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GRE AT E X P E C TAT I O N S Chang ging g th he accountability y sy ystem for the better

Issue 82 / October 2018 / £5

THE HEARING EXPERT Audiologist Aamna Masud from Amplifon, has the answers to your questions do some people still Q: Why think that there is a stigma attached to using hearing aids?

should people have Q: Why their hearing checked as

often as their eyesight and teeth?

people do not realise the hearing tests or A: Postponing A: Some advances in hearing aids made in ignoring a diagnosis can risk recent decades. Hearing aids are used by people of all ages and are so discreet that you often cannot tell they are being worn.

accelerated cognitive decline. It could also directly affect our enjoyment of activities that help us to keep active and healthy.

I don’t use a smartphone, Can hearing aids be Q: Ifdoes Q: invisible? it mean that hearing aids like the ReSound LiNX are designed to fit more A: They are not suitable for me? discreetly, therefore hearing aids can usually only be seen if looking at all. Although wireless A: Not directly into the ear canal. connection is extremely useful to


Have hearing aids really changed that much in the last 20 years?

Hearing aids today have so many A: differences and improvements compared to what was available 20 years or more ago. Technically, the advent of digital signal processing in hearing aids transformed the ability of hearing aids to overcome all manner of hearing difficulties even in really difficult listening conditions. Physically, hearing aids are available in more fitting styles and colours with most people now being able to use very small hearing aids without any compromise in the quality of hearing improvement.

many people, the Resound LiNX hearing aid system also has all the most desirable, advanced technology features, which are designed to remove so many of the difficulties which hearing loss causes.

to wearing a hearing aid. At first it can feel funny in the ear, but after a while, you don’t even notice it. Most people report only positive side effects of being able to participate in conversations and hear all the amazing sounds in the world.

understand what areas you need to improve your hearing, they will then do some cutting edge testing to establish the level and impact of your hearing loss both in a quiet and noisy environment.

Book your FREE hearing test and FREE hearing aid trial today! FREEPHONE 0800 028 4987 quote NAHT We’re on a high street near you.


Will I be charged if I have a test but decide not to buy a product or don’t need a hearing aid?

All our hearing tests are free of A: charge and you are under no

there any side effects Q Are to wearing a hearing aid? be able to hear a lot more! A: You’ll Q Most people have no side effects

How do I know which type of Q: hearing aid is best for me? audiologist will take you A: Your through an extensive test to

Rated ‘Excellent’ on

Aamna Masud, Audiologist Amplifon

obligation to purchase a hearing aid. Your audiologist will perform a comprehensive test, explain the results and give their best advice on the solution to your hearing loss if applicable. If you choose a solution to improve your hearing you can always benefit from a free trial or 60-day money back guarantee for added piece of mind.

Will a hearing aid make my hearing as good as it was before?

aids can never make A: Hearing someone’s hearing as good as it

was before but they go a long way in helping to make improvements and ensuring it’s easier to hear.


discount on all hearing aids as an NAHT member.

Hearing. It’s all we do.



ANDY MELLOR: NAHT president 2018–19

The year ahead elcome back to a new school year and the latest edition of Leadership Focus. I hope you managed to find the break you deserve with your friends and family, which is so scarce once the term begins. It is the workload associated with teaching and the leadership of schools that’s the culprit here, and one of the reasons why the retention of teachers and school leaders is so poor. The Education Policy Institute’s (EPI’s) report on recruitment and retention is an accurate summary of the problems and causes of the crisis we face with encouraging teachers in the making to apply and retaining those we have in schools already. What I believe is unhelpful is the notion that we somehow throw money at recruiting teachers in shortage subjects. As all school leaders know, the development of a school team is critical in moving the school forward, and I can’t think of something more divisive than saying through payment that some subjects and their teachers are more important than others. What happens if the next crisis is in the recruitment of art teachers? Do we do the same again? The answer, of course, is to pay all teachers and school leaders properly. The government had a perfect opportunity to take a step in the right direction in respect of pay with the STRB’s recommendation of a 3.5% pay rise across the board. This would have helped to offset some of the 15% that teachers and school leaders


have lost in real terms over the last 10 years. Of course, as we know, despite announcing a 3.5% pay rise, the truth is that 60% of teachers and school leaders will again get a below-inflation pay rise. We’re working with the government to put this right, and we would urge them to discuss the repercussions of a differential pay rise with us before announcing it. In terms of school funding, we continue to lobby government for adequate funding for all schools. We’re continuing with our awareness-raising funding summits across the country, details of which are included in this edition of Leadership Focus and on our website ( These are significant events where we can

Above: Andy Mellor

The development of a school team is critical in moving the school forward, and I can’t think of something more divisive than saying through payment that some subjects and their teachers are more important than others.

hear from you. You are our voice, and only with your support and involvement can we take effective action. The campaign group WorthLess? organised a successful lobby of parliament and march on 28 September. We hope you were one of the many that joined us on the day for the event to deliver the powerful message that funding is in crisis to those in government. On a positive note, we’ve recently published the findings of NAHT’s accountability commission into a fairer system of accountability. I ask that you read it and, where possible, lobby in your area for a fairer accountability system based on these principles. If we want to improve the retention rates of teachers and school leaders, we must address the high-stakes accountability system that drives so many from the profession. Finally, I want to conclude by wishing you every success this school year. Your determination, resilience and expertise are critical to the success of our schools, the high-quality respected system we have (despite what some may say), and our youngsters and the lives they go on to lead beyond the school gate. It is the best job in the world despite all the challenges, and I look forward to working with you to make it even better as we move through this year.



ASSOCIATION AND EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES NAHT and NAHT Edge 1 Heath Square, Boltro Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 1BL Tel: 0300 30 30 333 Editorial strategy board: David Gilmore (chair), James Bowen, Tim Bowen, Nick Brook, Colm Davis, Guy Dudley, Andy Melllor, Steven George, Magnus Gorham, Steve Iredale, Anne Lyons, Helena Macormac, Valentine Mulholland, Julie Nash, Rob Hancock, Judith Stott, Paul Whiteman and Rob Williams. @nahtnews @nahtedge

EDITORIAL TEAM Editor: Nic Paton. Publisher: David Gale.


I want a close, collaborative relationship with you, with this profession, whether on reforming accountability, reducing the data burden, strengthening professional development or reducing cost pressures. Damian Hinds


SALES DIRECTOR Ian Carter. Tel: 0207 183 1815


Leadership Focus is published on behalf of NAHT by Headlines Partnership Publishing, 51/52 Triangle Building, Wolverton Park Road, Milton Keynes, MK12 5FJ Tel: 01908 393303 Email:

Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulation: 39,306 (July 2017 to June 2018) ISSN: 1472-6181 Š Copyright 2018 NAHT All rights reserved: no part of this publication may be copied or reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher. While every care has been taken in the compilation of this publication, neither the publisher nor NAHT can accept responsibility for any inaccuracies or changes since compilation, or for consequential loss arising from such changes or inaccuracies, or for any other loss, direct or consequential, arising in connection with information in this publication. Acceptance of advertisements does not imply recommendation by the publisher.

The views herein are not necessarily those of the publisher, the editor or NAHT.




Contents 6

News round-up The latest from across NAHT and NAHT Edge.


How members shape our work A handy infographic on how to get involved in your union.

10 Accountability

45 5

We look at how school accountability could be improved.

18 Primary Futures Helping pupils to understand the link between learning and their futures.

20 Aspiring to great things… A look at how NAHT Aspire can help schools to plan the next steps on their improvement journeys.

24 Place2Be The role teachers play in supporting pupils’ well-being.

25 NAHT partners Let your membership pay for itself – and then some!


26 School funding Update from our regions on the work they’re doing to shine a light on the impact the funding crisis is having on UK schools.

54 4

30 Top five advice resources A summary of our most popular advice topics from the summer term.

32 Strictly Education We look at the range of pre-employment checks required when taking on a new employee.

34 Financial accountability The rise of resource-led financial planning.

37 New learning goals for the early years NAHT Edge director James Bowen investigates.

38 DfE’s new strategy on careers education What does it mean for your secondary school?

39 Secondary accountability Why education is more than progress in eight subjects.

40 Wales Policy update from Rob Williams.

41 Northern Ireland Policy update from Helena Macormac.

42 Maximising the impact of your SENCo Using a SENCo to improve the outcomes of children and young people.

45 Tapping into the lives of teachers We speak to the founders of the Teacher Tapp app.

46 What lies beneath: dropping the perceived mask of strength The importance of showing vulnerability and prioritising your well-being.

48 Wellness design How interiors can aid the learning process.

49 Life members Hilary Alcock discusses her switch to life membership.

50 Paul Whiteman A view from our general secretary.

52 Empty Promises NAHT survey reveals pressure felt by members within SEND.

54 NAHT CPD New learning opportunities for members.

56 Hand-picked training courses A focus on the key courses you may wish to attend.

58 The final word Susan Young on developing an open-door culture.



T H E L AT E S T F R O M A C R O S S N A H T A N D N A H T E D G E Get in touch and share your thoughts on this month’s news via

Address your stress: a new toolkit to tackle well-being in the workplace new staff well-being toolkit for schools has been launched in Bath and North East Somerset. It’s the culmination of work undertaken by local branch union officials (NEU, NASUWT, NAHT and Unison), the local authority (school improvement and achievement service) and the diocese of Bath and Wells. This practical set of resources is designed to identify what schools are doing well and what areas need further development when it comes to supporting staff members’ well-being. NAHT official Kevin Burnett explains: “Every school is different, and every school will have tried different ways to enhance their staff members’ wellbeing. This is why the toolkit aims to support each school to create their own individual way forward from wherever they happen to be.”



The toolkit includes a set of good practice guidelines based on examples from local schools and a handy survey, so you can find out your staff members’ initial thoughts and measure the impact of the changes you make. Schools are encouraged to set up a time-limited wellbeing team to facilitate this process. Commenting on the positive effect of the toolkit’s whole-school approach, head teacher Nicola Smith said: “It’s lovely to see the staff members who led the project grow in confidence... We have done workforce surveys before, but we like this approach because it centres its focus on the whole team rather than placing the responsibility on the head.” Get in touch with Kevin Burnett ( if you’re interested in finding out more about the toolkit or trialling it in your area.

Get your entries in for the 2019 Education Resources Awards (ERA) Have you put in your nominations yet for the upcoming Education Resources Awards? If not, there’s still plenty of time to enter (the deadline is 4 February 2019). The highly regarded awards shine a light on the best educational establishments and the most dedicated members of the teaching profession. We encourage you to enter the following two award categories:

‘Leadership in education’ category, which recognises innovative or creative leadership qualities


‘Educational establishment of the year’ category, which honours an early years setting, school or college that has added real value to the community it serves.


Above and left: Winners from the 2018 education resources awards

An independent panel of experts, most of whom are teaching professionals, education journalists or senior influencers, will select the winner and runners-up for each category. The results will be announced at a lavish gala event at the National Conference Centre in Birmingham on 15 March 2019. For more information and to enter, visit Good luck!


HAVE WE GOT YOUR CORRECT DETAILS? Have you recently moved house? Changed your telephone number? Moved to a different school or changed role? As a membership organisation and registered trade union, it’s crucial that we have your most up-to-date personal details, so we can contact you with important information regarding your membership. NAHT and NAHT life members can update their details online by visiting, and NAHT Edge members can let us know of any changes by emailing

NPQs: finding the qualification provider for you In the previous issue of Leadership Focus (April 2018), we looked at how national professional qualifications (NPQs) can further your career progression and support your continuing professional development. The programmes have recently been updated by the Department for Education (DfE), and a number of different qualifications are available. You can find a full list of DfE-accredited providers at publications/national-professionalqualifications-npqs-list-of-providers.

Knock, knock. Who’s there? It’s the return of the Voice Box joke competition A national joke-telling competition for primary schools, which highlights the fun and importance of communication, is back. Voice Box, organised by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, is now open for mainstream and special primary schools in England and Scotland to enter. Simply host a joke-telling competition in your school this October or November and submit the funniest joke by Friday 30 November 2018 for the chance to go through to the grand final in London next year. More than 5,0 000 pupils from both mainstream and special schools took part in the 2017-18 competition, and 25 children made it through to the final to tell their jokes to a packed audien nce of

politicians and parents. As well as being fun, the competition has a positive impact on the pupils involved. One child who took part in the competition previously said it helped him to make friends. Others have become more comfortable with speaking in public as a result, even undertaking media interviews or appearing on television. So, enter the Voice Box joke competition and remind people that in every classroom there are children who need extra support to speak or understand what’s being said to them. Visit to download a toolkit tha at includes everything you need to run your own Voice Box competition and details on how to enter.

It’s time to get your thinking caps on


New animation to help you promote secondary school students’ well-being

The new ‘we all have mental health’ animation

Three-quarters of mental health problems start before a child reaches the age of 15, and half of the problems in adult life take root before the age of 15. School leaders and teaching staff work hard each day to support the mental health and well-being of their students, and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families is determined to help them in every way it can.

