More support to help schools with costs

Practical support and advice is published for schools to help save money on the £10 billion spent each year on non-staffing costs.

A new toolkit to help schools save money to ensure every pound possible is being spent in the classroom has been published on the 31st August  by Education Secretary Damian Hinds.

The School Resource Management Strategy provides schools with practical advice on how to reduce the £10 billion non-staffing spend spent across England last year. It is estimated schools could save up to a billion pounds through better procurement and buying strategies.

The strategy includes information on how to work collaboratively with other schools to drive down costs on things like stationery, energy and water bills, as well as supporting schools with staff recruitment and retention.

Between 2014/15 and 2016/17 schools saved £106 million on non-staff spending and a nationwide network of Schools Resource Management Advisers, who work with schools to use every pound they spend effectively, is helping to build on that success.

Today’s announcement follows a pledge by the Education Secretary to work with schools and bear down on cost pressures so every pound counts in the classroom.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

I want to help schools use their resources as effectively as possible. This strategy equips head teachers and school business professionals with the practical advice, resources and support they need so that they can focus on what they do so well – delivering high-quality education for their pupils.

There can be no great schools without great teachers to inspire and motivate children, so it’s absolutely right that we help schools to maximise the money they have to spend in the classroom by working together, making sure they’re getting the best deals and are not being overcharged for services.

Earlier this year, Mr Hinds unveiled plans to clamp down on agencies charging schools excessive fees to recruit staff and provide a free platform for schools to advertise vacancies, which costs on average £75 million a year.

A national network of buying hubs which offer procurement support to schools, a register of recommended best value deals and an online utility bill comparison tool are among other steps which have already been taken by the department.

The register of recommended deals has helped schools save £21 million since April 2018, with one school – Belmont Community School in Durham – £30,000 better off by simply switching to a better printing and photocopying deal. Another eight deals will be added to the register today.

The strategy has been welcomed by The Institute of School Business Leadership.

Stephen Morales, CEO of the Institute of School Business Leadership, said:

ISBL welcomes the Department’s guidance on excellent school resource management. We believe that the effective review of the school’s resources by the whole leadership team across pedagogy, governance and business will help to ensure that schools reach appropriate recommendations for the effective use of their resources. We would recommend that school leaders use this guidance to help to steer and focus their discussions when considering how to reduce cost pressures and optimise the use of available resources.

This strategy is the latest in a series of steps taken by the department to help schools deliver the best value for money and ensure resources can be targeted at the frontline. It includes:

Introducing a new deal for teacher recruitment agencies by publishing a register that will set out agency mark ups so schools will know up-front what they are paying for. This will help schools avoid agencies which charge fees for making temporary staff permanent. These fees can be as much as 30% of an annual salary;

A toolkit for schools to help reduce unnecessary workload. This provides free online training materials, audit tools, practical examples and model policies – developed and tested by school leaders and teachers;

Recommending deals to schools that could save money on things they buy regularly – including new deals on books, ICT solutions and software licenses; and

Increasing the number of School Resource Management Advisers to provide support to more trusts and schools to help them ensure they are getting the best value for every pound they spend.

The strategy also underscores the Department for Education’s commitment to investing in the school estate, to work with schools and local authorities to reduce running costs, and to ensure school places are available in the areas that need them.

Today’s announcement builds on the Education Secretary’s commitment to work with the profession, unions and Ofsted to strip away unnecessary workload and to champion the teaching profession.

From:  Department for Education

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Exam result details now obtainable for free under GDPR

Students in the UK have the right to obtain key information about their exam results for free, says the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Exam boards must provide marks, examiner comments and appeals panel minutes for tests including GCSEs, A-levels, Highers and university exams.

The new rules cover this summer’s tests and come from the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation.

The move could cause “problems for the exam bodies”, one expert told the BBC.

Information requests

While students can request more information from their exam boards, certain types of information will not be available freely under the rules.

An ICO spokesperson told the BBC “The General Data Protection Regulation gives you the right to see information held about you. This means you can request information about you and your exam performance.”

