Will it be a year of cheer, fear or tears for teachers?

31st August 2012 at 01:00
We take a look at what lies ahead for education in 2012-13

As teachers prepare for their first day back at school next week, they can expect another eventful academic year, including significant changes to Ofsted and important debates on the future of exams and the national curriculum. Forewarned is forearmed, so here TES reveals what is on the horizon.


The first term of the 2012-13 academic year should deliver details about what could be a landmark reform for education secretary Michael Gove: the overhaul of GCSEs. Leaked reports earlier this year said that he wanted to introduce "rigorous" O level-style exams, but an in-depth explanation of how this will work has not yet materialised. The row over this summer's GCSE marks could have an impact on any suggestion that the new system should decrease grades further.

Alongside planned changes to exams, details of a new secondary national curriculum are also expected. Government insiders have told TES that it will be stripped down to give teachers "extreme freedom".

A full public consultation on the proposed primary curriculum is due by the end of the year, with teachers already arguing that the draft version published by the government is too prescriptive.

A major change preoccupying many teachers will be the introduction of the new Ofsted inspection framework. To be judged "outstanding", schools will be required to deliver outstanding teaching. The "satisfactory" rating will be replaced with "requires improvement", while "notice to improve" will be replaced with "serious weaknesses".

A significant overhaul of teachers' pay is also on the cards, threatening national pay deals. The School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) is due to report back to the Department for Education this term about controversial plans to introduce regional pay for teachers.

"We are concerned that the STRB may recommend increasing pay flexibilities, which will significantly undermine the national pay and conditions framework," said Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union.

Issues surrounding teachers' pensions have not disappeared. Unions will start discussions with the DfE this term about contribution levels for 2013 and 2014, and about designing a new pension scheme to start in 2015. And the fallout over changes to pensions - which have already sparked industrial action - will continue. The NUT and the NASUWT look set to take joint action over pensions, pay and working conditions, possibly as soon as next month.

New regulations on teacher appraisal and new standards for teachers will also come into effect, upping the ante yet further between the government and the unions.

Among new responsibilities for schools this term is the provision of "independent and impartial" advice to pupils on the full range of post-16 options, including apprenticeships and other vocational courses.

Schools can expect to find out how much capital funding they will have to spend in 2013-14 (hint: it won't be much) and the level of pupil premium funding for the same academic year. Information on how teachers are using the pupil premium will be posted online for the first time.

"The pupil premium has been valuable money and we hope to continue to see it developed," said Steve Iredale, president of the NAHT heads' union. "But we are concerned that the government will try to put a straitjacket around it, and that will be difficult for the profession to deal with."


It is always nice to start the calendar year with some knighthoods and damehoods for teachers in the New Year Honours. But, in more serious business, academies will find out how much funding they will have for 2013-14. Small schools have been more reluctant to become academies - TES is predicting growth in the number joining together in federations.

The annual round of teaching union and school leader association conferences will be held during March and April. Expect the usual fiery rhetoric and vows to take action against Gove and Co.

Meanwhile, it will be time to take stock of the revised framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage after its first full term. New arrangements for music education hubs - which have taken over music education from local authorities - should be fully up and running.


The new key stage 2 English spelling, punctuation and grammar test will be taken for the first time in May. The government hopes that it will lead to a stronger focus on teaching these skills in primary schools, although it has already proved controversial with teaching unions opposed to more external testing.

Children will not be the only ones tested on their English skills. People hoping to begin teacher training in September 2013 will have to pass skills tests in numeracy and literacy before starting their course. Many will be aiming to jump this hurdle by the summer, but the bar has been raised: the number of resits will be limited to two per subject.

And when it comes to GCSEs and A levels, will 2013 see a downturn in performance for a second year? Teachers will be under pressure to meet government "floor" standards, which will rise from the current 40 per cent of pupils achieving five good GCSEs including English and maths to 50 per cent in 2015.

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