WEDNESDAY 25th OCTOBER 2017
New National Funding formula a ‘setback’ for SEND pupils
SEND pupils in many of the local authority areas stand to be hard hit from the government's new funding formula.A school finance expert has warned: Pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) face "real setback" as a result of the government's funding plans.Before the government's funding plans, many local authorities have been forced to supplement their "high-needs" cash with money taken from the main pot of school funding they receive from central government.Local authorities will be restricted in the amount of money they can transfer from the main schools’ budget to support funding for pupils with "high needs".From next year, however, there will be a limit on the amount of money that can be transferred between the two funding streams, equal to 0.5 per cent of a local authority's schools block.Consequently, with the pressure on high-needs budgets continues to grow, there could be real “setbacks” as a result of the new guidance.
Statistics made available by Julie Cordiner, an education funding specialist at consultancy School Financial Success, revealed that in 2017-18, 80 local authorities transferred a total of £118 million into their high needs budgets. Her analysis shows that 0.55 per cent (44) of these local authorities would have breached the 0.5 per cent limit if it had been applied that year. High-needs funding is aimed at SEND pupils, and is under increasing pressure as budgets have been squeezed, the number of conditions being diagnosed has increased, and more children survive serious health conditions that cause developmental delays. “As headteachers, we simply want to see every child’s school in England funded adequately. It is not about all schools receiving identical amounts of money, but it is about the fair application of a formula right across the country.” Their letter stated.
SEND pupils in many of the local authority areas stand to be hard hit from the government's new funding formula.A school finance expert has warned: Pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) face "real setback" as a result of the government's funding plans.
WEDNESDAY 25th OCTOBER 2017
New Assessment System to Measure Pupils’ Progress in Schools
Improving the literacy skills of pupils is a way of improving their performance in primary and secondary schools. The government has unveiled the details of its new assessment to provide better starting point to measure progress and the impact of schools.Plans have been announced for a primary assessment system which focuses on pupil progress, mastering literacy and numeracy, and scrapping unnecessary workload for teachers. The plans to create a stable, long-term approach that ensures children are taught the essential knowledge and skills they need to succeed at secondary school and in later life were published following a 12-week consultation with the teaching profession and other stakeholders. The changes to the assessment system came as a result of detailed consultation on the findings of the Rochford Review. The department for education has indicated that the new system will ensure appropriate assessment arrangements in place for all schools as well as assessing the attainment of children with the most complex educational needs.
The way forward:
The government to introduce a new teacher-mediated assessment in the reception year from 2020 to track pupils progress. Teachers to be involved in the development of the said assessment to ensure that it is appropriate for pupils.
The key stage 1 test and assessments will be made non-statutory from 2023 and also the requirement for schools to submit teacher assessment data to the government for reading and maths will be scrapped as these subjects are already assessed through statutory tests, from 2018-19.
Early years foundation stage profile will be improved through appropriate checks on pupils’ readiness at the end of early years education.
From 2019-20, multiplication checks will be introduced in schools to ensure pupils fluency in mathematics.
Teacher assessment of English writing to be improved by giving teachers greater scope to use their professional judgement when assessing pupils at the end of key stages 1 and 2 from the current academic year (2017-18).
The new reforms, according to the Teaching profession and other Stakeholders will allow teachers from this year, to apply professional judgement when assessing pupils’ writing. Teachers and school leaders will now have sufficient flexibility to properly recognise pupils’ achievements. These new assessments can provide useful information for schools to help inform teaching and learning whilst avoiding unnecessary burdens on teachers or anxiety for young children.
WEDNESDAY 25th OCTOBER 2017
Equitable School Funding
Funding system for Schools in England will receive a big boost, come the 2018-19 and 2019-20 Academic years. A new equitable school funding system –the National Funding Formula (NFF)- based on the individual needs and characteristics of every school in the country is going to replace the outdated funding system which saw children have very different amounts invested in their education purely because of where they were growing up. This follows the Education Secretary’s announcement in July of an additional £1.3billion boost to the front-line schools’ budget. Ensuring that schools throughout the country perform creditably well has been the key set goal of the education sector, however, resources needed to be fairly distributed especially in areas that are behind in the schools’ performance table. It is thus a welcome relief for the government to resort to a system that will make available all the needed resources for schools to do what they have been mandated to do. The NFF has come about as a result of two major consultations initiated by the government with the view of involving all key stakeholders of the educational sector. The responses received have helped in shaping the funding formula that was out doored in parliament in July.
The NFF in brief:
The basic amount for each pupil will increase.
Schools will be helped with a lump sum of £110,000 towards fixed cost, and those in rural and isolated areas will receive £26 million to help overcome their challenges.
Each school to receive at least a minimum cash increase of one percent per pupil by 2019-20. Underfunded schools will see a rise of three percent per pupil in 2018 -2020.
The introduction of the NFF from April 2018 with its equitable funding formula will shore up the already rising standards in the school system and will guarantee that schools receive the needed resources to function effectively.
FRIDAY 29th SEPTEMBER 2017
The National Pupil Database
The National Pupil Database is designed to offer a valuable evidence base to assist the education sector in ensuring accountability and school improvements. According to the department for education, ‘extracts from the database can be shared under strict terms and conditions with named bodies and third parties’. The main rationale under which this information could be accessed will be the promotion and education of the wellbeing of children in the country. The following reasons have been given by the department as the activities that may guarantee the sharing of the NPD with the said named bodies and third parties:
More third parties are encouraged by the department to use the database to produce secondary analysis. Third parties interested in accessing this valuable resource can do so through the department’s website. Requisition for extracts or linked data could be made via the ‘NPD data request application form or the ‘linked data request application form’ and the ‘information security questionnaire. These forms must be filled and emailed via NPD.Requests@education.gov.uk. Users as well as prospective third parties interested in using the database are advised to read the guidelines before using it. Due to the sensitive nature of the information contained in the NPD, users are required to protect the confidentiality of all individuals whose details are found in it.
