Weekly strategic round-up: 4th October

Weekly Update / 4th October 2013.

Key announcements & related developments:

–          GCSE performance tables

From 29 September 2013, only a student’s first entry to a GCSE examination will count in their school’s performance tables. This change will affect all EBacc subjects and both GCSE and IGCSE examinations. For performance tables published in January 2016 and subsequently, the changes will apply to all non-EBacc subjects as well. The move is intended to deter a growing trend of early entry.

The Secretary of State was quoted as saying: “The evidence shows that candidates who enter early perform worse overall than those who do not, even after re-sits are taken into account. It seems likely that candidates are being entered before they are ready, and ‘banking’ a C grade where their performance at key stage 2 would suggest that if they had continued to study the subject and taken the GCSE at the end of year 11 they could have achieved a top grade.”

For more information: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/changes-to-early-entry-at-gcse


–          OFSTED inspection handbook and guidance

In case you missed it: the school inspection handbook and subsidiary guidance was updated by OFSTED over the summer: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/school-inspection-handbook


–          Revised school uniform guidance

The guidance has been updated following an announcement by David Laws at the Liberal Democrat conference in September: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-school-uniform-guidance-published


–          NAHT to develop model for assessment

In light of the proposed changes to primary assessment, the NAHT is bringing together a commission of experts to develop a model for assessment that can be used broadly across schools, in order to ‘avoid the reinvention of 22,000 wheels’. The commission is seeking views and evidence from the profession. Submissions should made be no later than October 16. A preliminary report will be published before Christmas. More here: http://www.naht.org.uk/welcome/news-and-media/blogs/susan-young/assessing-assessment-your-chance-to-join-in/


Research & review:


–          Faith Schools Paper

The think tank Theos has published: “More than an educated guess: Assessing the Evidence on “Faith Schools”.

Key points included:

  • Currently around one in three maintained schools have a religious character;
  • The heated debate around the place of faith schools is often a proxy for wider disputes around the role of faith in contemporary society;
  • There is little reason to believe that faith schools are socially divisive. Rather, they are successful as community schools at reflecting the multi-cultural make-up of English communities and promoting cohesion.
  • The balance of evidence suggests that when schools act as their own admissions authorities – as many do – a degree of socio-economic ‘sorting’ can result. However, faith-based criteria are likely to be only one cause amongst others of this phenomenon.
  • For Christian schools in particular, there are strong reasons to reassess policies around pupil selection, to avoid what looks like a degree of indirect socio-economic sorting, especially given their historic ethos of concern for the poorest in society.
  • The full report can be found at: http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/files/files/More%20than%20an%20educated%20guess.pdf


–          NFER Assessment ‘Policy Paper’

The NFER have recently published a policy paper suggesting that the education sector must develop a shared point of reference for assessment standards to avoid uncertainty creeping into standards in pupil achievement.

The report explains the changes in assessment (currently under consultation) and highlights the opportunity for schools and leaders to play a greater role in shaping formative assessment to support pupil progress – with potentially positive impact on improving pupil progress and outcomes.

However, schools risk a return to assessment with no agreed reference points, leading to uncertainty about standards of pupil achievement. To achieve a shared understanding of assessment:

  • Novice and expert teachers need to develop a culture and discourse of high quality assessment through their careers
  • The role of professional associations, advisers and schools should be to support this development, so that a shared understanding of assessment can become embedded as classroom practice.

The full report can be found here: http://www.nfer.ac.uk/nfer/publications/99940/99940.pdf


–          CfBT research into school improvement

CfBT has published a series of reviews of international literature on school improvement, covering areas such as assessment for learning, inclusion, effective teaching and effective leadership. The review of effective teaching finds that effective teachers:

  • are clear about instructional goals
  • are knowledgeable about curriculum content and the strategies for teaching it
  • communicate to their students what is expected of them, and why
  • make expert use of existing instructional materials in order to devote more time to practices that enrich and clarify the content
  • are knowledgeable about their students, adapting instruction to their needs and anticipating misconceptions in their existing knowledge
  • teach students meta-cognitive strategies and give them opportunities to master them
  • address higher- as well as lower-level cognitive objectives
  • monitor students’ understanding by offering regular appropriate feedback
  • integrate their instruction with that in other subject areas
  • accept responsibility for student outcomes.

It also identifies the characteristics that define schools where such practices take place:

  • establish consistency in teaching and learning across the organisation
  • engender a culture of professional debate and developmental lesson observation
  • rigorously monitor and evaluate what they are doing
  • prioritise the teaching of literacy, especially in a child’s early years
  • focus on the needs, interests and concerns of each individual learner.

Both this and the other reports in the series can be found here: http://www.cfbt.com/en-GB/Research/Research-library/2013/r-school-improvement-series-2013


Other reading:

HMCI Michael Wilshaw calls for the independent sector to ‘’renew & deepen’ commitment to poorer children & seek opportunities to collaborate with and support state schools:


Russell Hobby writes about the merits of testing pupils on entry to primary schools:


David Weston describes the role of the National Teacher Enquiry Network and the contribution it is making to ensuring more schools benefit from the principles of effective school-led CPD:



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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