DfE Questions Answers (June-July 2012)

1st June 2012 at 01:00
Each week the DfE will answer your questions here. To get your questions answered just send them to ask.dfe@education.gsi.gov.uk

Q: Since the demise of bodies supporting and challenging Gifted and Talented students and families, what does the DfE see as the way forward for provision? What current policies and strategies can be referenced for guidance.

DfE answers: We belive that teachers should be raising aspirations and encouraging pupils to aim high. Under changes introduced by the previous government, the Gifted and Talented scheme became a school level led programme and continues to be so. The Pupil Premium is available to schools to focus on pupils from disadvantaged families, which could include gifted pupils in receipt of FSM.

We are encouraging Gifted and Talented pupils in other ways. For instance, the London Academy of Excellence, which will be a brand new sixth form free school in Newham. It is being set up by Brighton College
- a highly successful independent school - with other independent schools. It is aimed at gifted pupils from disadvantaged areas.

We have also instigated in England the Dux Awards. They are designed to recognise top performance among Year 9 pupils and to raise aspirations in maintained schools by encouraging pupils to consider applying for a place at a top university. The word `Dux' means `leader' in Latin. Each secondary school in England can register one Year 9 pupil as their 2012 Dux Award winner, along with one `first reserve.' Dux Award winners will receive an expenses-paid trip for themselves and their teacher to a Russell Group university. Visits will take place during the summer term and the costs of supply cover, standard class travel and reasonable subsistence expenses will be reimbursed by the Department for Education.
There's more information available here: http:www.education.gov.ukschoolspupilsupportinclusionandlearnersupp

Teaching styles

Q: I've been told that if an inspector observes that a teacher actually teaches for more than 20% of the lesson segment observed, then the lesson would be automatically deemed as less than good. Is this true? I have been told to be truly outstanding teacher talk should be 10% of the lesson time. Is this true?

Q: Would an inspector rather see group or Pairwork than individual work?
Or, in fact, would the inspector's judgement be made upon the progress made by pupils and upon the impact if the teaching upon learning?

Q: Would an inspector automatically regard a lesson where pupils work in silence as less than good? Or would he judge the lesson on the progress made by pupils during this silent individual activity?

DfE answers: I have answered these three questions (above) here - there's no `Ofsted template'. Inspectors do not expect to see a particular teaching style, in groups or pairs or a very quiet or noisy lesson, but will want to see pupils who are interested in what they are doing, engaged, learning, and making good progress over time. They will not be timing lessons to see how long teaching goes on for compared to other activities!

Q: On a recent behaviour management special, featured on the DfE Facebook page, with Charlie Taylor and the TES behaviour advisor featured, teachers were advised to focus on getting the basics of behaviour securely in place with an emphasis on teacher routines and individual work before attempting to move into pair and group work. Is thus the view if Dfe and would Ofsted agree?

DfE answers: Yes, we would. Charlie has produced a useful checklist to do just

Q: I have read that the term dyslexia is highly contentious and that some experts say the term is unhelpful. They conclude that the learning needs and the methods of literacy development required by "dyslexic"
pupils are no different from those methods that work well with "non-dyslexic" people. What is the DfE's view?

I am particularly interested in the connection with the Ofsted sen review that concluded that up to 50% of students with sen where misdiagnosed and that their needs were no different from other pupils.
Ofsted concluded that labels were too readily applied and that teachers should address the barriers to successful learning rather than hastily apply labels that could suppress ambition

DfE answers: An independent review - `Identifying and teaching children and young people with dyslexia and literacy difficulties' - was carried out in 2009. It concluded that it is widely accepted that dyslexia is identifiable as a developmental difficulty of language learning and cognition. The Government has no plans to commission further reviews. Approaches developed for children with dyslexia, are often helpful for other children but that is true of other special educational needs. The Government is providing funds to the Dyslexia-SpLD Trust to raise awareness of the most effective approaches to teaching children with dyslexia and has funded the development of online training materials for teachers on supporting children with dyslexia and the other most prevalent types of special educational need such as speech, language and communication needs, autism and behavioural difficulties.

