On 21 September 2022, we had the pleasure of hosting a Whitehall & Industry Group (WIG) lunchtime briefing, delivered by the Director General for the DfE’s Strategy Group, Julia Kinniburgh.
Having previously been responsible for COVID-19 Response and Schools Recovery, Ms. Kinniburgh explained how the DfE aimed throughout the pandemic to keep as many children and young people in school and learning as practically possible. The focus has now shifted to future departmental strategies which continue to aspire for high standards of education.
We know all too well how the unprecedented impact and uncertainty caused by the pandemic brought new challenges to the sector, requiring greater agility and higher stakes results than ever.
The DfE implemented COVID-19 testing involving digital solutions, utilising the army and organisations to enable every child to be tested by 5 January 2021. 30% of all tests that were carried out took place within schools, with the DfE receiving feedback on increases of confidence evidenced by their speed to respond.
Further schemes were rolled out to help protect children which included ventilation schemes, focussing on circulating fresh air through school buildings assisted by Co2 monitors, as well as the DfE’s promotion of their support for vaccination schemes across schools. All these projects enabled children, where and when possible, to remain in schools and made the priority of their health and safety paramount.
It was reported across primary education that whilst the pandemic had pushed back maths and writing skills, reading skills had increased nationally. Success was credited to the Oak National Academy, which set to improve home learning and assist with teaching. Improving accessibility to technology was a further target the DfE wanted to achieve, successfully issuing 1.35 million laptops and tablets to schools.
It was crucial when schools resurfaced after COVID-19 that the DfE’s strategy prioritised the delivery of an effective recovery programme. This was achieved by the focus on school intervention, personal tutoring specifically provided by the state, increasing taught hours for 16-19 years from September 2022, and finally a focus on extra funding to ensure the development of “superb teachers”.
Ms. Kinniburgh reiterated that a drive for educational excellence is still the DfE’s priority, with further focus on improving the quality of schools being backed by the new Secretary of State, Kit Malthouse, who is keen to develop education as a national success story. She also highlighted that we have seen academic testing developments within the sector including the introduction of T-Levels and the drive for apprenticeships to be more widely promoted and accessible.
Regardless of the outcome of ballots on industrial action, unless there is drastic change to funding for schools in relation to pay increases, it will be unusual to find any organisational budget that is not impacted by the current economic situation.
There’s been little evidence of interventions or financial management reviews this year and it appears the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has re-focussed on financial delivery. It’s also telling that there were no discernible changes to the reporting of financial irregularities in the Academies Trust Handbook 2022.
The Children’s Commissioner, Rachel De Souza, has recently published a report “Beyond the labels: a SEND system which works for every child, every time”, which she intends to sit alongside the DfE’s SEND Review (2019) and SEND Green Paper (2022) and which she hopes will put children’s voices at the heart of the government’s review of SEND system.
As well as providing day-to-day support to help you focus on managing your settings, we also provide training and professional development on a range of topics to keep you and your staff up-to-date.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHCR) recently issued new, non-statutory guidance regarding the wearing of natural or protective hairstyles, specifically in reference to their representation in uniform, behaviour or standalone appearance policies.
Emma Hughes, head of HR services at Browne Jacobson, explains how CST’s updated executive pay report and the linked benchmarking service from XpertHR can help trust boards make robust decisions on pay.
There’s greater opportunity than ever for parents, carers and guardians to voice any concerns they have relating to their child’s education and for their concerns to be heard and to be taken seriously. While most staff in schools and academies are conscious of their legal duties relating to complaints management, many are struggling to cope with such a significant increase in the volume of complaints they must manage.
This guidance has been prepared to support academy trusts (Trusts) who want to hold a fully virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) or a hybrid AGM, as we know that Trusts may want to be prepared for future disruption as well as having a general interest in holding more meetings virtually. The guidance also applies to other meetings of the Members (known as General Meetings).
We’re pleased to collaborate with Lloyds Bank, who recently asked us and audit and risk specialists Crowe UK to offer guidance that academy trusts would find helpful when considering setting up a trading subsidiary.
The DfE has published new guidance and opened the application process for window two of the Trust Capacity Fund (TCaF) for 2022/2023, with a fund of £86m in trust capacity funding focused particularly on education investment areas.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was established in March 2015. We now have its report. As you would expect with such a broad scope, the report is long and makes a number of far-reaching recommendations. In this article, Dai Durbridge highlights seven of the 20 recommendations, sets out how they could impact on schools and suggests what steps to take now.
Browne Jacobson’s education team has been named as winner of the ‘Legal Advisors to Education Institutions’ category at the Education Investor Awards 2022 for a record sixth time.
Since the new Suspensions and Exclusions Statutory Guidance was published, we have received a lot of questions about the use of managed moves. For the first time, the Statutory Guidance does explain what a managed move is, but in relatively broad terms and does not cover the mechanics of how a managed move should operate.
Over 3000 young people from across the UK and Ireland took part in a virtual legal careers insight event, aimed at making the legal profession more diverse.
Holly Quirk, an associate barrister in Browne Jacobson’s Manchester office, was awarded the Legal Professional of the Year Award at this year’s Manchester Young Talent Awards.
The risk of assault against staff is, sadly, something that all schools need to consider carefully. Here one legal expert explains what they can do to protect staff and ensure they fulfil their duty of care.
Two directors of a construction company were fined after failing to ensure the safe removal of asbestos from a plot of land. On 14 and 15 November 2021, Directors Anthony Sumner and Neil Brown, of Waterbarn Limited were involved in the uncontrolled removal of asbestos material from a plot of land in Grasscroft, Oldham.
An engineering company in Tyne and Wear was fined £20,000 after a worker fractured his pelvis and suffered internal injuries after falling through a petrol station forecourt canopy, whilst he was replacing the guttering.
Browne Jacobson’s education team has again been confirmed as a national powerhouse after securing five Tier 1 rankings relating to Education in the latest edition of Legal 500 and maintaining a Band 1 UK-wide ranking for Education in Chambers & Partners UK 2023.