Strategy and Intelligence Briefing 30 April 2021

Dear Member,

Please see this week’s briefing below, including a new article from Forum Strategy on growing and sustaining successful organisations; protecting trusts’ and schools’ reputations, NSPCC findings on the record number of adults concerned about the welfare of children; Gavin Williamson’s speech on multi-academy trusts; as well as resources from our partners and much much more. 

We hope this is helpful and informative as you plan ahead. Have a great bank holiday weekend.

Warm wishes 
Research Team
Forum Strategy

Please note: these briefings are for the individual CEO or COO member only as part of your ‘individual membership’ and strictly not for further copying, forwarding or distribution. Organisational level subscriptions are available on request. Please see our terms and conditions.

Resource of the Week

Growing and sustaining successful organisations: The strategic imperative of project leadership

This new article from Forum emphasises the importance of project management in enabling organisational success and that effective project management must start with effective leadership. The article comments that project leadership includes the all-important systems and processes associated with traditional project management but also considers the wrap-around elements that ensure those systems and processes have meaningful impact and buy in, including the culture and leadership within the organisation. The benefits to CEOs who really invest in this area and get project management and leadership right are significant and the article suggests they include:

  • Discipline and clear direction throughout the organisation
  • Time, clarity and focus on strategic elements at the top levels
  • Greater wellbeing at all levels and reduced anxiety and stress
  • Greater collaboration across different teams, roles and departments
  • Better use of limited resources, money and time
  • Better measurement of outcomes and tracking of delivery

It then outlines four key enablers to effective project leadership for CEOs to reflect upon:

  • Consider a hybrid approach to project management – take the best elements of different methodologies and mould them to create an approach that aligns with organisational need.
  • Identify and implement the right software (and ideally one that comes with other perks such as collaboration and integration) – this is critical in modern day project management.
  • Recruit the right project lead and/or team in place – having a lead (or a team) with the right capabilities, skills and interest to drive project management and contribute to project leadership across the organisation is vital. Qualifications in project management are one important element to this but having a level of experience in executing large, complex projects and programmes is also just as key.
  • Encourage a positive narrative around planning – Project management executed correctly, allows significant flex and change but with discipline built in. It keeps activities on the right path, agreed to at the start of putting a strategy in place, but allows changes and diversions only when they still hold true to the initial goals. The organisational mindset should see planning and project management as a core enabler. As CEO, how you lead and communicate a project management culture will impact how well it becomes embedded and sustainable in the long term at all levels.

Further details can be found:


COO Network

Forum’s next Chief Operating Officer Network will take place on Wednesday 12 May from 1.00 – 4.00pm. The session will include presentations from Graham Shaw, Wrigley’s Solicitors LLP; Ernest Jenavs, CEO of Edurio, who will discuss the findings of the recently published ‘Trusting in Trusts’ report; and a session outlining and discussing findings from Forum’s recent COO survey. The agenda for the meeting is as follows:

1pm: Welcome and introductions; Alice Gregson COO, Forum Strategy 

1.05pm: The COO Survey 2021; findings, implications and discussion

1.40pm: Staffing in trusts – perceptions and raising the bar on quality employment culture. Inputs from Edurio and their new research ‘Trusting in Trusts’ and Vantage Academy Trust

2.40pm: Break

2.55pm: The challenges of cyber security; a perspective from two academy trusts

3.30pm: Wrigley’s Solicitors – update on key legislative, policy and operational changes

3.55pm: Summary and Close

To book onto this event, you must be the named individual with membership of our COO network.

Further information can be found:

CEO Breakfast Briefing

Forum invites colleagues to join this special CEO breakfast briefing on Tuesday 18 May from 9.00 – 10.00am with Michael Pain, Forum Strategy and Dominic Herrington, National Schools Commissioner, Department for Education.

To book onto this event, you must be the named individual with membership of our CEO or COO networks.

Further information can be found:

Central Subscribers Breakfast Briefing

Our next Central Teams’ breakfast briefing is taking place on Friday 28 May from 9.00 – 10.00am and is accessible to all central team members and heads who have been individually nominated by their trust as a ‘Trust-level Subscriber’.

