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Keep up to date with the latest developments in education in schools. Not only the facts, but how schools are responding to them.


Does Ofsted prefer nice schools?

23 Nov 2016

How much notice does Ofsted take of value-added measures?

Here’s what you might imagine: 

  • A school’s performance is in decline
  • Ofsted visits, writes a report, downgrades the school 

But not if the school was an outstanding primary: these “were only fractionally more likely to be down-graded than schools where no such academic deterioration took place”. Nor if they were good primaries: two thirds of deteriorating schools remained good – some were even promoted.

In secondaries, half of good schools remained so, while 11% were promoted.

What we know about coasting schools

18 Nov 2016
I've spent over 30 years working in schools as, variously, teacher, leader, researcher, governor and chair of an academy trust, but this is the first time I can remember a government accountability label for schools that was binary: that means 'failing' or not. Other school labels involve a spectrum, such as Ofsted's 1-4. We did have 'bog standard' kicking about for a while but, while I seem to remember it was an education secretary who coined the phrase, it certainly wasn't an official term. 'Coasting schools' is probably the nearest acceptable alternative Nicky Morgan's DfE could come up with.

Anyway, we decided to look at coasting schools, to see what they had in common, other than meeting the DfE's definition. We wondered what Ofsted said about these same schools, whether they were from disadvantaged or remote areas and how the numbers of coasting schools will change in forthcoming years. Read our report here.

What international schools need right now

07 Nov 2016
Have you ever wondered whether teachers in international schools (those delivering a substantial amount of the curriculum in English) need the same kinds of resources and training as teachers in the UK? Perhaps your business is looking to this growing market as a way of expanding, or perhaps you're a teacher thinking of working abroad. Either way, our latest research report will make interesting reading. It's available free, but here's a quick summary.

Primary assessment inquiry: we present your views

28 Oct 2016
Written evidence submitted by Jenny Winstanley and Frances Jauch on behalf of Schoolzone
The Education Committee recently invited written submissions about the current state of the primary assessment system. Schoolzone’s research managers have many years’ experience as senior leaders in education-focused research, and two members of staff have very recently left the primary classroom, having experienced the removal of levels and the introduction of the new style SATs. We are submitting evidence as we feel that, on the basis of recent research projects with many primary teachers and senior leaders, the current system of assessment in primary schools needs reforming. We also have first-hand experience, as recent ex-teachers, of the impact of removal of levels and changes to assessment, performance management and school accountability policies.

Grammars and the disadvantage gap

19 Oct 2016
OK, I admit it: I went to a grammar school. A fact I'd never really thought about until recently. But Theresa May's announcement that the government is expanding selective schools has made me examine my thoughts on the subject. Has it benefited me in any way? Was I just lucky to have parents who were able to successfully navigate a complex system, whereas neighbours' children were apparently less fortunate?

Why we love, but leave, teaching

11 Oct 2016
As the Education Policy Institute produces (yet another) report about how hard teachers work, we thought we'd share the thoughts of two ex-primary teachers.

National Education Service

30 Sep 2016
Newly re-elected Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, told the Labour Party conference this week that he wants an education version of the NHS, a 'National Education Service', but he didn't really say much about what that means. We did some digging...

May's grammar ideas - what teachers think

13 Sep 2016
May's ideas are a little late. Where I sit in Cheltenham, a new grammar school has already, in effect, opened this academic year. Between them, the grammars within a few miles radius have expanded (in some cases beyond their PAN*) to the tune of an additional 150 places.
It was interesting hearing, on Friday's R4 Today programme, Justine Greening talk (unenthusiastically, I thought) about Theresa May's ideas for grammar schools and not just because I was puzzled about where her Rotherham accent has gone, but because (a) the ideas are being branded as the PM's, not the education secretary's and (b) she said that disadvantaged pupils perform better in grammars than do non-disadvantaged pupils.

School trips: do they still have a place in the curriculum?

12 Sep 2016
Looking back at our school days, the chances are that some of our best memories involve school trips, with the new experiences they introduced outside the confines of the classroom. However, teachers are facing some tough challenges in the current landscape: budgets are being cut; they lack time, and are under ever-increasing pressure to ensure that learning relates to ‘core subjects’.
With this in mind, how feasible are school trips these days, and what are teachers’ preferences for them? Do they still like the traditional model of taking students to an external venue, or would they rather invite visitors into school, or organise an interactive learning experience via webinar / video-conferencing technology?

All change at the DfE

15 Jul 2016
It’s all change at the top again, as the DfE is expanded to take on universities and skills – a massive increase is scale and scope – reflected in a move of buildings too, from the half-empty Sanctuary buildings to the Old Admiralty Building in Horse Guards Parade and we now have a new gaffer: Justine Greening.
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