“It does not give you the right to copies of your answers to exam questions or for your paper to be re-marked.”

The exam board AQA charges £11.30 per paper for those wanting to look at their exam papers, while OCR charges £11.35 to access scripts, according to their company websites.

 

Students do not have the right to make an appeal under the new data rules either, though they can do so following the procedures of their particular exam boards.

For the information that can be requested under GDPR, students can expect a response within a month, so long as exam results have been published.

If results have not yet been published, students could have to wait up to five months from the date of the request.

One security specialist told the BBC that the potential deluge of requests could cause problems for exam boards.

“This is an excellent way to make young adults more aware of what data is and how it is stored,” commented Jake Moore of data security company Eset.

“However, if all students jumped on this prospective bandwagon, it may just cause extra problems for the exam bodies at a time when they are heavily preparing for the back to school season,” he added.

 

Source BBC Education News

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England’s schools face ‘severe’ teacher shortage

England’s schools are facing a “severe shortage” of teachers, with bigger class sizes and more subjects taught by staff without a relevant degree, says the Education Policy Institute (EPI).

The independent think tank says that as schools prepare to return after the summer break, the problems of teacher recruitment remain unresolved.

The think tank says targeted pay increases could reduce shortages.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has made staff recruitment a top priority.

Specialist teachers

Former education minister, David Laws, now chairman of the EPI, says the “government faces a significant challenge to recruit enough teachers – particularly in subjects such as maths and sciences”.

“It must already be a concern that as little as half of GCSE maths teachers have a maths or sciences degree.

 

“Of particular concern is the unequal access to subject-qualified teachers for more disadvantaged schools outside London,” said Mr Laws.

A report from the think tank warns that a lack of staff has already meant a worsening teacher-pupil ratio, rising from 15.5 pupils per teacher in 2010 to 17 in 2018.

 

There are particular problems for getting specialist teachers for maths and science, which the study says reflects the difficulty in recruiting graduates who could get better paid jobs in other careers.

The report highlights the wealth gap in access to well-qualified staff, particularly outside the capital.

Recruitment problems

In poorer areas outside London, 17% of physics teachers have a relevant degree – compared with 52% in affluent areas in the rest of the country.

There are particular geographical cold spots, where schools are rated as least likely to have teachers in shortage subjects with a relevant degree:

Portsmouth

Hampshire

Newham

Barnsley

Doncaster

London and the south-east of England, and Bath, north-east Somerset, Rochdale and Darlington are among the areas with the highest levels of teachers with a degree in their specialist subject.

Recruitment targets for teaching have been missed for five successive years – and the report calls for cash incentives to make teaching more attractive.

It calls for “salary supplements” in subjects with shortages and says extra pay should be considered for areas which are “hard to staff”.

Report author Luke Sibieta said: “There is strong evidence that these pressures can be alleviated by targeted salary supplements.

“Policy-makers have begun to consider this potential solution, yet so far proposals have been far too modest, and exclude many of the areas most in need.

“The government should therefore roll out a more ambitious scheme which offers incentives to teachers in a greater number of shortage subjects, covering more areas.”

Cutting workload

But Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union, rejected the call for higher pay in some shortage subjects, saying “it would mean other teachers were paid less than their colleagues, despite having similarly demanding workloads”.

Instead Mr Barton said that the pay rise of 3.5% given to some school staffshould be given to all teachers.

 

Nansi Ellis, of the National Education Union, warned against “sticking plaster” responses and also rejected targeted pay incentives.

She said that recruitment and retention were being damaged by the “workload in schools and the punishing pressures of accountability”.

John Blake of Now Teach, which encourages career changers to enter teaching, says “some of this shortfall can be addressed through tapping into the many experienced professionals who are looking to embark on a career in teaching”.

He said there were thousands of people over the age of 40 who could bring “detailed knowledge of the subject matter” as well as “many years of professional experience”.

Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said the government had to take the blame for the lack of teachers.

