July 2016

NEWS AND GUIDANCE

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News and guidance

ASCL Influence

Here is just a small selection of the meetings and lobbying activity that senior ASCL officers have been involved with on your behalf and, in particular, we have highlighted areas where ASCL has had a direct influence on policy. Expand

Here is just a small selection of the meetings and lobbying activity that senior ASCL officers have been involved with on your behalf and, in particular, we have highlighted areas where ASCL has had a direct influence on policy.

Review on teacher shortages 

Interim General Secretary Malcolm Trobe wrote to the Home Secretary Theresa May to make the case for a review of the Official Shortage Occupation List. We argued that a decision to include teachers as a category (like nurses) would provide a lever to ease the recruitment challenges. On 26 May, the Migration Advisory Committee announced a review on teacher shortages. The committee is calling for an evidence review on whether teachers should be retained on the UK shortage occupation list. We are pleased that ASCL’s concerns have been listened to and that this review could go some way in addressing some of these issues that we raised. 

Meeting with DfE Director of Strategy 

Malcolm met with Tom Shinner, DfE Director of Strategy, to discuss the implementation of aspects of the White Paper including the future role of local authorities and how the profession will be consulted on this. Malcolm stressed the importance of securing the leadership pipeline and providing ways of ensuring that there was a strong supply of confident leaders coming through to lead our schools. 

Meeting with new Ofqual chief 

Malcolm also met with Sally Collier, the newly appointed Chief Regulator at Ofqual. Malcolm talked about all of the key areas of recent importance including our concerns over the changes in enquiries after results, inter-subject comparability and the severity in MFL grading. He was also able to raise concerns about the potential turbulence in IGCSE grading because of the skewed profile of the entry cohort. 

Challenge meeting – Teacher Supply Model 

Malcolm and Leora Cruddas, Director of Policy and Public Relations, had previously asked the Secretary of State to convene a challenge meeting with senior civil servants to interrogate the Teacher Supply Model (TSM). This has now taken place. We identified that the cumulative effect of not recruiting enough teachers in some subjects like maths and science, for many years, is having a devastating effect on the ability of our members to recruit teachers. The previous shortfalls in these subjects are not factored in to the way that the number of teachers needed in the future is calculated in the TSM. Therefore, the shortage of these teachers gets worse every year. The DfE also does not look at whether there are enough teachers in the right subjects in different parts of the country – the model only takes account of the national picture. 

The Public Accounts Committee’s report

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has published a report, Training New Teachers, which quotes ASCL and reinforces the findings from our challenge meeting. The report calls for an urgent review of teacher training in England, concluding that the government fails to understand the difficulties many schools face in recruiting teachers. It calls for a clear plan for teacher supply. The report also says that the government needs to talk more to school leaders about the recruitment challenges they face. 

Meeting with Secretary of State 

Malcolm and Leora met with the Secretary of State Nicky Morgan and her advisers to discuss the difficulties that the delay in launching phase 2 of the National Funding Formula consultation will create. They urged the Secretary of State to task civil servants to develop a clear plan for teacher recruitment. 

Meeting with the new Permanent Secretary 

Malcolm and Leora had an introductory meeting with Jonathan Slater, the new Permanent Secretary. They took the opportunity to outline ASCL’s blueprint and they discussed some key policy areas that they believe need his personal attention, notably teacher supply. Malcolm has followed up the meeting with a letter to Jonathan Slater, citing the Public Accounts Committee report and offering to work with civil servants to facilitate dialogue between DfE and school leaders to develop a clear plan for teacher recruitment. 

Education for All Bill 

Leora also attended the All Parliamentary Group on Education Governance and Leadership. The meeting addressed the question of the implications of the proposed Education for All Bill for school governance and leadership. The Chair of the Education Select Committee Neil Carmichael asked Leora to speak about the issues on school leadership. 

