Gifted Phoenix Twitter Round-Up Volume 12: Curriculum, Assessment, Fair Access and Gap-Narrowing


This is the second section of my retrospective review of the Gifted Phoenix Twitter feed covering the period from February 24 to July 7 2013.

4-Eyes-resized-greenjacketfinalIt complements the first section, which concentrated on Giftedness and Gifted Education.

This section includes material relating to other ‘specialist subjects’: curriculum and assessment, accountability, social mobility and fair access, disadvantage and gap-narrowing.

It provides a benchmark for consideration of forthcoming announcements about the National Curriculum , assessment and accountability which are expected next week.

This is a chronological narrative of developments over the last four months – my best effort at recording faithfully every key piece of information in the public domain.

I have divided the material as follows:

  • National Curriculum
  • Other Curriculum-related
  • National Curriculum Assessment
  • Qualifications
  • Performance Tables and Floor Targets
  • Ofsted
  • International Comparisons
  • Social Mobility
  • Fair Access
  • Careers
  • Pupil Premium
  • FSM gaps, Poverty, Disadvantage and EEF
  • Selection and Independent Sector

Please feel free to use this post as a resource bank when you reflect on and respond to the material we expect to be released over the next few days.

You might also like to visit some previous posts:


National Curriculum

Pressure from the Board of Deputies for special treatment for Hebrew, exempted from NC language list:  – Tricky

Support in principle and claims that new NC History PoS is unworkable are not mutually exclusive:

Interesting study of competency-based learning in New Hampshire throws light on NC Expert Panel’s ‘Mastery’ vision:

MT @michaelt1979: DfE appointed experts to review National Curriculum – and then ignored all of their advice! Blog:

National Curriculum “Cookery would only be compulsory in those schools with kitchen facilities” – surely not?

The vexed history of the draft ICT programme of study: – a microcosm of current autonomy/prescription tensions



What the NUT welcomes and doesn’t welcome about the draft National Curriculum: – seems pretty representative

Latest from @warwickmansell on the shortcomings of the NC review (this time featuring the history PoS):

PQ reply on support for National Curriculum implementation: (Col 240W)

Cannadine on draft History PoS: – includes a robust critique of the drafting process as well as the content

Confused story on climate change in draft NC: Does it give the lie to Gove’s claim at ASCL that PoS is uncontentious?

New Truss speech on National Curriculum: – Have I missed the golden nugget of news it contains?

More on climate change in the National Curriculum. I think it contradicts yesterday’s piece:

Third in a triumvirate of climate change in the NC articles: – basically it’s all about what’s on the face of the PoS



DfE has published the list of people consulted on the draft NC Programmes of Study published last month:

Yesterday’s Westminster Hall debate on the Design and Technology Curriculum: (Col 285WH)

Richard Evans redemolishes the draft PoS for history:  – Alleges explicitly that Gove himself wrote the final version

Next of the PoS in line for criticism is D&T (following up yesterday’s Westminster Hall debate):



So we now have two levels of listing for participants in drafting NC PoS (for maths at least): – awkward precedent

Link to the NUT’s National Curriculum Survey is at the bottom of this page:

Government to extend National Curriculum exemption to all schools rated either outstanding or good by Ofsted:

Engineers don’t like the draft D&T PoS: (warning: story contains the most terrifying stock head-and-shoulders shot)



Don’t see anything wrong with pitching NC expectations high:  – The issue is how you then manage the ‘mastery’ notion

Civitas defends Hirsch: – Yet more wearisome polarisation. As ever, the optimal path lies somewhere in between.

I see the endgame in this cycle as ditching the NC entirely, only for it to be reinvented half a generation later:

Sadly it may be too late to rescue the draft NC from the poisonous clutches of ideology and political opportunism:

FoI seeking correspondence with RAE and BCS over preparation of the draft ICT PoS draws a blank:

Curriculum for Cohesion response to the draft History PoS: – as featured in this BBC story:



ASCL National Curriculum response calls for retention of levels (at least for KS3 core) or a pilot of alternatives:

TES on ASCL and NAHT responses to NC consultation: – Is that the sound of chickens coming home to roost?

Apropos Natural England signing that draft NC protest letter, I see they’re currently subject to triennial review:

South China Morning Post: Troubled England has much to learn from HK’s curriculum reforms:

UCET’s response to the National Curriculum consultation:

Latest protest letter about environmental education in the draft NC is signed by Natural England, a DEFRA NDPB:



Full CBI response to National Curriculum Review:  – says NC should be focused much more on outcomes:

Truss pushes school curriculum over NC We could do with guidance on how much time the prescribed PoS should consume?

FoI reveals NC Expert Panel cost £287.6K in fees and expenses for 342 days’ work – Hardly bargain basement?

Confirmation that the draft History PoS was written by DfE officials: (Col 881W)

2 years into NC Review, DfE reported to be taking draft D&T PoS back to the drawing board: – More humble pie consumed

Sec Ed carries a report of a March Westminster Forum event on MFL:



Bringing balance and diversity to the new history curriculum (courtesy of Curriculum for Cohesion):

So DECC also thinks there’s an issue with climate change in the National Curriculum: – that raises the stakes a bit

There was a very small majority in NC consultation to change ICT to Computing – 39% yest; 35% no:

This new document on National Curriculum disapplication says only 23% of NC consultation responses supported it:

DfE consultation on the Order replacing ICT with Computing and disapplying parts of the NC from September 2013:

SCORE’s Report on Resourcing Practical Science at Secondary Level:

There’s been a desperate search for additional surveys demonstrating children’s lack of historical knowledge:

If Government doesn’t abandon NC in 2014/15 my guess is that will be in the 2015 Tory Manifesto:

@warwickmansell fisks Gove’s speech on curriculum reform:  Could 2013/14 disapplication pave the way for abandonment?