“Slashing” teachers’ pay meant that “fewer people are training to join the profession, and teachers are leaving our schools in record numbers”, she said.

Earlier this year, Education Secretary Damian Hinds told school leaders that tackling recruitment problems was a priority.

He promised to cut teachers’ workload to help make teaching a more attractive career and to remove unnecessary bureaucracy or excessive accountability.

The increase in teachers’ pay – of up to 3.5% – received a mixed welcome. It was the biggest rise of recent years, but the Institute for Fiscal studies showed that 60% of staff would be getting below inflation pay settlements.

“The education secretary has been clear that there are no great schools without great teachers and his top priority is to make sure teaching remains an attractive and fulfilling profession,” said a Department for Education spokeswoman.

“There are still more than 450,000 teachers in our classrooms – 11,900 more than in 2010 – and increasing numbers are returning to the profession.

“We recently announced a fully-funded pay rise for classroom teachers and we are working with school leaders and unions on a strategy to drive recruitment and boost retention of teachers and strip away unnecessary workload.”

 

Source By Sean CoughlanBBC News education and family correspondent

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New unit to tackle exploitation of vulnerable young people

A new national response unit will be established to help local authorities support vulnerable children at risk of exploitation by criminal gangs.

 

Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi announced today (28 August) the unit, backed by up to £2million investment, will offer bespoke support to local councils to help stop child sexual exploitation, trafficking, modern slavery and other attempts by criminals to take advantage of vulnerable children and coerce them into crimes like drug trafficking.

Children who go missing from home or care are vulnerable to exploitation from a range of criminal threats and the new national response unit to launch in 2019 will provide tailored support to local areas so they can respond effectively to these safeguarding challenges and learn from what works.

Last year’s figures from the National Crime Agency show that over a third (35 per cent) of police forces reported evidence of child sexual exploitation in relation to county lines. County lines is where children and young people are exploited by criminals and used to traffic drugs in rural areas.

Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:

Exploitation of children in any form is an abhorrent crime and it is deeply saddening that vulnerable children and young people are prey to criminals.

They are often at risk of multiple threats outside of their family lives, such as child sexual exploitation, gangs and county lines, and the new national unit will help local areas protect them from these threats and get the right support so they have the chance to succeed in life.

The new unit, which will operate from 2019 up until 2022, will address child sexual exploitation together with other crimes, such as gang and drug activity, which also exploit vulnerable children and can lead to children going missing.

The Department for Education will award a contract to run the new national response unit to support local practitioners to respond to these threats more effectively, which could include:

providing advice and directing authorities to resources;

an online forum for professionals;

additional staff with experience in tackling particular areas of exploitation; and

assessing an area’s needs, strengths and weaknesses in responding to exploitation threats.

This follows the Home Office’s announcement that it is awarding £13m through the Trusted Relationships Fund to 11 local authorities across England to help young people at risk of abuse to foster ‘trusted’ relationships with support workers.

These projects will help young people have positive adult role models in their lives, following a review by the Early Intervention Foundation, commissioned by the Home Office, that showed that a lack of a dependable adult was often an important factor in child abuse and exploitation cases.

Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, said:

This Government is committed to protecting children from all forms of exploitation and abuse, be it from county lines, gang activity or sexual abuse.

This new unit, along with our £13million Trusted Relationships Fund and the Serious Violence Strategy, will provide vital support to children and help steer them away from destructive harms.

Published 28 August 2018

From:Department for Education and Nadhim Zahawi MP

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Education Secretary’s visit to promote English as global export

 

Damian Hinds visited Anglolang College in Scarborough on the 28th August to highlight the importance of the English language as a crucial global export.

 

One of the most widely spoken languages in the world, English is the language of businesses and trade across the globe. At Anglolang College in Scarborough, a British Council accredited college, partnerships and collaboration with other European countries is helping to build a global Britain and creating vital links between the local community and international students.

