Government response to crisis predicted?

The Insight team’s article about the handling of the present emergency, written up in yesterday’s Sunday Times, must have made uncomfortable reading for some. However, a visitor to this blog this morning also reminded me of Dominic Cumming’s famous essay in the autumn of 2013 about the education system in England.

To quote just one paragraph:

The education of the majority even in rich countries is between awful and mediocre. A tiny number, less than 1 percent, are educated in the basics of how the ‘unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics’ provides the ‘language of nature’ and a foundation for our scientific civilisation and  only a small subset of that <1% then study trans-disciplinary issues concerning the understanding, prediction and control of complex nonlinear systems. Unavoidably, the level of one’s mathematical understanding imposes limits on the depth to which one can explore many subjects. For example, it is impossible to follow academic debates about IQ unless one knows roughly what ‘normal distribution’ and ‘standard deviation’ mean, and many political decisions, concerning issues such as risk, cannot be wisely taken without at least knowing of the existence of mathematical tools such as conditional probability. Only a few aspects of this problem will be mentioned.

I first used this in a blog post on the 13th October 2013. I especially wonder whether the comment that

…. and many political decisions, concerning issues such as risk, cannot be wisely taken without at least knowing of the existence of mathematical tools such as conditional probability …

Might have come home to roost as the present outbreak bites ever deeper into national life? Why, for instance, is the government not commissioning the BBC to create a single on-line learning tool instead of setting up a competing organisation? All it needed was to ensure the BBC used UK technology to create the platform rather than to waste scare resources when we should be saving every penny we can.

On the same subject, those that have viewed my LinkedIn page will know of the graph demonstrating TeachVac is still well ahead of the DfE vacancy site in terms of teaching posts on offer. Why waste school staff time uploading to the DfE site when we can offer a more comprehensive solution.

Indeed, as Chair of TeachVac’s parent company, I would be willing to approve a free feed to the DfE site for the summer term to show what can be done.

Schools will need to cut costs in the future, and recruitment is not one that they should be expecting to spend lots of money on from now onward. However, until there is a single site carrying most teaching vacancies, schools will still want to try other methods.

The full text of Dominic Cummings essay was located at:   http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/804396/some-thoughts-on-education-and-political.pdf

 

 

 

Are new graduate entrants to teaching still predominantly young, white and female?

In the Summer of 1996, I contributed an article to a special edition of Education Review – produced by the NUT’s (now the NEU) Education and Equal Opportunities Unit – this special issue was entitled ‘reasserting equal opportunities’ and my contribution was on the issue of equal opportunities in teacher training. I concluded that article by asking the question; “young, white and female, is this the picture of the average new entrant to the profession?” (Howson, 1996)

How much has changed since then? Is that picture of the new entrant still recognisable today? This question is especially interesting, as during the intervening two decades the undergraduate route into teaching has reduced almost to nothing for secondary trainees, and by a considerable margin for those wanting to train as a primary school teacher. At the same time, the various employment-based routes such as FastTrack and the GTP (graduate Teacher Programme) have come and gone, although Teach First has stayed the course and wasn’t in existence in the 1990s. School Direct as well as apprenticeships have appeared on the scene.

My original article used data from the middle of a recruitment cycle. For this comparative piece, I have chosen to look at either end of cycle data, or DfE data about the workforce, where comparable data about trainees no longer exists in the public domain.

The late 1990s were a period similar to 2019 with teacher training providers struggling to fill all the targets for training places set them by the then Teacher Training Agency (TTA) on behalf of the government’s Department for Education and Employment, as the DfE was then known. As I wrote in the 1996 article:

“Teacher Training is entering a period of rapid growth…. The challenge may be just to fill as many places as possible if graduate recruitment in the wider labour market remains buoyant. “ Howson, 1996, 36)

Such a comment could also easily have been made about the 2018/19 recruitment round.

The first criteria considered in the original article was that of the age of applicants. In 1997, as now, UCAS was responsible for managing the application process for graduate trainees into teaching. In those days it was through the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR), part of the UCAS Small Systems Department.  These days, the process is no longer handled by a separate department with its own Board and structure, but is part of the main UCAS system.

Although different age bands are now used for age groupings it is possible to consider three groups of applicants by age; those in their 20s, 30s, and 40 and above.

