Exclusive: Half of teachers will lose a fortnight or more of their summer break to work, YouGov poll reveals

Exclusive: Half of teachers will lose a fortnight or more of their summer break to work, YouGov poll reveals

‘Heaviest ever’ workload blamed on exam reforms and accountability

Almost half of teachers expect to spend two weeks or more on school work during the summer break, according to an exclusive YouGov poll for TES.

As schools break up this week, the survey reveals that 44 per cent of teachers will spend at least 10 days – the equivalent of two working weeks, a third of their summer holiday – on school-related work.

And new teachers will give up even more of their break. A third (33 per cent) of those in their first year of teaching expect to work for at least three weeks this summer, compared with 23 per cent of all teachers.

Teaching unions said that the rising summer workload was linked to high-stakes accountability and the introduction of major curriculum reform, especially at secondary schools, where new GCSEs and A levels in 20 subjects will be taught from September.

Pressures ‘cranking up’

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT teaching union, said: “I think [teachers’ summer workload] is increasing year-on-year as the accountability is cranking up. It has never been as many hours as now.”

He said the heavy workload for new teachers over the summer was “such a poor introduction to the profession”, adding: “It’s no wonder that there are so many that leave the profession so early.”

The YouGov poll of a representative sample of 836 teachers in England and Wales found that women expected to work longer hours this summer than their male counterparts.

Of the female teachers, 46 per cent said that they would work for two weeks or more, compared with 39 per cent of men.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, added: “Given that we know there are serious issues about teachers’ health, particularly their mental health, the fact that there’s now this intensity during what should be the break to refresh and renew is extremely worrying.”

The Department for Education said it was doing “more than ever to tackle” the workload issue.

This is an edited article from the 22 July edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week’s TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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MPs and Lords call for review of Prevent anti-terror strategy in schools

A new report expresses ‘concerns’ about the anti-terror programme in schools

MPs have “concerns” about the impact of Prevent – the government’s controversial anti-terror programme – on schools, a new report reveals.

Parliament’s joint committee on human rights (JCHR) says that the government should ensure Prevent referrals are made in a “sensible and proportionate fashion”.

The report calls for an independent review of the Prevent strategy – which includes a legal duty for schools to “prevent young people from being drawn into terrorism” – to be undertaken before a new counter-extremism Bill is introduced.

It is expected that the Bill will create new powers to intervene “in intensive unregulated education settings which teach hate and drive communities apart” – such as after-school clubs.

The call for a review comes after TES revealed that the number of people referred by education institutions to Prevent had exceeded the number of tip-offs from the police for the first time.

The surge, from October to December last year, coincided with the introduction of the legal duty on schools and colleges from July 2015.

In March, a four-year old nursery pupil was referred to Luton Council after he had drawn a picture of what was described by the nursery as a “cooker bomb” – but which turned out to be a cucumber.

Speaking about the referral rate, Karon McCarthy, a Prevent officer and assistant principal at Chobham Academy in East London, told the committee that she thought staff might be “feeling very scared” that if they did not report something they would “somehow fall foul of the law.”

The committee suggests that it may be “too early” to reach any conclusions on the success of the duty in schools.

‘Sensible and proportionate referrals’

The report, published by the JCHR, concludes: “Anecdotal evidence suggests that there may be some cause for concern about the impact of the duty [on schools] and the government would be well-advised to ensure that referrals are made in a sensible and proportionate fashion.”

But it adds: “We also accept that it is very easy for dangerous myths to be spread about Prevent. The only way for these to be dispelled is for there to be rigorous and transparent reporting about the operation of the Prevent duty.”

At the annual conference of the NUT teaching union at Easter, delegates voted for the Prevent duty to be withdrawn from schools and also called for an independent review of the scheme.

Last month, The Times reported that 1,041 children were referred from schools last year to Channel, the deradicalisation programme. In 2012, only nine children were referred.

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT, said: “We are concerned about the significant increase in referrals to Channel. We believe, however, that in a great many cases, referrals are not taken forward by the Channel panels, and this in itself is an indication of a tendency to over-refer.

“We want government to engage with teachers on this important issue, both to keep children safe but also to be mindful of the stifling effects of the programme. We are concerned that Prevent, in its efforts to protect, is actually closing down debate.”

Labour MP Harriet Harman, chair of the JCHR, told TES: “If those people who worry about Prevent and think it’s made it worse are right then you compound the problem. We need to look at [the duty] independently first.”

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Disadvantaged pupils’ careers aspirations do not match their educational goals, study finds

Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are disproportionately likely to have careers aspirations that do not match their educational goals, new research has found.

