Academy debacle, race inequality, tutoring league storm, exam challenges ahead and more – catch up with this month’s key news that you need to know in your job

 

Tutoring-league ‘storm’

  • News that school-level tutoring data will be made public in the autumn did not go down well with schools. The ASCL and NAHT were ‘appalled’ that Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi contacted school leaders with the news on a bank holiday, contravening the DfE’s own Wellbeing Charter. They were also unhappy that there was not enough warning of the change. The DfE’s protocol for changes to accountability, curriculum and qualifications says there should be a lead in time of ‘at least’ a year if the change ‘will have an impact on staff workload’. ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton said: ‘We remain concerned that it will end up being a defacto league table, and we are disturbed that it is obviously going to be a source of information for Ofsted inspections.’ He added: ‘We’re all for transparency but we’re also in favour of timely disclosure and consultation – neither of which has happened.’ Later in the month a DfE official said the new tutoring league tables were not a ‘stick to beat people with’.

 

Govt wants greater control of academies

  • Government is seeking greater control over academies under new measures proposed in its draft schools bill published this month. These include deciding on the length of the school day, staff pay, school attendance fines and the make-up of trust boards. They will also have greater powers to close failing trusts, not just individual schools as is currently the case. ‘This feels a long way from the promise of increased autonomy on which the academies programme was originally sold to schools’, said ASCL Director of Policy Julie McCulloch.

 

 

Race report exposes inequalities in SLTs

  • Nearly 90% of state schools have an all-white senior leadership team. New research from the NFER also revealed that candidates from Asian, black and other ethnic minority backgrounds are much less likely to be accepted on an initial teacher training course, raising concerns about the chances of achieving a more representative workforce in schools. Race Equality in the Teacher Workforce also found that non-white staff are much less likely to move to middle leader or headship roles. ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton said the research made for ‘uncomfortable reading’.

 

 

Ed Sec told to ‘check facts’ on academies

  • Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has been asked to check his facts after claiming in a Parliamentary debate on 28 March that ‘evidence that strong, high-performing multi-academy trusts really do deliver the best outcomes’. This goes against the DfE’s warning that ‘direct comparisons between LAs, MATs and SATs may be misleading because the characteristics of the schools are different’. The DfE made this statement after an investigation by the Office for Statistics Regulation into claims that the government’s promotion of it’s academy programme was based on inaccurate data.

 

Heads brace for exam challenges

  • Schools are preparing for exam problems given rising pupil anxiety, with an expected increase in requests to sit exams in separate rooms, ongoing Covid cases, and invigilator shortages, according to a poll by the ASCL. Earlier this month Ofqual published its 2022 to 2025 corporate plan aimed at improving trust and confidence in the exam system.

 

 

Schools to be advised on pupil wellbeing

  • Government is preparing a manual for schools on how to use extracurricular activities to support pupils’ wellbeing. But they rejected calls for all students to undergo a mental health assessment.  Earlier in the month it was announced that an enquiry is to look into how school behaviour policies affect pupils’ mental health. This will be led by The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition.

 

 

Councils look to set up own MATs

  • Local councils are exploring the option of launching their own multi-academy trust (MAT), which the new government White Paper says they can do in areas ‘where too few strong trusts exist’.  For example, West Sussex Council has sent a letter to all of its headteachers to ‘test the appetite’ for such a change.

 

 

‘Physics is for girls too’

  • Girls see physics as for boys only – more needs to be done to encourage them the subject is also for them, MPs told.

 

 

AQA exam rebate ‘still falls short’

 

SEND consultation extended to be more inclusive

  • Government has extended its SEND consultation, opened on 31 March, by three weeks. This followed criticism that key communities it is designed to support had initially been excluded from having their say – British Sign Language and easy-read versions only became available on 9 May.

 

Level 3 qualifications face axe

  • More than 150 level 3 qualifications – including 38 BTECs – are facing the chop by 2024 to make way for the government’s flagship T-levels programme.

 

ICT under review

  • Ofsted has published its latest subject review – this time focusing on computing. Key challenges are a lack of curriculum I’ve and a shortage of specialist teachers. Quality CPD for teachers was essential, said the review. Teachers should not assume pupils are already tech-savvy. The computing curriculum should enable them to become ‘skilful programmers’.

 

New teachers’ struggle continues

  • Nearly half of new teachers and their mentors have struggled to balance training and support with their teaching commitments, found a report into the government’s new Early Career Framework.

 

 


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