This session will focus on how trusts can develop key strategies for ensuring resilience and support for pupils – not least the most vulnerable – during testing times. We will be joined by Natalie Packer (Forum Associate and author of The Perfect SENCO), who – together with Northern Star Academy Trust – will talk about her role leading trust-level SEND reviews; and Natterhub who are experts in pupils’ online safety. The agenda for the session is as follows:

9.00am – 9.15am: General update on trust and education sector developments; Michael Pain

9.15am – 9.40am: Undertaking a trust-wide SEND review; Natalie Packer and Northern Star Academy Trust

9.40am – 10.00am: Developing your trust’s approach to ensuring pupils’ skills, resilience and safety for the online environment; Manjit Sareen, Co-founder and CEO and/ or Caroline Allams, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Natterhub

To book onto this event, you must be a ‘central team’ recipient of Forum Strategy’s briefing services:

Further information can be found:

Strategic thinking

Can you put a price on your Trust or School’s reputation?

In this recent article from Forum’s partners at Papillon Communications, Director Katie Whirledge discusses that as a school or academy trust, reputation is everything, especially in an era when we depend greatly on gaining the confidence and support of our communities, and when expectations for learning and safeguarding have rightly never been higher. Papillon’s experience shows that trusts often need support when there have been cases of financial challenge, or of general misconduct.

Katie comments that preparation is key when it comes to crisis handling and communication, and that trusts need to have an effective and robust communications plan in place, so they are fully prepared to mitigate the impact of any crisis. Katie also advises that people must always come first in any communication strategy – the priority being to protect your children, families and staff. Finally, Katie states that it is essential for trusts to control the narrative and ensure that if they find themselves embroiled in a crisis, it is imperative their operational plan and communications plan kick in at the same time.

Further details can be found:

CEOs thriving post-pandemic

The IBM Institute for Business Value has recently published its latest CEO Study, which offers insights from more than 3,000 CEOs and the most senior public sector leaders across the economy and around the world into “how to thrive in a post-pandemic reality”. In addition, the IBV selected 24 CEOs for extensive, exclusive interviews, that delve into the mindsets, themes, and challenges that top leaders are grappling with right now. The study found that, after such an uncertain year, CEOs are stressing organisational agility as a top priority for leaders, whilst remaining true to the core purpose of the organisation. The study also found that those organisations which had outperformed expectations due to the pandemic demonstrated a more focused set of priorities and were aligned on five key strategies: leadership comes first; technology is more than a tool; empowering employees is a must; partnerships fuel open innovation; and cybersecurity provides a foundation. Outperformers also identify a sense of purpose and mission as critical to engaging employees at a rate 53% higher than underperformers.

Further details can be found:


The impact of COVID-19 and the Government’s catch-up plan

The House of Commons (HoC) Education Committee has held an oral evidence session (29 April) with Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards, Department for Education; Julia Kinniburgh, Director General, Covid Response and Recovery, Department for Education; Mike Pettifer, Director, Covid Response Unit, Department for Education; and also including The Baroness Berridge, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System, Department for Education; and Stephanie Brivio, Director, Safeguarding and Children’s Social Care, Department for Education. The aim of the session with Mr Gibb was to focus on the impact of Covid-19 and the Government’s catch-up programme. The main points of interest to note from this session are summarised below (source: HoC):

