News

Policy and Practice round-up May 2020

14 May 2020

This month we bring you news that the Welsh Government has extended Creative Learning through the Arts; resources from the EEF and DfE to help education settings; recommendations from the EPI on preventing the disadvantage gap from increasing during and after the Covid-19 pandemic; and the Education select committee Inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 and interviews with the Ofsted Chief Inspector and Minister for Education.

Creative learning through the arts extended by Welsh Government for further two years

On the 22 April the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Government announced they would extend Creative Learning Through the Arts – an action plan for Wales for a further two years. The existing three strands of work will continue:

  • Lead Creative Schools
  • Experiencing the arts
  • Professional learning

In response to Covid-19 the programme will also create arts-focussed online learning tools to support teachers and pupils in both school and home settings – including delivering an online version of the Lead Creative Schools and creating virtual Go and See visits and expressive arts masterclasses. The Creative Learning team is also developing online professional learning sessions for teachers to support them in both their planning for the immediate future and Curriculum for Wales 2022.

Resources from EEF and DfE to help with education delivery during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Department for Education (DfE) has published a collection of guidance for schools and education settings about Covid-19, including how to run settings while implementing social distancing, and guidance to help with planning for the phased return of year groups, which the government hopes can start on 1 June with Reception and Years 1, 6, 10 and 12.

In the guidance published on 11 May, DfE has included in the Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020, that schools should:

  • consider their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing and identify any pupil who may need additional support so they are ready to learn.
  • assess where pupils are in their learning, and agree what adjustments may be needed to the school curriculum over the coming weeks.

This reflects the general concerns colleagues in education have been highlighting that children’s wellbeing will be a priority, and that to tackle learning loss by the most vulnerable children the curriculum may need to be changed to focus on literacy and numeracy – for example see reports from the Children’s Commissioner and Sutton Trust.

The guidance also confirmed that Ofsted will not be doing any routine inspection before the end of the summer term.

EEF resources for schools and parents

The Education Endowment Foundation has done a rapid review of the evidence related to remote learning and have published resources for schools and parents. These include a checklist to help parents and children structure their home routines with actions linked to literacy, numeracy, wellbeing and exercise, as well as ‘I spent some time on my creative hobby’. It is great to see acknowledgment from the EEF of the value of participating in arts and creativity for children and young people.

Becky Francis, Chief Executive of the EEF, launched the resources on 23 April (although more resources continue to be added) with a letter in which she outlined that the EEF response to the Covid-19 crisis will be based around:

  • Mitigation to limit the negative impact on disadvantaged pupils while schools are closed;
  • Compensation to support disadvantaged pupils to bounce back when schools re-open.

Preventing the disadvantage gap from increasing during and after the Covid-19 pandemic – Education Policy Institute publishes recommendations

On 6 May the Education Policy Institute published a report, Preventing the disadvantage gap from increasing during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, with recommendations on actions to prevent the gap widening between the most and least vulnerable children.

The report contains an assessment of the likely impact of Covid-19 on the outcomes of children and young people, particularly children experiencing disadvantages, and sets out actions the government could take to stop the disadvantage gap increasing, including:

  • Make summer holiday provision available to children with a focus on positive activities, engagement and pastoral support
  • Suspend Ofsted inspections until the end of the autumn term
  • Additional checks for awarding exam grades this summer to improve fairness and equity
  • Run a one year National Catch Up Volunteer Scheme, in which retired and inactive teachers would come back into the profession on a voluntary basis for a limited time to help schools to support the most disadvantaged and vulnerable learners

The report also included recommendations on funding:

  • Early Years Pupil Premium should be doubled for a minimum of a year
  • Double the Pupil Premium rates for at least one year for pupils who are currently in Reception, Year 6 and Year 10
  • Double the Looked After Children Pupil Premium for one year for all year groups
  • Pupil Premium should be made available for those on the child protection register
  • Additional and sustained funding to local authorities Children’s Services

 

Education Select Committee launches Inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 and interviews Ofsted Chief Inspector and Secretary of State for Education

The Education Select Committee has opened an Inquiry in to The impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services which is accepting evidence until 31 May.

The Inquiry will look at how the outbreak of COVID-19 is affecting all aspects of the education sector and children’s social care system, including both short-term impacts such as the effects of school closures and exam cancellations, and longer-term implications, particularly for the most vulnerable children.

At the CLA we are concerned about access to arts and the impact on future outcomes, including careers and health, for the most vulnerable children as schools focus on making up learning loss in literacy and numeracy, possibly with a narrowing of the curriculum.

Participation in the arts has a wide range of benefits for all children including boosting health and wellbeing (see our Arts, Health and Wellbeing Briefing) but not every child has equal access to the arts, with the most disadvantaged only accessing the arts through their schools.

As part of the Inquiry on Monday 27 April the Education Select Committee held an accountability session with Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman, and on 29 April a hearing with Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education.

Ofsted Chief Inspector

Amanda Spielman confirmed that Ofsted are not going to judge schools on how they respond to Covid-19 and the learning offered. When children return Ofsted will inspect what schools are doing to get children from their starting points after the shutdown and to move them ‘swiftly and effectively onwards’. Spielman committed to inspecting schools taking in to account their context, and also said that she does not expect routine inspection to resume before the end of the summer term, something the DfE confirmed in its guidance published on 11 May.

The Committee also discussed the impact of the new inspection framework, introduced in September 2019, on curriculum and supporting vulnerable children’s education. When questioned about criticism from the Harris and Outwood Grange academies that the inspection framework disadvantaged more vulnerable children by pushing schools to offer a full Key Stage 3 curriculum, Spielman gave a robust defence of the new framework.

Secretary of State for Education

 The hearing with Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education covered school reopening, supporting children experiencing disadvantage to access learning, and understanding and closing the educational gap when they return to school.

When asked about schools reopening Williamson confirmed that he expected them to open in a ‘phased manner’ and that they are ‘not planning to run schools through the summer’.

BBC lessons

Williamson confirmed he had had several meetings with Tony Hall, BBC Director General, about the BBC providing more home schooling content in the future on the Red Button service, as one means of addressing access for students without computers and internet.

Williamson also said that the DfE will be announcing new polices and interventions aimed at helping left-behind pupils catch up on their education.

HE

When asked about support for HE students and universities he confirmed that the DfE is working with Universities UK on planning a package of measures to bring stability to the university sector to be announced in the ‘near future’ by the DfE.

Williamson was also asked about the DfE response to the Auguar Review and said they planned to publish a response to coincide with the comprehensive spending review publication, which we now expect in the autumn.

Lessons learnt

Interestingly the Committee asked if there were any lessons the DfE is learning from the shutdown and Williamson responded:

“The ability to support children within the home and through holidays has really been transformed by a lot of the learning that we have had in terms of delivering home education and support that we can give children. We have recognised that resources can be much more rapidly shared. We are going to be taking a look at how we can use some of the resources that have been shared and reducing teacher workload around lesson planning, resource sharing, making sure that teachers are getting the very best practice and being able to use it and bring it to their classrooms.”

He also pointed out that EHC tribunals were being delivered more rapidly online than in person and speculated there was something to learn from this for implementation.

 

Image credit: Adults and children enjoying Family Dance Day at The Place, WC1H 9PY. Photo by Jalaikon

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