Tag Archives: cfbt education trust


Partnership grows out of partnership

And Partnerships  are improving outcomes in Lincolnshire

CfBT Education Trust has just published a research report  ‘Partnership working in small rural primary schools’ .

Robert Hill and the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) were commissioned  to investigate the most effective ways for small rural primary schools to work together in order to improve provision and raise standards. The project sought to examine the circumstances and context of small rural schools in Lincolnshire and evaluate their different leadership models (such as collaborations, federations, partnerships or academy chains) to:

identify successful approaches to collaboration likely to have a positive impact on pupil achievement

identify barriers to successful collaborative models

understand the role of the local authority in enabling effective partnership

place the Lincolnshire approach in the context of approaches being adopted in other areas in England and best practice in partnership as identified in research literature

identify issues and recommendations for policymakers to consider.

The report provides three sets of ten lessons for schools, policymakers and local authorities.

As well as the main report of findings there is a secondary report composed of supporting materials which is also available to download.

Although the researchers looked specifically at partnerships involving small schools, which have their own distinctive challenges ,some of the lessons learnt will be of interest  and utility to secondary schools.  The authors do not think that academisation and the establishment of teaching schools will , by themselves, address the problems and challenges facing small primary schools. There are 4,000 schools in England with fewer than 150 pupils and 1,400 with fewer than 75.

CFBT Education Trust provides school improvement support in Lincolnshire  and the report states ‘Lincolnshire provides a test-bed for how far it is possible to foster partnership working, address previous obstacles and build a school-to-school improvement model for small rural  schools’

 Ten Lessons for schools:  

Build on existing partnerships and relationships

Keep local partnerships geographically focused

Ensure that head teachers leading a collaboration develop strong relationships, shared values and commitment to each other

Be clear about governance, funding and accountability

Involve middle leaders in the leadership of partnerships

Use business plans and action plans to prioritise what partnerships will do together

Use action plans to prioritise and clarify what partnerships will do together.

Focus partnership activity on improving teaching and learning through teacher-to-teacher and pupil-to-pupil engagement and learning – including the use of digital contact between staff and pupils.

Focus any dedicated resources on providing dedicated leadership or project management time to organise activity and/or cover transport costs.

Be prepared to engage in multi-partnership activity and for the form and membership of partnerships to evolve over time.

Monitor and evaluate the impact of partnership activity


Ten lessons for local authorities:

 Provide a clear vision of the future in terms of school-to-school working.

Be flexible about the structural arrangements for partnerships but encourage a direction of travel   that moves to more structured arrangements – and formalise the arrangement, whatever form it takes.

 Expand the use of executive headship, using soft influence and hard levers (for example, intervening when schools are failing or struggling to recruit a new headteacher) to reinforce the growth of local clusters and the recruitment and retention of high quality school leaders.

Insist on schools agreeing on measures of progress and success – which they track and monitor

Focus any allocation of ring-fenced resources on providing some dedicated leadership or (start up) project management time to coordinate partnership activity and/or cover transport costs.

Reinforce a partnership strategy by the way that other policies on areas such as children’s services and place planning are framed and implemented.

Use simple practical initiatives to help foster partnership depth – such as time at headteachers’  briefings for cluster heads to work together, appointing the same professional link adviser to all the  schools in a partnership and enabling partnerships to jointly procure CPD.

Identify headteachers to champion the strategy, build ownership among their peers and provide a guiding coalition for change.

Support networking and communication between schools and partnerships through newsletters,  micro-websites and conferences.

Stick with the initiative – recognising that elements of the programme will evolve and that the full benefit will take time to come through.

Ten lessons for policymakers:

Set a clear, consistent vision and strategy for primary schools – and small primary schools in particular – to work together in small clusters but without being prescriptive on the form it should take.

Recognise in the way that policies are developed that schools are likely to engage in partnership with other schools on a number of different levels.

Affirm the role of local authorities in steering and enabling clusters to develop and grow.

Work with faith bodies to encourage and facilitate cross-church/community school partnerships.

Aim to develop 3,000–4,000 executive leaders of primary schools and provide a career path and training and development to match this ambition.

Encourage governors to work and train together across clusters, and encourage moves towards exercising governance at cluster level through federations, trusts and multi-academy trusts.

Reinforce the strategy of cluster working by enabling school forums to allocate lump sums to clusters as well as to individual schools.

Communicate the value of partnership working to parents and the wider world in order to provide more support for the efforts of small schools in developing partnerships.

Ensure that the accountability regime balances the competitive pressures among schools to recruit pupils with measures that value partnership working.

Evaluate the impact of partnership working at national level and provide tools to help schools assess the impact of partnership initiatives.

 There is a spectrum of partnership models in evidence. This ranges from loose, informal collaboration between schools, through informal collaboration underpinned by a memorandum of understanding , to more  formal collaboration, for example, including  a management agreement with an executive head, and on to a Federation or multi-  academy trust with  executive head teacher  and single governing body.

 Of the 99 small schools in Lincolnshire just 7 are in no form of collaborative arrangement.

As far as outcomes are concerned, the report says ‘Identifying the impact of Lincolnshire’s partnership programme is both difficult and easy. It is relatively easy to establish whether there has been progress and improvement but much more difficult to be sure about the causes for that improvement. There are three useful sources of evidence that deal with the first issue – whether there has been improvement.’

‘In 2009 the performance of pupils in small schools was significantly below that of their  peers in larger schools and was lagging behind the national performance.(As   measured by the proportion of pupils achieving level 4 or above in English and mathematics (and, for  2013, in reading, writing and mathematics). However,  in  2012 pupils in the  smallest schools were matching the national benchmark and also the achievement of the largest  schools in Lincolnshire. In 2013 results indicate that small schools were just above both the national performance level and the average for other groups of Lincolnshire schools – apart from those with  181 to 270 pupils.’

Second, the number of small primary schools with fewer than 90 pupils falling below the government’s  floor target for primary schools fell from over 20 to single figures in 2012 and to just one in 2013. This is despite the threshold for the floor target having been raised twice during this period.

