Wednesday, 20 June 2012

School prospectus is ditched but requirement to publish more online

As part of the Government's commitment to free all schools from unnecessary bureaucracy, it has also been agreed to remove the duty on schools to produce an annual school prospectus or to have a curriculum policy, to avoid duplication of effort, and unnecessary cost.

With the increased freedoms afforded schools, however, there has to be increased transparency and accountability to ensure parents continue to receive the information they need to make the best decisions and choices about their children’s education and for communities to hold schools to account. As such, rather than publishing a School Profile, curriculum policy or annual prospectus, it is the Government's intention to introduce new regulatory requirements for schools to publish key information online. This will include information:

About their admissions and special educational needs policies

Details about the school’s curriculum by year and by subject

Information about the impact of the Pupil Premium (school-wide)

Reading schemes.

For those parents who cannot access the internet or who find hard copies of materials more accessible, the regulations will require schools to provide a hard copy where parents request it - this can be simply met by printing a hard copy of the online information. Subject to the secondary legislation being passed, this new requirement will take effect from the beginning of the 2012/13 academic year i.e. September 2012

Monday, 18 June 2012

School Teachers’ Appraisal Regulations 2012 (England)

The Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012 (the Appraisal Regulations) which replace the Education Regulations 2006 come into force on 1st Septemebr 2012.

Schools must have an appraisal policy for teachers and a policy, covering all staff, which deals with lack of capability. This model policy applies only to teachers, including headteachers, but schools might wish to adapt it for use with all staff.

It is good practice for schools to consult staff on their appraisal and capability policies. The DfE model policy has been provided as an optional resource for schools and others to which they can refer as they wish as they review and develop their own policies.

Download DfE Model Policy

The Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012

Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Ofsted Cut and Paste Inspections

Education standards watchdog Ofsted is facing allegations of conducting "cut and paste" inspections after identical sentences and phrases were used in two reports on failing schools.

Both schools – Belvedere Junior in Bexley, south-east London, and Malmesbury Primary in Tower Hamlets, east London – were visited by David Shepherd, the same lead inspector.

In both cases, the report said: "Some teachers do not plan learning for pupils at their different levels of ability and marking is not leading to improvement."

This is just one of a number of sentences that were repeated verbatim or included with just one or two words that were different, the Times Educational Supplement disclosed.

In another section of the reports, each submission stated "the majority of parents and carers are positive about how well the school develops their children's skills in reading writing and mathematics" while stating the inspectors disagreed with them.

If you receive an unfavourable Ofsted report it might be worth checking on the report wording of your your lead inspector on Ofsted's website to see whether the words used have been lifted from another report.




Saturday, 16 June 2012

Fischer Family Trust (FFT) for Key Stage 1

Schools and academies with KS1 pupils are now able to access end of KS1 estimates from the Fischer Family Trust (FFT), based on EYFSP outcomes, for their Year 1 and 2 pupils, in the "Development" area of the FFTLive website. 

Analyses providing estimates for Key Stage 1 (KS1) attainment using Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) data were piloted in 2010 and, following positive feedback, made available to all schools and LAs in July 2011.

The pilot examined the relationship between EYFSP and KS1 outcomes. The following charts show the average KS1 level achieved for two combinations:

EYFSP Communications, Language and Literacy (CLL) -> KS1 Reading Level

EYFSP Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy (MAT) -> KS1 Mathematics Level

There is a consistent relationship between EYFSP scores and their ‘equivalent’ at KS1. Please note that by using the term ‘equivalent’ we are not implying that the EYFSP and KS1 outcomes are assessing the same set learning competencies and skills – merely that there is a consistent relationship between EYFSP assessments and KS1 attainment levels.

If we look, for example, at the range of outcomes in KS1 mathematics for pupils with MAT_AOL scores between 18 and 22, we find:

 Mean KS1 Mathematics Level is 2.62 (i.e. slightly above level 2B)

13% of pupils attained level 3

4% of pupils attained level 1

This reminds us that overall (estimated) levels can mask the range of outcomes for pupils with similar prior-attainment score.

A statistical method for looking at the strength of the relationship between inputs (EYFSP prior attainment) and outcomes (KS1attainment) is called correlation. In broad terms, a correlation of 0 (zero) implies that there is no relationship and a correlation of 1 implies that there is a ‘perfect’ relationship i.e. the same input always results in the same output. In most education research, a correlation of 0.7 or higher is taken to mean that the relationship is sufficiently strong for further analysis. Correlations of 0.8 or above are considered to be high.

