The NAHT's fortnightly e-newsletter for all our members 13 June 2013  
NAHT urges Gove to heed potential exam chaos warnings
NAHT regional roadshows are great success
A new college of teaching: add your voice to the debate
Ofqual review of exam marking is timely, says NAHT
Sign up for e-learning free trial and win an iPad
Family Action: NAHT's charity partner (2013-14)
Government launches "Troops to Teachers" programme
Ofqual survey on the cost of examininations
NAHT advice on NUT and NASUWT industrial action
Coverage of NAHT in the media
Conference - Youth Sport Trust workshop content confirmed
Upcoming courses
NAHT urges Gove to heed warnings of potential for exam chaos caused by rushed changes

The NAHT has welcomed the report into last year’s GCSE exam meltdown which calls on government to listen to the concerns of experts to avoid a repeat of the debacle.

The report, by an all-party select committee, flags up a range of issues that led to last year’s problems with GCSE English marking including the failure by government ministers to listen to the concerns of specialists at the early design stage of the exam.

As Mr Gove announced his plans for a replacement to GCSEs on 11 June, NAHT urged the secretary of state to heed the select committee’s advice to avoid the potential for future chaos in the UK exam system.

Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary, said: “We have seen the damage caused to the lives of young people when a key measure of assessment is undermined by uncertainty over its integrity. Many of the students who took last year’s English GCSE are still living with the fall-out of the mess caused by a disproportionate response to grading concerns. It must not happen again.”

Mr Hobby added: “Mr Gove’s announcements for a more rigorous exam to the existing GCSE contain merit and there are proposals that deserve closer scrutiny.

“But if we have all learned one thing from last year’s chaos, is it that we need to take time to get any new assessment system right. We need to listen to the specialists in the field when they tell us what will, and won’t, work. We need to get the profession inspired to deliver a vision that we all share and in which the public can have full confidence.

“The excuse we constantly hear, that Mr Gove has to hurry to implement change because our education system is in crisis, is not borne out by the facts. The education system in the UK is improving and is respected, although no one would deny that we should constantly aim even higher.

“Ultimately, we all want a highly-skilled, innovative, engaged workforce but you don’t get one by demoralising those delivering their education or by introducing rushed and narrow measurements of their achievements based on preconceived ideas."

You can browse the committee's report here.

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NAHT roadshows are great success

The NAHT roadshows got off to a flying start as 140 delegates arrived in Manchester on 6 June. This was followed by 251 delegates in York on 7 June and 199 in London on 12 June. NAHT speakers have been leading sessions on issues such as curriculum and accountability and academisation.

Following an introduction to the day by NAHT president Bernadette Hunter, Russell Hobby spoke of how school leaders need to be bold, take back control and do things differently. It was an inspirational speech that covered the issues facing school leaders and the support that the NAHT can offer. He also talked about new NAHT initiatives such as the Ofsted alternative ‘Instead’ and NAHT’s Aspire school improvement project that will help the association and its members take back ownership of standards.

Following Russell’s session the NAHT director of policy and campaigns, Kathy James, spoke in detail about the changes to teachers' pay that are coming into effect this year. She spoke about the difficulties inherent in putting a new pay policy in place but made sure that the delegates kept in mind the support that is available. Those attending the roadshow took away a copy of the association’s model pay policy, which is also now available on our website. Paul Whiteman, NAHT’s director of representation and advice, then took over from Kathy to take delegates through the changes they have to make and help them avoid the “pitfalls and bear traps.”

The afternoon began with the head of research and policy development, Lesley Gannon, discussing accountability – particularly Ofsted. She spoke about changes in underlying expectations of inspection and information for parents, focussing on performance management in Ofsted visits. She also talked about the variability of inspection teams, and how this had increasingly become an issue as more discretion is permitted. “Discretion is only a useful part of the process if those wielding it have sufficient knowledge to do so appropriately,” she said.

