In case you missed it – updates in the Education sector

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DfE publishes Providing remote education: guidance for schools

On 30 March 2022, the Department for Education (DfE) published Providing remote education: guidance for schools (guidance).

The document provides non-statutory guidance to schools on maintaining their capabilities to deliver high-quality remote education, in cases where it is not possible or contrary to government guidance for some or all pupils to attend face-to-face education. It reminds schools of the importance of keeping children safe online.

The Department for Education has launched its Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy which includes the launch of a new natural History GCSE

On 21 April 2022, the Department for Education (DfE) set out its Sustainability and Climate Strategy including the aim to introduce a new GCSE in natural history from September 2025.

The strategy confirms the government’s plans to accelerate the rollout of carbon literacy training to support every locally maintained nursery, school, college and university with a sustainability lead.

More training has been promised to advance the teaching of climate change alongside new incentives for pupils and young people to learn more about the natural world and climate change.

Incentives include the introduction of the National Education Nature Park and the Climate Leaders Award.

DfE publishes response to consultation on measures to improve consistency of school attendance support and guidance on improving school attendance

On 6 May 2022, the Department for Education (DfE) published its response to its consultation on proposals to improve school attendance support and management.

The DfE also published Working together to improve school attendance, non-statutory guidance for schools, academies and local authorities on how to maintain high levels of school attendance. It also covers roles and responsibilities of schools, parents and local authorities, and the available legal interventions for dealing with poor attendance.

The new guidance will apply from September 2022.

DfE publishes draft School Admission Appeals Code 2022

On 16 June 2022, the Department for Education (DfE) published a draft of the School Admission Appeals Code 2022 (2022 Code).

The 2022 Code has statutory status, applies to admission appeals for all maintained schools and academy schools in England, and should be read alongside the School Admissions (Appeal Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/9) and the School Admissions Code, among other guidance. If Parliament approves the 2022 Code, it will come into force on 1 October 2022 and will apply to all appeals lodged on or after this date. Until then the 2012 Code remains in force.

It progresses with the proposal to allow the option of holding appeals by video conference, as well as in person, or a “hybrid” combination of the two (at paragraph 2.11, 2022 Code). In addition, hearings by telephone will be permitted in certain circumstances.

It does not progress with the proposal to allow appeal hearings to continue with two-panel members after the third-panel member needs to withdraw.  In that situation, the hearing must be postponed until the third-panel member returns; if they do not return, a replacement panel member must be appointed and the appeal reheard (at paragraph 1.9).

DfE consults on draft regulations and guidance for keeping school registers and legal interventions in response to pupils’ school absence

On 17 June 2022, the Department for Education (DfE) published a consultation on new regulations for keeping school registers and draft thresholds of legal interventions. These proposals are incorporated in new regulations, the School Attendance (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2023 (2023 Regulations).

The 2023 Regulations would require accurate recording in the admission and attendance registers, and also a timely flow of pupil level attendance data between schools, trusts, local authorities and the DfE. All schools would be required to keep admission and attendance registers electronically and there would be no need for manual inputting of the information by schools.

The 2023 Regulations would revoke and replace the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/1751).

The consultation also seeks views on a new national framework for the use of legal intervention in accordance with section 6 of the DfE’s Working together to improve school attendance: Guidance for maintained schools, academies, independent schools, and local authorities which applies from September 2022.

The new proposals will introduce national thresholds at which fixed penalty notices must be considered by local authorities in response to parents’ failure to secure their child’s regular attendance at school.

The consultation closes on 29 July 2022.

Coasting Schools (England) Regulations 2022 laid before Parliament setting out intervention powers to help underperforming schools

On 30 June 2022, the Department for Education (DfE) announced that it had laid the Coasting Schools (England) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/720) (Regulations) before Parliament, which will come into force on 1 September 2022.

The Regulations build on the Schools White Paper, Schools Bill 2022-23, the government’s recent policy plan on school reform and the role of strong multi-academy trusts to improve school performance in England.

The Regulations will enable schools with two or more consecutive Ofsted ratings which are below “Good” to be paired with a strong multi-academy trust to support their improvement.

At present, only schools with “Inadequate” ratings can be the focus of this kind of intervention, but the Regulations will now mean that those with a “Requires Improvement” rating from 1 May 2021 will also be covered.

The Regulations also revoke the Coasting Schools (England) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/9).

The Department for Education has launched a consultation on the use of unregistered alternative provision

On 11 July 2022, the Department for Education opened a consultation to better understand unregistered alternative provisions in practice.

The consultation came just days after the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s focus report on alternative education provision.

The consultation closes on 30 September 2022.

Please contact Tony McPhillips on 0191 211 7908 or email [email protected] or anyone from our Education team for help or advice in this area.