During his visit, the Secretary of State met staff and students at the college to discuss how English language programmes – such as Erasmus+ – are contributing to the success of this country by giving opportunities to foreign students to train and study in the UK, learn our culture and contribute to our education system.

The Education Secretary also spoke to senior leaders at Anglolang about the government’s overall plan for leaving the EU, setting out how the White Paper proposal will ensure a deep and long future relationship with the EU, including on Erasmus+, while also taking back control of our laws, borders and money as voted for in the referendum.

Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds said:

English is a global language and today it was a pleasure to meet international students who have a love of our language which they will share through teaching it across the world. It is the language of business, of trade, and of course that will continue when we leave the EU in March.

We place enormous value on international exchange schemes and collaboration – like Erasmus+ – all of which is part of our vision for a global Britain. That’s why we have guaranteed funding for students and organisations participating in this programme to continue to the end of 2020.

A British Council accredited college, Anglolang has provided training for more than 1,000 teachers of English as a foreign language from the EU, through the Erasmus+ programme. Colleges like this are driving a global Britain by linking local communities and international students to benefit through the exchange of cultures and skills.

The Education Secretary met teachers from around the European Union who are training at Anglolang to teach a range of subjects in English to non-native speakers. Trainees stay anything from one week to a year at Anglolang, living on campus or with local host families, and use the stay as an opportunity to develop their English skills, network with other teachers, visit local schools and learn more about British culture.

An Anglolang Academy spokesperson said:

We have been successfully running EU funded teacher training programmes for over 14 years, most recently the Erasmus Plus KA1 programme. This enables our school to operate year-round in a highly seasonal marketplace, thus providing employment and income to staff and accommodation providers in Scarborough, not to mention the extra spending in the local economy and leisure venues.

Additionally, the resulting intercultural awareness and understanding has benefitted local people and Europeans alike and enabled us to cooperate and network together for our mutual benefit.

The Erasmus+ programme, which offers international exchanges for students, provides funding for education, youth, training and support projects up to 2020. The UK is a key country in the programme, with 35,000 higher education students and staff coming here under the Erasmus programme in 2016.

To ensure that the UK continues to benefit from this, the government has guaranteed that – subject to discussions with the EU commission – that funding will be available for UK institutions for projects which are agreed before 2020, so they can continue with any Erasmus+ programmes they are involved in where possible.

Published 28 August 2018

From:Department for Education and The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP

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Research reveals lesser known qualifications could help boost skills and jobs

 

Level 4 and 5 qualifications could be the key to unlocking skills demanded by employers

 

New research reveals that less well known qualifications could be the key to unlocking the skills demanded by employers and lead to rewarding, well-paid jobs.

The findings published on Tuesday (14 August) by the Department for Education form part of an ongoing review of education at Level 4 and 5. These qualifications are higher than an A level qualification (Level 3) but lower than a degree (Level 6).

Qualifications at this level include Diplomas of Higher Education and Foundation Degrees in subjects such as engineering and digital. They are offered at universities and Further Education colleges – such as the London South Bank University and the National College for Nuclear.

The Government is determined to drive up participation in further education and training. This is central to the modern Industrial Strategy, and includes introducing new T Levels from 2020 and creating more high quality apprenticeships.

Welcoming the interim findings of the report, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said:

We want everyone to be able to access high quality technical education and training so they can get the skills they need. Having these skills can change people’s lives, leading to a rewarding career and fantastic opportunities.

These early findings show how learning at Level 4 and 5 can benefit people of all ages and a wide variety of backgrounds, whilst helping employers get the skilled workforce they need.

This research will play an important part of our ongoing review of Level 4 and 5 qualifications so we can understand how we can make education at this level work even better for everyone.

Initial findings from the review highlight for the first time the benefits of studying a qualification at Level 4 or 5, including:

Studying at this level can increase earning potential and employability – students achieving a Level 4 or 5 qualification by age 23 had higher median wages by the time they were 26 and were more likely to be in sustained employment than students who achieved a Level 3.

