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Updates & Reports October 2016

The following updates & reports have come to our attention in October 2016:

  • House of Lords debate on Grammar Schools & selection,
  • Teacher Workload & Professional Development,
  • Policy for Summer-born children delayed, 
  • Other News. 

House of Lords Debate

House of Lords debate moved by Baroness Andrews on the government’s proposals for the extension of grammar schools and selection in education:

That this House takes note of the Government’s proposals for the extension of grammar schools and selection in education.

My Lords, I am grateful for a little extra time. It has been a splendid debate and I am grateful to all noble Lords on all sides of the House for their contributions. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Vere, on her maiden speech. She managed to be non-controversial on a controversial subject—we look forward to more of that. We are all in stages of recovery in many ways, but we will go on trying to do our best.

It has been a challenging debate for the Minister and I completely understand why. I began by making a plea for greater clarity in this policy and in educational policy as a whole. I say with the greatest respect to him that we have not had it. What we have done in the House today is to do a service to the Government, because we have provided a wealth of evidence about the impact of grammar schools not only on the children who attend them but on the whole ecology of education and the life chances of children who do not go. The evidence—I think, counterfactual evidence—that he cited in relation to London was hollow in the extreme. I will read his speech with care, but I hope that he will read this debate with care and draw it to the attention of the Minister for Education in this House.

It is imperative that we get the right evidence in the right place at the right time to tackle inequalities in education. That is what this debate has been about. We have heard moving stories about the personal impacts and evidence from my noble friend Lord Giddens about the true nature of meritocracy and how it can be galvanised in a highly complex and highly competitive society. From the problems of failed expectations to which my noble friend Lord Puttnam drew attention to the many issues raised, not least by my noble friend Lord Knight, about the future, and the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, about “standards not structures”, it is clear that there is a wealth of hard information here. I really hope that it will be taken advantage of.

Motion agreed.

Teacher Workload & Professional Development

Peter Sellen for Education Policy Institute

The report examines teachers’ working hours, pay, and experience in secondary schools using the OECD’s latest Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS). This provides a new and detailed comparison of the opinions, practices, and professional development of teachers in England with those of 35 other jurisdictions surveyed between 2012 and 2014. Among the key findings: teachers in England are working longer hours than in most other countries; long working hours are hindering teachers’ access to continuing professional development; teachers are at risk of ‘burn out’ especially in the early stages of careers. Policy implications are discussed.

New report into teacher workload and professional development

A new report published this week by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has analysed teacher workload and professional development in secondary schools.

The report is based on data gathered for the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) in 2013, and has enabled EPI to draw on the responses of over 100,000 secondary school teachers to benchmark teaching practices and experiences in England’s secondary schools against 35 other developed countries and jurisdictions.

The report looks at the working hours of England’s teachers’ against international comparisons identifying the tasks contributing to high working hours and addressing the school influences on workload by characteristics and accountability. The findings go on to inspecting the impact of workload on continuing professional development (CPD), the relationship between pay, job satisfaction and teacher retention and reflecting on the association between educational performance, school intake and teacher workload.

Amongst the report’s key findings are:

  • teachers in England are working, on average, longer hours than in most other jurisdictions
  • of the 36 jurisdictions in the dataset, England ranked 30th in terms of the average number of days spent in a year on certain types of (CPD)
  • 60% of teachers in England report workload as a significant barrier to accessing professional development
  • teachers in the most deprived schools work, on average, 3.6 hours less per week than teachers in the most affluent schools
  • teachers who use ICT for class projects in all or nearly all lessons work 4.6 hours less per week
  • teachers in England are spending significantly more time on non-teaching activities which contributes to long working hours
  • teachers in England are younger and less experienced than in other countries.

Delays to policy for summer born children to start school later

Plans to make an amendment to the Admissions Code to ensure that summer-born children could be admitted to reception at the age of five have been delayed. The proposed changes would give parents the option of their child beginning school at the age of five, and remaining with that cohort as they progressed through school.

When the matter was discussed in Parliament, minister for school standards Nick Gibb said that when developing this policy the government “want to make sure that parents have the information that they need to make informed decisions about their child’s education”. The minister also said that the government also need to ensure that parents do not use the flexibilities as a way to gain an unfair advantage in the admissions system by applying for a place in the reception class of their preferred school for when their child is four, and again for when their child is five. There were also concerns that such changes may cause unintended consequences for the early years sector with children staying in early years provision for an extra year.

Nick Gibb stated that the policy was moving forwards and that detailed work is being carried out on the arrangements that may be put in place to support parents of summer-born children.

Other News Updates

Ofsted correspondence: Child protection: the police approach

18 October 2016  Sir Michael Wilshaw has written to Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary raising concerns about the contribution of police to safeguarding child.

Schools Week: Government u-turns on year 7 resit manifesto pledge

19 October 2016  Schools Week is reporting that the government has u-turned on a manifesto pledge that all children who do not achieve a level 4 in reading and maths must resit their exams at secondary school.

DfE guidance: Primary school accountability

19 October 2016  Updated main technical guidance document with a ‘coasting’ schools definition. Updated the summary document with further information about how we calculate primary progress measures.

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