And those teenagers who underestimate the education needed for their chosen job are particularly likely to end up not in education, employment or training (NEET), the Education Endowment Foundation reveals.

The EEF has reviewed 96 studies, examining the effect of careers education on teenagers’ lives. It found that good-quality careers advice can make a significant difference to pupils’ academic, social and economic achievement.

Researchers found that those teenagers who have a good understanding of which academic qualifications they need in order to pursue their careers ambitions tend to do better economically in later life than their peers.

But this merely perpetuates the cycle of poverty: the researchers also found that teenagers from poorer homes are a lot more likely than their richer peers to be uncertain which qualifications they need in order to pursue their chosen careers. Disadvantaged pupils are therefore far less likely to acquire relevant skills and qualifications.

Postcode lottery

Previous research, conducted by the Sutton Trust, has found that careers provision in English schools tends to be subject to a postcode lottery, with some teenagers receiving much better advice than others.

Deirdre Hughes, principal research fellow at the University of Warwick’s Institute for Employment Research, and one of the authors of the report, said: “Clearly young people from poorer backgrounds are at a distinct disadvantage, compared with those who attend independent schools, where investment in careers education is a priority.

“More needs to be done to urgently rectify this situation in England’s schooling system.”

The academics also found that pupils who combine part-time work with full-time study tend to reap financial rewards in later life. However, teenagers today are far less likely to have part-time jobs than their equivalents 20 years ago. The proportion of British 16- and 17-year-olds who have a part-time job while still in education has plummeted from 42 per cent in 1997, to 18 per cent in 2014.

Informed decisions

But the authors of the report suggest that work-shadowing and work experience are also associated with positive economic outcomes in later life.

Sir Kevan Collins, EEF chief executive, said that high-quality careers advice was particularly essential, now that fewer pupils than before pick up skills during part-time jobs.

“Today’s report will help teachers and schools make informed decisions about the advice and support they offer,” he said.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union, agreed that careers education was vital in helping pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to find fulfilling careers.

He added: “It is crucial to link work with study, and we would like to see this actually done earlier than is the norm.”

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Five trends revealed by today’s new SEND and exclusion statistics

Five trends revealed by today’s new SEND and exclusion statistics
sen overall stats

Government data shows that the number of pupils receiving SEND support is falling

New Department for Education stastics on statistics on special educational needs and disability (SEND) and exclusion rates and reasons were published today. They reveal that:

  1. The proportion of pupils classed as having SEND in schools fell from 15.4 per cent in 2015 to 14.4 per cent in 2016

    The percentage of pupils whose needs are severe enough to require a statement or education, health and care (EHC) plan remained at 2.8 per cent. But the number of pupils who are classified as needing SEND support – extra help which is provided within class – has declined over the past six years. Reforms in the way SEND is identified has contributed to the change, but researchers have said that it could also be a result of pressure on school resources.

  2. The statistics also show that the pupils with a statement or EHC plan are increasingly likely to attend maintained special schools, up from 41.4 per cent in 2015 to 42.9 per cent in 2016

    percentage of sen pupils in special schools

  3. Pupils with SEND support were more than seven times more likely to receive a permanent exclusion than other pupils in 2014-15

    sen permanent exclusions

  4. And those with a statement or EHC plan were almost seven times as likely to receive a fixed-period exclusion than those with no SEND

    sen fixed period exclusion

  5. There was a rise in the number of exclusions from schools in 2014-15 compared with the previous year

    The number went up from an average of 1,446 temporary and permanent exclusions per day in 2013-14 to 1,621 in 2014-15. And the figures reveal that the most common reason for both permanent and fixed-period exclusions was persistent disruptive behaviour.

    exclusion by reason

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Teachers and support staff could face prison for failing to report child abuse under new proposals

Teachers and support staff could face prison for failing to report child abuse under new proposals

But heads’ union ASCL says introducing mandatory reporting would be ‘counterproductive’

Teachers and school support staff could face fines or imprisonment if they fail to report signs of child abuse or neglect among pupils, a new government consultation released today says.

Under the proposals for “mandatory reporting” those working with children would have a legal duty to report child abuse and neglect.

If they fail to do so, the document says, they could face imprisonment or fines. Currently, the requirement for schools and teachers to report abuse or suspected abuse to local authorities is only written down in guidance.

Campaigners for mandatory reporting have argued that it is vital to make it a legal duty in order to ensure cases are not missed.

But in 2014, the government made it clear it did not want to consult on the issue over fears it would result in an increase of unfounded referrals that could obscure cases where children really needed help.