  • The DfE aims to have engaged 250,000 pupils with the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) by the end of the year. There are some challenges in some areas of the country in encouraging schools to take up the offer of the programme.
  • It is up to schools themselves to decide who they think would most benefit from the NTP; i.e. those children who have fallen behind the most due to the current pandemic.
  • The DfE will be evaluating the impact of the NTP.
  • The DfE does not currently know the financial impact on schools of moving the census date from January 2021 to October 2020 for the purposes of calculating the pupil premium.
  • DfE recognises that the catch-up process for pupils following the pandemic is a longer-term project.
  • There is evidence that schools which restrict the use of smart phones in schools see higher attainment as a consequence. The DfE want more schools to look at this evidence and take the decision to improve attainment by restricting mobile phone use.
  • Improving behaviour in schools is a key priority for the DfE – appointed Tom Bennett to support spreading of best practice in this area through the behaviour hubs.
  • Mr Gibb said that evidence from the teaching profession suggests they are keen to keep face coverings in secondary schools in place until 17 May; and that pupils do not seem to mind wearing them. This provides another layer of protection in addition to the other measures being taken by schools to prevent COVID-19 transmission. There will be another review of the situation w/c 10 May but if step 3 of the roadmap takes place as scheduled the hope is that face coverings will not longer be required in classrooms in secondary schools at this point.
  • Mr Gibb again emphasised the importance of a knowledge-rich curriculum; but was challenged on this with regard to ensuring pupils are also prepared for the world of work.
  • With regard to safeguarding concerns and the thousands of testimonies of sexual abuse on the ‘Everyone’s Invited’ website, Baroness Berridge emphasised that if schools are made aware of such incidences, they have a duty to follow it up, whether or not the abuse happened within school. Schools are one part of the whole safeguarding system. All staff in a school need to be aware of their duties around safeguarding.
  • The DfE is committed to a registration system for children who are being home educated; and will be releasing a response shortly to the recent consultation on this issue.
  • Baroness Berridge praised the great work multi-academy trusts have been doing to support schools throughout the pandemic.

Further details can be found:

Economic, social and environmental developments

Pandemic has led to surge in calls to the NSPCC

The NSPCC has reported (29 April) that a record number of adults concerned about the welfare of children called the NSPCC helpline during the last 12 months. The helpline service received nearly 85,000 contacts from April 2020 to March 2021, a 23% increase on the previous year. Out of these calls, 47% led to a referral to an external agency, such as the police or children’s services. The top concerns reported to the helpline during this time were (source: NSPCC):

  • adult health and behaviour (including worries about parental alcohol and substance misuse, domestic abuse and parental mental health), which increased 42% to more than 20,400 contacts
  • neglect, which increased 15% to more than 12,800 contacts
  • physical abuse, which increased 18% to more than 12,600 contacts
  • emotional abuse, which increased 40% to more than 11,600 contacts

Further details can be found:

How has lockdown changed our relationship with nature?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published (26 April) a report looking at how people’s perception of nature changed during the COVID-19 pandemic and whether this is likely to continue as restrictions ease. The report comments that nature has been a source of solace for many, as lockdown rules have heightened our appreciation for local parks and green spaces. The main points from the report are summarised below (source: ONS):

  • People exercised more during lock-downs; when there was less to do:
    • During the first coronavirus lockdown, many people filled their free time with exercise. As restrictions limited other leisure activities, exercise levels increased.
    • This could partly be down to higher levels of homeworking. Between 7 and 11 April 2021, 28% of working adults worked exclusively from home. More than three-quarters (76%) of people who only worked from home in this period had left home for exercise in the previous seven days, compared with 52% of people who only travelled to work. Those working from home were also more likely to visit a park or local green space than those who travelled to work (45% compared with 30%).
    • Along with the rise in outdoor exercise, people’s interest in nature surged. In May 2020, 36% of people responding to the People and Nature Survey by Natural England said they were spending more time outside during the pandemic than before. This rose to 46% in July 2020.
  • Nature has supported people’s well-being during lockdowns:
    • There is evidence that the natural environment has helped some people to cope with negative feelings such as increased anxiety.
    • Around 9 in 10 people surveyed by Natural England in May 2020 agreed that natural spaces are good for mental health and wellbeing. More than 40% noticed that nature, wildlife, and visiting local green and natural spaces have been even more important to their wellbeing since the coronavirus restrictions began.
  • Use of the outdoors depends on access:
    • Not everyone has equal access to the green space they need to improve their personal wellbeing.
    • There is a clear connection between how people have been using the outdoors under coronavirus restrictions and the distance between green spaces and their doorstep.
    • In lockdown, those living closer to their nearest public green space were more likely to visit than those living further away. In the summer, after lockdown, the opposite was true, with people living further away from their nearest green space more likely to visit than those living closer.
    • However, a significant percentage (around 40%) of the population were concerned about overcrowding and not being able to keep their distance from others when visiting their local green and natural spaces.
  • Changes in behaviour:
    • The pandemic has underlined the importance of outdoor space, for people and policymakers.
    • However, the interest in nature that we saw in spring and summer 2020 has not necessarily carried through to winter 2020 and early 2021.
    • It could be that the people most likely to maintain lockdown lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise and visits to green spaces, are those whose circumstances most allow them to, such as those whose workplaces decide to offer homeworking permanently.
  • Relationship with the outdoors:
    • Lockdown has disrupted our relationship with nature, from propelling us to find new appreciation for our natural surroundings to highlighting societal inequalities that exist in access to green space.
    • Shifts in personal behaviour and corporate attitudes could mean that the UK, post-lockdown, will value and interact with nature on a much greater scale than before the pandemic.
    • We do not yet know whether the changes brought on by lockdown will be a temporary trend, or a new way of life.

