2020 Spring Term 2

NEWS AND GUIDANCE

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News and guidance

ASCL Influence

Now that the General Election dust has settled, ASCL Director of Policy Julie McCulloch highlights ways in which the ASCL Policy Team is engaging with the new government. Expand

Working on YOUR behalf to influence government policy

Now that the General Election dust has settled, ASCL Director of Policy Julie McCulloch highlights ways in which the ASCL Policy Team is engaging with the new government.

The ship of Theseus thought experiment poses a famous philosophical question. Imagine that the ship sailed by the Greek hero Theseus was kept as a museum piece. Over the years, some of its wooden parts began to rot, and were replaced by new ones. After a century or so, all the ship’s original parts had been replaced. Is the ship still the same object, even though all its component parts have changed?

The period since the General Election has felt rather like the ship of Theseus in reverse. The same party is in power. We have the same Prime Minister, the same Secretary of State for Education and the same ministerial team at the DfE. All the component parts are the same – and yet the whole feels different.

The scale of the Conservative Party’s success in the election means that, for the first time for several years, we have a government that has the desire and capacity to undertake significant policy change. Over the last few weeks, ASCL has been at the heart of these discussions, seeking to ensure that the voice of school and college leaders comes through loud and clear.

Ministerial meetings

In January, our President Rachael Warwick, General Secretary Geoff Barton and I held a series of meetings with Secretary of State Gavin Williamson, Minister for School Standards Nick Gibb and the education advisers at 10 Downing Street.

We expressed our serious concern that the promised additional funding for schools and colleges, while welcome, is in danger of being spent many times over. The government has committed to providing an extra £7.1 billion per year.

However, our modelling suggests that a significant proportion of this money (£2.3 billion) will need to be spent on the proposed increase to the teacher starting salary, with a similar amount being eaten up by inflationary costs. Add to this the £780 million earmarked for high needs, the £300 million needed to ‘level up’ funding across the country and the £1 billion needed to fund growing pupil numbers, and very little is left over. Clearly all of these are important priorities, but schools expecting to be able to use this new money to replace lost staff, reinstate cancelled courses or fix crumbling buildings may be sorely disappointed.

We also took the opportunity to share with ministers and advisers the ongoing challenges leaders are facing around teacher recruitment and retention, feedback from members on how the new inspection framework is bedding in and the proposals from our Forgotten Third commission on a new approach to assessing English and maths.

Regular engagement

Alongside these high-profile meetings, we continue to engage with civil servants and other stakeholders on a regular basis, and to respond to formal consultations on behalf of members.

At the end of January we responded to the 30th remit of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB). We welcomed the proposal to increase the teacher starting salary to £30,000 but made the case that it is essential that this increase is reflected in all salary points, in order to address teacher retention as well as recruitment.

We also responded to the government’s consultation on the early years. We welcomed the proposed reform to the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) assessment process but questioned the wisdom of plans to remove the requirement for statutory local authority moderation. We also called for the government to ensure that our early years settings are sufficiently funded, and are staffed by highly skilled and appropriately qualified practitioners.

In February, we submitted a detailed representation to the Treasury ahead of the next budget. We highlighted our concerns about the over-commitment of the promised new money, as outlined above. We also called on the government to tackle the severe under-funding of post-16 education, increase funding for SEND to offset the projected deficit of £1.2 billion in 2021, extend the pupil premium to 16–18 year-olds and provide sufficient capital funding to properly maintain the school and college estate.

ASCL Policy Team members are currently working on responses to several live consultations. These include two Ofsted consultations (on the proposal to remove the exemption from inspection for outstanding schools, and on changes to the inspection framework for providers of Initial Teacher Education (ITE)), an invitation to tell the Independent Commission on the College of the Future what we want and need from our colleges and a National Audit Office (NAO) investigation into colleges’ financial sustainability.

We are also members of a large number of DfE working groups, many of which have returned with renewed vigour after an enforced period of inactivity before the election. These include groups looking at the revised headteacher standards, reforms to improve outcomes for pupils with SEND, the new Reception Baseline Assessment, the Early Career Framework, a new suite of National Professional Qualifications, how we can support teachers who wish or need to work later in life and how we can better promote teacher and leader wellbeing.

Policy ‘wins’ We recently achieved a significant policy ‘win’ on T levels. ASCL has been lobbying the DfE to allow schools with sixth forms, not just colleges, to deliver T levels if they wish to do so. The eligibility for 2021–22 providers had been changed so that potential providers had to be delivering to a minimum of 100 students per T level route in order to be considered. Following ASCL’s lobbying, this has now been changed back to a figure of ten students for 2022–23. This means that schools should now be more likely to be considered eligible to deliver T levels.

