A new academic year: 2018-2019

As we move into September 2018, various previous announcements are giving rise to much  associated activity.  

Following on from Nick Gibb’s announcement that the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) had been selected to develop and deliver the latest attempt at having a Reception Baseline, it will be trialled in selected schools from this month, with the aim of introducing it in 2020. This means it won’t be until the first cohort has been right through primary school that it can be used as a progress measure, and who knows how many more changes there will have been by 2027? It is described as a 20-minute, teacher-recorded assessment of children’s communication, language, literacy and early maths skills.

 Along with the reappearance of a baseline for pupils as they enter compulsory schooling, the proposed Y4 multiplication test has moved from the back to the front burner, with some  7,250 pupils in 290 primary schools expected to take part in the trials from this month onwards, before it is rolled out across the next 2 years. Mr Gibb has explained: "Just as the phonics screening check helps children who are learning to read, the multiplication tables check will help teachers to identify those pupils who require extra support. This will ensure all pupils leave primary school knowing their times tables off by heart and able to start secondary school with a secure grasp of the fundamental mathematics they need to fulfil their potential." 

Another pilot starting this month is that of the new early learning goals (ELGs), involving 25 primary schools. These have been adjusted to have a greater focus on vocabulary development and a better understanding of numbers 1 to 10 rather than 1 to 20. How ELGs are moderated will also be trialled. The evaluation report will be published in Autumn 2019.

Finally, a reminder that the latest guidance on Keeping Children Safe in Education (KSIE), which was published in May this year, comes into force this month. It replaces the 2016 version and places an emphasis on children with SEND, children who were looked after and those leaving the care system.

August 2018

9 pupil referral units (PRUs), councils & charities will split £4 million from the government’s new “alternative provision fund”, the schools minister, Nick Gibb, announced on 6th August.

During the month, there were various reports that, in its Framework for Sept 2019, Ofsted may place less emphasis on exam results as a measure of the quality of a school, due to the effects on low-attaining pupils and the narrowing of the curriculum. HMCI Amanda Spielman is concerned that all pupils should receive a rich educational experience. 

In a 4 page letter, Damian Hinds responded to the Lenehan Review, 'Good intention, good enough? – a review of children and young people in residential special schools and colleges, (see  Nov 2017).           /

Nasen announced that Whole School SEND (WSS) was on the move, in that the websites of the 2 organisations are coming together and will appear on the re-launched SEND Gateway in the Autumn.

 July 2018            

On 25th July, Robert Halfon’s Education Committee published its report on Alternative Provision (AP) and Exclusions. (This was in advance of Edward Timpson’s Exclusions Review, due by the end of the year, which the DfE asked him to undertake). The report, Forgotten children: alternative provision and the scandal of ever increasing exclusions,

includes the following observations / recommendations:

‘Zero-tolerance’ behaviour policies are unhelpful
Ofsted should introduce an inclusion measure to incentivise schools
Encouragement should be given to create more specialist AP providers for medical needs, including mental health
Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) should be renamed
Schools should publish their permanent & fixed term exclusions every term
Steps should be taken to encourage reintegration where appropriate
A senior person in every LA is needed to promote the interests of pupils in AP
All trainee teachers should have a placement in AP or special schools
More should be done to provide for pupils post-16.

Nasen Live 2018 was held at the ICC in Birmingham on Friday 6 July. Dr Adam Boddison, nasen’s Chief Executive, has recently succeeded Anita Kerwin-Nye as Chair of Whole School SEND (WSS). 

On 3 July, the Education Committee held their first oral evidence session for their SEND Inquiry. It was great to see Mary Warnock continuing to take a lively interest in SEND. She expressed her concern that Ofsted inspectors don’t give schools an incentive to be inclusive as they are too focused on academic excellence. She also said that the pressure on local authorities (LAs) to balance the books makes it hard for them to be on the side of families. The Inquiry is reviewing the success of the SEND reforms: how they have been implemented and their impact on those who have SEND

June 2018

On 22 June, the DfE announced that new early learning goals (ELGs) would be piloted in 25 primary schools from Sept this year..

May 2018

As a result of the Rochford Review, and after more than three years of deliberations, the final version of the Pre-key stage standards (PKS) for KS1 and KS2 were published for use next year. A major change, apart from dropping the word ‘interim’, has been the various descriptions for the PKS, where the terms: growing development, early development, foundations, emerging and entry to the expected standard, might have been placed in any order. Instead, they are to be labelled standard 1, standard 2, standard 3, and standard 4. The other part of Rochford, namely the pilot on using Engagement, is still running and whatever replaces the lower end of the P scales, will come into effect a year later than the PKS. Although they can still be used, the P scales will no longer be statutory after 2019/20.

Just when we thought the consultation on 'Schools that work for everyone' (Sept-Dec 2016) must have sunk without trace, the DfE response belatedly appeared. Although no new selective/grammar schools will be allowed, existing ones will be permitted to expand, provided they become more inclusive.