Gove seems to be suggesting that National Curriculum may need to change iteratively to reflect innovation Unworkable?

Davey’s private letter about climate change in the NC is officially acknowledged in a PQ reply: (Col 358W)

Robinson breaks cover to criticise the National Curriculum (and promote his new book):



HEFCE is funding a new programme to support MFL including raising aspirations and attainment in secondary schools:

More of the shortcomings of the National Curriculum Review process laid bare by @warwickmansell:

More attacks on national curriculum history:



Twigg has just advocated almost complete fragmentation in curriculum, but says he’s against fragmentation!

Twigg’s decision to ditch entire National Curriculum isn’t getting media scrutiny it deserves  20,000 secret gardens!

Government response to consultation on the order replacing ICT with Computing:

New Labour policy to drop National Curriculum is directly at odds with ASCL’s preference for a universal entitlement:

Government response to consultation on NC disapplication:  (we’re going to do it anyway…)

Reports that draft History PoS significantly revised: – also being cleared by both PM and DPM!

Groups advising on training/resource implications of new NC PoS have a go at draft PoS instead. Beyond their remit?



NUT’s Advice on National Curriculum Disapplication 2013/14:







Other Curriculum-Related

Direct link to new APPG Report on RE: ‘The Truth Unmasked’: – stops short of pushing (again) for RE in EBacc

Outcome of PSHE Review: – There will be no separate PoS. Links to consultation report and FAQ from this page

Yesterday’s Ministerial Statement on PSHE Education: (Col 52WS)

PSHE consultation report doesn’t give percentage of respondents wanting some topics to be statutory Likely a majority

Eurydice has published a timely new report on PE and sport at school in Europe:

Powerful case for statutory PSHE following the relatively pallid Review:  – could be fertile Manifesto territory…

Google wants more emphasis on the STEM pipeline:  – How can government harness their enthusiasm (and spondoolicks)?

The Next Generation Science Standards: and an instructive insight into the drafting process:

Wonder why this PQ reply on school sport funding fails to confirm that it will be ringfenced: (Col1196W)

Letter from Sex Education Forum et al about sex ed in the draft NC: Weird decision to write to a paywalled organ (!)

A National Shakespeare Week and new bank of teaching materials? – There are more things in heaven and earth…

Westminster Hall debate on long-awaited National Plan for Cultural Education: (Col 94WH) – here ‘very soon indeed’

TES comment from YST on spending the £150m for school sport: – hard for them to add value without national framework

Yesterday’s short Lords’ Debate on PSHE: (Col GC403)

Sue Campbell repeats warnings about the patchiness that will result from uncoordinated support for school sport:

Ofsted’s PSHE Survey Report:

New phonics document: Learning to Read through Phonics: Information for Parents:

Quiet news day on the education front, so all the better opportunity to engage with Mr Point (geddit?) A neat riposte

Education Committee is taking evidence on school sports from 9.30am this morning:

Two Plashet School students review this morning’s Select Committee session on school sport: – excellently written

NLT press release on the increase in children’s online reading: – says the report itself is ‘forthcoming’

Belated link to the Smith Institute Survey of Participation in School Sport:

Is it socially unacceptable to use bad grammar but fine to make mathematical errors?

Lords Oral PQ on school sports: (Col 623)

Uncorrected Transcript of 14 May Education Committee Oral Evidence Session on School Sports:

Direct link to ‘Learning the Lesson: The Future of School Swimming’:

What’s going on with this PM intervention over school sports funding?  – one could read a fair bit into it

Here’s Oxford’s press release on the Snowling phonics test research: No link to paper (which isn’t yet peer-reviewed)

Labour wants to bring elements of PSHE into the National Curriculum: – but why are Home Office shadow team leading?

£7m over 5 years to support A level Physics: and  – but no hint of priority for disadvantaged

Lords Oral PQ on PSHE: (Col 1512) leaves the way open for change to the National Curriculum

By the way, whatever’s happened to the National Plan for Cultural Education?

The Cultural Education Plan will be published ‘within the next few weeks’: (Col 620W)

Details of Further Maths Support Programme tender now on Contracts Finder: – EOIs by 19/4 and Supplier Day on 2/5

Truss increases funding for Further Maths Support Programme: Current offer is here:

Sting in the tail here. That Further Maths Support Programme expansion will be tendered, so MEI may not get the gig:

DfE is inviting bids to run the Further Maths Support Programme: – up to £25m over 5 years

NATRE’s Survey of RE provision in primary schools:

Short Lords Debate yesterday on Citizenship Education: (Col 953)

Need to see how these various maths reforms amount to coherent strategy where whole’s greater than the sum of parts:

DfE has refreshed its school sports advice on  Press release on

Government held a roundtable meeting on arts education on 5 June: (Col 528W)



National Curriculum Assessment

Still no-one’s rising to the challenge I posed to design a new KS1-3 grading system: – The silence is deafening

Today I have been mostly worrying about National Curriculum Assessment: I desperately need help from @warwickmansell

RT @localschools_uk: Ofsted “expected progress” measure flawed – higher grade students much more likely to achieve it:

Brian Lightman: we should not be trying to drive the curriculum through our assessment system: – I agree

Many thanks to everyone RTing my post on future of NC assessment: – separate KS2 test syllabuses seem inevitable

Warwick Mansell on National Curriculum assessment: – the perfect complement to my own post!



Apropos Levels going in 2016, we should imminently get announcement of who has KS2 marking contract 2014-2016:

The Laws speech to ASCL confirms that Level 4b equivalent will become the new KS2 test ‘pass’ from 2016:

MT @emoorse01: Unpopular level descriptions are going. But what will replace them? inspired by @GiftedPhoenix Thanks!

