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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.

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?

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.

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.

MATs, academies and Ofsted

03 Jun 2016
Q: Does joining a MAT lead to faster school improvement? A: yes and no... In performance, there´s only a difference if the MAT is bigger than 30 schools. Inspection data suggests that MATs academies improve less quickly. Read more in our blog

Education white paper - teachers' responses: report

22 Apr 2016
The white paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, was published in mid-March, just before the Easter holidays in most schools. Schoolzone constructed a poll in which we took statements – almost all verbatim – from the document and asked teachers how strongly they agreed or disagreed with them. 600 responded overnight, with 800 having responded over the next 24 hours: given that they were on holiday at the time, this suggests that teachers are very engaged with schools policy. Read the full report here

Education white paper - teachers' responses

30 Mar 2016
We heard a lot of grumbling from the teacher union conferences over the Easter weekend about the proposals in the white paper, so we decided to ask teachers in a completely unbiased way, what they thought of the 20 biggest proposals – we simply asked them how strongly they agreed with each. Over 600 responded overnight. Here’s what they said.

Education white paper - the interesting bits

24 Mar 2016
Words taken directly from this month's white paper, Educational Excellence Everyhere: selections based on bits that are new, or which perhaps add something new to previous announcements. We've produced this guide for anyone who generally keeps up to date with what's going on in schools, but wondered what the current white paper adds to their understanding of policy (ie ourselves)

New Governance Handbook

27 Nov 2015
A new, substantially revised handbook for governors of academies and schools was published this week. It has some fairly hefty new content since the last major revision in 2013, which is too extensive to describe in detail, so instead, here is a summary, with section and page numbers, so you can check the major differences for yourself.
The NCTL plays a more overt role and there is more detail on who should be governors and on information sharing.
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