Third, the Ofsted inspection outcomes of the smallest primary schools inspected during the school years 2011/12 and 2012/13 show significant improvement. The number of ‘outstanding’ and ‘inadequate’  (respectively Grade 1 and Grade 4) small rural schools in Lincolnshire has remained the same but  there has been a sizeable reduction in the number of ‘satisfactory’/’requiring improvement’ (Grade  3) schools and a corresponding increase in the proportion of ‘good’ (Grade 2) schools. The 65 Lincolnshire schools, taken as a group, have moved from having inspection outcomes that are much  poorer than other primary schools in England to having, on average, better inspection outcomes. ‘

Partnership working in small rural primary schools: the best of both worlds Research report Robert Hill, with Kelly Kettlewell  and Jane Salt-April 2014





Lincolnshire has 21 Special schools, 276 Primary schools and 59 Secondary schools, including 83 Academies. In addition, Lincolnshire remains one of the few areas in the UK to retain Grammar Schools and there are also a range of Primary and Secondary schools provided by the independent sector. CfBT Education Trust  took responsibility for school improvement in Lincolnshire in 2002 and since then the performance of schools and settings has shown sustained improvement year on year.

In 2012, CfBT won the Education Investor award for ‘Best School Improvement Service’ for its work in Lincolnshire.



Not for Profit Education Service provider recruits Steve Munby as its new Chief Executive

Neil McIntosh hands over in November


International education consultancy CfBT Education Trust has appointed Steve Munby, currently Chief Executive of the National College for School Leadership, as its new Chief Executive. Steve will take up the post this November. He replaces long-standing CEO Neil McIntosh who steps down after more than 20 years in the role.

Established 40 years ago CfBT Education Trust, ranked by income, is the 30th largest charity in the UK , now   with an annual turnover exceeding £100 million and employing more  than 2,000 staff worldwide. Originally established to provide the recruitment, induction, administration, professional, development and resettling of British  teachers aswell as  directly  training British teachers for service abroad, it has developed into a leading education services provider offering a comprehensive range of services,  with a substantial footprint both here and abroad.  Its staff currently support educational reform, teach, advise, research, inspect and train.

It runs a number of schools in both the maintained and independent sectors, including academies and new free schools, establishing a CfBT Schools Trust to provide support for its schools through a strong team of school improvement experts able to provide advice and guidance on all core subjects and whole-school issues. Its broader work includes the development of curriculum standards, capacity building, school improvement (it runs the school improvement service in Lincolnshire) and structural reform, institutional strengthening and sustainability, community participation, development of strong and successful public/private partnerships and supporting reform in post-conflict countries. It is also a major contractor to Ofsted for schools inspections.

It reinvests its annual surplus in educational research and development projects which helps inform education policy and practice in the UK and overseas in order to benefit learners worldwide.

Steve began his career as a secondary school teacher in Birmingham, later  moving to the North East of England where he worked as a teacher and  then as a lecturer. In 1987, he became a consultant on student assessment and records of achievement, working for the nine local education authorities in North East England, before becoming an Inspector within the Education Department in Oldham. He then managed the Advisory Service in Oldham  before moving to Blackburn in 1997 as the area’s Assistant Director of  Education.  From 2000 to March 2005, he was Director of Education and Lifelong Learning in Knowsley, Merseyside. Since 2005 Steve has been Chief Executive of the National College. The National College is the first college anywhere in the world uniquely dedicated to the professional development of school leaders. Its mission is ‘to develop and support world-class leaders with the talent and vision to change children’s lives.’ It provides  a range of leadership development programmes and support that gives leaders  ‘the opportunity to be the best they can be harnessing the skills and energy of the best leaders so that they can drive improvement beyond their own schools and organisations’.

During Neil’s tenure CfBT Education Trust significantly expanded the scope and value of   its operations, both in the UK and abroad, including the management of large government contracts, and it has been at the cutting edge of education reforms over the last generation, stressing the importance of evidence based policy and practice. The quality and scope of its research is acknowledged internationally and is frequently referenced.


Philip Graf , Chair of the Trustees of CfBT Education Trust, said of Neil McIntosh  “Since he joined CfBT as CEO in 1990 Neil has transformed the organisation from a £7.4 million per annum manager of English Language programmes to an organisation with an annual income of more £150 million and a worldwide presence as a leading education consultancy and I feel sure that we shall continue to flourish under Steve’s leadership.”


Steve said that he was proud of his seven year record at the NCSL and “the  positive impact  that the College has made on the lives of children and young people in England.”He added “I am really excited about taking on the new role of CEO at CfBT. It is a unique opportunity to lead a strong charitable organisation with a great reputation working in the field of education in the UK and globally, especially an organisation with such a clear moral purpose and commitment to public benefit.”


Education secretary Michael Gove said: “Steve has been an excellent public servant, and I am very grateful to him for the inspiring way he has led the National College over recent years. His commitment to improving school leadership has had a hugely positive impact on the lives of many children and young people across the country. I wish him all the best in his new role in CfBT.”





On going debate on Early Years curriculum generates more heat than light

But New report helps identify what works abroad-six programmes showing significant impact


There is considerable on-going debate about  how to educate our youngest children and  what is  the right balance to be struck  between play and more formal methods of instruction.

Today, the important question before researchers and policy makers is what kind of preschool or nursery is most effective for young children? Which particular programmes have positive outcomes and what elements of these programmes contribute to their effectiveness?  The early years curriculum has divided  experts and the debate is now somewhat  polarised. Some believe that that we have got the mix about right and young children  need clear goals and targets , others that  the last governments approach  was too prescriptive, was  not evidence based (ignoring best practice in the most successful systems)  and   is  weighted too heavily towards teaching,  not allowing  sufficient time or scope for children to  play, and less formal activities.

Notwithstanding  some difficulties in evaluating the locally delivered  Sure Start programme (the initiative is highly devolved)   what evaluations we have , have delivered at best  mixed findings.  While there have been positive impacts on social development and health outcomes, there has been no significant impact on oral language development, an important precursor to success in school (Belsky & Melhuish, 2007)

A new report from CFBT Education Trust looks at international (mainly US) evidence  ‘‘Effective early childhood education programmes: a best-evidence synthesis’ reviews research on the outcomes of programmes that teach young children in a group setting before they begin reception.

