From coping with Covid changes, and supporting mental health through to Ofsted deferrals and exam concerns – use our monthly digest to keep up to speed with the latest headlines
‘Impossible situation’ after ending of Covid rules
- Schools have been left in an impossible situation following the national relaxation of Covid-safety regulations on 24 February. The NAHT demanded government to provide ‘clear and unambiguous guidance’. Meanwhile, DfE funding to help schools cope with increased staff absences due to Covid has been extended, now until at least 8 April.
Pupils at risk due to ‘lack of mental health support’
- Lack of proper mental health support is taking its toll on students and staff. The findings of a four-month investigation by SchoolsWeek has revealed how schools are in desperate need of more help to better support these pupils.
Post-16 survivors ‘go under greater scrutiny’
- BTECs and other post-16 qualifications that survive the government’s imminent cull of level 3 courses to make way for more T-levels, are to be put under greater scrutiny going forward. Ofqual’s consultation on these new regulatory proposals ends on 20 April. A petition against the cull, launched by Sixth Form Colleges Association as part of its #ProtectStudentChoice campaign, received enough support to trigger a Parliamentary debate on the issue.
‘Test pupils when ready’
- Our current qualifications are ‘inequitable and unreliable’, according to the Independent Assessment Commission. In a new report, the IAC, part funded by the NEU, said pupils should be tested when they are ready rather than be made to sit ‘cliff-edge’ GCSEs.
1 in 5 Ofsted deferrals refused
- One in five schools requesting this year that their Ofsted inspection be deferred due to Covid were declined by the regulatory body. New data from Ofsted also revealed that the majority of schools – two-thirds – were happy for their inspection to go ahead.
Schools get more time to prepare curriculum
- Ofsted has given schools a further six months to get their curriculums into line with the new framework initially meant to be implemented in 2019 – to take account of the time they have lost during the pandemic.
DfE takes back more control of academies
- DfE has said it is going to take a tighter grip on the finances of academies, following its review of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). It has stripped the ESFA of a lot of its post-16 policy and academy work, to take it inhouse. The ESFA will still remain an arms-length body, but with reduced responsibilities.
Levelling-up agenda ‘at risk’
- Government has failed to close the disadvantage gap in the past decade under its rule according to a new report from the Education Policy Institute. This lack of progress means the government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda is likely to fail to hit its targets. ‘There is little evidence in current government policy of plans’ to adequately address these education inequalities, said the report.
‘Too many blame Covid for poor attendance’
- Covid is being used as an excuse by some pupils and their parents for their poor attendance, according to a new report from Ofsted. Schools with good attendance rates make sure the issue is ‘everyone’s business’ and is an ongoing process.
Exam boards’ ‘worry about staff burnout’
- Coping through Covid has left the exam boards concerned about how they will manage in future. A report from Ofqual revealed that exam boards fear an exodus of staff due to stress and burnout from the challenges faced during the past two years.
‘Make tutor programme data public’
- Data on the National Tutoring Programme must be made public, said the Education Select Committee, so all can see how the money is being spent on this beleaguered scheme, by the for-profit firm Randstad that is running it. In early January, MPs asked for data on how the scheme was helping more disadvantaged students, and were apparently still waiting for it as this month drew to a close.
New measures ‘will harm Progress 8’
- Schools face a drop in their Progress 8 scores after the DfE said it would not be including pupils entered into their exams early during the last two years when operating in the pandemic. This is because government has said that teacher assessed grades in 2020 and 2021 will not count in the league tables.
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