All change for education

6th January 2012 at 00:00
Welcome to 2012 and another year of reform. Teachers might not have had to cope with a new government in 2011, but the way they work will continue to be radically altered

There will be no let-up from the reforms being introduced by education secretary Michael Gove in the new year. Changes to inspection, funding and the curriculum are all due to be made public and yet more free schools and academies will be unveiled.

As if this wasn't enough, the effects of the public spending cuts are becoming clear and are increasingly being felt across the board. Industrial action over pensions will continue until unions and the government can agree on a solution.

Here is the TES guide to the action-packed year ahead.

Spring term

The new Ofsted inspection framework comes into force. Inspectors will be asked to report on just four areas: achievement of pupils; quality of teaching; quality of leadership and management; and how well-behaved and safe children are. Superhead Sir Michael Wilshaw takes over the reins at the inspectorate in January, and he has already outlined controversial policies he hopes to introduce.

Sir Michael doesn't mind ruffling feathers: he has floated the idea of inspectors commenting on staff standards of dress, unions taking a bigger role as regulators of the profession and an end to Ofsted judging schools as "satisfactory".

Also this term, headteachers of popular schools will be able to admit more pupils when the revised School Admissions and Appeals Code comes into force.

We will learn whether the government will continue to give free schools ample funding in the March budget and find out what reforms will be made to capital funding after the James review.

Industrial relations between unions and the government will continue to be sour even if the resolution to the pensions dispute is confirmed. The Treasury has threatened to impose the new arrangements on teachers if an agreement isn't reached. The current offer looks as if it will be enough to sate most demands - union leaders will have to settle or take further action.

Mr Gove will also start the process of making more changes to teachers' pay and conditions next term. A new chair of the School Teachers' Review Body will be appointed in early 2012.

Summer term

More than 500,000 five- and six-year-olds will be tested this June on how well they can read words such as "cat", "scrape" and "zorb". This Year 1 phonics screening check has been controversial, with unions and many English and primary organisations condemning its introduction, saying it could lead to teaching to the test for the youngest children in school.

But the government has vowed to press ahead after 43 per cent of schools involved in the pilot said the test had uncovered difficulties of which they were previously unaware.

Key stage 2 national curriculum tests will take place as usual in May. As in 2011, Year 6 pupils will sit externally marked papers in maths and reading and some schools will be given sample tests in science during Sats week. But assessment of writing will be changed to match the approach in key stage 1 when tests are used to underpin teacher assessment.

Schools will be sent a Year 6 writing test that can be given to pupils whenever schools choose and marked internally.

In June, the total amount of pupil premium for each school for the next academic year will be confirmed.

The world's greatest sports stars will come to London in July for the Olympics, and no doubt teachers across the land will be running themed lessons. It's also a big year for royalists: pupils and school staff will get an extra bank holiday on 5 June to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Autumn term

All schools will have to publish online details of how they have used their pupil premium funding by September. The Department for Education wants to know about children's progress and attainment following the extra money spent on their schooling.

The last modular GCSE courses start this term. Pupils will no longer be able to sit individual modules before the end of the course - previously children were examined in January and halfway through their courses on "bite-sized" chunks.

Work on new GCSEs purpose-built for linear assessment will not start until at least 2013. Assessment experts have voiced concerns that moving January exams to an already congested summer timetable could lead to the boards making more mistakes.

New simplified teacher standards come into force in September, which headteachers will use to assess all qualified teachers.

From September, teachers will have to provide independent, impartial careers advice for pupils.

Schools will receive new curricula for English, maths, science and physical education to prepare for national curriculum changes in these subjects that come into force from September 2013.

The new, "less bureaucratic" early years foundation stage and changes to the free entitlement to early education for three- and four-year-olds also come into force this term.

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