Table1: Percentage of Applicants to Postgraduate Teacher Training by Gender

1997 2019 Difference 2019 on 1997
Male Female Male Female Male Female
20s 23 52 21 47 -2 -5
30s 7 11 6 12 -1 1
40+ 2 5 5 9 3 4
Total 32 68 32 68 0 0

Source: GTTR Annual Report 1997 and UCAS Monthly data for September 2019 Report A

Interestingly, the profile of applicants is now older than it was in 1997. There has been a reduction in the share of applicants in their 20s, and an increase in the share of older applicants in their 40s or 50s. However, the change in profile might have been expect to have been in the other direction with the loss of many undergraduate training places meaning young would-be teachers might have been expected to seek a training place on graduation..

Nevertheless, because there are more applicants overall in 2019 than in 1997, there were more actual applicants from these younger age groups in 2018/19, but not enough to increase their share of the overall total of applicants.

There were some 9,159 applicants in the 20-22 age bracket out of a total of 33,612 applicants in 1997, but by 2019, the number had increased to 10.960 out of the total of 40,540 applicants.

How likely were applicants of different ages to be offered a place on a course?

In the 1997 group, there was a clear association of offers of a training place with the age group of the applicant

Table 2: Percentage of Age Groupings Offered a Place on a Postgraduate Teaching Course in 1997

Age-grouping Offers Applicants % offers
20-22 5857 9159 64%
23-24 4150 7071 59%
25-26 2599 4499 58%
27-28 1397 2576 54%
29-30 964 1865 52%
31-35 1807 3489 52%
36-40 1352 2598 52%
41-45 766 1480 52%
46-50 308 655 47%
50+ 97 155 63%
Total 19297 33547 58%

Source: GTTR Annual Report 1997

Altogether, around two thirds of the youngest and new graduates were offered a place compared with less than half of graduates in the 46-50 age-grouping. The percentage for the very small number of those over 50 seeking to train as a teacher suggests that many may have sought pre-selection before submitting a formal application to train.

Interestingly, by 2019, the same pattern of a decline in the percentage of applicants made an offer by increasing age group still held good. However   the percentage of applicants being made an offer was much higher, especially among the older age-groupings. For instance, although there was only a 14% increase in the percentage of the youngest group made an offer, the increase for those in their late 20s was around the 20% mark. However, the increase for applicants in their 40s was less at between 8-13%.

Table 3: Percentage of Age Groupings Offered a Place on a Postgraduate Teaching Course in 2019

Age -Grouping Offers total % offers
21 4240 5430 78%
22 4180 5530 76%
23 3320 4370 76%
24 2420 3280 74%
25-29 6600 9150 72%
30-39 4420 6950 64%
40+ 3470 5830 60%
Total 28650 40540 71%

Source: UCAS Monthly data for September 2019 Report A (Based upon total of applicants Placed; Conditionally Placed or Holding an offer – By September only 120 applicants were still holding an offer)

The changes in approaches to the teacher training landscape between 1997 and 2019, including the reduction of undergraduate places in both primary and secondary courses and the shift post-2010 to a more overtly school-led system, does not significantly seem to have altered the attitude to older applicants.

The case can be made that all age-groupings seem to have benefited from the change, but this would be to ignore the increase in demand for teachers in the period leading up to 2019, as the school population increased once again, firstly in the primary sector and more recently in the lower secondary years.

Sadly, it isn’t possible to identify trends in individual subjects at this point in time because UCAS no longer publishes a breakdown of applicants by subject, as was the case in 1997. The statistics are available for ‘applications’, but not for applicants, even at the macro level of the primary and secondary sectors. However, they are available for the regional level; a piece of data not provided in 1997.

Table 4: Percentage of Applicants Offered a Place 2019

Region Offers Total % Offers
North East 1540 2060 75%
Yorkshire & The Humber 3090 4160 74%
East Midlands 2370 3250 73%
West Midlands 3400 4700 72%
South West 2520 3500 72%
East of England 2950 4100 72%
South East 4050 5640 72%
North West 3730 5520 68%
London 4820 7630 63%
Total 28470 40560 70%

Source: UCAS Monthly data for September 2019 Report A (Based upon total of applicants Placed; Conditionally Placed or Holding an offer – By September only 120 applicants were still holding an offer)

This is not a precise measure, because it depends upon a number of different variables, including the pattern of applications across the year and the available number of different places in each secondary subject and in the primary sector there were to be filled in each region. However, since most secondary subjects did not have recruitment controls in places during the 2018/19 recruitment round, the latter concern may be less important as a factor than the former.

