At its meeting in Burton in February, ASCL Council discussed and debated a number of key education issues and Council members agreed position statements including: Expand
At its meeting in Burton in February, ASCL Council discussed and debated a number of key education issues and Council members agreed position statements including:
National funding formula
ASCL welcomes the reaffirmed commitment of government to establish a fair and transparent formula for distribution of school funding.
ASCL believes that the proposed NFF structure will not allow for all children to reach their full potential because the basic per pupil funding values are too low. There remains a significant unfairness of distribution.
ASCL continues to require a NFF which establishes immediate and ongoing sufficiency, transparency and fairness in school funding which will allow certainty and stability in long-term financial planning.
Section 8 inspections converting to section 5
We welcome that there is consideration of the effectiveness of section 8 inspections converting to section 5, especially in ensuring that all inspectors are fully briefed when joining at the section 5 conversion stage. However, we urge Ofsted to communicate proposals for pilot inspections in an open and transparent manner to all schools before embarking on these and then undertake a full review, with feedback from schools, before this becomes the norm.
ASCL is concerned that schools could become ‘stuck in special measures’ if they are subject to an academy order which is unfilled for some time, e.g. for financial reasons. We urge Ofsted to maintain timely, supported monitoring of all schools in special measures.
PSHE and SRE
Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, including sex and relationships education (SRE), is an important and necessary part of all pupils’ education. PSHE (including SRE) should be a statutory, but not prescriptive, part of children’s learning.
To allow schools the flexibility to deliver high-quality PSHE and SRE which meets the needs of their communities, we consider it unnecessary for the government to provide standardised frameworks or programmes of study.
(On 1 March 2017, Education Secretary Justine Greening announced plans to make relationships and sex education statutory. In response, we published a comment welcoming the announcement but we also urged ministers against being too prescriptive.)
ASCL welcomes the government’s commitment to supporting young people to get the best start in life, through the opportunity that high-quality education and training provides. However, ASCL believes that the Apprenticeship Levy does not represent value for money for schools and we require the DfE to ensure that it does not result in diverting money away from the education of young people.
ASCL believes that:
- Every teacher is a teacher of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
- Every leader is a leader of SEND.
- There needs to be a greater investment in the development of SEND Continuous Professional Development and Learning (CPDL) that focuses on the expectation of all staff having a basic understanding of the key skills and knowledge necessary to ensure that every teacher is a teacher of SEND. This needs to be supported by the positioning of SEND at the heart of school leadership and not seeing it as the exclusive preserve of the special educational needs coordinator (SENCo).
Other areas of influence
Qualifications Wales Heads Reference Group
ASCL Cymru Director, Tim Pratt, wrote to Philip Blaker, CEO of Qualifications Wales with a series of concerns about quality of marking, the remarking process and changes to specifications. He suggested that Qualifications Wales sets up an advisory or reference group as part of the solution.
The Head of External Relations has invited Tim to discuss the possibility of setting up a heads/deputy reference group “to test out ideas, act as a sounding board for new developments, decisions etc.”
ASCL has brought together a broad alliance of organisations that support the education improvement and social mobility aims of opportunity areas (OAs). This includes several of the country’s leading multi-academy trusts (MATs), supported by ASCL, the Careers & Enterprise Company, Ambition School Leadership and Teach First.
We believe that our alliance can support strategic leadership of, and delivery in the opportunity areas and we will share more details of our work on this soon.
Children and Young People’s Mental Health
The House of Common’s Health and Education Select Committees announced that they are launching a short inquiry focusing on the capacity of schools, colleges and other educational settings in prevention and early intervention, including how teachers and other professionals can be trained to recognise the signs of mental illness and support pupils when problems occur.
This is a direct response to a ministerial roundtable attended by Anna Cole, ASCL Parliamentary Specialist, with Minister for Education Edward Timpson. Anna talked persuasively about the lack of join-up between health services and schools. This has been a consistent line that we have held over the last year.