Blueprint

Finally, work on our new ‘Blueprint for a Fairer Education System’ is progressing well. At our Annual Conference in March, we launched a call for evidence, inviting anyone with an interest in how education can improve the life chances of children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to share their thoughts with us. Read Geoff Barton’s article on page 4 for more information on this and how to get involved.


Julie McCulloch
ASCL Director of Policy
@juliecmcculloch

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In the news

The problems of punitive accountability and funding shortages continue to form the focus of our media activity. Expand

ASCL has been quoted widely in the media over the recent period on a range of issues.

The problems of punitive accountability and funding shortages continue to form the focus of our media activity.

There was an ASCL win over Ofsted’s decision to extend, by an extra year, the transition period for curriculum development. ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton set out ten proposals to improve the accountability system, in this blog for TES https://tinyurl.com/wml7d78 And Deputy Policy Director Duncan Baldwin’s explanation on the limitations of school performance tables was widely quoted. Geoff also called for reform of performance tables to rid them of “perverse incentives”, in a speech at an ethical leadership summit.

In our pre-Budget submission to the Treasury, and accompanying press release, ASCL warned that most of the £7.1 billion extra pledged for schools will be eaten up by government spending commitments and increased costs, leaving nowhere near enough to reverse the cuts since 2015. We called for additional funding for the proposed increase to teacher starting salaries, as well as for post-16 education and SEND support.

And in a joint union submission to the STRB, also reported in the media, we said government pay proposals would short-change most classroom teachers and all senior leaders, and called for a significant uplift across the board, fully funded by government.

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A new direction

Here’s the latest information from our colleagues across the nation. Expand

The recent announcement of the retirement of the Chief Inspector will give an opportunity to reshape inspection and ASCL will continue its dialogue with the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI).

Here’s the latest information from our colleagues across the nation. ASCL is proud to represent school and college leaders from all over the UK – to find out more, see www.ascl.org.uk/Membership/ASCL-UK

A significant development affecting the whole of Northern Ireland has been the restoration of devolved government.

ASCL welcomes the re-appointment of Peter Weir as Minister of Education and looks forward to a positive working relationship with him.

One of the new minister’s first tasks was to announce that 18 schools across Northern Ireland will receive building improvements worth about £45 million. These improvements are the latest to be funded under the school enhancement programme, providing new school buildings worth £500,000 to £4 million. Appearing in front of the Committee for Education at Stormont, the minister indicated that education in Northern Ireland needed around £400 million more a year, representing a 20% increase on the current annual education budget of about £2 billion.

Education in Northern Ireland does have challenges ahead. Mr Weir highlighted several priorities that he will focus on, including school funding and teachers’ pay. He said, “It is imperative that adequate resources are available to deal with these, and the many other issues, currently faced within the education system.” The minister also said that academic underachievement will be a key focus for his term, as well as the implementation of a new framework for Special Education Needs and the childcare offer available to parents.

A major challenge over the last three years has been the boycotting of school inspections by the teachers’ unions (excluding ASCL) as part of their action short of strike, in relation to pay and workload. ASCL has continued to co-operate while its Executive has negotiated protection for ASCL members. Mr Weir expressed the value of inspections and said, “Inspection is a powerful lever for raising standards and tackling underachievement to ensure learners get the best possible education.” The recent announcement of the retirement of the Chief Inspector will give an opportunity to reshape inspection and ASCL will continue its dialogue with the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI).

ASCL Northern Ireland Executive will continue to present to government its vision for a robust, focused and effective education system for the 21st century and will continue to develop its strategy for keeping members briefed on its efforts on their behalf.


Robert Wilson
ASCL Northern Ireland Regional Officer
@roberthmw


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Climate really does matter

It’s difficult to listen to the news without hearing of the horrendous and worrying effect of climate change. Expand

It’s difficult to listen to the news without hearing of the horrendous and worrying effect of climate change. Most reasonably minded people are worried. The fragility of this eco-system cannot be taken for granted, or worse, abused.

In the midst of this gloomy news, the very welcome publication of our new and exciting transformational curriculum arrived in Wales. This is designed to support schools to develop their own curriculum and assessment arrangements – a genuinely exciting milestone in Wales’ reform journey.

In the new educational world envisioned by the Welsh government and wholly supported by ASCL, I’m optimistic and hopeful that we can create a sustainable eco-system of some beauty and integrity. A system where children are at the heart of all we do, supported by Donaldson’s brilliant articulation of a transformational curriculum. This should, if approached correctly, create an educational eco-system where each interacting part has a place in supporting our vision: to make Wales world-class because we will create ambitious, enterprising, healthy and capable learners. Who doesn’t want that for future generations?

