https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2016/06/16/education-in-the-media-16-june-2016/

Education in the media: 16 June 2016

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Today’s news review looks at coverage of Ofsted Chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw, and National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter's comments on Multi Academy Trusts and a survey by Oxford University Press about reading in schools.

Multi Academy Trusts

Yesterday, 15 June, Ofsted Chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw, and National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter gave evidence to the Education Select Committee on Multi Academy Trusts (MATs).

During the evidence session Sir Michael Wilshaw told the committee that only a handful of MATs are ‘up to the job’ of improving England’s schools and criticised the government’s school improvement programme.

This was picked up by the Times and Guardian which lead on the comments made by Sir Michael. The Guardian is the larger piece of the two and reflects comments made by Sir David Carter in response to the claims.

Sir David Carter made clear that poorly performing MATs would not be given approval to take over schools in the future and that a ‘health check’ was being developed to assess a MAT's track record. He also said: “I do think there is evidence MATs are working, but this is an evolution: they are the new beasts on the block.” He went on to say that the best MATs, such as the Ark academy chain, did some of the best work in improving the education of disadvantaged pupils.

Our position on the performance of MATs is:

Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) play a vital role in the school system and we are supporting sponsors to raise standards and turn around underperformance right across the country.

 

However we are absolutely committed to holding MATs to account for their performance, so that strong MATs grow and those that are not improving shrink. That’s why in our White Paper we committed to launching new accountability and performance measures for MATs to shine a light on how well they are leading their schools, while continuing our focus on school-level inspection.

Reading in schools

A survey published today by the Oxford University Press of primary school teachers found that they say they do not have enough time to read or discuss books for pleasure in the classroom. This topic was covered in a discussion between an Oxford University professor and the author, Michael Morpurgo, on the Today Programme this morning.

The key findings from the survey are:

  • More than half of UK primary school teachers (56%) say they don’t have enough time to share and talk about books in the classroom
  • Over a third of teachers (36%) want more time to dedicate to reading and books
  • Despite almost all teachers (92%) believing that reading for pleasure is essential for a pupil’s future success, 63% said that they thought only half or fewer of their pupils read for pleasure outside of class time.

The Education Secretary launched a new literacy campaign in September 2015 pledging to make our young people the most literate in Europe by 2020.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Every child, no matter what their background, should read widely and read well, giving them the best opportunity to get on in life. We have made real progress since 2012 with 120,000 more pupils now on track to become excellent readers by age six but we want to go further - that’s why we have launched a campaign to make our young people the most literate in Europe by 2020.

 

To help us reach this goal we are supporting the Reading Agency to work with schools to get more Year 3 pupils enrolled at their local library, and have provided funding to extend their Chatterbooks scheme which has led to 200 new book clubs being opened in primary schools since September 2015. We are also helping to boost the promotion of poetry in schools by funding resources for primary teachers to introduce poetry recitation to their pupils, as well as funding the national poetry recitation competition, Poetry by Heart.

Read the Education Secretary's speech about the literacy campaign here.