Weekly education news: what will the new social mobility action plan mean for schools?


Welcome to our last weekly update of 2017! This is what's been happening...


Teachers believe in the positive impact of parents

Our teacher survey showed that 98% of teachers believe involving parents has a positive impact on outcomes for children, though many don't know who is responsible for parental engagement in their school. The research suggests that schools can do more to harness the proven benefits of parental engagement. The majority of teachers felt that the biggest benefit of involving parents is "building trust and improving relationships between parents and teachers". See the full report.

Social mobility action plan launches

Education Secretary Justine Greening has launched the government's social mobility action plan, which is called "Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential". Parental engagement is connected to early years, concerning how government can "help parents to shape the right environment at home". The ideas have been generally welcomed by those working in education. Some key proposals that will impact schools are:

  • Future Talent Fund - £23 million from existing budget to trial teaching bright children
  • Support for coasting schools - assistance rather than leadership change
  • Nursery provision for disadvantaged children - £50 million funding
  • Teaching schools - new ones to open in areas where it's challenging to attract and retain teachers
  • Pupil reviews - better understanding of school exclusions and "children in need".
  • New free school wave - ‘challenging areas’ targeted for expansion

See the full document.

New guidance on sexual violence and harassment between children in schools

The government has published Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges, which is advice aimed principally at school leaders. It encourages staff to be aware of incidents online and in school. It provides safeguarding ideas and sets out the legal duties that schools have in this area.  See the full document.

Ofsted releases annual report

The schools inspectorate published their findings this week, based on examinations of thousands of schools across the country. It's the first under new Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman. One of the findings was that 65 schools judged 'inadequate' seventeen months ago haven't been allocated an academy trust sponsor, despite a legal requirement for this to happen. However, 94% of early years providers are now rated "good" or "outstanding" and there is evidence the overall quality of education is improving. Spielman is also proving a popular leader, with a staff survey showing approval ratings rising dramatically since she took over.


Kirsty Williams speaks at the Curriculum for Wales conference

In her speech that was broadcast via Twitter yesterday (see @WG_Education), the Cabinet Secretary for Education set out how she has shared the concerns of parents and teachers regarding large class sizes. While talking about the shared priorities that were established at the beginning of her term of office she said, “I have listened to parents, teachers and international evidence,” and has invested in reducing class sizes. Her speech was part of the Curriculum for Wales: Turning the Corner conference.

Pupil Development Grant "invaluable"

Independent research by Ipsos Mori and the Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD) has shown that schools value the Pupil Development Grant (PDG), which is helping them to tackle disadvantage. Whole-school strategies are improving areas including family engagement. "This report is further evidence that our £93 million PDG is delivering real progress in addressing this injustice and supporting pupils to reach their full potential," Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has said.

AMs back new Additional Learning Needs and Educational Tribunal Bill law

Welsh government has approved a new law on how children with additional learning needs are treated in education. It aims at improving the exam results of disadvantaged children by providing tailored support to the learning needs of each individual. The new bill extends rights to parents to appeal against decisions made by schools about a child's learning needs.

Northern Ireland

Exam performance improving

More young people achieved five GCSEs between grades A* to C, and more pupils achieved three or more A*-C A-levels in 2017 in comparison to last year. The statistics have been released by the Department of Education.

Teens more likely to go into higher education compared to peers in Britain

Figures from UCAS’s End of Cycle 2017 show pupils in Northern Ireland are more likely to go into higher education than their peers in England, Wales and Scotland. London and the South East show the highest percentage overall, but the entry rate into higher education in NI stands at 34.5%.

Highest number of pupils in primary schools in 18 years

Figures from the Department of Education's school enrolments census reveal there are now more than 173,000 youngsters in primary education, which is an increase of 2,000 on last year, with a further 140,550 in post-primary. A total of around 344,000 pupils currently attend primary and post-primary schools.















Northern Ireland






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