F O R E W O R D S The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP The Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP
P R I M A R Y S O U T H O F E N G L A N D R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S Chattenden Primary School Mickleton Primary School Arundel Church of England Primary School
Kings Hill School Westcourt Primary School Godstone Primary and Nursery School St Alban’s Catholic Primary School Winton Primary School Lowbrook Academy
St George’s CE Primary School Grove Road Primary School Risley Avenue Primary School F E A T U R E S Review of the Year Review of Parliament
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Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19. In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy. We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity. Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions. With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4 per cent of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering
FOREWORD | our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe. And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world. As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us. writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us “ “ I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now
More than any other event in our time, Covid-19 has laid bare the inequalities in our education system. The pandemic has exposed how many children lack basic digital access – standard fare these days for a chance to climb the ladder of opportunity and secure high-quality jobs, as the world marches headlong into the fourth industrial revolution. As they spent more time cocooned at home, we learned about the other ills that damaged children’s learning. Plenty did their best to study in unsuitable work environments and, despite the remarkable efforts of teachers and support staff, some discarded their learning altogether. Others grappled with their mental wellbeing, increasingly eroded by the rigid tedium of the same recycled days. According to the NHS, one in six children aged 5-16 had a probable mental disorder as of July 2020. In 2017, that figure was one in nine. Looking forward, we all have a role to play - politicians, parents, teachers, employers, civil society - to ensure the life chances of ‘Generation Covid’ are not blighted for years to come. This starts with the efficient rollout of the Government’s academic catch-up plan over the course of this Parliament. First, assessing every pupil as to how much learning they have lost, and what extra tuition is needed, particularly for those disadvantaged pupils who have been left-behind furthest by school closures. Perhaps, it will require extending the school day - bringing charities and community organisations into schools to provide sports and mental health support. The Holiday Activities and Food programme will be an important opportunity to allow children (and their parents) to recuperate. They can socialise with friends, e Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee
improve their physical health through sports, and receive a nutritious free meal. In the longer-term, a real plan to address social injustice in education would recognise the need for early intervention and support for early-years providers. It should promote family hubs across the country - offering everything from childcare, healthcare and social services, skills training and careers advice for parents. The impact of Covid-19 on education has sparked a much-needed debate around whether our education system and assessment is currently fit for purpose. It is time the Government reevaluates the future of A Levels, possibly replacing them with a wider baccalaureate that blends vocational, technical and academic education, as more than 146 countries currently offer. In the past, the mantra has been: “education, education, education” and “university, university, university”. Now, our focus must be on: “catch-up, catch-up, catch-up” and “skills, skills, skills”. That way, we can ensure that the ‘Corona cohort’ will have the opportunities in life that they have every right to have. teachers, employers, civil society – to ensure the life chances of ‘Generation Covid’ are not blighted for years to come “ “ We all have a role to play – politicians, parents,
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EDUCATION Review of the Year
Covid restrictions and home schooling
Education Union: “Courtney said: ‘The fact that secretary of state Gavin Williamson and the prime minister refuse to see sense and allow the professional judgment of headteachers and local authorities to take precedent is shameful and yet another grave error of judgment in a long line of such errors’.” The announcement of a further lockdown did not apply to vulnerable children and children of critical workers but almost all other children were being home-schooled again. Many parents found this very stressful and gained an insight into parts of the curriculum that seemed archaic to them, for example “fronted adverbials”. But for many home-schooling was not just stressful; it was virtually impossible. In January, Child Poverty Action Group Project Lead Kaye Anstey told the BBC: “We spoke to thousands of parents, carers and children and the thing we heard was that up to 40 per cent of them did not only not have access to a laptop or the internet, but also to other things like printers, even stationery and craft materials.” Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, said: “It is this country’s priority to get all children and young people back into face-to-face education and apprenticeship training, but it is crucial we do this at the right time and I want to assure parents, teachers, children and young people that schools, colleges and universities will be the first to fully return as soon as the public health picture allows it.” In January, Mr Williamson said in a speech to the Education Policy Institute:
Schools in England opened on March 8 as part of the prime minister’s cautious four-part plan to lift lockdown measures
In January, Boris Johnson, the prime minister, confirmed schools and colleges would not return to full face- to-face learning until after the February half-term, at the earliest. This had followed a week of embarrassing U-turns from the government on when schools could return. On Sunday, Mr Johnson had appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show telling parents to send their children in the next day. The following evening, after a day’s schooling for the nation’s children, he gave a live press conference to announce schools would be shut from the following day. Two weeks earlier, the government had threatened legal action against two local councils who had wanted to end their school terms early amid concerns about the raised infection rates in their boroughs. Islington and Greenwich local authorities in London joined Waltham Forest in being forced to abandon their plans under pressure from the government. The Guardian quoted Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National
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He praised teachers who had transferred the curriculum into remote lessons and staff in his department for the “massive logistical project” of buying and delivering hundreds of thousands of extra devices for children without one in “one of the world’s largest hardware shopping expeditions”. In February, charity Business2Schools, which distributes refurbished technology to children, said a “high volume of need” remained.