The aim of the review is both to assist educators and policy makers in deciding the types of programmes to implement and to inform researchers about the current evidence on nursery programmes as well as guiding further research. This report systematically reviews research on the outcomes of programmes that teach young children in a group setting before they begin reception. Study inclusion criteria included the use of randomised or matched control groups, and study duration of at least 12 weeks. Studies included valid measures of language, literacy, phonological awareness, mathematical, and/or cognitive outcomes that were independent of the experimental treatments. A total of 40 studies, evaluating 29 different programmes met these criteria for outcomes assessed at the end of preschool and/or reception/kindergarten.

The review concludes that on academic outcomes at the end of preschool and/or reception, six early childhood programmes showed strong evidence of effectiveness and five had moderate evidence of effectiveness.

The best approaches were those that provided a planned curriculum and emphasised teacher-led practice, supported by so-called structured “child-chosen” activities. Of the  programmes reviewed, eight are available for implementation  in the UK.

Most of the studies reviewed were conducted in the US, many in large urban areas. However, the similarities of the challenges of large inner city communities in the US to those in the UK lead one to think, according to the report,  that the findings would likely generalise to the UK.  A few longitudinal studies have followed their subjects into secondary school, and even adulthood. These studies show that comprehensive programmes, from a cognitive developmental perspective rather than a solely academic focus, had better long-term effects on social adjustment outcomes such as reductions in delinquency, welfare dependency, and teenage pregnancy, and increases in educational and employment levels. While the curriculum is one important factor that differentiates early childhood programmes, another factor that also differentiates programmes is the degree of support that the teachers are provided in implementing the curriculum.

The authors state ‘The findings of this review add to a growing body of evidence that programmes can have an important impact on increasing the school readiness of young children. There is a tremendous need for systematic, large-scale, longitudinal, randomised evaluations of the effectiveness of preschool interventions in bringing children from high-risk environments to normative levels of academic achievement. However, this review identifies several promising approaches that could be used today to help children begin primary school ready to succeed’ . Oli de Botton, a senior consultant at the CfBT Education Trust and  former teacher, told  Children and Young People Now recently   that early education should balance the discipline of teaching with play. But he also said that  teacher intervention and use of academic materials improve outcomes significantly, particularly for the most deprived children. “Effective programmes didn’t exclude play, but they did include a significant amount of teacher-directed activity,” he explained.

The full report concludes that on academic outcomes at the end of nursery and/or reception, six programmes originating in the USA, show strong evidence of impact: Curiosity Corner, Direct Instruction, ELLM, Interactive Book Reading, Let’s Begin with the Letter People and Ready Set Leap! Whilst most of the programmes delivered some child-led activities, teacher input was always emphasised.

Effective early childhood education programmes: a best-evidence synthesis(2010)-CfBT Education Trust

Bette Chambers University of York and Johns Hopkins University; Alan Cheung Johns Hopkins University; Robert E. Slavin University of York and Johns Hopkins University; Dewi Smith Success for All Foundation; Mary Laurenzano Johns Hopkins University

For report and case studies see:




Real Focus on the importance of teachers Continuous Professional Development


It is a given that the quality of teaching affects pupil attainment and other school based  outcomes and the DCSF has placed a particular emphasis , informed by recent research from the likes of Professor Dylan Wiliam of the IOE , on the importance of  continuous professional development  for teachers.  The Training and Development Agency (TDA) in particular is seeking to improve the quality and take up of CPD provision. Although initial teacher training is regarded as important current thinking suggests that ITT is not, seen as the total professional formation of the teacher.  It is seen more as the beginning of a professional journey with opportunities in CPD and indeed the new Masters in Teaching and Learning programme to help teachers extend and develop their understanding  of teaching practice and how they can best support pupil learning  and fufil their other welfare responsibilities. In November 2009 TDA published a new professional development strategy (PDS) which includes plans to strengthen CPD leadership, impact evaluation and training for support staff, and is underpinned by three key priorities of embedding a learning culture within schools, increasing coherence and collaboration and improving quality and capacity. The PDS can be found on TDA’s website:


Teachers in the north-west and challenging schools are now eligible for enrolment for the new Masters in Teaching and Learning (MTL). The MTL builds on Initial Teacher Training and induction and will have immediate relevance to teaching and learning in the classroom, focusing on developing and honing teachers’ practice through inquiry and use of evidence. The MTL will also aims to help schools to develop what is seen as an increasingly collaborative culture of professional development. Additionally, the new Licence to Practise alongside a CPD entitlement is aimed at ensuring that all teachers have access to the CPD they need to guarantee they continue to be effective in the classroom. Ofsted’s 2006 report on CPD, ‘The Logical Chain’ found that the most effective CPD takes place in schools. Against the backdrop the Government published its White Paper ‘Your Child, Your School, Our Future: Building a 21st century schools system’ gave TDA and the National College a joint remit to provide advice on how a nationwide network of quality assured CPD can be delivered through school clusters, utilising existing provision such as Training Schools, Teaching Schools and Leadership Development Schools. Ministers have welcomed preliminary advice on how this can be achieved and further advice is expected in spring 2010.The ministerial advice can be found on TDA’s. To help ensure that schools and teachers become more informed consumers in identifying effective and quality assured professional development TDA has now also rolled out a new national database with an associated code of practice. There are currently over 4,000 opportunities for professional development listed on this database. The Government is confident that its policies will ensure that schools and the school work force are equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st Century School and, thus, improve outcomes for children and young people.

A recent report   ‘Is initial teacher training failing to meet the needs of all our young people by James Wetz, a former Headteacher, published by CFBT Education Trust questioned whether initial teacher training is sufficient or adequate to cope with the socially supportive role now required of our teachers . The thinking goes that schools are more than providers of education.  They also have a role in safeguarding the emotional well-being of their pupils, certainly this is the governments view, if you look at the outcomes expected in Every Child Matters. So, it follows that we must reassert the role of schools as inclusive social institutions and this clearly  places new demands on teachers and their training.  Wetz  believes that our teachers  are in practice disadvantaged by inadequate and what he terms  ‘reductionist’ routes to qualified teacher status, which provide them with neither the appropriate skills and understanding nor the theoretical framework and practical experience to adequately support disaffected and disengaged pupils .Some  educationalists subscribed to Wetz’s view that ITT is the best place to start to address the problem. Others believe that teachers should remain focused on the learning environment and specialist support should be brought in as appropriate to work with them. Yet others think that the emphasis should be not so much on ITT but on continuing professional development and sharing best practice within schools.