‘We all have mental health’ is a new animation from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families that aims to support schools to promote students’ well-being. The free animation is co-produced by young people for young people (those aged 11 to 14). And it follows the stories of Sasha and Andre who are struggling with their emotions. Sasha experiences the ‘everyday’ feelings we all have, which can feel powerful at the time but don’t interfere with our functioning. Andre’s feelings, on the other hand, are overwhelming and persistent. During adolescence, young people are less likely to talk to their parents and more likely to seek help from their friends. The animation encourages them to both listen and share any difficulties they experience, so they’re not alone when dealing with these complex feelings. You can watch the animation and find supportive resources at It follows the success of last year’s animation, ‘talking mental health’, which was designed for nine to 11-year-olds and supported by teaching resources. The centre has a raft of materials to promote well-being in schools, including downloadable leaflets on staff members’ and pupils’ well-being. It’s also running a series of research programmes on well-being interventions in schools. For information about these and other materials, join the free ‘schools in mind’ learning network at


Being account ack in May, at NAHT’s annual conference, secretary of state Damian Hinds spoke extensively about what he described as “the spectre of our accountability system”. He outlined plans to replace the current “confusing” system of having both “below-the-floor” and “coasting standards” for school performance, published a set of “key principles” on how the Department for Education (DfE) envisaged a future accountability system might work and emphasised that regional school commissioners will no longer inspect schools as well as Ofsted. Crucially, he said: “I want a close, collaborative relationship with you, with this profession, whether on reforming accountability, reducing the data burden, strengthening professional development or reducing cost pressures. “We have a powerful opportunity to raise the status of this profession, for teaching to remain one of society’s most fulfilling roles… meaning that every child has the



chance to fulfil their potential… And I pledge to work with you all to make this a reality.” His words were warmly received by the profession, with NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman saying: “I take the secretary of state at his word when he says he wants to work with us. I thank him for that commitment.” Scroll forward six months, and whether there is any substance behind Mr Hinds’s words is about to be put firmly to the test. Last month, NAHT published ‘improving school accountability’, the report of the 18-strong, industry-wide accountability commission it established in March. This heavyweight report sets out a comprehensive “case for change” as well as nine key recommendations. It has been complemented by a more technical research report put together by the National Foundation for Educational

Research (NFER) ( what-impact-does-accountabilityhave-on-curriculum-standardsand-engagement-in-education). It is also expected to feed into, and be a key part of, NAHT’s evidence to next year’s public consultation by Ofsted on the development and implementation of a new inspection framework from September 2019. So, what does the report say and recommend, what is NAHT hoping to achieve from this major piece of work and, most importantly, will it actually be able to redefine the increasingly corrosive narrative we have seen develop in recent years around school inspection and accountability? To get a precis of what’s contained within the report, check out the various breakout panels that accompany this article. Alternatively, the commission’s full report is available to download at improvingaccountability. “The starting point for me – and which came through clearly in the evidence we found – is the


table widespread belief that, actually, the current accountability system is doing more harm than good,” explains NAHT deputy general secretary and commission chair Nick Brook (see his longer article on page 15). “One of the most deeply concerning aspects we found from our evidence-gathering was school leaders telling us how the current system is putting people off from teaching or leading in more challenging areas because they simply don’t believe they are well enough served by the accountability system” he adds. “It is clear, from a whole range of work, that our current accountability system is not working very well across the piece for schools. A lot of people have been coming to the same conclusions,” agrees commission member Emma Knights, chief executive of the National Governance Association. Schools and head teachers fearfully “running around” after Ofsted data “affects the whole

Damian Hinds

We have a powerful opportunity to raise the status of this profession, for teaching to remain one of society’s most fulfilling roles.

culture of the sector and the culture of leadership”, she argues. “We need to develop a more mature and intelligent way to work out whether schools are delivering the education they need to their pupils,” she adds. “I think it is a really well-written document. NAHT has done a really good job of pulling it all together. The fact the secretary of state is looking at this issue too, exactly now, means the timing could not be better. “One of the clear messages for me is saying to school leaders that you need to be taking back control

yourself, that you need to be taking ownership of accountability. It is also about saying that school leaders are paid to lead the sector, and they should be allowed to do so. They cannot do that if they have to jump on the bandwagon of what Ofsted is saying all the time. “We need to be moving away from performance tables and highstakes inspection and going back to doing things in a more intelligent, rather than a punitive, way. We need to detoxify the whole debate. But it is not just about school leaders doing it on their own.



THE ACCOUNTABILITY COMMISSION NAHT’s accountability commission was established in March 2018 and grew out of NAHT’s 2017 ‘redressing the balance’ report into school assessment. Chaired by deputy general secretary Nick Brook, its remit was “to develop a new vision for the future of school accountability”. The commission met between March and July 2018 to review evidence of the strengths and weaknesses of the current accountability system, consider alternative models of accountability and identify recommendations for change. Its final report was published last month. THE COMMISSION’S MEMBERS WERE: Chair: Nick Brook (NAHT deputy general secretary) Members: Professor Rebecca Allen (Centre for Education Improvement Science, UCL Institute of Education) James Bowen (NAHT Edge)


Marie-Claire Bretherton (executive head teacher, Mount Street Academy, Lincolnshire and education director, CfBT Schools Trust) Sam Butters (Fair Education Alliance) Sir Kevan Collins (Education Endowment Foundation) Amanda Hulme (head teacher, Claypool Primary School, Bolton) Emma Knights (National Governance Association) Anne Lyons (NAHT immediate past president) Andy Mellor (NAHT president) Ross Morrison McGill (Teacher Toolkit) Dame Alison Peacock (Chartered College of Teaching) Tim Sherriff (head teacher, Westfield Community School, Wigan) Michael Tidd (head teacher, Medmerry Primary School, Selsey) Carole Willis (National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)) Chair of peer review and leadership subgroup: Sir Robin Bosher, former Ofsted regional director for the south east and national director for inspection quality and training For NAHT: Ian Hartwright (NAHT senior policy advisor) Lydia Vye (NAHT policy research manager)

It is also about governing boards working the school leadership team. They should already know what the inspectorate will find out when it arrives,” Emma adds. The narrative needs to move away from “failing” schools to a more positive “how to support schools in getting better”, agrees Professor Rebecca Allen, director of the Centre for Education Improvement Science at the UCL Institute of Education. “Schools in disadvantaged communities are endlessly being told they are underperforming by Ofsted,” she points out. “Yet our accountability system is weak in terms of school improvement or supporting schools.” To that end, the report’s recommendations that Ofsted provides “stronger diagnostic insight” to schools that are struggling, and that more tools be put in place to support schools to change and improve – especially “robust” peer review – are arguably central to changing the current narrative. “Ranking schools from worst to best is, philosophically, a meaningless thing to do. Of course, we need to get poorly performing schools performing better and within that, as Ofsted often retorts, not entrenching poverty of expectation,” highlights Rebecca. “It is also well recognised that, within groups of schools that all serve similarly disadvantaged communities, you will almost always get a high variation of performance. So, there is

The narrative needs to move away from “failing schools” to a more positive “how to support schools in getting better”.

a real possibility that something can be done to improve things, at least a bit. But comparing them with schools in affluent communities isn’t helpful in terms of how to get better in their context,” she adds. “The document is about trying to plot a way through a new approach to accountability,” argues NAHT senior policy adviser and commission member Ian Hartwright. “It is not about radical change or throwing everything up in the air, but instead trying to spell out a new vision. It is about moving from a system of vertical, top-down, target-driven accountability to something more horizontal, where accountability rests more with the institutions and their leaders themselves. “It is trying to take away some of the unintended negative drivers that result from the current system. Removing some of the heavy topdown pressure will allow schools to be more innovative,” he adds. Of course, the elephant in the room here is whether any of this weighty and considered work will make a difference: will it sway government, and will it – can it – help to change the inspection and accountability reality on the ground for hard-pressed head teachers? Ian, for one, is cautiously optimistic. “It is, of course, up to the secretary of state to come up with a solution. But the fact that this


was something he spoke about at our conference last spring means we do feel this is the right time to be doing this. The report is making a good, timely contribution to the debate and setting out some bold and different ideas,” he says, though adding: “This is the beginning of a campaign, not simply the end of a piece of work.”

To have the most effect and impact, the commission’s recommendations need to be seen as a whole rather than something to be cherry-picked by ministers, suggests Carole Willis, commission member and NFER chief executive. “I think all the recommendations are important. In many ways, it is quite difficult to unpick any one recommendation as being more important than another; they come as a package. And I would like to see all the recommendations enacted, of course,” she says. “Were this change to happen, I think we would see less pressure on, and fewer unintended consequences of change for, schools. I think we would see more intelligent use of data and fewer decisions being made on the basis of limited data alone. I think it would help to moderate some of the recruitment, retention and workload problems and concerns that we have seen among many school leaders and teachers. I think the negative incentives of the current system would be lessened.

THE CASE FOR CHANGE The ‘improving school accountability’ report sets out a seven-point “case for change” that outlines how the current accountability system is failing and the deeply negative effect it is having on schools. In abridged form, the seven failings of the current system highlighted are as follows: It limits ambition. The high-stakes nature of inspection has helped to create a compliance culture in many schools which disincentivises innovation and can limit ambition. Securing a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ judgement from Ofsted has become a goal in itself rather than being seen as a snapshot of where a school is on its journey to excellence.


It tends to incentivise self-interest. There are few incentives for strong schools to lend their strength to those that are struggling if, by doing so, it weakens them at their next inspection. Similarly, the over-reliance on pupils’ performance data


to judge schools’ effectiveness means there is little incentive to put the interest of children with more complex needs first. It deters talented staff from working in more deprived communities. School leaders and teachers are put off teaching in schools serving more challenging communities because they don’t believe they will be treated fairly by the inspectorate or performance tables.


It narrows the curriculum and encourages teaching to the test. The nature and weight of the accountability system have encouraged schools to focus on those areas critical as schools’ performance indicators, such as key stage two SATs, EBacc subjects or Progress 8. Despite the importance of an academic core, this overemphasis has skewed and narrowed the curriculum.


It diverts attention from teaching and learning. The value of a good inspection outcome and the fear of not being “Ofsted-ready”


“It is about taking some of the pressure off and encouraging more collaboration between different schools but also with other providers, employers, other parts of the community and the other social support mechanisms that work to improve and support the lives of children generally. These incentives need to be better and stronger,” she adds. One of the commission’s recommendations is that the DfE should use a ‘requires improvement’ judgement “as the trigger for funded support to replace floor and coasting standards”. This highlights another key issue going forward: even if the government is broadly supportive, how much (if any) money will it be prepared to put behind this reform agenda? As Rebecca Allen highlights: “You can have all the good ideas in the world, but without money, effecting change is difficult.” Finally, while changing how Ofsted operates is, clearly, something that can only be affected by the government, there is much in the commission’s document that schools

drive considerable activity in too many schools that could be better spent focused on improving teaching and learning, and create significant extra workload burden. Too much time can be spent scrutinising data, and too little on the leadership of learning. It drives good people from the profession. Fear, or the impact, of inspection is regularly recorded as a significant factor behind head teachers choosing to leave the profession prematurely as well as influencing middle leaders not to progress to senior roles.


It provides less assurance of standards. The inspectorate provides much less independent assurance about the quality of education offered by individual schools than was previously the case. Ofsted no longer has the capacity or resources to inspect schools in any real depth. It’s harder to make reliable and valid judgements about the quality of teaching in a school when, as is often the case, inspectors only have a few hours in which to do so.




and head teachers can begin to take forward without needing the “permission” of the government, emphasises Nick Brook. For example, embracing and engaging with peer-to-peer school improvement programmes such as NAHT Aspire and Aspire Peer Review – about which there is an update elsewhere in this edition of Leadership Focus – is one way school leaders can start to drive and take back control of their schools’ improvement agendas, irrespective of how or when the inspection process more widely evolves. “Secretary of state Damian Hinds made some very welcome statements around accountability and inspection, not least at our conference in May. So I do think we are pushing at an open door in many of these aspects,” he says. “However, it is up to us as a profession to take greater ownership over the leadership behaviours that we value most. Irrespective of how the government responds to our accountability commission report, this does not require the ‘permission’ of the government for us to do it. “We can step forward and define for ourselves what we value as leaders; we can define what makes highly effective peer review and make that the norm, not the exception. We think the government will be supportive of our agenda and this report from the commission. But equally, it is time that we take the responsibility for ourselves and begin to create the future we want to work in,” explains Nick.

THE ACCOUNTABILITY COMMISSION’S NINE RECOMMENDATIONS ‘Improving school accountability’ sets out nine key recommendations covering three broad areas: pupils’ performance data, inspection and leadership. Again in abridged form, its key findings and recommendations are as follows: PUPILS’ PERFORMANCE DATA Key conclusions. Comparing pupils’ performance data between schools in different contexts has been proven to be inherently unreliable, yet this approach continues to drive judgements of schools’ effectiveness. Schools serving deprived communities face a higher bar to be found ‘good’ than those serving more affluent areas. Teachers and leaders know this, and they are less likely to apply to work in schools in challenging areas because they have little confidence that the accountability system will treat them fairly.

The DfE should end the exemption from inspection for previously ‘outstanding’ schools and commit Ofsted to inspect all schools on a transparent cycle of inspection. ‘Outstanding’ should be replaced by 5 a more robust system for identifying specific excellence within the sector, to increase take-up of highly effective, evidence-based practice. Ofsted should commission research 6 to determine the format and nature of inspection required to provide reliable judgements and reciprocal benefits for schools.

RECOMMENDATIONS Comparative performance data (based 1 on a three-year average) is the most reliable data indicator currently available, and it should be used by Ofsted to inform judgements of schools’ effectiveness. The DfE should use a ‘requires 2 improvement’ judgement as the trigger for funded support to replace floor and coasting standards.

LEADERSHIP Key conclusions. In too many schools, pupils’ performance tracking has reached obsessive levels. This approach has been rewarded and encouraged through inspection and performance management processes and celebrated through CPD and national conferences. It’s time for the profession to take back ownership of leadership standards and to define itself by the behaviours, practice and knowledge required for effective headship, to redress these skewed priorities and reassert the importance of the leadership of learning. The profession should start laying the groundwork for robust peer review to become the norm across all schools, which in the long term may enable the further reduction in top-down accountability.

INSPECTION Key conclusions. Ofsted can no longer provide the level of assurance of schools’ effectiveness expected of it with the resources at its disposal. RECOMMENDATIONS A new role for Ofsted that focuses on 3 identifying failure and providing stronger diagnostic insight for schools that are struggling.


RECOMMENDATIONS Existing peer review programmes 7 should be evaluated to identify characteristics of effective practice to develop national accreditation arrangements. An invitation should be given to the 8 Chartered College of Teaching, through the leadership development advisory group, to produce alternative national standards for head teachers that better reflect the professional behaviours, practice and knowledge required for achieving excellence. The DfE should extend the career 9 progression strategy to support recently appointed head teachers in the critical first years of headship.


