Safeguarding Children: new DfE advice issued

20 Apr

Keeping Children Safe in Education, statutory guidance from the Department for Education, was issued 5 September 2016.   On 14 December 2017, the government began consultation on

  • revisions to the guidance and the legal duties with which they must comply to keep children safe and
  • new advice on sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges

The consultations, which sought views on a new non-statutory 41-page document that gives schools long-awaited advice on how to deal with peer-on-peer abuse, including sexual assaults and sexual harassment committed by children on other children, closed on 22 February 2018.

Changes in the new version of the document, which takes effect in September 2018, were prompted by a number of factors, such as worries about peer-on-peer abuse, “a coroner’s concerns following the death of a child” and requests from schools for more clarity about exchange visits.

In 2017, The Times Educational Supplement reported that some schools had put pupils who were raped back into the classroom with their alleged attackers.

Deighton Pierce Glynn, Solicitors, wrote to ex-Education Secretary Justine Greening in September 2017, accusing her of being in breach of her duties under the Equality Act 2010 to eliminate discrimination against girls in school.

In November 2017, financially supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), they threatened judicial review proceedings if the DfE did not act quickly to protect students from peer-on-peer abuse.

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Teacher shortage, which threatens educational provision, set to worsen

20 Apr

I        The realities

It’s official. We are in the midst of a teacher shortage.  The situation is bleak. The future is likely to be even bleaker.  Research by the Times Educational Supplement (6 April 2018) has revealed that we will need 47,000 extra high school teachers by 2024 – i.e. 22.5% more than we have at present – to educate the increasing number of pupils coming through the system, owing the primary bulge working its way through into the secondary sector.

The primary sector is better placed. From a low of 196,400 teachers in 2010, the number increased to 222,300 in 2016, the most recent figure available.   This teacher increase has kept pace with the rise in pupil numbers from 3,947,450 in 2009 to 4,479,325 in 2016.  The primary population has stabilised and is likely to remain as it is in the years to come, but who can predict demographic shifts or whether the nation can become more amorous.  Also, to get to the 2005 pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) of 20.1 the nation will have to add another 8,000 teachers by 2024 at a time when the applications from people wanting to train as teachers is drying up – dropping by 26%.

There are no grounds for complacency.  The apparent optimistic scene at primary level has not compensated for the decrease in the secondary sector, where the number of teachers fell from 222,400 in 2009 to 208,100 in 2016.   If the government is to maintain the PTR of 15.1 which was the case in 2005, the number of teachers must be increased by 47,000 to 254,822 – according to the TES research.

The problem has been exacerbated by a fall in the number of 18-year-olds – the potential pool from which youngsters can be lured into the profession with appropriate training.  In 2018, the number of 18-year-olds in England fell by 2.3% compared with 2017.   This was in line with a drop of 2% of the total number of 18-year-olds applying to study further in higher education.

Further, the short-fall figure of 47,000 does not take account of teachers leaving the profession or moving abroad to teach in British schools or English-medium ones.  The National Audit Office (NAO) reported that several qualified teachers leaving state schools before the official retirement age was rising.  It increased from 9.3% in 2011 to 9.9% in 2016.  Even though more teachers were returning to take up employment in state schools during that time, they were insufficient to compensate.

The situation in Modern Foreign Languages (MFLs) is dire.  The DfE set a target to recruit 1,500 foreign language teachers in 2018.   However, 6,200 (circa) degree holders graduate with at least a low second class honours each year graduate each year.  To hit that target, the country must persuade 24.2% of these graduates to go into teaching to meet demand from schools/academies.

If the situation didn’t already look dire, it’s thrown into starker relief by the existing monumental recruitment challenge facing some subjects. While MFL teachers are conspicuous by their absence, in mathematics the situation is worse: 40% of the graduates who must become teachers.  In English, 17% of all graduates with relevant degrees need to train as teachers.