A growing demand for qualifications at this level from employers in key sectors such as ICT and Engineering – meaning increased take up could play an important role in the UK economy, helping to plug technical skills gap and boost productivity.

Learners at this level often study part-time, and come from diverse backgrounds – highlighting how studying at this level could boost learning and job opportunities for hundreds of thousands more people across the country.

Research shows that only around 7% of people in England aged between 18 and 65 are undertaking training at this level, one of the lowest rates in the OECD. Only around 200,000 people are currently studying for qualifications at this level compared with around 2 million studying across Level 3 and Level 6.

Level 4 and 5 education is currently being reviewed by the Department for Education, focusing on how technical qualifications at this level can better address the needs of learners and employers.

The review forms part of the Department’s work to boost skills and improve Higher and Further Education, including the implementation of the Post-16 Skills Plan. It is focusing on classroom based technical education and considering how Level 4 and 5 qualifications alongside T Levels and apprenticeships can help deliver the skills the economy needs.

The Government is also carrying out a Review of Post-18 Education and Funding to make sure the system is joined up and works for everyone. It is also going to carry out reviews of Key Stage Four qualifications (excluding GCSEs) and post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below and below to make sure that all qualifications taken by students are high quality and lead to employment or further study.

Published 14 August 2018

From:Department for Education and The Rt Hon Anne Milton MP

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Call to let UTCs and studio schools select Pupils

 

Toby Young says pupils should ‘not be herded into UTCs because they lack the ability to cope with academic subjects’

 

Technical schools should be allowed to select their students to address the UK’s skills shortages after Brexit and stop them becoming “dumping grounds” for those who struggle academically, a new report suggests.

There is a “Gordian Knot linking technical education to academic failure” that needs to be broken, according to controversial educationalist and former government adviser Toby Young.

In a report for the Centre for Policy Studies thinktank, he argues that University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and studio schools for students aged 14-19 should be given the power to select pupils based on “aptitude for their occupational specialisms”.

Mr Young said: “The growing skills gap in the UK means there are projected to be an additional 3.6 million vacancies in skilled occupations by 2022.

“This is in large part because we still think of technical and vocational education as a second best ‘alternative pathway’ for students who cannot cope with academic subjects.

“If Britain is to prosper after we’ve left the European Union, we must break the Gordian Knot linking technical education to academic failure and allow UTCs and studio schools to select pupils according to aptitude for their occupational specialisms at the age of 14.

“Children should be selected for these schools because they have a particular gift for this type of education, not herded into them because they lack the ability to cope with academic subjects.”

Mr Young is a journalist and free school founder who resigned as a board member of the new Office for Students in January after details emerged of a string of controversial comments he had made on social media.

The report, entitled Technically Gifted, is released today and is endorsed by Nick Timothy, a former chief of staff to Theresa May and an enthusiastic supporter of grammar schools.

The report says that since 2010, 118 technical and vocational schools have been set up, but with a few exceptions they have “not been successful”.

It says 36 of them have already either been closed, converted into other types of schools or are earmarked for closure.

This, it adds, has “caused embarrassment to successive governments, undermined the credibility of the education reform programme that these schools are linked with, and harmed the life chances of the students consigned to them”.

Mr Young also argues that new schools modelled on the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in South London and the digital and creative arts-focused Birmingham Ormiston Academy could be set up in other cities without the need for new legislation, saying: “A policy change by the secretary of state for education would suffice.”

In his foreword to the report, Mr Timothy said that the new technical T levels due to be introduced from 2020 were being brought in “too slowly” and “far more must be done if we are to have the kind of technical education the country needs”.

He added: “Young people should be encouraged to study technical subjects, and not only when teachers judge that they are not equipped for a purely academic education.

“For that to happen, a new generation of prestigious schools – selecting their pupils by aptitude, specialising in technical subjects, and still offering a core of academic subjects – can lead the way.”

source :- TES

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GCSE pass rates rise despite tougher exam assessment

 

There were sighs of relief from students, teachers and education policymakers in England after the government’s long-awaited overhaul of GSCE exams passed off with few hitches and an upturn in the proportion of good grades.

