10th January: Weekly strategic round-up

This week has seen a range of new announcements, publications and research including: a report from Policy Exchange on performance pay, written evidence submitted to the Select Committee inquiry (including by leading academy chains, school groups and other education providers) and a number of new initiatives and projects.


Key announcements

Funding for schools to capture systems for ‘assessment without levels’

As the system of ‘levels’ currently used to report pupil attainment and progress is removed from the new national curriculum, some schools are already looking to develop new systems of assessment ahead of September 2014.

The DfE is setting up a small innovation fund to encourage and enable schools to share systems on a wider basis, explaining their approach to assessment and inform other schools as they manage this change.

Up to £10k is available per application. Criteria, eligibility and information on how to apply, can all be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/assessment-innovation-fund-application-form

Expressions of interest must be received by Friday 14th February.


Update on the ‘Progress 8’ measure and secondary accountability reforms

The government has published an update on the development of the ‘Progress 8’ measure – the central measure of the proposed new secondary accountability system.

It is planning, in the long term, to use the results of pupils with similar prior attainment who completed KS4 three years previously as the measure for determining whether pupils have made progress (therefore, eventually moving away from comparing a pupil’s progress with those in the same cohort and with the same prior attainment)

This means that pupils and schools would know in advance what grades are needed to achieve a positive progress score and the new approach will recognise an improving system – with more than half of pupils being able to achieve positive progress should GCSE results improve over the previous three years.

The government has confirmed that this alternative approach will not be adopted until 2019 however, as a change in the curriculum offer could lead to a considerable fluctuation in results between 2013 and 2016.

The new accountability system is set to be introduced in Summer 2016.

Further information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/269438/update_progress_8_measure_secondary_school_accountability_framework_reforms.pdf


New fund for SEN support for families

The government has announced a £30m fund to recruit and train a pool of “independent supports” – individuals who will support parents to navigate the new SEN process.

These ‘champions’ will be drawn from independent voluntary, community, and private organisations. The Children and Families Minister said that they will spend time with families “giving them the independent help and advice they need to progress through the new SEN assessment and education, health, and care planning process.”

The Council for Disabled Children will oversee the recruitment and training of the independent supports.

Further information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/30-million-for-new-special-educational-needs-champions


Research & further reading

Updated OSFTED documents

OFSTED has published an updated version of its inspection handbook, framework and subsidiary guidance for inspections. All documents can be accessed using the following link and its associated resources: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/school-inspection-handbook

One particular area of interest is the guidance around inspection of teaching. This strongly reflects the OFSTED annual report which stressed that the inspectorate was not expecting to see “a particular teaching style”.

The guidance states that inspectors; “should not criticise teacher talk for being overlong or bemoan a lack of opportunity for different activities in lessons unless there is unequivocal evidence that this is slowing learning over time. It is unrealistic, too, for inspectors to necessarily expect that all work in all lessons is always matched to the specific needs of each individual. Do not expect to see ‘independent learning’ in all lessons and do not make the assumption that this is always necessary or desirable. On occasions, too, pupils are rightly passive rather than active recipients of learning. Do not criticise ‘passivity’ as a matter of course and certainly not unless it is evidently stopping pupils from learning new knowledge or gaining skills and understanding. Do not focus on the lesson structure at the expense of its content or the wide range of other evidence about how well children are learning in the school.” Subsidiary Guidance.

Another area of interest is the statement around Average Point Scores “The DfE does not define expected progress in terms of APS. ….. Inspectors should not assume any aggregate APS increment to be required for progress to be good or outstanding. They should bear in mind that the proportions of pupils on track to make, or making, more than expected progress are key indicators for good or outstanding progress.Subsidiary Guidance

Another interesting change is an increased emphasis on behaviour over time and the importance of behaviour for learning (p.127 – 134 of Inspection Handbook).

Subject specific guidance has also been updated: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/subsidiary-guidance-supporting-inspection-of-maintained-schools-and-academies


Policy Exchange report

Policy Exchange has published a report into Performance Pay

Key points include:

–          Research identifies “the importance of getting the right people to become teachers, developing them into effective professional, and ensuring the system is available to deliver the best possible education for every child.”

–          Policy often “downplays or even ignores the differences in teacher effectiveness…..nowhere was this more evident than in the way that schools rewarded teachers in their first few years of service……Teachers automatically progressed up the payscale each year – being paid more for an additional year’s experience, regardless of the quality of their impact on pupils.”

–          PRP, it says, offers the potential to reverse this state of affairs.

–          A “well designed and implemented” pay system will help teaching and learning in English schools because:

  • Improving expected and actual take-home pay for talented teachers attracts more and higher calibre applicants into teaching;
  • Improving the thoroughness of performance evaluation and development of teachers is potentially the most important aspect of the reforms (implementation of PRP “require heads and senior managers to undertake more rigorous performance evaluation of their staff because teachers themselves will insist on transparent and objective evaluation”)
  • Evidence suggests that performance-related pay can work as an incentive for improved performance

–          The report refutes that PRP is ‘divisive’, finding that other professionals in many other sectors cope with the knowledge that not everyone is paid the same and this does “not necessarily lead to an absence of collegiality and co-operation”.

–          It recognises some “well grounded” objections in practice – including that some heads lack the expertise, capacity and will to design and implement systems, that the pace of implementation is too fast, and a lack of supporting infrastructure.

–          The report also finds that only 33% of teachers polled objected to performance related pay under any circumstances. Teachers, it says, “would like their performance to be evaluated on student outcomes and classroom observation, and are mostly concerned that the quality of these evaluations is robust and objective.”

–          Evaluation, it says, should be “based on several measures, not just test or exam scores and should be prolonged over more than one year to reduce volatility in results and to allow staff to adjust to the new assessments”.

–          The full report can be found here: http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/publications/category/item/reversing-the-widget-effect-the-introduction-of-performance-related-pay-for-all-teachers-in-english-schools


Select Committee inquiry into the academies programme

A range of organisations, including leading academy chains, education services providers and professional associations have contributed evidence to the Select Committee’s latest inquiry into the academies programme. You can read the evidence here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/education-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/academies-and-free-schools/?type=Written


Please Note: Forum Education Limited updates are intended to help colleagues keep up to date with national developments. Information is correct at time of writing and is offered in good faith. No liability is accepted for decisions made on the basis of the information given. Briefings are not intended to be exhaustive and some developments will not be included. Whilst we take due care to ensure weblinks are to reputable sites, we cannot be responsible for the content of external websites.


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