Nick Brook, NAHT deputy general secretary

Nick Brook, deputy general secretary and chair of the accountability commission, talks about accountability t is absolutely right that schools are held to account. The stakes are too high for young people; they only get one shot at education. If and when there is a failure, it is only right that action is taken swiftly, and Ofsted’s inspection can play a really important role within this. Yet, at the moment, we have an accountability system that is doing more harm than good. At primary school, we see a narrowing of the curriculum towards what is tested in SATs, and there’s a further narrowing within secondary schools towards the EBacc subjects. There is strong evidence globally of the negative consequences of attempting to hold schools to account by over-simplistically focusing on how pupils perform in tests. More widely, the way schools are currently held to account is driving many negative behaviours. The accountability commission’s two-page “case for change” sets out seven areas where we argue things are going wrong in the system. One of the most deeply concerning aspects we found from our evidence-gathering was school leaders telling us how the current system is putting people off from teaching or leading in more challenging areas because they simply don’t believe the accountability system will treat them fairly for doing so. The system is discouraging and dissuading good people from going to teach in schools that can benefit from their skills the most. In other words, accountability appears to be slowing


are being compared with others in similar circumstances. We want Ofsted to focus more on identifying failure and schools that are struggling; we believe Ofsted could provide a much deeper and more constructive diagnosis of the areas where schools are struggling and therefore need to improve. Within a ‘requires improvement’ judgement, Ofsted should be providing a “deep dive” analysis, so it can tell schools something they don’t already know and give them a better pathway of the actions they need to be taking to get to ‘good’. Within that, linking inspection to funded support from the government is absolutely vital. If Ofsted identifies your school as ‘requires improvement’, there needs to be concrete, funded support that comes as a consequence of that. We believe the government’s commitment to replacing the “floor” and “coasting standards” for school performance is potentially an important and welcome shift. It has the potential to remove the shadow of fear that schools have experienced over many a year: of whether or not you are going to be subject 15

progress and improvement rather than the other way round; it is certainly not acting as a catalyst for positive change. Moreover, for most schools that are ‘good’, inspection tells them little they do not know already. The way we hold schools to account is, too often, simply a massive distraction from just getting on and focusing on good teaching and learning. So, what do we want? Our priority is to see immediate changes to the current system so that it does no harm. Let’s ensure we have a level playing field. Let’s use data more intelligently so that it gives a fairer indication of how schools are performing, for example, by using comparative performance data within “families” of schools. One of our issues with the current system is too often we’re – punitively – comparing apples with pears when it comes to attempting to determine how effective a school has been performing, by just reading a school’s pupils’ performance data. Comparing schools with schools that are like them gives a much better and fairer indication of the success that school is having – because you are comparing your performance with schools serving similar communities. At the top end, it can also provide additional insight and challenge for those schools serving more affluent communities because, again, you

Accountability appears to be slowing progress and improvement rather than the other way round; it is certainly not acting as a catalyst for positive change. to some form of intervention simply because you’ve fallen below an arbitrary level of performance. Similarly, for schools that are deemed ‘good’, Ofsted currently has a little tangible role to play in terms of driving further improvement. On short and even two-day inspections, Ofsted is no longer equipped to determine or provide a qualitative judgement about how good a school actually is. Equally, while Ofsted’s intention was well-meaning, grading schools ‘outstanding’ has not had the impact on improvement desired. ‘Outstanding’, we believe, should be replaced by a more robust system for identifying specific excellence within the sector. And this brings me to what I feel is one of the most important points the commission is making: that, actually, it is the profession that needs to step forward to take on responsibility for making good schools become great schools, with


peer review potentially able to play an important role within this. There is a huge amount of good practice out there at present, but, in truth, little agreement as to what are the characteristics of highly effective peer review. Therefore, we think one of the first steps needs to be defining what robust, reliable, replicable peer review looks like, and then how that can be taken to scale across the country. For example, one of the recommendations we make is to invite the Chartered College of Teaching to take forward work to set out very clearly the leadership behaviours we value as a profession; what is it we want to see at the heart of all continuing professional development (CPD)? Peer review has a power – in a way that inspection doesn’t – to really get underneath what’s going on within a school and provide some meaningful challenge and support to those that engage in it to move forward. One of the reasons for this is that it is a nonthreatening activity, unlike inspection with its high stakes and consequences. Inspection forces schools to be defensive

and not necessarily open about their vulnerabilities. Peer review, by contrast, is the complete opposite; you actually want your colleagues and peers to come in and provide insight on those areas where you have just not managed to get your head around and properly understand what is going wrong. Secretary of state Damian Hinds has made some very welcome statements around accountability and inspection, not least at our conference in May. So I do think we are pushing at an open door in many respects. However, it is up to us as a profession to take greater ownership of the leadership behaviours that we value most. In response to high-stakes accountability, we have too often taken on a whole range of defensive behaviours and activities to demonstrate to inspection teams that we’re, say, able to show the performance of every pupil in that school, track progress, predict outcomes at each stage and so forth. And this has too often been interpreted as “leadership grip” by inspection teams and too often positively encouraged. It has led some to think you can be

an effective head teacher by very rarely leaving your office; that you can somehow run your school effectively from behind a computer or simply by scrutinising an Excel spreadsheet. In the process, we seem to have lost that clarity of focus on the leadership of learning. School leaders need to be able to understand what great teaching looks like, and if someone is struggling, they need to know how to support them to improve. School leaders need the space to be able to define and achieve ‘excellence’ for the school they want to be. Irrespective of how the government responds to our accountability commission’s report, this does not require the “permission” of the government for us to do it. We can step forward and define for ourselves what we value as leaders; we can define what makes highly effective peer review and make that the norm, not the exception. We think the government will be supportive of our agenda and this report from the commission. But equally, it is time that we take the responsibility for ourselves and begin to create the future we want to work in.


Accountability in Wales It is not just within England that the inspection and accountability system for schools is in flux; in Wales, too, change is afoot. n May, Kirsty Williams, Welsh government cabinet secretary for education, set out plans for new performance measures at key stage four to be introduced from September 2019. She said: “We have been working collaboratively with schools on a range of transitional and interim performance measures for secondary schools that shifts the focus from ‘average’ to raising our aspirations for all learners. “These new measures, based on points scores, will remove the emphasis on the level two inclusive measures for GCSE and the narrow focus on borderline C/D grade pupils that past use of threshold measures has cultivated. I am determined that we raise the standards for all of our learners, including our more able and talented. “To this end, we will move to an updated version of the current capped


nine points score. This will include three specified components at its core, one each reporting on GCSEs that indicate a pupil’s outcomes in literacy, numeracy and science. These will also stand as performance measures on their own. Each of these components will capture every pupil’s best GCSE results from the specified subjects.” The news was, at the time, broadly welcomed by NAHT in Wales, which said: “We’ve long argued that a school’s focus should be on every pupil and on maximising their individual progress irrespective of their starting point. “This has the potential to recognise its role in facilitating schools’ improvement better and not simply in meeting arbitrary outcome measures.” On top of this, a Welsh governmentcommissioned independent review of Estyn (published in June) recommended that school inspections should be paused during the 2019-20 academic year to allow schools to prepare for the arrival of the new curriculum being rolled out in Welsh schools from 2022 (and fully implemented by 2023).

Much as in England, the report highlighted concerns about “highstakes” performance measuring and recommended moving towards an inspection culture based more around selfevaluation. Assuming the report is accepted by the Welsh government – a response was expected in the autumn, but Estyn has already acknowledged all the recommendations – this evolution will happen when inspections restart, with schools undertaking more proactive self-evaluation and headline grades in inspection reports being scrapped. Schools’ performance will no longer be labelled ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘adequate’ or ‘unsatisfactory’, with evaluations explained in the text instead. Ultimately, the aim is that schools could even achieve “earned autonomy” where they evaluate their performance. Such schools will not be subject to inspections although Estyn will still play a role in validating the process, the report recommended. The report’s author, Glasgow University’s Professor Graham Donaldson, said:


School leaders need to be able to understand what great teaching looks like. If someone is struggling, they need to know how to support them to improve.

“Inspectors should both evaluate how well the young people of Wales are being served by their schools and contribute directly to improving the quality of their learning. That means more emphasis on school self-evaluation and improvement, more informative inspection reports, a more diagnostic approach to schools causing concern and more direct engagement of inspectors with reform.” Estyn chief inspector Meilyr Rowlands added: “We now look forward to working with Welsh government, schools and other stakeholders to consider fully the report’s comprehensive proposals and how to take them forward.” Rob Williams, NAHT policy director – Cymru, said the changes (assuming they happen) will be welcomed by head teachers in Wales. “It is about mutual responsibility and taking control ourselves, as education professionals. It’s definitely not about shirking from accountability, but instead, putting in place accountability that encourages the right behaviours.

“It’s much better to be looking at pedagogy and teachers’ development; even if the gains are slower, they are perhaps more sustainable. Accountability should be about concentrating on process rather than outcome, with pupils’ needs front and centre. “If schools are going to be asked to flesh out what the new curriculum really means, they cannot be at the same time constantly looking over their shoulder for Estyn, which the government has essentially recognised. “We are pleased, so far, in that it puts a lot of the onus back onto the profession, onto ourselves, to be able to drive that performance gap. It’s about bringing accountability and responsibility back onto the shoulders of the profession,” he argued. Separately, the onus and burden on head teachers of the current accountability system in Wales has been starkly illustrated by research carried out by Cardiff University. Drawing on a series of interviews with head and deputy head teachers in Wales,

the report, ‘turning heads: the impact of political reform on the professional role, identity and recruitment of head teachers in Wales’, argued that educational policy reforms since 2011 have “restricted HTs’ [head teachers’] professional agency and re-orientated the head teacher role towards organisational professionalism.” There has been a “promotion of managerial and technicist approaches to professional practice” while the increased accountability of the head teacher has led to the role increasing being recast as “organised professionalism”. Moreover, while the study led by senior lecturer Dr Mark Connolly was focused on Wales, it had “resonance with reforms to the head teacher role in other devolved areas of the UK”, especially the impact that political reforms have had on recruitment and retention. As the report concluded: “There are higher attrition rates where the professional role and identity of HTs no longer align with existing heads’ professional values, and where there are increased accountability pressures. “These pressures have been intensified by the volatility and instability of accountability mechanisms and the lack of clarity in relation to the remit of various agencies. As well as attrition rates of existing heads, there has been insufficient succession planning within the system to allow for deputies to move into headship. “Indeed, the move to organised professionalism has resulted in the increased bifurcation between the traditional role of the deputy and the reconfigured role of the HT. The data suggested that the intensification of risk associated with headship, and the disconnect between the two roles, militated against deputies moving into headship,” it argued.



Primary Futures

– inspiring children Primary Futures, a programme run in partnership between the national charity Education and Employers and NAHT, is on a mission to raise the aspirations of pupils by helping them to understand the link between learning and their futures. very teacher knows that children come into primary school with assumptions about what they can or can’t be when they grow up – these beliefs come from day-to-day experiences and expectations based on gender, social class and ethnicity. Meeting workplace volunteers doing a wide range of jobs is a vital way to challenge these assumptions and get pupils thinking more broadly about what they could do in the future.


* Education and Employers’ survey in 2017 of 500 primary school heads and teachers. ** A survey published in July 2018 by Education and Employers in partnership with TES and NAHT asked 250 primary school head teachers and teachers across England about their opinions on career learning in primary school and its impact.


Primary Futures helps pupils to understand the link between learning in school and the world of work. Launched in 2014, Primary Futures offers schools an easy and effective way of showing their pupils the direct connection between what they’re learning at school and the wider world. Its secure online database connects schools to volunteers from a huge range of backgrounds (including from the NHS, theatre, engineering,


of primary heads and teachers agreed that engagement with the world of work could change children’s attitudes positively towards school*


of primary heads and teachers said they thought engaging children with volunteers from the world of work has an impact on their academic achievement*

Most teachers believe children should learn about the world of work and different jobs during their first years of primary school. 47% believe this should start from age five or younger**

science, childcare, arts, emergency services, to name but a few). It’s easy for you and your teachers to use and self-manage. Inviting local people to talk to children about their jobs isn’t a new concept for schools. What makes Primary Futures different is that it makes it so easy to connect with a wide range of volunteers from all jobs and sectors in your local area – and it’s free! Using a specially designed online platform, you have immediate access to committed volunteers eager to come into your school to talk to your children. Join 3,440 other primary schools who are inspiring children across the country. Sign up to Primary Futures today via and you can start inviting its volunteers who will inspire and motivate your children to think about their futures. And if you have any questions about the initiative, call 020 7566 4880.

When you ask year five children from South Parade Primary School in Wakefield what they want to be when they grow up, you might be surprised by how diverse their answers are: graphic designer, food buyer, chef, physicist, female building contractor and virtual reality game maker. Following a Primary Futures event last term, the school’s pupils’ aspirations now have no limits. “It was a really good experience. My favourite job was the designer because he got to design lots of different things for lots of different companies. You need art, maths and English,” said pupil Grace. Acting head teacher Emma Fieldhouse said: “I think sometimes children don’t know what they can aspire to, and they also don’t know that what they’re learning right now at school is so important to what they want to do in their futures. Every single child has been engaged – listening to people talk about their jobs and asking loads of questions.”


Aspiring to o great things… From small beginnings in 2013 through to a national roll-ou ut in 2016, NAHT’s Aspire school improvement programme has come a long wa ay. In fact, more than 220 schools have now engaged with the NAHT Aspire and NAHT Aspire TLIF programmes. rucially, of the 106 NAHT Aspire schools that have since been inspected by Ofsted, more than two-thirds (68%) were rated ‘good’ or higher on inspection, from less than a quarter (23%) on joining the NAHT Aspire programme. Nevertheless, while the evidence that the programme can make a difference is clear enough to see – and feedback, as we shall show, has been extremely positive so far – the education landscape has changed dramatically since 2013. NAHT Aspire, too, has therefore been evolving and changing to meet the challenges of shrinking budgets, growing workloads and ongoing scrutiny. This article intends to provide members with an update



on where the programme is currently, what’s changing, and how best to engage with and benefit from it in the future. First off, it’s worth recapping what the programme is. NAHT Aspire is a collaborative school improvement partnership programme developed between NAHT and EdisonLearning. It encompasses the EdisonLearning design: built from international research that identifies the features of highly effective schools to create an integrated model for school improvement that develops capacity and capability through five key strands (leadership, pedagogy and curriculum, the learning environment, assessment for learning, and student and family support). The programme was originally

delivered as a thrree-year pilot study for improving ‘req quires improvement’ schools as an alte ernative to academisation. Throughout the pilot, the programme was independently evaluated by the University of Derby, where its effectiveness was identified through h improved pupils’ outcomes and ov verall schools’ performance at a significantly reduced cost. Thiis success led to NAHT Aspire being made available to all schools in 2016 and an intensive one-yea ar NAHT Aspire programme funded through the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) Teaching and Lea adership Innovation Fund (TLIF), whic ch began in 2017 for 96 priority schoo ols. The programm me is supported by a team of EdiisonLearning


WHAT NAHT ASPIRE SCHOOLS SAY “Leadership has become more distributed, and middle leaders are taking more control of their areas of expertise.” 21 “[What do I value?] The collaboration with others across all areas, key leads and leadership. The support from our advisers – challenging at times, but always really helpful. I also value the fact the programme really is bespoke to each school, and even though we work closely with other schools, the training in school is really specific to our needs.” “The NAHT Aspire project has been absolutely amazing, and it has helped to transform our school.” “I have found the practical approaches and advice very useful. I feel this course has improved my leadership approach.” “These [resources from the programme] are incredibly useful, and I have gained a lot personally from them.”


INSTEAD TO NAHT ASPIRE PEER REVIEW Instead (NAHT’s peer reviewbased school improvement programme, which has been running since 2013) was last year rebranded and brought under the NAHT Aspire umbrella as NAHT Aspire Peer Review, following a pilot process. The programme, which now incorporates the features of the five-strand model that drives NAHT Aspire more widely, is designed to facilitate the sharing and development of best practice between peers to raise standards.


Groups of schools – a minimum of at least two – work together to evaluate each school in their cluster. These reviews are guided by a lead reviewer who is trained to probe, facilitate, challenge and mediate. Each school works with the lead reviewer to produce a tailored report on their strengths and vulnerabilities. From this, they can choose to use a range of improvement strategies to develop the areas identified in the report and plan the next steps on their improvement journeys.

advisers and associates that provides CPD opportunities for serving head teachers. It is delivered through a combination of “network” and “development” days, and it builds schools’ capacity and capability. Schools that complete the programme can continue to receive ongoing support through a continuing partner programme. So, what’s been changing?

managing director Jerry Baker, “it covers all your school’s improvement needs and reaches all staff. For an average of less than 1% of a small to mid-sized primary school’s budget, it provides outstanding value compared with multiple short-term interventions, and it resonates with the DfE’s standards for teachers’ professional development.”


