Ofsted seen as toxic and schools should self-evaluate, says inquiry
'Ofsted seen as toxic and schools should self-evaluate', says inquiry. The Beyond Ofsted inquiry, chaired by former Schools Minister Lord Knight and funded by the National Education Union, called for a "transformational" alteration to school inspections. Read more.
The report can be accessed here.
PhD Survey on Artificial Intelligence (AI) education in primary schools
Take part in a PhD Survey on Artificial Intelligence (AI) education in primary schools .
There has been a request by a PhD student from the Netherlands who wishes to gauge 'attitudes, preparedness and concerns of teachers' regarding AI in the United Kingdom. Details below.
We invite you to participate in a crucial study on the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) education in primary schools across the UK. This research is being conducted by Malini Nair, a journalist and doctoral student.
Your insights will contribute significantly to understanding attitudes, preparedness and concerns of teachers towards this initiative. The findings will not only form a part of a doctoral thesis but also guide UK policy writers in designing an appropriate strategy, policy, and curriculum for young children.
The survey, should take approximately 10–11 minutes of your time. All responses will be kept strictly confidential.
In addition to the survey, we are also conducting in-depth interviews spanning 30–45 minutes for qualitative data collection. If you are interested, please fill-out your full name, email address, or phone number in the survey so we can contact you. This is a unique opportunity to share your thoughts and experiences, influencing the future of AI education in the UK.
Here is the link to the survey https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ZTVQK8H
Thank you in advance for your valuable contribution to this important research.
Malini Nair Journalist and Doctoral Student
A LESSON IN KINDNESS: EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INSPIRED BY THE BOY, THE MOLE, THE FOX AND THE HORSE RELEASED TODAY
A LESSON IN KINDNESS:
EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INSPIRED BY THE BOY, THE MOLE, THE FOX AND THE HORSE RELEASED TODAY
National Curriculum English KS2: Romeo and Juliet
BBC's animation of Romeo & Juliet by Shakespeare - This adaptation of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is in nine short video animations.
'The adaptation is intended to be broadly suitable for upper KS2 - that is, pupils aged 9 years old and above. However, be aware that the content deals with a number of sensitive issues including deaths during street fighting and suicide. Teachers should ensure they have watched any content they intend to share with their group in order to assess its suitability.
There is a comprehensive set of Romeo and Juliet KS2 Teacher Notes to accompany the adaptations. The other additional resources include:
a transcript for each episode - which can be found on the individual episode pages
a visual reminder of the characters, their names and family groupings
a sequencing activity to help pupils recall the order of events in the play'.
Is the DfE acting like ‘Big Brother’
Is the DfE acting like ‘Big Brother’ in monitoring school staff emails and education speakers’ posts? Of course, we all know it is a phrase taken from George Orwell’s famous book ‘1984’. In the book he describes a fictious, totalitarian state which wields total power with ‘every citizen under constant surveillance’. The Guardian, within the space of the last two weeks, has reported that:
‘…the Department for Education is monitoring the social media activity of some of the country’s leading education experts. Now evidence has emerged that the monitoring is much more widespread, covering even the lowest paid members of staff’.
This is a disturbing trend which in a democratic society, should not be ignored. Or are we? The difference between the two is this:
‘Democracy is a form of government in which all the citizens have an equal say in matters concerning their lives. On the other hand, totalitarianism is a political system wherein a single person bestowed with all powers recognizes no limit to his powers’ (Differencebetween.com).
Is that where the DfE is heading?
National Professional Qualification for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (NPQ for SENCOs) 2023
It has been announced that there is a National Professional Qualification for SENCOs - a leadership level qualification, primarily for SENCOs, school leaders or aspiring SENCOs (to be available from Autumn 2024). It will have major implications of training for SENCOs in the future.
Opportunity for pupils to investigate their classroom air quality
Opportunity for pupils to investigate their classroom air quality!