Overall, the FFT investigations showed that:

the relationship between EYFSP assessments and KS1 outcomes were sufficiently good to warrant the development of models for analysis of value-added and calculation of estimates;

simplistic models, such as those using a single EYFSP overall or individual element provided lower levels of accuracy and were not felt to be sufficiently reliable

More information from

Friday, 15 June 2012

Fischer Family Trust (FFT)

This charitable organisation produces valuable information which benchmarks standards and progress measures for school. Details on these reports are available at:

FFT provide a number of values called Type A, Type B and Type D to help schools estimate what
their students might achieve.

These are based on considering what students have attained in past examinations.

• Type A: based on prior attainment (including marks where available, subject differences and teacher
assessments), gender and month of birth

• Type B: as Type A, but adjusted for the school’s context including FSM and geodemographic factors

• Type D: as Type B, but adjusted for the progress  made by students in schools at the 25th
percentile for value added (i.e. the top quarter of schools with similar contexts)

The FFT ‘D’ value is often suggested as the starting pointfor setting targets as it provides a
level of challenge and aspiration based on the schools context.

However, for some schools in challenging contexts, the FFT ‘D’ value may not be sufficient to
raise the school above the expected national thresholds and the context may act as a limiting
factor to the target set.

FFT Live is available at . To see how FFT Live can help your school, login for free with the username 9994002X (Secondary) or 9992004X(Primary). The password for both accounts is ANON.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The school improvement cycle and target setting

1. How well are we doing? 

Involves assembling and analysing evidence of:

• pupil performance  and 

• contributory factors -most notably teaching, leadership and management

2. How much better should we aim to achieve and how do we compare with similar schools?

Information on pupil performance in other similar schools, particularly those schools
achieving the best results

3. What must we change to achieve this?

This is where schools determine their priorities for the year ahead and set themselves realistic and challenging targets for improvement. It is important for schools to involve all staff in the
target-setting process. It helps them to own the targets and to accept responsibility for achieving them.

4. Planning for improvement and what actions will we take?

The closer development plans get to the work of children in classrooms, the greater the
impact on achievement.

Implementation and review - Taking action and reviewing progress

If pupil achievement is to rise, implementation of the plan needs to influence classroom practice and improve the quality of teaching and learning.

it is vital that schools: monitor the action being taken against their plans and evaluate the impact of that action on pupil progress and achievement

National comparative data is  available through RAISEonline and Fischer Family Trust (FFT)
which provide details of the range of outcomes pupils have achieved so far given their various starting points and circumstances.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Making Sense of School Performance Data

School Governors need to be satisfied that their schools are reaching high enough standards and exceeding national thresholds and that this demonstrates at least satisfactory and preferably better progress for all groups of pupils, given their starting points when they joined school.

Data alone is simply not enough to make the judgement but needs to be balanced by an understanding of the wider issues facing the school. In addition, an understanding of the quality of the school’s provision including teaching and learning, the curriculum and care support and guidance.

Pupil performance information needs to be considered:

• in relation to the context of the school

• in the context of the national demands placed on schools

For example, the current national expectations are that:

• pupils should demonstrate good progress but also

• reach or exceed nationally defined thresholds, particularly in literacy and numeracy

This is to ensure pupils can access suitable employment, play an active part as citizens and crucially enjoy life to the full, drawing on and engaging in all it can offer.

What is laid down, ordered, factual is never enough to embrace the whole truth: life spills over the rim of every cup. (Boris Pasternak 1890-1960)

In order to support and challenge effectively governors need to ask  three key questions:

1 What is the context of our school and how does this compare to other schools?

2 What do our pupils attain in each year group and in national tests?

3 What progress do our pupils make given their starting points?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

School Governors Guide to the Law (GTTL) Update

The long awaited update to the Governors’ Guide to the Law has finally been published by the Department for Education.

The Guide to the Law has been on a strict diet and shed a little weight and now fills 210 pages down from 254 pages. One of the major changes is to replace the word Headteacher with Head Teacher 272 times!

Much of the old guidance remains the same with a makeover and re-formatting in places but some sections have 
been significantly re-written. 

It should be remembered that as the title suggests this is a Guide to the Law and cannot change the law itself. Please check the original legalisation referenced at the end of each section if in doubt.

The major legislation since the last revision have been the Equality Act 2010, Academies Act 2010 and the Education Act 2011 and this is reflected in parts of the guide.

