Free school meals
16% of pupils in secondary schools eligible for Free School Meals-19% in Primaries
Research from the DfE on the take-up of free school meals will be published shortly. Information on the number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals as at January 2012 is published in the Statistical First Release ‘Schools, Pupils and their Characteristics, January 2012′ available at:
Free school meal eligibility
• In maintained nursery, state-funded primary, state-funded secondary, special schools and pupil referral units 18.2 per cent of pupils were known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals, compared to 18.0 per cent in 2011.
• In maintained nursery and state-funded primary schools 19.3 per cent of pupils were known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals, an increase from 19.2 per cent in 2011. (Table 3b)
• In state-funded secondary schools 16.0 per cent of pupils were known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals, an increase from 15.9 per cent in 2011. (Table 3b)
• In special schools 37.5 per cent of pupils were known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals, an increase from 36.5 per cent in 2011. (Table
• In pupil referral units 36.7 per cent of pupils were known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals, an increase from 34.6 per cent in 2011. (Table
Note- Students who meet eligibility requirements can claim free school meals if they attend school sixth forms, academies, university technical colleges or free schools, but their contemporaries at sixth-form colleges and further education colleges cannot. Fair? Not really.
Deposited Paper- 2012-1607 -Department for Education
Table showing the number of boys known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals in Read more
Underperforming Primaries will be ‘encouraged’ to become Academies
So, what does Underperforming mean?
‘The schools identified as underperforming are those which are in an Ofsted category of “notice to improve” or “special measures” and/or are below the floor standard and have been so for the majority of the past five years. A school is below the floor standard if fewer than 60% of pupils achieve level 4 at key stage 2 in English and maths combined, with rates of progression in English and maths below the national medians.’(Source Lords Hansard 24 September PQ)
The Secretary of State, Michael Gove, recently decided that Downhills Primary school, in Haringey would, due to its “chronic under performance” and the need to secure swift improvement , have to convert to a sponsored Academy status, under the leadership of the Harris Federation. This was seen as something of a test case for the anti-free school lobby as the governors and some parents and the local MP had opposed forced Academy conversion and challenged the move in the courts, unsuccessfully as it happens. Downhills opened as an Academy this September.
Note-Ofsted had placed Downhills under special measures and said in its report (2012) that ’ it is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement.’
Crisis looms due to funding shortage
A Freedom of Information request revealed that from May 2007, government projections showed a rapidly increasing primary school population in each year from 2009 to 2015.
Despite this, in 2007, Ed Balls then Education Secretary told councils to remove surplus primary places or risk losing capital funding. Mr Balls issued guidance telling them: ‘The Department has made clear its view that maintaining surplus places represents a poor use of resources – resources that can be used more effectively to support schools in raising standards’. The guidance went on: ‘The Department expects local authorities to make the removal of surplus places a priority’. Local authorities were told they would not receive capital funding if they failed to cut surplus primary school places. ‘Strategies that fail to commit to addressing surplus capacity at local authority or individual school level will not be approved’. The big problem is the baby boom. In 2010, there were four million children in English primary schools; by 2018, there’ll be 4.5 million. So if Ed Balls blundered, has the Coalition got this covered? No, not really. Although some elements of the education budget were protected, which produced encouraging headlines, there have been swingeing cuts to the capital available for new schools-new schools will be needed to cope with the demand as expanding existing schools is often not possible. And indeed some of the new Free schools are proving to be relatively expensive which also means that this initiative will not have the funding to expand in the way the government would wish (ie there is not enough capital available to fund the demand for Free schools-so bids are being rejected not because they fail to satisfy the criteria-the official stance- but because there is no money available). As Jonn Elledge has pointed out in the Guardian the biggest story in education won’t be about academies, or grade inflation, or international league tables: it’ll be about parents petrified they can’t find a school place for their child. The Department for Education’s core resources budget had, of course, been protected, although there have been allegations that perceived funding shortfalls mean that Heads and governors are dipping in to the Pupil Premium to make up shortfalls . (funding that is supposed to go to disadvantaged pupils). But its capital budget – the bit that pays for buildings and so forth – is to fall by 60% over four years. Gove squeezed another £1.2bn out of the Treasury last autumn but nobody thinks that this will be enough to cover the additional Primary places that will be required over the medium term. The Government may be forced to turn to the private sector for capital , but that is the more expensive option.
