17th January: strategic round-up

This week’s update includes a consultation and newly published documentation on school governance, summaries of key speeches from Sir Michael Wilshaw & Minister Laws, and a new research paper by CUREE for Teach First.

Please note that these updates will only be published in the resources section of this website (found in top right-hand corner of the screen) from next week.

Consultation to regulations on constitution of governing bodies

A consultation has opened on proposed changes to regulations on the constitution of governing bodies. In order to ensure those appointed to the governing body “have the skills to contribute to effective governance and the success of the school”, the government is proposing to bring the eligibility criteria of all categories of appointed governor in line with the ‘skills-focused’ definition of co-opted governors.

It is proposed to change the regulations to require that newly appointed governors have (in the opinion of those making the appointment) “the skills required to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school.” Schools Minister, Lord Nash, said: “The best businesses have a skilful board of directors keeping them on the right path. I want to see the same approach in schools. Our proposals will ensure governing bodies in local-authority-run schools have the people they need to drive up standards.”

No change is proposed to the eligibility criteria for elected parent governors of staff governors.

Links to the documentation and consultation information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/maintained-school-governing-body-constitution-regulation-changes

The government has also published documents explaining the strategic role of governors – including setting priorities, creating accountability and monitoring progress. These include a new version of the ‘Governors’ Handbook”: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/governors-handbook

Finally the Department has also published advice to help maintained school leaders and governing bodies in particular understand their obligations and duties: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-governance-regulations-2013


Sir Michael Wilshaw’s speech to the North of England Conference.

This week, Sir Michael Wilshaw made a speech to the North of England conference. In the speech, he highlighted a range of areas which OFSTED will, or are intending to, give increased focus to.

These include: support for NQTs (both from providers and individual schools); the importance of tracking progress; and preparation for curriculum change.

Support for NQTs

          Sir Michael announced a review into how inspectors will judge training providers

          From September, in every section 5 inspection, inspectors will meet with NQTs to ask them if they are being well supported, particularly in dealing with pupil behaviour;

          When OFSTED “see NQTs struggling in the classroom” it will ask not only about their support in the school, but also “track back” to see which provider trained them. “Providers should” he said “share responsibility for the performance of new teachers in their NQT year and their inspection grades should reflect this.”

School-led training partnerships

          Every training partnership should have regard to the needs of the wider school community.

          “Every provider” he said “should include some schools that are less good. This will ensure challenging schools have access to good trainees…..Indeed, I am proposing that, from the summer term, Ofsted will be critical of any training partnership that doesn’t have this commitment. I’d be interested in your views when we consult in the spring.”

Tracking progress

          Sir Michael said: “Good schools have always tracked their pupils’ progress and Ofsted will expect to see this continue. We will not endorse any particular approach. But we do expect every school to be able to show what their pupils know, understand and can do through continuous assessment and summative tests. I don’t know of any good or outstanding school that doesn’t set targets for children to achieve at the end of any key stage. I don’t know of any good or outstanding school that doesn’t use assessment to establish whether children are hitting those targets. I have never seen a good or outstanding school that doesn’t have summative tests at the end of each year.”

          As the system moves toward linear exams “it would be unfair and unjust for pupils to have to face an end of course exam, if they hadn’t been exposed to testing throughout their school career.”

          Inspectors will expect to see good summative and formative assessment. They will look at how often pupils are being tested and what tests are being used.

Curriculum change

          Inspectors ….. will also want to see how well schools are responding to changes to the national curriculum from September. Every headteacher should be asking themselves the sort of questions that we will be asking when we inspect schools in the weeks and months ahead:

  • ·         Are staff ready for the significant changes to the curriculum?
  • ·         How is the school’s assessment model linked to the programmes of study and schemes of work in the new curriculum?
  • ·         Is there an effective training programme in place?
  • ·         Are your teachers geared up to teach for linear rather than modular examinations?
  • ·         Is the school timetable and school day flexible enough to accommodate the new curriculum?

Reporting on Progress

          “Parents have a right to know through clear, unambiguous reporting how well their children are doing. So inspectors will also be paying close attention to how well schools are reporting on progress in relation to the targets that have been set for every pupil at the end of the key stage.”

The full speech can be found here: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/filedownloading/?file=documents/about-ofsted/speeches/North%20of%20England%20Education%20Conference%202014%20HMCI%20speech.pdf&refer=0


Minister for Schools speech to North of England conference

The Minister for Schools also made a speech to the conference in which he considered a number of future developments aimed at further ensuring the spread of best practice from school to school and developing the teaching workforce. He highlighted:

          the government’s focus on ensuring all areas have “a good stock” of NLEs

          An onus on struggling schools to seek out support from others: “A school-led system requires good information. Last summer we introduced new tables showing the performance of schools compared to others with pupils of similar prior ability….We want struggling schools to identify those nearby doing well in similar circumstances and learn from them.”

          The policy aimed at deploying high performing leaders to parts of the country facing challenge (initially announced in October): “We will formally launch the programme in the spring, but within its first 2 years, it will match 100 high-quality school leaders to schools which need to improve.” The delivery partners will work with government to “agree areas of the country on which the programme will focus.” These heads will be expected to strengthen succession planning within the schools and support the development of “a long term strategy to improve standards.”

          Pay reform: The Minister said: “We have argued in favour of greater financial incentives for leaders to take on the most challenging schools in the areas of greatest educational disadvantage.” He said that the STRB has now submitted its report on school leadership pay which is currently being considered by government.

          CPD: “We need to effectively look link together systems of professional recognition, performance, and CPD to provides a world class system of professional development which raises the status and quality of the teaching profession…..we need to look at how we can do more to support professional development and improvement in teaching practice over a career which could last 10, 20, 30 or 40 years.”

The full speech can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/david-laws-speech-to-the-north-of-england-education-conference


Research & thinking


Characteristics of High Performing Schools – CUREE Research for Teach First

CUREE has published its report for Teach First on the characteristics of high performing schools. The study looked at six Teach First schools (and two non-TF schools) that were considered excellent (over 75% expected progress in both Maths & English) and six Teach First schools that were considered strong (around the national average for both expected Maths and English progress).

The report considered the professional learning environment, leadership, Teaching and Learning, and relationships with students, pupils and the community:

Professional Learning

          Exceptional schools “invested heavily” in coaching and mentoring training across schools. They had a ‘clearer focus on cross-school explicit pedagogical strategies linked to student achievement.”

          Exceptional schools also had a more consistent focus on collaborative learning, “made more use of ASTs”, as well as more extensive use of internal expertise.

          In strong schools, there was “less consistency in how much teachers felt in charge of their own PL.”


          In the exceptional schools, leaders were “more aware of the importance of modelling learning, with most of the teachers being aware of their leaders’ own PL”

          They also “showed more extensive engagement in networked learning.”

Teaching & Leadership

          Teachers in the strong schools felt they could benefit from more support in behaviour management

          More of the exceptional schools “had whole school, cross-curricular strategies in place to address and overcome learning barriers.”

          There was “evidence of sharing of pedagogy and resources in the strong schools.”

The full report can be found here: http://www.curee.co.uk/publication/characteristics-high-performing-schools-teach-first-research-report


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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