The guide reminds governors that full governing bodies can delegate most things, the significant exceptions being major changes to the way the school is organised;  the organisation and operation of, and delegation by, the governing body; and  appointing the Head Teacher and any deputies.

Here they seem to have made an omission by removing appointment of clerk from the list of things Governing bodies cannot delegate. However, since the School Governance Procedures of 2003 has not been revised this seems a mistake.

A few eye brows have also been raised with assertion that the Chair of Governors is responsible for CRB checks in Academies. Many governors are asking where that interpretation came from?

There is a brand new section dedicated to Academy conversion. It sets out the consultation progress, passing a resolution to convert and TUPE issues. This guidance relates to the Academies Act 2010.

Constitution of Governing bodies has not been updated significantly beyond changing the name of LEA Governors to Authority. It explains that the Constitution will change and come in to force in September 2012 as part of The Education Act 2011. They have slightly changed the wording relating to electing parents governors using the words reasonably practicable instead of not.  Equality duties now makes mention of the Equality Act of 2010. 

Monday, 11 June 2012

Sharing Best Practice: Manchester Decision Planner

The formatting did not display well on the blog so I removed it.  You can download the
Decision Planner in Word Format from

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Sharing Best Practice: Manchester Code of Conduct

The governing body accepts the following principles and procedures:


1.      We have responsibility for determining, monitoring and keeping under review the broad policies, plans and procedures within which the school operates.

2.      We recognise that the head teacher is responsible for the implementation of policy and day-today management of the school and the implementation and operation of the curriculum.

3.      We accept that all governors have equal status, and although appointed by different groups (i.e., parents, staff, local authority, diocese) our overriding concern will be the welfare of the school as a whole.

4.      We have no legal authority to act individually, except when the governing body has given us delegated authority to do so.

5.      We have a duty to act fairly and without prejudice, and in so far as we have responsibility for staff, we will fulfil all the legal expectations as, or on behalf of, the employer.

6.      We will encourage open government and should be seen to be doing so.

7.      We will consider carefully, how our decisions may affect other schools.


8.      We acknowledge that accepting office as a governor involves the commitment of significant amounts of time and energy.

9.      We will each involve ourselves actively in the work of the governing body, attend meetings regularly, and accept our fair share of responsibilities, including membership of committees or working groups.

10.   We will get to know the school well and respond to opportunities to involve ourselves in school activities.

11.   We will ensure that our individual and collective needs for training and development are consistently monitored, and opportunities to undertake relevant training are encouraged.


12.   We will strive to work as a team.

13.   We will seek to develop effective working relationships with our head teacher, staff, parents, the local authority, and other relevant agencies (including the diocesan authorities where appropriate), and the community.


14.   We will observe confidentiality regarding proceedings of the governing body in meetings and from our visits to school as governors.

15.   We will observe complete confidentiality when required or asked to do so by the governing body, especially regarding matters concerning individual staff or students.

16.   We will exercise the greatest prudence if a discussion of a potentially contentious issue affecting the school arises outside the governing body.


17.   We will encourage the open expression of views at meetings, but accept collective responsibility for all decisions made by the governing body or its delegated agents. We will not speak out against decisions, in public or private, outside the governing body.

18.   We will only speak or act on behalf of the governing body when we have been specifically authorised to do so.

19.   In making or responding to criticism or complaints affecting the school we will follow the procedures established by the governing body.

20.   Our visits to school will be undertaken within the framework established by the governing body, in agreement with the head teacher and staff.

21.   In discharging our duties we will always be mindful of our responsibility to maintain and develop the ethos and reputation of our school.


22.   If the need arises to use the sanction of suspending a governor, we will do so by following the procedures regulations so as to ensure a fair and objective process.


23.   We recognise that removing a governor from office is a last resort, and that it is the appointing bodies, which have the power to remove those they appoint.

24.   If the need arises to use the sanction of removing a governor, we will do so by following the constitution regulations so as to ensure a fair and objective process.

A word copy can be downloaded from here 

Saturday, 9 June 2012

RAISEonline for Governors of Primary Schools

The NGA  published some briefing notes at beginning of this year to help school governors understand their schools.  This briefing, Knowing your school: RAISEonline for governors of  primary schools, is aimed at helping primary governors understanding of the latest version of RAISEonline.

Unlike NGA material for members only, these briefing notes are available to all governors.

Download from here Knowing Your School - Primary 

Friday, 8 June 2012

Funding Trouble Ahead for Small schools?

The new School funding proposals which have recently undergone consultation by the department of Education could spell trouble for small schools it is claimed.

