The children's rights watchdog in Wales said that provision of education in pupil referral units (PRUs) remained inconsistent, and that there was a need to change the general attitude towards the units. The report said that too many children and young people were sent to PRUs after their issues had gone unsupported and had escalated to a point where engaging in education was particularly difficult. It said that the units faced challenges in delivering the curriculum because of issues such as pupil needs, small staff numbers, recruitment challenges, and difficulties in finding good quality alternative and vocational provision for 14 to 19s. Whilst there were examples of good practice, some PRU staff reported finding difficulties securing support from other agencies, and in engaging parents. The report made a range of recommendations for Welsh Government and for the regional education consortia in Wales.
Source: The Right to Learn: Supporting children and young people at pupil referral units to reach their potential, Children's Commissioner for Wales
An article discussed a program theory of the school inspection system in England (Ofsted). It said that the key mechanisms that underpinned Ofsted's promotion of school improvement were the setting of standards, giving feedback, the use of sanctions and rewards, the collection of information on schools, and public accountability. The article considered the logic behind the approach, and called for further research.
Source: Karen Jones and Peter Tymms, 'Ofsted's role in promoting school improvement: the mechanisms of the school inspection system in England', Oxford Review of Education, Volume 40 Number 3
The Welsh Assembly approved the Education (Wales) Act. The Act was designed to replace the General Teaching Council for Wales with the Education Workforce Council, and introduce a new registration and regulation system of teachers, further education teachers, and learning support workers; change the way in which school term dates would be set; and amend the process through which Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, and Inspectors, of Education and Training in Wales would be appointed. Provisions regarding special educational needs had been removed from the Bill during Stage 2
Source: Education (Wales) Act, Welsh Government, TSO
A report provided initial findings from the evaluation of teaching schools – outstanding schools that worked with others to provide training and development to school staff. The report considered the early development of case study teaching school alliances – groups of schools, led by a teaching school, including those that would benefit from support with training and development. It said that the case study alliances had made a good start, that the alliance partners had a collective sense of commitment, and that they were continuing to evolve in terms of the scope and depth of their partnership work. However, the report also said that there were considerable differences between the ways they established their roles, their alliances, and their initial work, and that there was a range of emerging challenges. The research was ongoing.
Source: Qing Gu, Simon Rea, Robert Hill, Lindsey Smethem, and John Dunford, Teaching Schools Evaluation: Emerging issues from the early development of case study teaching school alliances, National College for Teaching & Leadership
The inspectorate for education and children's services said that the quality of early years provision in England had risen in recent years, with 78 per cent of providers judged good or outstanding. However, the report said that, in the past year, two thirds of children from low-income backgrounds had not reached a good level of development at the age of five (in some areas the figure was more than four fifths), and that pre-school children from poorer backgrounds needed the support of professionally trained teaching staff to prevent them falling behind when they reached school age. The report called for a range of measures, including: better, clearer information for parents to aid choice; better data to aid Ofsted assessment; greater integration of children's centres in the sector, with clearer outcomes measurement; and for the extension of the pupil premium to two-year olds. A companion report discussed good practice regarding children's readiness for school.
Source 1: Early Years, HMI 130237, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
Source 2: Are You Ready? Good practice in school readiness, HMI 140074, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
A report examined education in Wales. It said that Wales had a number of strengths on which to build to move towards its key objectives (to improve students' performance in literacy and numeracy, and to reduce the impact of deprivation on student performance), but the challenges included: a high proportion of low performing students, with consequences for schools' ability to meet learning needs; recruitment, professional development, and career progression policies were underdeveloped; assessment and evaluation arrangements lacked coherence; and reforms lacked a long-term vision, an adequate school improvement infrastructure, and a clear implementation strategy. The report suggested a range of policy options to strengthen the education system over the longer term.
Source: Improving Schools in Wales: An OECD perspective, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
A think-tank report examined school inspections in England. It said that Ofsted should stop observing lessons because the observations may not be valid or reliable. The report called for: more professional inspectors with relevant and recent experience of teaching and better data analysis skills; a review of the use of outsourced contracts for inspectors; and a two-stage inspection process that would enable greater focus on those schools that were in need of support.
Source: Harriet Waldegrave and Jonathan Simons, Watching the Watchmen: The future of school inspections in England, Policy Exchange
The inspectorate for education and children's services began a consultation on proposals to revise the framework for inspecting initial teacher education. The consultation would close on 6 May 2014.
Source: Proposed Revisions to the Framework for Inspecting Initial Teacher Education: Consultation document, HMI 140029, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
A report provided the findings from seven action research projects, conducted by pupils and overseen by staff in schools. Topics covered: able, gifted and talented learners; homework, including cross-curricular homework; and the impact of teaching styles for learning outcomes of white working-class pupils.
Source: Anna Riggall, Richard Churches, and Alex Elwick (eds.), Action Research for School Improvement: Studies on able, gifted and talented learners, homework and white working-class pupils, CfBT Education Trust
A report examined the performance of schools that had converted to academy status in England, by comparing their performance in Ofsted inspections in 2012-13 (against the new Ofsted framework) with that of local authority maintained mainstream schools. It said that, for primary converter academies, those previously rated as outstanding were more likely to retain that rating than local authority maintained mainstream schools, while those previously rated as good or satisfactory were more likely to improve. For secondary converter academies, it said that: those previously rated as outstanding were marginally more likely to retain that rating than local authority maintained mainstream schools; those previously rated as good were more likely to be subsequently rated as outstanding (and were also less likely to achieve a lower rating); and those previously rated as satisfactory were more likely to improve that rating than local authority maintained mainstream schools.
Source: Performance of Converter Academies: An analysis of inspection outcomes 2012 to 2013, Department for Education
A report examined the available evidence on the quality of early childhood education and care for children under three, drawing on international research primarily from the United Kingdom, United States of America, Australia, and New Zealand. The report concluded that developmental benefits were only achieved if children were able to attend good quality provision. It made a range of recommendations, including: for better qualified and better paid staff; to ensure good 'social mix' among children; for appropriate and stimulating physical environments; for the further strengthening of the Ofsted inspection system; and for the delay of the roll out of the early education initiative until the government could ensure consistently good quality provision.
Source: Sandra Mathers, Naomi Eisenstadt, Kathy Sylva, Elena Soukakou, and Katharina Ereky-Stevens, Sound Foundations: A review of the research evidence on quality of early childhood education and care for children under three – implications for policy and practice, Sutton Trust