DfE response about the schools national funding formula.

Very helpful, thought-provoking and utterly depressing piece from Sandra. If this was not so serious, it would be funny. The NAO constantly deride the DfE – and this shows why!

Sandra Leaton Gray

I wrote to the DfE recently, pointing out that the largely urbanised model the Government continues to use in calculating school funding penalises schools and pupils in deprived rural areas, such as East Fenland in Cambridgeshire, to quote one example. Here we have the reply. I am relieved that switching energy providers and photocopier contracts will apparently solve the problem at one fell swoop. Who knew?


Dear Ms Leaton Gray

Thank you for correspondence regarding the schools national funding formula.

The government has protected the core schools budget in real terms overall. This year, it is the largest ever on record, totalling over £40 billion. This is set to increase to £42 billion by 2019-20 as pupil numbers rise over the next two years.

The current funding system is, however, based on data that is a decade or more out of date and does not support the government’s ambition for…

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Assessing primary pupils in PE

Today, I was talking to a secondary PE teacher. We were chatting about assessment and how secondary schools assessed Year 7 students on entry. This teacher explained how much time is wasted in secondary PE departments in assessing students’ skills and starting points when they join the school. If only, he said, primary schools could assess their Y6 pupils before they transfer to secondary schools. So this is a plea to primary colleagues to ensure that our Y6 pupils have the very best opportunities to move forward in PE when they enter KS3. You never know, we may start a trend.

But, where to begin? Fortunately we don’t need to re-invent the wheel because there are a few resources out there to help. Some of them will cost more than others, and many are free. Obviously, the paid resources are relatively superior but you’ll need to decide if the benefit justifies the cost. Two starting points might be The PE Hub (don’t confuse the UK version with the US one), which offers a subscription service that gives access to plans, resources and assessment information. Alternatively, primary schools might like the PE Passport, which is an app that offers teachers online planning, assessment and tracking tools.

However, if you don’t want to spend loads of money, there are some free assessment tools on offer from schools. I have reviewed several and have not be super-impressed by many, especially those that replace levels with levels by another name. However, a TES user, going by the name of Hilly100m, has put onto the TES resource site a really super set of downloads for PE assessment – and they are free. One commentator seemed concerned that you’d need a sheet per pupil but a) how difficult is that? And b) if you’ve the time, it is easy to use the sheets as the basis of an excel spreadsheet. As a starting point for primary PE assessment, I would highly recommend this download. Follow this link – but to connect you’ll need to be logged in to TES.

Even if you only use this for your departing Year 6 pupils, it will be very helpful to the PE Department(s) in their secondary school(s). You might need to provide them with a set of the assessment grids to help them understand your judgements. If you think this is a good idea, spread the word.

Pisa, Timss and Pirls of Wisdom

Much is made of international comparison and the government seems to be obsessed with England’s relative performance on a world stage. However, just what do these international comparisons show?  Here is a little information:-

PISA

The latest edition of the programme for international student achievement (Pisa) from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), published 2015 shows that

  • The UK is still lagging behind leading countries and has made little progress in international rankings since results three years ago.
  • When we focus upon the top 10% of pupils in science, England is among the world’s leading countries. In only three countries (Singapore, Taiwan and Japan) are the top 10% of pupils more than a school term ahead of the top 10% of pupils in England in science.
  • In maths, the UK is ranked 27th, slipping down a place from three years ago, the lowest since it began participating in the Pisa tests in 2000
  • In reading, the UK is ranked 22nd, up from 23rd, having fallen out of the top 20 in 2006
  • The UK’s most successful subject is science, up from 21st to 15th place– the highest placing since 2006, although the test score has declined

TIMSS

The four-yearly Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), published 2015 shows that:

  • England is above average in maths – and ahead of many European countries – but it has not made any significant progress in rankings, despite the ambitions of ministers that overhauling the school system would tackle “stagnating” performance.
  • In these latest international TIMSS tests, England has fallen down in maths by one place at both primary, from ninth to 10th, and secondary level, 10th to 11th.
  • In science, England’s primary pupils remain in 15th place, but have risen from ninth to eighth place at secondary level.

PIRLS

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), undertaken every five years, involved children aged about 10 in 40 countries, indicated in 2011 that:

The reading performance of children in England has fallen from third to 19th in the world.

A randomised sample of 170 schools from across England were selected to take part in PIRLS 2016. The results will be published this year