KCSP E-Bulletin: 22 November 2021, Updates and related information
- The DfE has published new statutory rules to drive down cost of school uniform for families. Schools will need to follow statutory guidance which requires them to make sure uniform is affordable for all. Find out more at this link.
- The DfE is running a free webinar on Tuesday 30th November from 16.00 – 17.00 on the updated situation with the Virtual School Head role extension and Designated Safeguarding Lead responsibility. The lead speakers will be Patrick Ward (Chair of the National Association of Headteachers (NAVSH)) who is the Virtual School Head for Lewisham, and a DSL from that area. You can register for the session here.
Mental health and wellbeing support and charter:
- This week, the DfE launched a new support scheme for school leaders to improve and promote good mental health and wellbeing. The scheme, delivered by Education Support, will provide one-to-one counselling and peer support from experts to around 2,000 school leaders, helping those at deputy head level and above in state-funded schools in England, with their mental wellbeing. School leaders can access support by visiting Education Support's website.
- An updated Education Staff Wellbeing Charter has also been launched this week, which sets out commitments from the government, Ofsted, and schools and colleges, to promote and protect the mental health of the education workforce. ASCL was involved in the development of this charter. It includes pledges from the DfE to work with the sectors to drive down unnecessary workload, improve access to wellbeing resources, and champion flexible working, among a range of actions to support staff wellbeing. State-funded schools and colleges are encouraged to sign up to the charter to create a united approach to supporting staff.
- In addition, last week, key voices in education and teachers working flexibly came together to discuss the importance of flexible working on teacher recruitment and retention, at a DfE webinar. You can watch a recording of the webinar here.
Extended eligibility for Academic Mentors:
- The DfE is extending the eligibility criteria for schools to apply for an Academic Mentor through the National Tutoring Programme. The programme now welcomes applications from schools whose pupil premium percentage is over 30%, regardless of where the school is located.
- Previously, the eligibility criteria for a school to qualify for an Academic Mentor included:
- schools who employed an Academic Mentor in academic year 2020/21
- schools in one of the 118 listed local authority districts and Opportunity Areas
- The criteria remains the same but now with the inclusion of all schools with over 30% of pupil premium able to apply for an Academic Mentor.
- To sign up for the Academic Mentor Programme, please visit the NTP website.
Defunding of BTECs – important update:
- Secondary colleagues may have seen last week, that the government announced that the defunding of BTECs and other AGQs is to be pushed back a year. The government says that this is in order to allow for a more evidence-based approach to be adopted for T level implementation.
- It also announced that the exit requirement in T levels is to be relaxed (i.e. that students must have passed Level 2 English and maths). Further announcements with more details will be released by the DfE in the coming days.
Last week, HMCI Amanda Spielman gave a speech at the 2021 Schools & Academies Show, where she discussed Ofsted's work and the impact of COVID on schools. You can read what she said here.
The FFT has published two new interesting blogs on primary and secondary persistent absence:
- How many secondary school pupils have been persistently absent so far this year?
- How many primary school pupils have been persistently absent so far this year?
ASCL - Exam contingency FAQs:
Following Monday’s webinar on 2022 exam contingency plans, ASCL has been working through the questions that came in live and by email afterwards, of which there have been many! There are a large number of questions that cannot be answered yet, as greater clarification from Ofqual or the DfE is needed and being sought. ASCL is collating all the questions and putting them to Ofqual and the DfE and hope to be able to offer comprehensive answers this coming week. In the meantime, some immediate points to confirm:
- There is no need to do another mock series/TAG assessment this term if you have already done one, even if it didn’t meet all the criteria in the guidance. School and college leaders should use their professional judgement to determine whether evidence collated this term is robust enough to inform a TAG if required. To help with this, ASCL has created a checklist template, which can be used to easily see the quality of the evidence produced: this is designed to be helpful and used flexibly, not to create additional workload for senior or middle leaders.
- The three assessment points are a suggestion only: the rationale being to ‘bank’ some high-quality evidence this side of Christmas; but also to allow students the opportunity to demonstrate their performance in an assessment nearer the exams when they will have learned more and done revision. How schools do this is up to them.
- Schools can give indicative grades to students based on these assessments, but must be very clear it is not a TAG. To convert raw assessment marks to an indicative grade, the 2019 published grading should be used.
- ASCL is seeking clarity on whether it is acceptable to retain evidence electronically. For the time being, it is suggested retaining paper copies.
- The assessments should, as much as possible, work within schools’ current assessment arrangements.
- The government is absolutely committed to exams going ahead if at all possible, and so this evidence gathering should be proportionate. The focus should be on teaching the curriculum, preparing students for the summer exam series, and collecting high-quality evidence along the way.
Great School Libraries:
The Great School Libraries website has links to a number of useful case studies looking at topics such as ‘reading for pleasure’ and ‘supporting disadvantaged readers’ that may be of interest to literacy leads and school librarians.