Further KS2 grammar punctuation and spelling sample materials for level 6:

“In particular we shall consider refreshing the p-scales”: (Col 344W)

@brianlightman tells #ascl2013 that abolition of NC levels creates a policy vacuum. ASCL to discuss further with DfE:

2013 Performance tables will show percentage of children achieving KS2 Level 6, but not as percentage of entries:

New primary assessment and accountability regime (consultation awaited) won’t be confirmed until September (Col 722W)

The primary school accountability consultation will still be published “shortly”: (Col 806W) Next week presumably.

New KS2 Writing moderation and exemplification materials levels 2-6:

Tokyo high schools are about to introduce a set of attainment targets:

New DfE research on KS2 Level 6 Tests: – Critical of lack of guidance; doesn’t mention disappearance of L6



Wonder why there’s no reference to primary accountability consultation in this new timeline for schools:

How Level 6 tests are viewed in secondaries: Gifted learners suffer badly from this poor transition practice

The list of Education Oral Questions for this afternoon: – Includes one from Ollerenshaw on Level 6 tests

113,600 pupils from 11,700 schools (21% of cohort) are registered for a 2013 KS2 L6 test: (Col 680W) Iffy

More about KS2 L6 tests:  NB: a 21% entry rate seems excessively high; NC levels will disappear by 2016

@warwickmansell Did you know about this? – I might have missed it but I saw no announcement. It looks as though…

@warwickmansell ..Pearson were the only bidder and have been awarded a £60m contract following negotiations…

@warwickmansell ‘Only one bid received which did not meet the minimum selection criteria. Negotiations were conducted with that bidder’

@DrFautley @warwickmansell NB that the estimated value of the contract was originally £50m – see:

What’s wrong with tests being marked abroad, provided quality is sustained and savings are passed on via lower fees?



Worth comparing this Duncan speech on assessment with similar discussion on this side of the Atlantic:

5 Reasons to Keep NC Levels by @LKMco If no rabbit in the assessment consultation hat will Labour commit to keep them

This reaction from Crystal on SPAG raises awkward wider questions about current QA processes for statutory assessment

Given the furore over the grammar, spelling and punctuation test, any feedback on these L6 materials? – helpful?

Wow! This post on National Curriculum levels is a bit of a rollercoaster ride: – I agree with substantial parts

For completeness sake, the press release on today’s grammar punctuation and spelling test:

Timetable for the primary assessment/accountability consultation slips to ‘by the end of the summer term’: (Col 383W)

New DfE research into KS2 Access Arrangements Procedures:



The significance of progression in assessment reform: – a timely reminder from Australia

(Slightly) veiled criticism from Economist for ‘endless fiddling with tests’:

FoI reveals Standards and Testing Agency’s 2012/13 programme budget was £35.7m:

My piece ‘Whither National Curriculum Without Levels’ We await a new KS2 grading structure



First Interim Report from the Evaluation of the Phonics Screening Check conveys negative teacher feedback over value

This on NC Levels from DfE rather glosses over importance of internal assessment dovetailing with statutory grading:

There doesn’t seem to be any defensive line on the odd dissonance between the NC and assessment timetables:

Confirmation that in 2015 pupils will be following the new NC but will be assessed against the old NC: (Col 357W)

Last night’s #ukedchat transcript on the removal of National Curriculum levels: – My post:



STA received 240 complaints re non-registration of KS2 pupils for Level 6 tests post-deadline: (Col 531W)

If it’s not legally possible to keep NC and assessment out of kilter:  Could this delay NC implementation to 2015?

Breakdown of responsibilities in Standards and Testing Agency:  (Col 601W) Will be reducing from 3 divisions to 2





 Chris Wheadon on the difference between tiering and extension papers (via @warwickmansell ):

DfE has released an Equality Analysis of its planned GCSE Reforms:  – You can decide whether it stands close scrutiny

Seven new GCSE-equivalent 14-16 courses in engineering and construction: – Bet they’re not the last!

TES reports Ofqual has embarked on an international comparisons study of GCSE equivalents:

Truss IoE Open Lecture on A Level reforms: plus the latest increment of maths support

What’s the difference between a Maths M Level and (part of) a stand-alone AS level?

Not very revealing PQ replies about the decision to make AS level a stand-alone qualification: (Col 142W)

TES interview with Ofqual’s Stacey throws further doubt on exam reform timetable and viability of untiered GCSEs:

New letter from Gove to Stacey on A level reform:  – sounds like AS reform beyond content will be delayed

PQ asking which universities us AS level for admissions purposes:  (Col 594W) – Answer not that illuminating

Uncorrected evidence from Education Select Committee’s 12 March session on GCSE English results:

SEN lobby coming to the forefront in arguments against removal of GCSE tiering (TES): – Looks increasingly vulnerable

Ofqual’s response to the last Gove letter on the exam reform timetable:

Glenys Stacey back before Education Select Committee at 10.40 this morning re GCSE English results:

So what alternatives are there to GCSE tiering, apart from core + extension model? Any of them substantively better?

Uncapped GCSE APS data for London Challenge, City Challenges, All secondary by ethnic group, 2007-2012: (Col 1190W)

PQs from Glass and Stuart about HE support for standalone AS levels still getting short shrift: (Col 1187W)

Uncorrected transcript of 26 March Education Select Committee session on GCSE English with Ofqual:

Hansard record of yesterday’s Westminster Hall Debate on AS and A levels: (Col 33WH)

Today’s TES Editorial is about the perverse effect of comparable outcomes:

Ofqual Note on GCSE English Marking in 2012 sent ahead of 26 March Session with Stacey:

O’Briain advocates core plus extension in GCSE maths: – but his comments seem more likely to justify tiering

Ofqual’s GCSE English S+L proposals would mean a 60/40 split in favour of written papers (compared with 40/60 now):

TES piece on OUCEA report on GCSE reforms: – and here’s the paper itself:

Government Response to Education Committee Report on KS4 Reform Nothing new; handy summary ahead of May consultations

So AS level will be a clear dividing line in educational policy ahead of 2015 election A one off or first of several?

