2020 Summer Term

The know zone

  • Care-takers
    Cait Cooper from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families highlights four ways school and college leaders can support staff wellbeing. More
  • Primary focus
    Throughout the lockdown period, ASCL's engagement with civil servants at the DfE and with other stakeholders has continued. Tiffnie Harris provides an update on some of the key issues affecting the primary education sector. More
  • Lessons learned
    Hayley Dunn highlights the lessons learned from implementing emergency plans in response to the current health crisis. More
  • September's Sixth Form
    As schools and colleges plan for their new cohort of sixth form students in September, Kevin Gilmartin examines the key areas that will impact on provision. In a time of such uncertainty, what should schools and colleges prepare for? More
  • A helping hand for further education
    Anne Murdoch highlights a new ASCL and AoC mentoring scheme to help develop personal resilience among college leaders and to empower them when faced with difficult circumstances. More
  • Weather the storm
    Before schools began to open more widely, we asked members to share their experience of the health crisis and here's what they had to say. More
  • Hitting the right note
    Principal Andrew Parkin joined ASCL Council five years ago and is a member of the Funding Committee. Here he tells us about his dedication to education and his love for music and singing. More
  • Rites of passage
    Seasons, traditions and rituals are important markers in our development as humans, but the lockdown means that - for some of our young people - the rhythms of life will skip a beat. More
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Throughout the lockdown period, ASCL’s engagement with civil servants at the DfE and with other stakeholders has continued. Tiffnie Harris provides an update on some of the key issues affecting the primary education sector.

Primary focus


On 14 April, we responded to the Statutory Consultation on Legislative Changes Relating to the Cancellation of the 2020 Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 Statutory Assessments Due to Coronavirus (www.ascl.org.uk/ConsKS1KS2Assess), and additionally supported the government decision to cancel phonics screening checks, Year 4 multiplication tables checks, science sampling tests and all statutory trialling between April and July 2020.

Late February, the DfE published the Reception Baseline Assessment Validity report (tinyurl.com/y9kx53k7). This supports the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) becoming statutory from September 2020. In summary, the report highlighted that, overall, reliability data is strong. As I write this, the decision to go ahead with the RBA from September 2020 is still in place, although under constant review.

Early Years

At the end of January, we responded to the government’s consultation (see www.ascl.org.uk/EYFSReforms), mostly in support of the proposed reforms to the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFS Profile) assessment process.

The publication of the government’s response to the consultation was expected in spring, however, this has been delayed as a result of Covid-19 and, as I write, the DfE is yet to publish its response. Early adoption of the reforms is still planned for September 2020, with a full statutory roll-out planned for 2021/22, but arrangements are still under review and this may change.

Free Early Years entitlement changes as a result of Covid-19

The government has temporarily extended eligibility criteria for the two year-old entitlement to free early education to include children assessed as being vulnerable and meeting the definition in Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 (www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1989/41/section/17), and who have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF).

Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE)

Prior to Covid-19 related school closures, Relationships Education for all primary aged pupils, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) for all secondary aged pupils, and Health Education for all pupils in state-funded schools, should have been compulsory from September 2020. However, discussions are currently taking place between ministers as to whether this will still go ahead in September or be delayed.

To support schools, the DfE has developed new advice and resources that, in normal circumstances, could have been used to start adapting a curriculum and engaging parents (see https://tinyurl.com/ycsmjmts and https://tinyurl.com/y5sp3ple). The DfE will continue to update its website with dates and material.

School closure challenges

The closure of schools to most pupils, not only created new challenges for leaders and teachers, but also for some parents faced with home-educating their children. I wrote about this in a blog (tinyurl.com/yaqjjs6k) for Parentkind. The government’s Hungry Little Minds campaign (hungrylittleminds. campaign.gov.uk/) has also been developed further for parents of children aged up to five years, with activities that support a child’s early learning and help set them up for school and beyond.

Alongside my colleagues, we also presented a webinar on curriculum planning (vimeo.com/407958246) during the school closure period.

Returning to school

Increasingly, questions have been asked regarding the return of pupils into school and indeed by the time you read this, some, if not all, pupils may be back at school.

Very few historical transition arrangements, particularly between pre-school into Reception and Year 6 into Year 7, have been salvageable, and in the absence of Key Stage 2 data and other related teacher assessments, the educational journey of a child is compromised; the widening of gaps, difficulty in setting classes and, ultimately, the need to tailor a curriculum while considering the needs of every child, are all emerging as key concerns.

Connecting schools to ease transition

This year’s removal of statutory testing including Key Stage 2 SATs and all teacher assessments is emerging as a growing concern between primary and secondary school leaders.

ASCL has collaborated with our Open Data Project partner askEddi to create an emergency solution to this lack of assessment information. The solution is a simple data sharing platform that allows primary teachers to record professional judgements on their Year 6 pupils that will be securely shared with their destination secondary school.

Working with Year 6 and Year 7 teachers, we have created a list of the minimum skills in English and mathematics required to help inform pupils’ transition. Once uploaded and shared, the information will support a professional conversation from one colleague to another in the best interests of each child.

Visit www.opendataproject.org.uk/sixintoseven for more information.

Tiffnie Harris
ASCL Primary Specialist