COMPULSORY MATHS IN SCHOOL POST 16
Published Letter-The Times 30 July 2012
Sir, No one doubts the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, but making maths compulsory post-16 would surely be counterproductive. Most people cope very well in the jobs market with basic maths skills. Of course it is important to raise standards at primary and at early secondary level, but coercing pupils into studying maths post-16 is unlikely to greatly improve outcomes. For such a policy to be workable you would need a cadre of high-quality maths teachers. This is currently not the case. Even top private schools find it hard to recruit good maths teachers.The danger, of course, is that this would damage the prospects of those who are keen on maths because they have to share their class with demotivated pupils. Mediocre teaching plus demotivated pupils doesn’t equal a good learning environment. Maths is perceived as dull by many pupils, and part of this is probably due to the teaching and a lack of imagination and creativity in the way the subject is taught.There is no silver bullet here, but beginning early, at the primary level, to ensure that maths is accessible, engaging, relevant and fun for pupils would be a good start. We should begin by focusing on the shortage of good maths teachers rather than coercing pupils to continue to fail at maths for a bit longer.
Patrick Watson London SW8
The School Information Regulations 2012
If you run a school-you may need to up-date its web site
Ebacc information required
Schools should take note that from September 2012 there are changes to the law covering exactly what information is required on your schools web site . The rules have become more detailed because from September the website can be the ‘school prospectus’ and the requirement to annually publish a prospectus disappears.
There is no need to panic. Many schools, most probably, will already have a detailed website that covers most of the new requirements with Curriculum information, detailed calendars, info about staff, etc. It is important though to read the new Regulations.
Information has to include for example.-The Name, address, telephone number of school , information on admissions, including any selection or over-subscription criteria, and information about where parents can access the Local Authority’s composite prospectus. Also links to the most recent OFSTED report and to the School Performance Table on the DfE Website. And, of course, a statement about the school’s ethos and vision.
At KS2 you must ,for example, include: (a) % achieving Level 4 or above in Eng & Maths, (b) % achieving Level 5 or more in English, (c) % achieving Level 5 or more in Maths, and (d) % making ‘expected progress.
At KS4 you must include: (a)% achieving 5 A*-C in GCSEs or Equivalents including Eng & Maths, (b) % achieving the English Bacc, and (c) % of pupils making expected progress
This is by no means all the information required. Go to the School Information (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (Statutory Instrument 2012-1124) and have a closer look if you are worried.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb is a fan of Professor ED Hirsch
Curriculum Proposals reflect his approach and ideas
The Governments approach to the new curriculum has been informed by the thinking of Professor ED Hirsch, a traditionalist and opponent of the approach articulated by the late John Dewey. Hirsch accused Dewey of creating a form of educational anarchy, of leaving children’s education to themselves. Hirsch asserts that Dewey separated knowledge from education. Dewey criticised traditional education for lacking in holistic understanding of students and their experience and designing curricula overly focused on content rather than content and process which is judged specifically by its contribution to the well-being of individuals and society.
Hirsch is often quoted by schools minister Nick Gibb, who is an unabashed admirer of Hirsch, rather than Dewey . Dewey has been labelled a ‘progressive’ meaning that he eschews the traditional approach, which is, as one might expect, an over- simplification of his position.
Hirsch believes that the basic goal of education in a human community is ‘acculturation’ – in other words the transmission to children of the specific information shared by the adults of the group or community. So knowing key objective facts and possessing a strong foundation of general knowledge are at the very heart of a good rounded education. His 1987 book, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know, appended long lists of facts and tapped a strong current of concern about US education, which continues until today. It was then extended to provide a Core Knowledge Sequence of year-on-year prescriptions for each subject pre-school to Grade 8 (age 13-14). Cultural literacy is the necessary core information that students must have to understand what they read. Young people are not good readers because they lack this cultural literacy, Hirsch argued .He set out to remedy the problem by “spelling out, grade by grade, in detail, what students must know in a variety of fields if they are to be competent and understanding readers.” He also said that the more knowledge and skill a person has, the more they can acquire. “Learning builds on learning” and has a multiplier effect.