With our NAHT Aspire TLIF programme oversubscribed and access to the TLIF now closed, a new self-funded one-year teaching and leadership innovation programme (TLIP) is being launched by NAHT Aspire from this autumn. It’s targeted at primary schools with Ofsted judgements of ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ and ‘good’ that need to improve the quality of their teaching and leadership. Schools will work together in networks of four, with

The original three-year NAHT Aspire programme is, from this autumn, evolving into a shorter two-year iteration, again self-funded, to bring it more into line with Ofsted’s inspection cycle. TLIF schools will have the option to transfer to a selffunded year two should they so wish. However, the structure of the programme won’t change, so it’ll cover all areas of the five-strand model mentioned previously. Working with our advisers, school leaders identify and prioritise areas for development and agree on an implementation plan. This balances areas that need rapid improvement against a phased introduction of resources and strategies that builds confidence and ultimately creates sustainable long-term change. The plan is regularly reviewed and adjusted where required to ensure the aims of the programme and each school’s own ambitions are achieved. The cost of the new model ranges from £18,000 to £23,000, but emphasises EdisonLearning UK’s


senior leaders coming together each term off-site for a network day where they are introduced to various strategies, resources and strategic planning methodologies. This is supplemented by a further termly “immersive” network day for nominated leaders for teaching and learning and assessment for learning, and a development day where an NAHT Aspire adviser works with leaders and other staff on their schools’ development and improvement.

WHY IS NAHT ASPIRE WORTH IT? “Schools now have to look much more for their own self-improvement and school improvement services,” explains Jerry. “Local authorities have by and large lost their school improvement teams, and regional school commissioners are limited to the support they can signpost. Trusts and teaching schools don’t always have the capacity and depth of

[Our new model] provides outstanding value compared with multiple short-term interventions, and it resonates with the DfE’s standards for teachers’ professional development.


resources required, so NAHT Aspire is a great model to build long-term sustainable improvement. “Schools are faced with diminishing budgets yet, at the same time, constantly being challenged to improve, especially around social mobility and supporting disadvantaged learners in raising attainment. The answer is to do this through NAHT Aspire. It is relevant and affordable. “A feature of the University of Derby’s report was that for ‘requires improvement’ schools looking to improve, this is a much less expensive route to improvement than academisation. If your school is ‘requires improvement’ or at notice to improve then the two-year programme will be ideal,” he adds. “One of our overarching goals at NAHT is that we want schools to take control of their own standards; they have the skills, knowledge and competence to know how to improve,” agrees NAHT project manager for school improvement Tim Keeling. “It’s about getting a group of teachers together to learn

from experience and point each other in the right direction. “We have had lots of schools go through NAHT Aspire who have found it fantastically positive. Ofsted’s reports will often reference school improvement programmes, and we have had lots of great feedback from the schools themselves. The best way to get a feel for it is to sit in a room of head teachers and hear the enthusiasm, the engaging dynamic. “Participants are willing to change and learn; you have to come in with an open mind. It takes away the stress you get with an Ofsted inspection; it takes away the preparation that a lot of schools feel they have to do before Ofsted visits. It’s simply about getting people together to look at school improvement; it’s about being willing to challenge but also to be challenged,” he adds. More widely, as NAHT deputy general secretary Nick Brook has highlighted through the work of NAHT’s accountability commission (see pages 10 to 17), programmes such as NAHT Aspire and NAHT

Aspire Peer Review feed into a wider narrative that schools – and school leaders – need to be working to wrest back control and ownership of accountability and improvement. “One of the key things we’re arguing for through the accountability commission is better targeting of school improvement support by Ofsted, whether that be through NAHT Aspire or any other funded programmes that come through the DfE,” Nick explains. “Our recommendations are in part about gaining that sharper understanding of exactly what is going wrong in their schools by asking more of Ofsted and expecting more from it in terms of better identification of schools that are struggling and then better diagnosis and support. It’s about being much clearer as to what type of provision and what type of support will be of most use to them – and part of that could be through using NAHT Aspire and/or NAHT Aspire Peer Review,” he adds. To find out more about NAHT Aspire, visit



Promoting positive mental wellbeing in schools is worthwhile CATHERINE ROCHE, Place2Be chief executive, reminds us of the important role teachers play in supporting pupils’ well-being. wareness of children and young people’s mental health has never been higher, but not everyone agrees it’s a good thing. An article published in The Spectator claimed “mental health awareness may do more harm than good” (1 August 2018), which suggests there’s something to be said for the old saying “ignorance is bliss”. As NAHT’s charity partner and with 24 years’ experience of supporting children’s mental health in schools under our belt, we know many school leaders are deeply concerned about pupils’ mental health. In a joint survey by Place2Be and NAHT (February 2017), 93% of respondents said pupils bring more worries into school now than they did five years ago. These worries can take many forms, from diagnosed mental health problems to the distress caused by difficult situations and day-today challenges, like bullying or bereavement. In this context, awareness for both pupils and their teachers seems more vital than ever. But the question for school leaders remains: what support can schools offer in



Above: Catherine Roche Below: Teacher checks in with a pupil at a Place2Be partner school, and a pupil’s drawing of their teacher.

the face of seemingly ever-shrinking specialist services? Through our ‘mental health champions’ programme for school leaders, we’ve noticed schools often underestimate how much they’re already doing to promote good mental health. We asked a group of more than 100 school leaders how much their schools focused on addressing 10 issues, from ‘exam performance’ to ‘child obesity’. I wasn’t surprised to see ‘mental health’ come fairly low down the pecking order (seventh in fact). However, many of the issues school leaders reported spending more time on – such as ‘safeguarding’, ‘poor attendance’ and ‘disruptive behaviour’ – are rooted in mental health and emotional well-being. After attending our ‘mental health champions’ programme, the proportion of school leaders who felt confident managing the behaviour of pupils with mental health issues increased dramatically (from 69% to 98%).

When one of your teachers checks in with a child who isn’t turning up to class and meets with their parents or carers, they’re not just addressing ‘poor attendance’; they’re taking the first step to understanding what might be going on for that child. If a child can’t come in, what’s happening at home? If they’re choosing not to come in, is there something at school that they find difficult or want to avoid? Can you make adjustments to accommodate them better? Or do they need more specialist input that a service such as Place2Be or CAMHS would provide? So often it’s a teacher or member of the school’s staff who spots a problem early, asks these crucial questions first and starts the process of helping the child access support – not to mention teaching them and their classmates about emotional resilience in the first place. We cannot and should not expect teachers to become mental health professionals – but it’s also crucial not to disempower them; we need to acknowledge the key role they play and equip them with the skills to support pupils’ everyday well-being. The Mentally Healthy Schools’ website, which brings together quality-assured information, advice and resources, is an important step forward. The power of listening to pupils should never be underestimated. This month, world mental health day focused on ‘young people and mental health in a changing world’; we hope you took this perfect opportunity to celebrate the great work you and your staff do that already makes an enormous difference.

Recommended reading and resources


Let your membership pay for itself – and then some! Cover the cost of your membership and more by taking advantage of our specially negotiated offers and exclusive extras from NAHT’s carefully selected partners. n addition to all the benefits membership brings, being part of NAHT or NAHT Edge gives you instant access to a range of member-only special offers and discounts from a small number of partners. These include discounts on products and services for you and your school, from travel insurance to school budget software. If you think this sounds too good to be true, take fellow members’ word for it. One member saved so much (£250 per month) after speaking with NAHT Personal Financial Services, provided by Skipton Building Society, that she was able to buy a new car!* You’re already eligible for these exclusive ‘mates’ rates’ by being an NAHT or NAHT Edge member, so simply visit to check out the latest deals. Here are just a few examples of our exclusive offers to members.


For you • Find out if you’re due a tax refund. 62% of NAHT members who used our tax refund service discovered HMRC had issued them with the wrong code, which resulted in them paying too much tax – on average, £359.96 each** • Perhaps you can take advantage of a 10% discount (a saving of up to £270) on hearing care that’s tailored just for you to suit your budget and needs

• Or maybe it’s a new car you’re looking for. You can lease a car with the admin fee of £180 waived. Act now and you too could save a massive £810 from just these three partners. As well as all of this, you could save money on a range of insurances (including car, home, travel, pet and professional indemnity/public liability) as well as receive 20% off private healthcare.


the average amount** members saved when they used our tax refund service.

For your school

Find out more

You can also save money for your school, with our partners offering discounts of up to 50% to our members. • Perhaps your school would benefit from a secure, easy-to-use, cloud-based budget management system to do the hard work for you – and at half price over three years • Is your staff absence insurance working for you? How about an A-rated policy from staff absence insurance specialists that’s tailored to your school? • Or maybe your school would benefit from some support in delivering professional services and solutions to enable you and your staff to remain focused on pupils, teaching and learning.

Visit to see the latest offers. Many of our partners place adverts or inserts in this magazine, or advertise in our e-newsletter, so keep an eye out as you’re keeping up with NAHT news too. You’ll need to mention you’re an NAHT or NAHT Edge member to access the discounts. We won’t give your details to our partners without gaining your consent in advance.

Other services provided by our partners include assessment, recruitment, school communications and school resources.

Help us to do better for you We’re always happy to receive suggestions for new partners or areas that would benefit members. Send your ideas to

Small print Please note that NAHT partner offers are not offered or provided by NAHT but by NAHT’s partners. Accordingly, NAHT or NAHT Edge members wishing to purchase selected products and services must do so directly from the relevant partner. In connection with the promotion of these selected products and services, NAHT grants its partners the right to use the name ‘NAHT partner’ or NAHT Assured logo. As part of its investigations and taking account of ongoing members’ feedback, NAHT is confident the products and services offered by its partners in connection with the NAHT name and NAHT Assured logo are worthy of serious consideration by school leaders interested in selecting such products and services. Notwithstanding this, each NAHT or NAHT Edge member acknowledges that in selecting such products and services, they have not relied on any endorsement or association with NAHT in respect of the relevant product or service and shall have no remedies against NAHT and its employees in respect of such endorsement or association. *source: Skipton Building Society 2018 **source: Tax Refund Co. 2018



Pressure mounts for a fair funding settlement Pressure on the Treasury continues to grow as school leaders, parents and local politicians flock to regional education summits to share their concerns about the devastating impacts real terms cuts are having on our schools.

uch events have taken place across the country as more and more members speak out about the effects the cuts are having on the children they educate. Over the past six months, the education summits, organised by NAHT branches and regions, have taken place in Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Canterbury and Nottingham with hundreds in attendance. NAHT’s ‘school funding still in crisis’ campaign has been running for 18 months and has played a pivotal role in securing an additional £1.3 billion of reallocated funds from the Department for Education in July 2017. It quickly became clear, however, that this money, not new funding but rather cash reallocated from other parts of the overall education spend, would not go far enough to plug the shortfall in schools’ budgets. Since then, NAHT has been campaigning to secure a full and fair settlement for our schools based on an analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies as well as the government’s statisticians, the National Audit Office. And these efforts are beginning to create a groundswell of support across the country. Earlier this year, hundreds of Birmingham school leaders attended a summit organised by NAHT and supported by Birmingham City Council.



The leader, deputy leader and cabinet member for education for Birmingham City Council told school leaders in a letter sent to all schools in the city: We believe, as public servants, we have a duty to inform the community we serve about the issues that impact on our collective ability to provide an education to children in the city that gives them the best possible start in life, and that by engaging with NAHT’s campaign, we will be doing just that.” In Canterbury, 70 head teachers attended a summit held in the city centre, with members talking passionately about the stress for staff at all levels in schools caused by having to do more and more with fewer and fewer resources. As well as the larger regional summits, demonstrations have been organised by branches in Bath and north east Somerset, Cannock, Brighton and Worthing, with hundreds joining in to show their support and tell the chancellor that schools’ budgets are at breaking point. In the west Midlands, members from our Birmingham, Walsall and Solihull branches have been hanging banners outside of their schools to alert the public to the massive shortfall in funding those areas will see by the end of this parliament. In Ealing, west London, nearly 60 schools across all phases

hung banners detailing the cuts in that borough to passers-by. Ealing branch secretary and national executive member Dave Woods told NAHT: “Schools in Ealing have reached the stage where they feel they have no option but to highlight collectively our concerns about the untenable situation relating to school funding. Schools’ budgets have reached the point where our ability to provide a world-class education for all young people and especially those with special educational needs is being undermined. That’s why we are taking this public action.” In Sheffield, school leaders, governors and parent campaigners came together at Sheffield Hallam University on 16 June to hear from shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, NAHT national secretary Rob Kelsall, NEU president Louise Regan and speakers from Learn Sheffield and Calderdale Against School Cuts. In a lively debate for a Friday afternoon and chaired by Maxine



NAHT’s education summits have taken place in Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield and Canterbury.


Stafford, joint Sheffield branch secretary and head teacher at Abbey Lane Primary School in the city, school leaders spoke of the daily compromises that they have had to make to manage schools’ budgets and the adverse impact that insufficient funding has had on the ability of staff to provide the high-quality education that pupils need and deserve. Angela recognised the tremendous contribution of school leaders in the face of the cutbacks and shortages in much-needed resources as well as NAHT’s campaign to influence the agenda. She made it clear that school funding and the provision of a ‘national education service’ coordinated with health and social care services to meet the needs of children and young people would be a priority for a future Labour administration. On 13 July, the funding campaign arrived at the Notts County football stadium in Nottingham where Sally Pearce, regional secretary for the east Midlands, chaired the discussion with speakers, including local MPs Vernon Coaker and Lilian Greenwood, local councillors, school leaders and campaigners against school cuts. Vernon said “it’s a disgrace to one of the richest countries in the world that head teachers are having to make decisions, not about how to improve education in their schools, but about getting rid of teachers and teaching assistants” because there isn’t enough money to keep them. Rachael Shaw, head at Branston Junior Academy in Lincolnshire, gave an emotional address about the often unspoken psychological impact that being a school leader faced with these

difficulties has had on her personally as well as many other colleagues. Once again, the message was universal in demanding action to stop the very real impact that the cuts in education funding are having in all sectors, from nursery and early years through to primary and secondary, with areas like high needs particularly hard hit. NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman added: “The past year has seen a huge amount of campaigning on the issue of funding, with branches and regions working hard to build pressure on the Treasury. We are making our voice heard, and we will continue to highlight the hugely detrimental impact that these cuts are having. The government must be made to realise the short-sightedness of its policies in this area and that by continuing to underfund our schools, they are only storing up problems for the future. Schools and the children who attend them are the best possible investment for the future prosperity of this country.” In July, Damian Hinds finally


head teachers attended a summit in Canterbury city centre.

acknowledged that schools’ budgets are under pressure and vowed to look at how he could alleviate some of the burdens they face. While this is a welcome development, it will be up to members to demonstrate just how damaging the government’s funding policies are for schools and to make sure we secure a fair funding settlement. After 18 months of campaigning, there is growing frustration and anger at the government’s cuts. The campaign continues with further summits around the country. Check the funding page on NAHT’s website or email for details of upcoming events in your area.