Further details can be found:

Policy, research and strategic developments

School funding and pupil premium

The Sutton Trust has published (29 April) analysis of data (from a survey of 1,528 teachers conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)) looking at how schools across England are using their pupil premium funding. The main findings are summarised below (source: Sutton Trust):

  • 69% of school leaders overall use the Sutton Trust/EEF Toolkit to make decisions, up from 65% in 2020 and 39% in 2012. Using research evidence in general to inform decision making is also at a high over the last decade, at 79% of school leaders, up from 74% in 2020 and 52% in 2012.
  • 17% of secondary heads report that one-to-one and small group tuition is their priority for pupil premium spending this school year, the option most likely to be selected. This is up from 10% in 2020 when it was the fourth most popular choice, indicating the substantial impact of the NTP.
  • 8% of secondary heads cite that offsetting budget cuts elsewhere, or paying for extra Covid-related running costs, are the priority for pupil premium funding.
  • 28% of secondary heads, and 35% of primary heads report that pupil premium funding is being used to plug budget gaps elsewhere. This is up from 27% and 22% respectively pre-pandemic in 2019.
  • 33% of secondary heads and 47% of primary heads report cutting teaching assistants for financial reasons this year. 33% also report cutting teaching staff and support staff at secondary schools. This however is significantly lower than the 72% (support staff), 70% (teaching assistants) and 69% (teaching staff) reported at secondary schools in 2019.

The report makes the following recommendations:

  • The government should reverse the decision to change the date of pupil premium reporting to ensure that schools receive pupil premium funding for all eligible pupils.
  • There should be significant financial support for disadvantaged pupils prioritised in the education recovery plan.

Further details can be found:

Ofsted research review series: science

Ofsted has published (29 April) the first review in a new series looking at what makes for a high-quality education in different subjects across the curriculum. This first review explores the literature relating to the field of science education. Its purpose is to identify factors that can contribute to high-quality school science curriculums, assessment, pedagogy and systems. The review (source: Ofsted):

  • outlines the national context in relation to science
  • summarises Ofsted’s review of research into factors that can affect quality of education in science
  • considers curriculum progression in science, pedagogy, assessment and the impact of school leaders’ decisions on provision

In the review, Ofsted has identified a number of principles that the literature suggests can contribute to high-quality science education. These principles include the importance of:

  • planning the science curriculum so that pupils build knowledge of key concepts and the relationships between them over many years; this prevents pupils from seeing science as a list of isolated facts
  • pupils remembering long-term the content that has been taught; this is because building domain-specific knowledge leads to expertise
  • explicitly teaching pupils the concepts and procedures needed to work scientifically
  • starting curriculum planning right from the early years by introducing pupils to wide-ranging vocabulary to describe the natural world (these words should not be overly technical)
  • teachers giving clear explanations that build on what pupils already know and explicitly focus pupils’ attention on the content being learned
  • making sure practical work has a clear purpose, forms part of a wider teaching sequence and takes place only when pupils have enough prior knowledge to learn from the activity
  • science teachers and technicians having access to regular, high-quality subject-specific continuous professional development (CPD); this is especially important given that many science teachers are teaching outside of their subject specialism

Further details can be found:; and in the associated news story:

The effects of high-quality professional development on teachers and students

The Education Policy Institute (EPI) has published (28 April) analysis of the effect that high-quality professional development can have on teachers and students, which suggests that providing teachers with a right to high-quality training and development would boost pupil attainment and earnings and may tackle retention problems in the profession. The main findings from the analysis are summarised below (source: EPI):