What is clear is that most agree that ITT is not the end of teachers training and the quality of teachers and classroom teaching depends on high quality Continuous Professional Development throughout a teacher’s career while making sure that  best teaching  practice  is shared with peers. Teacher collaboration is critical to influencing practice and sustaining change in schools.



Think tank recommends measures for removing obstacles and  supports  the profit motive


A Policy Exchange/New Schools Network Report ‘Blocking the Best’ released this week examines the barriers which prevent new providers from running state schools  and claims  that Academies freedoms have been  badly eroded .

Unlike most other education systems there is  no mechanism in our  state sector by which parents and children, rather than local or national bureaucracies, decide whether a new school should be created. The report says that whatever the rhetoric of the three political parties, unless they deal with these practical barriers to setting up schools – and the limits on what those schools can do – a thriving system of independent, state-funded schools will never come into existence.

The obstacles in place for those who want to try and establish a school are identified including , for example, a  ponderous approval process and overly restrictive planning and building procedures .The report also looks at restrictions on academy independence which curb innovation, including bureaucratic and poorly-focused accountability mechanisms and interference by central and local government.

One of the biggest obstacles, of course, to providers  getting involved in running state schools is that they cant make a profit from their engagement nor will they be able to under current Tory proposals. The Shadow Education Secretary, Michael Gove ,who helped set up Policy Exchange in the first place  and was its first Chairman,  speaking at the launch this week  encouaged  suppliers such as CFBT Education Trust and Serco to become involved in  running   new free schools. But he would not give ground on the  profit issue,  which placed him at odds with the authors of this report. Policy Exchange was very specific about the profit issue.  The report states “ There is no doubt that the politics are not easy. However, if we seek a large number of chains to drive expansion in the schools sector then this is one nettle that will need to be grasped. Barring profit reduces the pool of organisations which want to set up several schools, and means those that do exist do not have a direct incentive to expand.”

Both private sector providers and charities are keen to make a surplus from any involvement with schools so they can invest that surplus in the future, building up chains of schools,creating the necessary economies of scale, as happens in Sweden and the United States .Indeed one of the  leading lights of Sweden’s free schools movement ,Anders Hultin, has gone as far as to say  that Sweden’s  schools supply revolution would not have happened had it not been for the profit motive. Perversely, in this country, though,   while we allow profit making companies to run  ‘Special schools’,  dealing with  our most challenging pupils,  prisoners education, including  that of young offenders , to  provide school improvement services to state schools  and  indeed to inspect schools ,we don’t allow them to run them. This makes no sense at all. And this constant invocation of the Swedish model is bogus  if you  remove the key driver that has made it workable and sustainable-the profit motive.

The report rubbishes the Governments new suppliers accreditation system for Academy schools introduced in February 2010. This  new process states that local authorities should be acting as ‘strategic commissioners’ of schools, and that they can now select from the pool of Accredited School Providers and Groups when looking for “a lead sponsor for an academy or lead partner for a majority trust or federation.”  So, sponsors are now divided into those allowed to run a single school and those allowed to run several.   Policy Exchange believes  this  delivers the worst of all worlds. Under the new system the organisations must show evidence of “track record, capacity and educational expertise”. As a result the type of sponsor has moved from those with business backgrounds to education organisations: further education (FE) colleges, universities, schools and local authorities themselves. It dramatically reduces too   the pool of potential providers. Many of the existing, highly successful sponsors of several academies would not have qualified with their first schools – or would not have been willing to enter – under this new system. Putting weight on existing education organisations makes it much less likely that innovation and new models will occur. Second, it confirms the local authority’s central role in deciding who should set up schools, what kind of schools they should be, and under what circumstances. Third, the new system judges a provider solely on its history, not its plans for the future. Rather than allowing any potential provider to demonstrate its vision and competence through an application and through future accountability, the Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) will presuppose its capability or lack of it according to the type of organisation involved. So this all looks regressive.

Its well worth looking at this report in detail if you are potentially interested in running state schools. Gove  at the launch again mentioned the Knowledge is Power chain of Charter schools in the States  set up by teachers  which has  delivered astonishing  results by getting back to the basics with a robust curriculum good discipline, parental involvement, high quality pastoral care and extended school hours. If you want to know what the Tory vision is for free schools take a long hard look at the KIP model. But there is a long way to go before we get there. This report identifies pretty clearly what the main obstacles are to getting there with some useful recommendations attached but the Tories still have to work out how potential  providers can make a surplus from their engagement with state schools  and maybe the Edison model in Enfield (Salisbury school) might provide some clues  in this respect

Policy Exchange Report




It is widely accepted that what happens outside the school gates impacts on the development of children and their performance in schools.

Schools are more than just  providers of education. They also have a role in safeguarding the emotional well-being of their pupils.  Many politicians and educators claim we  must reassert the role of schools as inclusive social institutions.   Indeed, the Government has placed considerable emphasis on the Childrens welfare agenda. This involves children’s safeguarding, child and adolescent mental health, parent support and training, addressed with  more coherent, joined- up  targeted programmes. Many schools now have extended services and have become community hubs, providing a range of services over and above simply education and the provision of a sound learning environment, including offering more extensive pastoral and welfare support. But this places additional requirements and burdens on teachers and two questions stand out. Are teachers properly resourced for this role and, crucially,  are they trained and prepared  to supply such support to disaffected  pupils, a significant minority of whom have  emotional development problems ?

A new ‘perspective paper ‘Is initial teacher training failing to meet the needs of all our young people? authored by former Headteacher James Wetz and published by CFBT Education Trust, says  that increasing numbers of young disaffected  people are acting out ‘attachment difficulties’ which neither their families nor our schools know how to address and which our teachers are inadequately trained and resourced to attend to. The research paper explores whether our teachers are disadvantaged by inadequate and what is termed ‘ reductionist’ routes to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) which provide them with neither the appropriate skills and understandings, nor the theoretical framework and practical experience, to secure successful educational and personal outcomes for disaffected and disengaged young people.

