Archive | January, 2015

What can governors do to address teacher workload?

3 Jan

Many governors are keen to create conducive working conditions that attract quality teachers into the profession and their schools to provide a first-class education for the pupils in it.  Conditions of employment that go towards achieving this noble objective include leadership that nurtures learning and creates a positive, happy atmosphere which motivates the workforce to take initiatives which, in turn, motives pupils to work well, make good (if not outstanding) progress and attain high standards  Central to this is securing a work-life balance for these teachers.

Accordingly, one of governors’ default responsibilities is securing the well-being of all staff, most especially teachers, albeit this duty is mainly exercised through the headteacher.   The problem is that there are a number of factors outside the control of governors such as constant legislative changes vis-à-vis the curriculum, testing and examinations, league tables and, of course, the pressures emanating from Ofsted, the watchdog.   These factors increase the stress levels for teachers.

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Academies – how well are they doing?

3 Jan

In the week of 24 October 2014, the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) released figures which showed that pupils in sponsored academies in 2013 were performing marginally better in the progress they made from KS2 and KS4 and attaining five A*-C GCSEs (and equivalent qualifications, including English and Maths) than maintained schools.

The report noted that there was no significant difference in GCSE attainment between converter academies and non-academy schools after two years. The difference reduced between sponsored academies and non-academies when non-GCSE equivalents were taken out of the measurements. NFER observed that the differences could be because sponsored academy schools were either entering more candidates into BTECs or other similar, non-GCSE, qualifications or were entering the same number of pupils for these qualifications as non-academy schools, and getting better results.

Overall, the report concluded that converting to academy status made no significant difference to pupil attainment.  Academy pupils were performing at a similar level to their non-academy peers.

This will not come as a surprise to many but has (probably) not been welcome news to Ministers and Mr Michael Gove, former Secretary of State for Education and current Chief Whip and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury.

Proposal to establish Royal College of Teaching develops head of steam

3 Jan

The College of Teachers has been garnering support from the great and the good to establish a Royal College of Teaching.   In mid-December 2014, the Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan, announced that government funding could be made available to get the project off the ground. According to the College’s web-post, the Royal College will be founded on a revamped Royal Charter updated to reflect the needs of a modern fit-for-purpose chartered professional association.

In 2012, all three main political parties supported the Education Selection Committee’s recommendation to establish a College of Teaching which would enhance the profession’s standing in society.   Were such a college established and have the royal tag to it, the body would be charged with setting high standards of practice, require the members to follow a professional code of practice, act ethically and, (this will please Tristam Hunt, the Shadow Education Secretary) possibly require teachers to take a Hippocratic-style oath.   (At present, teachers are more inclined to vent their spleens with other oaths given the pressures placed on them.)

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Well-heeled parents accused of “affluent neglect”

3 Jan

Public opinion is suffused with commentaries from pundits of how parents from the lower strata of society let down their children big time by not giving them the love, kindness and attention they deserve.   In November 2014, Ms Clarissa Farr, the Headteacher of St Paul’s Girls’ School in West London, one of the most prestigious not only in this country but the world and where fees are £21,000 (circa) annually, told The Times, that many of her charges were falling victims of “affluent neglect”.

While rich parents have come to realise that youngsters would much prefer to be brought up at home than wheeled (or flown) off to boarding school from the age of 4 – they have been overtaken by a disease so elegantly defined by Ms Farr.  Children of the rich and the ultra-rich may not be confined to dormitories; rather they are put in the care of nannies – generally from Eastern Europe or the Orient – receive extra dollops of tutoring after school and coached by sports women and men – but are left bereft of the breakfast and dinner time family conversations because both, their mums and dads, are at work in this country or abroad.  Parenting is, effectively, outsourced.

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NSPCC and TES create digital child-protection toolkit

3 Jan

In partnership with Times Educational Supplement (TES), the NSPCC has created a digital resource to assist schools in reviewing their safeguarding arrangements.

Given that local authorities’ capacity to take measures in response to schools’ concern about neglected and abused children are shrinking owing to the severely diminished resources they have available, schools have to rely on their own initiatives. This tool helps schools to be thorough in their approaches.  It is the first of its kind and aims to reassure schools that they have the correct safeguarding procedures in place.   Where they may be guilty of sins of omissions and commission, they are advised to take remedial measures.

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The Pupil Premium – a financial lifeline for schools in deprived areas

3 Jan

The Pupil Premium is an invaluable resource which has lifted the progress and achievements of some of the most deprived in our country.  The government has informed schools what they will receive in the next financial year, i.e. 2015/16, under this heading, when the total allocation will be £2.545 billion.  The breakdown is as follows.

  1. £1,320 per (eligible) pupil of primary-school age (rising from £1,300 this financial year)
  2. £935 per (eligible) pupil of secondary-school age
  3. £1,900 for every pupil who has been looked after for one day or more or has been adopted from care or has left care under a special guardianship order, a residence order or a child arrangement order

For the first time, pupils in nursery schools and classes will also attract this funding if they and their families qualify under at least one of the following criteria.

  1. Income Support
  2. income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  1. support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  2. the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  3. Child Tax Credit(provided they’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  1. Where a child has been looked after for one day or more
  2. Where a child has been adopted from care
  3. Where a child has left care under a special guardianship order or residence order
  • A child must be eligible for free early education in order to attract Early Years’ Pupil Premium  (EYPP) funding. Children become eligible at different points in the year depending on when they turn three. Details of the dates when children become eligibleare available.

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Careers Guidance – Cinderella of Education

3 Jan

I           Schools falling short on careers guidance

On 15 October 2014 the Sutton Trust published a report commissioned from Derby University, called Advancing Ambitions which looks into the role of career guidance and its relationship to social mobility. The report suggests that young people are being subjected to a “postcode lottery” with quality career support available to some but not others.

In his Foreword, Deputy Chair of the Sutton Trust, David Hall, rues the decline in good careers guidance in secondary schools, which is impairing the futures of young people, especially those who come from the lower echelons of our society. This is mainly due to the poor quality career advice they are receiving at schools and academies.  As a consequence, their chances of becoming upwardly mobile are severely diminished.

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