The NPD contains data about schools, awarding bodies and local authorities. The information collected from these sources is processed by the Data Division of the department for education. The following are some of the data contained in the NPD according to the department for education:
FRIDAY 29th SEPTEMBER 2017
Record number of adoptive families receive multi-million funding
The government has released over £52 million through the Adoption Support Fund to assist families who have adopted children but are struggling financially. The fund has so far supported over 18,000 homes throughout the country. Since its inception in May 2015, it has helped in paying for care that have helped children to settle comfortably with their new parents, in addition to that, it provides the needed emotional support and a worthwhile families experience with adoption. An additional fund of £5 million was announced early August by the Minister for children and families, this extra funding is to help in the provision of innovative projects across the country. Adoptive families try their best by showing love, care and understanding to the children that come to their lives. It is the responsibility of all key stakeholders to play their parts in making sure that children are giving all the needed help that will make them achieve their full potential and contribute their quota towards the future of this nation.
The support provided by the fund can include parenting skills, play and music therapy and cognitive therapy. This invaluable service has been a strong cornerstone for adoption in this country. Parents struggling can promptly request for help through the appropriate agencies for the necessary help to be given. The department for education has indicated that, over 22,000 children have benefited from the fund, thus receiving a much-needed care that will prepare them for life. The government has increased the funding for the year 2017/18 to £28 million, this will bring more families to the fold and help in providing the needed support for caring for adopted children. The fund has improved the lives, behaviour and mental health of children and this has been affirmed by an independent report that monies giving out towards this worthy cause has helped parents that have adopted children a great deal. The need to improve the adoption system in the country cannot be overemphasised, however, the continued implementation of the Regional Adoption Agencies across the country will go a long way in bringing about the long-term improvement in the adoption system.
FRIDAY 29th SEPTEMBER 2017
Financial efficiency in schools
Schools across the country are given funds by the government for their day to day administration. It however, behoves on the school authorities to make sure that the allocated funds is put to effective use, adhering to all laid down procedures on fiscal management and reducing waste in the system. Governors play a vital role in making sure that schools have, and achieve a high standard of achievement for all children in their schools, making sure that resources at their disposal benefits all for the attainment of their full potential. According to the department for education, governors are responsible for ‘setting the school’s vision, ethos and strategic direction’. They are also responsible for the overall oversight of a school’s financial performance and ensuring that the school obtains value for money for all its expenditure. Governors oversee the overall educational performance of schools under their care, thus holding headteachers to account for their stewardships. The importance of good financial performance in schools cannot be overemphasised, it delivers better outcomes for all stakeholders and ensures that the tax payers money is well spent on things that will benefit the wellbeing of school children.
The achievement of good financial performance does not occur by chance, it however, involves strong management policies and adherence to laid down procedures. The governors should be on top of things and must ask the leadership team some tough questions such as, how they can be more efficient with funding received from the government? Whether the school has reviewed the efficiency metric tool? And finally, whether the school curriculum planning achieves the maximum benefit from funding for the pupils? The Education Funding Agency has a benchmarking tools that must be followed. These aids help schools to compare their income and expenditure to similar schools across the country. The department’s guidance on schools’ financial efficiency highlights top 10 planning checks for governors, all with the aim of making sure that schools achieve their set goals. The 10 planning checks published by the department for education are as follows:
WEDNESDAY 30th AUGUST 2017
£52 million Adoption support fund for vulnerable children.
The innovative idea of making adoption accessible to many families that are willing but struggling financially has seen 22,000 children offered homes, much to the relief of authorities and to the children concerned as this comes with provision of much needed emotional support for their wellbeing. The aim of the fund is to fund families who cannot adopt due to financial constraint to do so. The government has also indicated its willingness to fund other projects to the tune of £5 million to provide facilities that will help in making adoption appealing to many families across the country. Every child needs a loving home, and making sure that a strong support of network is provided for families that are ready to adopt will go a long way in ensuring that many families will come forward to adopt children.
The support offered through the adoption system will bring a welcome respite to children and families who have struggled over the years for placement and the needed support throughout the system. The Minister for families and Vulnerable children has reiterated that, government’s commitment in ensuring that only the best service is delivered for vulnerable children has come to stay. The success of the programme has been corroborated by an independent report indicating that parents have tested to the fact that the fund has improved the lives of children through improved child behaviour and mental health. The fund helps children to settle in their new homes. The support according to the department of education may include, ‘parenting skills training’, cognitive therapy’ and ‘play and music therapy. Parents have also given testimonies on how the fund has been a life changing experience for them and their adopted children.
WEDNESDAY 30th AUGUST 2017
School Safety on the spot light.
The aftermath of the Grenfell fire has brought to the fore the need for all buildings in this country to be checked to ensure that they are safe for human habitation. School authorities across the country have been tasked to ensure children’s safety through effectively carrying out building checks to identify those that require further investigation and possible repairs. The checks will include whether cladding has been used on a building and the type used. Any building found to be having an Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding above 18 metres needs samples to be sent to the Building Research Establishment (BRE) for further testing to determine its type. According to the department for education, two schools in London were tested as at July 13, 2017 and according to the results obtained, “the cladding was not of limited combustibility”. The schools concerned have so far been informed about the outcome of the test and have also been visited by the Fire and Rescue Service with the view of offering the needed advice and the necessary steps and precautions to be taken to assure residents of the need not to panic about the findings.