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TOP advice e resources


We’re here to listen, support and protect our members whenever and wherever they need us. We provide a wealth of advice and guidance to all our members. You can find the answers to many of your day-to-day school management questions in our comprehensive online knowledge base. Each term we look at some of the most challenging situations for our members. Below is a summary of our most popular advice topics from the summer term.

School classroom temperatures With scorching temperatures and what felt like a never-ending heatwave, it came as no surprise that th our guide to the effective management of school classroom temperatures was a hot topic for members. c It sets out the statutory position and best practice relating to managing schools’ temperatures, the impact re of o excessive temperatures and what school leaders can do d to mitigate this seasonal issue. Fingers crossed it prevented the cold front you could have faced from not p taking action to keep your pupils and staff cool. ta

National curriculum assessments (SATs) We know that May (aka SATs month) is a tough time for our primary members. Not only do they have to deal with administering the tests but also parents raising objections about them, (in rare cases) seeking to withdraw their children from school on scheduled test days, or requesting the school excuses their children from the tests altogether. Our chart-topping advice sets out some suggested steps that school leaders can take to maintain the support of parents throughout the SATs period. It also includes guidance from the Standards and Testing Agency on how to deal with parents that object to their children taking the tests. Remember: although the data is a useful indicator of a school’s performance, it is not the whole story.

Guidance on authorised term-time pupil absence The decision to authorise a pupil’s absence during term time is wholly at the head teacher’s discretion based on whether it’s an ‘exceptional circumstance’, but there continues to be some debate about what this means. Our guide presents some principles to back schools in their decisions to grant termtime pupil absences and provide some consistency. These guiding principles have no statutory authority; schools are at liberty to adopt them nonetheless as part of their overall approach. Make sure you take a few minutes to read our guide to see the parameters for allowing term-time absences.


GDPR: a final checklist and an ‘information management toolkit’ for schools and colleges No names allowed on school bags, don’t leave marking books in your car and make sure you remove all names from your trays at school. These are some examples of the ‘bonkers’ data rules that teachers continue to question on social media. Wherever your school is on its GDPR journey, we’re here to support you along the way. In the last advice paper from our series on GDPR, we set out the changes and subsequent actions all schools and colleges must do or have already done. We also included details of an ‘information management toolkit’ for schools and colleges; while the toolkit pre-dates the launch of GDPR, it lays the foundations for GDPR compliance.


EXPERT ADVICE ON THE PROFESSIONAL OR MANAGEMENT ISSUES YOU FACE IN YOUR ROLE Many of our members tell us that the wealth of the advice produced by our experts is worth the cost of membership alone. Each week we provide a new, researched and evidence-based guide to help you manage the key issues in your school. These topical guides on a range of strategic and operational school activities also act as high-quality professional development tools that aid your career growth. Make sure you open our e-newsletters to get your copy of the latest advice guide. Our NAHT members can find these advice documents and much more at Our NAHT Edge members can find these and other specially tailored advice documents at help-and-advice. We hope that you never need us, but if you do, call us on 0300 30 30 333 (option one). Alternatively, email

School uniform guidance With no legislation in place for school uniform, do you know how to create a fair and reasonable policy? Don’t skirt around the issue. Each year, the press is ablaze(r) with stories of legal action to change a school’s uniform policy, debates on whether girls and boys should wear the same, and accounts from parents asking whether a dress code is needed at all. Our guide sets out what is considered to be best practice and how to deal with common problems. It looks at cost considerations, human rights and equalities issues. And to cap it all off, it ties in how you can deal with individual cases where pupils fail to comply.


The greater v pre-employm In the time and resource-stretched environment of the school office, it could be easy to cut corners to make savings. However, knowing your employment offer has gone to the best candidate is not an area in which to be conservative with your processes. Here, we take a look at the range of checks required when taking on a new employee.

From Strictly Education, an NAHT Assured partner. 32

Identity The name on the CV might be just that. Tie this in with your right to work (RTW) check by requesting to examine the same documents. Make sure you see some form of photographic ID to verify the name and image on it matches the person you are engaging. Details of identity checks will be recorded on your school’s single central record (SCR).

Right to work Did you know there’s a potential fine of up to £20,000 per illegal

worker if you can’t demonstrate you took the necessary actions to establish a person’s right to work in the UK? Don’t fall into the discrimination trap either, and do an RTW check on everyone you’ve made an offer to. For example, you would request to check a passport, visa or if applicable, a UK work permit.

Qualifications Verifying qualifications is an important step in schools, especially when taking on new teachers. You’ll want to certify

they’ve attained the appropriate qualifications in their discipline. Ask to see original certificates and retain copies securely. You can check overseas qualifications through NARIC (

Disclosure and barring service (DBS) A DBS check is critical in the education sector before you can work with children or vulnerable adults, and to remain within the boundaries of the government’s statutory guidance on ‘keeping children safe in education’ (2018).


alue of ent checking Health

This check looks for any spent or unspent convictions, and cautions or warnings from the police. You should also ask candidates joining from overseas to obtain a certificate or letter of good character from their respective embassy.

References It’s standard to ask for references from previous employers, and some new employers may wish to ask for a character reference too. Most references are simple and confirm dates

of employment with job titles, but in the education sector, it’s imperative you seek clarification that there are no known safeguarding concerns. You should consider asking the candidate’s current employer for details of any capability procedures in the previous two years and the reasons for these. There’s a statutory responsibility on an employer to provide these details if requested to do so by a prospective employer. Remember to seek consent before contacting referees.

A health-screening questionnaire should only be requested and completed once an offer has been made. To do so beforehand could be discriminatory depending on the results. Many employers decide to invoke a clause that the job offer is conditional on a report. Remember that under the Equality Act (2010), you must make reasonable adjustments for an employee, wherever possible. With so many checks available or obligatory, it’s easy to see how it takes time to complete a thorough background check. Strictly Education has been developing a new facility that will be integrated into the customer portal and allow customers to request and be notified about pre-employment checks. Following the launch of its all-in-one, easy-to-use portal, customers will be able to set up a new employee with DBS, pre-employment health check, payroll, auto-enrolment and contract issuing. It’s a seamless one-stop shop for bringing an employee on board with your school. This new addition to Strictly Education’s all-round school support will be available soon. Get in touch with Strictly Education to arrange a demonstration of the new facility.

• For more information, visit, email or call 0330 123 2548.



Financial accountability Resource-led financial planning follows on from the concept of curriculum-led financial planning, which was originally developed by the Outwood Institute of Education in Doncaster. This is now increasingly being embraced by both the government and, it must be said, many head teachers as a potentially innovative way to look afresh at their financial and efficiency planning.

t its heart is the principle that, as a head teacher, the funding questions and decisions should be an integral part of your curriculum and resource planning and shaping processes. And you should work closely on this with your school business leader. This includes taking a much more data-informed and funding-led approach to planning your timetable and curriculum. Questioning and interrogating how and where you can deploy your teaching and support staff and the resources you calculate should enable you to bring to bear the delivery of your curriculum or timetable. As NAHT head of policy Valentine Mulholland puts it: “The Treasury and the Department for Education (DfE) have a view that the financial crisis in schools also stems from inefficiencies in management


and resources. While we disagree with this, their point is why can some schools deliver the same educational outcomes with much smaller budgets than others? “Their new mantra is about curriculum or resource-led financial planning – looking at what subjects you are delivering, how many pupils you have coming in, what your teacher-pupil ratio will be, your class sizes and, crucially, what you can afford to offer. It’s about trying to squeeze as much efficiency from how you design your timetable and your curriculum offer. While we agree that this can be helpful as a tool, we have significant reservations about the current approach by the DfE,” she adds. What, then, are these, and what should members be aware of? “Some of the proponents of this approach do end up talking almost

Our concern is that this approach potentially creates a barrier for primary schools to access funding because they can’t tick the right boxes.

solely about metrics: they believe any school can be boiled down to X pupil-teacher ratio or Y contact ratio. These ratios can be useful to start a conversation, but you also need to consider and plan in the wider context of your community and intake. If you have, say, 30% of your pupils with English as an additional language or with SEN then, naturally, it’s going to be much harder to achieve comparable outcomes to other schools,” explains Valentine. “Furthermore, curriculum-led financial planning, as such, is about how and where you deploy your teachers, and in a primary setting, your options will, of


course, be much more limited than at secondary. You can’t, by and large, deploy your teachers differently. In primary schools, it’s often about more effective and impactful deployment of support staff. “We have been trying to encourage the DfE to use a more appropriate term and talk about school resource management tools more generally, where you can support schools to use

models to drive efficiencies as long as you understand the context they’re working in and that primary schools need a different approach,” she adds. But there’s also a wider concern beyond semantics. “The government is now saying any school that gets into financial difficulty or wants to apply for academy grants will need to prove that it’s delivering

curriculum-led financial planning. Yet, as we’ve already shown, there are very few models for this that can be applied to primary schools,” highlights Valentine. “Therefore, our concern is that this approach potentially creates a barrier for primary schools to access funding because they can’t tick the right boxes. We want to make members aware this is very much a government priority at the moment and there will be increased scrutiny of schools that get into financial difficulty or deficit to deliver resource-led financial planning. “We do also want to recognise that, for many schools, there can be benefits from this approach. It’s all about challenging yourself and your financial resource planning – which can be positive – but it’s not the absolute solution for all schools,” she adds.

• NAHT will be holding a workshop on ‘planning for success: making the most of your funding’ at next month’s primary conference in Birmingham. The event on 23 November 2018 will explore the practical application of support available under the DfE’s school resource management programme. It will also look at how primary schools can benefit from resource-led financial planning and how to make the most of the DfE’s financial benchmarking tool. For more details, go to


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New learning goals for the early years n June, the government announced the revised early learning goals for the end of the reception year. The announcement was keenly anticipated, especially among the early years community, who have rightly taken a firm interest in the proposed changes. Understandably, people will want to scrutinise each of the new goals in turn and consider what the changes will mean for children in the reception year. I suspect the inclusion of selfregulation will be welcomed by many as will a renewed focus on children’s language and communication – few would argue against the importance


of early language development and vocabulary. On the other hand, there have been concerns expressed around how developmentally appropriate some of the other changes are, especially in the areas of reading and writing. While these specific changes will inevitably be the main focus of the conversation, we shouldn’t underestimate the potential significance of another, perhaps overlooked, aspect of the announcement. The government has made it very clear that these proposed changes will be subject to an initial pilot, which will be independently evaluated by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). Left: James Bowen This is something of an unexpected – and positive – development, and it perhaps suggests the government is aware of the concerns that have been expressed by many (including NAHT) about the nature of the proposed changes. Crucially, it signifies that we’re still at the start of the journey when it comes to these reforms rather than the end point. It’s not the fait accompli that many of us were expecting to be presented with. This is incredibly important. All too There are signs often in the past, that the government these sorts of could be taking a reforms have more considered and been foisted measured approach on schools to assessment before they’ve reform. been thoroughly tested and their

impact adequately evaluated. The changes to key stage one and two assessments are a perfect example of this. One can’t help but feel that a rigorous independent evaluation of the writing framework would have identified some of the very issues we’re still wrestling with three years on. The fact the pilot (which starts this autumn) will be followed up with a public consultation is also important. It will provide an opportunity for people to give feedback on the proposed goals. Those who have concerns with some of the specific changes will be able to engage in that process and share their views. It’s vitally important that the government keeps an open mind, both in terms of the results of the pilot evaluation and the feedback it receives through the consultation process. If some of the new goals are found not to be appropriate, the government must then be prepared to revisit these and seek further advice from early years specialists and schools. Ultimately, not proceeding with a national roll-out following the pilot also has to be a genuine option. The scope of the evaluation is important. It needs to go beyond simplistic questions, such as whether or not the new goals are easier for teachers to assess (although this is clearly relevant). It should also carefully consider the suitability and appropriateness of the individual goals as well as the potential impact on reception class practice. There are signs that the government could be taking a more considered and measured approach to assessment reform than we have been used to in the past. If that proves to be the case, it would represent a refreshing change in strategy.


A version of this article appeared on TES online in June.

The early learning goals are not the fait accompli that many of us were expecting to be presented with, explains NAHT Edge director JAMES BOWEN.


DfE’s new strategy on careers education – what does it mean for your secondary school? NATALIE ARNETT, NAHT policy officer, takes a look at what schools are now expected to provide for careers education and the type of provision that’s available to support you in doing so. he government’s new careers strategy sets out a raft of expectations for secondary schools. The strategy’s accompanying statutory guidance provides detail on how schools must deliver these requirements. NAHT has been involved in discussions with the team responsible at the Department for Education (DfE) to ensure the strategy and guidance works for schools. At our insistence, it clearly differentiates between what schools could do and what they’re required to deliver. While there’s much to welcome (such as the need to raise aspirations early, particularly in disadvantaged areas), we’re concerned the strategy sets unrealistic expectations. We’re clear that schools’ contribution to the careers strategy must be reasonable, clearly defined, well-funded and appropriately resourced. We’ll continue to lobby the department for this on your behalf.



What are the key requirements? • You should use the Gatsby benchmarks to guide your

careers provision; schools should meet all eight benchmarks by the end of 2020 • You must give providers of technical education and apprenticeships the opportunity to talk to pupils • You must publish details of your careers programme • You must have a named careers leader who’s responsible for the delivery of your careers programme • By the end of 2020, you should offer every young person seven encounters with employers (at least once each year from years seven to 13; some of these should be with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) employers).

What support is available? The government has delegated much of the responsibility of supporting schools to the Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC). Support includes the following: • Free online tools, including compass (careers benchmark tool), tracker (careers planning tool) and find

Above: Natalie Arnett

an activity provider (search tool to find companies that will support the delivery of your careers plan) • A toolkit of resources to support meeting the benchmarks, with a specific one for those working with young people with special educational needs and disabilities • Bursaries for at least 500 schools and colleges to train their careers leaders; alongside this, free online training will be available from 2019 for those who don’t receive a bursary • Access to a senior business volunteer or enterprise adviser by 2020 to help with employer engagement • A £5 million careers and education fund, £2.5 million of which will be distributed through a virtual wallet to support schools and colleges to enable employer encounters. It also has a particular focus on supporting those students who are most disadvantaged • Additional funding and support for local career hubs (groups of 40 schools and colleges across the country who work with education and training providers, employers and career professionals to meet the eight benchmarks).