Indeed, the research questions the relevance of traditional initial teacher training (ITT), given the current context in which schooling, in our inner cities and in our communities which have high indices of deprivation, is no longer just an educational project. The implication of this according to Wetz  is not that teachers need to be social workers and therapists, but they do need to have “a therapeutic disposition” informed by a professional understanding  for instance of developmental psychology and attachment theory.

Currently a teachers basic training course last around 36 Weeks. Wetz claims that this is simply not enough for the demands imposed by disaffected youth  and  ITT is, in practice, failing to prepare teachers to support young people with underlying problems. Wetz believes newly qualified teachers neither have the appropriate skills and understanding nor the theoretical framework and practical experience to adequately support disaffected and disengaged pupils .So the profession, educators and politicians need a radical rethink.  He believes that Psychology and child development and ideas such as attachment theory should inform not only policy and practice in education and in teacher training, but should  also be at the heart of the design and organisation of all our  schools.

Tony McAleavy, education director at CfBT Education Trust, warned that teachers receive limited training in dealing with challenging and disaffected young people. He told Children and Young People Now that “There is a degree of amateurishness in the way that teachers are prepared to address young people’s emotional needs,” he said. “Teacher training emphasises the delivery of subjects and classroom management rather than addressing the rounded development of young people.”

He denied that forcing teachers to focus more on the emotional needs of pupils would detract from teaching and learning. “I don’t see why it can’t be win-win,” he said.

Wetz makes a robust case for reform of teacher training. But not everyone agrees. Some, for instance, believe that there is too much emphasis placed on the welfare agenda in schools  and the role of teachers should be to educate children and provide a sound learning environment. Leave everything else to other specialists who can, they say, be brought in to schools as and when required .There is a danger of overburdening teachers. Others, on the other hand, believe that Wetz has raised an important issue but believe   that rather than ITT being the solution,  the key must be in teachers continuing professional development. ITT is not ,after all, seen as the total professional formation of the teacher.  It is much more the beginning of a professional journey, the thinking goes, with ongoing opportunities in CPD and indeed the new MTL pogramme to  help teachers extend and develop their understanding  in this important area.

What is clear though is that the Wetz report has helped catalyze an important debate.

CFBT Report



Responsibility- devolving to schools. But are they up to it?


Most agree that our most gifted and talented pupils deserve special support in their education.

Though some teachers and schools, a minority it has to be said, have been less than keen to identify gifted and talented pupils, as they see this approach as elitist, the Government and opposition parties acknowledge the need to identify and support this group, both in and out of the school environment.

The Government has been running centrally co-ordinated programmes in support of young gifted and talented pupils since 1997. Some successes have been claimed .For instance, regional collaboration in support of Gifted and Talented education in every Government region – along with the introduction of a network of 170 High Performing Specialist Schools. Materials for teachers have also been introduced to help them tailor their planning and teaching, providing structured feedback to pupils and parents and to help identify appropriate support for the most able children.

The DCSF Select Committee last week looked at the programme with the help of expert witnesses. The experts identified some positives but also registered concerns over the historical approach with one witness characterizing it as ‘inconsistent and incoherent,’   reflecting ‘a stop go approach’. Blame for this was attributed to shortcomings in strategic leadership.  The experts, including Professor Deborah Eyre, former Director of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth, University of Warwick, were giving evidence in a one off committee session to look at recent changes to the Gifted and Talented programme and to try and establish whether the programme represented public money well spent.

The Department had contracts with the CfBT Education Trust to manage the YG&T—Young, Gifted and Talented—Learner Academy and with Capita Education  to provide training, guidance and support for leading teachers of gifted and talented education and educators.  Together the DCSF CfBT and Capita have managed and delivered the national programme for gifted and talented education at national level.  The Government is now cutting back on significant elements of the programme, including the Gifted and Talented Academy and wants instead to mainstream support for gifted and talented through schools, under the umbrella of the National Strategies managed by Capita Education services on behalf of the DCSF. The Strategies are, as it happens, in their last year of delivery.

The Minister Diana Johnson looking to the future said that School improvement partners (SIPs) will be expected to play a role in ensuring that there is a focus in all schools in supporting gifted and talented pupils. Ofsted too will look   at provision in schools in its inspections. In addition, the new system of school report cards, currently being introduced will ensure that schools remain focused on this issue. The Minister denied that a decision had been made  to focus primarily on the most disadvantaged pupils ,at the expense of mainstream gifted  pupils, although it was important, she said, to target the most disadvantaged  and to resource this. The Government is keen to push its personalized learning agenda and to stretch each and every pupil. Although there is some misconception though corrected during these hearings that that the scheme focuses just on academic ability. The Gifted label actually applies to academic abilities, the talented to other abilities including sporting prowess.

Professor Eyre of Warwick University who had been responsible for setting up the initial Government scheme, through NAGTY, told MPs there was a feeling in some circles that the “gifted and talented initiative is to increase social mobility”  “I think there are a variety of stakeholders who have goals and purposes for the gifted and talented programme and they are in tension to each other and sometime in opposition to each other,” she said. “There is a sense… that the purpose of the gifted and talented initiative is to increase social mobility and that’s its main purpose, even if that means holding back other people to allow some particular child [to catch up].” She and others giving evidence agreed that also some schools were concerned about promoting the needs of gifted children because it was seen as “elitist” and that some viewed as elitist rater than an equal opportunities issue.  Professor Eyre continued “I think the sooner that gifted and talented stops being seen as an elitist issue and the sooner it starts being seen as an equal opportunities issue the better,” she said. “If you pick somebody by definition you are always going to not pick somebody [else] and I think that’s an issue that has got to be considered within society as a whole.”

Jon Coles, Director General of Schools at DCSF, said that the anti-elitist attitude was   now evident in only a small number of schools and over 800,000 gifted and talented pupils had now been identified, which speaks for itself.  Coles was pressured by the Chairman Barry Sheerman to provide evidence that the scheme was working, and that the £67m of public money so far spent on support represented value for money.  Coles said that there is an independent evaluation that assesses the scheme which is positive.  However, Sheerman pointed out that this was  not what is termed a longitudinal study. A longitudinal study, of course, is one that has followed the same pupils over a long period to check progress. Such a study had apparently been administered by Warwick University but ended after the first phase of the contract.  It did not however continue as part the agreed subsequent contract. Coles however was not aware of the study and indeed had his doubts over whether it actually existed   but gave an assurance to the committee that he would clarify the facts in writing.