We’re delighted to introduce you to the SAMHE project and invite UK schools to register. Schools receive a FREE indoor air quality monitor linked to an interactive Web App where teachers and pupils can view the data in a range of formats and use it in curriculum-linked activities and experiments. SAMHE (pronounced ‘Sammy’!) stands for Schools’ Air quality Monitoring for Health and Education. It is an DfE supported research project which brings together scientists, pupils and teachers to help us understand indoor air quality in UK schools. Teachers and pupils helped develop SAMHE to ensure it meets schools’ needs and is fun and engaging for pupils. Teachers say that it’s “powerful to see the live feed”, has "provided our science group with a wealth of data to interrogate and analyse" and the “range of options allows us to use this system across the STEM subjects”
Primary Teacher Solutions
Primary Teacher Solutions. This timely book offers a raw critique of the current educational issues and debates, alongside ‘teacher hacks’ to provide teachers, trainee teachers and educators with a plethora of stimulating material to ignite curiosity, maintain passion and culture creativity in the classroom. Robert Morgan, one of the authors, is editor of Primary First on NAPE National's Executive committee.Click here for more details.
PhD Research Survey_Improving the retention of teachers with young children in the school workforce
PhD Research Survey_Improving the retention of teachers with young children in the school workforce
(Last day for the survey is the 31st July)
Madelaine Best is currently undertaking research at the University of Reading's Institute of Education, under the supervision of Dr Karen Jones and Professor Grace James. The aim of the research is to improve the retention of teachers with young children in the school workforce. Women aged between 30 and 39 account for 27% of leavers from the teaching profession and are the second biggest group of leavers after retirees (Simons et al, 2016).
Although research has explored the challenges facing teacher-mothers, to date little attention has been given to what works and what more needs to be done in terms of work-family policy to support teacher-mothers. Madelaine's research seeks to address this gap. The study began this year with individual interviews with teacher-mothers. Findings from this stage have been used to design a large-scale online survey. Madelaine is now looking for teacher- mothers with pre-school age children to complete the survey, which will take no lomnger than 15 minutes to complete and can be found at this link (below).
Madelaine will also be interviewing headteachers, as key stakeholders, to explore topics such as flexible-working within the school sector, work-family policies, including what works well and what works less well, for whom and why. It is hoped that these discussions, which will be anonymised and confidential, will be beneficial to headteachers who take part, as well as generating fresh ideas to support policy development at school level, and data to inform the recommendations of this study If you are a Headteacher and you would like to take part in these discussions, please contact Madelaine Best on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Creativity_Has Labour missed a trick?
The Guardian reported that at a recent panel on arts education, the shadow arts minister, Barbara Keeley, condemned the government for, 'stifling children's creativity and damaging the talent pipeline' . Barbara stated that this was a 'result of tightened budgets, teacher shortages and the decreasing importance of arts and culture subjects through school accountability measures'.
What primary schools should be saying to all political parties is, have you really thought this through? Where does creativity get kindled? That spark may start at home but it is primary schools that have famously fired children's imagination. But of course, that has been severely curtailed by short-term, political ambitions under the headline of 'standards'. So Barbara, we in the primary sector would be really grateful if you shifted your focus on what primary schools can do, despite everything.
Let’s teach children about slavery properly by connecting it to our present by Lola Okolosie
Lola Okolosie has written a well-written, thought-provoking article in the Guardian about updating our curriculum and indeed our attitudes. The last paragraph says it all.
For educators in England, the lesson is clear. It is not enough to simply give our pupils knowledge of this history. There is work, too, in helping them draw the links between the past and how it has shaped the world we know. In doing so, we might be able to accept the truth: that it is a shared history with which all of us must reckon.
SATS Reading Paper too difficult and wrong
NAPE has always been opposed to this form of assessment of children. The latest controversey over the 2023 Reading SATS underlines how unfair and deeply hurtful it is to children and parents. The latest Times Educational article in analysing this 'test' makes grim reading.
