Archive | August, 2014

New curriculum takes off on 1 September 2014

25 Aug

I           What is the Curriculum?

A new national curriculum is being implemented from September 2014 in all maintained schools.  However, academies and free schools may plough their own furrows.  Notwithstanding, the law requires that all institutions, including academies and free schools, offer a curriculum which is broad and balanced and which “promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils” in schools and within society and prepares them “for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life”.

Despite the problems of time-constraints, the guidance has made explicit that “the school curriculum comprises all learning and other experiences that each school plans for its pupils” and the national curriculum forms only “one part of the school curriculum”.

In addition to devising an eclectic curriculum, every school must also make arrangements for a daily act of collective worship of a wholly or mainly Christian orientation – unless exempt from doing so by the local Standard Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) – and “teach religious education to pupils at every key stage”.  Secondary schools must also have on their timetables Sex and Relationship Education (SRE).   Each school should make provision for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHEE), based on good practice.

Maintained schools, with the exception of academies and free schools, are subject to a legal requirement “to follow the …..programmes of study, on the basis of key stages, subject content for those subjects that should be taught to all pupils”.  A school may go beyond this and include other subjects or topics of its choice in planning and designing its own programme of education.   However, every school must publish its curriculum by subject and academic year on-line. Continue reading

Support for Performance Related Pay Grows with Teachers

25 Aug

September 2014 will be the end of the first full-year cycle in which teachers’ pay is tied to their performance.   The experiences of school teachers, headteachers and governors have been varied.  However, what is especially significant is that a survey by the National Foundation for Educational Research  (NFER) (see here) commissioned by the Sutton Trust revealed that there is a growing head of steam among teachers to support the link between performance appraisals salaries than when the policy was first introduced by the former secretary of state, Michael Gove.

Teacher appraisals were introduced by the Labour Government in 2000.   Performance reviews had a sharp edge for all staff on the upper pay spine and the leadership scale in that increases were predicated on good, if not outstanding, appraisals.   This was extended to all teachers in September 2013 to take effect a year later.  It replaces increases given to teachers who perform at least satisfactorily – based on their lengths of service.

Altogether, 1,163 teachers were surveyed by the NFER.  Of them, 55% primary and 52% secondary teachers favoured the criteria of good pupil progress and achievements being deployed to determine salary increases.

When asked which criteria should be used to decide on pay progression, the three most popular were the following.

(i)            Assessment by more senior staff – such as line managers. This was supported by 60% of teachers and was more popular among secondary staff.

(ii)           Assessment by the headteachers. This was supported by 54% of teachers and was more popular among primary staff.

(iii)          Consideration of the progress and results of pupils currently taught. This was backed by 53% of teachers.   Continue reading

Changes in provision for young people with special needs

25 Aug

I           What are the changes?

Changes in the provision we make to provide for pupils with special educational needs (SENs) in our schools and further education took effect from 1 September 2014.  These arrangements will cover young people from the time they are born to the age of 25 (instead of 18 as it formerly was).

The Department for Education (DfE) issued a new Code of Practice for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) on 30 July 2014 to which all schools, local authorities and health authority must adhere.   The Code is in accord with the Children and Families Act 2014.

The nine important changes in the Code are on pages 13 and 14 of the document. These are as follows.

(a)          There is a clearer focus on the participation of children and young people and their parents/carers in decision-making at individual and strategic levels.

(b)          There is a stronger focus on high aspirations and on improving outcomes for children and young people.

(c)           The Code includes guidance on the joint planning and commissioning of services to ensure the education, health and social care agencies closely co-operate.

(d)          The Code includes guidance on publishing a Local Offer of support for children and young people with SEN or disabilities.

(e)          There is new guidance for education and training settings on taking a graduated approach to identifying and supporting pupils and students with SENs (to replace School Action and School Action Plus).

(f)           For children and young people with more complicated needs a co-ordinated assessment process and the new 0-25 Education, Health and Care plan (EHC plan) replace statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDAs).

(g)          There is a greater focus on support that enables those with SENs to succeed in their education and make a successful transition to adulthood.

(h)          Information is provided on relevant duties under the Equality Act 2010.

(i)            Information is provided on relevant provisions of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Continue reading

More changes to inspection take effect from September 2014

25 Aug

Towards the end of the academic year 2013/14, Sir Michael Wilshaw, HMCI, wrote to the headteachers of schools and academies informing them of changes that were to take effect in the inspection regime from September 2014. In brief, they were as follows.

I           General

(1)        Following consultations with stakeholders, Ofsted will introduce separate graded judgements for the early years and sixth form, which could influence the overall judgement on the school.

(2)          As part of the process inspectors will

(i)            spend more time looking at pupils’ work to see how much progress they are making;

(ii)           talk to the school leaders about the formative (on-going and daily) and summative (end-of-term/end-of year)  assessments that they use;

(iii)          evaluate how well pupils are doing against age-related expectations;

(iv)         consider how the school identifies pupils who are falling behind and those who are most able and what measures are being taken to ensure that pupils of all abilities are being served well by the school; and

(v)          evaluate how the school reports to parents on pupils’ progress.

II          Ofsted’s briefing to its inspectors

In the briefing that Ofsted has given its inspectors, it has made the following points. Continue reading

Faith in Faith Schools Takes a Knock

25 Aug

The promotion of faiths in our schools has come in for scrutiny, not just on these shores but also in other countries.  England and Wales, uniquely, are the only countries in the western world that require schools to teach religious education.   The objective is to learn about faiths rather than convince pupils that any one faith will provide them with salvation.   In faith schools, however, religions are taken much more seriously.  Every faith school focuses on its chosen faith with a view to making its pupils committed to it.

However, in recent times, faith schools have come under the microscope, especially after the Birmingham ‘Trojan Horse’ saga where the governors at a number of faith and non-faith schools and academies have been allegedly promoting a dogmatic Islamic ethos.  Continue reading