In addition to this Core Knowledge curriculum, Hirsch launched a system of Core Knowledge schools to teach it along with a Core Knowledge Foundation to support them. Hirsch emphasizes that all learning requires effort. The effort of attention is needed as well as, crucially, repetition. There is nothing wrong with repetition-indeed its an important tool. He argues that “no matter how much innate maths ability a child has, he or she will not learn the multiplication table effectively by osmosis” Thus, drill and practice are necessary for learning. This is clearly reflected in the proposals for the new Primary curriculum.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE PRIMARY PLACES SHORTFALL
Where is the funding to create new capacity?
The Government will have to do something about the chronic shortage of Primary school places.In Greater London alone, primary schools are at an average of 110% of capacity. The problem has crept up on the DFE and it has only belatedly acknowledged the extent and scale of the problem. Figures show that more than 800,000 extra places will be needed in state-funded nursery and primary schools by the end of the decade. Demand for primary places is projected to increase by 434,000 by 2018, with acute shortages projected in cities such as London, Manchester and Bristol. According to official forecasts, the number of under-11s in the education system will rise from 4m to 4.82m by 2020 – taking the primary school population to its highest level since the early 70s. New free schools (so far just 24 are up and running)aren’t always located where demand is greatest.
Significantly increasing capacity over the medium term is not something that can be avoided. But public funding for this is in short supply. There are three options in terms of funding the new capacity. Public capital, PFI and straight private capital. The Government looks likely to exhaust the first two options before they move onto the third, because of the perceived political risks associated with it. But how long will they take in holding out against straight private cash, not least because PFI is now showing up on the books? Clearly accessing private capital is politically problematic, but with other options limited and so long as its seen as funding for additional schools, then maybe its manageable. One thing is for sure much more thought has got to go in to working out where new Free schools need to be established to meet surging demand. Establishing them in areas where demand is not greatest will not make much sense and will look wasteful.
In the Autumn Statement 2011, the Treasury announced an additional £600 million of capital basic need funding for schools in England. On 11 April 2012, the Secretary of State announced the allocation of this funding for local authorities. The £600m will be allocated to those authorities that show a shortfall in places as at 2013/14. 110 authorities will have a proportionate share of the £600m, based on data from the 2011 schools capacity forecast. Some experts believe that government funding plans fall far short of what will be needed to cover the additional places that will be required. There are also concerns that many Primary schools will increase very significantly in size, which will be unpopular with parents.Independent schools may see this as a marketing opportunity as small class size and good pupil teacher ratios are seen as key attractions of the independent sector.
- PAYING FOR RESULTS-CAN IT HELP RAISE PERFORMANCE- OR DOES IT CORRUPT THE LOVE OF LEARNING?
- PROSPECTS JOINS MUTUAL JOINT VENTURE TO DELIVER PUBLIC SERVICES-GOVERNMENT KEEN ON EMPLOYEE OWNED MUTUALS DELIVERING PUBLIC SERVICES
- PROFESSOR TONY WATTS RESIGNS FROM THE NATIONAL CAREERS COUNCIL
- EDISON LEARNING AND THE NAHT UNION LAUNCH A SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVE WITH DFE BACKING
- THE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF ACADEMIES-WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE CONCERNS?
- PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE REPORT ON ACADEMIES-SOME CONCERNS OVER FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
- CAIRNS OF BRIGHTON COLLEGE BACKS ACADEMIES
- IS CAREERS ADVICE IN SCHOOLS EFFECTIVE OR IS IT TOO EARLY TO SAY?
- LEMOVS TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION -TOP TECHNIQUES USED BY THE BEST TEACHERS
- THE PUPIL PREMIUM AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS
- EDUCATION EXPORTS-NEW GOVERNMENT STRATEGY IN THE WINGS?
- INSPECTING ACADEMY CHAINS-ON THE AGENDA
- Careers advice and Guidance
- Charity Status
- Charter School
- Coalition Education Policy
- Conservative policy
- Discipline and Truancy
- early years learning
- education market
- education quangos
- education reform
- Free schools
- higher education
- Home Education
- independent schools
- primary schools
- Public Services Reform
- published letters
- Pupil Support
- quality assurance
- quality assurance and inspection
- school governance
- secondary schools
- Secure Estate
- SPECIAL NEEDS
- teachers and teaching
- Think tanks
- us education system
- Youth policy