Your Weekly Sector News 03/05/24

Stay informed and prepared for what lies ahead in the world of education with Your Weekly Sector News. In this week’s edition, we explore new anti-terror advice, the impact of funding shortfalls, and plans to reform faith schools. 
boy pupil smiling at computer ICT lesson
Share Post:

Government releases new anti-terror advice for schools

The government has released new non-statutory guidance to help educational settings be better prepared and able to respond to terrorism and other major incidents. Schools are encouraged to make plans that deter terrorists looking for a target and mitigate against a wider range of threats, including antisocial behaviour, dangerous animals on site, and other criminality. The guidance suggests that changes can be ‘proportionate, low or no-cost’ to help keep people safer without causing additional burden to the workforce. 

Schools are encouraged to appoint a Security Lead, who is responsible for developing policies and plans that promote a good security culture. During a live incident, they will be responsible for making fast, clear decisions to get people to safety. However, the guidance emphasises that ‘all staff will need to play a vital role in responding to an incident.’ The guidance includes a number of protocols that staff are encouraged to familiarise themselves with, including See Check and Notify (SCaN), Hidden, Obvious, Typical (HOT), and Run, Hide, Tell. 

The guidance states that ‘most bomb threats are hoaxes designed to cause fear and disruption,’ however all bomb threat communications are a crime and therefore should be reported to the police. In the event of an incident, code words, signals, and other communication methods should be planned in advance. This will allow the school to communicate messages to staff without scaring learners. Schools should also compile grab kits filled with essential items that can assist during an incident, including first aid kits, communication equipment, and key information such as medication lists and site plans. Schools should have emergency evacuation plans in place, with adjustments for learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) ‘who may not be able to evacuate as quickly or as easily as others in an emergency.’ 

One Education’s Education Welfare & Safeguarding team can support you on the frontlines to ensure your safeguarding arrangements are nothing less than outstanding. Get in touch to find out more. 

Only 1% of school leader say they receive enough funding to meet pupils’ needs

NAHT, the largest school leaders’ union in England, recently asked its members about funding pressures ahead of the union’s annual conference taking place this weekend. In a survey of more than 1,000 school leaders, only 1% say they currently receive enough funding to meet the needs of all their pupils. 

Findings show that 95% of school leaders have had to raise income from sources like fundraising and charity grants to cover basic costs. 71% say they have had to raise funds for play equipment and 69% for extracurricular activities. Over half say they have had to raise funds to cover the costs of classroom materials, whilst 37% have had to raise funds for estate management and building repairs. Almost a quarter had to do this to cover staffing costs. 

Additionally, 43% say they have had to cut teachers or teaching hours over the last three years – another 55% worry they will have to do so. Sean Maher, headteacher at a secondary school in Kingston-upon-Thames, says that his school has already lost four teaching assistants and three teachers over the last two years, as well as cutting down on administrative staff. He explains that, as a result, ‘existing teachers have to take on more, sometimes we have to make changes to the curriculum which may mean it is not quite as broad and balanced […] these decisions are not in children’s best interests.’

Paul Whiteman, general secretary at NAHT, says that these findings reflect ‘the devastating impact of funding shortfalls upon schools across the country.’ He comments that funding has failed to keep pace with inflation and remains below 2010 levels in real terms. With the general election fast approaching, Whiteman urges the government to change course and invest properly in schools and children’s futures.

Government to lift the cap on faith school places

The government has announced plans to remove the cap on new faith-based schools, which stops them from selecting more than half of pupils on the grounds of religion. Ministers explain that the policy has failed to achieve high levels of diversity within faith schools and yet it continues to act as a disincentive for some high-quality faith school providers. For example, the Catholic Church believes that opening schools with the cap would cause them to breach canon law. However, Catholic schools and other faith schools are more likely to be judged ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Moreover, GCSE results for pupils in faith schools are higher than the national average and higher than in non-faith schools. Therefore, the government calls to remove the 50% cap in order to ‘maximise opportunities to create new good school places.’ 

This comes alongside proposals to create faith-based academies for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Currently, special academies and free schools can only operate with a “faith ethos.” However, some faith groups feel this does not give sufficient protection to the religious character of a school, which subsequently discourages them from establishing special academies. To create new places and improve existing provision, the government will allow special academies to apply for “faith character,” which gives them the freedom to make certain decisions based on religion, including religious education, collective worship, and staffing. But the government notes they will not have the freedom to admit pupils based on faith. 

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, says that ‘faith groups run some of the best schools in the country, including in some of the most disadvantaged areas, and it’s absolutely right we support them to unleash that potential even further.’ However, there has been criticism from secularist groups and leaders, such as Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK, who warns that these proposals will ‘increase religious and racial segregation in our schools at a time when integration and cohesion has never been more important.’

Our Educational Psychologists and SEND specialists can draw on theory, research and evidence-based practice to transform the life chances of children and young people. Reach out to learn how we can support you to promote inclusion and embrace diversity in the classroom.

With a unique understanding of the ever-changing nature of the education sector, One Education offers tailored solutions and strategic advice to empower your staff and pupils alike. Let’s work together to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

Get in touch today.

Enquiry Form

Please complete the form below and we will get in contact as soon as we can to help you with your query.

In other news

Login to your account

Search our website

Request a brochure

Please fill in your details below to receive our free brochure.

Sign up to our Newsletter

Please fill in your details below to sign up to our newsletter.

Request a call back

Please fill in your details below to receive a call back from a member of our team.