Despite fears that tougher assessments in about 90% of exams would cause difficulties for some, results in England showed an increase in the proportion of 16-year-olds achieving a 4 or C and above to 69.2%, up from 68.7% last year.

The new assessments were designed to be more difficult. In most cases, they dispense with assessed coursework and rely on final exams, graded using a new scale from 9 to 1, which replaces the A* to G grades used since GCSEs were introduced 30 years ago.

The proportion of 16-year-olds attaining grade 7 or A and above rose from 20.9% last year to 21.4%, the highest level for seven years.

“At the top end, it is much more demanding, and the purpose behind the introduction of the new grade scale is to create differentiation. The questions have been designed to be more demanding and stretching at the top end,” said Mark Bedlow, the head of the OCR examination board.

Pupils in England defied forecasts that the introduction of a more challenging top grade – 9 in the new system, requiring a higher mark than an A* – would severely limit the number of students gaining a clean sweep of top honours.

Instead, the exam regulator Ofqual said 732 students who took at least seven reformed GCSEs gained grade 9s in all of them. Schools around the country reported multiple cases of pupils winning nine, or even 10, grade 9s.

The tougher challenge for high achievers was counterbalanced by greater struggle for those at the other end of scale, especially those forced to resit maths and English under the government’s policy.

The GCSE results for 17-year-olds and over showed a big fall in the resit pass rate in maths, down from 26.5% last year to 23.7%, meaning 137,000 out of 180,000 entries resulted in failure.

Mark Dawe, the head of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said the compulsory resit policy was disgraceful and needed to be scrapped and replaced by functional skills tests for the workplace.

“We shouldn’t be subjecting tens of thousands of vulnerable young people to multiple failure and demotivating them for another couple of years. It’s time for the secretary of state to draw a line through this failed policy,” Dawe said.

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, congratulated students on their results and claimed that education standards were rising in England’s state schools “thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers”.

The new qualifications had some teething problems. Ofqual said it had intervened to rescue the efforts of more than 2,000 pupils taking the combined science qualification after their schools entered them for the wrong tier of the paper.

The upper tier of combined science was intended to grade those gaining a 4 or above, but uncertainty over which tier to enter resulted in some pupils struggling. They would have been failed but for Ofqual’s decision to award them a 3 instead.

Exam entry data revealed some schools in England were seeking to improve their league table performances by entering pupils a year earlier than normal. Data showed a near 30% increase in the number of 15-year-olds and younger being entered for English literature, part of a trend that is seeing some schools start GCSE courses at year nine or earlier.

Paul Whiteman, the head of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the government’s accountability measures were making schools rush pupils into taking early exams. “This is not a policy focused on what is right for students,” Whiteman said.

The reformed exams in England appeared to favour boys, who made progress in catching up with the results achieved by girls. The effort was especially seen in chemistry, where the gap in the proportion of boys gaining grades 7 or higher shrank from seven percentage points to 1.6%.

But girls retained a clear advantage across the board and were responsible for more than 60% of the entries that gained the higher grade 9.

UK-wide figures for 16-year-olds showed the most improved performance for three years. In all subjects – including GCSEs in Wales and Northern Ireland which retain the A*-G grade – 21.5% of entries gained a grade 7 or A and above, compared with 21.1% last year. And 69.3% of entries gained grade 4 or C and above, compared with 68.9% last year.

In Wales, the exam regulator said this year’s results were difficult to compare with previous years, in part because of its own exam reforms.

“There has been a significant shift in the size and nature of the cohort taking GCSE exams this summer, as well as changes to many of the exams themselves, so it’s not possible to draw any firm conclusions,” said Philip Blaker, the chief executive of Qualifications Wales.

The proportion of candidates of all ages in Wales achieving A* to A rose to 18.5%, but the proportion gaining C or better fell for the second year in a row, to 61.6%.

Source :- The Guardian

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