https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2016/05/17/17-may-2016/

Education in the media: 17 May 2016

microphones

Today’s education news review looks at a letter from Ofsted on unregistered schools and Freedom of Information figures on the amount spent on supply teachers.

Unregistered schools

Ofsted has today published a letter from Sir Michael Wilshaw to the Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan, on unregistered schools. It highlights that he is ‘extremely concerned’ that they could be used as a cover for exposing children to extremist views.

This has been picked up widely in print. It is the splash of today’s I newspaper and the story also runs on the front page of the Daily Telegraph.

In January we announced:

  • A significant escalation of Ofsted investigations into unregistered, illegal independent schools, following the closure of several unregistered schools in Birmingham before Christmas.
  • A new tougher approach to prosecuting illegal unregistered schools, including publishing details of when the Government will take forward and a call to local authorities to identify any settings of concerns that Ofsted can follow through, with a commitment to strengthen closure powers; and
  • A consultation on registering children that go missing from school, improving information shared between schools and local authorities, to reduce the risk that children taken out of school go missing, following Ofsted inspections of schools in Tower Hamlets and Birmingham last year.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Nothing is more important than keeping children safe, and councils have clear powers to take action where there are concerns regarding a child’s wellbeing. If anyone has concerns a crime is being committed they should contact the police.

 

We have given new resources to Ofsted to investigate unregistered schools, and to prepare case files for prosecution by the CPS. We have consulted on new measures to protect children in out of schools settings offering intensive education. We received a large number of responses, which we are now considering, and will make a further announcement in due course.

 

Parents may choose to home school their children and many do a good job, but that education must be of a suitable quality. We are taking steps to ensure the system is as robust as it can be when it comes to protecting young people, while at the same time safeguarding the rights of parents to determine how and where to educate their children.

Supply teachers spend

The BBC has run a story based on figures obtained under FoI on the amount of money being spent by schools and councils on supply teachers. The coverage claims that spend on supply teachers is too high and that this reflects the current recruitment and retention 'crisis' – where heads are having to fill vacancies or sick absences with temporary staff.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Supply teachers provide a valuable role for schools, and schools themselves are best placed to make staffing decisions to reflect their individual needs. It is up to headteachers and governors to decide who is required for the job and this includes how best to cover absences.

 

The number and quality of teachers is at a record high, with over 1,000 more graduates training to teach secondary subjects now than a year ago and the number of former teachers coming back to the classroom continuing to rise year after year - from 11,710 in 2011 to 14,100 in 2014. The overall teacher vacancy rate is 0.3 per cent and has remained around or below 1 per cent for the past 15 years.

 

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