Schools are to follow strict laid down procedures on fire safety regulations at all times making sure that they are as safe as possible to ensure a safe environment for school activities to be conducted without any hindrance. Furthermore, schools must have a detailed robust plan to adhere to in the event of a fire outbreak. Regular fire drills must be conducted as well as having multiple exit routes for easy evacuation in case of a fire. Sprinklers must also be installed if there is a need following an assessment. Schools are required by law – the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to:
It is the responsibility of all stakeholders to ensure that places of learning are fit for purpose to provide a conducive environment for school children and their teachers to do what they go there to do – learn.
WEDNESDAY 30th AUGUST 2017
Special Provision Funding
The special provision funding is earmarked for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). It is paid by the government to local authorities with the aim of equipping the latter to create places for pupils with SEND, and to improve facilities for mainstream schools that will help in accommodating their needs. The fund also support local authorities to make capital investments in schools to benefit SEND children. The need to help all pupils to fulfil their full potential is something that should be cherish by all and must be given all the needed attention. Guidelines have been provided on how the fund can be accessed – this entails publishing a detailed plan on how you intend using the fund. A template provided by the department needs to be filled, providing all the required information before consideration could be given for an application. The department for education has indicated that, each allocation will be at least £500,000, with most areas receiving more than that amount. Some areas have also been assessed to receive more than £1 million. The fund is not to be ring fenced, thus giving the flexibility of paying more as and when needed.
Caring for the needs of children with SEND is dear to the government and the department for education, as a result strategic plans have been in place at all levels to cater for their development and progress throughout the academic ladder. It becomes a welcome relief to parents to know that they could readily and easily access places in educational facilities for the needs of their children without the struggle of looking for schools and places that could accommodate them. Local authorities are required by the department for education to consult parents with SEND children in their deliberations for their local offer of services and other provisions. It has always been a top priority for government to create sufficient places for pupils with special needs, involving local authorities help in having in place a long term strategic planning that will take into consideration local knowledge backed by inputs from parents and all major stakeholders
FRIDAY 28th JULY 2017
Improved Test results for primary school pupils.
Primary school tests result published in July 2017 indicate that school pupils performed better compared to last year’s results. The national key stage 2 results published show that pupils in England that obtained the expected standard required for reading, writing and mathematics is 61% compared to 53% for last year. 71% of pupils that sat for the test met the reading requirement compared to 66% for last year. Mathematics saw considerable improvement with 75% of pupils obtaining the expected standard compared to 70% for last year. This is a cause for celebration for pupils, parents and the department for education as the result show that the recently introduced curriculum has come to stay and that pupils are adapting to the rigorous nature of literacy and numeracy forming part of the syllabus. The government introduced New syllabus with the view of bringing the primary school curriculum in line with the best of the world and this has started paying off as shown in the last results. Pupils, parents and teachers have embraced the changes introduced as its success will place the country in its rightful place in the international community.
The School Standards Minister Nick Gibb has re-iterated government’s determination in ensuring that schools in England can compete effectively with the rest of the world and has hailed the results as a testament to the hard work of teachers and pupils as well as the support from parents. The best start in life for pupils is to master the fundamentals of reading, maths and writing. The main ethos of the new curriculum according the government, is to help children to receive the education that they need that will also ensure that their talents are not wasted. This year’s results are the second to be released after the new curriculum was introduced in September 2014. The results have affirmed the expectations the school authorities and parents placed on the new curriculum. Continued satisfactory results will cement the faith that the government placed in the new syllabus with the view of making England great again in primary and secondary schools educational performance with the rest of the world.
FRIDAY 28th JULY 2017
Vulnerable young children to receive funding of £30 million towards selected projects.
The government has set aside an amount of £30 million to help projects for young vulnerable children. This was announced by the children and families minister Robert Goodwill. The funds will go towards 24 projects throughout the country with the sole aim of supporting the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme. The programme according the department for education, has supported 95 projects since its inception. Some of the projects that have been earmarked for support are Barnardo’s, Credo Care, The Adolescent and Children’s Trust, Munro, Turnell & Murphy. The department exercise an oversight on these projects making sure that monies giving out are well spent through reports that are published by the receiving agencies. Some of the projects that are undertaking by the agencies involved in the programme are: looking after the welfare of disabled children including specialist foster care for those that needed that service, eradication of female genital mutilation, the fund will also help in highlighting and stopping other harmful traditional practices such as breast ironing and flattening.
The multi-million-pound funding will go a long way in helping vulnerable children throughout the country, allowing them to have access to professional facilities in their communities that will assist them in their day to day activities. The funding will also help provide evidence of best practice that will help to improve children’s services across the country. The government has indicated its desire to change the way social care is administered in this country, and the Innovation programme is one way that will see pioneering projects that will help in shaking up the traditional approach to social work. It is envisaged that the projects being assisted will help resolve some of the plight faced by children with disabilities, helping them to achieve their full potentials through services and provisions that will augment the education received in schools.
FRIDAY 28th JULY 2017
Capital Funding Allocations for schools.
