The PTE Newsletter – Tuesday 30 March

Whether you are already on your Easter break and out enjoying the sunshine, or whether you still have another few days to go, either way, we hope that you are able to find some time for rest and chocolate with your nearest and dearest after what has been a term almost unlike any other.

As we approach the Easter weekend, this will be the last roundup of the Spring term. Next term will see PTE continue to build our library of classic education books, as well as further exploring & explaining the things that we believe make great schools.

There will be guest blogs, by experts from the frontline and different fields. We’ll also be launching new campaigns around specific practices that we think will make big differences for children and teachers. Do get in touch if you would be interested in contributing or if you have ideas to share on things you feel are important.

For now though, enjoy the additional freedoms as we emerge from lockdown, make the most of the Spring weather and have a wonderful break.

Latest news & views

Last week saw the launch of the “Model Music Curriculum” by the Department for Education. The Schools Minister Nick Gibb wrote an article for the Telegraph in support of this. That is behind a paywall, so we are very pleased to be able to reproduce it on the PTE website too. It’s well worth a read if you haven’t already seen it.

There has been quite some pushback following the Guardian’s series last week about exclusions & racism in schools. Data is being presented as evidence of racism being systemic and out-of-control, but a quick look at the statistics suggests things contrary to the headlines.

Andrew Old has written an excellent blog analysing how misleading the initial articles were. Anyone interested in the debate around schools exclusions should read it. And today saw a very informative piece by Tom Chivers on UnHerd: “How racist are Britain’s schools?” (Spoiler alert – based on the data the Guardian used, there’s no evidence they are.)

Given the importance of such issues – not least right now with the trial of the George Floyd police officers in the USA, and protests and threats being made in Batley – correctives to shaky journalism feel more important than ever.

Another extremely important issue making the news in recent days is that of sexual harassment and assault in schools. The “Everyone’s Invited” website has seen thousands of testimonies from people across the UK, and now schools and the authorities are reacting. There have been calls for investigations by Ofsted, and MP Jess Phillips says it has been a “problem for a very long time” and that ministers had “dropped the ball”. Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary, has spoken on the issue now too, so it will be interesting to see what concrete actions are taken from here.

Moving on to other education stories, Ofsted has announced that it will take a “lighter-touch” approach to inspections when they return to schools next term. However, teacher training providers will have full inspections from 4th May – which has not gone down well with the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), which says it is “extremely concerned” by this.

There has been a flurry of articles considering the recent and future performance of multi-academy trusts which are worth reading and reflecting upon. In Schools Week, Tom Belger examines “How the big academy trusts managed to ride out Covid finance hit”, with analysis suggesting these groups were better able to support their schools and effectively manage the financial impacts of the past year.

Leora Cruddas of the Confederation of School Trusts writes about “Five lessons from staff to get everyone on board” regarding academy trust growth, whilst Emma Knights of the National Governors Association argues that the policy of MAT expansion needs careful scrutiny

Finally, researchers at Nottingham Trent University are launching a study to investigate the extent to which bringing animals into the classroom may help boost pupils’ literacy and empathy skills. Yes, it’s that time of year again.

On that note – have a lovely week and a Happy Easter to all our subscribers.