The first phase in the Governments programme, from 1997 to 2002, saw Gifted and Talented pupils supported through Excellence in Cities. This was aimed at “transforming the culture of low expectations and achievements by introducing more effective in-school and out-of-hours provision for Gifted and Talented learners. This was focused on able children in specific areas of deprivation.” The second phase saw the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth was established at Warwick University in 2002 (NAGTY). It had 150,000 members identified as being in the top five per cent of pupils in England and had a budget of around £25m. The third, three year   phase, starting in 2007, now coming to an end, was managed by CfBT Education Trust. CfBT Education Trust built on the work of Warwick University and the best practice that it had identified.  The central element of the CFBT managed contract is the Learner Academy. It is in fact a ‘virtual academy’ – an online resource and access point for workshops and courses for learners, teachers and providers. This is a web based hub for all services and stakeholders delivering a programme of G&T, accredited activities designed to aid progression while encouraging self-motivation. The YG&T programme also funds a number of other activities including Regional Partnerships; YG&T helpline; Support for partnerships; City GATES; Excellence Hubs and a National Register, a  database of information about schools and learners identified as being G&T within any given local authority. An innovative online analysis tool was developed too  which enables LAs to make year on year comparisons and analyses by phase, gender, ethnicity and FSM which informs G&T provision planning.

The Ministerial Task Force set CfBT a target of recruiting 250,000 members to the Learner Academy, a target it has exceeded, as membership of the Leaner Academy currently stands at 229,854 learners. An additional 107,000 former NAGTY members have been transferred to the Academy. Since November 2008 there have been more than 1.9 million visitors to the Learner Academy with almost 0.5 million of these accessing secondary resources and a further 300,000 accessing primary resources

Experts at the hearing expressed worries that, given the importance attached to identifying and supporting gifted and talented pupils for the individuals concerned but also for the economy and its competitiveness, the continuous changes and lack of continuity in the programme, might be undermining its effectiveness.  The chairman, Barry Sheerman, felt that the considerable churn in Ministers and senior civil servants at the DCSF and its predecessor department   might have affected the programmes continuity and leadership as might the lack of a political champion in the form of Tony Blair or Andrew Adonis.  The new  approach in devolving nearly  all responsibilities to schools for gifted and talented could mean that much of the success and expertise developed over time dissipates as the policy comes full circle, with schools  now taking the lead role ( with many different priorities to juggle) . It was resistance after all and a lack of focus in schools that prompted the engagement of Warwick University in the first place, to target gifted and talented pupils.  Best practice requires a combination of in and out of school targeted support activities and in ensuring that these efforts are coherent, complementary and mutually supportive.

There are real concerns among experts that targeted support will become a bit of a lottery if largely left up to schools.  And what will happen when the National Strategies come to an end? Surprisingly, perhaps, this question was not pursued by the Committee.



East Sussex pilots might hold valuable lessons for school discipline


Pupil behaviour is cited consistently by staff, parents and young people as one of the leading problems in schools.  Indeed, it serves to disrupt pupils education, is a factor in parents deciding on their choice of school and, in  some  cases, graduates decision not to choose teaching as a career Indeed, many  teachers who leave the profession early cite poor discipline and  classroom behaviour as a  major factor in sealing their exit.  In 2007/8, children in English state schools were given 384,000 suspensions – representing some 5.14 per cent of the pupil population. Although this was a drop compared with the previous year it represented a significant rise on the 4.5 per cent 2003/4 figure.

Head teachers have the powers to place difficult children in pupil sin-bins for months on end.  A document published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families warned that  there was a risk that schools were using this tactic to “keep difficult pupils” outside ordinary classrooms.  The Government in the meantime is planning to introduce new rules from September to stop schools abusing this power. For the first time, heads will be required to give advanced written notice to parents about plans to educate children off-site and alternative classes must be stopped at the end of the academic year.  What is clear though is that discipline, and how to deal with troublesome and disruptive pupils, remains a continuing problem and challenge for Heads and governing bodies.   Current approaches to discipline vary considerably between schools but successful schools invariably have better disciplinary records than their less successful peers.  A study – Restorative Practice in Schools-Paul Howard December 2009 published by CfBT Education Trust reports on restorative justice pilots tested  in three schools in East Sussex (one secondary, one primary and one special)

The report notes that many of the current responses to unacceptable behaviour can be described as ‘punitive’. The impact of punitive approaches though is open to question. For example, significant levels of recidivist behaviour suggest that at least some sanctions have little or no influence over the subsequent behaviour of ‘offenders’. Similarly, those schools that make extensive use of sanctions often continue to do so over time, which suggests that punishment has limited value as a deterrent for other pupils.

There are, however, different approaches that might work.

During the last few years, there has been significant interest for example in the application of restorative justice principles within schools.  Although the use of restorative practice in schools is a recent development, it has deep historical roots. It is the philosophy behind South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and it is now seen to be spreading into workplaces, communities, hospitals – and schools.  The restorative practices are based on the notion that, where conflict occurs, either or both parties and their relationship are harmed and it is this harm that needs to be addressed.  Punitive approaches mean, in practice, a third party acts as judge, jury and executioner. Restorative practice on the other hand envisages ownership of behaviour and conflict resolution.  Critics of the restorative  approach suggest that pupils, if  disputes are mediated by  a third party, may end up with no clear sense that  there  can be absolute right and wrong, and no fault, just shades of grey.  And surely the system can be used to evade direct personal responsibility for their actions.

Not so, claim supporters, as the system focuses on ensuring that pupils see and understand the consequences of their actions, encourages then to take responsibility and to find out much more clearly how others perceive their actions.

Although each school was encouraged to pursue its own development path, the project included a number of common core features. Firstly, briefing for heads and senior leader. Secondly, a model of whole school training in informal restorative practice. Thirdly, formal mediation training for identified staff and pupils. And, finally, consultancy support during the project with those directly involved, who retain responsibility for resolution of the problem.

