Latest News – Half-Term Update

I know that the last half term has been very challenging – some say the worst so far! Some of you have already broken up for half-term and are enjoying your holiday and some of you will be counting down the days until the end of this week. Please enjoy your break and take some time for yourselves.

I have put together this update of all the news stories and information that have appeared over the last half term which I think will be important to anyone working with our most vulnerable children and young people.

News for the Department for Education

Children’s Minister speaks to the National Network of Parent Carer Forums – Speech – 1st December

Will Quince gave a keynote address to parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

The key messages were:

  • I pledge to listen carefully to the lived experience of parents
  • From January, we will be working with Nasen and MicroLink to launch a pilot which will test how training can increase school staff confidence and capability in using assistive technology
  • The SEND Review is a priority for me and have committed to seeing it published for public consultation in the first 3 months of 2022
  • We need to get mainstream provision right so that needs are identified and met early and effectively across mainstream settings
  • We must reduce inconsistency of practice and end the postcode lottery
  • You can expect the review to have a strong focus on clarifying accountabilities at every level of the system
  • There will also always be a place for a strong specialist sector for those whose needs cannot be met by high quality mainstream provision
  • Our proposals must lead to improved outcomes for children and young people with SEND and improved confidence in a financially sustainable system
  • They must realise the benefits of aligned education, health and care provision and prepare children and young people for a happy and rewarding adult life
  • The voice of children, young people and their families must remain central

Education Secretary addresses Parliament on child safeguarding – Oral Statement – 6th December

Nadhim Zahawi gave an oral Statement to the House of Commons following the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

Government action following murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes – Press Release – 7th December

A major review into the circumstances leading up to murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes has been launched by the Government to determine what improvements are needed by the agencies that came into contact with him in the months before he died.

The Government has separately commissioned four inspectorates, covering social care, health, police and probation to undertake an urgent inspection of the safeguarding agencies in Solihull to whom Arthur was known.

The Terms of Reference for this review were published on 9th February 2022.

What we’re doing to keep vulnerable children safe and what to do if you have concerns about a child’s welfare – Blog Post – 13th January

Following the tragic deaths recently of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson the DfE have produced this blog to outline how they are protecting vulnerable children.

Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak – Updated 19th January

This guidance has been updated to align with the Plan B announcement made on 19th January. The DfE have also clarified the information on children under 5 years who are identified as close contacts and isolation expectations in boarding schools.

  • Face Coverings: From 20 January, face coverings are no longer advised for pupils, staff and visitors in classrooms. From 27 January, face coverings are no longer advised for pupils, staff and visitors in classrooms. and visitors in communal areas. From 27 January, staff and pupils should follow wider advice on face coverings outside of school, including on transport to and from school.
  • Tracing close contacts & isolation: Close contacts in schools are now identified by NHS Test and Trace and education settings will no longer be expected to undertake contact tracing. Children under 5 years who are identified as close contacts are exempt from self-isolation and do not need to take part in daily testing of close contacts. They are advised to take a PCR test if the positive case is in their household.
  • An individual with COVID symptoms or positive test: Pupils, staff and other adults should follow public health advice on when to self-isolate and what to do. They should not come into school if they have symptoms, have had a positive test result or other reasons requiring them to stay at home due to the risk of them passing on COVID-19 (for example, they are required to quarantine). If anyone in your school develops COVID-19 symptoms, however mild, you should send them home and they should follow public health advice.
  • Mandatory certification: From 27 January, mandatory certification is no longer in place and so venues and events are not required by law to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry, but some may do so voluntarily.
  • School workforce: School leaders are best placed to determine the workforce required to meet the needs of their pupils. The government is no longer advising people to work from home if they can.

Catch up learning accelerates with £10m for maths and literacy – Press Release – 15th December 2021

This press release outlines a series of programmes to help disadvantaged pupils boost their maths and literacy skills will be delivered from January.

The EEF will support a number of programmes for schools in three regions (North of England, East Midlands & Humber, and West Midlands).

There are eight programmes that the EEF are currently recruiting to:

  • 1st Class@Number
  • Embedding Formative Assessment
  • Reciprocal Reading
  • Switch-on Reading
  • Learning Language and Loving it
  • English Mastery
  • The 5Rs Approach to GCSE Maths Resits

If you are interested in being part of any of these programmes and you are based in one of the three target regions contact:

School recovery strategies: year 1 findings – Research – 10th January

This document contains schools’ approaches to education recovery in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This report details the interim findings from a mixed methods study which aims to understand how primary and secondary schools in England have responded to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and what further support they need. Unfortunately this does not appear to include any special schools.

