Following the Conservatives’ election victory in December the new government will be able to implement their election manifesto in full.
Following the Conservatives’ election victory in December the new government will be able to implement their election manifesto in full. However, the manifesto gave little detail on the specific policies that would be implemented. Gavin Williamson retained his position as the Secretary of State for Education in the early February reshuffle, but there were changes to junior ministers with Lord Agnew replaced by Baroness Berridge who will now be responsible for academies, governance and funding.
We have heard little from the DfE so far so whilst we wait we wanted to look at what one of the key election themes may mean for education.
Throughout the election campaign Boris Johnson talked about ‘levelling up’ all areas of the country, with specific focus on parts of the north. It appears likely that ‘levelling up’ may become as well-worn a phrase as ‘Brexit’. From the little that has been said by the DfE it is likely that there will now be a renewed focus on free schools, potentially not just as an option for basic need (which is a given due to the academy presumption for new schools) but to seek to introduce an element of competition in areas where the government considers there needs to be challenge to the existing provision.
Whilst the pledge to increase minimum school per-pupil funding levels has been linked to the levelling up agenda, it’s clear that the government will need to go further if it is to have a real impact and a renewed pledge around the academies movement could be forthcoming. Dominic Cummings, the PM’s chief special adviser, was previously the special adviser to Michel Gove during the launch of the academies programme and is acknowledged as one of the architects of the system. Whilst the majority of secondary schools are now academies, the primary sector has often lagged behind on converting to become academies and it may be that there will be further funding incentives to encourage this. If the DfE were to use funding incentives then additional funding may also be made available for existing MATs to take on single academies or MATS to consolidate. Up until now though additional funding grants have not been enough to tempt some schools to become academies, so will Gavin Williamson look to use wider policy announcements to drive increased academisation? That said it appears unlikely that policies along the lines of the White Paper from 2017, which set the ambition for all schools to become academies, would be the chosen approach.
Last year the North East drew particular attention with the launch of the Opportunity North East, which mainly focused on secondary provision. It may be that the DfE policy initiatives are focussed geographically to support ‘levelling up’.
The DfE and individual RSCs have been increasingly encouraging consolidation of smaller MATs into larger ones, to enable better economies of scale and to reduce the size of the task on the DfE and RSCs to oversee so many individual institutions. This is likely to continue with the use of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ levers on individual MATs going forward, especially where there are concerns over funding and/or performance. If the DfE wants consolidation on a wider scale though, it will need to make this explicit to the sector as a whole and provide funding to support the process.
Following the Augar Review of post-18 education last year little, if anything, has been actioned. Whilst the majority of the media reports focused on the higher education funding proposals to cap student fees to £7,500 per year, much of the report’s recommendations focus on further education (FE) and adult learning provision and its acknowledged lack of funding and support. Almost 40% of 25-year olds do not have qualifications beyond GCSE and if social mobility and levelling up is to happen, the skills of the wider workforce will need considering. This is especially true in the wake of Brexit where a more restrictive immigration policy is likely to be brought in. This sits alongside the wider geo-political issues of transforming the economy to be net carbon neutral by 2050 and increasing automation which is predicted to result in fewer low skilled jobs being available. There’s a clear role for the FE sector here too, but will the government commit the funding and bold vision needed to really level up in all areas needed?
The phrase “time spent in reconnaissance is rarely wasted” seems apt. Executive leaders and governing boards will want to scan the horizon and identify direction of travel as part of the strategic planning for their own organisations. Occasionally, external input can help open up topics for discussion at planning events and we are able to provide a horizon scanning presentation to support discussions and help you scan the horizon and interpret the landscape.
If this is of interest please do speak to us.
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.
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.