13th December: strategic round-up

Our final weekly round-up of this term includes news on sponsors of new academies, an overview of primary performance tables, SEN developments, and a review of free schools by the NAO.

Announcements and developments

Sponsors of new academies announced

The sponsors of new academies, funded as part of the government’s Targeted Needs programme, have been announced. The new academies are due to be opened in 2015 and will provide 19,000 new places in areas of greatest need.

Under the programme, a total of 41 schools and 331 expansions will be funded – creating an additional 70,000 places in total.

The sponsors announced this week will support 39 of the new academies, and include the REAch2 Academy Trust, BT and the Mossbourne Community Academy Trust.

Schools Minister David Laws said: “The sponsors we have announced today are top-performing organisations that will use their expertise and know-how to ensure young people receive the high-quality education they deserve.”

More information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/bt-mossbourne-academy-and-the-harris-federation-named-among-sponsors-of-new-academies


Primary Performance Tables published

The Department has released the 2013 primary performance tables, providing information on pupil achievement in primary schools and how they compare with schools within the same local authority and across England.  Information provided includes:

  • “results from the KS2 tests in reading, mathematics and grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • KS2 teacher assessments in English, reading, writing, mathematics and science
  • KS1-2 progress measures in
    reading, writing and mathematics
  • KS1-2 value added”

A kind finding is the number of pupils falling backwards between ages 7 and 11 – demonstrated by relative outcomes in test scores at the end of KS1 and KS2. In addition, three quarters of those under achieving at age 7 were also continuing to do so at age 11.

–          25% of pupils are still failing to attain Level 4s in maths, writing and reading  at the end of KS2

–          60% of pupils on FSM achieved Level 4s in maths, writing and reading compared with 79% of other pupils. The gap between FSM pupils and others has narrowed this year.

–          84% of pupils achieved Level 4 in Maths (up 1% since 2012); 83% achieved Level 4 in writing (up 2%); and 86% achieved Level 4 in reading (down 1% )

–          Over one third of ‘high fliers’ at age seven failed to attain expected Level 5s at KS2.

–          26% of underachieving pupils at KS1 progressed to attain Level 4s at KS2, with some 25 schools ensuring that all low attaining pupils went on to achieve Level 4s at KS2.

More information on this year’s performance tables can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2013-primary-school-performance-tables

The Telegraph have produced an interactive application through which school performance can be compared locally and nationally: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/leaguetables/10507776/Primary-school-league-tables-2013-compare-your-schools-performance.html


Pupil Premium funding

The government have confirmed the Pupil Premium final funding allocations for 2013/14 and the pupil premium funding allocations for 2014/15.

For the 2013/14 financial year, primary schools will be provided with an extra £53 for every pupil either currently eligible for free school meals ‘FSM’ or having been eligible for free school meals within the last six years ‘Ever 6’. This is in addition to £900 per pupil already committed.

For 2014/15, primary FSM ‘Ever 6’ pupils will attract £1300 (per pupil) in funding. £935 will be allocated per secondary FSM ‘Ever 6’ pupil.

The pupil premium plus (for looked after children) will ‘more than double’ to £1900 per pupil in 2014/15. Eligibility for pupil premium plus will be extended to:

–          those who have been looked after for more than one day (as opposed to the minimum of six months in care currently required).

–          those who have been adopted from care or leave care under a special guardianship or residence order

Virtual School Heads will ensure the funding is used to maximum impact for all looked after children in their locality. Funding will “enable schools to provide pastoral care as well as raise pupil attainment.”



SEN developments

The Children’s Minister, Edward Timpson made a speech this week covering the new Children and Families Bill, the SEN code of practice and how professionals are key to the culture change required in supporting children and young adults.

He confirmed that local authorities have now received an information pack on implementation of the reforms saying: “The pack includes lots of useful learning materials from pathfinders that I hope you’ll put to good use.” He also confirmed that the government has made “an extra £9 million available to non-pathfinder local authorities” – equating to £75,000 per local authority – to assist further preparations.

The full speech can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/edward-timpson-speaks-to-the-local-government-association-special-educational-needs-conference


Research and findings

OFSTED annual report

OFSTED have published its annual report this week. The report provides a strong steer to schools on best teaching and leadership practice – as well as setting out what it considers to be some key misconceptions in the system around OFSTED’s views on teaching and learning. It also highlights the growing role of academies and academy trust’s and provides some reflections on the direction of the school-led system.

Our summary of the report can be found here: http://www.forumeducation.org/briefing-on-ofsted-annual-report/

The full report can be found here: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/annualreport1213



Academies and free schools – audit office

The National Audit Office has produced a report on the free schools programme, assessing whether the programme has achieved value for money.

The report states that 173 free schools had opened by September 2013, with a further 116 in the pipeline. The cost of the programme has so far amounted to £1.1billion (including £0.7m capital expenditure).

It sets out the freedoms available to free schools and the relevant responsibilities of key organisations that interact with them, including the DfE and EFA.

In terms of the selection of free schools, the report concludes that:

–          By implementing the programme at “a pace”, the Department has achieved clear progress on a policy priority;

–          Around 70% of estimated primary and secondary places from open or approved free schools are in districts forecasting some need for places. 87% of all primary places in open free schools are in areas of high or severe need, but only 19% of secondary places in free schools are in such areas.

–          The Department is assessing and monitoring applications more robustly, although some key information (relating to sites, parental demand, and key staff) remains limited. Fifteen key projects have “been withdrawn because of problems with sites or concerns over proposers capacity.”

In terms of free schools’ performance, it concludes:

–          By October 2013, 25 free schools had been inspected by OFSTED. 18 were assessed as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, and two rated as inadequate. New free schools do not yet have a track record of exam results.

–          The approach to assessing risk and monitoring financial management and governance in free schools has evolved over time and will need to develop further to manage emerging risks as the programme develops.

–          Some Free schools have not attracted as many pupils as anticipated in their first year. Pupil recruitment against planned admissions has tended to improve after the first year, and schools in temporary accommodation or signing their funding agreements close to opening were more likely to have unfilled spaces.

–          Not enough is yet being done to capture evidence (such as data on school freedoms, patterns of demand etc.) and the Department is yet to fully consider which factors have an impact of school performance.

The report includes some key recommendations for the DfE.

The full report can be found here:  https://www.nao.org.uk/report/establishing-free-schools/


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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