Direct link to the OUCEA Report on research evidence relating to GCSE reforms:  – think I may have tweeted this before

Ofqual’s secondary accountability consultation response: – Isn’t weighting Eng and Ma in the best 8 measure overkill?

Coverage of Cambridge Assessment’s call for GCSE scale scores: and and

Another Cambridge Assessment Paper on GCSE tiering: Sees merit in 2 separate levels in Ma and Eng: ie Tiering Plus!

Here’s a direct link to the Cambridge Assessment paper on GCSE scale scores:

Laws to Brennan on AS Levels: – internal analysis suggests AS have marginal additional predictive value

Reports of a new commitment from DfE to consult the other education departments on qualifications reform:

Coverage of yesterday’s indication of more ceiling space for GCSE high attainers: and

Pretty much inevitable home countries split over GCSE/A Level: and There’s plenty of downside

Here’s the study of the predictive value of GCSE versus AS that Laws quoted last week:

CUSU has written to Education Ministers about AS Levels:

TES say AQA is monitoring Twitter for evidence of cheating in its exams (but presumably not in other’s exams):

Leaked notion that son-of-GCSE grades go from 1 up to 8 reverses Gove’s 1-4 down illustration: What’s the logic here?

Incidentally, introducing an I(ntermediate) level at age 16 begs a big question about the identity of E(ntry) level:

Hmm – building in space for a hypothetical Grade 9 is most definitely a ‘speculative’ proposal!

Independent Editorial on I-Levels seems to be off the pace, or at least rather idiosyncratic:

Will there be pressure in future to keep Welsh and Northern Irish GCSEs available in English schools? What of IGCSE?

Twigg on I levels:

TES on I-levels: – also says yesterday’s Estyn report on science is a threat to their PISA 2015 aspirations

Some distancing here from the new I-level moniker: – maybe we’ll have GCSE(E) instead!

Ofqual on A level review arrangements: and  Russell Group references conspicuous by  absence

Ofqual’s Interim Review of Marking Quality + Literature Review on Marking Reliability Research

Two newly-published interim research briefs from evaluation of the linked pair of GCSEs in maths (M LP):

Direct link to Education Select Committee report on GCSE English marking:

This looks authoritative on today’s GCSE announcements:  New line on reverse grading from 8 down to 1 still looks weak

So it appears tiering may be reprieved in maths, physics, chemistry biology:  Annual 1K pupil sample tests in Ma/Eng

Update on Ofqual’s progress in investigating awarding organisations that also publish text books: (Col 124W)

DfE consultation says high achievers’ content is separately indicated in Maths spec. But why only Maths? (p7)

DfE GCSE content consultation says no specifications for any further subjects: (pp5-6)

Here is Ofqual’s Review of Controlled Assessment in GCSE, also released today:

Ofqual is proposing new short course GCSEs, and there could be common content with full GCSEs: (p32)

Ofqual promises a separate Autumn consultation on setting grade standards from first principles: (p30)

Can’t see any justification from Ofqual’s for why the grading goes from 8 to 1, rather than vice versa: (pp26-29)

As expected, Ofqual proposes ‘improved’ overlapping tiers in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology:  (pp13-17)

DfE GCSE Subject Content Consultation Document: and subject specifications:

Ofqual GCSE consultation press release: and consultation document:

Today’s oral statement on GCSE reform:

Interesting if somewhat idiosyncratic list of the (14) experts consulted on the GCSE specifications:

As Wales and NI stick with integrated AS level, the UK-wide exam reform picture begins to resemble a dog’s breakfast:

My notification says draft GCSE science spec has already been replaced with a new version: – what’s changed?

Russell Group will have an A Level Content Advisory Group (ALCAB) after all: but no real detail about process

Set of fairly non-committal PQ replies about Welsh GCSEs: (Col 581W)

Handy NUT guide to proposed changes to GCSE:

GCSE MFL entries by language over the last decade: (Col WA90)

How well does AS predict A level grades?

Ofqual needs two new board members, pay is £6K a year:



Performance Tables and Floor Targets

Bell criticises Russell Group-focused destination data: – likely to be relegated to planned Data Warehouse/Portal?

AoC has complained to the UK Statistics Authority about the KS5 Performance Tables (TES):

Details of new primary floor targets from DfE: – Level 4 becomes 4A/4B only until it’s discarded in 2016

Repitching Level 4 at current 4B must be precursor to using the higher threshold as new post-Levels end KS2 benchmark

By the way, results in the new GSP test ‘are likely to be part of the floor standard in 2014’: – why so provisional?