Q: Would the department advocate that pupils are tested to establish their preferred learning style? Eg visual, auditory or kinaesthetic.Would the dept advocate that teachers be obliged to differentiate their teaching accordingly? Eg. If a learner is kinaesthetic he should be taught, say French, through the medium of dance? Is there such a thing as a visual learner?

DfE answers: We don't have any information on styles of learning as we believe teaching methods are up to schools and teachers themselves. However there are books, research and websites available, for instance:
-suggestions-2368 and also http:www.pearsonpublishing.co.ukeducationsamplesS_494342.pdf

Q: According to The School Governance (Procedures) (England) Regulations 2003 in a LA maintained school "The governing body shall appoint a clerk to the governing body." Does that mean the clerk must be a single named individual? Or can the governing body appoint a corporate body as its clerk in the same way that the a private company can appoint a corporate body as its company secretary?

DfE answers: The view of the Department is that a maintained school governing body could appoint a corporate body as a clerk but we would encourage any governing body thinking of doing this to seek its own legal advice.

Q: Will a lesson be automatically deemed less than good by an inspector if:

1. there is no starter

2. if there is a starter but it is not a written starter

3. if the lesson does not have written lesson objectives

4. if there is not a 3 part lesson structure

5. if the teacher talks for more than 20% of the time observed by the inspector

6. if the inspector sees no pair work

7. if the inspector sees no group work

8. if the inspector sees no ict

9. if the teacher makes pupils put their hands up

10. if at any point during the observation period any child is off task

11. If a pupil, when asked, can not tell the inspector what his current national curriculum level is (and sub level) and how we will get to the next level

12. If the teacher does not have levels for all pupils every half term and if these levels do not show progress

DfE answers: Ofsted will judge the quality of teaching in relation to the quality of learning and whether children and young people across the age and ability range are making the progress that they should be from their starting points.

There will be no `Ofsted template' which compels teachers to do things they wouldn't normally do. We need to celebrate diversity, ingenuity and imagination in the way we teach. Inspectors do not expect to see a particular teaching style but will want to see pupils who are interested in what they are doing, engaged, learning, and making good progress over time.

Q: Can you pleaseexplainwhy NEG or NEF varies so much from borough to borough. Surely if all local authorities are being given thesameamount of funding why is it that some settings in one part of the country willreceivenearly pound;4 per hour whilst in aneighbouring borough the mayreceivenearly pound;1 per hour less. Also why are they allowed to set their ownrules? It seems to me it would be so much easier and fairer if we all had the same set of rules to follow.

DfE answers: The individual levels of funding in each local area are a matter for LAs to calculate. LAs should be consulting with a wide range of providers to ensure that the Government's commitment to supporting free nursery education through a diverse range of providers is a reality. If providers are unhappy they should continue to engage constructively with their LA to ensure a clear understanding of the true cost of provision

Q: Can the DfE confirm that it is the teacher's choice how heshe conducts the plenary and that there is no prescribed format or prescribed duration? Can the DfE confirm that the teacher's choice should be based upon the maximisation of pupil progression and not upon application of prescribed top down methodologies or techniques?

DfEanswers: Our guidance is that teachers should manage the learning of individuals, groups and whole classes effectively, modifying their teaching appropriately to suit the stage of the lesson and the needs of the learners. There is no prescribed format or length of plenary.

Q: Can the dept confirm that there is NOT a prescribed methodology for teaching MFL? E.g. teachers do NOT have to present new language using images.

DfEanswers: There is currently no prescribed methodology. We suggest that teachers follow these guidelines:

Learning another language presents opportunities for the reinforcement of knowledge, skills and understanding developed in other curriculum areas.

These opportunities can be exploited through:


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