Do you want to read more about 'high stakes testing?' There is a free downloadable pdf called; 'Beyond the exam factory: alternatives to high stakes testing' on our publications page. This pdf came from the 'More than a Score' organisation, deeply opposed to SATS.
Wild flower seeds for all classes
Wildflowers seeds are being sent to every primary school, sufficient for all classes, in honour of the Coronation, according to the Gov.UK webpage.
Edd Moore, our sustainability and environment national council officer, said that; 'More than 200,000 packets of wildflower seeds are to be sent to primary schools across the UK to mark the King's Coronation. Planting the seeds will be an opportunity for children to engage with the natural world and learn more about the importance of biodiversity, as well as being a way for them to celebrate a historic national moment. If planted together around 40 rugby pitch sized wildflower meadows would be created. The packets of seeds include native annual wildflower species, like cornflower, corn poppy and corn chamomile. The wildflowers will provide food for a wide range of insects including bees, butterflies and other pollinators in school grounds across England. Seeds will be distributed to schools in the coming weeks. The Eden Project has made accompanying resources available https://lnkd.in/ePNn8Zd4
SCHOOL FUNDING AND PUPIL PREMIUM 2023 research
SCHOOL FUNDING AND PUPIL PREMIUM 2023 research
The Sutton Trust have recently commissioned the NfER to conduct research* on the impact of the cost of living crisis on School spending. The research survey of 1,428 teachers drew a dismal picture of school cuts on what the Sutton Trust describes as 'essential staff and activities'. 63% of senior staff confirmed that the number of teaching assistants was being reduced. 41% were using the School Premium budget to plug gaps in the budget. Significantly 71% of the senior staff stated that they had difficulties in recruiting teachers.
*as part of their Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey
Ofsted_The clock is ticking?
There have been rumblings about how Ofsted conducts itself for many years and it is the death of a headteacher* which has ignited school's anger against Ofsted. Ofsted inspections have now become a national issue. NASUWT has approved the motion that Ofsted should be abolished and NEU members have delivered a 'Replace Ofsted' petition to the Department for Education.
The NASUWT motion stated that it, '... acknowledged that the, "perceived demands of Ofsted are the major contributor to the excessive workload and bureaucracy that blights the lives of teachers".
Even the 'National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has indicated it could take legal action against Ofsted following its failure to pause inspections after Ms Perry's death'.
Ofsted insists that it, and I quote, 'provides independent, up to date evaluations on the quality of education, safeguarding, and leadership which parents greatly rely on to give them confidence in choosing the right school for their child.'
But we all know that one grade descriptor** based on the judgement of a team of inspectors 'parachuted-in' for a brief period of time have absolutely no chance of capturing all that a school does well but may need help in other areas in developing (which Ofsted does not do). That one grade can spell disaster for a school. Last week, school leader Dr Martin Hanbury quit his role as an Ofsted inspector, telling the BBC he felt his role could cause “more harm than good”. He described the one-word grading system as “totally unfit for purpose”.
Ofsted, the clock is ticking.
*Ruth Perry, who took her own life ahead of a report downgrading her school from "outstanding" to "inadequate".
** Ofsted grade descriptors for overall effectiveness · Outstanding (1): · Good (2): · Requires Improvement (3): · Unsatisfactory (4)
Teacher and Leader Workload DfE Undisclosed Report
As teachers and leaders collapse at home for the Easter holidays, a leaked report hi-lights 'unacceptable hours' for school leaders. Indeed, the commentary by the publication, 'School Week' reveals that despite the government initiative of 2020 to reduce workload in schools, the teachers have only gained just one hour a week less compared to 2019.
