Every academic year, there are many challenges to think about. Discover the latest updates and valuable teacher guidance designed to give your school a helping hand.
As we get back into the new school year, we hope that the next 12 months will be a bit more predictable than the previous two years.
However, despite being a strong ‘back to normal’ narrative coming from the Government, much has happened since March 2020.
Unfortunately, the next phase remains relatively unknown. So, whilst we may want to put the pandemic behind us, the reality is that this is still a dynamic and changing situation. There will be pupils that still need additional emotional, social, and academic support. We know that in the early years, the impact of lockdown is being felt particularly strongly. There are practical issues for schools around testing and an ongoing debate about the vaccination of children and young people.
We may yearn for normality, but the possibility of returning to what school life was like pre-spring 2020 is unlikely.
In addition to Covid-19 related developments, we are also starting to see a raft of new measures and requirements for schools to implement. In this blog, I highlight a handful of the biggest academic challenges for the year ahead and practical back-to-school teacher support.
The Latest Updates for the Academic Year and Teacher Advice
Keeping Children Safe in Education
The usual summer revision of Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance brings many additions. Two of the main focuses in the 2021 update are peer-on-peer abuse and low-level staff concerns.
Our understanding of peer-on-peer abuse has grown over the last decade, and Keeping Children Safe in Education 2021 places this on an equal footing to our more traditional perception of abusive situations.
Peer-on-peer is now embedded throughout the guidance, and your school must have clear policies and procedures on how they will respond to disclosures and concerns.
The focus of the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance links to the Ofsted report released earlier in the year on sexual harassment in schools – a problem so endemic and widespread that even if we don’t think it is going on in our settings, then we must assume it is, and plan a response accordingly.
Another further development is the recognition that online abuse is no less significant than that which happens in person. We can no longer distinguish between online and ‘in the real world’.
The duty now to report and respond to low-level concerns about staff highlights the importance of your school’s Code of Conduct. It requires your school to examine its organisational culture and be very clear about how staff behaviours contribute to your safeguarding culture.
Statutory Relationships, Sex and Health Education
The importance of relationships, sex and health education is another consideration you need to think about. The new statutory orders were to be enforced 12 months ago, but schools were given an additional 12-month period of grace to fully implement them due to the pandemic.
However, this period is now over, and the expectation from Ofsted is that schools will meet the full statutory requirements in terms of policy, curriculum and delivery.
For the primary phase, the current plan of action is for all statutory assessments to be resumed this year with the addition of a phonics check in Year 2 this autumn.
Having had no statutory requirement for two years means that approximately 50% of schools won’t have received the usual external moderation of teacher assessment in the summer term.
To make matters worse, the potential for teachers new to Year 2 and 6 entering into the assessment process for the first time may mean that a school’s confidence in meeting the statutory requirements could be dented.
Our teacher support and training around the processes, and on agreeing consistency of teacher assessments should be something your school will need to factor into your CPD budget and plan for this year.
The DfE’s reforms of the Early Years Foundation Stage came into force this month bringing significant revisions.
The changes are being made so that you can improve outcomes at age 5, particularly in early language and literacy, and especially for disadvantaged children.
Another essential change is to minimise workload and unnecessary paperwork to give you and your staff more quality time interacting with your children.
Together with the reforms, there is a new statutory Reception Baseline being implemented from September 2021. This activity-based assessment will evaluate pupils on:
- Language, communication and literacy
With all these changes, you must reflect on what CPD your teams need to ensure the key aims of the new EYFS statutory framework are implemented, and a maximum impact on improving your children’s outcomes is achieved.
Early Career Framework
Finally, the DfE has proceeded with the implementation of the Early Career Framework with its requirements for a two-year induction period for Early Career Teachers (formally NQTs).
It also includes the provision of approved providers of the training programme (for ECTs and mentors), materials, and a specified structure and timeline of reviews and assessments.
This is a big change for schools. If you have not chosen to deliver the full programme with an approved provider, there will be a higher level of scrutiny from your chosen Appropriate Body. This response is to ensure any alternative still meets the Early Career Framework.
For schools working fully with a provider, there will undoubtedly be a period of readjustment to these highly formalised programmes.
You will need to understand what is now required, and from who, for the ECT to pass successfully.
Further Teacher Support and Guidance Just a Click Away
In the 2021/2022 academic year, there is a lot for schools to contend with in the first term. The new initiatives and requirements are falling into a period of greater flux and uncertainty.
But the good news is that you are not alone. At Services For Education, we have set up a special page providing a wealth of back-to-school teacher support to ensure you meet DfE policy and approaches over the next year.
Alternatively, if you have any queries about any of the new teacher guidance above, speak to a relevant member of our School Support Service today.
About the Author
Andrew is the Head of the School Support Service. He has extensive experience in PSHE, from his early career as a secondary school teacher and working as a Health Promotion Specialist in HIV and Substance Use, to his role as a local authority Health Education Service adviser, where he led on many areas including safeguarding, relationships and sex education. Andrew was also the Healthy School Co-ordinator for Birmingham for 10 years and Regional PSHE Adviser for the West Midlands.
Outside of the world of children and young people’s physical and emotional health, Andrew spent four years managing an initial teacher training provision. He became Head of the School Support Service for SFE in 2014 and now leads a team of advisers delivering support, consultancy and training to schools across the UK. During this time, he has led the development of the SFE digital offering, provision of pupil and family services, and the growth of face-to-face training programmes. He is currently a Trustee for the PSHE Association.