  • Secondary school teachers in England spend on average 43 hours a year on CPD – well below the OECD average of 62 hours a year, although more than the proposed entitlement of 35 hours each year.
  • However, a recent Wellcome CPD pilot showed that just 11% of CPD taken up by teachers met the government’s quality criteria.
  • Introducing a formal entitlement for teachers in England to 35 hours of high quality CPD a year would generate significant benefits for pupils over time in the way of education and employment outcomes.
  • If a pupil started school when the entitlement policy for teachers was introduced, by GCSE level it would lead to an extra two-thirds of a grade – which in turn translates to extra lifetime earnings of over £6,000 per pupil.
  • Taking earnings into account, a programme of 35 hours a year of high-quality CPD for teachers costing £4bn would generate a net societal benefit of around £61bn through increased earnings – a benefit 19 times the cost.
  • A policy of CPD entitlement could also significantly improve retention, leading to up to an estimated 12,000 extra teachers remaining in the profession a year and therefore reducing a significant proportion of the 40,000 teachers who typically leave the profession every year.
  • There is some evidence suggesting that improving access to high-quality CPD for teachers could improve both teacher and pupil wellbeing – but this is difficult to quantify.
  • The benefits of an entitlement policy are highly contingent on the policy being implemented effectively by the government. A CPD entitlement policy at a national level would have to be implemented as effectively as existing, smaller-scale CPD programmes.
  • The most important element of implementation of the policy is the quality of CPD seen by teachers, rather than the quantity. Better government data on teacher CPD is required to monitor the impact of any CPD policy changes – current data for England does not indicate the proportion of CPD which qualifies as high quality.

Further details can be found:

Renewed vision from DfE on multi-academy trusts

Following the Secretary of State Gavin Williamson’s speech to the Confederation of School Trusts (CST) on Wednesday (28 April) when he announced his vision for the future of multi-academy trusts (the subject of a Forum Policy Alert to our members) the below provides a recap and reminder of the key points to note from the SoS’s speech and from the associated guidance and improvement support offer (source: DfE):

  • The government’s vision is for every school to be part of a family of schools in a strong multi academy trust – “because trusts are the best way to advance education for the public benefit and can deliver clear benefits for teaching and pupil outcomes”.
  • Throughout the pandemic, strong multi academy trusts have responded quickly, to direct resources to the schools that need them, support teachers to concentrate on frontline teaching and help schools beyond their trust for the benefit of the wider community.
  • During the summer term the DfE will be undertaking research and speaking to school leaders as the DfE seeks to make the process of joining a multi academy trust as easy as possible.
  • The SoS wants the system to break away from what he described as a “pick-and-mix” school system and move towards a single model that is built on a foundation of strong multi academy trusts.
  • The DfE’s updated good practice guidance sets out how strong trusts improve educational outcomes. This sets out expectations of strong trusts, how a school can join one, and the support they can expect to receive.
  • This year the Academies Financial Handbook will be updated to bring greater clarity to the DfE’s guidance for academy trusts.
  • Through the next phase of the Trust Capacity Fund, the DfE will release up to £24m over the 2021-22 financial year to help trusts to grow. The DfE especially want to support strong trusts, and strong schools forming trusts, so that they are better able to take on underperforming schools in areas of high need.
  • The DfE is also launching a pilot programme, in partnership with the Church of England and the Catholic Church, to set up new Church academy trusts; and is also working with the Catholic Education Service and their Dioceses to establish a new turnaround trust to specifically support Catholic schools in need of intensive support whilst dioceses increase their own trust capacity right across the country.
  • The DfE is also setting up a process for maintained and stand-alone schools to ‘try before they buy’ – temporarily partnering with a strong trust to experience the benefits that being part of a trust would offer them, their pupils, and their wider school communities.
  • From September, where system leaders work in schools that are already part of trusts, the DfE will provide funding to support selected leaders in these schools and trusts so that they can gain professional qualifications in executive leadership.
  • The SoS wants to bring schools with a long-term history of underperformance into strong trusts and will be consulting with the sector on this issue.
  • The SoS commented that he wants every school in the country to have strong and effective behaviour policies; and stated that he is “absolutely convinced” that every school should be mobile-free.
  • The DfE will be consulting on how it can help more heads remove phones from the school day, alongside other revisions to the behaviour and discipline and expulsions guidance, later on in the year.
  • The DfE will be setting out plans in the forthcoming special educational needs review regarding its commitment to deliver far better outcomes for children and young people in alternative provision.
  • The DfE will be launching a new national Behaviour Survey to give a regular snapshot of the state of behaviour in our schools. The survey will run once a term from next academic year and will give an accurate picture on how good school behaviour is – and whether it is getting better or worse.