The department for education announced in 2015 the conditional funding for 2015 – 2018 aimed at investing in the condition of education estate in the country. The funding comprises of direct funding for individual institutions through devolved formula capital; funding for those bodies responsible for individual institutions through the school condition allocations and those academies not eligible to receive direct school conditions allocations. According to the department, the following institutions can access the school capital funding allocations:
local authorities and local-authority-maintained schools
local voluntary-aided bodies and voluntary-aided schools (schools whose governing bodies employ the staff and have primary responsibility for admission arrangements, and whose land and buildings are normally owned by a charitable foundation; voluntary-aided bodies can include dioceses and individual faith and non-faith voluntary-aided schools)
academies and large multi-academy trusts and sponsors
special schools not maintained by the local authority
specialist post-16 institutions.
The reason giving for reforming the allocations methodology was to ensure that all bodies responsible for schools receive fair share of the allocated funding so that schools needing attention with regards to capital requirement could be attended to as and when needed. The devolved formula capital budget is set at £200 million each year, with each school receiving a fixed lump sum and a variable amount based on pupil numbers. The department has indicated that the allocated amount paid and the per-pupil rates will remain unchanged for the three-year allocation period. The School Condition Allocations on the other hand is paid to bodies that are responsible for the maintenance of school buildings. The budget for the said allocations is set at £1.2 billion a year until 2018. Schools that qualify for School Condition Allocation is assigned a body responsible for direct oversight and maintenance of the schools’ buildings. Some of the bodies tasked for maintaining school buildings and referred to as ‘responsible bodies’ are, local authorities, state- funded special schools, multi-academy trusts, Education Funding Agencies and independent institutions. The School condition allocations and the devolved formula capital are designated for capital expenditure – buying or improving of long-term assets in the form of buildings and equipment.
FRIDAY 30th JUNE 2017
Behaviour, discipline and exclusion.
Schools need peaceful environment to function effectively. A conducive atmosphere ensures learning devoid of intimidation and fear for both teachers and pupils. It is therefore paramount for school authorities to provide pupils and teachers with a safe space of learning at all times. Each school is expected to have its own rules and policy on behaviour, discipline and exclusion. Parents are to be made aware of these rules so that its application and enforcement does not become an issue when the need arises. These rules should list the conduct for pupils before and after school as well as during the school day. School policies should also include sections on bullying and what the school does in preventing it. Parents play pivotal role in ensuring that pupils are well behaved and respectful in school. Schools are therefore encouraged to involve parents and other stakeholders in fashioning out suitable discipline policy that will be acceptable to all. Problems concerning a child’s behaviour should be discussed with parents.
There many ways that schools can punish pupils if they behave badly. Some of the punishments (sanctions) that could be administered to pupils are listed below:
These sanctions are intended in correcting children when they fall foul of the laid down rules on discipline in schools, it is never intended to suffer the children unduly as teachers do not take delight in punishing pupils. Teaching becomes stressful if unruly behaviour in class goes unchecked and controlled with appropriate measures. School staff can use reasonable force to control and restrain pupils when it becomes necessary. This could include leading the pupil by the arm to a classroom. Pupils can be detained without parents concern or tell them why such action was carried out. If a parent disagrees with the way and manner a child has been treated, they must first talk to the headteacher, if not happy with the response giving by the head, they can ask for a copy of the complaints procedure. Parents can always appeal if a child is excluded from school and are not happy with the decision through the governing body.
FRIDAY 30th JUNE 2017
Cannon to the rescue
The government has signed a deal with Cannon that will see the supply of printers to schools. According to the Department for Education, the buying frame work will make it easier for schools to purchase Printers from the company and will also save a lot of money. Schools are already taking advantage of the deal and it has been reported that the first schools to use the programme saved more than 40%, compared to their previous contract prices. The government has over the years instituted many programmes with the view of saving money on procurement for schools. For example, the schools’ buying strategy aims to support schools to save over £1 billion a year by the 2019 to 2020 academic year on non-staff spend. Through these savings, it is envisaged that quality education will be achieved by providing more quality trained teachers and other essential provisions needed to run an effective school. Schools are encouraged to take advantage of this generous deal and to channel all purchases associated with printers though Cannon.
As a single- supplier deal, the company has made the ordering process very simple for schools with an easy to use search and comparison tools. Schools are required to register on the company’s website, where they can select items of their choice and any additional items that they may need. The company also has a dedicated helpline that helps schools with their queries over the phone and online. The department has indicated that schools do not need to obtain 3 quotes when buying via this deal, as this has already been done during the framework competition process. Schools can also check whether this arrangement meet their local procurement rules by contacting Schools.ICTSUPPORT@education.gov.uk. The above framework was created through the joint effort from Eastern Shire Purchasing Organisation (ESPO), Crown Commercial Services (CCS) and YPO Framework for Multinational Devices. There are two lots to the deal that may be assessed by schools. The first lot deals with Print equipment with the second lot looking at multifunctional devices that may be of interest to schools from Cannon.
FRIDAY 30th JUNE 2017
Education is the key
The education secretary has indicated that the main aim of the government is to place education at the heart of government plan and policies for Britain. Nelson Mandela once said, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. To achieve the noble ideal of making education the backbone of government policies, requires policy initiatives and programmes that will support all children irrespective of their backgrounds to have access to a good school and to make the most of their talents. The performance of our children compared to their counterparts from Asia and other European countries has not been encouraging, it is therefore a welcome news that more emphasis is being placed on helping children to acquire the right skills and aptitude especially for maths, reading, and science. According to the education secretary, the government believes in a fairer society for all and to achieve this will entail starting with education and schools, making sure that school children can do their very best and reach their potential, wherever they may find themselves in the country.