Primary floor standards 

The Secretary of State Nicky Morgan has written a letter to all primary schools that sets out the commitment made by her in relation to the proportion of schools below the floor standard this year. In the letter, the Secretary of State has confirmed that no more than 6% of schools will fall below the floor standard, and she also said: “A school that meets the progress part of the floor standard will be above the floor standard overall – even if they have fewer than 65% of pupils meeting the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics.” ASCL Primary and Governance Specialist Julie McCulloch is a member of the DfE Primary Assessment Group that pushed the government to confirm this commitment in writing to reassure schools and we are pleased that the government has listened and acted on this issue.

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Apprenticeship levy announced

From April 2017, the way in which the government funds apprenticeships will be changing and this will affect all organisations, including schools and academies with more than 250 employees and a pay bill of more than £3 million a year. Expand

From April 2017, the way in which the government funds apprenticeships will be changing and this will affect all organisations, including schools and academies with more than 250 employees and a pay bill of more than £3 million a year. The main aim of the levy is to persuade employers to take on more apprentices, and the government hopes to have created a further three million apprentices by 2020. 

The apprenticeship levy falls into two parts, first the requirement to pay the levy and second the requirement to employ a minimum number of apprentices within a workforce. 

Employing apprentices makes economic sense. The latest research, published in June 2015, demonstrates the high level of return to investment delivered by apprenticeships. 

Although the new regulations are not due to come into force until April 2017, it is important to be prepared and plan ahead financially. 

The levy will be charged at a rate of 0.5% of the annual pay bill. For any employer required to pay the levy, they will receive a levy allowance of £15,000 per year to offset against the levy that they must pay. The levy will be paid directly to HMRC via the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) process. 

The apprenticeship target for public sector bodies is likely to be 2.3% but the details of how it is to be calculated is still under consultation and, as such, the final details of the policy are yet to be determined. However, it is expected that any public authority or organisation that has 250 or more employees will be required to employ a minimum number of apprenticeships from 2017 onwards.

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New member benefit

We are pleased to introduce PG Mutual, a not-for-profit insurer specialising in providing Income Protection Plus cover for ASCL members. Expand

We are pleased to introduce PG Mutual, a not-for-profit insurer specialising in providing Income Protection Plus cover for ASCL members. 

We are working with PG Mutual to provide you with a 15% discount off your first two years’ subscriptions.* 

Many of us are living in a one- or two-income dependent household; however, if one of those incomes disappeared many of us would struggle financially. The minimum State Sickness Benefits can be as little as £292.40 a month^; for most of us that wouldn’t be sufficient to cover the rent or mortgage repayments, not to mention bills and grocery shopping. 

Protecting your income should be a vital part of your financial planning. You can arrange cover to suit your budget that can be tailored around your employer’s contribution to sick pay or your own financial needs. This gives you peace of mind that your lifestyle is protected when you need it most. 

^ Under current legislation, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) site, April 2016. 

* For full Terms and Conditions, please visit www.pgmutual.co.uk Offer ends 31 December 2016.

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The RISE of online education resources

We have been notified of a website that ASCL members may find useful that provides easy access to a wealth of data on state education. Expand

We have been notified of a website that ASCL members may find useful that provides easy access to a wealth of data on state education. The RISE Information Centre (www. riseinformationcentre. org.uk) is maintained by RISE, a small charity established to disseminate information about state education. The aim of the website is to cut the time you spend trawling through dozens of websites. 

The information on the website is arranged into twelve topics each with an explanatory commentary and is available through links to original sources such as parliamentary answers, statistical first releases, key reports and DfE news.

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Congratulations to longstanding ASCL stalwart

We held a special presentation event to congratulate Honorary ASCL Member Florence Kirkby MBE, for all her hard work for the association and for her dedication to education as a whole, spanning approximately 53 years ( Expand

We held a special presentation event to congratulate Honorary ASCL Member Florence Kirkby MBE, for all her hard work for the association and for her dedication to education as a whole, spanning approximately 53 years (1963–2016)!