Further details can be found:; and in the associated press release:

The DfE has also published updated guidance for multi-academy trusts to include the following new documents:

  • Building strong academy trusts:
    • sets out the vision and design principles for the academies programme
    • provides guidance on joining, creating and growing academy trusts
  • Trust partnerships guidance:
    • explains what trust partnerships are and how they work
    • provides some examples of trusts and schools who have entered into a partnership
  • Trust partnership service level agreement – This is an example of the legal document required to formalise a trust partnership. It has been written for use by a multi-academy trust and school but can be adapted where needed.

Further details can be found:

In addition, the DfE’s new trust and school improvement offer guidance sets out what improvement support schools and trusts can get in the 2021 to 2022 academic year; including eligibility, the support available, and when support is available.

Further details can be found:

Academy trusts enhance schools’ response to COVID-19

The University of Nottingham has published (28 April) new research which found that the response of schools in the Midlands to the COVID-19 pandemic was enhanced by the school being part of a multi-academy trust.

Researchers explored the policies and policy-implementation strategies employed by the CEOs of 15 academy trusts for the period between March 2020 and March 2021 in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, during which almost all students nationally experienced major disruptions to the continuity of school-based learning. The 15 CEOs represented one national Trust, 10 Trusts in the East Midlands, and four Trusts in the West Midlands region. Most Trusts were of a medium size (i.e. with between six and 14 schools), three were small (with up to five schools), and three were large (with over 15 schools).

They found that the collegiality of schools within academy trusts was a key benefit during the coronavirus pandemic, with CEOs reporting that they were able ease the burden on schools by centralising and redistributing tasks to allow schools to focus on teaching and welfare.

Academy trust schools broadened their definitions of ‘disadvantaged’ students, recognising that children could both be vulnerable due to their socio-economic backgrounds and also could be experiencing emotional neglect if both parents were still working full-time. These schools were able to reduce disengagement in these groups. The researchers also noted that trust schools embraced and extended the use of digital technologies to aid home learning; and had robust policies in place in areas such as HR, risk assessment and provision of PPE.

Some of the key findings from the study are summarised below (source: University of Nottingham):

  • For all the CEOs, the previous twelve months had not only tested their leadership capabilities and capacities but had also enabled opportunities for extensive reflection on educational values, beliefs, purposes and practices; especially in terms of ensuring their priorities and relationships aligned with these.
  • Recent research indicates that it may be more effective to plan for a ‘period of recovery’ (rather than to talk about ‘catch-up’) based on disruptions to the academic, social, psychological and physical lives experienced by most pupils.
  • System leaders had all been values-led in their actions and had demonstrated that they did not adhere to any single leadership ‘model’. They had all been driven by strongly held principles of ‘social justice’, ‘moral’ and ‘development’ purposes.
  • The study provided confirmation that robustness and resilience, combined with responsive rather than reactive measures, are needed by leaders of academy trusts, especially in adverse contexts.
  • CEOs and their teams, by being overwhelmingly responsive rather than reactive, had ’buffered’ the headteachers of their academies by centralising responsibilities for the development and implementation of policies relating to, for example, health and safety, HR and finance, and building and personally supporting relationships and networks of intensive interactivity. This had brought a degree of stability to the leadership of individual academies, which were then able to focus on the welfare of pupils and their families more easily, and the wellbeing and capacities of teachers to provide and enhance their teaching.

Further details can be found:

Partner resources

The items in the ‘Partners Resources’ section are provided by Forum Strategy’s commercial partners. Our small number of paid partnerships are also based on our partners’ expertise, credibility and ethos.

Schools Partnership Programme

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen how collaborative working is more vital than ever. In response to the evolving needs of school leaders in such unprecedented times, the Schools Partnership Programme quickly adapted to provide their schools with the same rigorous challenge and support throughout the process, but at speed, adjusting to accommodate a partial or fully virtual environment.