Sounds like there are also plans (long on the back burner?) to publish ‘families of schools’ data:

@headguruteacher On school accountability: – Can’t see universal performance indicators being sacrificed entirely

Direct link to IPPR Report on how performance table reforms have affected 14-16 vocational education:

Direct link to Demos Report on Detoxifying School Accountability:  plus press release:

Interim report tomorrow from Labour’s 14-19 review will apparently recommend abolition of EBacc:

International comparisons of school accountability systems:





FAQs on Ofsted’s School Data Dashboard: – Nothing on link with new Performance Tables proposals

Mumsnet users aren’t impressed by the Ofsted Schools Dashboard:

TES reports concern that data determining which LAs Ofsted inspects is out of date:

TES editorial suggests Ofsted should consider Montesquieu before undertaking school improvement alongside inspection:

Ofsted will tomorrow publish data on the outcome of school inspections in first term under new framework: (Col 987W)

The promised Ofsted school inspection data for October to December 2012:  plus press release:

38 sponsored academies inspected October-December 2012: 0 outstanding; 20 good; 13 require improvement; 5 inadequate:

Ofsted has published the Data Dashboard/school governors Wilshaw speech:

Ofsted Survey: Improving Literacy in Secondary Schools:

Update from NAHT on Ofsted data dashboard issues:

Following Derby and Portsmouth, Ofsted next blitz Coventry:

Norfolk is next authority in line for the full Ofsted treatment:

Ofsted’s letter to Portsmouth following mass inspection there is less emollient than the earlier one to Derby:

Ofsted has published its response to a consultation on improving its own complaints procedures:

Omigod (literally!) Christian Today says “Sir Michael’s sins are too long to detail”: but I think it’s ironic

Ofsted has written to Coventry about the outcomes of the recent LA-wide inspection there:

In case you haven’t yet had a link to….Ofsted’s consultation document on early years inspection:

Not sure if this breakdown of grades for the 9 free schools so far inspected has been made public before: (top link)

Papers from the Ofsted Board Meeting of 26 March: including a Performance Report on the last Quarter of 2012

All the Ofsted bumph on LA inspection: and and

Norfolk gets a stiff letter from Ofsted, Here’s the full text courtesy of the EDP:

Ofsted has released a first set of monthly figures updating latest school inspection outcomes by phase and LA/region:

NAHT press release about Instead, its alternative inspection model:

Interesting piece on the impact of a negative Ofsted on test outcomes:

Ministers haven’t pinned down the criteria determining a decision to ask HMCI to inspect a local authority (Col 596W)

The Ofsted roadshow reaches Bristol:

Ofsted will on Monday start inspection of local authority school improvement services in Norfolk and Isle of Wight:

Full DfE FOI response on evidence of effectiveness of Ofsted inspection: Includes 2012 internal research review.

TES reports that some private school emergency inspections are prompted by fears of religious extremism:

Medway is next in Ofsted’s sights:

Ofsted press release on its inspection of Medway primary schools:

East Riding escapes relatively lightly following Ofsted scrutiny:

Is Ofsted now acting as a school improvement broker, asks @Robt_Hill

Really useful data via Ofsted FOI on how academies’ inspection ratings change after achieving academy status:


International Comparisons

New OECD working paper on the Predictive Power of PISA test items:

RT @OECD_Edu: The ideas that shaped PISA, & the ideas that PISA shaped – Slidedeck for @SchleicherEDU TED talk

Latest PISA in Focus on marking:

Schleicher presentation from OECD summit on using evaluation to improve teaching:

What’s wrong with NC Levels: Interested to see how the author’s alternative differs to mine:

BBC reports that PISA test for schools is about to be launched:  – further background here:

A whole range of US pilot material from the OECD (PISA) test for schools can be accessed here:

Today’s TES editorial is about our penchant for things American: – but PISA is now driving a more eclectic approach?

‘You’ll be Shocked by How Many of the World’s Top Students are American’: (I wasn’t)

Tim Oates in TES on comparative study of high-performing education systems: – is the full analysis published?

PISA in Focus study on What Makes Urban Schools Different: as reported here:

Interesting World Bank blog post about OECD’s ‘PISA for Development’ (building PISA use in developing economies):

Interesting NCEE article exemplifying data produced from the PISA Test for Schools:

International comparisons of school accountability systems:

TES on PISA Tests for Schools: – They’ll cost at least £5,250 a throw. Government ‘supportive’ but won’t impose

Forgot to mention you can check how our high achievers perform on PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS here:

PISA’s approach to assessing collaborative problem-solving (in 2015):

Here is Education at a Glance 2013 (all 440 pages): and here’s the 10 page note on the UK:


Social Mobility

The ASCL page from which you can download all three of today’s publications about social mobility:

On quick review ASCL social mobility documents are good in parts while ignoring the Excellence Gap concept:

Upcoming ISER social mobility report: Doesn’t yet show up on their website:

NYT article on social mobility through HE access in the USA: – unfortunately the paper it discusses is £

@brianlightman on schools’ contribution to social mobility:

Book of abstracts for today’s HEA social mobility conference – let’s hope the papers are published and free to access

Top strand of the IT pipeline is dominated by independent schools:

Some fairly rigorous intervention is required before grammar schools will be a key to social mobility:

Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission reminds us of its existence:  – There’s plenty for it to address

BIS FOI Release concerning evidence of guidance on unpaid internships and unpaid interns:

Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has issued a call for evidence to inform 1st annual report

Grammar schools and the myth of social mobility: – Exactly

Not exactly an enthusiastic answer to Hinds PQ on Government progress on social mobility: (Col 1097W)

DPM’s Opening Doors Press Release: – so glad to know who provided the double-deckers for the Talent Tour!

