Tag Archives: DfE

ASCL Conference March 2018

ASCL Logo ASCL Annual Conference

Geoff Barton, ASCL General SecretaryGeoff Barton

  • ASCL vision: Every child from every background deserves the best possible education.
  • Our common focus must be on the education of young people and the well-being of students, staff and school leaders. Be restless, be relentless.
  • Key priorities/areas of concern:
    – recruitment and retention;
    – workload (a common theme of the day);
    – accountability (another common theme);
    – ethical leadership (doing the ‘right thing’);
    – mental health and well-being;
    – funding.
  • Priorities are linked, funding is the key to unlock the others; ASCL will continue to campaign on this front.
  • Ethical leadership focus, including celebrating and encouraging diversity within the curriculum which is at odds with the Ebacc agenda and accountability measures (another common theme).
  • How do we prepare our students for life in the modern world rather than winning Progress 8 prizes and stickers.
  • Measure what we value, rather than valuing what is measured.
  • The rhetoric surrounding social mobility needs to be a reality.
  • Referred to Obama’s reliance on reading for pleasure to get him through the Team of RivalsPresidency. ‘Team of Rivals’ (Lincoln’s presidency) recommended.
  • Impact of social media on mental health; message was to educate, supervise, guide but not ban. Students need a perspective on their own sense of self and how to achieve screen-free time.
  • Questioned the current GCSE Levels – what does it feel like to achieve a Level 3, no longer any sort of a pass?
  • Summary: We are community leaders, be strong, be ethical. ASCL will continue to urge the government to re-think accountability measures, relieve pressures on educators and shift the focus to what really matters.

 Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP, Sec of State for EducationDamian Hinds

  • Teaching is the noblest of roles and has a massive impact on society.
  • All children deserve a good education; recent government policy has had impact (more good schools, more rigorous GCSEs/A Levels, Ebacc, etc.)
  • Wants to return power to Headteachers to make the right decisions for their schools.
  • Stressed the importance of people and quality teaching.
  • Disadvantaged agenda also stressed.
  • Workload given considerable airtime: remove low impact/high effort tasks which include excessive marking; verbal feedback is also effective. Data collection/analysis also highlighted; DfE currently deciding its position on data collection; summer announcement.
  • Acknowledged pace of change has been fast but reminded us of the positive impact. Promised no further change in the parliament; did not mention overhaul vocational and technical qualifications.
  • Accountability regime: acknowledged high stakes nature and subsequent pressure on staff and students. Whilst accountability is necessary, it must be right. Plan to clarify the rules and roles of RSCs vs Ofsted (this was mentioned several times).
  • CPD – spoke of a curriculum fund to support the sharing of best practice.
  • Concluded by stating his commitment to changing the culture in education, reduce the workload and support the profession so as to provide a world class education for all children.


Amanda Spielman, HMCIAmanda Spielman

  • Committed to shifting the focus on inspection to the ‘substance of education’.
  • An advocate of a knowledge-rich curriculum, not progress prizes and stickers.
  • Feels that the curriculum has been overlooked in favour of accountability measures; acknowledged that Ofsted is partly responsible for this.
  • Success should flow from a broad curriculum which is well taught.
  • Also cited workload as a key priority in retaining effective staff and that triple-impact marking, excessive data analysis and ‘mocksteds’ had adversely impacted on this.
  • Cited 5 drivers of the workload issue:
    – government policy;
    – accountability measures;
    – the consequences of accountability measures, including the response by RSCs;
    – litigation (e.g. H&S);
    – school policies driven by accountability measures.
  • Stressed the need to communicate Sean Harford’s ‘myths’ to staff (e.g. not a performance, no requirement for excessive preparation, no mocksteds, no lesson plans, no expected style of teaching or frequency of marking).
  • Ofsted want to see day-to-day practice. If the school is working well, week-in, week-out, then you have at least a good school.
  • Cited short inspection reforms as evidence of Ofsted’s desire to reduce the fear around inspections (stay good with areas of weakness, removal of ‘3 RI strikes = Grade 4’ rule).
  • No expectation for additional or highly detailed data to be produced for the inspection; questioned the effort that routinely goes into data production and analysis. Ofsted will use data as a starting point only.
  • Staff questionnaires now ask if leaders take account of about well-being and workload when making decisions.
  • 2019 Inspection Framework coming soon; expect a sharper focus on education rather than aspects which do not give a fair indication of the school.

Martin Paine