teaching and Learning International Survey. Read it here.
Government Funding for LAs, RSCs and Schools.
The DfE has just announced that it is making new funds available to the local authorities, the RCSs, and schools. These include:
· from September 2017, a £50 million a year fund for local authorities to continue to monitor and commission school improvement for low-performing maintained schools
· a new £140 million ‘Strategic School Improvement Fund’ for academies and maintained schools - aimed at ensuring resources are targeted at the schools most in need of support to drive up standards, use their resources most effectively and deliver more good school places
· alongside this new work, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has committed to spend a further £20 million over the next 2 years to scale up and disseminate evidence-based programmes and approaches
While there continues to be a dual system of maintained schools and academies, it is vital that all schools have the resources they need to tackle under-performance. This government funding appears to confirm a role for LAs in challenging and intervening where its schools are ‘of concern’. In South Tyneside, there is a commitment to supporting maintained schools in the long term, with a continued involvement in the quality assurance and intervention process.
Wrong-headed ideas for the U.S. Teaching Force
“When the going gets tough in our wealthy societies, the powers-that-be often choose quick fixes. In search of a silver bullet instead of sustained systemic improvement, politicians turn their eyes on teachers, believing that asking them to do more with less can compensate for inconvenient reductions in school resources.”
So writes Pasi Sahlberg, a visiting professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education here.