After the most disrupted year for education ever outside of wartime, the education system faced a mammoth effort to catch up. In February, headteachers’ leaders warned against “gimmicks” to try to make good the lost time. The BBC quoted Geoff Barton, Association of School and College Leaders general secretary, saying speculation about shorter holidays and longer school days were a bad idea and would be end up “grind(ing) out more hours from tired children”. He said if extra classes were made compulsory, it was unrealistic to expect to fine the parents of children who did not attend. Nick Gibb, the schools minister, told the Commons education select committee he was “open to all ideas” on catching up and would “leave no stone unturned”. Earlier in February, Sir Kevan Collins had been appointed education recovery commissioner. His appointment came alongside an announcement of an extra £300 million to help with catching up, on top of the £1 billion Covid catch-up fund announced in June 2020. Sir Kevan has worked in the education sector for more than three decades as “Unprecedented problems require unprecedented solutions – and schools, teachers and leaders have all pulled together to bring about one of the biggest shifts the education sector has ever seen. Our increasing dependence on technology has changed our entire approach to teaching with a switch to remote education.” He said while some aspects of remote learning were challenging, others had been “an unqualified success”. Catching up
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson
a teacher, a children’s services director and as the chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation. Mr Williamson, the education secretary, said: “He will be a tremendous asset to those young people, their families, and everyone working in education who have my lasting gratitude for their efforts to support young people throughout the pandemic.” The June fund was announced before schools returned to full running in September and saw £650 million shared between state primary and secondary schools over the 2020–21 academic year. The government said in its announcement: “Whilst head teachers will decide how the money is spent, the
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and the regular checks “will provide further reassurance to parents, students and staff that schools are safe, and where Covid cases do occur they can be identified quickly.” The lateral flow tests are to accompany other measures like mask-wearing in communal areas outside classrooms, social distancing between staff and students and keeping buildings well ventilated. The Education Endowment Foundation welcomed the move. Chair Sir Peter Lampl, who also founded and chairs the Sutton Trust, said: “Despite the heroic efforts of schools, many pupils’ learning has suffered as a result of school closures. These children are drawn disproportionately from disadvantaged communities and need extensive support.” “Extensive trials show that high- quality tuition is a cost-effective way to enable pupils to catch up. Through a collaboration of organisations across the country, our aim is to make this tuition available to tens of thousands of primary and secondary school pupils. Our hope is that it becomes a powerful tool for teachers in the years to come.” In December, a package of “exceptional measures” was announced to help students taking exams in the summer of 2021. The education department said in recognition of the challenges faced by young people this year “grades will be more generous, students will be given advance notice of some topic areas, and steps will be taken to ensure every student receives a grade, even if they miss a paper due to self-isolation or illness.”
Schools have received approximately £650 m in funding to catch up on learning lost
The focus on testing in schools was ramped up ahead of efforts to ensure educational facilities could reopen in the spring. On February 12, the education department said universities and primary and secondary schools had carried out more than three million rapid coronavirus tests on staff and students since January 4. It said 97 per cent of schools and colleges are now ready to deliver tests government expects this to be spent on small group tuition for whoever needs it. The fund covers the National Tutoring Programme that is already up and running. This was the other £350 million of the £1 billion pot. Mr Johnson, the prime minister, said: “I want to once again thank teachers, childcare workers and support staff for the brilliant work they have been doing throughout the pandemic. “This includes providing remote education for those not in school, as well as face-to-face education for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers.”