However, today’s consultation document points out that that the current referral rate in England of 54.8 per 1,000 children is higher than the rate in the US and Australia, both of which already have mandatory reporting systems.

The news was welcomed by the Boarding Schools’ Association, whose schools have been hit with a series of historic sex abuse cases in recent years.

Chief executive Robin Fletcher said: “The BSA and our member schools wholeheartedly support this consultation which will rightly examine the current reporting of abuse and make recommendations for further improvement.”

But the ASCL heads’ union said it would be “counter-productive” to introduce mandatory reporting:

Leora Cruddas, director of policy said: “School leaders and teachers play a crucial role in identifying signs of child abuse and neglect and reporting these cases to the appropriate authorities.

“They are absolutely assiduous in doing so and we do not think there is anything to be achieved by introducing statutory measures to make reporting mandatory.

“Our concern is that it would be counter-productive to introduce such a duty as it would potentially lead to over-reporting which would put additional pressure on social services departments which are already under huge strain.”

In a joint forward to the document, education minister Edward Timpson and Home Office minister Sarah Newton added:

“High profile cases have led to calls for specific reforms to our child protection system. In particular, the introduction of a new mandatory reporting scheme or other measures focused on taking action on child abuse and neglect have been suggested.

“The issues involved are complex and the evidence for such schemes is mixed. We need to consider carefully all the available evidence and views of a range of experts, children, families, survivors and practitioners so that any changes we make to the system do deliver the best outcomes for children”.

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Wilshaw warns UTCs are fighting for their survival

Wilshaw warns UTCs are fighting for their survival

University technical colleges serve an important role but must ‘radically improve’, the head of Ofsted says

Sir Michael Wilshaw has said that university technical colleges must “radically improve” if they are to survive.

The head of Ofsted criticised UTCs before adding that they had a vital role to play in offering students an alternative to the purely academic route favoured by the government.

His comments came as he took another swipe at the government’s push for the majority of pupils to sit GCSEs in the core academic subjects that make up the English Baccalaureate (EBacc).

Speaking at the Baker Dearing UTC conference in central London, the 68-year-old said the government’s path risked leaving some young people “demotivated”. But he warned that leaders of the programme needed to significantly improve if they were to continue to offer young people a technical curriculum rather than the more academic EBacc.

“If the UTC movement is to survive and prosper, then radical improvement is necessary,” Sir Michael said. “If this doesn’t happen, politicians will come to the conclusion that the model is flawed and not worthy of further political or financial support.”

Technical curriculum vital for some

Sir Michael described the government’s ambition for more students to study the EBacc as “laudable”, but said some pupils “will respond better to a technical curriculum”.

“Even when I was head at Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, which had a great academic reputation, 20 per cent of students always failed to reach our targets,” he said. “The consequences of an inflexible curriculum are plain to see. We see it in the demotivated youngsters who leave school with few relevant qualifications and an antipathy to learning. We see it in the ranks of the unskilled unemployed.”

Last month’s Brexit decision meant there was an even greater urgency to develop a “better” technical curriculum to equip young people with the skills needed by businesses in the future, the former headteacher claimed.

UTCs would have a huge part to play to fill the skills gap as industry would no longer be able to rely on importing skilled workers from “Eastern Europe and elsewhere”, he said.

It is not the first time that Sir Michael, who will be stepping down as from his role at the inspectorate in December, has spoken of his concern about the government’s decision to force the vast majority of secondary students to take the EBacc.

In September last year he told TES that the EBacc policy would be a “problem” for some students.

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Constant sniping of academy sponsors ‘depressing’, says Lord Nash

Constant sniping of academy sponsors ‘depressing’, says Lord Nash

An education minister has hit out at “constant sniping from the sidelines” over the sponsorship of academies.

Lord Nash, whose charity Future sponsors two schools in London, told peers at question time that it was a pity that the contributions of people from “philanthropic backgrounds” were not better appreciated.

His comments came after Liberal Democrat Lord Storey pointed to a number of “high-profile cases” where a business person had sponsored a number of academy trusts, which had then procured “substantial contracts from companies the business person also owns”.

Lord Storey called for greater transparency, better procurement arrangements and proper auditing, adding that the current arrangements appeared not to be working.

Lord Nash said there were clear rules to ensure procurement was even-handed. Connected parties could only supply to their trust under “at cost” policy and could not make a profit.

Labour’s Lord Watson of Invergowrie listed several of what he described as the most “egregious” examples found by the Education Funding Agency where the financial arrangements for academy trusts were not adhered to.

He urged ministers to “get a grip” and ensure “proper financial oversight” of billions of pounds “swishing around the academy system”.

