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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.


DfE: Costs of A-level class sizes

31 Mar 2017
The DfE has conducted research into the effect of having different class sizes on the cost of running them. Guess what they found out, in their study of 23 establishments. Did you know, for example that FE colleges have bigger classes than sixth forms? 60-odd pages of similar revelations...

New free schools budget 2017 - too little too late?

09 Mar 2017
Let’s look at what yesterday's budget said about new schools.
First, the average cost of opening a free school (based on gov figures 2011-13) is £4.4 million (including both capital and set-up costs), so £320 million only gets us 72 schools.
The budget suggests in fact that only £100 million will have been spent by 2020 (the end of this term of office), which is enough to open 23 schools. The remainder of this budget allocation is outside this government’s term of office

Are bigger MATS more efficient?

10 Feb 2017
One of the driving factors behind the MAT philosophy is that these collaborations bring out the best in schools, whether through sharing talent or pooling resources. In discussions about MATS, there's often a lot of talk about how big a MAT has to be to maximise efficiency - what's the critical mass? It's been very difficult to get an idea of this because there's no consistent way to measure it.
Well, the DfE now produces efficiency ratings for schools: a 'progress-per-pound measure'

What are the drivers for increasing the use of digital learning resources?

02 Feb 2017
We spent much of last term asking schools about digital resource use, via surveys, focus groups, interviews and school visits and one of our themes was: what needs to happen to grow the market?
Here's just a flavour of our 32,000 words of report, which can purchased now: please contact if you'd like details.

Update: The politics of the national funding formula?

17 Jan 2017
Looking at the schools who do well or badly out of the proposed NFF, prompted us to wonder whether there might be any political motivation about the suggested formula. Do Labour controlled areas get less cash from the NFF, for example? Surely not.

Update: the unions have also looked at this and come up with similar observations.

The politics of the national funding formula?

19 Dec 2016

Looking at the schools who do well or badly out of the proposed NFF, prompted us to wonder whether there might be any political motivation about the suggested formula. Do Labour controlled areas get less cash from the NFF, for example? Surely not.

But the figures are quite surprising; for secondary schools especially. We worked out the per pupil differences in cash allocations and ranked them by the amount changed, then looked at the top 100 and the bottom 100.

National funding formula latest

14 Dec 2016

The overall means of calculating the new NFF remains largely unchanged from the model described in the guide we produced earlier in the year. Today's consultation describes the pace of change and defines the transition and ranges of variance schools can expect.

On top of this the National Audit Office is warning that English state schools will have to find £3bn in savings by 2019-20.
The DfE's models shows some clear winners and losers based on their own modelling, with some London authority regions doing worst

Love thy neighbour

14 Dec 2016
Guest blog from the British Council: Scottish independence: 45% / 55%. Brexit: 52% / 48%. US Election: 46% / 54%. These stark results show how divided we are on some of the biggest political issues of today. There is something inherently divisive about having to make such a binary choice; and you could argue not all big decisions split society so cleanly. But nevertheless, the results demonstrate how - on some issues - people disagree profoundly. Much has been written about all of these results and I don’t propose to analyse them further. However I do believe we should reflect more on what it means to disagree.

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.
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