Testing and making classrooms Covid-secure
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Mr Williamson, the education secretary, said: “At any other time, it would have been unimaginable to suggest that a testing programme of this scale and impact could be delivered at the speed we have seen. “I am grateful and humbled by the actions that everyone working in education has taken to pull together and deliver this programme. Alongside the wider protective measures in place that we must all continue following, this asymptomatic testing helps break chains of transmission by taking people who are infectious but don’t know it out of circulation.” Staff at secondary schools are tested twice weekly, and 1.7 million of the three million tests were carried out in these settings and colleges. A further 1.7 million were of the staff, twice weekly since late January where they are working on site. The remaining 600,000 were at university, and was more of staff as most students are receiving tuition remotely. The government had initially promised a “staggered” roll-out of testing when students were due to return after Christmas. It had planned a daily testing for close contacts of those with confirmed cases of the virus so as to keep more pupils in school. Face-covering rules children in year seven or above were issued in August following a new statement on their efficacy from the World Health Organization. It advised: “children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.”
Covid-19 lateral flow testing kits have been used by schools to reduce transmission
The National Education Union said a rise in cases after the first return was a “direct result of government negligence on school safety”. Joint General Secretary Dr Mary Bousted said in an article in FE Week : “Unions, school leaders, teachers and staff are tired of last-minute guidance and u-turns. “Government must now initiate structured talks with education unions, based upon all available evidence, about how a phased return is best managed. The NEU would enter such talks with a determination to make our recovery plan a reality, benefiting staff and pupils alike. “Simply declaring schools and colleges Covid-secure does not make them so.” The Daily Mail carried a piece saying the union had showed “breath- taking cynicism”, adding that “The unprecedented health crisis should be a moment for professionals of all stripes to show dedication and self-sacrifice.”
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expansion but has yet to show them the sort of crisis support it tried to extend, for example, to the hospitality industry.” Sky News said the past year had “marked the largest student rebellion in years. Left frustrated by their universities’ handling of the pandemic, thousands of young people nationwide have been striking and campaigning to have their voices heard.” In February, Imperial College London researchers said they had found a rise in cheating at universities since the start of the pandemic. The Guardian reported the findings showing that the number of requests to a large “homework help” website had tripled and a growth in online “essay mills”. It came as an ex-universities minister cautioned that essay buying risked “damage(ing) academic integrity beyond repair”. Chris Skidmore called for the practice to be outlawed and said: “As students have been forced to study remotely from home, away from on-campus welfare and support, taking their studies and exams online, they are increasingly becoming prey to essay mills, whose number has increased dramatically as they seek to take advantage of the desperate situation many students face.” Universities UK, which represents higher education institutions, and the Russell Group backed the push for legislation pointing to the lead set by New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. The same month, the government pledged a further £50 million to help students hit by the effects of coronavirus.
Many students feel they are not getting value for money from universities according to numerous national surveys
In January, The Guardian posed the question: “Has Covid broken UK universities?” The paper said the pandemic had exposed the impact of the growing marketisation of the higher education sector over the past two decades, turning “students into increasingly dissatisfied customers”. Other news outlets carried footage of first-year students forced to stay in their halls of residence and attend lectures via their computers. They often complained that this experience was not worth the £9,250 a year they were paying in tuition fees. In November, Manchester students were filmed tearing down a metal fence that had been put up around their halls of residence without warning. Protests have taken the form of rent strikes and calls for reductions in fees. The paper quoted a third-year student in Manchester saying, “If you’re selling a commodity, we have consumers’ rights. It should have been very apparent they were promising something they couldn’t deliver.” It said universities had been “put in an impossible position by a government that has promoted entrepreneurial
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Exams debacle Universities minister Michelle Donelan’s announcement took the total to £70 million for the financial year, following an earlier pledge in December. The sum is intended to cover students facing extra outlays for alternative accommodation or extra costs to access teaching online. The minister said: “This continues to be an incredibly difficult and challenging time for our students, and I am hugely grateful to all the university staff working hard to prioritise their health, wellbeing and learning during this pandemic.” In late January 2021, thought started to turn to avoiding another summer exams fiasco like the nation’s children faced in 2020. ITV reported that GCSE and A-level students in England would not be sitting exams, because of the disruption caused by the third coronavirus lockdown. Mr Williamson, the education secretary, said in a briefing: “The government position is that we will not be asking students to sit GCSE and A-levels.” In August, the education department admitted its planned moderation system for that September was unfair, having previously said students would simply be awarded their predicted grades. ITV reported Mr Williamson’s comments that he was “constantly asked for reassurance about the fairness of the system. “Fairness to make sure that children from the most disadvantaged
In a speech to Universities UK members, made remotely, at the start of the academic year in September she praised the innovation shown by the sector in working around restrictions. Ms Donelan cited St George’s medical school’s virtual ward round for junior doctors, Imperial College’s virtual field trip to the Pyrenees, using high-res photos, Google Earth and drone footage plus performing arts students at Northampton rehearsing Shakespeare plays on video conferencing programmes.