Lord Nash said “waste was seeping out of every pore” of the education system when the coalition took over after the last Labour government.

The Audit Commission in 2013-14 had identified 206 cases of fraud in local authority maintained schools, compared to 22 cases in academies.

“It is a great pity that people from philanthropic backgrounds aren’t more appreciated,” he said. “I find this constant sniping from the sidelines very depressing.”

Tory former chancellor Lord Lawson of Blaby said the minister would have shocked the House with his “revelation of a massive amount of fraud involving local authority maintained schools” and asked what was being done to tackle this.

Lord Nash said ministers were constantly encouraging local authorities to take greater financial oversight over their schools.

Labour former minister Lord Foulkes of Cumnock asked Lord Nash to explain how he managed to “reconcile the potential conflict of interest between your role as a minister and you and your wife’s role as directors of the Future Academies trust”.

Lord Nash replied: “We have a very clear protocol established with the civil service that I’m not allowed be involved in any decisions which may directly affect the Future Academies trust.”

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Exclusion rate up by 12 per cent as more than 1,700 pupils a day are barred from schools

Exclusion rate up by 12 per cent as more than 1,700 pupils a day are barred from schools

Latest DfE figures today reveal there were 20,770 exclusions for violence against adults in 2014/15

Schools carried out more than 1,600 exclusions of pupils per day on average in 2014/15 – 175 more than in the previous year.

New statistics from the Department for Education show an average of 31 permanently exclusions per day and a further 1,590 temporary bans on pupils for bad behaviour – including violence, racism and drug offences – in 2014/15.

The figures show the main reason for permanent exclusion is persistent disruptive behaviour – which accounts for 79,590 (32.8 per cent) of all exclusions.

There were also 20,700 exclusions for physical assault of an adult and 54,370 for physical assault of a child.

The figures compare to 26 permanent exclusions and 1,420 temporary exclusions per day on average in 2013/14 and represent a 12 per cent increase in the average daily exclusion rate.

Across all state-funded primary, secondary and special schools, there were 5,800 permanent exclusions in 2014/15 compared to 4,950 in 2013/14, a rise of 17 per cent. The rate in 2014/15 is equivalent to seven pupils per 10,000.

But the DfE points out that the long term trend of permanent exclusions has been downward since 2006/07.

A DfE spokesperson said: “We want a school system where every child feels safe and is able to learn without disruption. That’s why we’ve given head teachers more powers to tackle poor behaviour and exclude pupils if necessary, as well as introducing new training for teachers to help manage and support disruptive children.

“Our reforms will also do more to support children excluded from mainstream schools, as head teachers will retain accountability for pupils in alternative provision, and ensure high quality teaching and a balanced curriculum for those pupils.”

The statistics also reveal the characteristics of pupils who are excluded:

  • More than half of all exclusions occur in Year 9 or above.
  • Boys are more than three times more likely to be permanently excluded than girls.
  • Pupils on free school meals were around four times more likely to be excluded than those who are not on free school meals.
  • Pupils with special educational needs (SEN) support had the highest permanent exclusion rate and were more than seven times more likely to be permanently excluded than pupils without SEN.

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Exclusion rate up by 12 per cent as more than 1,600 pupils a day are barred from schools

Exclusion rate up by 12 per cent as more than 1,600 pupils a day are barred from schools

Latest DfE figures today reveal that there were 20,700 exclusions for violence against adults in 2014-15

Schools carried out more than 1,600 exclusions of pupils per day on average in 2014-15 – 175 more than in the previous year.

New statistics from the Department for Education show an average of 31 permanent exclusions per day and a further 1,590 temporary bans on pupils for bad behaviour – including violence, racism and drug offences – in 2014-15.

The figures show that the main reason for permanent exclusion is persistent disruptive behaviour – which accounted for 79,590 (32.8 per cent) of all exclusions.

There were also 20,700 exclusions for physical assault of an adult and 54,370 for physical assault of a child.

The figures compare with 26 permanent exclusions and 1,420 temporary exclusions per day on average in 2013-14 and represent a 12 per cent increase in the average daily exclusion rate.

Across all state-funded primary, secondary and special schools, there were 5,800 permanent exclusions in 2014-15, compared with 4,950 in 2013-14 – a rise of 17 per cent. The rate in 2014-15 is equivalent to seven pupils per 10,000.

But the DfE pointed out that the long-term trend of permanent exclusions has been downward since 2006-07.

‘More powers for heads’

A spokesperson said: “We want a school system where every child feels safe and is able to learn without disruption. That’s why we’ve given headteachers more powers to tackle poor behaviour and exclude pupils if necessary, as well as introducing new training for teachers to help manage and support disruptive children.