The issues of a crowded curriculum and over-assessment are discussed at NAPE's National Summit videos. If you have not subscribed to this year's Summit you are missing a treat. The videos include experts in their field of primary education and what the possible future should hold for primary schools. Start watching the Forum which features Sir Timothy Brighouse, Schools Commissioner for London between 2002-2007. Professor Andrew Pollard, Emeritus Professor, University College, London and Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, Headteacher, Anderton Park Primary School. TES person of the year 2019 . The live Assessment panel video is also well-worth a listen and includes speakers; Professor Dame Alice Peacock, CEO of Teacher's Chartered College, Professor Dominic Wise, Professor of Early Childhood and Primary Education, UCL and Flora Cooper, executive headteacher of John Rankin School.
Is Ofsted undermining education rather than raising standards?
There is an interesting article about Ofsted by the Tribune* whatever your political leanings, it makes some useful arguments about why Ofsted should not continue in its present form. It calls for a replacement of Ofsted; '...we favour local systems of collaboration—it should be one which teachers are supported to be their best, one in which our professionalism is respected and valued'.
*Tribune is Britain's oldest democratic socialist publication, offering left wing perspectives on politics, economics, and culture.
England tutor scheme closing tuition gap between rich and poor, data shows
State-funded schools received NTP funding over the course of the 2022 to 2023 academic year to deliver tuition to their pupils. This funding is paid in termly instalments via local authorities and academy trusts.The subsidised 'tutor scheme' found a number of school had some difficulty recruiting suitable tutors. That subsidy supposedly comes to an end at the end of the academic year
However the Guardian reports that, the 'Sutton Trust calls on government not to cut post-Covid funding as figures show 37% of children in poor homes had tutoring' . As the Sutton Trust research reveals; ' the government’s national tutoring programme (NTP), which targeted extra help for disadvantaged pupils through their schools, has almost eradicated the gap in access to tuition enjoyed by wealthier families'.
Ofsted Grades - Out of Date?
The TES article makes interesting reading.
As families across the country are informed which school their child is going to, some new research casts doubt on the Ofsted grade accuracy of Secondary Schools ('Not particularly Useful') in predicting future performance of their child.
BERA Report. 'High standards not high stakes'.
BERA’s Expert Panel on Assessment argues that school league tables and SATs should be abolished in favour of a new, fairer and more sustainable accountability system. So BERA has produced a report titled 'An alternative to SATs that will transform England’s testing & school accountability system in primary education & beyond'.
BERA - British Educational Research Association
Children taught well in reception ‘likely to earn more than peers’ in future
This appears to be headline news and would seem quite obvious to the profession! However, Wendy, our council member, warns about the over-formalisation of education at this stage of a child's education.
In the article, James Bowen, director of policy for school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “As this report shows, the early years of a child’s education are crucial to setting children up for the best success, both in terms of their future academic attainment and their life chances.“While we should not be trying to ‘hothouse’ young children, it is clear that great teachers in reception classes make a real difference. “However, we also need to recognise that the years before a child enters reception are just as important, and the challenges some children face start well before they arrive at school.”
Maths and Rishi Sunak
In a Guardian article headed 'The cult of maths has brainwashed our schools – and Rishi Sunak has fallen for it too' Simon Jenkins fiercely defended the need for schools to have a balanced curriculum. 'The arts, sport, acquisition of complex life skills: all must be sacrificed on the altar of the easily measurable'. As my blog states, the government seem to be treading a path away from a balanced curriculum promised so many years ago - through the dreaded and dreadful national curriculum which actually provided the means to test children through the backdoor !
Free preschool childcare for all would boost UK growth, report finds
The Guardian publishes a report which the government needs to be made aware. As educationalists we already knew that this was going to be the only conclusion !
Increasing numbers of primary-age pupils are missing targets. Nurseries as well as schools need resources to catch up
Lack of a post-covid financial recovery package for schools has impacted 'standards'. The Guardian has published an editorial on the lack of sufficient support for children, post-covid.
'...it is concerning that the latest research on the pandemic’s effects shows that the number of very low attainers in reading, in the third year of schooling, has more than tripled. In a sample of 6,000 pupils from 81 schools, the proportion who fell below expected levels rose from 2.6% to 9.1% between 2017 and this year.'