The grading fiasco led to public outrage over algorithmic bias
Instead it was announced that grades would be based on assessments from teachers rather than the algorithm produced by regulator Ofqual. Crowds of A-level students had staged demonstrations chanting “F*** the algorithm”. LSE research fellow Dr Daan Kolkman said: “This incident has shone the media spotlight on the question of Artificial Intelligence bias.” He said: “The algorithm looked at the historical grade distribution of a school
backgrounds didn’t suffer, make sure that children from ethnic minority backgrounds are not in a situation where they were unfairly downgraded.”
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can’t mask the frustration and anger and distress that this has caused thousands of young people and their families.” In December, Mr Taylor announced he was standing down. He had been an Ofqual board member from 2012 and chair from December 2016. He was replaced by Ian Bauckham. In January, the government launched a consultation on proposals to give students who had been due to sit exams this summer grades based on their teachers’ observations. Teachers will get guidance and training from exam boards. Mr Williamson said: “These proposals should give young people confidence that despite exams being cancelled, rightly an issue of great public interest and concern and it’s important that those working in education alongside students, parents and employers are able to have their say.” they will still receive a grade that reflects their ability. This is quite
and then decided a student’s grade on the basis of their ranking. For instance, if a student was halfway down the ranking list, then her grade would be roughly equal to what the person in the same ranking obtained in previous years.” Some of the public outrage was because if no one from your school had received the top grade in the past three years, it was virtually impossible to get that grade in 2020. Roger Taylor, who was chair of Ofqual at the time, gave an apology for the “uncertainty and anxiety” caused to teenagers and their parents. He added: “What changed was seeing the experience of young people receiving grades and being distressed at the need to then go and appeal grades where they felt they were wrong.”
Legal action was also threatened.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said: “It’s right that the government has finally made this U-turn but you
In January, the Manchester United player and top chefs called on the prime minister to fix the free school meal system that saw repeated controversies over whether the government should
pay for free school meals while students were kept at home.
Mr Rashford, Jamie Oliver, Tom Kerridge and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said to Mr Johnson: “We are writing to you to express our concern that the issue of Free School Meals risks once again becoming divisive, and to encourage the government to undertake an urgent comprehensive review of Free School Meal policy to reform the system for the longer term.” They said a review should be debated in parliament and published before
Footballer Marcus Rashford has helped drive education policy over school meals
The past year saw footballer Marcus Rashford unexpectedly become a significant figure in educational policy.
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the 2021 summer holidays, and the eligibility thresholds looked at (noting that some studies had shown 40 per cent of children below the poverty line were missing out on the current entitlement). After another public dispute about free school meals during the February half- term, the government said food will be provided to children by councils as part of the Covid Winter Grant Scheme. An earlier dispute in October saw one MP say paying for children whose parents could not afford to feed them in the holidays to eat could amount to “nationalising children”. Bassetlaw MP Brendan Clarke-Smith asked the House of Commons: “Where is the slick PR campaign encouraging absent parents to take some responsibility for their children? “I do not believe in nationalising children. Instead, we need to get back to the idea of taking responsibility, and this means less celebrity virtue- signalling on Twitter by proxy and more action to tackle the real causes of child poverty.” Anna Taylor, executive director of charity the Food Foundation, told the BBC recent months had seen “crisis after crisis with the provision of free school meals. The result of that is disadvantaged children have often paid the price.” essentials as part of the £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme, as they did in the Christmas holidays, delivered through local authorities. Another £16 million will go to food distribution charities, the government announced. The January Rashford letter came after Mr Williamson told a committee of MPs he was “absolutely disgusted” Vulnerable families were due to continue to get meals and other
Children having lunch at Loreto High School in south Manchester
after the meagre food parcel received by a disabled mother-of-two became widely known. The Metro reported his pledge to “name and shame” companies which provide low-quality food parcels to families in need. Mr Williamson told the Commons education select committee: “As a dad myself, I thought ‘how could a family in receipt of that really be expected to deliver five nutritious meals as is required?’ It’s just not acceptable.” Chartwells, the government contractor responsible, said the image circulated on social media had been for five school days not ten and was not £30 of food but £10.50, but nevertheless it apologised. A spokesperson said: “However, in our efforts to provide thousands of food parcels a week at extremely short notice we are very sorry the quantity has fallen short in this instance. “Chartwells is committed to continuing to work with all stakeholders to ensure the best possible provision for children in schools.”