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Carillion collapse throws schools/academies into disarray

20 Apr

On January 2018, Carillion, the Wolverhampton-based company founded in 1999, was liquidated.  The company which sponsored a Multi-Academy Trust in Thameside with two academies – Discovery and Inspire – also provided schools and academies in the country more than 32,000 lunches daily, facilities management (to 875 schools/academies), cleaning 245 schools/academies and maintaining the mechanical and electrical operations and fabric of 683 schools/academies.

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Young people’s lives being reshaped with new qualifications: Technical Levels and Apprenticeship begin to bed down

20 Apr

I        Technical Levels

The Technical Levels, or more commonly, the Tech Levels, are school-leaving qualifications offered by educational bodies in the United Kingdom to young people completing secondary or pre-university education. Tech-Levels are the vocational equivalent of the A-levels and will, with luck and a change of the nation’s mindset, have the same status as A Levels for university entrance.

The course spans two years of study and is split into parts. The first part, known as the Certificate Level, is a qualification in itself. The second part is known as the Diploma Level is more rigorous than the Certificate Level. Both, the Certificate and Diploma units make up the whole Technical Level qualification.

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Lessons of History: circa Dr Martin Luther King and Enoch Powell

20 Apr

One of the reasons why we teach young people history in our schools and academies is so that they can learn from the past – good behaviours and bad, triumphs and disasters.   If we don’t learn from the successes, we will be hard pushed to replicate them in the future and if we fail to learn from the failures, we will be bound to repeat them.

In April 2018 we marked the Golden Jubilee of two events – one tragic and the other – well, what I shall I say – diabolical?

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How free should free speech be?

31 Dec

In the run-up to the Christmas of 2017, a flaming row broke out at Oxford University when 58 academics criticised a professor for arguing that Britain’s imperial history was not entirely shameful.    Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Oxford University, was slated by his colleagues and students after writing an article in The Times calling for a more nuanced appraisal of colonial times.

Oxford University defended the professor, denounced by students and the academics as “bigoted” because he wrote that if people believe in “strident anti-colonialist” it could lead to a feeling of guilt that makes the public “vulnerable to wilful manipulation”.

Common Ground, a race rights group based in Oxford, described the article as “racist” and accused Professor Biggar of “whitewashing” the British Empire. A letter on the group’s website said: “We stand in solidarity” with those who have criticised Professor Biggar following his article headlined “Our colonial history and guilt over empire”. The academic “implies that colonised societies had no political order prior to colonisation, invoking a racist, hackneyed and fictional trope about the nature of pre-colonial societies”.

Professor Biggar’s column was prompted by criticism of an article by Bruce Gilley, a political scientist at Portland State University, who argued that it was time to question the orthodox view that western colonialism “has a bad name”. Professor Biggar concluded: “Bruce Gilley’s case for colonialism calls for us British to moderate our post-imperial guilt.”

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National funding formula: Transition Arrangements

31 Dec

National funding formula: Transition Arrangements

The National Funding Formula (NFF) kicks in on 1 April 2017 following two stages of consultation.  The government published the formula and the transition arrangements to be implemented from 2018-19. For the full exemplification of what is to come see here.

I           Summary

The National Funding Formula will comprise the following.

(i)         Per pupil costs, i.e. basic per pupil funding together with growth and mobility

(ii)        Additional needs, based on

  • Deprivation
  • looked-after children
  • English as an additional language
  • low prior attainment

(iii)       premises, which offers a lump sum for each school/academy, split sites, sparsity, the private finance initiative and exceptional circumstances

(iv)       area costs to take account of the cost of living in London and other conurbations

Basic per-pupil funding is the largest factor in the formula will account for almost 73% of the total schools’ block.

A school’s/academy’s per-pupil funding for 2018-19 will have minimum sums of £3,300 for every primary pupil and £4,600 for every secondary pupil. In 2019-20, this will rise to £3,500 for a primary pupil and £4,800 for a secondary one.

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