The recently introduced education reforms has seen major boost to all stakeholders in the sector reinvigorating their desire in making sure that the country can offer the best to all children. The reform has not only seen improvement in quality education provision, but also giving parents real choice where before there was none. Having schools that work for everyone is a good ideal that every country aspire to achieve for its citizens, however, the road to achieving that may not be easy, however with the right policies and manpower, this is something that can be achieved. The dawn of free schools has increased accessibility to quality schools in deprived areas, however, whether they are the panacea for quality education is a debate for another day. The major emphasis of the new educational reform has been that of making sure that children from poorer background are not left out when it comes to quality education. This notion has seen many good schools established with existing schools in deprived areas equipped with all needed facilities to make it function properly.
MONDAY 29th MAY 2017
Governance in schools
The success of every school depends on many factors, availability of quality teachers, headteachers, support staff (Back room/ office) and maintenance staff etc. However, there is one variable of the jigsaw that make school administration tick and that is school governors. According to the department of education, effective governance provides strategic direction and control to schools and academies. Their presence ensures accountability, assurance and an oversight of the running of a school. Governors provide the credibility needed to ensure that parents and the government are at least assured that children will receive the best possible level of education as dictated by the department of education. The main purpose of school governance is to provide strategic leadership, robust accountability, oversight and assurance for educational and financial performance. School governors irrespective of the type of educational institution that they find themselves in have the following core functions according to the department of education.
Effective leadership is needed always to ensure schools run properly and efficiently. It is therefore imperative for governors to be ambitious and passionate about what they do with the view of providing continuous school improvement that will ensure the best outcome for all stakeholders in the educational sector. To be effective, governors should be guided by some key principles. Namely, strategic leadership, accountability, evaluation, people, compliance and structures. School governors act as a cornerstone that holds firm the bridges between educational institutions and major key stakeholders. They are therefore highly regarded and must be seen to be men and women of high integrity and imbued with high quality objective data and full understanding of the views of parents, staff, carers and local communities. The role requires independent and inquisitive minds that will concentrate on strategic issues backed by good judgement determination and resilience.
MONDAY 29th MAY 2017
Capital Funding for Schools
The aim of every government is to provide high quality buildings, enough school places and a conducive study environment for children and teachers to have a fruitful learning experience. Overall, the main aim is to make sure that pupils of school going age irrespective of their background will have access to quality education provision. Without this, many parents may be limited in their choices for schools for their children. According to a research conducted by the Department of education, it became clear that the government will need to create further 420,000 school places between 2016 and 2021. The same report also indicated that most school structures needed upgrading to meet modern learning standards. It is therefore imperative for government to allocate appropriate funds that will seek to provide enough places in good schools to meet the demands of parents as well as making sure that the condition of school structures is in top shape to facilitate quality learning. The government’s commitments towards school infrastructure development has seen £7.5 billion spent between 2010 and 2015 providing 599,000 places.
Collection of data from those involved in day to day running of schools have helped shaped the department’s funds allocation towards school buildings and conditioning. There are two key funding types under the school capital funding allocations, namely school condition allocation (SCA) and the devolved funding capital. The SCA is generally used to fund building projects which require funding above what is available from the Education Funding Agency. Whilst the Devolved Formula Capital(DFC) grant is capital funding calculated on a formulaic basis for each educational establishment. It gives schools direct funding for the priority capital needs of its buildings and grounds and for investment in capital equipment including ICT. The SCA and DFC are for capital expenditure, that is buying and improving of long term infrastructure such as buildings and equipment. Devolved formula capital is intended for use by the individual institution that attracts the funding, and is for capital expenditure only. Institutions should spend their DFC within 3 financial years, including the year it is paid.
MONDAY 29th MAY 2017
130 New free schools to create more places for children
The government has indicated its intention of creating thousands of school places after Parliament gave the green light through series of free schools’ approvals. The initiative will come as a welcome relief for parents, giving them the choice of a good school place for their children. Approval has already been given for 131 new schools with the aim of creating more than 69,000 school places throughout the country. According to the Department, some of these Free schools will be led by high-performing institutions, including a grammar-school-led multi-academy trust with the ultimate aim of making sure that existing high performing schools can help raise attainment throughout the land. The government’s desire to allow more free schools to be set up is on course. According to an Ofsted report, Free schools have come to stay and they constitute one of the highest performing groups of non-selective state schools. The same report also indicated that 80% of mainstream free schools have been approved in areas where there was the need for more school places. Other areas opening their doors to free schools have been places where parents have demanded schools to be set up to create competition and drive up standards.
The decision to allow more schools to be built across the country will augments governments programme of creating more quality school places. Reports from the department of education indicate that there are more than 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools compared to 2010. The new directives allowing more schools to be opened will ensure that successful and well performing schools can help newly established schools to learn a thing or two about quality education and how to live up to the expectation of the inspectorate division of the department and the standards set for quality education in the country. Records indicate that 124 free schools have been opened since 2015, and additional 376 are projected to be set up by the year 2020. The government’s desire to have 500 more new schools opened by September 2020 seems to be on course to be achieved.
TUESDAY 18th APRIL 2017
The future of primary school assessment
The government has started a consultation with the aim of creating a long-term proportionate primary assessment system for children in the country. The proposal is fashioned out to offer a stable assessment regime for primary schools. The consultation that commenced on March 30, 2017 will solicit views from stakeholders on how best to measure schools on the progress of children during the various stages of their education. This is to be achieved through helping children to acquire the needed skills and knowledge to succeed in the 21st century, and also reduce the unnecessary burden placed on schools and teachers. The ultimate goal is for our children to compete effectively with the rest of the world. According to the department of education, the consultation will seek answers to the following:
The education secretary has re-iterated the government’s desire in making sure that all children will master the basics of literacy and numeracy so they get the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in later life. This noble idea has been administered through series of reforms that have been implemented towards a good quality education for all. The government has supported other initiatives aimed at making sure that pupils from disadvantaged background are not left out of the educational reforms sweeping the country. The National association of Headteachers and the Union of Teachers are all being engaged to make sure that their invaluable input which will be needed in moving education forward is incorporated into any future assessment for primary schools. The consultation proposes to improve the early years’ foundation stage profile consulting on how to make improvements and reduce burdens to the existing assessments on children’s readiness to start school at the end of their early education.