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the system would soon cause a crisis for secondary schools. It said a third of local authority areas in England could be oversubscribed by 2025, leaving around 80,000 young people without a place. The LGA said because two thirds of secondary schools were now academies, local authorities now had less power than ever to direct the opening of more schools or make existing academies increase provision to meet demand. The analysis was based on official figures from the Department for Education. Councillor Judith Blake, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Councils have an excellent track record of fulfilling their legal duty to ensure every child has a school place available to them and want to work with the Government to meet the challenges currently facing the education system. “It continues to make no sense for councils to be given the responsibility to plan for school places but then not be allowed to be open schools themselves.” The pressure on primary school places has been building for some time in the capital. The Evening Standard reported in 2018 that catchment areas have shrunk dramatically and parents would need to live within a few streets of a school to get in. The paper said the smallest admissions boundary in London was down to 200 metres. In January this year, the Ilford Recorder reported that while there are currently more than 600 unused primary school spaces across the London borough of Redbridge, that position was fast changing. So while schools would receive less funding this year, “plans for a number
Primary schools in Kensington and Chelsea are facing an 11 per cent vacancy rate
In January 2021, one London borough reported a “mystery” glut of primary school places. The MyLondon local news website said primary schools in Kensington and Chelsea had seen an 11 per cent vacancy rate with 861 unapplied-for places at schools across the borough. The paper said each of the past three years had seen a fall of 0.5 per cent in the number of primary school places, particularly in the north of the borough. It quoted Jagdeep Birdi, executive headteacher at two borough primary schools, saying applications for the next school year “are markedly lower”. The same issue was reported in neighbouring Westminster borough, although Kensington & Chelsea reported an increase of around two per cent in secondary school pupils. The borough’s head of education said the demographic shift away from primary schools was “putting significant strain on primary school budgets”. The Local Government Association warned in September that a “surge” in primary school pupils moving through
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It quoted Adam Jogee, the mayor of Haringey, calling her a “history maker”. The Department for Education said: “She remains an inspiration and leaves a lasting legacy.” In an interview last year, she described receiving such a volume of racist threats when she joined the school that she had to be accompanied by a bodyguard on her first day. She said her experiences led to her setting up the Caribbean Teachers Association.
of new housing developments mean this surplus is expected to become a shortage of almost 650 school spaces by 2030.” In January, tributes were paid after London’s first Black female head teacher died. The MyLondon website reported that Yvonne Conolly had passed away. As the head at Ring Cross Primary School in Holloway, north London, she had made history, having arrived in Britain in 1963.
London and southeast primary schools come up trumps with inspectors
In December, schools inspector Ofsted published its latest annual review, in which it drew together its learning from inspections across the English education system. It noted regional variation with grades being “particularly high in London”, where 31 per cent of all schools were judged “outstanding” at their most recent inspection, and 62 per cent achieved a rating of “good”. It added: “Pupils in London schools achieve good outcomes, which is reflected in the strong performance of this region on most attainment and progress measures.” The southeast was the second-highest performing region with 20 per cent of schools having the “outstanding” grade. This was equalled by the northwest region, but the southeast had a higher proportion of “good” ratings, 71 per cent compared to the northwest’s 67 per cent. However, schools in the southwest were the worst performing in the country by Ofsted’s measures. The region’s 2,570 schools had the lowest proportion rated “outstanding”, 15 per cent compared to 19 per cent
In recent inspections 31 per cent of all schools were judged as “outstanding” in London
for England. Five per cent of its schools were rated “inadequate”, a figure it tied on with each of the Midlands regions, but it had a higher percentage of “requires improvement” ratings than them. The primary school sectors saw a small year-on-year decline from the last set of Ofsted results, which covered the year 2018–19. The percentage of schools rated “outstanding” fell from four per cent to two per cent. The number rated “inadequate” stayed the same, but primaries with a “requires improvement” badge grew from 14 per cent to 17 per cent.