In Ratton Secondary school, for example, initially, five students and five teachers were trained in formal mediation learning together how to follow set scripts in order to speak to each party involved separately, find out what happened, and identify how people were feeling about the conflict and what they thought should be done.  The principles of the system were also introduced to the whole school through an assembly, and through training for teachers and teaching assistants. The school has achieved well over 40 successful mediations, where mutually worked-out agreements have been maintained, and is starting to see changes to its atmosphere. It is now on its second cohort of mediators, who have found the training “ eye-opening”

Key to the success of this is the extent of the involvement of the schools leadership team including, particularly, the Head. Some initial teacher resistance was soon replaced by  real personal commitment and engagement  from teachers.

Whether or not it was possible for a member of the leadership team to commit time to training in formal mediation, the authors believed that it is of fundamental importance that the head teacher and other members of the team  are routine users of informal restorative techniques. The successful development of restorative practice not only entails the acquisition of new skills and techniques but also requires schools to reflect on their value base and culture .Given that restorative approaches challenge the existing assumptions and practice of at least some staff, the active involvement and engagement of all the school’s senior leaders and staff is an essential element of the programme to ensure its success.

The report seeks to inform schools on the features of different models of practice and guide them in the development of their own restorative practice.  The report’s author, Paul  Howard, told the Independent newspaper (14 January) that there is growing evidence that these practices work, yet the Government has shown little interest and there was no mention of them in last year’s Steer Report on school behaviour.  Ratton School, however, is sure the system leads to more responsible and thoughtful behaviour.

Note: This independent report was commissioned by CFBT Education Trust. Any views conclusions and recommendations expressed in the report are those of the author.




Can a Pupil Premium work?


 Both the Tories and Liberal Democrats (and Alan Milburn) are keen in principle on the idea of a pupil premium, with funding following the pupil to incentivise good schools to take the most disadvantaged pupils.

It could simultaneously achieve two objectives: focus more resources on schools with poorer pupils; and partly counteract any incentive schools may have to “cream-skim” more affluent or easy to teach pupils.

 Education is an essential component of social mobility, so the better educated you are the more likely you are to be upwardly mobile. And you are more likely to be better educated in a good school than a failing school. So far, so obvious. Two reports out this year have confirmed the links between good education and social mobility . And Social mobility is very much on the political agenda. Indeed, one of the key pillars of Tory attacks on education policy is that the lot of the most disadvantaged pupils, those on free school meals, has not measurably improved over the last twelve years. Today the chances of a child who is eligible for free school meals – roughly the poorest 15% by family income – getting good school qualifications by the age of 16 are less than one-third of those for better-off classmates. The latest statistics show that 26.9 per cent of students eligible for FSM achieved five A* to C GCSE grades including maths and English compared to 54.4 per cent of those not eligible. The gap of 27.5 percentage points has decreased slightly from 27.8 last year and 28.1 in 2006 but statisticians will tell you that this change is ‘not statistically significant’. .It is also the case that the better state schools have less disadvantaged pupils. Pupils on FSM are less likely to secure good jobs and entry to the professions.

So, how to get the most disadvantaged children into the better performing schools is seen as key to improving social mobility and a major challenge for policy makers .

The current system of school funding is not really demand led and if it does help the most disadvantaged it does so in a rather indirect and tortuous way. Nor does it help much to improve equity.

A report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies/CFBT Education Trust (2008) Level playing field? The implications of school funding found that the school funding system is overly complex and lacks transparency .Crucially it found the system didn’t assist the Governments choice or equity agendas. Local authorities only allocate around 40–50% of the extra funding they receive for pupils who are eligible for free school meals towards the schools these pupils attend. In other words, local authorities seem to spread the funding targeted at low-income pupils more widely (i.e. ‘flatten’ it). If local authorities did not flatten extra income in this way, the additional money following a low-income pupil would be roughly 50% higher in secondary schools and more than doubled in primary schools. Under the current system, the amount of funding that schools receive does not respond quickly to changes in their numbers of pupils from deprived backgrounds or with additional educational needs. Bearing in mind that Governments are supposed to use this funding to help equality of opportunity, this is an embarrassing charge.

 Dr John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told SecEd that a “national funding entitlement” should be introduced, to ensure that disadvantaged children in more affluent areas get the same support as those in less well-off parts of the country. He said: “Disadvantaged young people attending school in disadvantaged areas do better than disadvantaged children elsewhere. All political parties are rightly looking at the distribution of funding for disadvantage.” “Their aim should be to use information on disadvantage at pupil level, not local authority level, and target additional funding wherever disadvantaged children are at school or college,” he added.

The think tank Policy Exchange found in its School Funding and Social Justice Report (2008) that Ministers talk of funding in terms of “per pupil” amounts but in reality funding for community schools, and voluntary- controlled schools, remains in the control of their LA and so they rarely receive the per capita sum announced by the Treasury. Councils make local decisions based upon their own staffing and overhead costs and other developmental priorities, frequently leading to delays for the schools and uncertainty in their annual budget settlement. Self evidently a system that does not have funding that relates to the pupil will not be responsive to demand. Policy Exchange proposed in its report a new Funding Formula. Under this new formula, all schools would receive per-pupil funding direct from the government and local authority activities would be funded separately. The per-pupil amount would consist of three elements: a base element (different for secondary and primary schools), an area cost adjustment dependent on the cost of hiring staff in different areas, and, if applicable, a “pupil premium” – additional funding for pupils coming from deprived communities. The introduction of a “pupil premium” would help by attaching extra money to students from deprived backgrounds. This would mean that schools that take a large numbers of such students would be better off, giving them extra cash to educate harder to teach children. Additionally, schools in wealthier areas would have an incentive to broaden their admissions to attract premium pupils. Providers of “free schools” would also have an incentive to open in more disadvantaged areas.

 But how much would a Premium amount to?

Policy Exchange suggested a pupil premium worth between £500 and £3,000 per student for the most deprived communities. It would cost £4.6 billion to implement. This money could come, it suggested, from the existing education budget by rolling central grants (like the School Standards Grant) into one revenue payment and scrapping wasteful programmes like the Education Maintenance Allowance and the National Challenge. The premium Policy Exchange recommended should be allocated using “geodemographic” analysis of postcodes as this takes into account cultural as well as financial deprivation.