It is worth noting that London, the region with the greatest demand for new teachers from both the state and private sector schools, had the lowest offer ratio to applicants of any region in the country. By way of contrast, the North East, where vacancies are probably at much lower levels, had the highest percentage of applicants offered a place. One reason for this may be that the graduate labour market in London is much better developed than in the North East. As a result, applicants to teaching may be of a higher quality in the North East than in London, where there are more opportunities for new graduates to secure work. More applicants in the North East may also apply earlier when courses still have vacancies. However, this has to be just speculation.

The third aspect of the original article dealt with the race of applicants to teacher training. In 1997, UCAS produced excellent data about applicants and their declared ethnic backgrounds. In the 2018/19 monthly data from UCAS there is no information about this aspect of applicants. In some ways this is understandable, since the population is much more complex in nature now than it was even 20 years ago. There are more graduates that have family backgrounds that would lead them to identify as of more than one grouping. However, this lack of regular data does mean that it isn’t easily possible to determine whether all applicants are treated equally.

In the 1996 article, I wrote that:

“It is clear that members of some ethnic groups are less likely to find places on PGCE courses than white applicants.” I added that “These figures are alarming” and that “If graduates with appropriate degrees are being denied places on teacher training courses in such numbers, much more needs to be known about the reasons why.” During the period 2008-2011, I was asked to conduct two, unpublished, studies for the government agency responsible for training teachers (Howson, 2008, 2011). Sadly, the conclusion of both studies was that little had changed in this respect.

Fortunately, it seems as if more graduates form ethnic minority groups are now entering teaching. Data from the government’s annual census of teacher training reveals that between 2014/15 and 2018/19 the percentage of trainees from a minority ethnic group increased from 13% to 19% of the total cohort.

Table 5: Minority Ethnic Groups as a Percentage of Postgraduate Trainees

Postgraduate new entrants Postgraduate percentages
Trainee Cohort Total Minority ethnic group Non-minority ethnic group  Minority ethnic group Non-minority ethnic group
2014/15 24893 3178 21715 13% 87%
2015/16 26957 3873 23084 14% 86%
2016/17 25733 3753 21980 15% 85%
2017/18 26401 4113 22288 16% 84%
2018/19 27742 4917 22825 18% 82%
2019/20p 27675 5168 22507 19% 81%

Source: DfE Initial Teacher Training Censuses

In numeric terms, this mean an increase of some 2,000 trainees from ethnic minority backgrounds during this period.

Although UCAS no longer provides in-year data about ethnicity of applicants, there is some data in their end of year reporting about the level of acceptances for different ethnic groups.

In the 1996 article, there was a Table showing the percentage of unplaced applicants to PGCE courses by ethnic groups in the three recruitment rounds from 1993 to 1995. What is striking about both that table, and the table below for the four years between 2014-2017 that presents the data on the percentages of ethnic groups accepted rather than unplaced, is that in both of the tables, graduates from the Black ethnic group fare less well than do White or Asian applicants. Indeed, the overwhelmingly large White group of applicants had the lowest percentage of unplaced applicants in the 1990s, and the highest rate of placed applicants in the four years from 2014-2017.

In the original article I noted that “39% of the Black Caribbean group [of applicants] accepted were offered places at three of the 85 institutions that received applications form members of this ethnic group. Thirty-nine out of the 85 institutions accepted none of the applicants from this group that applied to them.” Although we no longer have the fine grain detail of sub-groups within this ethnic grouping, nothing seems to have significantly changed during the intervening period.

Table 6: Percentage Rate of Acceptances for Postgraduate trainee Teachers

2014 2015 2016 2017
Asian 39 47 44 48
Black 27 34 30 35
Mixed 49 56 51 55
White 56 64 61 64
Other 31 38 37 39
Unknown 46 53 48 52

Source: UCAS End of Cycle reports.

Using the data from the government performance tables for postgraduate trainees, it seems that a smaller percentage of trainees from ethnic minorities received QTS at the standard time when compared to those from the non-minority community, with the percentages of those trainees both not awarded or not yet completing being greater for the trainees from the minority ethnic groups.