 On 10 May, Nadhim Zahawi, the minister for children and families, announced three new contracts: 

1.£20 million for the Council for Disabled Children(CDC), in partnership with Contact (formerly Contact A Family), to provide families and young people with impartial advice about the services and support available

2.£3.8 million for Contactto work with KIDS and the CDC to promote young people’s and parent carers’ participation

3.£3.4 million over two years for nasen to work with UCL, on behalf of the Whole School SEND (WSS) consortium, to enable schools to deliver high-quality SEND provision.  

Alongside these new contracts, the DfE has developed new tools in partnership with nasen and Action for Children to create a job description and specification for level three early years special educational needs coordinators (SENCos). Nadhim referred to the government’s ongoing support for the most disadvantaged families, including the provision of FSM to 1.1 million of the most disadvantaged children, and the £2.5 billion funding given to schools through the Pupil Premium

Nadhim also announced some additional Special provision capital funding for LAs to create places for pupils with EHC plans, and to improve facilities for them in mainstream and special schools, nurseries, and colleges. £50 million will be divided between LAs, so that every council will receive at least £115,000 and over half will get £225,000. Previously, he’d announced the sponsors for 14 new special free schools.

Following their inquiry, on 9 May the Joint Education and Health & Social Care Committee issued its report: 'The government’s green paper on mental health: failing a generation'. It criticises the government for lacking ambition, because the changes will happen over a long timescale. While recognising the difficulties the services are under, with less than  25% of the country being involved as 'trailblazers' over the next five years, concerns are raised about leaving many without the help they need.

In Special educational needs: an analysis and summary of data sources (May 2018), the number of pupils on SEN support, after several years of being reduced, has remained the same as last year at 11.6%. As those with statements plans continue to be 2.8%, the total of 14.4% identified as having SEN is the same as last year.

The DfE announced an additional £50 million to add to the Special Provision Fund announced in March 2017. This is also in addition to the £23 million given to LAs in 2016-17 to undertake strategic reviews of their special educational provision.

April 2018          

After months of consultation and delay, it was announced that the national funding formulae for schools, high needs and the central school services block are being introduced from April 2018.

Tthe DfE launched 'Elective home education: call for evidence – government consultation', which ran from 10 April to 2 July. It is estimated that roughly 45,000 children are educated at home. The DfE said it is not trying to stop children being educated at home, but it wants to improve how they are registered and monitored to make sure they are receiving a good education.

Despite the previous attempt to introduce a reception baseline being abandoned before it was introduced, the DfE is determined to try again. So, on 11 April, the schools minister, Nick Gibb, announced the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) had been selected to develop and deliver it. 

This month, the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) began its work. It has replaced the National College for Leaching and Learning (NCTL)

March 2018                 

The last day of this month was the deadline for statements to be transferred to EHC plans.

On 6th of the month, Damian Hinds announced a programme of work, much of it to do with Exclusions and Alternative Provision (AP) including:

Creating Opportunity for All: Our Vision for Alternative Provision.  This outlined a plan to have a clear role for AP as an integral part of the education system, and included a £4 million Innovation Fund to develop effective practice.
An external review of school exclusions, led by former Children’s Minister Edward Timpson CBE to look at what drives the disproportionate exclusion rates of some groups – including black Caribbean boys, Children in Need, Looked After Children, and those with SEN.

This month, the DfE published, SEND Tribunal: single route of redress national trial. This guidance for LAs, health commissioners, parents and young people, sets out the detail of the 2 year national pilot which began on 3rd April 2018.

February 2018             

A consultation on Keeping Children Safe in Education (KSIE) began on 22 Feb, with the aim of bringing in the updated statutory guidance from September 2018.

Changes to the teaching of Sex and Relationships Education and PSHE – A call for evidence, ran until 12 Feb 2018.

Jan 2018   

A reshuffle meant that Justine Greening was replaced by Damian Hinds as the latest Secretary of State for Education. After attending Altrincham Grammar School and studying at the University of Oxford, Damian spent 18 years in the brewing and hotel industries before entering politics and becoming MP for East Hampshire. Robert Goodwill, who had only been in post for a few months, returned to the backbenches, to make way for Nadhim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-on-Avon, as  Minister for Children and Families.

Building on last year’s joint inquiry, Children and young people’s mental health – role of education, the Education Select Committee chaired by Robert Halfon, a former DfE Minister, and the Health Select Committee chaired by Dr Sarah Wollaston, have launched a further joint inquiry specifically to scrutinise the contents of the Green Paper. Last week the Duchess of Cambridge was at Roe Green Primary School in Brent to launch a new website, Mentally Healthy Schools. NAHT is one of the organisations working with The Royal Foundation to offer primary schools access to quality-assured information, advice and resources to support pupils’ mental health needs.

