The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Alex Masters

DfE weekly round-up

The Department for Education (DfE) released 34 reports this week. To save you time, Optimus content lead, Alex Masters, has condensed the information and selected the key points most relevant to you.

Teaching and learning

Parental power: Why do pupils from other ethnic backgrounds do better than white working class children? This study found that key factors included parental influence and pupil aspirations. Multiplicative reasoning: A report on a recent project explored the teaching of multiplicative reasoning. The report concludes that the pilot was too short to lead to pupil impact and ‘further evaluation’ is needed. Pre-school effect: Interesting research on the long-term effect of pre-school which suggests that positive early learning experiences continue to shape children’s lives beyond compulsory education. Phonics facts: Research into the effectiveness of schools’ phonics teaching practices shows phonics attainment improved over three years which ‘may’ have been impacted by the DfE’s check. Student feedback: Teachers and senior leaders believe instant student feedback can inform practice, but some questioned its worth as a measurement of effective teaching. Teenagers in training: Teenagers in education and training is at its highest for 20 years. The DfE links this to the government’s decision to raise the age of compulsory education or training to 18.

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Taskforce to ‘transform’ child protection: David Cameron announced a new Child Protection Taskforce to drive reforms and ensure ‘we are protecting the most vulnerable children’. Childcare demand: Recent statistics show a record demand for childcare places following the government’s decision to offer 15 free hours per week. How to define happiness: A new report on residential care in England and its influence on looked-after children has found that there is no simple answer of ‘what works’, due to gaps in evidence and difficulty in measuring factors like ‘homely’ or ‘happiness’.

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SBM and finances

Bursary fund: Research into the bursary fund (available to 16-19 year-olds) found that it is still seen as ‘a major asset’ but many young people were not aware that this support was available. School uniform: The cost of an average school uniform has decreased since 2007 and average total expenditure on school uniform last year was £212.88.

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Leadership and governance

Academy proposers: The DfE has issued a list of LAs seeking academy and free school proposers, and of all academies and free schools already set up. Grammar to academy: Are you a grammar school converting to academy status? Here are the documents you’ll need, including model ballot documents and admissions criteria.

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