Today’s news review looks at coverage of the appointment process for the new Ofsted Chief, figures on Multi Academy Trust performance, term time holiday penalty notices, a report on women on boards, and the Children and Social Work Bill.
The Education Select Committee has published a report outlining its views on Amanda Spielman’s suitability to replace Sir Michael Wilshaw as Ofsted Chief Inspector.
Amanda Spielman is the Secretary of State's preferred candidate. Ms Spielman gave evidence at the Select Committee on her suitability for the post at the end of June. In the report the Committee claims that despite her wealth of experience they have ‘significant concerns’ about her appointment.
However, the Secretary of State is clear that Ms Spielman is the right person for the job – having had a proven track record as a leader and huge experience in the education sector. This is highlighted in the media coverage today, which has been picked up by the BBC Online, Telegraph, Guardian, Times and Daily Mail.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:
I’m surprised and disappointed at the select committee’s report. Ms Spielman has a proven track record as a leader and huge experience in the education sector having helped found ARK, one of the most successful academy chains in the country and worked as the Chair of Ofqual.
I chose Ms Spielman as my preferred candidate because I believe she will be a highly effective leader who will be unafraid to do the right thing and where necessary challenge schools, local authorities and government where education and social care services are not meeting the standards our children deserve.
I will now consider their report and respond in due course.
Multi Academy Trust performance
Today the Sutton Trust and Education Policy Institute (EPI) have published reports on the performance of multi academy trusts (MATs).
The reports compare local authority school performance with MAT school performance. The reports claim the analysis shows that there is no real difference between the two. This is misleading, and today’s coverage fails to acknowledge the many impressive MATs highlighted in the reports which are raising standards for thousands of pupils.
MATs are playing a vital and increasingly important role in the school system - thanks to their ability to share resources, expertise and provide support to schools that are struggling.
Additionally, the reason why some MATs are listed as low performing is because many of them have taken on underperforming schools, many of which were under local authority control and have not yet been given sufficient time to demonstrate improved performance.
At 9.30 today we published our own data on the performance of MATs.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
Our reforms, which have academies at their heart, are raising standards for children across the country – over 1.45 million more children are in good or outstanding schools compared to 2010.
No child should spend a single day in a failing school and academy status means we can take swift action when performance isn’t strong enough – a sharp contrast to days when underperforming schools were left to languish under local authority control.
Our research, like that of the Sutton Trust and the Education Policy Institute, highlights many impressive MATs which are raising standards for thousands of pupils. They are playing a vital and increasingly important role in the school system - thanks to their ability to share resources, expertise and provide support to schools that are struggling.
Our ambition remains for all schools to become academies with more schools joining multi-academy trusts (MATs) - because we know this is an effective way to bring about sustained improvement.
Women on boards
Ministers are urging Britain’s biggest firms to ensure a third of boardroom positions are taken by women.
The women on board’s agenda is a flagship policy for the government that has proven effective in recent years under the guidance of Lord Davies.
The Times has covered this story and says that businesses should be more ambitious after hitting a previous target to hand a quarter of FTSE 100 board roles to women.
- The new team supporting the Hampton-Alexander Review;
- The focus of the new review and support of the 33 per cent target;
- The new Cranfield figures for the percentage of women on boards and Executive Committees;
- The appointment of Cilla Snowball as Chair of the Women’s Business Council; and
- The new additional members of the Women’s Business Council.
Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan said:
This Government has prioritised equality for women, pushing for greater representation in business and providing young women with the role models that inspire them and their career choices. We have already made huge progress – having increased the percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards from 12 per cent to 26 per cent.
But now is not the time to pat ourselves on the back and say ‘job well done’ – we must be even more ambitious. That’s why I am delighted that Sir Philip and Dame Helen will be heading up such a prestigious team of Britain’s best and brightest leaders to drive this ambition forward.
The expertise and passion of all the people involved leave me with no doubt that we will continue to see a genuine culture change at the heart of British business. This isn’t just important for women – it’s critical for our economy – that’s why I want to see greater representation from the classroom to the boardroom.
Term time holidays
Santander UK has issued a promotional press release claiming to show that up to 90,000 parents have been issued with term time holiday fines at an estimated £5.6 million in the last academic year. There figures were obtained under a freedom of information request to all local authorities.
The Guardian and Daily Mail cover the story and both outline our position that children should not be taken out of school, other than in exceptional circumstances.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
We are clear - children should not be taken out of school during term except in exceptional circumstances.
The evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chance of gaining good GCSEs which has a lasting effect on their life chances. Unauthorised absence during term time doesn’t just have an impact on the child’s education, but also on teachers and other children.
While family holidays are enriching experiences, the school year is designed to give families the opportunity for these breaks without having to disrupt their children’s education.
Children and Social Work Bill
Yesterday, Wednesday, 6 July, the Guardian published a letter written by representatives of a number of social work bodies.
The letter wrongly criticises two sections of the Children and Social Work Bill - the clauses enabling the creation of a specialist regulator, and clauses on the power to innovate, which is all about supporting local authorities to innovate by testing radical new approaches to improving services.
In response, Minister Timpson wrote a letter which has been published by the Guardian today and is also in full here.