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The inspectorate said subject knowledge could be a challenge at primary schools, where teachers had to teach “across the curriculum”. The report said: “In schools that scored highly on curriculum quality in our research, leaders made sure teachers received high-quality professional development to develop subject knowledge in their own subject.” “Outstanding” primary schools had an average reading, writing and mathematics score of 82, “good” schools 65, schools judged as “requires improvement” 54 and “inadequate” schools 48. The report said: “Primary schools judged as ‘requires improvement’ sometimes focused extensively on teaching reading, writing and mathematics at the expense of other subjects in the curriculum, even for pupils who had the capability to tackle a wide range of subjects. This limits pupils’ ability to thrive in secondary school, where they will encounter a range of subjects. “This effect will be especially profound for disadvantaged pupils, who are less likely to be able to draw on resources at home to fill in gaps and broaden their knowledge.” The importance of phonics was also stressed in the report. It said: “The best primary special schools systematically build pupils’ knowledge of phonics and promote a love of reading.”
Gavin Williamson plans to send Ofsted inspectors into every
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector for schools, Amanda Spielman, said: “Our aim is to be a force for improvement across education and social care. As Chief Inspector, it is my priority to not only report on individual providers but to offer the national picture of education and care from Ofsted’s unique, independent view. “This is in order, unwaveringly, to support improvement and raise standards for all children and learners in England. It has been an extraordinary year, and we have seen teachers, leaders and social workers respond admirably to the challenges they have faced. In this report, I recognise the many successes we have seen both before and since the start of the pandemic, but also direct attention to areas in which more can be done for the benefit of children and learners.” In future, the exemption from inspection for “outstanding” schools will be removed. Superhead legal battle In March 2020, the case of a former primary school “superhead” made headlines across the media.
“outstanding” school in England within five years
£200,000 after claiming an excessive workload had damaged him and left him with depression. The Evening Standard said Sir Craig had been Britain’s highest-paid
Sir Craig Tunstall was reported to be suing a local authority for more than
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headteacher, earning £374,000 a year running eight primary schools across south London. The paper said he had also been the “public face” of plans for a secondary free school in 2016. But he was suspended in 2017 after Lambeth council amid a fraud investigation and dismissed for gross misconduct in February 2018. Sir Craig had been knighted in 2014 and brought the claim against the Gipsy Hill Federation and the council, claiming unfair dismissal after a botched disciplinary process. responsible for 600 staff and 4,200 pupils and having to deal with issues ranging from Ofsted inspections, capital projects and “actual or threatened violence” towards his teachers. A written claim lodged on his behalf by his legal representative said he “was given less than a week’s notice before being installed as executive headteacher of a failing school (and) he had sole responsibility for making wide-ranging structural changes to the management, teaching staff, values and teaching methods.” The teacher had turned around Kingswood Primary School after being hired in 2002, getting it out of special measures and to a rating of “outstanding” seven years later. The statement from his lawyer said: “The prognosis for his ability His case is that the “excessive workload” came from being
Lambeth Council’s conflict with headteacher Sir Craig Tunstall hit the headlines in March 2020
In April, The Times reported Sir Craig could lose the knighthood. The paper said it had seen emails from the Cabinet Office saying that its honours forfeiture committee was aware of his case and had asked for Department for Education to “advise”. In 2017, the Times Educational Supplement reported that Sir Craig had been given an 11 per cent pay rise. It quoted a union official saying this was difficult to justify when the same schools were making some staff redundant. GMB Senior Officer Andy Prendergast said: “For a school to increase a CEO’s pay by over £36,500 while making staff redundant shows where the priorities of Gipsy Hill Federation lie. Money that should have gone on saving jobs that provide real value to our children has instead gone to making someone, whose pay was already double that of the prime minister, even richer. “For those staff still there, who are struggling to make ends meet whilst their workloads increase, it’s nothing less than a kick in the teeth.” The case continues.
to undertake any other type of employment in the future is currently poor”.
