Weekly highlights: Ofsted, online exams and handwriting

A round-up of the key content on Tes this week, from safeguarding investigations to teacher-assessed grades and developing maths confidence

Tes Reporter

pupil writing

News round-up

As schools slow down and teachers look forward to a well-earned break over Easter, the Tes news team has been reporting on what’s likely to occupy their planning as they head into the summer term. 

Ofsted announced that it plans to inspect schools and colleges on site next term “to provide reassurance about how well children and learners are catching up” – but they would be carried out with a “lighter touch” as full graded inspections will not begin until September. However, teachers have expressed concern at plans to return to normal inspections from the 2021 autumn term, saying they will create "unnecessary pressure" and be a “hindrance” for teachers.

The role of the watchdog’s post-Easter inspection was given extra weight later in the week after the government has asked it to investigate safeguarding policies in both state and independent schools as part of an "immediate" review into sexual abuse in schools. The move came after the children’s commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza called for Ofsted to have a greater focus on school safeguarding in its "light-touch" inspections after Easter amid  "rape culture" concerns following thousands of allegations of peer-to-peer sex abuse were received by the Everyone’s Invited website, many of them involving students who attend private schools.

On Tuesday the Department for Education set out how it wants schools to spend £200 million of funding aimed at running summer schools as part of pandemic catch-up. We looked at the plans to set out what information is available so far on key questions such as who the summer schools are for, how will they be staffed, and how much funding will be available to individual schools.

We also revealed this week that the work needed to allow GCSEs and A levels to make the big switch away from pen and paper to online exams is already well underway, with all three big school exam boards in England conducting significant research into digital exams and assessment. This story is part of an exclusive news and analysis series on the switch to digital exams launched by the Tes news team at the end of last week – you can catch-up with this must-read series on the future of exams and its implications for teachers and schools on the Tes news home page, as well as staying tuned to breaking news as we cover a major teaching union conference over the Easter weekend.

Features round-up

It’s a moment many parents dread: when their child comes to them seeking help with complicated maths homework. On this week’s Magazine Debrief podcast we discussed how teachers can help number-phobic parents conquer maths, as well as time limits on exams, nudge theory for teachers and spotting girls with ADHD. 

Online safety has become even more troubling over lockdown, as children spend far more time away from adults. But how do you teach SEND children to stay safe online when digital tools are often a vital form of communication? Mark Harrington has some practical tips for teachers.

With Ramadan just around the corner, Marym Elagha has some advice for schools on supporting their Muslim students, staff and parents during the holy month.

Alan Turing is most famous as a wartime code-breaker, but did you know he also came up with a theory to explain how a leopard gets its spots? Here’s how Sheffield University researchers are using his work to teach primary children about patterns in nature.

This year GCSEs, A Levels and other qualifications will be awarded using teacher-assessment - but how much do you know about the dos and don’ts? Here’s everything we’ve gleaned from the guidance so far.

What exactly do we mean when we talk about formative assessment? The answer might be more complicated than you think. We spoke to one of the UK’s top experts on the subject during this year’s World Education Summit - here’s what she had to say.

Chris Parr takes a look at what’s been happening to children’s handwriting in lockdown - why it’s important and how we might be able to fix it.

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