The afternoon session on academies was greeted with lots of interest, as Russell Hobby said he was certain that academies were here to stay, and likely to be coupled with decreasing resources and support available from local authorities. “Whether you are interested in academy status or not” he said, “prepare for a future where the only support outside your school is from other schools”. Lesley Gannon continued the session by saying it was important to consider the benefits of becoming an academy in each school's specific context. She went on to discuss the issue of forced academies, stressing that speed was of the essence and if schools thought they were going to be forced into becoming an academy to contact the NAHT as quickly as possible.

The day finished with a plenary session that provided the opportunity for delegates to ask the panel any questions about issues that concern them and also discuss the association's campaigns going forward.

Feedback from attendees as they left the roadshow was very positive. Allison Collis, of Chestnuts Primary in Milton Keynes said: “It’s been amazing with lots to think about and take away. It kind of supports the point that we never get enough time to read everything although you know you need to do this or that. As was said right at the beginning when everything gets changed you just can’t keep up with it.”

Trevor Smith, head teacher of Chapel en le Frith primary, was also pleased. “It’s been fantastically useful and I have a much clearer understanding of what I have to do with pay and appraisal.”

Jill Byrne from Newbarns Primary agreed it had been a most useful day. “It’s good to meet the executive in person and hear their responses to our concerns.” She added: “I think roadshows like this that give one the opportunity of asking questions in an open forum are most useful.”

If you would like to attend the roadshows the final two dates are in Birmingham on 18 June and Tiverton on the 19 June. There is still time to make a last minute booking so visit the NAHT website and book now.

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A new college of teaching: add your voice to the debate

In response to a request from members of the education community, the Prince's Teaching Institute is leading a committee of teachers and a commission of senior individuals to explore the idea of a new member-driven college of teaching.

This would see a new teacher-led organisation with the aim of recognising top teachers, enhancing their development and giving them a voice on professional practice.

The institute is keen to know what school leaders think and have created a a short online survey for you to submit your views - it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes complete.

There is more information available in the full discussion document on their website. Should you wish to provide a fuller opinion they are inviting written responses to the document by 31 July. These should be sent to, or to the postal address on their website.

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Ofqual review of exam marking is timely, says the NAHT

The NAHT has welcomed Ofqual’s review of the quality of examination marking as an attempt by the regulator to address public concerns about quality and consistency.

In reponse to the review Russell Hobby said: “Ofqual's review of the quality of examination marking is a reassuring example of the regulator’s desire to address public confidence in our assessment process.

“The investigation is timely given the extensive reforms to public examinations proposed by the government.”

Mr Hobby added: “The report does raise worrying concerns about current inconsistencies of practice between awarding organisations and in the take up of online marking applications. This does little to bolster confidence and NAHT trusts that this theme will be explored in the investigation and that appropriate recommendations ensue.”

You can read more about the Ofqual review here.

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Sign up for e-learning free trial and win an iPad

Members of the NAHT can sign up for a free trial of the Children’s Food Trust’s new online platform, Learning Network, with access to training that will help increase school food take up. Everyone who registers on the site before the end of July will be entered into a draw to win an iPad.

The upcoming announcement of the government’s new School Food Plan (which includes the re-introduction of cooking into the curriculum) keeps the pressure on schools to increase school meal take up, teach practical cooking and provide healthy, tasty school food.

As budgets and time are tight, its getting harder to release staff for training. The Learning Network allows you and your staff to access training without leaving the classroom, office, kitchen or home. It’s a cost effective way to develop staff and improve school food, without breaking the bank or having to source supply cover.

For a limited time only, the Children’s Food Trust is offering free access to the Learning Network, which aims to be a hub of information around healthy children’s food. The website contains e-learning training courses, webcasts on topical issues and a forum to share ideas with schools around the country.

The first training courses cover subjects such as how to increase free school meal take up, ways to involve parents and pupils in school food and practical low cost ideas to improve the dining experience. In the autumn we’ll also be adding training around teaching practical cooking.

The Trust is encouraging NAHT members to provide feedback on the training by completing an online survey. The first hundred people to do so will win a free 12 month membership to the Learning Network worth £108. From September 2013, new training courses and webcasts will be added and a membership fee will be charged.

Follow this link to register.