However, is our educational climate here in Wales really suitable, or indeed conducive to us creating this brave new world? Recently, I’ve had several worrying conversations with headteachers who feel that they are totally beleaguered. The evening before writing this article, I had a completely different piece composed: that of positive policy moving education forward in Wales.

So, what happened? I had several calls from headteachers expressing deep concerns about the horrendous and unfair pressures they face from external agents. Those holding our members to account don’t always do so kindly, compassionately or indeed with regard to the wellbeing of those expected to turn policy into practice.

Our leaders aren’t a commodity but an invaluable resource who cannot and must not be exploited. Our leaders are the ones who can make exciting policy a reality. It’s time that the delicate balance and respect for the role of school leadership is restored. Leaders must be able to flourish without fear in order to fulfil their core purpose of leading teaching and learning. To do otherwise will render these reforms unsustainable. A healthy eco-system in education cannot be achieved through downward, negative pressure. Climate really does matter.


Eithne Hughes
Director of ASCL Cymru
@ASCLCymru

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Creating a Curriculum for Excellence

Day-to-day learning for young people in Scotland’s schools is structured within Curriculum for Excellence ( Expand

Day-to-day learning for young people in Scotland’s schools is structured within Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). The explicit intended outcome of Curriculum for Excellence is to provide all Scotland’s young people with skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work. CfE is aspirational and commits partners in Scottish Education to enabling all young people to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.

CfE is not a prescriptive National Curriculum, but a set of design principles that schools and teachers use to create the learning environment, choose the learning and teaching approaches, decide the way in which learning will be organised and create an appropriate learning context. The Principles of Design that underpin CfE ensure that every child’s learning journey from age 3 to 18 is structured around challenge and enjoyment, breadth, progression, personalisation and choice, coherence and relevance.

CfE has been progressively developed since 2004 and is currently undergoing revision at the point in time when a cohort of young people have completed the full 3–18 learning journey. That journey falls into two linked phases:

  1. Broad General Education: Pre-schoolsecondary 3 (Key Stage 3)
  2. Senior Phase: Secondary 4–6 National Qualifications

Learning in and through Broad General Education takes place within eight Curricular Areas: expressive arts, health and wellbeing, languages, numeracy and mathematics, religious and moral education, sciences, social subjects and technologies.Learning within the Curricular Areas is structured around Experiences and Outcomes. These are set out as a framework of progressive and aspirational ‘I can do’ statements, which provide the broad aims of a child’s learning and act as reference points for teachers in planning learning, providing them with the professional space to contextualise learning to meet the needs of every young person.Detailed information on CfE can be accessed here https://tinyurl.com/qstpka4


Jim Thewliss
General Secretary, School Leaders Scotland
@LeadersScotland

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Pensions: Tax returns for Annual Allowance

There has recently been a huge volume of cases referred through the ASCL Hotline following letters sent jointly by the Teachers’ Pension Scheme ( Expand

There has recently been a huge volume of cases referred through the ASCL Hotline following letters sent jointly by the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) and HMRC regarding non-payment of Annual Allowance tax charges for encompassing several tax years.

It’s important that all members check their Teachers’ Pension online account regularly to see if they have received a Pension Savings Statement detailing whether they have exceeded their allowance.

These statements usually come out in October; however, many members have missed them and are now receiving more direct information from TPS/HMRC. For further information, see our guidance paper on pensions and tax liability at www.ascl.org.uk/PensionsandTax

Your CPD

ASCL Pensions Specialist Stephen Casey is delivering a Financial Planning for Retirement Seminar on 20 May in London – book your place at www.ascl.org.uk/PensionsMay

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ASCL Council

At the beginning of February, ASCL Council met in Birmingham. Expand

At the beginning of February, ASCL Council met in Birmingham. These are your elected representatives from across the UK and we had two excellent days hammering out ASCL views and policy on issues ranging from inspection and the various funding promises from the government to kick-starting some longer-range thinking as part of our new Blueprint for a Fairer Education System. You can see a summary of the discussions, including all the latest position statements, here www.ascl.org.uk/ASCLCouncilFeb2020

The next Council meeting will take place on 25 and 26 June 2020. We are currently inviting ASCL members to stand for election to Council. We are particularly keen to encourage people from groups currently under-represented on Council, including women, representatives of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, assistant and deputy heads, business leaders and leaders based in early years, primary or FE settings. If you’d like to find out more about this opportunity, please email Julie.mcculloch@ascl.org.uk

For more information about ASCL Council see www.ascl.org.uk/council

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ASCL's response to the STRB

The Secretary of State issued the remit for the School Teachers’ Review Body’s ( Expand

The Secretary of State issued the remit for the School Teachers’ Review Body’s (STRB’s) 30th report on 18 September 2019. The remit covers the following matters for recommendation:

An assessment of the adjustments that should be made to the salary and allowance ranges for classroom teachers, unqualified teachers and school leaders to promote recruitment and retention, within the bounds of affordability across the school system as a whole and in the light of the Secretary of State’s views on the need for an uplift to starting salaries.