In this video interview, Kent Headteacher Lynn Paylor Sutton discusses how SPP virtual peer review enabled her team to meet the unique challenges the pandemic imposed and how this has opened up opportunities previously unexplored.

Further information can be found:

The Key – latest podcast

The latest podcast in the Key Voices series is now available, looking at ‘A culture of improvement: reviewing the research on teacher working conditions’, the recent report from the Teacher Development Trust. During the podcast, David Weston, CEO at the Teacher Development Trust discusses the report, which reviews the impact that teacher working conditions have on other aspects of a school. David explains how teacher working conditions link to effective CPD, and tentatively to school improvement and better pupil outcomes. 

Further information can be found:

Wellbeing and fitness support from Schools Advisory Service

The SAS Gym app is a great wellbeing solution for staff looking for fitness and nutritional support. Since its launch just before last September, nearly 2,000 school staff around the country have downloaded the SAS Gym app. SAS Personal Trainers Ed and Valusska regularly update the app to include:

The SAS Gym also links to wearables to record progress towards fitness goals, allows users to track workouts, and calculates bioage.

Ed and Valusska are on hand to provide personalised fitness and nutritional support, taking into account an individual’s ability, any injuries or pain and what they hope to achieve. They also host a live gym session every Wednesday (Stretching and Light Exercise to aid illness, injury or pain recovery) and Thursday (Mixed fitness class, suitable for all ranges) evening at 5pm. SAS Personal Trainers also recently put together guidance for new mums looking to return to normal activity after giving birth. This guidance can be found here.

Forum Strategy members are able to download the SAS Gym app for free by clicking here; and are welcome to join the live weekly sessions. To take part, please email with your name, email to send the invite to, school name and school postcode.

Drop-in surgeries from Wrigleys Solicitors

Forum’s partners at Wrigleys Solicitors are offering two drop-in surgeries, free of charge, to members of Forum Strategy – one for CEOs and one for COOs. This is an opportunity to discuss any issues or queries which you think Wrigleys’ may be able to assist you with, on a commitment free basis. Wrigleys have a specialist team of education law experts and are deeply committed to the education sector; they advise hundreds of schools, colleges, academies and other education institutions.

Wrigleys can offer advice on a number of issues, including, but not limited to:

Growth – including conversions, transfers, re-brokering, mergers and forming new trusts

Employment/HR – including TUPE, redundancy, grievance, disciplinary, capability, dismissal, whistleblowing and sickness

Safeguarding – including policies/procedures and specific issues

Admissions – including policies/procedures, appeals, variations and fair access protocols

Exclusions – including policies/procedures, appeals and funding arrangements

Compliance – including the Academies Financial Handbook, Funding Agreements and significant changes

Data protection – including policies/procedures and data subject access requests

Contracts – including reviewing and drafting new contracts and advising on rights under existing contracts

Visit the website for further information on the support Wrigleys’ can offer: Education Specialist Solicitors | Wrigleys – Wrigleys Solicitors LLP

The drop-in surgery for CEOs will be held on 13 May at 4.00pm.

The drop-in surgery for COOs will be held on 20 May at 2.00pm. (Please note this is a change of date from that advertised in last week’s briefing).

If you are interested in taking up this opportunity to speak to a legal professional, free of charge, please email as soon as possible. Appointments will be booked on a first come first served basis.

Was an employee automatically unfairly dismissed for refusing to attend work due to the Covid-19 pandemic?

This new article from Wrigleys Solicitors comments on a recent court case from beyond education relating to the circumstances of dismissal from employment following the complainant’s refusal to attend work due to the pandemic. In this case the court found the employer had no case to answer and that the complainant had not been unfairly dismissed.

Whilst this is an example from a different sector, the article’s comments on what circumstances could have led to a successful outcome for the complainant might be helpful for trust leaders to consider when dealing with any ongoing employee concerns around the pandemic and as the roadmap out of lockdown progresses.

Further details can be found:


Academies land and buildings collection tool

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has published (28 April) updated guidance for academy trusts and diocesan users on submitting their land and buildings collection tool; to confirm that the online form will be available from 5 October 2021 and the deadline is 9 November 2021.

