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Accountability arrangements, FSMs and guidance for special schools

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A message from NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman to members


Accountability arrangements for 2020

Yesterday evening, the Department for Education (DfE) published a welcome update clarifying changes to accountability arrangements for summer 2020.

As we have been calling for, the government has made it clear that it "will not hold schools and colleges to account on the basis of exams and assessment data from summer 2020 and that data will not be used by others, such as Ofsted and local authorities, to hold schools and colleges to account."

This is a particularly important announcement for secondary colleagues because it allows them to focus on their schools and their students, and it enables teachers to determine centre-assessed grades objectively and free of external pressures.

What is now clear is that we need to think about the impact this huge disruption to education will have on the 2021-22 academic year and reassure schools that the use of performance data next year will fairly reflect that. This will be an important part of our conversations with the DfE going forwards.

Free school meals scheme

Understandably, there has been growing frustration this week with the national free school meal voucher scheme.

A significant number of you have told us about the problems experienced when trying to access the vouchers for your pupils

While we welcomed this scheme's introduction, clearly there have been significant issues with the roll-out, and this is having a real impact on those tasked with trying to make it work in their schools.

Over the last few days, we have been urging the DfE to work with the provider to address these issues; at the same time, we have been asking the department to make it clear that it won't leave any school out of pocket if it had to set up its own scheme instead.

We have been informed by the DfE today of the following:

  • The best email address for schools to use when contacting Edenred is freeschoolmeals@edenred.com. The phone line schools should use is 0333 400 5932. (The DfE told us this is a national rate, not a premium rate number)

  • The DfE is encouraging schools to use the national voucher scheme, which is fully-funded and free at the point of use. However, for schools who are using their own voucher scheme, because this is best for the families in their area, costs can be reimbursed through the schools' fund (up to the £15 per pupil per week limit and in line with the funding guidance issued this week). Please note, we are still seeking clarity about what is meant by schools not using the reimbursement scheme if they can 'add to their reserves' this year

  • Edenred has now reissued all e-codes.
Late update: guidance for special schools

As you know, we have been pushing the government for more specific advice for special schools. Today, the DfE told us that this should be available on its website over the Easter weekend. We will be reviewing the details of that guidance once it is available.

First published 09 April 2020