Full text of Milburn’s Scottish Speech setting out the stall of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission:

Yesterday’s Westminster Hall Debate on unpaid internships: (Col 161WH)

20 June Lords Debate on Social Mobility: (Col GC139) When Government spokesman ditches his speech, that’s a bad sign

Public Attitudes Research on Social Mobility from the SMCPC: and press release:

The Grandparents Effect in Social Mobility: Evidence from British Birth Cohort Studies by Chan and Boliver:

Thirteen Economic Facts about Social Mobility and the Role of Education (US):


Fair Access

Ever wonder why state schools don’t send students to Oxbridge? Read this and weep:

It’s becoming harder to get a place on a UNIQ summer school than to gain admission to Oxford:

Oxford and Telegraph lock horns over statistical analysis of ‘summer born’ effect on admissions

If there’s no problem with Oxbridge admissions let’s have full data transparency. Secrecy breeds conspiracy theories

OFFA has appointed nine new members to its advisory group including Penelope Griffin of the Bridge Group:

Direct link to HEFCE’s ‘The Uses and Impact of HEFCE Funding for Widening Participation’:

The sting in the tail of HEFCE’s report is on page 68:

THE says OFFA/HEFCE national access strategy interim report will propose coordinated outreach strategy:

The HEFCE/OFFA Interim Report on the National Strategy for Access: said to propose son of Aim Higher

BiS press notice about the OFFA/HEFCE Access Strategy Interim Report:

I’m struggling to understand how factual information about applications could be defamatory to universities:

Early stages of a FOI wrangle over those UCAS admission statistics:

HEFCE has published a bit of extra material from the National Scholarship Programme evaluation they commissioned:

The long arm of RCT reaches across to the Sutton Trust’s fair access work: – RCT is the new fad/Heineken/Mr Tickle!

Why don’t independent schools introduce loans that aren’t repayable if you don’t enter a Russell Group university?

Is OFFA going soft on fair access? – no ratcheting up of expectations in 2013-14

HEFCE confirms open recruitment for ABB+ grades (a third of students) Press release: Circular:

New HESA participation data Higher says 6 of 24 Russell Group HEIs met state school benchmarks

Durham press release on that Boliver fair access research: and the project that spawned it:

Gove statement on the Boliver social mobility research Last line seems to contradict Government HE admissions policy

Sounds like IPPR’s HE Commission is developing an approach to fair access that Mr G will not find conducive:

The proportion of UCAS applications from private and independent schools 2008 to 2012:  (Col 1067W)

THE reports a Mahmood speech yesterday. Labour would ‘urgently restore’ widening participation as policy priority:

Ivy League universities are becoming increasingly selective:

Latest Independent Commission on Fees Analysis of 2012/13 HE admissions: and Sutton Trust PN:

@conorfryan expands on this morning’s news about the potentially deleterious impact of tuition fees:

HEFCE briefing and report on Non-continuation rates at English HEIs 2003-2011:

HEFCE estimates that 18,555 students achieved AAA+ at A level in 2009/10 and 96% entered HE:  (Col 319W)

Laws says proportion of independent/selective students at Oxbridge is ‘unacceptably high’: (Col 53WH)

Willetts speech in which he announces information packs to support fair access to HE Marginally positive

Number of Welsh comprehensive pupils admittted to Oxbridge is flatlining – and significantly lower than in 2008/2009:

Willetts’ ‘well done’ letters not going down too well:  Idea has a certain affinity with Dux. It won’t impress Milburn

Direct link to the BIS data on HE Participation Rates 2006/07 to 2007/12 (Provisional):

OFFA’s comment on the HE participation data:

Imposing a universal embargo on admissions below BBB is hardly praiseworthy university admissions practice:

Good showing for non-Russell Group in Complete University Guide. Durham also outranks Oxbridge for English:

The latest application figures from UCAS:

HEFCE Consultation Document on Student Number Controls 2014-15 onwards: – includes proposals for moving beyond ABB+

Early evaluation of Unistats from HEFCE: and associated press release:

Is ASCL against all use of contextual data in HE admissions, or concerned about which data is used for the purpose?

Gove’s CPS Joseph Memorial Speech:  Says his policies are explicitly designed to improve FSM progression to Oxbridge

Direct link to Cambridge Undergraduate Admission Statistics for 2012  – disadvantage is by POLAR quintile

Interesting comparison of fair access north and south of the border: and

Sutton Trust press release on impact of fees: and Lampl commentary on same:

US debate on ‘affirmative action’ is peaking in expectation of the outcome of the University of Texas court case:

Direct link to new Centre Forum report on access to postgraduate education:

Guardian preview of OFFA’s annual report (with HEFCE) due out today:  Expect the anodyne, not fireworks

OFFA’s press release on today’s report: and the Report itself, plus annexes

Stock response from BIS to yesterday’s OFFA/HEFCE report: – wonder what the latest FSM to Oxbridge figure is…

IPPR’s HE Commission will propose a £1K HE Premium for up to 230K disadvantaged students from existing WP budget:

Missed this Guardian coverage of geographical disparities in Oxbridge admissions and

IPPR’s HE Commission is pro-contextualised admissions; HEIs could admit unlimited numbers of student premium-eligible

Direct link to IPPR HE Commission summary (the download mysteriously provides only pages 112-144):

Here’s the full IPPR HE Commssion Report: – Glitch now fixed thanks to @IPPR_Nick

WonkHE analysis puts the IPPR HE Commission Report (which I still can’t access in full) firmly in its place:

I like the IPPR HE Commission Report on both Student Premium and Contextualised Admissions: but two tricks missed…

…first, the Student Premium needs to align with 16-19 support as well as the Pupil Premium as suggested here and…

…second, HE outreach budget/effort (HE ‘pull’) needs to be integrated with the school/post-16 budget/effort (‘push’) to maximise impact.

Milburn quietly re-endorses contextualised admissions to HE while up in Scotland:

Next set of Destination Measures will be published on 20 June: (Col 231W)

Milburn will publish a report on Monday showing that fair access to prestigious universities has stalled

Direct link to new Social Mobility Commission policy paper: Higher Education: The Fair Access Challenge:

Excellent Report by Social Mobility Commission: – So good that it raises awkward questions about OFFA’s contribution

Today’s Social Mobility Commission report on Fair Access, but now with added data:  Can’t see FSM though

OFFA responds to Social mobility Commission Report on Fair Access to HE: which shows OFFA’s having negligible impact

Now there’s a thought – link VCs’ pay to the achievement of their fair access targets: Warwick OKish on this measure?

