Archive | April, 2014

National Funding for schools to change in 2015-16

24 Apr

The government has acknowledged that the current school funding system is unfair and must change.  It has, at last, decided to take action to address sins of omission and commission.     The disparity in secondary pupil funding from one authority (possibly in an inner-city area) to another (probably in a shire county) can be as much as £3,000 per annum.

As part of the change, additional funds will be made available to the least fairly funded local authorities.  Funding will be allocated on “the actual characteristics of a local authority’s pupils and schools rather than simply their historical levels of spending.  However, no local authority of school will receive less funding as a result, states the consultation paper issued by the Department of Education, for which stakeholders are invited to comment by 30 April 2014.  (See here.) Continue reading

Details of changes in assessment unfold

24 Apr

(1)       The Early Years

The government announced at the end of March 2014 that it would be introducing tests for four-year-old in 2016.   The baseline assessment will be taken at “the earliest possible point in school”, thought to be the first term of reception when most children are four. Schools will be able to choose from a number of approved assessments.

Proposals to rank pupils by decile – i.e. telling parents where precisely their children were at – the top, middling or bottom 10 per cent — have been dropped following widespread opposition.

If a school uses the baseline tests it will be judged on the progress its pupils make from the age of four to 11. Continue reading

Can governors work as a team and capitalise on their talents?

24 Apr

I           The What and the How

Most people are now familiar about what the role of the school governing body is – i.e. to devise a strategy for the school and keep it on track, promote accountability and act as the school’s critical friend.   These three functions must have a direct impact on educational quality and be reflected in the progress and achievements of the pupils.  However, what proves to be much more challenging is how to bring a disparate group of members together and make them work as a team to ensure that the “what” of governance can be achieved in the best interests of the pupils of the school.  Continue reading

How important is vocational education?

24 Apr

The National Curriculum will change from September 2014.  A notable feature is that it is a much slimmer document than the one set by previous government.   The focus will be on the acquisition of knowledge.

In mathematics, children will be expected to know their tables and all about fractions.  They will be required to take the subject up to the age of 18. In English, there will be a much greater concentration on phonics, grammar and punctuation.   There will also a requirement for pupils to imbibe scientific knowledge across all the key stages.  In design/technology, pupils will be exposed to various aspects of technology, including robotic, computer aided design and coding.

Schools will be expected to prepare for the new curriculum in ways that they think best. No more will government take an active part in “rolling out” as they famously appear to be have done in the past – their ways of delivering the curriculum.  The mandarins in the DfE have stressed that government will not dictate the How – only the basic What.   Even in regard to the latter, it will be up to schools to expand this slimmed down curriculum to embrace learning in an holistic form.

What appears to be absent from the discourse is the inclusion of vocational education, the Cinderella of the curriculum. Continue reading

Why do we need Local Educational Authorities?

24 Apr

I           Introduction

Let me come clean.  I used to be the Assistant Director of Education for a Local Educational Authority (LEA) nearly a score of years ago.   My last few years with the authority weren’t good ones because the constant restructuring caused me to watch my professional back to protect my being from redundancy.  In fact, in my final four years, I was made redundant thrice and on all three occasions the redundancy notices were withdrawn.  However, on the last occasion, I thought that I could be more useful working for schools than the local authority.   Since then, I have not looked back.

Despite this, I do believe that now more than ever, we need local authorities to steady the national education ship.   Let me explain why.  Continue reading