Florence, who turned 95 on 22 June, was on the headmistresses’ equivalent of ASCL Council from 1967 – part of ASCL (known then as the Secondary Heads Association) (SHA); she became SHA President in 1984/5 and her services to education have remained unbroken since the late 1960s. Florence has always been an extremely active member of the association. She was our pensions consultant well into her 70s and she still continues to work on the editing of Associates News – our magazine for retired members. 

We would like to thank Florence for her continuous commitment and dedication to the association and to the profession and we wish her a huge happy 95th birthday!

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Term-time holiday debate rumbles on

A highly publicised High Court challenge over term-time absence has found in favour of the parent. Expand

A highly publicised High Court challenge over term-time absence has found in favour of the parent. Jon Platt successfully argued that taking his daughter out of school during term-time for a holiday did not mean he had failed to secure her regular attendance at school, a requirement under section 44 of the Education Act 1996. Schools are now likely to face a flurry of parental requests to take their children out of school for holidays during the academic term with many left uncertain as to how to deal with those requests in light of this judgment. 

The High Court reportedly stated that the question of whether attendance at school had been regular had to be looked at in the wider context and not just during the limited period of time that the parent had taken his child on holiday – which was reportedly above the 90% attendance threshold. The lack of certainty over what constitutes regular attendance leaves schools and councils in a difficult position when discharging their duties and issuing penalty notices. How do they determine what constitutes regular attendance? Clarity on this point is urgently needed. The full judgment is likely to be heavily scrutinised by the DfE, which may result in subsequent legislation to clarify what constitutes ‘regular attendance’. 

Subsequently, Isle of Wight Council, backed by the DfE, is now set to challenge the High Court ruling. 

Responding to the High Court’s decision, Malcolm Trobe, Interim General Secretary, said, “Pupils are expected to attend school as close to 100% of the time as possible and they should not miss school to go on holiday. 

“This is because even short periods of absence can have a detrimental impact on their education, so consistent attendance is absolutely vital. We are a nation which values education and school attendance is part of that commitment. 

“The current rules do give discretion to headteachers in exceptional circumstances and whilst there has been some rise in Fixed Penalty Notices in recent years the vast majority of parents are fully onside and recognise the importance of high attendance.”

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The ASCL App is now available!

Download the app and keep up to date with all the latest news affecting school, college and system leaders across the UK. Expand

Download the app and keep up to date with all the latest news affecting school, college and system leaders across the UK. It’s free, easy to download, and gives you access to information and resources on the move and as they are released, including: 

  • policy and guidance papers 
  • access to our extensive programme of continuing professional development (CPD) events provided by ASCL Professional Development 
  • press releases as they happen 
  • member benefits 

The ASCL app is compatible with Apple, Android and Windows phones and tablets. 

To load the app, search ‘ASCL’ in the app store on your device or visit www.ascl.org.uk/app for more information. We hope you find the ASCL App helpful. Are there any other features you would like to see on the app? We would love to hear your feedback. Please email your comments and suggestions to communications@ascl.org.uk

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Educational Honours: Your nominations are needed!

The Education Honours Committee for the UK is keen to increase the number of nominations for deserving people in education and needs your help in making nominations. Expand

The Education Honours Committee for the UK is keen to increase the number of nominations for deserving people in education and needs your help in making nominations. The committee wants to ensure that people working and volunteering in education, specifically those who go the extra mile, are recognised for their persistent and outstanding efforts. 

The committee makes recommendations to the Prime Minister and then to the Queen, who awards the honours. Please help them to recognise the very many outstanding and unsung heroes in our education system. Anyone can make a nomination, and the process is straightforward. There is a simple form to fill in setting out what your nominee has achieved and what marks them out as having made a real difference. Fill in the form online at www.gov.uk/honours/nominatesomeone-in-the-uk 

The committee is keen to receive more nominations on behalf of headteachers, principals, senior and middle leaders and classroom teachers as well as support staff at all levels from schools, colleges and the wider education system. They would particularly welcome nominations on behalf of colleagues from ethnic minorities, as they are currently under-represented in the honours system.