Table 7: Success of Postgraduate Trainee Teachers by Ethnicity

2017/18   Trainees Percentage awarded QTS Percentage yet to complete Percentage not awarded QTS Teaching in a state school Percentage of those awarded QTS teaching in a state school
Ethnicity Minority 4,311 88% 6% 6%  3,014 80%
Non-minority 22,861 92% 3% 4%  17,022 81%
Unknown 706 90% 4% 6%  503 79%

Source: DfE database of trainee teachers and providers and school Workforce Census

However, the percentage reported as working in a state school was similar at 80% for ethnic minority trainees and 81% for non-ethnic minority trainees. As there are no data for trainees working in either the independent sector or further education institutions including most Sixth Form Colleges, it isn’t clear whether the overall percentage in teaching is the same of whether or not there is a greater difference?

Conclusion

So what has changed in the profile of graduates training to be a teacher during the twenty years or so between 1997 and 2019? The percentage of trainees from minority ethnic groups within the cohort has increased. However we know their chances of becoming a teacher are still lower than for applicants from the large group of applicants classified as White as their ethnic group..

The pool of trainees is still overwhelmingly female, although there has been a shift in the age profile towards older trainees. This last change has implications, both good and more challenging, for the profile of the teaching profession. Career changers may be more likely to remain in teaching for the rest of their working lives than some young new graduates with little or no experience of the world of work. However, older trainees may reduce the possible pool of new school leaders unless those making appointments are prepared to offer leadership positions to older candidates.

However, all this may be of little more than academic interest in the present situation of a pandemic. How fast the graduate labour market, recovers, especially in London, will be a key determination of how the teacher labour market performs over the next few years and whether the gender, age and ethnic profile of those applying and accepted to become trainee teachers alters from its current composition.

Nevertheless, there are issues, not least around the ability of those graduates from some ethnic groups to access teaching as a career. There is also the continued under-representation of men seeking to join the teaching profession, but they are then over-represented in the leadership roles within education. How the government addresses the issue of equal opportunities in teaching as a profession also continues to be a matter of concern.

John Howson

Oxford April 2020

Correspondence to: johnohowson@gmail.com

Bibliography

DfE (2018) Database of trainee teachers. Accessed on 7th April 2020 at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/initial-teacher-training-performance-profiles-2017-to-2018

DfE (2018) School Workforce Census.  Accessed on 7th April 2020 at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-workforce-in-england-november-2018

Howson, J. (1996). Equal opportunities and initial teacher training. In Education Review Volume 10, Number 1. London: NUT.

GTTR (Graduate Teacher Training Registry). (1997) Annual Report Cheltenham: UCAS.

UCAS (2018). End of cycle data. Author’s private collection.

UCAS (2019). September 2019 Monthly Report A & B of applicants and applications to courses. Author’s private collection

Part-time Vacancies for teachers

Part-time vacancies for teachers differ by subject

Research by TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk where I am chair, show teachers wanting part-time work may find it easier in some subjects than others.

Based on vacancies listed since 1st January 2020 TeachVac has recorded the following percentages of part-time work being mentioned in the vacancy in a range of key secondary subjects.  In some cases the vacancy is part-time, and in other circumstances schools will consider applications from those looking for part-time work as well as candidates seeking full-time work.

Science 11%
Mathematics 7%
English 12%
Languages 16%
Design & Technology 12%

There may also be regional differences as well.

1000 and out?

Seven years ago, in January 2013, I started writing this blog. Over the years the number of posts have fluctuated, as the table below reveals.

Year Total Posts Total Words Average Words per Post
2013 108 72,284 669
2014 121 76,579 633
2015 113 66,337 587
2016 146 83,869 574
2017 164 92,350 563
2018 183 107,223 586
2019 161 88,792 552
2020 4 2,073 537
total 1,000 589,507 590

Source WordPress data

Seemingly, I have become less wordy over the years, with 2019 posts containing around 120 fewer words on average than the 2013 posts. There have been more than 1,000 likes for these posts, and slightly more comments from readers. I am especially indebted to Janet Downs for her many and helpful comments over the years.

