The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Government education policy

John Viner

We need to talk about Ofsted

New proposals from Ofsted have prompted a shift in the rhetoric around inspection. John Viner summarises the changing times. With the departure of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted moved into a new phase under the leadership of Amanda Spielman. Out went the old-...
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John Viner

Pupil premium: is it making a difference?

While pupil premium funding was introduced with the good intention of helping schools narrow the attainment gap, its future looks increasingly uncertain. In April 2011, the coalition government introduced the pupil premium and the service premium. This injected an additional £625 million of funding...
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Gareth D Morewood

National SEND inquiry: current challenges and possible solutions

Writing a submission to the government's SEND inquiry provided an opportunity to reflect on the challenges in the current system, and offer some suggestions for change. In a previous post I explained why the Education Committee’s inquiry into support for children and young people with SEND is a...
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John Viner

Dinners, winners and losers

The introduction of new criteria for free school meals eligibility has put some children's entitlement in doubt. John Viner summarises the change and its likely implications. With the roll-out of Universal Credit, parents claiming the credit had expected that they would also be entitled to claim...
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Elizabeth Holmes

Bold Beginnings: think piece or set text?

Ofsted's controversial new report on Reception teaching is an opportunity to discuss what really matters in the early years. As I write this, my four-year-old son, who will start school this September, is working hard on the garden (or ‘farm’ as he describes it, after watching CBeebies’...
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Gareth D Morewood

National SEND inquiry: it's time to have your say

A new inquiry promises to review the SEND reforms. We can't afford to waste this opportunity to make our voices heard. The implementation period of the SEND reforms has officially ended, leaving at best a mixed picture with regard to outcomes for young people and families; at worst, a total...
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Gareth D Morewood

SEND reforms implementation: for better or worse?

A humble SENCO's honest appraisal of the progress we've made over the last four years. 1 April 2018 was a significant date, circled on calendars and etched into memories, for one reason: the end of the implementation period for the SEND Reforms. Or so we thought… There are many ‘old’ Statements of...
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John Viner

New FE access policy is a clause for concern

With the 'Baker clause' now in effect, secondary schools are obliged to open their doors to technical education providers. But are they meeting this new requirement? Former education secretary Kenneth Baker addresses the 1987 Conservative Party conference in Brighton. Picture credit: Evening...
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John Viner

Another year, another education secretary

Unexpected departures and new arrivals at the DfE have brought the future of government education policy into question. Just as the profession was developing a good working relationship with a new secretary of state for education, we looked up and, instead of Justine Greening, found Damian Hinds...
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Sue Birchall

School funding reform: welcome relief or wishful thinking?

The government's promise of more investment in schools is welcome news to SBMs, but Sue Birchall thinks the proof is in the pudding. Never one to turn my nose up at more money, imagine my delight at the secretary of state for education, Justine Greening’s announcing that there will be even more...
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