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ASCL policy update

Following Ofqual’s announcement on changes to the marking reviews and appeals system ( Expand

Exam marks must be right first time 

Following Ofqual’s announcement on changes to the marking reviews and appeals system (see http://tinyurl.com/ zpdqya6), Suzanne O’Farrell, ASCL Curriculum and Assessment Specialist, said: “We understand that Ofqual’s intention is to create an appeals system which is more transparent and fairer to all students. However, these changes will be hugely contentious because many people believe that the initial quality of marking is not always up to scratch in the first place. 

“There remains an underlying problem in that the system is still something of a cottage industry in which teachers mark huge numbers of scripts in their spare time for little pay. It needs to be better resourced and better structured. The most important thing is to have a system that gets marks right first time.” 

Modern foreign languages review 

The Teaching Schools Council has announced a review aimed at identifying and sharing the most effective ways of teaching modern foreign languages. The review is being led by Ian Bauckham, Executive Headteacher of the Bennett Memorial Diocesan School in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and a former president of ASCL. 

Leora Cruddas, Director of Policy and Public Relations at ASCL, said: “We are delighted that the Teaching Schools Council is undertaking this review and that it is being led by our past president, Ian Bauckham. Sharing evidence about best practice is always important, but particularly in the light of more pupils being expected to take a modern foreign language. This is a big challenge and it is therefore absolutely essential that teachers have the very best support possible. Access to research about what teaching methods work best will help do that.” 

Urgent action needed over mental health care 

In April, the House of Commons Education Committee published a report entitled Mental Health and Well-being of Looked-after Children. Commenting on the report, Malcolm Trobe, ASCL Interim General Secretary, said: “A recent survey by ASCL and the National Children’s Bureau found that there is a serious gap in the provision of mental health care beyond the school gates with many schools reporting difficulties in obtaining specialist care from local services for students in need. 

“This reflects severe cutbacks over the past five years to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). In our evidence to the Education Committee, ASCL pointed out that long waiting lists for CAMHS means schools are forced to call emergency services in severe cases. 

“We recognise that the government has pledged greater investment in mental health services. However, we are extremely concerned about a rising tide of mental health issues among young people. More action is urgently needed to ensure there is sufficient specialist provision in all areas of the country.” 

For more about the survey, read here http://tinyurl.com/zmw7l8n


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High needs funding for special schools

The issue of high needs funding continues to cause an element of confusion and concern among schools and local authorities. Expand

The issue of high needs funding continues to cause an element of confusion and concern among schools and local authorities. 

DfE guidance has recently been updated but has failed to provide much needed clarity on how pupils should be appropriately funded and instead the focus is directed towards local settlement between local authority and school without providing a framework to assist in the decision-making. A particular concern is where local authorities wish to place a child at a special school when that school is already at or over its agreed capacity. What level of funding should be made? 

The special school will have received £10,000 per place up to its agreed capacity and therefore the local authorities, which commission those places, will have only had discussions around the level of top-up funding that each child should receive and that funding should broadly reflect the cost of providing for the individual needs of the child. 

For a child whose admission would take the school above its capacity, there would be no place funding to support the basic costs of making provision for the child. Therefore, schools and local authorities should be considering a hybrid amount to cover the costs of the school for providing for these children’s needs. That amount will reflect the amount required for place and top-up funding. Support for this approach is set out in the DfE’s operational guidance on high needs that suggests a greater amount reflecting that both elements of the funding will be required for the children with more significant and complex needs. 

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Do you work with international leadership organisations?

ASCL is keen to build strong relationships with organisations focused on school leadership in other countries, or similar organisations with international remits. Expand

ASCL is keen to build strong relationships with organisations focused on school leadership in other countries, or similar organisations with international remits. We would welcome members’ views on which organisations to focus on. 