Additional advice to schools on the performance-related pay progression pathway for classroom teachers including advisory pay points on the main and upper pay ranges. The STRB’s views on the role of progression to the upper pay range and the continued case for separate main and upper pay ranges.

How did we respond? In our response we welcomed the proposal for a £30,000 starting salary for teachers, but also make the case that it is essential that this increase is reflected in all salary points within pay ranges to improve teacher retention. Our recommendations also include:

  • reinstatement of the advisory pay points to the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD), ensuring no detriment to any teacher or leader in the assimilation process; these should be a mandatory element
  • retention of the separate main and upper pay ranges
  • removal of the performance-related pay element of the pay system from the STPCD at the earliest opportunity

Why have we taken this view?

We believe that a significant increase to all pay ranges is required in order to address the erosion of pay since 2010.

There is fragmentation across the system caused by some employers applying the annual uplift to all pay points and some only applying it to the minima and maxima of each range. To ensure equitable treatment for all staff, funding should be provided to assimilate all teachers and leaders who are currently on lower valued points, to the minimum advisory pay points as published by joint unions, which we are calling to be included in the Document.

It is our view that it would be preferable to make the necessary changes to the current system and ensure that there is more consistent implementation, than to dismantle the whole system and return to a single pay range. 

There is currently no evidence that performance related pay impacts positively on pupil outcomes, and growing evidence that it may have a negative impact on retention and workload. Read our full consultation response here www.ascl.org.uk/ASCLResponseSTRB30Remit

The DfE’s evidence to the STRB, which also includes information on teacher pay and teacher pension grants, can be found here https://tinyurl.com/u4ccuuo

Our supplementary evidence and a joint union response to the DfE’s proposals can be found here www.ascl.org.uk/STRB30Supplementary

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English Proficiency Assessments

Proficiency assessments for EAL pupils allow teachers to better evaluate the language profiles of their student population. Expand

Proficiency assessments for EAL pupils allow teachers to better evaluate the language profiles of their student population. Although these are no longer compulsory, it’s still vital that pupils have that sense of direction to show where they are now, how far they’ve come and help to determine where they need to go next.

Proficiency assessments should be conducted throughout the academic year to gauge a true understanding of a child’s progress. Without this consistency, they may be at risk of falling behind without the support they really need. Assessments also help schools diagnose positive and negative trends to develop a more explicit and targeted focus on English language development.

A digital EAL assessment not only saves time – it saves resources. Engaging proficiency assessments allow pupils to work independently from their teacher or TA, meaning planning and marking time is vastly reduced and one-to-one teacher support is no longer required.

FlashAcademy® is the creator of the digital EAL Proficiency Assessment. To see a demo, please contact team@flashacademy.com

FlashAcademy® is ASCL’s preferred supplier for EAL. Members receive an exclusive 5% discount towards a FlashAcademy® school licence when quoting: ASCL. For a school demo, please contact hello@flashacademy.com or call 0121 724 0854.

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Reflection or prayer rooms

There is no legal obligation to provide a designated prayer/ reflection room but schools and colleges should be mindful of their Public Sector Equality Duty ( Expand

There is no legal obligation to provide a designated prayer/ reflection room but schools and colleges should be mindful of their Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and to ensure that they do not discriminate against pupils on the grounds of religion or belief (or lack thereof). Preventing a pupil from engaging in prayers could be indirect discrimination – unless it can be objectively justified. Schools and colleges should consider whether they can accommodate the request and give clear reasons for refusal. Issues may include:

  • whether there is any unused space that could be used for prayer or whether all space is being used for educational purposes
  • whether pupils who do not prescribe to a specific faith can also use the space, for example, to meditate, to practise mindfulness or for other purposes
  • supervision of the space to ensure it is being used appropriately and is accessible to all
  • in the absence of a designated room, whether there is an alternative, supervised space for pupils to go to at designated times, for example, break/lunch

If a school or college does decide to provide a designated space, there should be a policy that governs its use and makes clear it can be used by all.See ASCL’s new guidance on PSED at www.ascl.org.uk/PSED

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Harassment in the workplace

In recent years, there has been a huge change of culture brought about by the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns. Expand

In recent years, there has been a huge change of culture brought about by the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns. Those affected by harassment feel more empowered to report what has happened to them. This has led to closer scrutiny of the protections available under the Equality Act 2010.

