Education Policy and Research Service 2023-2024 Weekly Update 8 May 2024

Dear Subscribers

I hope that you all enjoyed the Bank Holiday weekend.  

Let us begin with school inspection. As Ofsted’s consultation ‘The Big Listen’ continues, Ofsted has announced that it is removing ‘deep dives’ (close inspection of selected subjects) from ungraded inspections, paving the way for what is described as a more ‘flexible and collaborative approach’. Deep dives will be replaced by ‘extended learning walks’. You can read more here.  

News this week of a consultation on schools admissions. Currently, if a new free school with religious character is oversubscribed, it can only prioritise pupils based on faith for 50% of places – this is known as the ‘faith cap’.  At least half of the school’s available places must be allocated without reference to faith-based admissions criteria. The government has launched a consultation on lifting the cap – further information can be found here. The government hopes that, with the lifting of the cap, ‘high performing faith school providers will be able to create more good school places and create strong multi-academy trusts around the country where there is demand’.  

Moving on to teacher education, in a previous update I mentioned that the government has cut the number of funded subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses available to prospective student teachers. This week, the SKE directory has been updated to reflect the changes with biology, design and technology, English, religious education and primary maths removed from the list of funded courses.  

On to pupil absence. Last Thursday the DfE published the most recent figures for pupil absence, covering the period from 11th September 2023 to 19th April 2024. For this period the overall pupil absence rate was 7%. It was considerably higher in secondary schools (8.5%) than in primary (5.1%). More worrying, perhaps, is the fact that 20.2 per cent of pupils were persistently absent (i.e., missing 10% or more of possible school sessions).  

Finally, some information to pass on to your safeguarding team – the DfE has published new guidance on safeguarding information sharing. This advice focuses on the legal framework and how it supports information sharing for the purposes of safeguarding children from abuse and neglect. It includes a useful reminder of the ‘7 golden rules’ for sharing information.

I look forward to updating you next week.

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