Making the headlines this month: Covid catch-up lag, teaching hours’ controversy; Covid safety concerns; funding news…
Covid catch-up lag
- Disadvantaged pupils lag behind in Covid catch up, finds new data from the DfE. Recovery in secondary schools has also been slower than in primaries. The amount of time pupils were absent during periods when schools were fully open appeared to be a key factor affecting the rate of learning recovery. The survey also revealed that only 1 in 3 schools planned on using the government’s flagship National Tutoring Programme (NTP). A few days earlier, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a further £1.8bn to fund catch-up and tutoring, after previously saying the government had ‘maxed out’ on its education recovery spending. While a welcome U-turn, taking the total spend to £5bn so far, it is still far short of the £15bn that the government’s former catch-up Czar Kevan Collins said was needed.
White Paper rumours
- Government is considering bringing back SATs testing of 14-year-olds, scrapping the cap on teaching hours in a school day, speeding up academisation and giving Ofsted more powers. These are just some of the ideas being discussed in the run up to a new white paper expected early next year, according to an exclusive article in the Guardian.
‘Need more black headteachers’
- Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi says schools need to employ staff who better reflect the communities they serve. There are not enough black headteachers, he told delegates at the NAHT conference.
‘Improve Covid safety now’
- Unions unite to call for tighter Covid safety measures in schools given the surge in cases. Meanwhile, a survey by the NAHT revealed that one in four schools had surpassed the government’s contingency thresholds for Covid cases. In another survey, this time from the ASCL, 95% of heads said that staff and pupil absences this term have impacted teaching and learning – nearly one-third said this had been severe.
Cash incentives for teachers
- New teachers of maths and science are to be offered up to £3,000 to encourage them to stay in the profession and work in areas that ‘need them the most’. This ‘levelling-up premium’ announced by Boris Johnson at the Tory Party Conference was a repackaging of the same policy from 2019 that he then scrapped last year.
Widening funding gap
- Private school fees are 90% higher than spending per state-school pupil, revealed a new report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies. ‘Longstanding concerns about inequalities between private and state school pupils, which have come into sharp focus during the pandemic, will not begin to be easily addressed while the sectors enjoy such different levels of resourcing,’ said the report’s author Luke Sibieta.
Academy CEO salaries exposed
- Chief executive officers of academies earn on average £135k/year – with men receiving £15k more than women, according to a new survey by the Confederation of School Trusts.
- Funding for staff to take the new national professional qualifications (NPQs) in leadership is now to be extended to all schools, in a government U-turn – previously it was just available to those working in schools in deprived areas.
Baker Clause change afoot
- Schools should provide all pupils with at least two ‘encounters’ with colleges or training providers as part of their careers education – this new law is being championed by Kenneth Baker, under the 2017 Act known as the Baker Clause.
New social mobility head
- Headteacher Katharine Birbalsingh, who became known after giving a speech at the 2010 Tory conference on the ‘broken’ education system, has been put forward as the preferred candidate for the government’s social mobility commissioner job.
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