TUESDAY 18th APRIL 2017
Projects that help vulnerable children to receive funding of £36 million
The government is to support projects that are geared towards improving the lives of vulnerable children with amount of thirty-six million pounds. This was announced by the Minister for vulnerable children and families Edward Timpson. The social intervention will see 11 innovative programmes receiving a boost from the government with the aim of offering a level playing field for children that have been exposed to domestic abuse, support young disabled people living in care and support care leavers who are ready to start their lives. As part of the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme, the government has so far spent over two hundred million pounds on 59 projects to date, providing continuous improvement and best practices that is helping to improve children’s services throughout the country. The Minister on announcing this funding indicated the government’s desire to explore and develop the best possible services for disadvantaged children as well as vulnerable children and their families.
Children whatever their circumstances should be supported to be responsible adult to contribute towards the development of this country. This can only happen when they are given a conducive environment to thrive in. It is therefore imperative for children to be happy and safe in their day to day activities. All stakeholders involved in caring for vulnerable children should be recognised and rewarded appropriately to ensure that their contribution is appreciated. Professionals should be given the freedom to use their expertise and passion to develop new and innovative ways of working. Out of the 11 projects that have been earmarked for funding, those closer to home are the Havering council’s project for children in, and leaving care, the Newham’s new day project and the Family Rights Group’s Lifelong Links. Schools and families can access these projects with the view of accessing the needed support for vulnerable children. The Family Rights Group bring together as many people as possible who care about children. Their core functions concentrate on helping children with their home work as well as taking them to a regular after school club. Their structured approach ensures that each child is offered a service that is tailored to their specific need.
TUESDAY 18th APRIL 2017
Schools to receive 2.4 billion funding boost
The education secretary Justine Greening has announced funding amounting to £2.4 billion to provide 600,000 extra school places and also to improve or expand existing structures. The additional funding will benefit many schools across the length and breadth of the country. It will also be a welcome relief for many parents that have been anxious regarding school places for their school going children. The funding comes at a backdrop of new local councils’ figures indicating that over 230,000 primary and secondary school places are needed to be created nationally from 2017 – 2020. The rationale behind the new funding, is to generate additional capacity to meet local demand. Government figures recently released indicate that almost 735,000 additional school places have been added to existing numbers since 2010. Local authorities and schools will be given a share of £1.4 billion towards improving and upgrading school buildings. The government has made it clear that it is not only interested in providing sufficient amount of school places for all, but good quality places that will be accessible to all school children irrespective of their background.
Providing the much needed school places is in the right direction, however, school standards cannot be sacrificed for the sake of quantity. It is therefore encouraging to see that the government is coming up with new initiatives that will ensure school standards continue to rise through the creation of good quality places throughout the country. The government has made available to the public, data on new school places that have been created for 2015 - 2016 academic year dubbed ‘school capacity survey’. This data shows the number of school places that have been created. According to the government’s ‘Plan for Britain’ agenda: Some of the themes provided below will form the basis of ensuring equitable distribution of good quality education and secure the future of our children.
THURSDAY 23rd MARCH 2017
The high needs strategic planning fund
The government has issued a guidance to local authorities about funding of high needs provision for children and young people with SEND. The funding guidance provides strategic funding allocations for the 2016/ 17 academic year, detailing how the money has been paid as well as how it could be used. The published material will also serve as a benchmark that will help compare high needs provision and spending between local authorities. Local authorities in need of capital funding to improve special educational needs are to contact the department of education via ‘Special provision fund: allocation for local authorities from 2018 to 2020’. The rationale for the High needs funding, is to provide readily available financial support for children and young people with special educational needs with extra support at school or those in alternative provision (children who cannot go to a mainstream school). Local authorities decide how much to set aside in their high needs budget for the place and top-up funding to institutions.
High quality services towards SEND pupils and their parents is key in ensuring that allocated funds are distributed to the worthy causes that it has been assigned for. Local authorities are required to ensure that school census are completed on time, including identifying those pupils for whom the institution receives top-up funding and making sure the census guidance is followed at all items. Schools are advised to check the latest guidance to make sure that they understand what is required of them. Pupils that receive support from local authorities’ high needs budgets include children between the ages of 0 – 5 with SEND, who have been identified by a local authority and have decided to support them. Pupils aged 5 to 18 with high levels of SEND in maintained schools, academies, FE institutions or other settings are also eligible for consideration from the fund. The government has made a provision that will require local authorities in ensuring that schools and academies have sufficient funding in their delegated budget to enable them support pupils with SEND where required up to the mandatory cost threshold of £6,000 per pupil.
THURSDAY 23rd MARCH 2017
Improving healthy lifestyles in schools.