Some main events from 2017

Dec 2017

DfE and the Department of Health (DoH) rounded off the year by publishing Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: a Green Paper, a consultation which had been promised by the Prime Minister earlier in the year.
A consultation on an updated version of Working Together to Safeguard Children – the statutory guidance, ended on 31 December. A second consultation on Keeping Children Safe in Education (KSIE) ran until 22 February. Changes are scheduled for Sept 2018, when the previous guidance will be replaced.

 Nov 2017            

This month, the DfE announced the closure of the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), which will be replaced by the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA). This will join the other executive agencies of the DfE - namely, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and the Standards and Testing Agency (STA). Efforts continue to make sure trainee teachers have the opportunity to develop sufficient understanding of SEND.

 Publication of the Lenehan Review: Good intention, good enough? – a review of children and young people in residential special schools and colleges (DfE, Nov 2017) which covered the 6,000+ pupils who spend part of their childhood in residential settings.

 Oct 2017

On 11th Oct, the 1st stage of the review of the curriculum commissioned by Ofsted, was published. Amanda Spielman HMCI had said that she wanted to make reviewing the curriculum her first major task after taking over from Sir Michael Wilshaw.

 Sept 2017  

Primary assessment in England – government’s consultation response (DfE Sept 2017), includes another attempt to introduce a Reception Baseline. This time, the Department is running a Reception Baseline Pilot Project before it is introduced. 

 Primary school pupil assessment: Rochford Review Recommendations – government’s consultation response (DfE Sept 2017) broadly accepted Rochford’s proposals.  

 At the beginning of this term, the DfE’s revised guidance on exclusions, Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England (September 2017). Meanwhile, an Alternative Provision Inquiry, was launched by the Education Select Committee.

 July 2017            

In the wake of an unexpected and unusual outcome to a general election, many aspects of government policy are unclear. What is known is that Justine Greening held on to her Putney seat and will remain the secretary of state for education, while Edward Timpson, who has been the minister for vulnerable children and families since 2012, lost his seat. This was to Laura Smith, who is one of a number of teachers and teaching assistants who were elected. Robert Goodwill, MP for Scarborough and Whitby replaced EdwardTimpson as Minister. Nick Gibb added PSHE, RSE and mental health to his brief as Minister for School Standards. Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow, who was sacked recently from the DfE, has emerged as the new chair of the House of Commons Education Committee. It may be of interest to note that, Nicky Morgan, who was removed from her post as Secretary of State to make way for Justine Greening, has picked up the chairmanship of the Treasury Select Committee, 

 March 2017                      

Local Area SEND Inspections began. These involve Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

 February 2017

The DfE announced a £215 million capital funding to help LAs create new school places and improve existing facilities for CYP with SEND, in consultation with parents and providers. .

 To find out whether the SEND Reforms have made the system less adversarial, the DfE and the Ministry of Justice commissioned a report which has just been published, together with the government’s response, SEND: review of arrangements for disagreement resolution – government response. One of the next steps being taken is a two-year trial of expanding the First-tier SEND Tribunal’s powers, so that non-binding recommendations can made on the health & social care elements of EHC plans.

 Tom Bennett’s Independent Review of behaviour in schools  - Creating a Culture : How school leaders can optimise behaviour was published in March and  has evolved from the Behaviour Review Group he led as part of the Review of Initial Teacher Training (ITT

 The latest School inspection update has been published (March 2017, Issue 9). In his covering letter, Sean Harford, National Director, Education, reminds inspectors that they should no longer refer to ‘expected progress’. This is further amplified on page 7:

“Inspectors should understand from all training and recent updates that there is no national expectation of any particular amount of progress from any starting point.”

 Jan 2017             

Amanda Spielman replaced Sir Michael Wilshaw as HMCI


Main Publications during the year 2016 (in chronological order)


Jan                   DfE’s Behaviour and discipline in schools

Feb                  Ofsted’s 3 year survey of Alternative Provision published

Mar                  Nicky Morgan’s white paper Education Excellence Everywhere,
                         aims to make all schools become academies

Apr                  Details of the CQC/ Ofsted Area Insepctions published

May                 Education for All Bill mentioned in the Queen’s speech

June                 Post-16 Skills Plan builds on the Sainsbury Report

July                  Higher Education becomes part of the DfE
                        Justine Greening replaces Nicky Morgan as Education Secretary
                        Independent review: Bercow – 10 years on starts

Aug                 First Outcome Letters from Local Area SEND Inspections published       

Sept                 Green paper published, Schools that work for everyone, with a view to having more selective schools
                        Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDA) no longer legal

Oct                  Justine Greening announces first six Opportunity Areas

Dec                  DfE asks Dame Christine Lenehan to lead an independent review of the experiences and outcomes of children and young people in residential special schools and colleges


What's happened in the last two years? 2018-2016