“Our reforms will also do more to support children excluded from mainstream schools, as headteachers will retain accountability for pupils in alternative provision, and ensure high-quality teaching and a balanced curriculum for those pupils.”

The statistics also reveal the characteristics of pupils who were excluded:

  • More than half of all exclusions occurred in Year 9 or above;
  • Boys were more than three times more likely to be permanently excluded than girls;
  • Pupils on free school meals were around four times more likely to be excluded than those who were not on free school meals;
  • Pupils with special educational needs (SEN) support had the highest permanent exclusion rate and were more than seven times more likely to be permanently excluded than pupils without SEN.

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Speech: Sir Michael Wilshaw’s speech at the Baker Dearing UTC conference

Good morning everyone and thank you for inviting me to speak at your conference.

What amazing times we live in.

It is hard to believe that the EU Referendum vote took place just 4 short weeks ago today. There won’t be many here in this room who can remember living through such tumultuous times before. I, for one, certainly cannot.

The momentous decision our country reached on 23 June has upturned so many old certainties and transformed the terms of our national debates almost overnight. And as the shock waves continue to reverberate, few would doubt that one of the critical questions we face will be how we equip our young people with the skills the UK needs to survive and prosper in a post-Brexit world.

Of course, we don’t yet know exactly how Theresa May will approach the forthcoming negotiations over access to the single market and the free movement of labour.

But as much as anything can be certain, businesses here will surely have to learn to rely less on imported workers from Eastern Europe and elsewhere to plug existing skills gaps and much more on the home-grown population.

A previous Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in another context, famously described how the kaleidoscope had been shaken and how the pieces, currently in flux, would soon settle. You could just as easily apply this analogy to describe the opportunity that now suddenly presents itself to re-order our technical and vocational education system in a truly radical way.

As I enter my final few months as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, I will be urging the new government to seize this opportunity with both hands.

The main reason I am here today is because I believe university technical colleges have a pivotal role to play in raising both the status and the quality of technical education in this country.

Those who have been paying attention will know this has been one of the principal themes of my tenure and an issue I have returned to time and again.

For far too long, we have let down millions of young people and allowed their talents to go to waste because we have not given the non-academic pathway into employment the priority it deserves.

Let me be clear. I believe the government’s ambition to raise the academic achievement of our young people and to put many more of them through the English Baccalaureate in future years is a laudable one. But having taught in disadvantaged communities for most of my professional life, I also recognise that there will always be some children who will respond better to a technical curriculum than a purely academic one. Even when I was head at Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, which had a great academic reputation, 20% of students always failed to reach our targets.

The consequences of an inflexible curriculum are plain to see. We see it in the demotivated youngsters who leave school with few relevant qualifications and an antipathy to learning. We see it in the ranks of the unskilled unemployed.

As I have argued in the past, the problem in many ways is as much attitudinal as it is educational. Vocational training in this country does not have the esteem and status that it should have.

The education systems of a good number of our international competitors are more flexible than ours and are much more geared towards aligning the potential of the student with the needs of their economies. As a result, countries like Germany, Norway and Switzerland, which have excellent technical routes as well as academic ones, have far lower rates of youth unemployment than we do.

While our system has become increasingly adept at guiding young people into higher education, it continues to struggle, despite the recent focus on apprenticeships, to inform them about alternatives to university.

Report after report finds that careers guidance in both schools and colleges is uniformly weak, while the way we prepare young people for the world of work remains poor.

My candid assessment earlier this year of the state of 16 to 19 education in England drew furious response and landed me in all sorts of trouble with the further education (FE) sector.

My remarks arose from my exasperation with the status quo and the glacial pace of change. They reflected my concern that too many general further education (GFE) colleges are still packing their curriculum with low-quality courses that fail to match the skills gaps in their local and national labour market. And they betrayed my frustration with the fact that so many young people who failed to reach the grade in maths and English at 16 still haven’t got these key qualifications 2 years later.

Although there are some excellent GFE institutions, such as Truro and Penwith, Runshaw and Blackpool and the Fylde College, nearly half of the 71 GFE colleges inspected by Ofsted this academic year have been judged to be less than good – including 10 colleges that were inadequate.

This is an alarming rate of underperformance and failure, especially when we remember that the majority of 16 to 19-year-olds are educated in the FE sector.

Right across the country, we find colleges that simply aren’t delivering what’s needed. In too many cases, inspectors are coming across weak provision, characterised by poor outcomes for learners and apprentices, high drop-out rates and sub-standard work experience placements that fail to develop students’ industry-specific skills.