The promotion of healthier and more active lifestyles is to be given the needed attention in schools according to the Education Secretary Justine Greening. The government has devoted an amount of £415 million towards this cause encouraging schools to fund facilities to support physical education, healthy eating and after-school activities. The funding will also enable schools to help pupils struggling with physical conditions and with mental health issues. This funding comes on top of existing programs such as PE and Sport premium, universal infant free school meals and breakfast clubs which are all geared towards the wellbeing of school pupils across the country. The government has allocated over £1.3 billion towards these programs to ensure that every child is given the needed opportunity to succeed. Having a sound mind and good diet is a basic prerequisite for good academic foundation, and the Education Secretary summed this up when she indicated that, “It’s not only good for them while they’re in education, but the health and wellbeing benefits can last a lifetime”. It is therefore very vital for school children to be active and to have access to healthy diet.
Allocation for schools will be given to local authorities and larger-multi-academy trusts with the freedom to decide how best to spend their money with the welfare of children as the yardstick. The government has also indicated its desire to make available the Soft Drinks Industry Levy available to schools during the 2018 to 2019 financial year. This additional investment will have no effect on the amount schools have been promised to receive. The new healthy capital programme funding starts from 2018/ 2019. All state funded primary schools will be eligible to access the funds to improve the lifestyle of their pupils. The programme will support the government’s idea of providing longer school days through the provision of facilities that will enhance extra-curricular activities that will enable children to participate in various sporting activities after school. The recent sports strategy initiative introduced by the government calls for active participation from all stakeholders in building an environment that will encourage school children to have a sound mind in healthy bodies.
THURSDAY 23rd MARCH 2017
£215 additional funding for SEND announced
An amount of £215 million has been allocated towards the creation of more school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This was announced by the Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families Edward Timpson. This funding will transform the lives of many children with SEND through the provision of high quality school places and easy access to health and care plans. The funding will go through local authorities, and each council is set to receive £500,000 with more than half receiving at least £1 million. According to the department of education, local councils are at liberty to invest the allotted amount as they deem fit, by improving their special educational needs provision to school children in their catchment area. The following mainstream schools are the intended recipient of the funding:
The funding is not only limited to the provision of school places, as construction of specialised classrooms for children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties could also be considered for investment by local authorities.
Providing equal opportunities for all children requires a concerted effort in making sure that children with SEND are well looked after both at home and in our educational system. And the only way that this noble idea could be achieved is through a determined government policies that will ensure that every child has an opportunity to reach their full potential regardless of their background and circumstances. The government has given local authorities the freedom to consult with local parents, schools, carers and other stakeholders on the best way of using the allocated funds for the betterment of the needs of SEND children under their care. Prior to announcing this additional funding for this great cause, the government had already granted £23 million to local authorities to support their strategic plans in getting the best possible outcomes for eligible children in their localities.
SATURDAY 25th FEBRUARY 2017
Leasing and subscription of school equipment – Guidance for schools
Schools need various equipment in helping facilitate smooth learning, however, the cost implication may sometimes call for leasing rather than an outright purchase. Making a cost and benefit analysis will help in deciding whether a school decide to buy an item or to hire one. The department for education in a bid to help school leaders, staff and governing bodies make an informed decision on leasing and subscription, has come out with a guidance that looks at the benefit of leasing. Leasing or service agreements can be a great way for schools to secure the equipment they need to provide a first-class education for their pupils. It can also free up much needed capital for use in other areas of the school and save you from having to use valuable funds to buy equipment outright. The public sector frameworks agreements has been recommended by the department to schools to use, touting it as a value for money agreements for public bodies. These can be accessed online at Crown Commercial Services framework and ESPO framework for MFDs.
Advantages of leasing
It must be noted that there are disadvantages associated with leasing, it may turn out to be more expensive compared to buying it outright, when the agreement is in place, the school does not own the equipment and you must pay a deposit before the start of the agreement. Schools are to weigh the pros and cons of leasing and decide which mode of purchase will best suit their circumstances and resources. However, value for money should be a guiding principle in every decision that is taking with regards to school spending.
SATURDAY 25th FEBRUARY 2017
The school buying strategy – Efficiency savings for schools
The main aim of the schools’ buying strategy according to the department of education, is to help schools to save over £1 billion a year by 2019 on their non-staff spending. The rationale behind the strategy is to help all schools to have better deals in paying for goods and services that they buy, making savings where necessary and procuring high quality materials in support of quality education provision for pupils under their care. This in a way will help schools to manage their cost pressures. The strategy is designed for headteachers, all financial staff in schools including business managers and school governing bodies. Budget allocation for schools are to be used efficiently, to ensure that every pound of the tax payers money is efficiently applied to improve standards. Pressures on school finances are well known, it is therefore imperative on school administrators to minimise waste and provide greater accountability for their day to day handling of school finances. This could only be achieved by planning educational improvement and finances together.
The current funding system has been criticised on its inability to address optimum resource allocation and utilisation. The government has therefore decided to replace the funding formula with one that will allow schools to plan effectively and ensure that resources are matched fairly and consistently across the country. The government has provided tools, guidance and support for schools on how to save cost and a better value for their money. Schools have also been given many options to source their purchasing. For example, suppliers such as the public sector buying organisation (PSBOs), procurement consultancies and local authority traded services have all been made available to schools to offer a wide variety of sources that could help in the delivery of quality and fair prices. Buyers in schools need to have the right relationships and skills- building peer to peer support networks that will help deal with complex buying in schools. The buying strategy offers practical help and advice on buying decisions and contract management; ensuring that buyers have access to the best quality and fair prices in purchasing goods such as photocopiers, printers, energy etc.
SATURDAY 25th FEBRUARY 2017
A Balanced Education?