THE reports the National Scholarship Programme could be vulnerable under the Spending Review:

Updated Destination Measures general information: and Q&A:

KS4/5 Destinations Data PN: – SFR and tables:  FSM breakdown not published until 23 July

Russell Group on SMCPC Report on Fair Access and @tessa_stone’s powerful response

THE reviews IntoUniversity: Successfully squeezing money from corporate sponsors to support fair access

Why 9 of these students: rejected Oxbridge: – Still a trickle but could it become a flood?

Debate continues over affirmative action despite Supreme Court Ruling: and

Here’s a brief report on Fair Access issues, especially some news about the Dux Award Scheme:

National Scholarship Programme reduced back to £50m and focused exclusively on postgraduates:

Progress of the Post-16 Education (Scotland) Bill which supports WP/fair access north of the border, passed yesterday

I’ve finalised my brief post of yesterday about the future of Dux Awards, now renamed Future Scholar Awards

HEFCE analysis of trends in transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study 2002-2011:

HEFCE’s Overview Report of Postgraduate Education in England and Northern Ireland 2013:

HEFCE’s invitation to submit pilot project proposals to support progression into postgraduate education:

Further detail of Government financial support for access by disadvantaged students to postgraduate education:

Think this is the report: on the state/private school university experience referenced here:





Deed of variation to funding agreements will require academies to secure independent careers advice: (Col WA339)

Lords Oral PQ about careers guidance in schools: (Col 1267)

Updated statutory guidance for schools on Careers Guidance:

Government response to Education Select Committee report on Careers Guidance for Young People:

RT @SecondaryCEIAG: Tony Watts forensically takes apart Government response to Education Committee report on careers

Yesterday’s Westminster Hall debate on Careers Guidance: (Col 1WH)

Direct link to today’s National Careers Council publication: ‘An Aspirational Nation’:

New guidance for post-16 institutions on Securing Independent Careers Guidance:

Cridland on careers: – His topic at the GS Heads Association was ‘nurturing ability’:

Yesterday’s backbench debate on careers advice in schools: (Col 120)


Pupil Premium

Primary floor rises; schools rated by Ofsted below ‘good’ with attainment gap issues need Pupil Premium action plan

DfE Evaluation of Summer Schools for Disadvantaged Pupils:  plus key findings for schools:

Who are these experts that will advise schools on their use of Pupil Premium? – What happened to ‘schools know best’?

Not much evidence in this Evaluation of Disadvantaged Summer Schools of a focus on improving attainment:

Pupil Premium intervention requires accredited ‘System Leaders’ (not all NLEs) to help schools produce action plans

Laws’ Pupil Premium intervention is basically the old Labour mantra: ‘intervention in inverse proportion to success’

Fact Check revisits how much of a premium the Pupil Premium really is Big issue for current spending review I’d guess

FAQs for the 2013 Summer Schools for Disadvantaged Pupils:  – continuation announced by Laws yesterday

RT @fimclean: SAM Learning debate on how the £1.25 billion Pupil Premium affects school spending

Hansard record of yesterday’s Westminster Hall debate on the Pupil Premium: (Col 25WH)

Laws ratchets up pressure on schools to narrow gaps via the Pupil Premium – Schools know best approach is now history

Can you see the Pupil Premium reducing the FSM attainment gap to 12.5% any time soon? – No, me neither

@RobAnthony01 @miconm Then again there’s Deloitte’s ‘Insight 5’: (which rather undermines the Pupil Premium concept)

Just how much Pupil Premium is being pocketed by private tutors? – Wouldn’t it make sense to cut out the 3rd party?

Guardian reports new Sutton Trust survey of Pupil Premium funding: Presume details here later:

Here’s that belated Sutton Trust Pupil Premium Survey: and press release:

The independent evaluation of the Pupil Premium will be published in July: (Col 300W)

Young Foundation Report ‘Social Investment in Education’ urges using Pupil Premium to support said social investment:

More detail of Pupil Premium accountability measures; John Dunford’s appointment as Pupil Premium National Champion:

Limited support in this Pupil Premium evaluation for Ofsted’s complaint that high attainers are neglected:

Pupil Premium Evaluation says it’s too early to offer a judgement of the impact on pupil attainment: – Why so?

New Evaluation of the Pupil Premium: Identifies tensions between schools’ use and ‘external expectations’

Pupil Premium reinforcement illustrates how few strong policy levers exist in a ‘self-improving school system’:

There’s also more detail here about how Pupil Premium Reviews will work:



FSM Gaps, Poverty, Disadvantage and EEF

EEF’s Evidence in Action Events: Discussion Paper on ‘Knowledge Mobilisation’: and report:

If the EEF now deals with ‘Improving education outcomes for school-aged children’ isn’t that serious mission creep?

This implies that elevation of EEF to ‘What Works Centre’ extends its remit to all outcomes for 4-19 year-olds: True?

What the Education Endowment Fund was originally for: and

Essential reading for right-lurching politicians: The Lies We Tell Ourselves: Ending Comfortable Myths About Poverty:

This is the Troubled Families evidence base: about which this report is so scathing:

How the Pygmalion effect works:

A deeply troubling round-up of the impact of the various April benefits cuts:

And here’s a benchmark report on 2012 UK poverty levels ahead of the new round of benefits cuts. Required reading:

Teach First commissioned IFS report on its choice of indicators of disadvantage – TES on same:

Set of new EEF-funded projects: – includes £700K for chess in schools. Who is evaluating the EEF?

Laws speech to ATL references a Liberal ‘ambition’ to halve the current FSM gap by 2020: – remember that one!

