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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.


Education policy & OfstedSubscribe to get blog posts by email

Academy trust survey 2017

19 Oct 2017
The DfE surveyed academies and multi-academy trusts (MATs) and made some comparisons between MATs and standalone academies (SATs). The DfE concludes:
  • Schools convert to academy status to collaborate and use their autonomy to innovate
  • Academies understand the benefits of collaboration
However, we’ve been looking at MATs a lot in our research over the past year and we aren’t so sure. We looked at the DfE data in this report and here make some of our own observations.

Teachers' manifesto

02 May 2017
We await the manifestos of the parties but we already know the three main planks of the current government’s education policy. Here’s our guide, plus the Schoolzone teachers’ manifesto:

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 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
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