Further details can be found:

Academies budget forecast returns

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has published (28 April) updated guidance to help academy trusts submit their budget forecast returns, to include the Excel workbook to support users to prepare their return later in the year.

Further information can be found:

Academies accounts return

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has published (28 April) updated guidance on the academies accounts return, to confirm that the online form for the 2020/21 accounts return will be available from 4 November 2021 and the deadline for submission is 25 January 2022.

Further details can be found:

Flexible working ambassador schools

The Department for Education (DfE) has published (28 April) updated information on the flexible working ambassador schools, to confirm the outcome of the flexible working ambassador schools recruitment process and to provide contact details for the flexible working ambassador schools in each region.

Further details can be found:

Submission of teacher assessed grades, summer 2021

Ofqual has published (27 April) updated guidance on the submission of teacher assessed grades for the summer 2021 exam series, to include details of the evidence that exam boards will be expecting, and the timescales teachers need to work to. The main points from the updated guidance are summarised below (source: Ofqual):

  • Centres will be able to submit grades from 26 May.
  • The deadline for submission of data, including grades for the endorsements, is 18 June.
  • Centres will not need to send any supporting evidence, such as student work, when they submit grades to the exam boards, but centres should retain the work and the records of the marking and grading judgements.
  • Once the grades are received, every centre will be asked to provide evidence of student work. Exam boards will request evidence for at least 1 A level subject and 2 GCSE subjects (one of which is likely to be either English language or maths).
  • All centres will be asked to provide the evidence used to determine the grades for at least 5 students for each of these subjects.
  • Exam Boards will let centres know which subjects and students have been selected in the week beginning 21 June.
  • Centres will need to submit this evidence promptly – within 48 hours of the request being made.
  • As part of the external quality assurance, exam boards will compare a centre’s 2021 grade submission with their results in previous years when exams took place – that is, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
  • The comparison for a centre will be made at qualification level – for all GCSE subjects combined and all A level subjects combined – as well as by subject.

Further details can be found:; and in the associated news story:

Exam centre responsibility

The Department for Education (DfE) has published (27 April) updated guidance on the responsibility of exam centres for students retaking qualifications; to explain responsibility for entering students for exams or alternative arrangements to exams and how the cost of fees will be covered.

Further details can be found:

Integrated curriculum and financial planning (ICFP)

The Department for Education (DfE) has published (26 April) updated guidance on how schools can use ICFP to create the best curriculum for pupils with available funding – to include a section on training, setting out what training is available from the Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL) and from ‘Entrust’.

Further information can be found:

Early Years

Sustainability qualification to create ‘green champions’

The London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) – which runs 42 nurseries and pre-schools across London – has launched a new Level 4 qualification ‘Developing sustainability in the early years’ as part of its commitment to educating nurseries and the communities they inhabit about sustainability and the environment, and how to be as ‘green-minded’ as possible. The three-month e-learning course, which has already been taught at LEYF to 20 internal candidates, is due to open to the wider early years community in September. The qualification, accredited by CACHE, aims to embed an ethos of sustainability into the management of early years settings, training employees to become green champions, and teaching children about best practice.

Further information can be found:

Further Reading

£1.8 billion condition funding for schools

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced (27 April) that every school in England will be able to access a share of almost £1.8 billion this year to help keep their buildings in the best possible condition. Local authorities, larger multi-academy trusts and Voluntary Aided school bodies, such as dioceses, have been allocated condition funding in accordance with the latest data on their estates. Smaller academy trusts and sixth form colleges schools have been able to submit bids to the department for funding through the Condition Improvement Fund process. Further details about the School Rebuilding Programme will be set out later in 2021.

Further information can be found:

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 web links are to reputable sites, we cannot be responsible for the content of external websites. Our briefings are for the intended recipient only and should not be forwarded, reproduced or edited.


Related Posts

Sir Steve’s Blog – February 2023

Sir Steve’s Blog – February 2023

Sir Steve Lancashire is Chair of Forum Strategy’s National #TrustLeaders CEO network. Here is his latest monthly article for our members and partners.'Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and...

read more

Need Help?

Get In Touch

Follow Us