How we plan to improve school attendance following the COVID-19 pandemic – Blog Post – 25th January

School attendance has obviously been affected by the pandemic – new data shows 87.4% of pupils attended school last week – but even before the pandemic there were issues that meant pupils who should be in school weren’t attending as regularly as they should. Details of the consultation are below.

How we are levelling up education all over the country – Blog Post – 1st February

This blog outlines the government’s central mission to reverse the unfairness and end the postcode lottery of life by spreading opportunity more equally across the country and bringing left behind communities up to the level of more prosperous areas.

The DfE explain what they’re doing to improve schools, deliver high quality training and level the educational playing field.

“If we give children a quality education and a fair shot, I believe they can and will do incredible things” – Blog Post – 1st February

The Children and Families Minister Will Quince has published this blog on new SEND support following his announcement of a further £18 million to increase the capacity of the Supported Internship programme – to help more young people with an Education, Health and Care plan to secure and sustain paid employment.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi: What levelling up means to me – Blog Post – 2nd February

The Education Secretary wants everyone to have a chance to see their potential flourish and he believes the Levelling Up White Paper sets out how the government are going to achieve it. It is going to set new targets to raise school standards and outcomes for skills, schools, and families across the country.

How we are tackling behaviour in schools to help maintain calm classrooms – Blog Post – 3rd February

In this blog the DfE explain what they’re doing to improve and maintain behaviour in schools to help ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed in school and beyond. Information about the consultation can be found below.

How we plan to support families who choose home education through registers of children not in school – Blog Post – 3rd February

There are a wide range of reasons why some families might prefer to home educate children. In the vast majority of cases home educating parents do an excellent job and that’s why we want to support families who want to make that choice. This blog outlines why the creation of local authority administered registers for children not in school allow the DfE to support local authorities to make sure they know where every child is being educated.

Children not in school – Consultation response – 3rd February

The consultation response outlines the government’s intentions to legislate at the earliest opportunity to implement a duty on:

  • local authorities to:
    • keep a register of all children of compulsory age in their area who are not registered pupils at a state or independent school
    • provide support to home educating families
  • parents of children to supply information to such a register
  • proprietors of defined settings to supply information on relevant child

State of the nation 2021: children and young people’s wellbeing – 8th February

This report on the wellbeing of children and young people over the academic year 2020 to 2021 uses a number of different data-sets to analyse how children and young people are coping in the current situation.

Improvements seen in children and young people’s wellbeing – Press Release – 8th February

This press release outlines how the State of the Nation report highlights positive impact of keeping schools open, with millions more to be invested in senior mental health lead training.

Thousands of children and young people in England are benefiting from support for their mental health and wellbeing in education, as new research shows an improving picture in their recovery from the pandemic.

Senior mental health lead training – Updated 8th February

This information about how to apply for a grant and access DfE quality assured training to help develop a whole school or college approach to mental health and wellbeing has been updated to reflect that grants of £1,200 are now available to eligible state schools and colleges in England who meet the conditions set out below and wish to commence training before 31 May 2022.

Mobile phones in schools – Blog Post – 9th February

Mobile phones can be immensely distracting in the classroom for both pupils and their teachers. The DfE want to support schools to make sure mobile phones are never a barrier to learning or a cause of disruption. They are producing new guidance that will provide practical advice to schools about how to encourage good behaviour, respond effectively to incidents of misbehaviour both in and out of the classroom, and will support staff in tackling behavioural issues.

Dr Alex George’s five top tips for good mental health and wellbeing – Blog Post – 11th February

Dr Alex George, the Government’s Youth Mental Health Ambassador has set out his top five tips top tips for good mental health and wellbeing.

Package to transform education and opportunities for most disadvantaged – Press Release – 1st February

Education will be at the heart of major new reforms set to give every child and adult the skills they need to fulfil their potential, no matter where they live.

Through the government’s Levelling Up white paper, many areas are set to benefit from improved schools, part of a package of measures that will also boost take-up of high-quality training across England and support stable families that help children to succeed.

The following areas have been selected to receive support:

Knowsley, Isle of Wight, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Blackpool, Bedford, Liverpool, Dudley, Rochdale, Stoke-on-Trent, Derby, St. Helens, Oldham, Salford, Doncaster, Walsall, Halton, Sandwell, Plymouth, Nottingham, Lincolnshire, Central Bedfordshire, North Northamptonshire, Somerset, Derbyshire, Norfolk, Dorset, Tameside, Coventry, South Gloucestershire, Middlesbrough, Wakefield, Luton, Cornwall, Sefton, Hartlepool, Manchester, Swindon, Kirklees, Bury, Rotherham, North Somerset, Wirral, Darlington, Bradford, Sunderland, South Tyneside, Leeds, Suffolk, Bolton, East Sussex, County Durham, Cambridgshire, Nottinghamshire and North Yorkshire.

