Weekly highlights: Funding gaps and mental health

A round-up of the key content published by Tes this week, from announcements about academies to Covid's impact on EYFS

Tes Reporter

Tes weekly highlights: Academy growth, school funding and teacher mental health

News

Academies have featured heavily in the news this week, after education secretary Gavin Williamson said that the government's vision is for all schools to become part of multi-academy trusts. Under new plans, schools would be given a “trial run” before joining a MAT. Mr Williamson said that those schools receiving a “requires improvement” rating from Ofsted inspection three times in a row would need to move to MATs.

More than a third of headteachers are using pupil premium funding to plug gaps in school budgets, research suggests. A budget of £1.8 billion for building improvements has been announced by the government, but this follows significant cuts to the wider school capital budget, which fell by more than £500 million last year.

The Department for Education has been urged to avoid another 2020-style exam debacle, which saw confidence in GCSEs fall dramatically. Exams regulator Ofqual confirmed that all schools will need to submit samples of students' work as evidence for this year's GCSE and A-level grades – while saying it is “conscious” of teacher workload.  

On catch-up plans, we reported that more than half of pupils enrolled on the government's tutoring scheme were yet to start their sessions, an issue also highlighted by the NAHT school leaders' union. The head of Oak National Academy warned that the proportion of government-funded catch-up tutoring going to the poorest pupils was "not high enough”.

And while plans for Covid recovery will be published before the summer, England’s children’s commissioner told teachers not to panic over pupils’ lost learning.  

We also learned that a requirement to wear masks in secondary school classrooms will be lifted in mid-May if Covid data allows it, and a new resource to combat anti-vaxxer ideas at school has been published this week and is available to schools for free. You can catch-up with all of these stories and more at tes.com/news

Features

How has Covid impacted on early years education? A new report by researchers from the University of York, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and the Education Policy Policy Institute sheds light on the key areas of concern for EYFS teachers when schools returned in the autumn, including speech, focus and behaviour.

Getting pupils to think about their thinking can have a huge impact on learning, explains Dr Kirstin Mulholland, and there are simple ways to introduce metacognition into classes without increasing workload. 

As schools attempt to get back to some sort of normality, leaders at a pupil referral unit say they are seeing increased referrals and student behaviour that reflects the Covid disruption to education, including mixed feelings about the changes to GCSE grading.

Tes stalwart Mark Enser is a dungeon master in Dungeons and Dragons and head of a geography department – and the roles share more parallels than you might think, he says, explaining how leaders could learn from the role-playing game.

Teaching is often perceived as a stressful profession with a heavy workload that impacts on staff wellbeing. Now, new research – published first in Tes – gives detailed insights into the general levels of happiness and self-worth among those who work in education.

Ensuring equality of technology provision isn’t just about whether a child has a digital device and access to the internet – it’s also about whether they have the right kind of device for their age group and for the task their teacher has set, says Chris Parr.

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