• For more information on the support available, visit


Education is more than progress in eight subjects ROB CAMPBELL, NAHT secondary council chair, reflects on the impact of secondary accountability measures and how our staff and children deserve something truly better than Progress 8. t’s been two years since the formal introduction of Progress 8 as a significant accountability measure in secondary schools, and it’s fair to assert its impact has been profound. Prior to 2016, schools were indeed measured for the value they added through the progress of students (contextual value added, anyone?). However, while value added featured in in-school discussions and was subject to external review or scrutiny, most professionals paid less attention to it than to the ‘scores on the doors’ of five A*–C grades with English and maths (and without those two core subjects prior to 2007). The arrival of Progress 8 has meant schools now have to review the progress of all students, not just those on certain borderlines. Most agree that this is in itself a good thing. I know, as a secondary head teacher during the days of ‘crude’ league tables, the focus was very much on securing the magical C grade and diverting precious and limited resources onto the ‘borderliners’, often to the (shameful) neglect of others whose academic struggles were every bit as


significant in themselves, but whose value simply counted less. Such practice is rightly behind us, and most professionals are happier with an approach that (finally) means every child does indeed matter. Yet every system will have flaws, and the new measures are no different. By limiting accountability measures to eight qualifications, it’s inevitable that schools will compress efforts into those subjects that count. It’s now common practice for schools to give ‘advice’ to students to drop lower counting subjects to focus on their ‘best 8’ forecasts regardless of whether the pursuit of a low-forecast subject is in itself a merit or good thing. Are we right to apply such decisions to learning and education? There’s a mercenary endeavour here that’s presenting value based on performance, and it’s a shame. I happened to get an E in German for my O level (way back when). Would I have been better not taking that subject to the final exam to focus on, say, French to get an A rather than a B? Of course, I might not have got that A in French. And I still enjoy trying to speak (admittedly dodgy) German.

Above: Rob Campbell

NAHT will be holding a workshop on ‘balanced curriculum linked to Ofsted myth-busting’ at its secondary conference in Birmingham on 8 February 2019. For more details, go to secondaryconf19.

The impact of the new measures begins much earlier than the final run-in during year 11. There are now hierarchies of subjects in schools, centred on English and maths and joined by the EBacc subjects. Options at key stage four are configured around what will secure the best Progress 8 for each student rather than choices or preferences to be followed by students. It was only a couple of years ago that, in the school where I was the head teacher, students might have chosen two or three arts subjects. Those days are now gone. We’re already seeing a decline in entries for music, for example, such is the casualty of the new regime. All of this is playing out as the new GCSE results in the bulk of subjects arrive in schools. Ofqual has already announced that higher-tier science students will be awarded 3-3 as a concession to issues with results in that subject, and I am sure it won’t be the only issue this year. Our secondary schools are not playgrounds. Our staff and children deserve something truly better than what we are currently served. We want accountability – as public servants, we wholly accept this. But we want something that truly measures what we value – and education is more than progress in eight subjects. Its etymology is the Latin word that means ‘to bring up/rear’. And while an academic education is important for that, it’s only part of what it means to be human.



Wales – policy update ROB WILLIAMS, director of policy at NAHT Cymru, provides a summary of the work we’re doing in Wales to protect, support and empower our members. Funding


NAHT Cymru is the authoritative voice of school leaders in Wales. In our submissions to a range of the Welsh government’s consultations and in evidence submitted to the Welsh Assembly’s children, young people and education (CYPE) committee’s inquiries, we illustrated that the continual pressures on falling schools’ budgets have had a detrimental effect on schools’ ability to deliver government policy and, most importantly, meet the needs of pupils. As a result of our pressure, an inquiry into school funding is now on the CYPE committee’s 2018-19 forward plan. There’s also now an opportunity to submit funding details to Assembly Members. We know our members’ stories on the true impact of the funding crisis are powerful, so we urge you to share your evidence with us. Simply email

Mental health and well-being We continue to raise the profile of the crucial issue of pupils’ mental health and well-being to the highest levels of government. And we have emphasised the inextricable link with schools’ budget pressures (the impact on resources), misdirected accountability systems and poorly coordinated multi-agency working. More recent policy approaches show the government is starting to acknowledge the weight of our evidence. We recently supported a small pilot study by DNA Definitive on school leaders’ mental health and well-being and the impact on performance; it produced powerful findings and clear messages for the government, employers and the profession. Look out for further details in the wider media and our branch-level work in Wales. And make sure you save the date for our joint event with the Royal College of Psychiatrists (14 December 2018 in Cardiff) on how to deliver better mental health support. More details are coming soon!

We know our members’ stories on the true impact of the funding crisis are powerful, so we urge you to share your evidence with us. Accountability, a new assessment and evaluation framework and Estyn The Welsh government is currently developing a new assessment and evaluation framework, for feedback in April 2019 and full implementation in 2022. In the Welsh government’s ‘national mission’ document, there was a commitment to work with secondary schools and introduce transitional evaluation arrangements for 2019. Reporting against the interim performance measures will commence in September 2019, and the Welsh government has committed to continue to work with schools and stakeholders. Work has begun on changes to primary schools’ performance measures. The Welsh government has held stakeholders’ events to shape the new approach – similar to the strategy with secondary leaders. Your involvement in this work remains critical for us to

achieve our aims of a more coherent, context-relevant and balanced view of schools’ performance. One area that our primary colleagues are being asked to focus on is pupils’ well-being and how best to incorporate this area into performance measures. Our position is that a simple pupils’ outcome measure isn’t useful or appropriate. Instead, we should assess schools on what they have in place to support mental health and well-being, how well it promotes positive attitudes, how well it enables individuals to cope with unexpected challenges and how effective the school’s approach is in developing resilience. Prof. Graham Donaldson’s recent review of Estyn included 34 recommendations. Many of these reflected our clear lobbying, including the call for a pause in the inspections cycle to provide space for schools to develop the curriculum and for Estyn to realign to the newly developing performance measures noted above. This isn’t simply a break; it’s an opportunity for school leaders and Estyn to work together and reshape the future relationship between schools and external bodies to establish an improved, more cohesive and joined-up system of improvement. By the time you’re reading this, we’ll have the cabinet secretary’s response to the recommendations.


Northern Ireland – policy update HELENA MACORMAC, director of NAHT(NI), shares a summary of the work we’re doing in Northern Ireland to help our members resolve the challenges they face due to a lack of funding fu u and ministerial oversight.

Parliamentary fu funding u inquiry launched following pressure from NAHT(NI) In the absence of a government following the Stormont collapse more than a year ago, the Northern Ireland affairs committee’s recent inquiry into education funding came at a vital time. We’ve been at the forefront of the campaign to ensure schools are adequately funded, and we welcome that these demands are being recognised at parliamentary level. The terms of reference of the inquiry launched in August reflect many of our concerns: • The devastating impact of cuts. Schools’ budgets continue to shrink, yet the school population is at its highest level since 1999 • The distribution of education funding is inefficient. In contrast to the rest of the UK where 2% to 10% is retained at centre, schools in Northern Ireland only receive a maximum of 59% of the education budget directly • The government is failing our most vulnerable pupils. The Northern Ireland Audit Office’s (NIAO’s) June 2017 report highlighted that “neither the Department nor the Education Authority can demonstrate value for money in terms of economy, efficiency or effectiveness in the provision of support to children with SEN in mainstream schools”. This situation is unacceptable, and we submitted evidence in this respect. This inquiry must lead to lasting reform

that will guarantee proper front line investment in education for the benefit of all pupils. Westminster politicians can’t ignore the extent of the crisis at hand.

High levels of dissatisfaction with the Education Employers’ services, our survey reveals In May, we shared the findings from our school leaders’ survey on employer satisfaction. We undertook this survey to inform the current intensive industrial relations negotiations. In Northern Ireland, levels of satisfaction concerning employer-provided services matter more than any other part of the UK because a high proportion of an ever-diminishing education budget is retained centrally. (For example, spending on pre-school, primary and secondary education per pupil is 46% greater in Scotland, 18% greater in England and 31% greater in Wales, so it’s vital employers provide support and services that are effective and value for money.) The survey found low levels of satisfaction across all areas. Key statistics include the following: • 73% said provision for special educational needs was ‘poor’ or ‘needed improvement’ • 72% said work provided by employerapproved contractors to maintain schools’ premises was ‘poor’ or ‘needed improvement’ • 84% said support for career development and networking opportunities was ‘poor’ or ‘needed improvement’. Our report contains more than 40 recommendations for change. We’re calling on the Education Employers, Department of Education and the secretary of state/ future executive to initiate an urgent process of reform for the entire education system (the aforementioned inquiry starts on this work).

NAHT(NI) demands better investment and planning for children with special education needs in the early years In spring 2018, the Education Authority (EA) launched a consultation on the framework of future provision for children in the early years with special educational needs. We found the EA’s framework wasn’t fit for purpose for the following reasons: • Neither the framework nor the accompanying research reports take account of the damning findings of the aforementioned report by NIAO • It doesn’t provide detail of the proposals, which makes meaningful consultation futile • It emphasises a larger centralised education service rather than targeting resources to schools. This situation is unacceptable. We’ve called for a halt to the consultation; for an independent review of the EA (including full financial disclosure of SEN provision); and for the consultation and development of a comprehensive and appropriate framework with an accompanying action plan, resourcing plan and timeframe for implementation.



Maximising the impact of your SENCo ANNE HEAVEY, national director of whole school SEND at nasen, looks at how you can effectively deploy your special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) to improve the outcomes of children and young people. id you know that only one member of staff in an English school is legally required to have qualified teacher status and that person is the SENCo? Furthermore, within three years of taking up the post, a SENCo is also expected to complete the level seven national award for SENCos (NA SENCo). NAHT’s annual recruitment surveys have highlighted that recruiting a SENCo isn’t always a straightforward task – in 2016,


just 17% of respondents recruiting SENCos did so ‘with ease’ and 23% were unable to appoint. So when you do manage to recruit a SENCo, it’s vital that they’re set up to thrive.

How can you support your SENCos in this essential yet demanding role? There are several strategic and practical steps you can take. These include the following: • Make sure special educational

Above: Anne Heavey

needs and disabilities (SEND) leadership doesn’t start and finish with the SENCo – read chapter six of the SEND code of practice because this outlines the expectations for schools under the code (it’s 19 pages long). As a leader, you can raise the profile of SEND within the school by proactively discussing your school’s provision at prospective parents’ events and highlighting the achievements of pupils with SEND in meetings and assemblies


• Place the SENCo on the senio or leadership p team – this will help to ensure tha at wider school polic cies are developed and reviewed with SEND in mind. Also, share the SEND notional budget with the SENCo and reflect on how this is accounted for and reflected in the school’s provision • Protect the SENCo’s time with allocated periods in addition to planning, preparation and assessment time. There’s no perfect formula for how much time a SENCo will need, but a new SENCo who is learning in the role and completing the national award will benefit from significant dedicated and protected time. Protected time can also allow your SENCo to run regular sessions for teachers and families to build a strong team around the children with SEND • Encourage your governors to take an interest. Support your SEN governor to visit regularly and report to the full governing body. Share SEND data proactively or specific areas in particular, such as attainment, attendance and behaviour

• Support teachers to develop as teachers of SEND – ask the SENCo how the continuing professional development programme could establish quality-first teaching across the school. Do you have an aspiring SENCo on your staff team who could be a deputy SENCo? • Deploy support staff strategically – this includes giving the SENCo dedicated administrative support and ensuring teaching assistants are used to maximise their impact and offered training when they need it • Know your school’s SEND strengths and weaknesses – think about undertaking a SEND review in your school. These can be done peer to peer for free, or you can commission one. By knowing what you do well, you can prioritise your resources • Celebrate success and have their back – being a SENCo can be incredibly rewarding. Supporting a young person to hit a milestone, achieve a dream and find happiness at school are some of the best parts of the job. However, we know it can also be an isolated and frustrating role. There can be many hurdles to overcome to secure the right provision for a child and some challenging conversations with parents and colleagues. And as high needs budgets and school budgets come under increasing strain, these challenges can be exacerbated. Your SENCo needs to know you have their back when things get tough, and they also need to know their work is recognised and valued across the school. Catch up regularly with the SENCo and ask them what’s going well and where they might need some help • Encourage your SENCo to network with other SENCos in your academy trust, family of schools or nearby schools. Most local authorities have networking and training ng events for SENCos, and these e are valuable opportunitiess to share ideas and problem-solve lve with others.

How can we help you and your SENCo? We’re refreshing the SEND gateway ( so that it can offer a onestop shop for all things SEND. The online portal provides free, easy access to high-quality resources, training, and SEND expertise and research. The Department for Education’s (DfE’s) online SENCo forum will also move onto the SEND gateway. This will give this essential professional communication tool a long-term home and enable SENCos to share ideas and access support regardless of their locality. Our NA SENCo providers’ group ( is developing a SENCo induction pack. This will provide a practical resource to support SENCos as they embark on their new exciting role, and it’s due out in January 2019, so keep an eye on the SEND gateway’s website for more information. The providers’ group is also reviewing the learning outcomes of the mandatory national award for SENCos. This will help us to understand how well the qualification supports and prepares SENCos, and we will give a series of recommendations to the DfE to refine the qualification. We’re a member of the whole school SEND consortium, and members of this coalition have worked together to produce some useful resources that are available on the SEND gateway ( They’re all linked to the eight focus areas of the SEND review, which was developed by the London Leadership Strategy, and they can be customised to your setting. The consortium has also been building a strong team of regional SEND leaders, formed of two school-based specialists in each regional school commissioner’s area. They will deliver regional activity to support high-quality SEND provision at a local level. You can find out who your regional leaders are via the SEND gateway’s website and see what they’ve got planned. If you’d like to invite them to a head teachers’ network event, do get in touch! We all know that an excellent SENCo can have a tremendous impact on children and young people’s experiences at school. They can also boost the confidence of teachers and support staff to help them to deliver quality-first teaching that benefits every child, especially those with SEND. At times like these when money is tight, it might be tempting to reduce dedicated SENCo time and limit time spent out of the school to essential meetings. However, we believe that by investing in the SENCo, the whole school benefits.


