Staff retention crisis, education recovery concerns, exam confidence dips, curriculum advice – catch up on all the key news from this past month



‘Pay affecting retention’


  • One-third of new heads quit the profession within five years. The worrying finding of analysis by the NAHT has led the union to urge government to do more to retain heads. The government’s ‘flattening’ of salaries meant pay was no longer a real incentive. In its response to the School Teachers’ Review Body, the union said that more than one in five school leaders were worse off in real terms than in 2010. Earlier in the month, research showed how salary top-ups for new teachers had boosted retention by 23%. Meanwhile, DfE research on school leaders revealed that women, ethnic minority and part-time staff are far less likely to be promoted.



‘Choose curriculum with care’, says Ofsted Chief


  • Don’t ‘pick-and-mix’ new curriculum resources provided by Oak National Academy, the government-funded arms-length curriculum body. This was the warning issued by Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman in her speech to the Schools and Academies Show. Any of these resources that schools used should be selected ‘thoughtfully’. She added: ‘Too often we do see curriculums assembled as a pick and mix, rather than having knowledge build coherently on knowledge’. She also warned schools not to label pupils unnecessarily. Meanwhile, Ofsted’s new five-year plan out this month revealed its priorities for future inspections. These include to: increase section 5 inspections to improve ‘professional dialogue’; ensure greater accountability of multi-academy trusts (MATs); widen its research remit; improve pupil safety.



Plans to ‘name-and-shame’ over tutoring use


  • Government plans to name and shame schools not using its National Tutoring Programme (NTP). NAHT General Secretary said such action would be the ’wrong way to rescue the government’s original failure to deliver an effective tutoring programme’. Earlier in the month, the DfE revealed it was training 50,000 new tutors under its new £18 NTP.



Exam confidence plummets


  • Confidence in the exam system has fallen – as has understanding of how it works, following the switch during Covid to teacher-assessed grades (TAGs), according to Ofqual’s annual perception poll. Meanwhile, new data on pupil absence raised concerns that Year 11 pupils would not be ready for this year’s exams. They are missing one in 10 lessons, according to FFT Education Datalab.



Covid ‘has not disappeared’


  • As pupil weekly absence due to school closures from Covid increased, the DfE said schools would no longer have to code Covid absence separately, in one of its latest measures to help schools ‘live with Covid’. The unions were not impressed. ‘Having no statistics does not mean that Covid has disappeared,’ said ASCL Director of Policy Julie McCulloch. ‘Some schools are still experiencing massive disruption, with absence levels among both staff and pupils higher than they have seen throughout the entire pandemic.’ We will no longer know ‘what the Covid situation really is in schools’, said NAHT General Secretary Paul Whiteman. Along with the ASCL, at the start of the month he urged government to reinstate free Covid testing for pupils and staff to try and reduce further disruptions to learning.



Ofsted assesses education recovery


  • During Covid, teachers have struggled to balance catch-up with exam revision – according to a new report from OfstedOther concerns raised were a lack of tutors in schools and a concern about the quality of catch-up. Some year groups missed out on specialist teaching as these staff were told to prioritise exam pupils. Schools reported how Covid had affected pupils’ subject choices, with a fall in EBacc subjects. The NASUWT called for wellbeing to be at the heart of education recovery, as it revealed that for 91% of teachers, working through the pandemic had affected their mental health.


Photo credit: Pexels

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