Weekly highlights: Pupil premium row and times tables

A round-up of the key content published by Tes this week, from union conferences to edtech and teaching with the senses

Tes Reporter

Tes weekly highlights: Pupil premium funding, teacher union conferences and times tables


The Easter holidays have been dominated by news from teacher conferences so far: the NASUWT over the long weekend, and the largest NEU annual get-together (on Zoom this year) kicked off the latter half of the week. The NASUWT's call for masks guidance to continue into the new term appeared to be heard and acted upon: on Tuesday the Department for Education announced that secondary school students and staff would still be advised to wear face coverings in schools after the break. 

On Tuesday, Tes uncovered documents that show the government's budget for school Covid catch-up resources – including sequenced lessons, formative assessment and workbooks – has more than trebled. An updated procurement notice from the DfE, published at the beginning of this month and seen by Tes, shows that the value of the contract to provide "in-class curriculum resources" has increased significantly since it was first advertised in February, from £3.9 million to a maximum of £15 million.

Speaking of government funding, the Tes news team covered the DfE’s unveiling of the first 22 lead schools for its new £10 million behaviour hub programme on Wednesday. The named high-performing schools and multi-academy trusts will work to help drive improvement with schools struggling with poor discipline via peer mentoring, training and support. Launching the scheme, education secretary Gavin Williamson said the DfE will also consult on "how we can help heads remove phones from the school day". He said: “I firmly believe that mobile phones should not be used or seen during the school day, and will be backing headteachers who implement such policies."

Back at the union conferences, teachers voted to campaign for the scrapping of Ofsted, and backed the NEU union to push for a 7 per cent pay rise in 2021 with the threat of industrial action on the cards if its demands are not met. The NEU released a survey on Thursday showing that more than a third of teachers are "confident" they will not be working in education in five years’ time. Many schools will be hoping the Covid recruitment boost to the teaching profession will counterbalance the ongoing retention struggle, after Ucas released figures revealing that teacher training applications surged by 17 per cent in 2020.

As part of our ongoing coverage of the pupil premium funding row, the Tes news team exclusively revealed that three major academy trusts estimate that upwards of 1,500 disadvantaged pupils at their schools are set to lose out as a result of what has been called a "stealth" cut to government funding.

You can find all of these stories and much more coverage of news that matters to teachers and schools here.


What’s your favourite times table? On this week’s Magazine Debrief Podcast, we discuss the best way to teach multiplication and share our favourite sums. We also cover the pandemic’s edtech gains, overcoming personal speaking nerves, and Bear Grylls’ school days. 

Last week the government announced a major overhaul to the way pupil premium funding is awarded, but what does it mean for you and your school? And is it worth the extra paperwork? Dan Worth explains everything you need to know.

Since March 2020, school leaders have been forced to improve their schools’ digital capabilities at an astonishing pace. Luckily, the EdTech Demonstrator Programme was on hand to help. This week we went behind the scenes with the scheme that helped to train 10,000 teachers, and asked what the future holds for edtech. 

The market for PE roles at international schools is fiercely competitive right now, says Philip Mathe. So how can you stand out in such a crowded field? Attention to detail and proper paperwork is crucial, he argues. 

Sight can be an effective way to help children develop language skills, but have you considered how the other senses can be used? Jess Gosling explains how using sound, texture, taste and smell has worked wonders for her pupils.

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