Earlier this year, I highlighted how in 2 of the West Midlands’ largest colleges, less than 10% of the combined population of nearly 30,000 students were on apprenticeship courses. Far too few learners in these institutions were progressing into an apprenticeship or into skilled employment. This in a region where 9 in 10 manufacturing firms said they were experiencing significant recruitment difficulties. This picture of businesses suffering acute skills shortages is mirrored across all regions and in many different sectors, as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reported only this week.

In the UK, there are 210,000 vacancies across the economy – an increase of 43% from just 3 years ago. These vacancies remain unfilled because candidates lack the necessary skills that employers are desperately looking for.

As John Cridland remarked a few months ago when stepping down as head of the CBI, it is the ‘Achilles heel’ of economic growth. The problems of poor productivity and skills shortages, he suggested, originate in the classroom, not the workplace.

I am willing to bet there are few people in this room today who would gainsay this view?

Indeed, the growth of the university technical college (UTC) movement is a response to the long-standing failure to improve the poor quality of technical provision in schools and colleges – just as the academy movement was a response to the systemic failure of local authorities to raise standards.

This is hardly a new problem we are grappling with. More than 50 years have now passed since John Newsom warned in his seminal report ‘Half our future’, that this country was failing half its young people. Half a century on, what has changed?

At this juncture, it is right to acknowledge the ambitious steps the government has taken in very recent years to increase both the number and the quality of apprenticeships.

The proposed measures to transform post-16 technical education, set out earlier this month by the now departed Skills Minister in response to the Sainsbury recommendations, are also very welcome.

However, it is vital that we do everything in our power to prevent this proving yet another false dawn. We are all too aware that the gap between the good intentions of successive administrations and the reality of what is happening on the ground remains a yawning one.

In a speech at the start of this year, I said it was a moral imperative as well as an economic one that we embark on a radical change of direction. If that were true 6 months ago, it is even more so now given the events of the past few weeks.

It is fair to say I have ruffled a few ministerial feathers in the last couple of years by saying there should be more opportunity at 14 for pupils to follow a strong technical pathway without abandoning the essential core curriculum.

But it’s a view I hold on to firmly. And that is where you come in.

I have argued that every medium or large multi-academy trust or federation should contain a UTC. Such an arrangement would enable young people to transfer across institutions in the cluster to follow a route into high-level academic or vocational study. Pupils on either path would be free to access the specialist teaching available in the other and would not be stuck in one route.

Ofsted would be there to ensure that the UTC did not become a dumping ground for the difficult or disaffected and that it delivered high quality pre-apprenticeship programmes to the age of 19.

So if that’s the vision, what do we need to do to make it a reality?

How do we encourage more strongly performing trusts to buy into this approach and to get more actively involved?

How do we tackle the problem of low enrolment numbers across the UTC network and achieve a better gender balance?

How do we persuade many more teenagers – boys and girls – that leaving behind their friends and support networks at the age of 14 to move into an unfamiliar environment is a step worth taking for their future?

How do we get parents onside?

The answer to these questions, of course, lies in demonstrating that UTCs are capable of delivering a consistently high standard of education. As we all know, the experience to date is that this consistency has been missing. The UTC performance track-record is patchy.

To date, Ofsted has inspected 15 out of the 39 UTCs currently operating. One of these – Reading – was judged outstanding, 7 were good, 5 required improvement and 2 were inadequate.

You need to be doing significantly better than this, particularly because, unlike GFE colleges, you largely focus on one vocational or technical specialist area. If the UTC movement is to survive and prosper, then radical improvement is necessary. If this doesn’t happen, politicians will come to the conclusion that the model is flawed and not worthy of further political or financial support.

Where providers have been judged less than good to date, inspectors have found a number of common weaknesses:

  • an often indistinctive and poorly thought-through curriculum
  • low expectations of what pupils can achieve
  • weak and inconsistent teaching, including of literacy and numeracy skills
  • under-developed careers guidance and a failure to make best use of links with local employers.

I know there are people in this audience who think Ofsted has been too hard on some of the institutions we have inspected, especially during the first wave. There is a feeling that Her Majesty’s Inspectors have simply failed to properly get to grips with the fact that UTCs are organised differently from other schools and have different objectives and priorities for their students. Some of you have even suggested UTCs should be inspected under their own, separate framework.

Let me say that I understand these concerns and have discussed them at length with colleagues in Ofsted. So today I want to give you the reassurance that inspectors do recognise the unique context in which UTCs are operating – and they will continue to do so.

We do not expect you to conform to a particular type or fit into an educational straitjacket that doesn’t take account of your distinctive purpose and mission.