 The Institute for Fiscal Studies point out that American researchers at the University of California (Equalizing Opportunity for Racial and Socio Economic Groups in the US through Educational Finance Reform 2005) used estimates of the effect of spending on the attainment of black children to say that nine times as much needed to be spent on black children to get their attainment up to the national average. Closing ethnic gaps and gaps in attainment by socio-economic status might not be directly comparable, but if the cost for getting the attainment of poor children up to the national average were just five times the current spending per pupil, the pupil premium would need to be set at err… over £25,000. But the Liberal Democrats and Policy Exchange (the latter regarded as close to Tory thinking -Michael Gove was a co-founder after all) propose a premium in the range of £3,000.

So the devil seems to be in the detail.

In principle the idea of a Pupil Premium is sound.

 But try putting a figure on it and it becomes very difficult. You have to get the sums right. The Premium must act as a genuine incentive to schools otherwise it is wasted money. Get it wrong and you could be needlessly diverting resources from other key areas. The big question of course is with public finances being what they are-can we actually afford it? If not there is certainly much scope for reforming our schools funding system to better target our most disadvantaged pupils and to improve equity. http://www.ifs.org.uk/docs/level_playing.pdf



 Government announcement still awaited-Tories have different plans


Few doubt the importance of independent, high quality careers education, information advice and guidance (CEIAG) to individuals and the broader economy.

 The Government states that ‘effective impartial careers education underpinned by high quality personalised information advice and guidance is a key pillar of Government plans to raise the participation age in learning ‘.

A consultation has taken place in the wake of the Education and Skills Act of 2008 which required all maintained secondary schools to provide impartial advice and guidance.

 The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) will shortly launch its new national Information Advice and Guidance strategy and key principles designed to further strengthen existing IAG arrangements and provision. Recent reports from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Nuffield Review ‘ Education for All ; The Future of Education and Training for 14-16 Year Olds’ have also reiterated the importance of Careers Education Information and Guidance With the compulsory participation age being raised, initially to 17 and ultimately to 18 and the new Diploma qualification now being rolled out, the quality and assessment of such advice, for policymakers and practitioners, alike has become even more important.

But critics claim that there is evidence that many schools currently provide slanted, partial advice to encourage pupils to stay on at their school sixth forms, when this may not be appropriate.

 Lose a pupil and you lose the funding that goes with them .

 Indeed it is widely accepted that too few schools have fully qualified professionals to offer sound, personalised impartial advice appropriate to each individuals needs.

It is estimated that two-thirds of schoolchildren are offered careers advice by teachers who are unqualified to give them the specialist help they need. Advice on Apprenticeships for instance and routes into HE is simply not good enough,and many teachers think that their job is simply to get their pupils qualifications, and what happens to them after they leave school is not really their business.

 In local authorities IAG is variable in quality and scope, with marked regional disparities and differing commissioning approaches, leading to significant variations in the means and quality of delivery.

CFBT Education Trust released this week, at a London event, a number of reports aimed at helping policy makers and practitioners to assess evidence of the impact of CEIAG interventions and whether and where they can make a difference and to use this information to help inform policy and practice.

The three documents ‘Evidence and Impact Careers and Guidance Related Interventions (Dr Deidre Hughes and Geoff Stanton) and its associated Research Paper and Literature Review aim to help policymakers and practitioners to make informed choices and interventions, rooted in evidence based practice. Jointly they offer a practical resource rooted in evidence to inform and support the impact and assessment of CEIAG, within Integrated Youth Support Services. CFBT has also launched a new Educational Evidence Portal http://www.eep.ac.uk/DNN2/

This portal helps you find educational evidence from a range of reputable UK sources using a single search. It is designed for both professional and lay people interested in education and children’s services.

 Some updated research was also released that examines the arrangements for Connexions/ Careers/ IAG services in all 150 local authorities across England, since the budgetary and management responsibilities were passed over from the 1st April 2008. The survey conducted, updates the position reported in the earlier publication on New Arrangements for Young People in England (Watts & McGowan 2007). Analysis includes a particular focus on the impact of career guidance services for young people. Watts and McGowan argue for a stronger and more coherent and joined up national policy framework to be implemented to prevent the continued erosion of career IAG services for young people in England. This should be based they say on detailed clarification of at least three matters; the nature and relationship of key concepts; whether or not the distinctive expertise of the professional Careers Adviser is recognised; and the extent of young people’s entitlement to professional career guidance from an external base.

Andrew McCully, the Director, Supporting Children and Young People Group at DCSF ,who spoke at the CFBT event, accepted that there had been many structural changes to CEIAG provision over the years but looked forward to a period now of consolidation. (Forgetting, perhaps, that Tory proposals for an all age universal Careers service will drive a coach and horses through current Government plans) He acknowledged that CEG in schools was weak and that the economic downturn threatens to increase NEET (it already has).

 Accountability for IAG is often too indirect, he conceded with the pace of reform and change outstripping the systems experience . But there were a number of real positives too, particularly in the way 14-19 partnerships were working well, as are the 14-19 prospectuses and Connexions Direct .The statutory entitlement had brought a necessary focus too. Ofsted feels that Careers advice in schools and colleges is generally effective. The Government wants there to be a whole school commitment to advice and guidance with more ambition to ensure that the culture throughout schools supports CEIAG and that there are properly qualified personal tutors, delivering professional advice in all schools , as well as a review of qualifications for careers specialists, and a skills development framework for Youth workers.

McCully though is against an all age approach to CEIAG believing that adults needs (the new Apprenticeships and Skills Bill anticipated the establishment of an adult careers service) are different and very specific and the focus must be on better integration of a range of Youth services, including CEIAG. The elephant in the room though is the Tories.

They have very different views on the future and the Governments delayed paper on IAG may well be overtaken by events.

 David Willetts who will speak at the IGC November conference has made it plain that he wants an all age independent careers advice service, and that the Tories value independent careers advice, which he doesn’t believe is currently offered to an acceptable degree, through schools or the Connexions service.