Ethical Leadership Commission final report published

A new set of principles to support school leaders, governors and trustees in navigating “the educational moral maze” has been set out in the Ethical Leadership Commission’s final report.

The Commission was launched by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) in 2017 and includes senior representatives from across the education sector. It was established because of concerns expressed by ASCL members and others about the lack of guiding principles for ethical leadership in education.

Building on the Nolan Principles of Public Life, it comprises a set of values and virtues, against which to evaluate decisions and actions. It is intended to act as a counterpoint to the official language about measurement of schools and pupils that is commonly used.

The Commission felt this was particularly noteworthy in a school leadership climate where structures are diverse, accountability measures and their consequences are severe, and in which decisions are often taken under great pressure with competing demands in play.

The full report is available here.


North East academy leaders welcome new inspection framework

Ofsted’s draft 2019 Inspection Framework is strongly welcomed by North East academy leaders, according to polling conducted by Schools North East.

Over 220 delegates attended yesterday’s Schools North East Academies Conference. Opinion was gauged in a special session where delegates used Slido, an online audience interaction tool, to give feedback.

They indicated unanimous support when asked, “Overall, is a new, curriculum-led framework a positive move forward?” and near unanimous support when asked, “Will this give North East schools better opportunity to give a good account of themselves?” Conversely, however, only 14% said they had confidence Ofsted would be able to deliver a curriculum-led inspection framework on the ground.

The key proposal of a new “quality of education” judgement received strong support, with 86% agreeing or strongly agreeing with the move. Splitting the behaviour and personal development judgements received the support of three quarters of respondents.

Reaction to the proposal to extend inspections of “good” schools to 2 days was mixed, with one delegate questioning whether this would mean a reduction in the overall number of inspections.

Delegates strongly opposed the idea of inspectors undertaking on-site preparation on the afternoon prior to inspection and no longer looking at non-statutory internal progress and attainment data.

The full results are shown in the graphs below:


Heads can report Ofsted inspectors on new workload hotline

Ofsted is to launch a new hotline for Head Teachers to report inspectors who unnecessarily add to their school’s workload.

The new service will allow schools to flag up if and when the inspectorate fails to meet its commitments to ensure that it does not contribute to increased workload.

The plans have been revealed in the government’s new Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, published this week.

It says that Ofsted has committed to tackling teacher workload through its new inspection framework by:

  • Checking whether workload is unnecessarily high as part of its leadership and management judgement;
  • Looking unfavourably on schools that use burdensome data collection;
  • No longer looking at internal school data as part of its new inspections.

You can read the full article on Tes.

Government policy hurting teacher recruitment, say Durham University academics

A new paper published by Durham University academics Beng Huat See and Stephen Gorard argues that teacher shortages are partly created by government policies themselves. They indicate that flaws in the selection system, school funding system, the official extension of the education and training leaving age and increases in the number of small schools may be to blame.

In the article’s abstract the authors say:

“There is widespread concern about the shortage of secondary school teachers in England. Recruitment to initial teacher training regularly fails to meet its intake targets. The secondary school pupil population is increasing. Teacher vacancies have risen, and more teachers are reportedly leaving the profession prematurely. Despite considerable investment in a wide range of initiatives, costing millions of pounds, the government has acknowledged that it has been unable improve the situation substantially.”

The authors suggest a reconsideration of the current selection processes for initial teacher training, independent review of the Teacher Supply Model and a long-term approach to teacher supply planning, considering other policy changes in a more coordinated way.

The full paper is available online here.

Department for Education launches price comparison site for schools

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced it is to launch a new website to help schools cut energy bills.

The DfE says that the site will allow schools to get instant quotes from a range of gas and electricity firms, similar to price comparison websites available for household energy.

The latest figures from 2016/17 show state-funded schools in England spent more than £584 million on gas and electricity, with the average secondary school spending around £90,000 a year on energy. The Department hopes that the comparison site will help schools save on spending.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “Many households shop around for the best deal on their gas and electricity – and I want to help schools do the same.

“By saving money on their energy bills and avoiding high broker fees, the more money schools will have to spend on what really matters – getting the best teachers into classrooms and giving their pupils a great education.

“This website is the latest step in our efforts to help schools reduce unnecessary costs, building on the School Resource Management Strategy I launched last year to provide practical advice and support.”

The website, developed with the Crown Commercial Service, is launching with a limited number of energy suppliers initially, but it is reported that more will be added over time.

Department for Education says teachers’ pay should be capped at 2%

The Secretary of State for Education has signalled that pay for teachers in England should be capped at 2% next year.

Damian Hinds, in evidence to the independent School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), said that 2% would be in line with projected inflation and affordable within schools budgets, set to rise 2.5% next year.

The joint teaching unions have told the STRB they want 5% across the board, and the body must consider all the evidence it receives before making recommendations to the Government in May.

National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) General Secretary Paul Whiteman said a pay rise of 5% was “vital if we are to plug the leaky pipeline of teacher recruitment and retention in England”.

He said: “Following years of caps damaging to public sector pay, it is disgraceful for the Government to impose another one, this time of 2%.”

Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) General Secretary Geoff Barton said: “It is extremely disappointing that the Government has said a 2% increase was affordable from school budgets when this was absolutely not the case.

“School funding per pupil has fallen by 8% in real terms over the past eight years, including cuts of more than 20% to school sixth-form funding.

“To say that schools can now afford yet another unfunded cost pressure not only adds insult to injury but places educational standards at risk.”

You can read more on the story here.

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Teaching Union says schools are denying teachers their national pay rise

Research carried out by the NASUWT Teaching Union has found that some schools are telling teachers they would lose their jobs if schools had to pay them the salary increase, ranging from 1.5% to 3.5%.

A survey by the union of 6,900 teachers found 12% had been told they were not getting any pay rise at all, with a further 45% yet to be informed of a decision.

NASUWT General Secretary, Chris Keates, likened the situation to the “wild west” and said it was “complete chaos”.

The union also found cases where:

  • Teachers had been told they’d get a partial pay rise but not the full amount.
  • Teachers were being given the full pay award, but it was being backdated only until January and not September.
  • More than one in 10 NQTs were not getting any pay award at all because they had signed contracts in July based on last year’s rates.

You can read the full story on Tes.

Government to fund 2,900 school exchanges for poorer pupils

Secondary schools in England will be able to apply for money from a £2.5 million Government Scheme to take poorer pupils overseas on school exchanges, it was reported this week.

The initiative will enable pupils aged 11 and over “to experience other cultures and go to places they wouldn’t normally visit”.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “As Britain leaves the EU, it’s more important than ever to show how much we value international opportunities.”

The exchange programme will be run in partnership with the British Council, the organisation for cultural relations and it is estimated the scheme could support trips for 2,900 pupils.

The grants will be targeted at schools with above-average numbers of pupil-premium students. Research by the British Council found that only 39% of state secondary schools run exchange programmes, compared with 77% of independent schools.

You can read more on this story on the BBC.

Ofsted will look more closely at ‘repeat’ patterns of suspension as part of new framework

Ofsted will look more closely at whether schools are “repeatedly” suspending or isolating the same pupils under its new inspection framework, it was reported this week.

A school found to be using suspensions or fixed-term exclusions “inappropriately” would only then be able to achieve a “requires improvement” grade at most, but some teachers say schools need to be able to use internal exclusion such as isolation rooms or suspensions without being “afraid of being clobbered by inspectors”.

Ofsted’s proposals say that inspectors will examine schools’ use of fixed-term or internal exclusions.

Read more on Schools Week.