Results from first exams post-Covid, pandemic special measures ditched, funding promises broken, teacher shortages soar – catch up on key news over the summer holiday

 

First post-Covid exam results assessed

  • Results from this summer’s exams – the first since the pandemic – saw grades still a lot higher than pre-Covid levels. Private schools saw the biggest drop in GCSE results this year compared with last when teachers assessed grades (TAGs) were awarded. Overall, the number of grades 4 and above was lower than last year, but still higher than 2019 pre-pandemic. The numbers achieving all grade 9s was treble the amount awarded in 2019. At A-level, the drop in results was markedly different across subject areas. In Spanish, the decline in A*s achieved in academies was nearly five times greater than that for English language. But again, overall, the proportion of A*s across all subjects was higher than 2019 levels. In both A-levels and GCSEs the north-south divide widened further. Results were also in for the first ever T-level qualifications. More than one-third of students achieved a Distinction or Distinction*. The overall pass rate was 92.2%. When asked about the introduction of digital exams, research by AQA showed three-quarters of teachers were in favour, but said their schools lacked the infrastructure to deliver it.  As for last year’s TAGs, more than 50% of teachers said they had felt pressured by senior leaders, parents or pupils to increase grades, according to an Ofqual survey out this summer.

 

Curriculum grace period ‘over’

  • As schools got ready to start a new academic year, curriculum managers saw the grace period they were given to update their curriculum come to an end. But Ofsted National Director of Education Christopher Russell reassured them that they ‘do not expect curriculum to be perfect or a “finished article”’. Meanwhile, Ofsted Chief Amanda Spielman told the Festival of Education that teachers should be politically impartial in how they teach issues such as climate change, and Black Lives Matter.

 

Inspection deferrals due to Covid ditched

  • As Covid cases continued, Ofsted ditched its temporary policy that allowed schools to request an inspection deferral due to disruption caused by the pandemic. This was ‘premature’, said ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton, ‘given that it is likely that there will be further waves of infections during the autumn and winter which will cause disruption’.

 

Funding promise ‘broken’ 

  • Government is not delivering on its promise to restore school budgets to 2010 levels – the Institute for Fiscal Studies said schools’ per-pupil funding will be 3% lower in 2024-25 than it was in 2010. ‘It is simply not acceptable to expect teachers to work longer and harder for less, or for the education and support available to pupils to be cut back further,’ said NASUWT General Secretary Patrick Roach, following publication of the IFS report School spending and costs: the coming crunch. The DfE was also called into question this month for significant delays in delivering key reforms. These include to T-level qualifications, and the tutoring programme.

 

 

Staff shortages ‘hit crisis point’

  • More than nine out of 10 schools are struggling to recruit staff – the ASCL warned teacher shortages have reached crisis point. Nearly three-quarters are having to use supply staff to cover for these vacancies, found the survey by the union. ‘The underlying problem is easy to diagnose – the real value of teacher and school leader pay has fallen by a fifth since 2010, and schools and colleges are under huge pressure because of funding constraints,’ said General Secretary Geoff Barton.

 

Covid impacts on SEND identification

  • Working through the pandemic has made it more difficult for schools to identify students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), said Ofsted this month. Its latest education recovery report also revealed that staff were spending more time on digital safeguarding as more learning had gone online.

 

NTP scrutiny continues

  • Auditors are to examine whether the government’s National Tutoring Programme is proving value for money. The National Audit Office is to report later this year on how well the DfE has provided for education recovery.  Meanwhile, Ofsted’s evaluation of the programme has been delayed due to ‘issues with capacity’.

 

 

 


Photo credit: Shutterstock/docstockmedia

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