Teacher workload: three key issues

In 2014, the DfE launched a ‘workload challenge’ seeking information from teachers about their day-to-day challenges. About 34,000 teachers responded.  Three key issues emerged: marking; planning and resources; and data management. Independent review groups (led by serving teachers) looked further at these issues and reported in March 2016.

Reviewers found that marking was taking precedence over all other forms of feedback, with little evidence that this improves pupil outcomes. Marking should be “meaningful, manageable and motivating”.

Reviewers found that the act of creating a lesson plan doesn’t necessarily add anything to the quality of the lesson. Governing boards should ask senior leaders what expectations they place on staff and ask them for the evidence that any requirements around lesson planning have an impact on pupil outcomes.

Reviewers highlighted the temptation for senior leaders to collect data simply because they can – data for the sake of data. Governing boards have a role in making sure that the data collected is fit for purpose; ask senior leaders what data they are collecting and why. It may be that the data would be useful, but a second question should be whether the time collecting it outweighs its usefulness.

Schools national funding formula


The Department for Education has published a suite of documents about stage 2 of the national funding formula.

  • An executive summary outlines the proposals and the effect on schools, and the consultation document explains these in detail.
  • The effect on each school and area is shown in full in the impact tables.
  • There are technical notes to accompany these tables, including an Area Cost Adjustment annex which shows the ACA weightings.
  • Also there are illustrative allocations for new and growing schools.
  • The equalities impact assessment considers how the proposals relate to the 8 protected characteristics identified by the Equality Act 2010.

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How is the national curriculum designed to enable tracking in primary schools?

Every school needs an effective assessment system in order to evidence their assessment of pupils’ progress, to keep parents informed, to enable governors to make judgements about the school’s effectiveness, and to inform Ofsted inspections. The Department for Education suggests a set of core principles to underpin effective assessment systems within schools. The first of these calls for “meaningful tracking of pupils towards end of key stage expectations in the [national] curriculum ….”. How is the national curriculum designed to enable tracking in this way?

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Schools defined to be ‘coasting’

A technical guide for primary schools published in December 2016 defines the “coasting” progress threshold as below -2.5 in reading, -2.5 in mathematics or -3.5 in writing. Schools have to be below at least one of these thresholds and have fewer than 85% of children making the expected progress to meet the definition. To be defined as “coasting”, they have to meet the definition for three consecutive years. The Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) applies this criterion to school data once the key stage 2 results have been published and then takes follow-up action with schools identified as coasting.

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Michael Wilshaw: the characteristics of high performing MATs

In his latest commentary, Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw reflects on the characteristics of high performing MATs. Using focused inspections of seven “stronger performers”, Sir Michael states that successful trusts tend to have the following as key characteristics:

  • ability to recruit and retain high quality executive leaders
  • a well-planned, broad and balanced curriculum
  • commitment to providing high quality education for all pupils
  • investment in professional development of teachers and sharing of expertise
  • high priority given to initial teacher training and leadership development
  • clear frameworks of governance, accountability and delegation
  • effective use of assessment information
  • and a cautious and considered approach to expansion

Source: NGA Newsletter 14/10/2016

Evidence for the benefits of formal school collaborations

Reference: ‘Forming or Joining a Group of Schools: staying in control of your school’s destiny‘. National Governors Association. September 2015

The words below are largely direct quotes from the reference.

The Education Select Committee undertook two, large-scale enquiries into school partnerships and structures in 2015. These form a significant body of evidence for the benefits of strong collaborations and shared accountability between schools. Here are findings from the first report, School Partnerships and Cooperation:

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