This is highlighted in a recent article in Norfolk which explores one scenario.

'The Government plans to bring in a “one size fits all” approach to funding will leave Norfolk’s smaller schools facing significant financial challenges'

'Officers have warned small primary schools with between 75 and 210 pupils “will be faced with financial challenges” 
The department for education (DfE) wants local authorities to introduce a single lump sum for all small schools in their areas in need of additional support on top of their per-pupil funding.
And it wants that amount capped at between £100,000 and £150,000.
The government claims the measure – part of a wider funding reform aimed at simplifying school funding – will help protect the country’s very small schools.
But its funding reform report also admits the changes will mean only “efficient, small schools are able to exist where they are genuinely needed”.
while the county’s smallest schools could emerge better off as a result of the changes, many more small primary and secondary schools will lose out.
Our very small schools [under 75 pupils] get a lump sum somewhere in the order of £75,000 to £100,000. If we were able to set a lump sum at £120,000, the view would be that those very small schools in Norfolk would probably be financially stable in the longer term.
Full story at
Story from Lancashire 
School Funding Proposals

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The strange case of Bolton Muslim Girl School Governing Body

In March this year Bolton Muslim Girls School received an Interim assessment from Ofsted . 

Ofsted’s letter said that their interim assessment shows that the school’s performance has been sustained and that they  can defer its next full inspection not earlier than 2013.

Then last last month over 300 school workers, parents, residents and students lobbied school governors arriving for a meeting at the Muslim Girls School in Bolton to discuss moving towards academy status

Now it is being reported that the School Governors are at risk of being suspended and are locked in a fight with Bolton’s education bosses but the reason remains a mystery.
Bolton Muslim Girls School’s governing board is battling to have a council formal warning overturned.
The notice, which was issued earlier this month, could lead to Bolton Council stepping in and replacing governors with an IEB.
Now the School’s governing body is appealing to education watchdog Ofsted to overturn the notice.

Bolton Council has refused to reveal the grounds for the notice, other than to say it had “a number of concerns about the governance”

The council has are awaiting for a response from the school governors before considering its next step.

Governors have said they were exploring the idea of becoming an academy, which would allow the school to break away from the local authority and become a state-funded independent school.

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “The school has appealed against the formal warning notice and we are waiting for Ofsted’s decision on this.”


Bolton Muslim Girl’s School Governing Body

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Almost No Warning Ofsted Inspections

As expected the head of Ofsted has backed down on plans for no-notice inspections of schools in England.

Sir Michael Wilshaw has said instead that schools will be notified the afternoon before.  Heads currently get 48 hours' notice

But plans to scrap the "satisfactory" grade will go ahead. From September these schools will be labelled "requires improvement", because many "satisfactory" schools have failed to improve.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Serious Case Review highlights some School Governor failings

The National Governors’ Association (NGA) recently highlighted a Serious Case Review in North Somerset at an Infant school where a serious case of sexual abuse of pupils by a teacher who had taught at the school for 15 years. The report highlights some failings by the governors at the school.

The full report can be found here:

Monday, 4 June 2012

Are CRB checks required for Governors and/or Volunteers?

Ofsted have clarified the position for volunteers which include Governors

Volunteers Checks are required for those who have regular and unsupervised access to children and young people. The definition of supervision is currently being considered under the terms of the Protection of Freedoms Bill and will be the subject of guidance from the Department for Education when the bill becomes law next year.

However, schools and colleges have been advised by CRB and in Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education that a risk assessment should take place when volunteers are recruited. Schools and colleges should be able to provide such risk assessments and be able to explain the rationale for those who have been checked and those who have not. The key criterion for checking volunteers is regular and unsupervised contact with children.

School Governors do not require a CRB check unless they will have regular and unsupervised access to children and young people.

However, it should be noted that refusal by a School Governor to have a CRB check carried out is a disqualification factor as detailed in the School Governors Guide to the law (GTTL)

Schedule 6 of the Constitution Regulations covers the disqualifications of governors. This includes  'If a governor refuses to allow an application to the Criminal Records Bureau for a criminal records certificate'

Sunday, 3 June 2012

No Need to renew CRB Checks every 3 years

Ofsted have clarified that CRB’s do not need to be reviewed on a 3 year rolling programme.

Ofsted say 'The ‘three year rolling programme’ for all staff is a myth. There has never been a requirement for a rolling programme of three-yearly checks for staff who have unbroken service (that is, no break of three months or more). 

