July 2012

The know zone

  • Water-tight contracts
    Along with greater freedom and independence, schools also now have the huge responsibility of procuring the services of reliable contractors. Schools and colleges need to have their wits about them as Richard Bird explains More
  • Rate of return
    How do you convert time into money? Sam Ellis explains the many complexities of this question and looks at how schools can get value for money when deploying their staff. More
  • Lead vocals
    Quotes from Michael Jordan, Michaelangelo, Audrey Hepburn, Carl Sagan and Thomas Fuller More
  • Fame academy
    Vic Goddard is principal of Passmores Academy in Harlow, which is the school featured in Channel 4’s BAFTA-nominated documentary series, Educating Essex. More
  • Summing up
    Aviva’s Paying for It scheme gets students thinking about finances – their own and the nation’s. More
  • Adding value
    ASCL members can save money More
  • Fishing for staff?
    What is the most effective way to recruit and retain the best graduates as teachers? The parliamentary Education Select Committee has put forward its own ideas, ranging from higher pay and performance bonuses to sabbatical scholarships and a Royal College of Teaching. Here, leaders share their own views. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    Exams: Double the trouble? and Are exclusions a 'fine' thing More
  • A slippery slope?
    Struggling schools need the best heads to turn them around. But the fear of being sacked if they do not succeed quickly is deterring outstanding leaders from taking on these tough roles and undermining attempts to tackle social mobility, says Brian Lightman. More
  • Skirting the issue
    Long-serving heads will have particular targets in mind as retirement approaches. Going before you’re pushed is clearly crucial. After that, it’s all about the legacy you will leave, says Dennis Richards. More
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The antidote to common leadership conundrums...

Exams: Double the trouble?

Q We have been entering our Year 11 students early in the year for GCSE English and maths so that they can have another go in the summer at the end of Year 11. Does the arrival of terminal GCSEs mean that we can no longer do this?

A Ofqual’s website states clearly that early entry is still allowed. However, there is considerable evidence that most students rarely gain their best possible grade when entered early. Some selective universities expect to see a complete range of A and A* grades at GCSE – and some expect these to be obtained at one sitting – so consideration should be given to students who might want to apply to those universities.

Ofsted inspectors will almost certainly ask you to justify a policy of early entry for the whole cohort or whole groups and you would need to assure them that you have considered each student’s future progress.

There are also technical issues for 2013-14. If you intend to enter students in November 2013, they will have to follow the current modular specification and, if they need to resit in summer 2014, change to the linear specification. The specifications might be different and they would have to re-take the whole controlled assessment.

For those in Year 11 in 2014-15, there will be November exams for English and maths. Students would have to take the whole series of exams in November 2014 (as these are linear) including the controlled assessment. If they then wish to re-take in summer 2015 they would take the whole exam again and the controlled assessment.

There might be minor changes to the specification from year to year so you should check carefully. It will still be possible to enter students early for subjects at the end of Year 10.

Are exclusions a fine thing?

Q I understand that exclusion rules are changing but a media article I saw seemed to indicate that from September if we permanently exclude a pupil we will have to pay a £4,000 fine. How will this work?

A This is partially correct but the media headlines painted a more dire picture than the real situation – the fine only applies if an appeal panel disagrees with the exclusion.

From September, Independent Review Panels (IRPs) will replace Independent Appeal Panels (IAPs). Currently IAPs can direct a governing body to reinstate an excluded pupil. The new IRPs will not be able to do this.

An IRP will only have the power to accept the governors’ decision or – if it finds the decision was illegal, irrational or procedurally flawed – ask the governors to think again, or overturn the decision and tell them to think again. Schools are free to ignore the IRP’s decision, but if so, the IRP can administer a £4,000 fine.

IRPs will not deal with cases where there is alleged discrimination against a disabled pupil; these will be referred to the First-Tier Tribunal (Health, Education and Social Care Chamber).

More information on changes to exclusions can be found on ASCL’s website at www.ascl.org.uk/advice/latest_advice/changes_school_exclusions