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Tapping into the lives of teachers

This ‘little and often’ approach means people are far more willing to answer questions, and as such, the team is amassing an enormous amount of information about the lives of school leaders and teachers. In the last year alone, they’ve discovered that 44% of teachers have three or more NAHT Edge director JAMES BOWEN speaks to the founders meetings or activities after school of the Teacher Tapp app about how asking thousands of its each week, 40% of teachers mark users to answer three questions each day is giving them an in front of the television on any given night and 71% of schools no insight into teachers’ lives and helping to shape policy. longer grade lesson observations. The data being gathered is more than just interesting; it allows teachers and school leaders to compare their policies and practices with what’s going on elsewhere in other schools. As Laura explains, their recent discovery that 50% of teachers check work emails during their holidays has led people “to start having genuine conversations with staff about this conflict… It’s been a genuinely useful conversation that’s led to some policy changes that may hopefully affect workload in the future.” She says users have told them that Teacher Tapp has “changed the conversation in their staffrooms”. An additional perk is that once users have answered the daily questions, they are then To hear directed to a short article or an Laura and The Guardian, and Becky talking more interesting blog post about a martphones are about Teacher Tapp, Becky is the director specific aspect of teaching. everywhere. In fact, a you can download the of the new Centre There are also recent survey showed that September episode of our for Education broader implications for 85% of us now own one of these ‘school leadership podcast’ Improvement policymakers too. Through devices. For many of us, our via iTunes. To download precise questioning, Becky, smartphones have become integral Science at the Teacher Tapp, visit the UCL Institute of Laura and the team are to our lives – we’re used to app store via your Education. learning a huge amount about ‘tapping an app’ to keep in contact mobile phone. While teacher surveys teachers’ workload and the with friends and family, manage are nothing new, Teacher reasons why some people leave our diaries or access the latest Tapp feels very different. the profession. Finding solutions news. These days, there’s an app Once people have downloaded for these sorts of “big questions” is for almost anything. the app to their phone, they are clearly a significant driver for both Now, thanks to the work of two prompted to answer three simple, Becky and Laura. former teachers, smartphones multiple-choice questions about The app already has 2,500 are also helping us to understand their working lives at 3.30pm users, and the ambition is to get to the lives of teachers and school each day. Having answered the 5,000 users as quickly as possible. leaders in a way that previously questions, they are immediately As Laura points out, this will only wasn’t possible. shown the results of the poll. As require “a handful of head teachers Teacher Tapp is a new Becky explains, “we’re asking for going out and telling their staff smartphone app created by less than half a minute of teachers’ that this will make a difference former teachers Laura McInerney time each day to learn something to what they learn and what we and Becky Allen. Both Laura and about them, and we can then build know about the profession.” While Becky will be well-known to most up a picture incrementally of what teachers and school leaders’ time is of our members. Laura is the always at a premium, this could be former editor of Schools Week and our teachers are like – that’s very different to a traditional survey.” 30 seconds a day very well spent. a regular education columnist for




What lies s beneath:: drropping the perceived mask k of strength


Julian Stanley, CEO at Education Support Partnership, discusses the importance of school leaders showing vulnerability, demanding support and prioritising their well-being. hen deputy head teacher Emma broke down in the staffroom, she realised the stress of the job had got too much. “I became drained,” she explained. “I stepped into the staffroom and instantly knew I couldn’t be there.” She called our bespoke helpline for NAHT members, which offers confidential emotional support and counselling.


Above: Julian Stanley

Unfortunately, Emma’s story is all too familiar. Last year, we saw a sharp rise of 48% in calls, with senior leaders displaying some of the most severe cases of poor mental health in the charity’s history. The consequence is a mounting recruitment and retention crisis. Our research found 65% of senior leaders have considered leaving the sector in the past two years because of health pressures. This is supported by the government’s data, which revealed more than three in 10 school leaders who took up their posts between 2011 and 2015 had not been retained, and in secondary schools, more than one in three school leaders have left. Earlier this year, at NAHT’s annual conference, education secretary Damian Hinds announced plans to

make sure teaching remains “an attractive, fulfilling” job. While I share his ambition and sentiment, actions need to speak louder than words. We live in an age where the competition to recruit teachers is at an all-time high. In turn, the profession must become more attractive to ambitious young people considering a career in teaching. This is not achieved by papering over the cracks or challenges, but instead, by opening them up and confronting them. While we can talk in-depth about the myriad of structural changes that can improve the daily lives of schools leaders and teachers, the reality is the political changes required won’t occur overnight. Developing a culture where the well-being of staff becomes central to a school’s ethos

LEADERSHIP FOCUS | OCTOBER 2018 NAHT’s emotional support helpline: 0800 917 4055

Hilary Berry, chair of the association of primary head teachers at Cheshire West and Chester local authority, shares the benefits of the Headspace programme. We continue to use the Headspace programme because of the hugely positive impact it has on our head teachers year after year. They learn about leadership, managing change, strategy, prioritising, listening and facilitating. But the course offers much more than the tangible skills. Most of the feedback is about being able to talk openly about challenges, feeling confident after a shared experience, learning to look after themselves for the good of the job and building professional and personal relationships with peers in a safe environment. We believe the positive and motivational effect of Headspace has aided retention at a leadership and school staff level. This is because the influence of the programme’s principles cascades throughout the schools. The added benefit of Headspace is the networking that starts on the course continues beyond the classroom. They continue to support each other professionally and personally within the framework and principles of the course. The value of the course is unquestionable, and we’d highly recommend it to others.

NAHT will be holding a workshop on 'be kind to yourself: how to respond more wisely and compassionately to emotions and everyday stresses' at its primary conference in Birmingham on 23 November 2018. For more details, go to

can be achieved through distributive leadership practices. My four key observations of senior leaders are as follows: 1. You are perfectionists 2. You have a great deal of loyalty to your pupils and colleagues 3. You have a solid work ethic 4. You have a strong moral belief system. These are all exceptional qualities. However, these can work against leaders who find it hard to express vulnerability or fail to seek crucial support. Both these things are essential to ensure leaders create a culture that avoids the potential for burnout and focuses on prioritising the bigger picture. The belief that it’s selfish to prioritise your well-being or that

dropping a mask of strength is a sign of weakness couldn’t be further from the truth. To create a shift in culture, it requires school leaders to model the changes they wish to see. Vulnerability improves trust in the workplace. This is because when school leaders can share their concerns and worries, it has a positive impact on the culture of a school and the mental health and well-being of everyone in that institution. This includes pupils who can pick up on and be impacted by stress and tension. One of the consistent things I raise with ministers and advisors at a policy level is the need to focus on the human aspect of how a school operates. Too often the priority is on data, systems and the technical aspects of teaching. We give very little attention to practices and services that engage people in a workplace. This is despite evidence showing it leads to greater autonomy, development and longterm service. When we work directly faceto-face in schools, we adopt a transparent and open approach. We survey each member of staff confidentially and present the overall findings with all staff and senior leaders in the same room. This can highlight some uncomfortable home truths; however, it’s satisfying to see first-hand the shift in energy and the increased levels of respect

and trust staff have towards senior leaders when concerns and issues are addressed. Highlighting real issues and putting in place tangible solutions that impact on staff encourages collective responsibility. This helps to shape a collegiate workforce, and we’ve seen this reflected by consistently improved results when we survey again 12 months later. It starts with leaders choosing to be brave and having the confidence to expose themselves to issues that lie beneath the surface. It takes leaders willing to reflect, take action and implement what I call ‘practical well-being’ – strategies that go beyond ‘buzzwords’ and demonstrate a commitment to putting staff members’ needs front and centre within a school can only yield positive dividends. Central to this approach is ensuring senior leaders have access to support mechanisms that enable them to address the unique issues and pressures of the role. The need for this outlet has led to the continued demand for our Headspace and Yourspace peer support programmes, which are accessed by more than 3,000 heads and deputy heads across England and Wales. Overall, the key message we promote as a charity is that support services do exist to help you. The key is not to wait until breaking point to access them. This is an exceptional profession; it fundamentally relies on strong interpersonal relationships and emotional intelligence as well as excellent subject knowledge and expertise. If we fail to consider staff members’ well-being as a central component of a thriving education system, we’re likely to see the ongoing recruitment and retention crisis escalate further. Future generations will be the ones to suffer.

FIND OUT MORE… Headspace and Yourspace are confidential, personal and professional development programmes designed to help you develop your well-being and performance. Contact Education Support Partnership (call 020 7697 2750 or email or visit for further information.



Wellness design in learning spaces The Society of British & International Design’s education design council seeks to put effective design at the core of the learning process and show how evidence-based interior design decisions can transform the learning experience for everyone. Here the council shares why, in particular, it’s worth considering biophilic and ergonomic design principles in your remodel and how they can impact on pupils’ well-being.


Why is ergonomic design important?

Why is biophilic design important?

Inadequate school furniture doesn’t accommodate the variety of sizes of children, and it often doesn’t support most school-related tasks. As a result, children are getting back problems at a younger age. Undoubtedly, discomfort affects concentration and potential educational attainment. In addition, the increasing use of technology in schools leads to more sustained awkward postures, which can cause fatigue, discomfort, eye strain or potential sleep deprivation. In turn, it can lead to psychological issues. So, for example, you need to consider environments for tablet-based activity and coordinate your digital strategy with the learning environment.

Research has proven that our attention capacity, which is essential for our cognitive functioning, is restored when we come into contact with nature. It can improve the performance and well-being of both staff members and pupils. Plants in classrooms, for example, can improve performance by 10% to 14%.

How to bring ergonomic design to your learning spaces Designers, architects, specifiers and decision makers should consider human-centred design principles when refurbishing or building new schools. Ergonomic furniture is one of the many classroom design factors that can benefit children’s learning rates. We recommend you equip classrooms with standardscompliant furniture that reflects the age, size and activity of the children. Teachers should become more aware of signs of discomfort and make positive adjustments towards a more active, agile and inclusive learning experience.

Children shouldn’t have to ‘sit still’ nowadays, especially with the options available for flexible seating, such as wobble stools, therapy balls, sofas and beanbags.

Above: Murrayburn Primary School in Edinburgh has its own imagination room

How to bring biophilic design to the classroom

There’s evidence that where a primary experience of natural elements isn’t available, tactile and visual references to nature (such How to create flexible learning spaces as using natural textures, materials, patterns, colours and motifs in Movement is an important focus floor and wallcoverings) can for learning in early years positively impact perceptual settings. It’s becoming In a global and physiological stress common to reduce the youth survey responses. The use of real number of tables and conducted by timber promotes creativity chairs to support play, HundrED, 61% of youths and imagination. It also has create active learning felt their education a calm, warm, inclusive feel and ignite curiosity. would be improved by for children. Plants help to These principles can an environment that reduce stress, improve air translate through was well designed quality and create feelings school to create highly for learning. of well-being. Natural colours configurable workspaces and help to create a calming and smooth transitions between nurturing environment. Natural stages, from early years to light is another key consideration higher education and beyond. because optimising exposure to daylight alone can increase the What is biophilic design? speed of learning by 20% to 26%. Biophilic design is putting nature It can also improve attendance by into the built environment an average of 3.5 days per year to meet the need of human and test scores by 5% to 14%. beings to connect with nature. Research shows that exposure to nature can lower stress, elevate For further information, visit mood, create a relaxed feel and improve cognitive function.


Q&A with NAHT life member Hilary Alcock HILARY ALCOCK tells us why she decided to switch to life membership and how it can give you peace of mind, so you can live your retirement to the full.

Why did you decide to become a life member? NAHT was the voice and support I relied on – trusted, reliable, relevant and accessible – throughout my career. I knew that as I took early retirement in December 2017, I wanted to play an active part in the association. My NAHT life membership gives me the chance to support others and shape the range of invaluable services we offer to school leaders. It was also reassuring to keep the excellent legal and professional support NAHT offers should I experience a post-career issue. This includes the unparalleled pension and financial advice and a range of services through NAHT’s affinity partners. Since switching to life membership, I also decided to join NAHT’s life members’ committee. It’s a vibrant and focused group whose members are passionate about finding ways to enhance further what NAHT can offer its life

members – whether that’s helping them to undertake some form of employment or devote their time and energies to other things.

Retiring is a huge event, and it can leave you feeling like you’ve lost your identity. How can life membership help school leaders through this challenging time? Retirement is a changing concept. Many view it as a time of celebration. Some look forward to the different opportunities it presents. Others have concerns about losing a sense of purpose and the loss of the social contact that comes with being a part of a school’s community. You can find yourself anywhere on that continuum. And retirement may be a planned and staged process, or it might have occurred for a range of unexpected reasons. But, it’s always about change. Some NAHT life members find

Above: Hilary Alcock

that becoming active or keeping their involvement in the association can help to bridge this significant change in their life. Many find they enjoy having the time to use their considerable professional expertise to support serving members through both formal and informal branch or regional roles. Others keep in touch through social events and networking. There’s a dedicated section on NAHT’s website for life members, and the life members’ committee, which I’m a member of, is looking to find increased and different ways to ensure NAHT offers the best value for money for its membership.

What’s the most rewarding thing about being a life member? Being a life member provides me with the opportunity to remain a part of an association that has been significant in my past professional life and continues to play an essential role in my personal life. Still feeling connected to the ‘bigger educational picture’ is important to me and so is the potential to contribute to providing a worthwhile service for those who devoted their professional lives to improving the life chances of children, young people and adults in their schools’ communities. Life membership offers the potential to make new friends and networks. But, it really is up to individuals to decide how much or how little they wish to be involved at any time.

If you are retired or approaching retirement, we will keep you covered, protect your future and ensure you don’t lose the valuable support you received throughout your career. Become a life member today at



PAUL WHITEMAN: general secretary

Keeping the pressure up he start of the autumn term is always particularly busy, both in schools and for us here at NAHT, and this year it has followed the announcement of the controversial proposed pay award which resulted in a whole summer of lobbying government. For us, it was clearly a bittersweet announcement: while we welcomed the recognition that there should be some funding to make the pay award affordable, the differentiated pay award proposal that failed to reward school leaders properly is clearly unacceptable. To add insult to injury, the secretary of state has ignored the advice of the independent pay review body for the first time in years in order to deprive school leaders of their entitlement. The evidence NAHT submitted to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) last year made a strong case for a restorative pay award of 5% for teachers and leaders, and that they should avoid the differentiated award that divided the profession last year. The STRB accepted our argument, recommending an ‘across-theboard’ increase of 3.5% to all pay ranges and allowances. Although this fell short of the 5% we were seeking, it would still have represented a real-terms increase for the profession. Instead, the secretary of state proposed



a differentiated pay award, restricting those on the upper pay range to a 2% pay rise, and those in leadership grades to 1.5% uplift. We shared our members’ anger – at a time when school leaders are facing unprecedented challenges to deliver an education system that is poorly funded under the shadow of a punitive accountability system, and at a time when the secretary of state has acknowledged the enormous workload and pressure that school leaders face in delivering the government’s education policies, this was nothing less than a slap in the face. We’ve been very vocal about this over the last few months; in our communications with the secretary of state, in the press, in meetings with Department for Education officials, in our letters to every single MP and in developing a coalition with other teaching unions to fight this proposal. Our message is clear: this is not valuing the profession, and it is not how we are going to retain excellent leaders and attract new ones. This is taking us for granted because school leaders always pick up the pieces and find a way to make things work somehow. But the anger is growing in our sector – it’s palpable. Perhaps the greatest demonstration of this were the numbers who

Above: Paul Whiteman

Our message is clear: this is not valuing the profession, and it is not how we are going to retain excellent leaders and attract new ones.

joined the ‘march of a thousand heads’ on Downing Street which NAHT helped to organise on 28 September. Putting a figure on it was brave because we know our members are reluctant to take to the streets. But we didn’t get a thousand – we got nearly two thousand head teachers driven to take a day out of school to impress on a chancellor who’s just not listening that the attack on school funding is hurting children and young people. The numbers we had on the day spoke volumes about the depth of feeling that exists on this issue. And as you continue to make your voices heard on behalf of your pupils, we’ll continue to make a noise in parliament, in government, and in the press about your pay. The secretary of state may have stuck to his original proposal, but he’s pretty clear now about how unpalatable this year’s offer is. He says he cares about the state of the profession and about your workload, but we need more than his warm words to evidence this. NAHT’s message to him and to the chancellor is clear: a world-class education system must be properly resourced with sufficient funding, and sufficient teachers and school leaders who feel valued and motivated. There’s a long way to go.