While we inspect UTCs under the same common inspection framework that we have used to inspect schools, FE colleges and early years settings since last September, this does not mean we take a one-size-fits-all approach to how we grade them. For every type of provider inspected under the common framework, we pay attention to the most pertinent aspects of the framework and the inspection handbook when reaching judgements on the leadership and management, on the teaching, learning and assessment and on outcomes.

Our UTC inspections are always led by a schools HMI. From the start of next term, we are rolling out a bespoke UTC training package for these lead inspectors, with a particular focus on the leadership of the curriculum and careers guidance. Furthermore, our UTC inspection teams will continue to include a further education and skills inspector, whose background and expertise will match as closely as possible the particular specialism of the institution.

So yes, we do take account of the context in which you are operating and the reason you were set up in the first place. But that doesn’t mean we will soft pedal or pull our punches where standards fall short. To do so would, in my view and I hope in yours too, be doing the UTC movement a grave disservice.

After all, we know that under our inspection framework, it is possible for a UTC to receive a report just as glowing as any other type of school because we have seen it happen already.

Indeed, just as we have found some common weaknesses in under-performing UTCs, those we have judged to be good or outstanding have tended to share many similar strengths and characteristics, including:

  • business-like ethos and culture of high aspirations and expectations for both staff and students
  • carefully designed and specialised curriculum, with a strong focus on equipping students with the technical knowledge to meet local skills shortages
  • robust tracking and assessment systems
  • impressive destination data showing students have achieved the relevant qualifications to enable them to progress to the next stage of their education or into a job
  • excellent links forged with local and national employers that offer students real world experience through well-planned work placements
  • exemplary careers guidance;
  • well-equipped laboratories and workshops
  • strong literacy and numeracy development that underpins good progress in the technical aspects of the curriculum;
  • strong feedback from business partners on the progress of students.

It is really important that in all UTCs, leaders inject rigour in everything that they do. They should insist on pupils being punctual, smartly dressed and ready to learn. They should focus relentlessly on fostering a culture of respect and order in the classrooms and corridors.

They need to understand that employers are looking for young people who not only have the right technical skills and knowledge but have also been taught the required attitudes and behaviours needed to succeed in the work place.

Crucially too, they should understand that it is right that they are held to account for providing a strong core curriculum. They need to know that for every young person in their charge, a sound grasp of English and maths will be the bedrock for all future study, training and employment.

As the manager of the Birmingham Electrical Training company told me on a visit last year: “I’m not interested in apprentices who don’t have good literacy and numeracy skills, because so much of what they have to do demands good communication and on the job calculations.”

To use that time-worn cliché, this is not rocket science. Although following Tim Peake’s recent exploits, I look forward to a new UTC specialising in this subject before too long.

These are the aspects against which all your institutions will be judged when Ofsted comes to inspect you – including the 18 planned UTCs due to open by the end of 2018. Get these right and the students will come. You will soon start to forge a good reputation in your area and help the wider movement into the bargain.

As a nation we are at a crossroads. As I said at the outset, our future success and prosperity depends on us turning out many more confident and properly educated young people, who are work ready and have the technical, literacy, numeracy and personal skills that our industries need.

Now is the time for UTCs to take up the challenge and to cement their place in our educational landscape.

For my part, I will continue to champion your cause, both in the time I have left in this post and after I step down in December.

I wish you all the very best. Thank you for listening.

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Delay to new funding formula could prove ‘catastrophic’ for most cash-strapped schools, heads warn

Delay to new funding formula could prove ‘catastrophic’ for most cash-strapped schools, heads warn

Some schools will be ‘in danger of financial collapse’, ASCL warns

The one-year delay to the new funding formula could be “catastrophic” for some of the most cash-strapped schools unless they are given some form of interim support, heads’ leaders said today.

Julia Harnden, funding specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said her organization was “extremely disappointed” no support had been put in place for the lowest-funded schools in the lowest-funded areas.

She said: “The financial situation in these schools is already critical because of huge increased cost pressures and the delay in the introduction of the new funding formula is potentially catastrophic”.

The situation would mean that some schools were ‘in danger of financial collapse’, despite good leadership, she said.

Her comments were backed by Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, who said that the announcement of the delay to the new formula from 2017-18 until 2018-19 “will disappoint many school leaders”.

Ms Harnden said: “While we understand the government’s reasons for delaying the introduction of a new funding formula, we are extremely disappointed that no interim support has been put in place for the lowest-funded schools in the lowest-funded areas.

“The financial situation in these schools is already critical because of huge increased cost pressures and the delay in the introduction of the new funding formula is potentially catastrophic.