Lambeth council said in a statement: “The council and GHF confirm that proceedings have been served by Sir Craig. These will be vigorously defended.”
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Chattenden Primary School
Our reception children enjoying the enhanced EYFS outdoor area and our wooden ship B ased in Medway, Chattenden Primary School has been rated “good” by Ofsted since 2010 and is an academy with a focus specialist subject teaching and a broad curriculum. Principal, Rishi Boyjoonauth, formerly a solicitor, believes that a school can perform best when teaching certain subjects with specialist leaders. Since starting at the school, he has invested in in a more rigorous journey of continuous professional development, allowing staff to reach their full potential. Since implementing these changes, the school has won an increasing number of awards and boasts a more enjoyable curriculum. Rishi tells the Review more. The school became a standalone academy in 2012. Our intake is quite varied and a large portion come from deprived backgrounds. 21 per cent of our pupils are in receipt of pupil premium and 16 per cent have special educational needs. A new journey of professional development Upon taking over the school as Principal in 2016, myself and the leadership team began the journey of developing the quality of teaching and learning further. We felt that in order to empower staff, their continuous professional development had to be made a priority. As someone who has a background in teacher training, I saw that there were some obvious deficits here. More specifically, it was important that all staff felt engaged in the process of improvement and understood recent developments in best practice. Accountability, too, was something that the school could improve upon. In short, I wanted to ensure staff were meeting their full potential.
Principal Rishi Boyjoonauth
REPORT CARD Chattenden Primary School » Principal: Rishi Boyjoonauth » Converted to stand-alone academy in 2012 » Based in Medway, Kent » Type of school: Primary school » No. of pupils: 210 » The principal started his career as a solicitor » www.chattenden.medway.sch.uk
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THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW Highlighting best practice
I also effected change in the domain of assessment. At the time, too much of the curriculum had its focus on standardised testing, in order that certain boxes could be ticked. I operate on the belief that learning has to be about more than just remembering facts; it has to have a real and lasting impact on the child. One of the mantras we introduced to help us reflect as practitioners on what learning should be about was DR ICE:
Updated school displays demonstrating Chattenden’s commitment to sport and the performing arts
I therefore began my journey at the school by articulating loudly and clearly in all corners of the school what our core purpose was, which is, and always will be, teaching and learning. Our school motto is “success no matter what” and everything that happens in the school must have this core objective in mind. Ensuring our children get the most of school in terms of teaching and learning has to be at the forefront of all of our considerations. In view of this consideration, my initial period saw an intensive period of upskilling staff and imbuing the new and bolder ethos. On the first inset day, we had the whole school community from the finance office to the site manager come in to discuss the new direction the school was to take and focus on what teaching and learning should look like. Only on this shared foundation could we move forward – everyone had to be on the same page.
» D eepening thinking » R ole modelling » I mpact on learning » C hallenge » E ngagement
Only on this shared foundation could we move forward – everyone had to be on the same page
A broader and more specialist curriculum One of the real strengths we’ve developed over time is our specialised and broad curriculum. Previously, the school was weak in terms of sports and music, but we have now greatly improved our provision in this area. My background in music has been very helpful in this regard. As part of this initiative, we started a school choir which performs at local and national events and increased and improved the quality of peripatetic tuition for pupils, so that the year culminates in a fantastic musical extravaganza called The Summer Showcase! The dance curriculum has been an outstanding success. One of our brilliant teaching assistants is also a dance teacher. The curriculum provision was enhanced and as a result we won the Royal Opera House National Nutcracker ballet competition in 2017 out of 100 schools nationally. During this the children – under appropriate guidance and supervision – had to compose their own dance based on The Nutcracker .
Children at the school develop a real passion for reading and love using the newly refurbished library
Efforts like this show the success of engaging in specialisms and getting buy-in from the children.