If you have existing relationships with international leadership organisations, or if you have been impressed by the work of particular organisations, please let ASCL Primary and Governance Specialist Julie McCulloch know by emailing julie.mcculloch@ascl.org.uk

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Academy to academy transfers

There continues to be a growth of academy transfers between academy trusts. Expand

There continues to be a growth of academy transfers between academy trusts. These can come about voluntarily through the submission of a business case to the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) or they can be directed by the RSC. The DfE has published a number of different forms for the different scenarios online at http://tinyurl.com/zuvw4cu

While the process has broad similarities to the academy conversion process, there are some differences. In summary, the main legal steps will comprise: 

  • carrying out due diligence (see above) and using that to inform your plans for effectively integrating the new academy or bringing the academies together in one MAT
  • agreeing any changes that are required to the governance structure (most likely in the voluntary scenario) 
  • carrying out the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) process 
  • transferring the freehold for the academy site or assigning the 125-year lease (as well as dealing with the continued right to use land by other third parties such as charitable trusts) 
  • entering into a transfer agreement to transfer assets and liabilities (which is broadly similar to the commercial transfer agreement on an academy conversion) and transferring grants and other important contracts such as significant construction contracts 
  • entering into a Deed of Novation and variation with the DfE to transfer the funding agreement to the MAT 

Consultation is not mentioned above as this is usually dealt with at the business case stage.

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New ASCL guidance papers on teacher workload

Following the three reports published by the government earlier this year and based on the findings of the Teacher Workload Review Groups, we are producing a suite of three guidance papers to help ASCL members in the key areas identified within the reports. Expand

Following the three reports published by the government earlier this year and based on the findings of the Teacher Workload Review Groups, we are producing a suite of three guidance papers to help ASCL members in the key areas identified within the reports. Two of these are now available on our website and cover marking and feedback, and lesson planning and teacher resources – download them online at www.ascl.org.uk/guidance 

The guidance papers are relevant to senior leaders, governors and middle leaders in England and Wales and are designed to support leaders in reviewing and designing their relevant policies and teacher resources. This guidance will assist leaders in setting purposeful, clear and effective practices, enabling teachers to manage and reduce workload as well as having a positive impact on student learning. 

The third guidance paper will assist leaders in their approach to data systems and management and a link to this information will be available to members soon.


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Local authority fines for permanent exclusions

It is seemingly becoming more common for a local authority to apply charges where a school ( Expand

It is seemingly becoming more common for a local authority to apply charges where a school (whether academy or maintained school) permanently excludes a pupil. Various reasons are given for the imposition of the charge, but it generally relates to the cost of providing education for the excluded child in the short term. In our view, there is no legal basis for such a charge. Both academies (through an exclusions agreement with the local authority entered into under the funding agreement) or maintained schools are only required to transfer a sum determined by the current School and Early Year Finance Regulations. That legislation clearly limits the amount payable to the local authority to the proportion of the core funding (or age-weighted pupil unit (AWPU)) applicable to the child together with any fine properly ordered by the Independent Review Panel. The latter is a maximum of £4,000. There is no discretion for local authorities to require greater amounts to be paid by schools to support provision for the excluded child. 

The current provision is regulation 23 of the School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations 2015. It states the figure must be determined on the basis of A x (B/52) + C where: 

  • A is the AWPU for the pupil in that area 
  • B is the weeks remaining in that funding period 
  • C is the financial re-adjustment order made by an Independent Review Panel (IRP) 

The transfer of funds must be based on this calculation alone and, therefore, unless the IRP decision includes a fine to the excluding school, the level of funding to be transferred cannot exceed the funding the excluding school originally received for the pupil.


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Trade Union Act delivers key committment

The long awaited and perhaps much anticipated Trade Union Bill gained Royal Assent on 4 May. Expand

The long awaited and perhaps much anticipated Trade Union Bill gained Royal Assent on 4 May. It brings with it changes to the landscape of employee relations in the public sector and, for the government, it delivers a key manifesto commitment. Minister of State for the Departments of Business, Innovation, Skills and Education Nick Boles said, “These changes will ensure people are only ever disrupted by industrial action when it is supported by a reasonable proportion of union members. The Trade Union Act means the rights of the public to go about their lives are fairly balanced with members’ ability to strike.” 