The 2018 report of the Woman and Equalities Select Committee (https://tinyurl.com/ybe8vggj) raised concerns. Pending the outcome of the government consultation that followed, the committee recommended a new statutory Code of Practice be implemented, requiring tribunals to have to take its provisions into account when considering cases.

In advance of a code, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published new Technical Guidance on sexual harassment and harassment at work (https://tinyurl.com/sbzdwhn), accompanied by a guidance document for employers (https://tinyurl.com/v5dzv57).

The guidance sets out a number of steps an employer can take, which can be used in an employer’s defence in the event of a claim (known as the ‘all reasonable steps’ defence). The key shift in the guidance is that the emphasis is now clearly on proactive, preventative steps to stop harassment before it arises, as well as how to act after a complaint is made, even if those steps might not have prevented an act of harassment in the first place. Having a policy is simply no longer enough.

SEND tribunal decisions

A recent judicial review of a special educational needs and disability (SEND) tribunal decision has highlighted the important role schools can play in SEND appeals.

It is already often the case that the most compelling evidence within a tribunal can come from a school-based witness – a person with day-to-day knowledge of the child. Equally now, it appears the school’s rating by Ofsted can be an important indicator of the suitability of the school in meeting a child’s needs.

In this case, the tribunal relied on an Ofsted report that indicated the school was rated as ‘good’ at the time of the hearing. Shortly after the decision was sent to the parties, there was a further Ofsted visit and report that rated the school as ‘requiring improvement’. As a result, the parents of the child successfully challenged the tribunal’s decision as the Ofsted report was a significant change in circumstances that went to the decision on suitability of the placement.

Current Ofsted information will be useful for any school witness at a SEND tribunal but the decision could have wider reach, as suitability is a key consideration when a school is approached by a local authority to be named in an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). In such cases, schools with lower Ofsted ratings may be able to use the decision to provide extra weight to any arguments on suitability.

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New year - new requirements

There are several new employment law changes coming into force in April 2020. Expand

There are several new employment law changes coming into force in April 2020. Here is a little reminder of what is to come: 

Statements of particulars

From 6 April:

  • the obligation to provide a written statement of particulars will extend from employees only to employees and workers
  • the one-month service requirement to qualify for the right will be removed
  • the majority of the written statement must be provided in one document on or before the first day of employment/work
  • the information that needs to be included within the statement will change

Holiday pay

From 6 April, where averaging provisions are required to calculate holiday pay under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (that is, for those workers who do not have normal working hours, or who do have normal hours but where their pay varies according to the amount of work done or the time/day the work is carried out), the averaging period will increase from 12 weeks to 52 weeks.

Termination payments and National Insurance Contributions

It is expected that from 6 April 2020 all termination payments above the £30,000 threshold will be subject to Class 1A National Insurance Contributions (NICs) (employer liability only).

Agency workers

From 6 April, the ‘Swedish Derogation’ will disappear. If you’re unfamiliar with the Swedish Derogation, this is a clause that allows employment businesses to avoid giving agency workers pay parity with comparable direct recruits, provided that they have an employment contract that gives them a right to pay between assignments.This will no longer be permitted from 6 April – instead, all agency workers will have the right to pay parity with permanent workers after 12 weeks. Linked to this is a requirement by 30 April 2020 for employment businesses with any agency workers with Swedish Derogation provisions to provide written confirmation to those agency workers that the provisions will no longer apply as from 6 April.

IR 35

It is expected that from 6 April, the off-payroll working rules will be extended to large- and medium-sized companies in the private sector. The effect of these changes is to shift responsibility for IR35 tax compliance from the personal service company to the client or intermediary.

Information and consultation

The threshold required for employees to be able to ask to set up information and consultation arrangements will decrease from 10% to 2% of employees, subject to a minimum of 15 employees.

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Notes on guidance

Leader contains general guidance on the law that has been supplied by our Premier Partner for legal and HR services, Browne Jacobson LLP. Expand

Leader contains general guidance on the law that has been supplied by our Premier Partner for legal and HR services, Browne Jacobson LLP. If you would like to seek advice from a legal professional please contact Browne Jacobson at 0370 270 6000. ASCL members can also call the ASCL Hotline on 0116 2991122 for support on legal issues relating specifically to their own employment.

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LEADING READING