Revalidate teachers, end A-levels, boost SEND status, more staff quit – read more to catch up with this month’s key news
‘Boost SEND leadership status’
There must be more special educational needs and disabilities coordinators (SENCOs) on school leadership teams. Children’s Minister Will Quince also told parents at a Special Needs Jungle webinar that ideally headteachers should have a SENCO qualification too. Earlier in the month, Mr Quince launched his ‘Delivering Better Value in SEND’ programme, which includes plans to ensure ‘proper’ investment in SEND leadership. More than half of councils face potential intervention by the DfE if they do not cut their SEND spending. They will be given ‘support’ to make their services ‘sustainable’.
New curriculum plans for Oak Academy
- Arms-length government curriculum body Oak Academy is to offer new resources to ‘stretch’ pupils. This was one of the proposals set out in a webinar looking at how the organisation can best work in future. Ministers hoped the new body would be set up by the autumn, but there appear to be stumbling blocks to overcome. These include the issue of copyright over teacher-produced materials.
Concern over exam delays
- Schools are concerned about potential delays to exam results as AQA staff in Unison and Unite consider strike action over pay. But the exam body said ‘threats of disruption are nonsense’. The NEU has also threatened strike action in the autumn if teachers are not given an ‘inflation-plus’ pay rise. Meanwhile, head of Ofqual Jo Saxton admitted that mistakes in exam papers had caused ‘distress’ for schools. She also told delegates at the Confederation of School Trusts conference that she anticipates very few schools achieving higher results than in 2021, when teacher assessment replaced exams.
Threat of legal action over careers provision
- Schools who do not give pupils at least six ‘encounters’ with further education and apprenticeship providers could face legal action. A consultation by the DfE is looking into how these careers provision requirements, set out in the Skills and Post-16 Education Act 2022, will be enforced.
More woes for Tutoring Programme
- Schools have been asked to extend tutoring sessions to complete their tutoring package before the end of August, as the DfE struggles to hit its target of two million courses. Later in the month, it was revealed that a review of the struggling National Tutoring Programme had been delayed until the autumn – two years after its launch. This is because teacher-assessed grades were more complex to evaluate than originally anticipated, according to a spokesperson for the Education Endowment Foundation, involved in the programme.
‘End A-levels to remove academic snobbery’
- A-levels must be replaced to combat ‘academic snobbery’. A focus on these exams ‘forces young people to abandon a broad range of skills at the age of 16,’ said Royal Society President Sir Adrian Smith. This then ‘limits their abilities to transition into a wider set of jobs throughout their lives’.
Academies under scrutiny
- Academies are to be put under the spotlight to check for irregularities – as the government pushes ahead with plans to ensure all schools convert. This includes reviewing minimum standards for Trust behaviour, how to incentivise improvements, and how to ‘reduce the burden of regulation’.
Covid sees more staff quit
- Vacancies for school leader jobs have increased by up to 85% since Covid. Leading after Lockdown, by researchers from the Universities of Nottingham and Oxford, also revealed that the number of heads and senior leaders considering quitting since Covid was still ‘worryingly high’. Nearly one in three school leaders admitted to sometimes or mostly ‘sinking’ when asked in January how they had been surviving during the pandemic. Meanwhile, new government data revealed that one in four pupils were persistently absent during the autumn term, due to Covid and other illnesses.
‘Stuck’ schools trapped by ‘negative’ Ofsted reports
- ‘Stuck schools’ are trapped in a cycle of negative Ofsted ratings, and this needs to change, found a new report from Education Policy Institute. ‘There must be a reset in which school inspections are part of a holistic strategy to target support where it is needed rather than a big stick with which to beat schools’, said ASCL Director of Policy Julie McCulloch, commenting on the findings.
‘Revalidate teachers every 5 years’
A premium for all schools to spend on the arts, career academies that have close links to industry, teachers ‘revalidated’ every five years to ensure their professional development is up to date – these were just some of the recommendations of The Times Education Commission in its 12-point plan for education. Its report shows once again the ‘gulf between the policies of government and the needs of our education system’, said the NEU.
Teacher mentors to gain new status
- Teachers who mentor staff will be able to gain new status from the Chartered College of Teaching in recognition of their work, under new plans announced this month.
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