The bill’s passage through Parliament did lead to a number of changes from the initial proposals and it is not clear when the new rules will commence. This will depend on the regulations that will be put in place but, in summary, it will include the following: 

  • In addition to a majority being in favour of the action, at least 50% of all eligible members must have voted. In education, an additional threshold applies of at least 40% of those entitled to vote must have voted in favour of the action. 
  • There is a requirement to have a much clearer description on the ballot paper of the trade dispute and the planned action.
  • There is now a six-month limit (that can be increased to nine months if the union and employer agreed) for industrial action so that mandates will expire after this time. 
  • The government had proposed an all-out ban on schools deducting and paying union subscriptions. They have conceded and made a number of changes, which will emerge over time. What we do know at this stage is that the priority for the government is to reduce the burden on taxpayers by ensuring that the cost of any payroll deduction for trade union subscriptions is not funded by the public. 
  • There will be a move to ensure greater accountability relating to the use of public money for facility time.

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Due diligence concerns for MATs

There is a growing awareness across the sector of the importance of carrying out effective due diligence when forming a MAT or when transferring an academy between trusts. Expand

There is a growing awareness across the sector of the importance of carrying out effective due diligence when forming a MAT or when transferring an academy between trusts. While the core function of the exercise will be to obtain sufficient information about the school/academy to understand what potential risks there are and to help decide whether the project should go ahead, it is important to take a more holistic approach. 

In particular, you will want to consider using the process to: 

  • start the relationship off with the right tone. The way that due diligence is carried out will say a lot about your organisation’s culture and values and it can be a good way to see if there will be a good cultural fit 
  • identify synergies and priorities to support the effective integration of the new joiners 

In broad terms, due diligence checks would typically fall under five main headings: 

  • Educational performance – in particular it will be important to assess the MAT’s capacity to support the school and how it would fit into your trust and work with the existing schools in your MAT. 
  • Financial – you need to look at historical financial information as well as future financial projections. 
  • Organisational – In particular, it will be important to look at both staffing matters as well as consideration of governance strength and structures with an honest appraisal of how they will change on joining the MAT. 
  • Legal and regulatory compliance – you will need to ensure that all the land, assets and contracts used by the school are effectively transferred to the trust and that you understand what liabilities may be associated with these. 
  • Commercial – you will also need to understand all arrangements that are currently in place for the school or academy and what, if any, additional contracts will need to be entered into.
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In the news

ASCL was widely quoted in response to the announcements made in the Budget and the publication of the White Paper Educational Excellence Everywhere, including in The Guardian, TES and BBC Online. Expand

ASCL was widely quoted in response to the announcements made in the Budget and the publication of the White Paper Educational Excellence Everywhere, including in The Guardian, TES and BBC Online. ASCL’s Director of Policy Leora Cruddas also wrote an article, published in TES Online, setting out our disagreement with the compulsory academisation of all schools and urging the government to relax this requirement. Since then, the government has announced that it will not be bringing forward legislation to this effect. ASCL also warned that proposals to address the teacher supply crisis do not go far enough or fast enough, and that the introduction of a new funding formula will not alone address the severe financial situation faced by schools and colleges as a result of rising costs and frozen budgets. ASCL’s Interim General Secretary Malcolm Trobe addressed these issues in depth in articles published in secondary school magazine SecEd. 

ASCL produced an information paper, endorsed by a wide spectrum of British Muslims, over the observance of Ramadan during the summer exams. This received widespread media coverage including in The Independent, Daily Mail, Schools Week, TES and The Daily Telegraph. Parliamentary Specialist Anna Cole has been interviewed on several BBC local radio stations, as has Khola Hasan, of the Islamic Sharia Council, who was one of the consultees for the information paper. 

ASCL representatives have appeared on television and radio news broadcasts on a wide variety of other subjects. These have included ASCL’s President Allan Foulds on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show over the issue of term-time holidays, ASCL’s Primary and Governance Specialist Julie McCulloch on BBC News Channel and Sky News over problems with Key Stage 2 tests, and Malcolm on BBC News at One about a report by the House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility.

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LEADING READING