Hungry children miss out on free meals – and struggling schools cannot help
Hungry children miss out on free meals - Richard Adams, Education editor wrote in the Guardian about this forgotten cohort of children who desperately need a meal at lunchtime.
Report_1.7 million children behind with talking and understanding words
A report says that 1.7 million children are behind with talking and understanding words. This report has been generated by a charity called 'Speech and Language UK'. The organisation's mission is achieved through creating tools for schools and nurseries, giving advice and guidance to families and putting pressure on politicians.
The BBC article says this is probably due to the pandemic lockdown and states that 'The number of five and six year olds who need speech and language support at school has risen by 10% in England over the past year, BBC analysis shows'.
School Readiness Survey by YouGov
At NAPE we have a view when children should start school. You may wish to read our position paper, called 'School Starting Age' (20).
A request has been made to complete a questionnaire about School readiness, as explained below.
If you are a primary leader, EYFS lead, reception teacher or teaching assistant we need your help. Educators know how critical the early years are as the foundation for later achievement and yet research suggests more children are arriving at Reception not school ready. Children who have not met the developmental milestones expected by school are much more likely to struggle throughout education and beyond. The development gap we see at the start of Reception grows steadily over time and the bigger it gets, the harder it is to close. Kindred2 have commissioned YouGov to conduct a major survey into school readiness. If you have experience/knowledge of this year's Reception cohort, please share your experience of school readiness in this 5 minute survey. Participants can choose to be entered into a prize draw for £200 to spend in their school/setting. Thanks for your help.
Devon head teacher brings in mother to help cash-strapped school
The BBC reports inn an article that a Devon head teacher brings in mother to help cash-strapped school.
Staff are leaving to go work in supermarkets for better paid jobs which means that t's really hard to recruit.
"And in particular at the moment getting cleaners and lunchtime staff is really tricky because the pay is low.
"So I had to ask my mum to come and volunteer as a lunchtime assistant.
DfE scrambles to save key policies as schools bill set for axe
Schools Week understands ministers hope to enact some of what they see as the most important elements of the bill in the next Parliamentary session, which begins next May.
This could include some of the academy regulation and intervention powers proposed, along with the establishment of a register of children not in education and greater powers to tackle illegal schools.
The Dream Machine
This year, @Drea_m_achine tapped into school children's imaginations with Life's Big Questions. It encouraged them to delve deep inside their minds, evoking a sense of discovery and curiosity about others.
5 questions to explore how your brain and your senses work together to help you understand the world
Apply for a Churchill Fellowship in a range of topical themes, including education in schools.
Churchill Fellows are funded to spend up to two months meeting the leading practitioners and innovators in their field, anywhere in the world, in person or online. Then we help them to use those insights to inspire change in their sector or community across the UK.
Fellowships are open to all adult UK citizens regardless of their qualifications, background or age. We prioritise those who would not receive funding from any other source, and we welcome those with lived experience of the issue they wish to address. Fellows form a national network of 3,800 changemakers working in every area of UK life.
Applications can be made via our website until 5pm on 22 November. Find out More Apply here
A quarter of childcare providers fear permanent closure within the year, new Alliance survey reveals
A quarter of childcare providers fear permanent closure within the year, a survey by Early Years Alliance reveals. The reason given is historic underfunding and a lack of adequate government support during the coronavirus crisis.
BBC Childcare podcast
The recent BBC Childcare podcast is well worth listening to as it covers all aspects of why we need to provide better training and pay for early years practitioners. It makes economic sense!
I have listed the breakdown, in subject areas, of this excellent podcast, below. Wendy Scott, our Early Years representative on the NAPE Council very much liked the programme on the BBC Sounds streaming podcasts website. However, Wendy was sorry that the 'Sure Start' programme ('which drew on social services and health services') did not get mentioned. 'I would argue that this would make a critical contribution to the government’s levelling up agenda'.
SATS KS2 results affected by Covid
This will of no surprise to Primary Schools up and down the country as they have been monitoring standards all across the year.