The Children’s Food Trust is the new name for the School Food Trust, an independent registered charity, and the Learning Network is supported by UFI Charitable Trust.

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Family Action: NAHT's charity partner (2013-14)

The NAHT has selected Family Action as the 2013-2014 President’s charity. The partnership was launched at this year’s annual conference by Bernadette Hunter, president, and Family Action's chief executive David Holmes.

The theme of the partnership is "school readiness" and throughout the year we will be supporting parents, pupils and teachers to work together to ensure young people get the very best from their time at school.

We all know that home life has a big impact on educational attainment, so if a child comes to school without having had a good night’s sleep, or if they are starting the day on an empty stomach this will have a negative effect on their ability to learn.

Through this partnership there will be a series of four leaflets encouraging parents to engage with their child’s learning and showing parents what they can be doing to support their children in collaboration with the school.

As well as this, schools, teachers and pupils will be encouraged to fundraise for Family Action throughout the year.

Find out more about how Family Action supports children's education here, or for more information about this partnership and how you can get involved email Cath Cole.

You should also look out for the first Family Action leaflet enclosed with the new issue of Leadership Focus magazine.

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Government launches "Troops to Teachers" programme

Former armed forces personnel without degrees will be fast-tracked into teaching in England under a new government programme. The Troops to Teachers scheme will help "highly skilled" former military personnel become teachers within two years.

Commenting on the launch of the programme, Russell Hobby said: “Ex-service personnel can make a big contribution to teaching and we would welcome anyone with the right skills and, particularly, the breadth of experience such a career brings.

“However the government's position on service personnel without degrees is inconsistent. We have been told constantly that subject knowledge and academic ability are essential pre-requisites for a teaching career; the government has even raised the bar on the degree class. We cannot see how this scheme fits such a model. It seems predicated on the notion that military service automatically makes someone a good teacher, whereas the reality is, some will make brilliant teachers and some won't.

“In the meantime we look forward to working with all talented entrants to teaching from all walks of life.”

Find out more about the programme on the DfE website.

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Ofqual survey on the cost of examininations

Ofqual's regulatory role includes an economic aspect and it is currently carrying out research on examination expenditure in schools and colleges. The purpose of the research is to:

  • Increase understanding of the drivers of expenditure and in particular what has caused expenditure to increase in recent years.
  • Identify whether improvements in procurement processes might secure efficiency savings for schools and colleges.

Part of the research involves a telephone survey of schools and colleges. Ofqual has commissioned Opinion Leader Research Ltd to undertake the survey. A pilot study has been completed and the main survey covering 500 centres across England and Northern Ireland is taking place in May/June 2013.

The survey consists of two questionnaires - one is aimed at staff responsible for recording and monitoring expenditure on examinations (such as school business managers or college finance directors); the other is aimed at staff responsible for qualification purchasing decisions (such as head teachers, heads of department or curriculum managers). Each telephone interview lasts approximately 20 minutes.

Your school or college may be contacted by Opinion Leader in the next few weeks on Ofqual's behalf and asked to participate in the survey. Please take the opportunity to influence this research by participating in the survey if your school or college is selected to take part.

If you would like to discuss the research further please contact David Saunders, Ofqual Markets Analyst on 02476 716727 or by emailing

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NAHT advice on NUT and NASUWT industrial action

Earlier in the year the NUT and NASUWT announced an escalation to their industrial action. The increased action in pursuit of their dispute with the government took the form of a continuation of action short of a strike and escalation of action short of a strike.

A rolling programme of local strikes is also beginning in the North West of England on 27 June. This is to be followed by a rolling programme of strike action into the autumn term. There will also be a one day “all out national strike” before the end of the autumn term if progress is not made to the satisfaction of the unions.

The NAHT's current advice related to the action is available here. Further guidance will also be published soon so please keep checking our website for updates and contact the association's representation and advice department if you have any questions.

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Coverage of NAHT in the media

This has been a phenomenally busy period for NAHT in the media with annual conference dominating the news agenda during the week 13-20 May.