First aid in schools, early years and colleges – Updated 14th February

This guidance for employers in early years, schools and colleges on first aid provision has been updated with additional guidance including information for early years providers.


Keeping children safe in education: proposed revisions 2022 – Consultation – 11th January

The DfE have opened a consultation on the proposed revisions to Keeping Children Safe in Education from September 2022. The proposed revisions include:

  • The Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges document has now been merged into KCSIE
  • Added the definition of the terms “victims” and “perpetrators” and for consistency now use the term “child-on child abuse” (rather than “peer-on-peer abuse)” throughout the guidance.
  • Additional information setting out that children may not feel ready or know how to tell someone they are being abused.
  • Additional information setting out that all governors and trustees should receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection training.
  • Updated information to be clear a curriculum vitae (CV) should only be accepted alongside a full application form. CVs on their own will not contain all the information required to support safer recruitment
  • New information added setting out that schools should consider online searches as part of their due diligence checks on shortlisted candidates.

The consultation will close on 8th March

New measures to increase school attendance – Press Release – 25th January

A new consultation has been launched which proposes that all schools have robust policies detailing how they will support pupils to attend as regularly as possible and sets out how legal intervention including penalty notices should be used in promoting good attendance by local authorities.

The DfE are seeking views on the following possible measures:

  • requiring schools to have an attendance policy, and have regard to statutory guidance on the expectations of schools, academy trusts and governing bodies of maintained schools
  • guidance on the expectations of local authority attendance services
  • a national framework for attendance legal intervention
  • bringing the rules for granting leaves of absence in academies in line with other state-funded schools

The full document: School attendance: improving consistency of support can be found here. This consultation closes on 28th February.

Revised behaviour in school’s guidance and suspension and permanent exclusions guidance – Consultation – 3rd February

In response to the Timpson review of school exclusions, the government is committed to working with sector experts to publish clearer, more consistent guidance. The aim of this guidance is to support schools to:

  • create positive behaviour cultures
  • ensure suspensions and permanent exclusions are conducted in a lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair way

The revised Behaviour in schools: Advice for headteachers and school staff can be found here.

The consultation closes on 31st March.

Standards and Testing Agency

Key stage 1 teacher assessment guidance – Updated 11th January

This guidance for schools and local authorities involved in the administration and moderation of statutory key stage 1 (KS1) teacher assessment (TA) in 2022 has been updated in readiness for this summer.

Key Stage 2 teacher assessment guidance – Updated 11th January

This guidance for schools and local authorities involved in the administration and moderation of statutory key stage 2 (KS2) teacher assessment (TA) in 2022 has been updated in readiness for this summer.

Notes for readers in the English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests – Updated 8th February

This guidance on how to read out particular types of questions in the 2022 key stage 1 and key stage 2 English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests has been updated in readiness for this summer.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Children’s Mental Health Week took place from 7th – 11th February. A number of organisations produced excellent free materials to use in schools. You can find a list of them here.

The Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health – Free webinars to support mental health in schools –have a number of free webinars available on their website.

Special investigation: How collapsing mental health services are failing children – School’s Week – 11th February

Other information and resources

Ofsted Annual Report 2020/21

The engagement model: information for parents – a leaflet containing information for parents about the engagement model teacher assessment tool.

Teacher Handbook: SEND – Whole School SEND

This handbook has been developed as a resource for teachers to use over time as they embed inclusive practice in their classrooms.

Ed Tech Demonstrator Programme

The EdTech Demonstrator Programme provides EdTech support and expertise to schools and colleges for both in person and remote education to help meet government expectations where pupil attendance is affected by Covid-19. The EdTech Demonstrators can offer short term support for those requiring more rapid assistance, through to longer term support on embedding technology and developing a digital strategy.

EEF blog: ‘Five-a-day’ to improve SEND outcomes

The EEF’s SEND Specialist Gary Aubin explores how teachers can support pupils with SEND in their daily practice.

The Good Childhood Report – The Children’s Society

This Good Childhood Report 2021 shows that modern life continues to erode the happiness of young people. Dissatisfied with school, friendships and how they look, children deserve drastic change.

New Publications

The Lone SENCO: Questions and answers for the busy SENDCO – Gary Aubin – John Catt

Supporting Adolescents & Teenagers with Stress & Anxiety – Tina Rae, Jody Walshe & Jo Wood – Hinton House Publishers

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