Weekly strategic round-up: 18th October

This week’s strategic round-up includes updates on school sports, teacher training scholarships and bursaries, and an overview of the Social Mobility Commission’s annual report published on Thursday.


Key announcements and publications:

National curriculum and assessment overview

The government has produced a four page ‘information for schools’ document outlining some key information around changes to the national curriculum and assessment from September 2014.

It includes information around the key timelines (and exemptions to these for years 2, 6, 10 and 11 pupils in 2014/15 – who will be taught the new curriculum in all subjects expect English, maths and science, where they follow the current national curriculum / programmes of study), disapplication of the curriculum for some pupils during the academic year 2013/14, and assessment.

The document also provides some helpful informational on support currently available to schools.

The document can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-education/series/national-curriculum



Government sets out position on school sports

The government has responded to the select committee’s inquiry into school sport following London 2012.

In its response it stated its commitment to ensuring that all children have the opportunity to lead healthy, active lifestyles; to participate in and enjoy physical activity both within and outside school; and to compete against their peers.

It highlighted some key information:

  • The retention of PE as a compulsory subject in the new national curriculum and substantial cross-government investment in PE and sport in primary schools.
  • Sustainability and accountability are a key consideration. Schools are required to publish online details of their full PE and sport offer and the impact upon pupil attainment.
  • OFSTED has updated its inspection handbook to include specific references to the additional funding for PE, detailing the funding and effective ways schools may consider spending it.
  • The DfE website includes a range of information showcasing excellent practice and including detailed advice (including case studies focused on inclusion of children with SEN): http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/adminandfinance/financialmanagement/primary/a00226251/case-studies
  • Schools are free to work together in clusters and share PE specialist expertise. The DfE has asked NCTL to pilot a primary PE specialist approach.
  • For PE trainees beginning their secondary ITT course in 2013/14, those with a first class degree will receive a £9,000 bursary and those with a 2:1 will receive £4,000. This is replicated at primary level.
  • NCTL will continue to explore, with Ofsted, how physical education can be best inspected in initial teacher training.
  • Key links:

New national curriculum (including programmes of study and attainment targets): https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-education/series/national-curriculum

More on Primary PE and sport funding: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/adminandfinance/financialmanagement/b00222858/primary-school-sport-funding/Primary-school-sport-funding

The full report to the Select Committee can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmeduc/723/723.pdf



Changes to the secondary accountability system

This week the minister for schools announced significant changes to the system of accountability for secondary schools, including measures capturing pupil progress and the average grade pupils achieve across ‘best 8’ subjects.  A full briefing of the ministerial statement can be found on the Forum Education website here:




Changes to scholarships and bursaries for postgraduate teacher training

The minister for schools has announced new scholarships and bursaries aimed at attracting high quality graduates into teaching.

Scholarships will be awarded by subject organisations and will be available to ‘the most talented’ maths, physics, chemistry and computing trainees. 680 teacher training scholarships will be available for trainees starting in the 2014 to 2015 academic year.

Bursaries will be available to top graduates in maths, physics, chemistry, computing and languages, in primary, and in priority subjects at secondary school (English, history, biology, geography, music and design and technology).

For more information on the financial incentives for those who train in 2014/15 and other key information, see: http://www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching/funding/postgraduate-funding

Some key points of interest to note:

–          Subject organisations are already opening their application processes for scholarships;

–          School Direct trainees whose training is based in a school where more than 35% of pupils are eligible for free school meals will receive a 25% increase on the bursaries / scholarships.

–          Bursaries for primary maths specialists with a 2:1 degree will increase from £6,000 to £11,000, matching bursaries for those with a first. New bursaries will be introduced for those with a 2:2, worth £6,000. (NB: These specific bursaries are available to those trainees with a B or better in A-level maths and who are on maths specialist courses only. Those who do not have a B or better at A-level, or those who train on general primary courses, will receive the normal primary bursary for their degree class.)


Research and thinking:

Social Mobility Commission report

The Social Mobility Commission published its report: ‘State of the Nation 2013: social mobility and child poverty in Great Britain’ this week.

The report (the commission’s first annual report) sets out its views on the progress made towards improving social mobility and tackling child poverty. One of a number of its ‘keys to unlocking social progress’ is “high quality schools and teachers relentlessly focused on raising standards, building social skills and closing attainment gaps.”

The report produced a number of findings across a range of areas, including some closely related to education provision:

Child poverty

–          These are challenging times in which to progress, with strong headwinds: a squeeze on family incomes and on public spending;

–          However, the UK has gone from having one of the highest levels of child poverty in Europe to a rate near the average over the last 15 years;

–          The number of children in relative poverty has fallen, but those in absolute poverty increased by more than 275,000 in 2011/12;

–          Since 2010 there has been a dramatic 15% decline in the number of children in workless households, but a big rise in the proportion of poor children who are in families where someone else is in work;

–          Two thirds of poor children are now in working households.


–          The number of young people unemployed for two years or more is at a 20 year high.


–          The commission welcomed the extension of free services to 2 year-olds, but take-up and quality are too variable. Both are lowest in the poorest areas.

Schools and transition to work

–          The commission welcomed the government’s “energetic focus on school reform to drive social mobility”;

–          The gap between the poorest and the wealthiest children has narrowed at primary school and GCSE level but widened at A-level;

–          The most deprived areas still have 30% fewer good schools;

–          Schools in London are improving most, but other places are falling behind, including parts of middle England.  Children on FSM in London do 50% better than their peers elsewhere. The worst region for attainment by the poorest pupils is South East England. The worst schools for attainment by the poorest pupils are in areas such as West Berkshire, Herefordshire and towns such as Peterborough and Swindon.

–          Britain is a long way from having a clear road-map for ‘the other 50%’ (those not attending university), too many of whom end up as NEETs.


–          The report concludes that there is much to welcome in what the government, employers, schools and universities are doing. The issues of social mobility and, to a lesser extent, child poverty are on their agenda.

–          The pessimistic conclusion however is that the scale and depth of activity is not enough to combat the economic and fiscal headwinds.

–          With specific reference to schools, the report urges schools to adapt a dual-mandate of raising the bar and closing the gap on attainment with more help for low attainers from average income families as well as for low-income children to “succeed in making it to the top, not just getting off the bottom.”


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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