2-3 APRIL 2019 | LONDON

Day one: World autism day: autism in girls - many voices

Day two: Diversity, difference and dynamics

This highly anticipated conference for senior leaders will focus on girls with autism. You’ll gain insight and perspective from girls on the autism spectrum, which often goes undetected, and learn effective practices emerging in the field. Be the first to read the Girls and Autism book, edited by Barry Carpenter, Francesca Happé and Jo Egerton, which will be launched at the conference.

Day two will focus on the varied challenges and experiences for both young people with SEND and the adults working with them. Through a range of workshops and keynote sessions, we will explore the solutions that can be found through deepening partnerships and understanding.

Spaces are limited, so book your space now!

01444 472405 @NAHTnews


ANDREW HALL, NAHT policy research analyst, shares the findings from our recent survey on supporting children with SEND and how the severe pressure felt by members provides compelling evidence to press the government on the urgent need for more funding.

n April, the education select committee launched an inquiry into the reforms to the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) system brought about by the Children and Families Act 2014. These changes were intended to simplify and improve support for children and young people with SEND, and offer greater choice for them and their families. The legislation replaced statements and learning disability assessments with education, health and care plans (EHCPs). The inquiry will judge the success of these reforms, and we gave detailed written evidence to the committee in May. In preparation for our submission to the inquiry, we drew on the compelling messages from our members about the reality of supporting children with SEND in the face of the continuing funding crisis. The strength of feeling on the issue was made clear at our annual conference in May, which saw an unprecedented


Above: Andrew Hall

number of motions passed that spoke to the urgency of the situation. To quantify the experiences behind these calls to action, we conducted an online SEND survey, which was open for three weeks across May and June; we had more than 600 responses, and the results provided us with unambiguous evidence of a system in crisis. One of the reforms being evaluated by the committee is the introduction of EHCPs. Our survey asked a number of questions to gauge whether schools are able to secure timely assessments for individual pupils and the extent to which they believe the plans accurately reflect a child’s needs. We also asked whether there is sufficient funding available to deliver the support included in the plan. Our survey showed evidence that for a significant number of schools, each part of this process is broken.

We found that, when making a referral, 15% of respondents had to wait more than six months for an assessment to be conducted. The SEND code of practice sets out the statutory timeline for an EHCP to be issued as 20 weeks from the point of referral – yet 39% of respondents said they waited more than six months for an EHCP to be produced. Furthermore, less than a third (32%) of respondents told us that a plan generally provides an accurate assessment of the needs of the pupil when produced. When asked how often specialists from health and social care attend relevant meetings


Below: Survey results: average wait from referral for an EHC assessment and plan*











Up to 8 weeks

3% 33%

8 weeks - 3 months

18% 27% 9%

6-9 months

of respondents

17% 3% 11% 2%

12-18 months


More than 18 months

1% 2% 11% 11%

It varies greatly

Wait for assessment

3% 3%

Wait for EHCP

relating to EHCPs and a child’s needs, 75% said not enough to provide the support that’s needed. In addition to the concerns raised about the delay in conducting assessments and the extent to which the EHCPs themselves accurately reflected the needs of a pupil, just 2%


6% 2%

of respondents told us the top-up funding they received was sufficient to deliver the support required by an EHCP. The importance of adequate funding to support children with SEND was emphasised in our early 2018 ‘breaking point’ survey; our members told us then that supporting children with additional needs was the factor causing the most financial pressure on schools. With schools’ budgets at crisis point, both high needs funding (which provides place funding for special schools and topup funding for EHCPs) and schools block funding (from which mainstream funding is drawn, including mainstream schools’ SEN support) are under severe stress. Further deterioration of an already critical situation Left: Survey results: members’ views on whether the top-up funding they receive is enough* Sufficient Insufficient Variable depending on pupils’ needs and/or accuracy of the EHCP Other

is illustrated by the 94% of respondents who stated it’s now harder to resource the support required to meet the needs of pupils with SEND than two years ago. When asked the reasons for this, the three most-cited issues were the local authority’s cuts to high needs funding (79%), cuts to mainstream funding for schools (78%) and cuts in health and social care services (75%). It’s clear that alongside the cuts to funding, schools are being asked to do far more to support the most vulnerable children in society than they were five years ago. Our survey found that 30% of respondents don’t receive services from health and social care budgets to support pupils, and of those who do, 82% said these have declined in the past two years. The relationship between education, health and social care is critical to the education of children and young people with SEND; funding for these services is at the heart of the question of how we can improve the experience of children with SEND in schools. In June, the government announced the NHS would receive an extra £20.5 billion funding per year by the end of 2023/24. Better access to mental health services and better integration of health and social care are among the stated priorities for the money. We will use our report to press the government to ensure inclusivity and opportunity for those children in society who rely most on support from these services, so our members can meet the needs of pupils with SEND. The full report is available on our website at


*Individual percentages may not sum to 100% because they’re rounded to the nearest whole number.

9-12 months



told us the top-up funding they received was sufficient to deliver the support required by an EHCP.


3-6 months




New learning opportunities for members with NAHT CPD ROB HANCOCK, head of professional development at NAHT, shares details on some of the upcoming innovations we’re working on to enhance school leaders’ careers and stimulate new ideas.


any of you shared your thoughts (via an online survey) on how we can improve our continuing professional development (CPD) programme by making it more accessible, affordable and convenient for you and your school.


You told us you wanted to see more courses on leadership So, in addition to our popular leadership courses, we have introduced three new topics: ‘proactive leadership: understanding, action and improvement’, ‘building leadership capacity’ and ‘the challenge of change – leading and managing change to drive school improvement’. Book your place on our new courses today at

We’re also developing a suite of leadership courses that will be delivered on a one-to-one basis by fully trained coaches. More information on this to come soon. You asked that we make our hot topic courses more accessible So we have increased the availability of our most popular course by offering it in new locations. You can now choose to attend our ‘securing long-term financial viability for your school’ course in Cardiff, Exeter, London, Preston or York. Register your place at one of the locations across the UK at You voiced that budget constraints stopped you from booking onto CPD events So we changed our pricing to

make our courses more affordable. You can now benefit from an early bird rate of only £160 for a oneday session. If you’re booking a place on behalf of your colleague, your school can still benefit from a nonmember preferential rate of £190. See the full list of our CPD courses at and take advantage of these new deals to save even more money for your school. And, on top of all this, we’ll shortly be launching an app that will bring together everything you need to know about our courses, conferences and other events and resources. The app will make it easy for you to apply for any of our events, and for us to keep in touch with you about our expanding offer.


Primary conference 2018 If you work in the primary sector, you won’t want to miss out on our primary conference 2018 (on 23 November in Birmingham). It’s designed around the theme of ‘making the impossible happen’ because we know the challenges you have to face. During the day, you will hear from acclaimed actor, choreographer and producer Graham Tudor, NAHT deputy general secretary Nick Brook and NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman. You can also choose to attend three out of six practical workshops, including how to build and lead a high-performance team, making the most of your funding and promoting pupils’ mental health. Reserve your seat at

Inspiring leadership conference Next year’s conference will take place in Birmingham on 6 and 7 June. As always, there will be workshops, masterclasses, and

nationally and internationally known keynote speakers. This time around, we’re looking to include creative ways of encouraging more networking opportunities to put you in touch with other leaders from your sector or region. Don’t miss it!

STAY UP TO DATE For up-to-the-minute news on our courses and conferences, keep an eye on our website ( There you will find the latest information and resources to help you perfect your skills. KEEP IN TOUCH You can contact our professional development team on 01444 472405. Alternatively, email events@ And of course, it’s always great to hear from you, so if you’re on twitter, why not get in touch? We’re @NAHTnews.

Follow Rob Hancock on twitter at @RobHancock19



Hand-picked training courses Developed and led by expert facilitators, our courses are innovative, challenging and explicitly designed for senior leaders. And they are open to everyone (members and non-members). ur courses cover a variety of subjects from leadership and operational management to funding, inspection, accountability and much more. Included in the pack with this issue of Leadership Focus, we have provided a handy wall planner to ensure



you know exactly what is coming up when and where. For occasions when standard courses may not fit your requirements, we also offer tailored training – this value-for-money option cuts the cost of the commute and sees us come e to you to deliver the course at your venue of choice.

THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE – LEADING AND MANAGING CHANGE TO DRIVE SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT 19 November 2018, London This course will enhance your understanding of school improvement from both a theoretical and practical perspective. During the day, you’ll get the chance to examine the complexity of change, consider the different ways to influence others when initiating change and practise a participative approach to project management. The course will also help you to explore the key issues that surround the successful implementation of a change, such as the reactions of individuals and groups, the involvement of key stakeholders and the building of effective partnerships. Course facilitator: Chris Greenland


EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF GDPR 2 November 2018, London The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is here, and after 20 years, the Data Protection Act 1998 has been abolished. On this half-day course, you will learn how to understand and handle key elements of the new law, such as data breaches, data protection impact assessments and managing consent. We will provide you with the solutions to some of the common misunderstandings that have been communicated about GDPR in practice. In addition, we will discuss what the future holds for the regulation and increase your knowledge concerning what’s new about this law. Course facilitator: Craig Stilwell

OFSTED INSPECTION UPDATE 6 November 2018, London 22 November 2018, Manchester We’re here to help you to manage and reduce the stress associated with school inspection. Our new course includes an update on Ofsted’s autumn term revisions to the inspection framework and gives you the opportunity to examine each aspect of inspection in relation to your school. In doing so, you will be able to learn how to improve all aspects of school leadership and ensure the education your pupils receive is the best experience possible. Course facilitator: Philippa Ollerhead

HR ESSENTIALS FOR OR ER THE SCHOOL LEADER 1 November 2018, London This course will focus on how to lead and manage the employment lifecycle, including the formal processes involved in managing disciplinary and grievance procedures. You will have the opportunity to reflect on a number of scenarios and examples to build your confidence and develop your management strategies. Course facilitator: Jenny Salero

AN INTRODUCTION TO EXECUTIVE HEADSHIP 27 February 2019, London This course will focus on the role of the executive head teacher and offer practical advice on how head teachers can formulate a long-term plan to up-skill in preparation for this change in focus and career. You will get the chance to reflect on how the role of executive head teacher differs from the position of head teacher in a single school and consider how to develop your existing skills into system leadership skills. Course facilitator: Philippa Ollerhead

LEADING SCHOOL SAFEGUARDING 30 October 2018, London 8 November 2018, Birmingham Are you responsible for leading safeguarding in your school? If so, our renowned course will help you to develop a leadership infrastructure that embeds safeguarding into the heart of your school and supports you to disseminate responsibilities to the whole staff. It will look at the changes made to the Department for Education’s statutory guidance on ‘keeping children safe in education’ (September 2018) – with a particular focus on updates to the ‘management of safeguarding’, ‘safer recruitment’ and ‘allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff’ sections – and provide an understanding of the new ‘sexual violence and sexual harassment’ guidance. Course facilitator: Philippa Ollerhead SEE WHAT DELEGATES SAID ABOUT THIS COURSE

This is an excellent course. I attended last year, and I will probably continue to attend on an annual basis because it keeps me fully up-to-date with key safeguarding issues. The tutor was excellent, especially in terms of knowledge and the pace of delivery. I’d highly recommend this course to colleagues. Extremely knowledgeable facilitator – exactly the right balance of legal knowledge, examples of good practice and practical suggestions.

We have a wide range of courses available. Browse the options available to you at



SUSAN YOUNG: Education columnist

Developing an opendoor culture pen doors support accountability at Robina Maher’s school. Initially, with a predominantly young staff, it was her door that was open; now it’s everybody’s. “I’ve been really lucky – we have a young, proactive team, with many here since their NQT year. There’s been a lot of supporting, talking through plans and modelling teaching for them so that they could see assessment for learning in action. We’ll often have a teacher say ‘can I talk through planning for next week? I’m not sure I’m reaching my highers,’ and it’s great for a second or third-year teacher to come and ask those questions of school leaders. I’ve worked in schools where the headship has been more of an admin role, but I am out there and teach whenever I can,” she says. A more recent development was continuing professional development based on Robina’s 2017 summer holiday reading, Paul Garvey’s ‘Talk for Teaching’, which introduced the idea of “sparks” and “sponges”. “It’s been fantastic and improved us. The idea is that all teachers are learners in school. An NQT might say to a more experienced teacher ‘I’m going to do a guided reading session – do you want to sponge off me?’ and you have this fantastic learning conversation with no clipboards, no Ofsted, no ticking or writing – just learning from each other. Younger teachers might say ‘have you thought about doing it this way?’ Or ‘I really like the way you do that’,” Robina explains. “It’s developed an open-door culture. Nobody is scared when someone enters their classroom – they think ‘if it’s going to help me, it’s great,’ and ‘if you can learn something from me, that’s even better’. Regardless of your experience as a teacher, everyone’s got something to offer. It’s had a



profound effect on the improvement of teaching and learning, which impacts on accountability,” she adds. When Robina became head at St Mary’s (a one-form entry primary in London’s Hammersmith) four years ago, it was after several years’ senior leadership in the UK and Australia. “I learned a lot about accountability on the way up,” she says. She sees accountability as shared – starting with teachers’ planning to ensure children’s needs are met and they make progress educationally and emotionally. This is followed up in pupil progress meetings, with clear action points. “The thought of accountability can be stressful, but it’s a natural part of the job, because the children are at the centre of everything and we want the best for them. It’s more stressful on a peer review or Ofsted day, but day by day, it’s part and parcel of what you’re doing,” she explains. Robina applied to St Mary’s because it needed to improve in teaching and learning, areas where she thought she had more to offer. “The outgoing head was very open that this wasn’t her strength,” she says. After a summer studying data – and with Ofsted expected imminently –

Above: Susan Young

The thought of accountability can be stressful, but it’s a natural part of the job, because the children are at the centre of everything and we want the best for them.

hard work got them a “pretty good” report. With inspectors due again, she says there’s “so much more improvement, so many fantastic systems in place and such quality learning happening”. Many children arrive with attainment below the national average, but they’re making great progress, she says. In the process, teachers left – four in one year. “That’s something that happens when you start making teachers accountable,” she adds. Being a Catholic school brings extra accountability: 10% of the curriculum is devoted to faith teaching, and children are assessed in RE, with regular inspections and an expectation from the diocese and parents that children will progress spiritually. Robina sees first-hand how colleagues’ schools approach this, both as a diocesan inspector and through her involvement in the national professional qualification for executive leadership (NPQEL) programme. One element has had a surprising effect on teaching and learning in St Mary’s: Maggie, the school’s oneyear-old dog. Brought in to support children with special needs and behavioural issues, Maggie is a firm favourite with all the children and their families. She makes school a little bit more special for everyone. “They just love having her there, and they concentrate and focus, which helps them to achieve. It’s fantastic – and working far better than I ever imagined.”

Profile for NAHT Communications

NAHT Leadership Focus October 2018  

In this issue - Accountability, school funding, financial acccountability, new learning goals for early years

NAHT Leadership Focus October 2018  

In this issue - Accountability, school funding, financial acccountability, new learning goals for early years