Also the Guardian - SATs suggest Covid disruption affecting primary school attainment in England
Cutting Summer holidays in Wales?
The BBC News article (1/7/2022) headlines that Welsh schools could have their summer holiday cut by four weeks. A market research company's report, commissioned by the Welsh government, made three suggestions:
- A five-week summer break with three school terms of about 13 weeks, with a one-week break halfway and three weeks at Christmas
- A four-week summer break with five school terms of about seven or eight weeks. Three weeks holiday at Christmas and two weeks between the other terms
- A three-week summer break with terms lasting about six or seven weeks with fortnightly breaks in between
There has been concern that disadvantaged pupils in particular lose progress over the long summer break.
Oxfordshire NAPE's Festival of Voices 2022
Oxfordshire NAPE's Festival of Voices 2022 is an event that over 40 primary schools have sung at the beautiful Abbey at Dorchester-on-Thames this month. Oxfordshire NAPE organised this music festival on 7 occasions, over six days in June. This meant that children could benefit from the experience of singing together as one massed choir accompanied by a small group of musicians. For instance, on Monday 20th June, seven schools sang together! The Oxfordshire branch should be congratulated in managing to bring schools together over 36 years, this is quite a feat! I am sure that parents, grandparents and children over those years are most grateful for the hard work that has been put in by the NAPE Committee for this to occur. If you watch the video about the FOV (2019) you will find out that a participating singer who then trained to be a teacher still brings her school to FOV! I thoroughly enjoyed it!
This is a past photograph.
The new version of 'Keeping Children Safe in Education' (KCSIE) has been released and comes into effect in September 2022
Keeping Children Safe in Education changes (Sept.2022). The Times Educational Supplement has alerted schools to ten changes to KCSIE for September.
OFSTED piling on the pressure on ITT Institutions
Has OFSTED got it wrong? Well after the trouble OFSTED are in for insisting that future teacher-training should ONLY include synthetic phonics for the teaching of reading, OFSTED is now being critised for ITT accreditation.
This article says it all.
The Queens Platinum Jubilee book for children
The Queen's Platinum Jubillee celebration book for all children is arriving in primary schools in mid-May. 'Children in state-funded primary schools across the United Kingdom will, from mid-May, begin to receive a free commemorative book to mark Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee'. More details in the DfE link above.
Bigger classes? Yes, but pupils have got bigger too, say UK teachers
Bigger classes? Yes, but pupils have got bigger too, say UK teachers. The article reflects delegates' views at the annual onference of the NASUWT teachers’ union that classes and the size of class furniture is not 'fit' for purpose.
Ukraine children starting school in the UK
Ukraine children starting school in the UK. Has your school started taking children from Ukraine? This article caught my attention about a mother's perspective of starting her children in an Oxfordshire primary school. How did the children get received? What support had to be put in place. Well, there are few ideas here.
Government failed to get a grip on the issues facing teachers
In an article in the Guardian, Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the NEU, said successive education secretaries had “failed to get a grip on the issues facing teachers”.
Issues relating to:
> High workload for teachers
> The pernicious effects of a punitive and deeply flawed inspection system
> The effect of real-terms cuts to pay over many years
Is it ministers who require improvement?
It is the ministers who do require improvement according to the Guardian. This is a hard-hitting, well researched and so supported article about long-term absence, covid and life-chances.
Focus on phonics to teach reading is ‘failing children’, says landmark study
Focus on phonics to teach reading is ‘failing children’, says landmark study - Today the Guardian has published an article on what they call a 'A landmark study'. The article goes on to say that the research has described the way primary school pupils are taught to read in England as “uninformed and failing children”. The researchers, is calling on the government to drop its narrow focus on phonics. 'The UCL researchers are among 250 signatories to a letter which has been sent to education secretary Nadhim Zahawi, calling on the government to allow for a wider range of approaches to teaching reading, which would allow teachers to use their own judgment about which is best for their pupils'.