The greater emphasis placed on maths and science subjects in the new educational curriculum has led many to question the fate of arts education in basic level of education in the country. It is therefore refreshing to note from the schools minister that the government has not neglected the arts subjects in schools, and that it will be given all the needed attention that it deserves. This assurance was contained in a speech delivered by the minister during the Music and Drama Education Exposition held at the Olympia exhibition Centre in London on February 9, 2017. The main aim of the conference was to promote music and drama education through workshops, seminars and debates amongst teachers and other practitioners in that field. The minister in his speech re-iterated the importance of the arts to the country’s heritage and history as well as its ability to contribute towards the wealth of the nation in both cultural and financial terms. The minister lauded the Classical 100 as a fantastic opportunity for primary school pupils to get involved in learning classical music for free online.
The need to have a balanced education system that will help all children to develop their natural talents to the full cannot be overemphasised. The government in its quest to see this noble agenda through increased funding for music education in primary schools from £58 million in 2014 to £75 million in 2015/ 16 academic year. The rationale behind this funding is to encourage all pupils to learn music, irrespective of their backgrounds. This gesture will help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to have full access to all musical instruments that will help in nurturing talents that would have otherwise been overlooked as a result of their parents’ inability to afford them. The government has also launched the New Schools Network’s report into the importance of the Art, to examine the relationship between the arts education and the EBacc. The restriction of the EBacc to 5 subjects, according to the schools minister, will ensure that pupils could still pursue other subjects including arts subjects. It is yet to be seen whether the efforts and commitments coming from the government will translate into seeing more pupils entering for arts subjects.
SATURDAY 21st JANUARY 2017
Cost savings on computer equipment for schools
The Department for education has in consultation with the Crown Commercial Services (CCS) devised an efficient means of procurement that could save schools thousands of pounds for the acquisition of laptops, desktop devices and laptops. Schools that are interested in taking advantage of this cost savings initiative are to send their requirements on needed devices to CCS via the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. The submission deadline for the first sets of orders for the year is 10 February 2017. Once considerable orders have been received by CCS, they will intend work with suppliers to obtain the best possible deal for schools. Buying in bulk also has its added incentives of making great savings for schools. Schools that submit their requirements for new devices in February will receive notification after contracts have been awarded. This will enable the respective schools to place orders with suppliers at the prices agreed by CCS. Managing the procurement process by a well-established institution such as CCS will go a long way in eliminating the bottlenecks often associated with individual schools going solo with the procurement process.
Schools that are not able to meet the February deadline and are interested in buying via the CCS can submit at a future date. The following dates have been earmarked for the next applications by the DfE – late April to early May, autumn 2017 and spring 2018. Allowing many schools across the country to apply through the CCS will lead to larger volumes being ordered thereby attracting significant discounts from suppliers and resultant value for money for the schools involved. Schools that have participated in the scheme have given testament to the fact that it has saved them money and time and given them value for money. Some schools have indicated that savings made through the CCS programme are in the region of 20%. Schools are therefore encouraged to consider the benefits to be made through the bulk purchase initiative offered by CCS and to submit their device requirements to help them save money on future purchases.
SATURDAY 21st JANUARY 2017
£60 million funding for special educational needs announced.
The Minister for Vulnerable children and families, Edward Timpson has announced that funding amounting to nearly £60 million will be spent on children with special educational needs from April 2017. The minister also indicated that councils throughout the country will be given additional £40 million to support them in their preparation towards the transition to the new SEND system. It has always been the government’s desire to ensure that children should have the same opportunity no matter their circumstances. Creating the enabling environment for children to learn will go a long way in ensuring that they are giving the opportunities that will help them grow into responsible and well equiped citizens ready to contribute their quota towards the development of the country. Reforms have been initiated by the government to offer a tailored made support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities with the overall rationale of helping them to succeed and to help them realise that they can make a difference in society.
Highlights of the SEND funding taking effect from April 2017
This funding will go a long way in consolidating the gains made from various reforms that have been implemented in getting the best possible outcome for all children with SEND. It will also help in bringing together all stakeholders who work behind the scenes in making sure that disabled children receive the best possible care and education to succeed in life.
SATURDAY 21st JANUARY 2017
Government to the rescue of vulnerable children
The government has awarded funding worth over £2 million to 8 organisations that are working towards the eradication of specific forms of child abuse in the country. Children need a congenial atmosphere to develop and it becomes even more critical for those in school to have the required peace of mind from home and school to learn as children. The funding will be geared towards rehabilitating children that have been victims of domestic violence. The trauma that these children go through can affect their capacity to concentrate at school, leaving them lagging behind their peers in development. The Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening has indicated that families that have been victims of domestic abuse needed support that will help them to be back on their feet and to prevent future occurrence. The funding will go directly to children, young people, communities and care professionals with the view of combating child abuse. Some of the core activities of the projects being funded include tackling radicalisation in schools, safeguarding young girls from female genital mutilation (FGM), delivering an intervention to high risk families and support to children who have experienced issues relating to parental substance abuse and domestic violence.
The projects being supported by the government are:
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Midaye Somali Development Network
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Domestic Abuse, Drug Misuse
Home Start UK
Domestic Abuse, Drug Misuse
Church of England Children’s Society
Domestic Abuse, Drug Misuse
Domestic Abuse, Drug Misuse
The government alone cannot fight the menace of child abuse; it requires a collective effort from parents, teachers, care workers, medical professionals and the society in general. The above stated funding will go a long way in helping the various stakeholders deal with the causes of child abuse and devise means of eradicating it from our society. However, the most important watch word here will be vigilance on the part of society to help detect the signs of child abuse at an early stage for the necessary corrective action to be taken.
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