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Research round-up 20 March 2018

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School funding pressures in England

This report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) looks at recent trends in school funding and school deficits – following up on previous EPI research last year on the implications of the National Funding Formula for schools and changes in real per pupil spending.

Key Points

  • Over the four years up to the end of the last financial year, the proportion of local authority maintained secondary schools in deficit nearly trebled – from 8.8 per cent in 2013-14 to 26.1 per cent in 2016-17.
  • In 2016-17, the proportion of primary schools in deficit increased significantly, to 7.1 per cent.
  • Around 2 in 5 state-funded mainstream schools (around 7,500 schools) are unlikely to receive sufficient additional funding in 2018-19 to meet the single cost pressure of a 1 per cent pay settlement.
    • This rises to nearly half in 2019-20 (close to 9,000 schools).
    • This is despite the announcement of extra funding in July 2017.
  • Expecting schools to meet the cost of annual pay increases from a combination of core government funding and their reserves does not, for many schools, look feasible even in the short term.
  • As around two-thirds of school spending is on education staff, schools are unlikely to be able to achieve the scale of savings necessary without also cutting staff.

About the data

  • For local authority maintained schools, EPI has a time series of seven years of publicly accessible data on their balances. This includes data for 13,404 local authority maintained primary schools and 1,136 local authority maintained secondary schools.

NAHT Courses: Academies and financial control


Completing the Revolution: Delivering on the promise of the 2014 National Curriculum

This report looks at the implementation of the 2014 National Curriculum (NC2014) in England.

Key Points

  • Quality: the materials used to deliver NC2014 are often not of a sufficiently high quality to guarantee a rigorous education. There can be a reliance on unregulated online resource banks where much of the content lacks the coherence of fully developed schemes of work.
  • Sustainability: Teachers appear to prefer free material designed by other teachers, which makes the development of a market in materials difficult.
  • Workload: The material teachers are using is often of low quality and not designed as part of a coherent curriculum; therefore teachers are still required to do substantial amounts of planning to make the material usable.


  • The government should seek to capitalise on the existence in England of a number of highly-successful and effective education organisations which are not currently creating coherent curriculum programmes
  • Expand the demand by routinely deploying high-quality coherent curriculum programmes in most schools.
  • Enhance and maintain quality by maintaining online resource catalogues, utilising funding for resource development and routinely investigate the efficacy of systems included in the catalogue.

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Teacher Voice Omnibus survey

In the summer of 2017, DfE submitted 34 questions for inclusion in the NFER’s Teacher Voice Omnibus survey, which explored teachers’ and senior leaders’ views on, and activities relating to a range of areas such as: teacher workload, poor behaviour and attendance, alternative provision, mental health, pupil premium and the new GCSEs. This report outlines the key findings from these questions.

Key Points

  • Leadership aspirations: More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of all those who responded to the question said that they did not aspire to become a head teacher; only about a fifth (22 per cent) planned on doing so at some point in the future.
  • Workload: Nearly a third of respondents (32 per cent) said their school had used the independent reports on marking, planning and resources and/or data management as a basis to review current policies with a view to reducing workload.
  • Mental health: More than four-fifths (84 per cent) of school leaders said there were insufficient places for pupils with mental health needs in their area.
  • PSHE/RSE: The vast majority (85 per cent) of senior leaders said that their school taught both PSHE and Relationships and Sex Education. When asked what type of support would enable their school to introduce mandatory PSHE and Relationships Education, around two-thirds (65 per cent) of senior leaders believed they would need teaching materials.
  • Assessment data: About half (51 per cent) of respondents said that their school collects and records data at the end of each term and two-fifths (43 per cent) said that they collect and record data more than once a term.
  • SEND: The majority (88 per cent) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘I feel equipped to identify pupils who are making less than expected progress and who may have a SEN or a disability’.
  • GCSEs: Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of secondary senior leaders said they were very confident or fairly confident they would be able to teach the new GCSEs from September 2017.


About the data

  • In total, 1,962 practising teachers from 1,619 schools in the maintained sector in England completed the survey. This is approximately 8% of the population in the target sample.


The early years workforce: a fragmented picture

The Education Policy Institute has published an analysis of the early years workforce in England. The analysis studies the latest publicly available data to build a detailed picture of the present day workforce. It examines staff composition, qualifications, pay and other trends at a provider, national and regional level, and assesses the implications of these findings for the future of early years provision.

Key Findings

  • There has been an increasing reliance on unpaid staff in the early years sector, raising questions about skills and qualifications. In reception classes, as many as 16% of staff are unpaid volunteers.
  • There has been an increasing reliance on unpaid staff in the early years sector, raising questions about skills and qualifications. In reception classes, as many as 16% of staff are unpaid volunteers.
  • Women account for 97% of teachers in pre-primary education in the UK. 
  • Almost half of highly qualified staff (level 6 and more) are aged over 40, with 21 per cent aged over 50 and approaching retirement in the next 10 to 15 years.
  • Career progression has slowed in the workforce – with less staff now working towards higher qualifications. In 2016, the proportion of staff not working towards a higher qualification stood at 79% for group-based providers, 82% for nursery schools, 83% for reception, and 92% for childminders. These findings reinforce the downward trend in qualifications levels. Such trends may be down to the increasing financial strains on the sector, increasing the cost of obtaining qualifications and lack of financial and status incentive to pursue higher qualifications.
  • The early years workforce suffers from comparatively low pay. On average, pre-primary teachers are paid less than tertiary-education workers, earning just 83% of their average salary in England.
  • While pay is low in general, it can range considerably from, on average, £8.30 for staff working in group-based providers, to £14.40 for nursery staff in school-based providers, to £15.10 for reception staff.


Are we listening? Review of children and young people’s mental health services

This report describes the findings of the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) independent review of the system of services that support children and young people’s mental health. It draws on evidence gathered from fieldwork in 10 health and wellbeing board areas in England.

Key Points

  • In every one of the 10 areas visited, examples of good or innovative practice were found.
  • The report highlights, however, a complex and disjointed system that produces disjointed support, where different parts of the system do not work together well.
  • The report details the symptoms of a system under pressure, from schools to the voluntary sector and to specialist child and adolescent mental health services.
  • Long waiting lists, inappropriately high eligibility criteria, and gaps in service provision all make it harder for children and young people to access the right support at the right time.
  • Decisions about funding or service provision in one part of the system have adverse, unintended consequences for other parts of the system, and can drive demand in emergency departments as children, young people, their parents, families and carers find they have to reach crisis point before they are able to get help.


  • Government, national bodies and regulators must unlock the solutions and actively enable better local collaboration, higher-quality care and support, and a more sustainable system.
  • Regional leaders must drive integration across the whole system, beyond the boundaries of health and social care, with a shared focus on improvement.
  • Local commissioners, providers and staff can lead improvement by learning from the good practice and innovation found across the country.

NAHT Courses: Developing your school's mental health provision

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