IoE blog on why linking FSM gap-narrowing to the inspection framework may not be entirely fair or appropriate:

DfE Research Topic Note on EYFSP Pilot outcomes: – reports bigger EM and FSM gaps under new model

DfE publishing data shortly on attainment by age 19 broken down by pupil characteristics including FSM. Here is link

New SFR 13/2013 shows increased FSM gap on 2+ A levels measure, one of Government’s social mobility indicators: (p13)

Mongon on white working class underachievement: – advocates a localised, co-ordinated zone-based response

TES feature on underachievement in coastal towns: – 10 years on it’s as if Education Action Zones never existed

Is Universal Credit a disaster waiting to happen? What’s the fallback for FSM eligibility if it can’t be made to work?

New Children’s Centre Evaluation (ECCE) baseline survey of families using centres in the most disadvantaged areas:

Don’t understand how FSM eligibility could be cut back by councils if it’s passported on universal credit?

Government does not expect to introduce the FSM element of Universal Credit until after October 2013:  (Col 479W)

Education Endowment Fund has so far funded 56 projects at a cost of £28.7m (full list provided): (Col 959W)

New Good Practice Guide for the 16-19 Bursary Fund:

Do low aspirations hold back low income students? – summary of Rowntree research

New Invitation to Tender for Education Endowment Foundation’s data-crunching activity: – deadline 31 May

New consultation document on allocation of discretionary element of 16-19 Bursary Fund:

The proportion of FSM-eligible pupils at the first tranche of free schools: (Col 90W)

Year 1 Evaluation of the 16-19 Bursary Fund: plus associated press release:

Replugging my new post about support for FSM high achievers, applying US research to English settings:

Apropos Sutton Trust report do we know how many Academies/free schools give admissions priority to FSM? (footnote 22)

Wonder why Sutton Trust isn’t advocating priority FSM admissions to academies/free schools as well as ballots/banding

New DfE research report on impact of summer schools programme on disadvantaged learners: – not a ringing endorsement

IoE PN on Jerrim et al research on impact of genetics on reading achievement gap: Exec summary

FSM to Universal Credit is all about the transition:  Protect entitlement of 168K losers already eligible to age 16?

UCET advice to ministers on closing the achievement gap and ITT:

Preview of HMC’sI themes in next week’s speech on disadvantage:  Including disadvantaged high attainers hopefully

Twigg commits to admissions reform so all schools can give priority to disadvantaged learners. Good

Direct link to IPPR’s Excellence and Equity: Tackling educational disadvantage in England’s secondary schools:

Interesting that the Education Endowment Foundation has released a statement on teaching assistants:

Schools, Pupils and Characteristics January 2013: Primary FSM down 0.1% to 19.2%; secondary FSM up 0.3% to 16.3%

Series of Jamie Reed PQs following up on Ofsted’s ‘Unseen Children’ Report: (Col 236W)

No Rich Child Left Behind – on the ‘upper-tail inequality’ in US education:

Report of an Expert Panel considering reform of the measure of socio-economic status deployed in NAEP:

Breaking the Glass Ceiling of Achievement for Low Income Students and Students of Color from The Education Trust (US)

“The distribution of opportunity in our education system is nutty”: – Fair point

Labour also reported to be proposing admissions reform:  – devil will be in the detail here

Funding of NZ schools according to socio-economic deciles under further scrutiny:


Selection and Independent Sector

Thin end of the wedge if it’s OK for politicians to say one thing and do another when choosing private education?

So what feedback to we have on the CEM 11+ pilot in Bucks? Exactly how much less coachable is it? – I’m sceptical

Subject to DfE approval Invicta GS to run Sevenoaks grammar annex – now seem OK sharing site with Trinity Free School

All the papers seem to be reporting the Independent Schools Census 2013. I guess it’s published here towards tiffin:

TES report on the Independent Schools Census 2013: – and here is the Census itself at last:

Today’s Sutton Trust Research on Selective Comprehensive Schools:  and associated press release

The Ethics of Tutoring:  – refreshingly honest

Hang on! ‘Moronic repetition and preparation for cognitive ability tests’? Aren’t they supposed to be non-coachable?

Oxford Times profiles Tim Hands, incoming Chair of HMC:  – who sounds like he might make waves

I simply don’t believe that Chelmsford HS’s change of 11+ test will materially change its intake:

I see Mr G is delivering ‘a fresh vision for the independent sector’ today:

Mr G’s speech turned out a different animal: – I worry his high expectations are too narrow, like a hurdle in a race

Tony Little says he and others can’t see an overarching ‘big picture’ vision for the Government’s education reforms:

New GSA President joins the chorus of disapproval:

Outside the elite institutions, the private sector in US education is dying out argues Chester Finn:

Love the ambiguous ‘too’ in the final para of this on Eton and poverty of aspiration:

Fair Admissions Campaign Statement: Will map religious and socio-economic selection. FAQs:

Centre for Market Reform of Education on its Tutors Association Consultation:  More detail here

The rapid expansion of online tutoring in the UK:

These are the grammar school statistics: cited in today’s latest Mail article on the subject:

Grammar schools and the myth of social mobility: – Exactly

I wonder if Hitchens would support the wholesale introduction of ‘contextualised admissions’ into grammar schools:

@headguruteacher I still stand by most of what I proposed in Jan 2011 – essentially an OFFA for (grammar) schools:

Post on selection by @headguruteacher:  Appears to suggest GS select on attainment, not on ability so FSM imbalance OK

The continuing expansion of grammar school places:  – How many are adding 1FE+ post academisation?

A second, competing, proposal to run a satellite grammar school in Sevenoaks:

Chris Ray calls for 11+ admission via assessment days: – I agree

HMCI prods independent sector towards stronger partnership with state schools: and





July 2013

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