Weekly round-up: Pay freeze, Direct Instruction, drones

A round-up of the key content on Tes this week, including concerns over teacher pay and the value of Direct Instruction

Tes Reporter

Tes weekly highlights: Teacher pay freeze, Direct Instruction, the World Education Summit, GCSE and A-level grading and Covid figures


The week in education, news impacting on teachers and schools in England started with a warning from influential think tank the NFER that freezing teacher pay beyond the next year could "work against" the Covid recruitment boom and "risk prompting" a supply challenge post-pandemic.

Sticking with the recruitment theme, later in the week, the Department for Education published its new Early Career Framework guidance for schools, which will be implemented from September this year.

It revealed that there will be no minimum experience required for early-career mentors – besides being qualified teachers, despite a warning earlier in the week from the head of the government's controversial initial teacher training (ITT) market review, Ian Bauckham (who is also chief executive of the Tenax Schools Trust, acting chair of Ofqual and chair of Oak National Academy), that providing mentoring is "not necessarily" the "right role" for teachers early on in their career.

Meanwhile, we also learned that schools are still struggling to keep classrooms open amid the ongoing Covid pandemic. On Tuesday, official statistics showed that there had been a fourfold rise in pupils self-isolating after potential Covid contact in school – up to 127,000 – after one week back.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that he recognised that the coronavirus crisis had caused an "absolutely unimaginable year" for "everybody in education", and that education is the "biggest priority" for the country as it emerges from the pandemic, arguing that "loss of learning" is "the thing we've got to focus on now as a society".

The immediate impact is being felt most obviously by those staff who face grading GCSEs and A levels this summer, and new guidance from the exams regulator Ofqual was published on Wednesday aimed at assisting teachers and schools gearing up for this second year of awarding grades in the absence of exams.

The Tes news team covered many aspects of the guidance – you can see a summary briefing here, which includes links to more in-depth coverage of the specific issues.

Lastly, the Commons Education Select Committee immediately reacted to the guidance by writing to education secretary Gavin Williamson to warn of "chaos" and "Wild West" grading for this summer's A levels and GCSEs.

In the letter, Robert Halfon, chair of the committee, writes: "We have a real fear that the package of measures being proposed, as it stands, risks much higher grade inflation happening this summer, possibly well beyond what was seen last August.

This is just a taster of the key news stories for this week – to see all of our coverage of these issues and much more, check out the main news site here.


This week saw the World Education Summit take place with a raft of high-profile speakers taking part, discussing the future challenges and opportunities across education. Tes was the media partner for the event and so covered many of these talks in detail.

The event kicked off with Visible Learning author Professor John Hattie discussing why it is so important that education gets better at learning transfer – taking skills learned in one context and applying them in another – and moves on from too narrow a focus on "surface learning".

Elsewhere, Paul Kirschner, emeritus professor of educational psychology at the Open University of the Netherlands, outlined why the concept of Direct Instruction is not "just for dinosaurs" and actually the pandemic has shown its merit as a teaching tactic.

Another thought-provoking talk covered by the Tes team was given by Professor Guy Claxton, cognitive scientist and education author, who outlined some of the myths that he believes are holding back education's growth – including being too focused on seeing "facts" as learning.

And in a special episode of the Tes Podagogy series, Professor Rob Coe offered his insights on how teachers can best set about identifying the "knowledge gaps" children may have because of the pandemic – and why this matters so much.

Away from the summit, we also heard from a teacher who used a drone at her school's sports day to live stream the event to parents watching from home – and how other schools could give this a go, while a senior leader explained why she is offering webinars to parents about her school's pedagogical approaches.

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