In the lead up to conference, NAHT achieved a double page spread on NAHT Aspire in the TES 10 May issue. On the same day Russell Hobby was quoted on BBC Online on the topic of schools sitting the SPaG test for first time. He also featured on Meridian News and ITV's Daybreak speaking about this story. Russell was appearing on Daybreak with Toby Young.

Annual Conference opened with our story on the NAHT’s partnership with Family Action, new president Bernadette Hunter’s chosen charity for 2013-14. The story, on joint leaflets helping children to be ready for school, was reproduced in more than 175 local and regional publications alone, not including national coverage. This set the tone for conference where NAHT was consistently the top story for four days.

The key conference messages were on Instead, the NAHT’s alternative to Ofsted, the Leadership Compact, the launch of NAHT's new brand and our survey on parents’ views of sex education.

Key television and radio interviews over the conference weekend included:

  • Russell Hobby on Radio 4’s Today programme speaking on the shortage of head teachers on 17 May.
  • Russell Hobby speaking about Instead on ITV Daybreak on 17 May.
  • Bernadette Hunter on BBC Breakfast on conference issues on 18 May. Russell Hobby also appeared on the same programme in footage from conference that was broadcast alongside Bernadette’s live interview.
  • Director of policy and campaigns, Kathy James, on Sky on 18 May in advance of Michael Gove’s interview session with members. Kathy James was also on ITN on 18 May, speaking about the aftermath of Mr Gove’s interview.
  • ITN also broadcast several live broadcasts from conference including interviews with National Executive members Kenny Frederick, Sally Bates and Ian Bruce.
  • BBC News Channel reported from conference at several points during the weekend featuring interviews with Russell Hobby and members of the association.
  • Russell Hobby also appeared on BBC Breakfast on 19 May discussing the themes of his speech.
  • On Monday 20 May, policy advisor Sion Humphreys was interviewed by the BBC for a range of regional BBC stations on parents’ views on teaching the dangers of pornography in schools. Kathy James was also interviewed on this subject for the BBC News channel.

Many members were also interviewed for regional TV and radio in their areas. Amanda Hulme, Steve Watkins, Kenny Frederick, Tim Gallagher, Steve Iredale and Chris Harrison were particularly busy. We apologise for anyone missed off the list – we do know there were many NAHT members who were approached by reporters.

The NAHT trended on Twitter throughout the conference and overall media coverage in the national press for May made us the most quoted education union by far.

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Education conference - Youth Sport Trust workshop content confirmed

In the previous issue of Leadership Links we announced that the NAHT was working with the Youth Sport Trust to develop a new workshop for our 2013 education conferences that will help school leaders consider how best to use available funding. The workshop has now been confirmed as Ensuring a lasting legacy from London 2012, for all young people.

The workshop will support primary school leaders in understanding the new government investment into physical education and school sport (the "sport premium") its opportunities and accountabilities. Participants will gain an awareness of best practice in improving young people's outcomes through increased physical activity levels, improving physical education delivery and by increasing the quality of extra-curricular sport provision. They will also receive advice about how to source high quality support for sustainable development, including the importance of effective CPD for staff.

You can register to attend the 2013 education conference and particiapte in this exclusive workshop by visiting

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Upcoming courses

Improving employee performance – managing employee capability
London – 20 June

Sickness absence impacts on pupil outcomes, work colleagues and the school budget. Schools are under constant pressure to ensure value for money. Ofsted, in its inspection of teaching and learning, has a clear expectation that schools will address poor performance. This course enables delegates to consider a procedure, roles and responsibilities for the management of sickness absence and ill health in your school.

Performance related pay progression
London –3/4 July, 13/19/27 September
Birmingham - 21 June Manchester – 27 June

Schools will need to decide how teachers’ pay progression, related to their individual performance, will be determined in their school. This course will provide up-to-date information on the provisions of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document 2013, including effective dates for implementation of PRPP. You will receive guidance, insight and advice on best practice from an NAHT perspective; including decision making and policy development. There will also be consideration of other changes to teachers’ pay.

For our full range of courses or for bespoke consultancy and conference information, please visit the NAHT events home page.

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