The only reference to three-year checks in Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education is in appendix 11, where it is recommended for agency staff. Ofsted and the Department for Education have repeatedly pointed out that such routine checks for staff directly employed by a school or college are not required. Ofsted will consider such routine re-checks to be excessive, as they go beyond what the law requires or the Government recommends. They will not be considered evidence of good practice, and may be considered to represent a poor use of resources'.

It considered best practice for for governing bodies to note this at their next full governing body meeting and record it in their minutes.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

NGA/TES Joint Survey 2012: A chance to give your views

The NGA and Times Educational Supplement (TES) are running a joint survey on issues for School governors. 

The survey is open to all School governors and not just NGA members

The survey is open until 11 June

Friday, 1 June 2012

Pupil Premium

In these times of financial austerity school budgets are being squeezed despite the Coalition’s claim the education budget is frozen and being ring fenced. School Governors on finance committees are coming under increasing pressure to balance the books and have a financially sustainable model for their school. 

The one area governors can have an impact is to implement a strategy for promoting the Pupil Premium and free school meals awareness amongst their parents. The Pupil Premium provides additional funding and is targeted at pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to ensure they benefit from the same opportunities as pupils from less deprived families. For 2011-2012, the pupil premium grant was worth £488 per pupil and went to children who were receiving Free School Meals. Children in care who had been looked after by local authorities for more than six months also qualified for the Pupil Premium.

The Department for Education announced that the April 2012/2013 Pupil Premium for disadvantaged pupils, including looked after children, will increase by £112 per pupil to £600.
It is estimated that over half a million additional children will also qualify for the premium as the scheme now covers any child that has been registered for Free School Meals (FSM) in the past six years, as well as those first known to be eligible at January 2012.  The DfE refers to this type of eligible pupil as ‘Ever 6 FSM’.

For 2012-2013, the premium will be worth £1.25 billion in total. Extra funding through the Pupil Premium is set to continue, with total funding due to rise to top £2.5 billion a year by 2014-15. The Department for Education has been reminding schools and parents to make sure those children eligible for Free School Meals are registered before the Pupil Census Day in January so that schools receive the funding.

From April 2012, there will also be an increase of £50, from £200 to £250, for the pupil premium available to each pupil recorded (on the January 2012 School Census) as a Service child aged 4 and over in Year Groups R to 11 in mainstream schools. The extra funding is planned to help schools focus on providing additional pastoral support to service children.
The Department for Education published the Pupil Premium 2012-2013 Conditions of Grant in December 2011. It states that the PPG (Pupil Premium Grant) may be spent for the educational benefit of pupils registered at the school, or for the benefit of pupils registered at other maintained schools and on community facilities.

The PPG does not have to be completely spent by schools in the financial year beginning April 2012 - some or all of it may be carried forward to future financial years. DfE guidance says it is for individual schools to decide whether to transfer the grant into a separate account; however, the money will not be subject to separate auditing procedures. Although Local Authorities are responsible for passing on the pupil premium to state schools and for managing its distribution in respect of looked after children, there is no requirement to monitor how the grant is spent.

The DfE confirm that there is no guidance to schools regarding keeping records of how the pupil premium is spent, only that at present there is no requirement for schools to maintain formal records. However, although schools will be free to spend the pupil premium as they see fit, they will be held accountable for how they have used the additional funding to support pupils from low-income families. The focus should be on the reporting of outcomes for those eligible for the grant and new measures will be included in the performance tables that will capture the achievement of those deprived pupils covered by the pupil premium.

From September 2012, the DfE will also require schools to publish online information about how they have used the premium. The DfE claim this will ensure that parents and others are made fully aware of the progress and attainment of pupils covered by the premium.

If a parent did enquire about how a school was going to use the pupil premium to support their children, the first enquiry should be to the governing body through their finance committee.

Many schools now regularly communicate with all parents in an effort to create awareness, promote the pupil premium and encourage those who may be eligible to confidentially apply.
However, schools still report a low take up, possibly because parents of eligible pupils regard the Free Schools Meals tag a stigma that they are too embarrassed or proud to consider claiming it. In small schools parents can be worried that the school staff will know their business - what benefits they get, what their income is etc and understandably wish to keep that information private.

In Surrey and the small school where I am Chair of Governors, the Local Authority offers a FSM eligibility checking service for a small fee of £250 per year. This works for us by making the process anonymous as the parent just has to provide their National Insurance number and the local authority does the rest. This means that school admin staff do not need to see any sensitive documents, in turn minimising parental embarrassment and the school is also protected from the risk of getting the eligibility checks wrong.