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We encouraged the children’s interest in gardening, led by another brilliant member of staff, and we came second in Kent Life magazine ’s School Garden of the Year competition. In my opinion, too much emphasis is placed on the need for staff to know and teach everything. By bringing in specialist provision and teachers, however, we have allowed children to excel to a much greater degree. Previously in sporting competitions, we were always the school who “tried the best”; we can now boast having won in multiple areas of the Medway Mini Youth Games, including tag rugby and basketball. Covid-19 has had a detrimental effect on our children’s education across the land. Despite the challenges we were able to deliver a fantastic curriculum online, through the innovative use of technology. Pupils really flourished with the project-based curriculum and regular daily feedback from teachers enabled pupils to be fully engaged with their learning. Catching up is a priority for the school now, but that is not at the expense of losing the broad curriculum. If anything, it has strengthened our determination to provide a rich set of experiences for our pupils. Moving forward, I believe it would be fruitful for greater collaboration to occur between schools. At present, academies and schools run by local authorities can be too distant from one another. Given that Medway is a relatively small unitary authority, this makes little sense. It was particularly surprising for me to discover that there had been no interaction between us and the excellent school just down the road. Our school plays an active role within the local consortium of schools, and many schools have come to look at our excellent examples of writing and handwriting which were described as “impeccable” by Ofsted. We also recently led training Greater collaboration for greater results
Dance and the performing arts are now at the heart of the school
for one of the local grammar schools on the raised expectations of the new primary curriculum. Ultimately, we’re all in this together, bringing up the next generation of citizens. One example of where collaboration could be particularly fruitful is in paediatric services, and I am in the process of working with others in the community to see that services like these become a shared responsibility. Last year, I was fortunate enough to chair the Primary Headteacher Association in Medway, and this was particularly critical during the Covid-19 outbreak. Schools and headteachers were able to share resources and expertise in order to benefit the whole community. In any case, I’m excited about where things are heading, even if there are challenges along the way. Ofsted’s new direction with respect to a renewed focus on curriculum is something we welcome, although this still stands as an awkward contrast against the DfE core subject results that schools must publish. Education, after all, has to go beyond mere numbers and tables; it has to take into account the whole child. It’s with this in mind that we move forward, confident in our mission.
The curriculum provision was enhanced and as a result we won the Royal Opera House National Nutcracker ballet competition in 2017
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THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW Highlighting best practice
Mickleton Primary School
Key skills taught in reception are the foundations of a child’s learning B ased near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, Mickleton Primary is a growing local school that has evolved dramatically since moving into a brand-new building in 2006. Over the past year, its intake has increased by almost 20 per cent, but it is adapting capably and is looking to build on its burgeoning reputation. Tom Roberts became the headteacher in February 2019 and below, he tells The Parliamentary Review more about the work his team have put in and the environment they have worked hard to create on site. At Mickleton Primary school we prepare children to become the people they need to be. Starting at reception, we educate children until the end of year 6, ensuring they are ready for the world ahead. I have been a part of Mickleton Primary for just over two years and have overseen considerable change since I took over. The relocation of the school in 2006 to a brand-new building lent itself to overall growth, and an extension to the school has further ensured this. We were founded as a small village school and have been able to grow thanks, by and large, to the support from the county council. In the past 12 months we have grown from 130 pupils to 160. The school has also seen its reception admission increase from 12 to 26 in recent years. We have seen people increasingly want to come to our school, which is always humbling as a headteacher. It is rare to have a one-form entry for village schools, and we are enjoying the benefits that
Headteacher Tom Roberts
REPORT CARD Mickleton Primary School » Headteacher: Tom Roberts » Founded in 1513 » Location: near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire » Type of school: One-form entry primary school » No. of students: 160 » www.mickletonschool.com
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come from not having mixed-age classrooms. The building has greatly benefited people in the village, and we understand how fortunate we have been in having a modern building as an older school. Selling education We understand the importance of contextualised learning and see the role of the teacher as a salesperson as well as an educator. There are currently so many different things going on in the lives of our children, and we understand that the old- fashioned method of education is becoming increasingly outdated. We need children to buy in to what they are doing, and to recognise the value of education in their lives. supported by The Richard Porter Trust in installing a multimedia centre. The support has meant that children can engage with technology from a young age and has also lent itself to a different style of education. Our younger We have worked hard to invest in our school and have recently been
Learning is brought to life through the school’s multimedia centre
children have used the green screen to make a David Attenborough-style documentary, while the older ones have used it to work on an advertisement for a Mickleton-themed chocolate bar. During the official opening our children were able to teach trustees of the charity how to use the screen and recording equipment. We frequently invite people from a wide range of professions and ask pupils about the kinds of jobs they would like to do. We want to ensure
We understand the
importance of contextualised learning
Children record podcasts to celebrate school achievements and discuss world events