“Additional financial support must be put in in place for 2017/18 for these schools and the government has to understand the urgency of this situation. Through no fault of their own, and despite exemplary leadership, some schools are in danger of financial collapse.”

Mr Hobby added: “We know from the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ analysis that budgets will see a real terms cut of 8 per cent between now and 2020; flat budgets are not taking account of rising costs, regardless of the distribution of funding”.

But he acknowledged that it was now “too late” to introduce changes for 2017-18, as the government had previously planned.

“Schools need certainty above all else, and today’s news that the formula will not begin until 2018-19 at least provides a little clarity on when the funding system will be reformed,” he said.

Education secretary Justine Greening said today that she would publish details of the proposed new formula this autumn, and bring in the new system for 2018-19. She said a “minimum funding guarantee” that prevented schools from losing more than 1.5 per cent of their funding per year would remain in place.

Mr Hobby said this guarantee did not go far enough. “We need more money, rather than a guarantee that we won’t lose a lot,” he said.

“We would press the government to ensure that the most poorly funded schools actually receive more during this transition period.”

Jonathan Simons, head of education at the think tank Policy Exchange, told TES the one-year delay to the formula was “the right thing to do, under the circumstances.”

He said: “The delay caused by various elections and the referendum and subsequent political changes meant that the timing would have been unreasonably tight. [It’s] better to do it right, than do it in a rush.”

Ms Greening faced questions on the delay in the House of Commons this morning. Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said the “last-minute” move summed up the government’s “woeful” attitude to school funding.

Ms Greening told MPs: “What we want to do is strike a balance between moving rapidly towards a fairer funding formula but at the same time making sure that we do that in a way that clearly allows time for the details of that formula to be debated because they will have a big impact on how it works effectively.

“But also then time for local authorities to understand the changes and then prepare and indeed for schools themselves as well.

“That’s the balance I have tried to strike today and I also want to be responsible in making sure that we don’t rush into some changes without absolutely being fully sighted on the ramifications of them.”

Ms Greening said she was “committed to resolving” the issue but that she wanted to “make sure … we resolve it effectively so that we don’t have to revisit this funding formula again because we haven’t got it right first time”.

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Schools at financial ‘breaking point’ will be disappointed by funding formula delay, heads warn

Schools at financial ‘breaking point’ will be disappointed by funding formula delay, heads warn

NAHT says schools will struggle without extra cash next year

Schools whose budgets are “pushed to breaking point” will be disappointed by today’s announcement of a one-year delay to the introduction of a national fair funding formula, a headteachers’ union has warned.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said this morning that the announcement of the delay “will disappoint many school leaders”.

“We know from the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ analysis that budgets will see a real terms cut of 8 per cent between now and 2020; flat budgets are not taking account of rising costs, regardless of the distribution of funding”, he said.

But he acknowledged that it was now “too late” to introduce changes for 2017-18, as the government had previously planned.

“Schools need certainty above all else, and today’s news that the formula will not begin until 2018-19 at least provides a little clarity on when the funding system will be reformed,” he said.

Education secretary Justine Greening said today that she would publish details of the proposed new formula this autumn, and bring in the new system for 2018-19. She said a “minimum funding guarantee” that prevented schools from losing more than 1.5 per cent of their funding per year would remain in place.

Mr Hobby said this guarantee did not go far enough. “We need more money, rather than a guarantee that we won’t lose a lot,” he said.

“We would press the government to ensure that the most poorly funded schools actually receive more during this transition period.”

Jonathan Simons, head of education at the think tank Policy Exchange, told TES the one-year delay to the formula was “the right thing to do, under the circumstances.”

He said: “The delay caused by various elections and the referendum and subsequent political changes meant that the timing would have been unreasonably tight. [It’s] better to do it right, than do it in a rush.”

Ms Greening faced questions on the delay in the House of Commons this morning. Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said the “last-minute” move summed up the government’s “woeful” attitude to school funding.

Ms Greening told MPs: “What we want to do is strike a balance between moving rapidly towards a fairer funding formula but at the same time making sure that we do that in a way that clearly allows time for the details of that formula to be debated because they will have a big impact on how it works effectively.

“But also then time for local authorities to understand the changes and then prepare and indeed for schools themselves as well.

“That’s the balance I have tried to strike today and I also want to be responsible in making sure that we don’t rush into some changes without absolutely being fully sighted on the ramifications of them.”

Ms Greening said she was “committed to resolving” the issue but that she wanted to “make sure … we resolve it effectively so that we don’t have to revisit this funding formula again because we haven’t got it right first time”.

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