Since early 2018, visitors numbers to the blog have started to reduce, and although Christmas Day 2019 saw someone view the whole archive of posts, making it highest day for views ever recorded, the trend has been for fewer and fewer views.

If this trend continues, is it worth my making the effort to write this blog? I started it in 2013 because I was concerned that there would be a teacher supply crisis, and I wanted a platform after writing regularly for the TES for over 10 years, and for Education Journal for a couple of years after that. It is interesting to look back at the discussions over teacher supply during the summer of 2013 that so upset some within the DfE. I would like to be able to predict when teacher supply will no longer be an issue, but on present trends that may not be until the second half of this decade for the secondary sector. There should be less of a problem in the primary sector.

Since 2013, I have established TeachVac, the largest free vacancy service for teachers, and also been elected as a county councillor in Oxfordshire – and, incidentally, stood in three general elections as a candidate– and found time for a range of other activities as well.

So I am conflicted as to whether or not either to continue this blog in its current form or just to sign off at this the 1,000 post? TeachVac continues to expand, listing more than 60,000 vacancies last year, and is already on track for more in 2020, and is consuming more and more of my time. Happily, it remains the largest free job site open to both schools and teachers in England, so is well worth the effort.

With the DfE’s move to take over the application process for graduate teacher preparation being trialed with some providers this year, even that monthly update provided by this blog may become impossible, unless the DfE allow access to the data on at least the same basis as UCAS have done over the past few years.

So, perhaps it’s time for a rest and a search for new horizons. Thank you all for your comments and questions.

 

 

Problem not yet solved

Data from the second monthly report on applications and acceptances for postgraduate teacher preparation courses shows little overall change for last year. The trend is still not good, with 10,270 applicants domiciled in England as at 16th December 2019, compared with 10,820 on the corresponding date in 2018 and 11,430 in 2017. The good news is that there are more applicants this year from London and the surrounding regions, and the fall in numbers is more marked in applicants from the north of England where filling teacher vacancies has been less of an issue.

There are fewer applicants in all of the age groups compared with last year, and those shown as ‘age 22’ numbered just 1,510 this December compared with 1,910 in December two years ago. There are nearly 500 fewer women applicants this December, and 150 fewer male applicants. Male applicants make up less than a third of applicants in December 2019.

Fewer applicants also means fewer applications. Total applications were down in December, from 30,930 in 2018, to 29,330 in 2019. In 2017, the number of applications in December was over 33,000. Although it will concern providers, the fact that the bulk of the reduction in applications is for primary ITT courses; down from 14,720 in 2018 to 13,380 in 2019 will be something of a relief to the DfE, as the falling birth rate means fewer primary teachers are likely to be needed in the next few years that is unless schools receive a large cash injection for more teachers, rather than more pay for existing staff.

Applications for secondary courses at 15,950 were only 150 down on 2018 and very similar to the December 2017 figure of 16,070. Most subjects were at similar levels in terms of offers made by mi-December although art, design & technology, mathematics and Religious Education were slightly ahead of their 2018 position. By contrast, geography was slightly worse than in 2018 and acceptances for modern languages notably so. Is this the first sign of a reaction to Brexit? Certainly overall application levels for languages courses seem well down on last year.

Apprenticeships are the route in primary with more applications in December 2019 than in December 2018. Higher Education seems to be a major loser, with applications down from 6,150 in 2018 to 5,570 in December 2019. In December 2017, Higher Education had recorded 7,870 applications. In the secondary sector, both SCITTs and apprenticeships registered small increases in December 2019 over the previous December figure. All other routes were broadly similar to the previous December.

Hopefully, the government’s recruitment advertising campaign will improve matters in 2020, but compared to the defence forces, I have seen relatively little recruitment advertising for teaching over the festive period. This is despite the massive difference in recruitment needs between teaching and the whole of the armed forces.

If there is not a pickup in early 2020 in the number of applicants into secondary subjects, 2020 will begin to look like another year when training targets are not met and schools will have to make up the shortfall in teachers from other sources. With increasing pupil numbers, the need for more teachers is going to be an on-going challenge for secondary schools.

 

Stuck Schools

This Report from Ofsted is an important addition to the discussions aound school improvement and deserves to sit alongside other HMI documents on this topic. For those of my generation these include the famous ’10 Good Schools’ report of some 40 years ago.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fight-or-flight-how-stuck-schools-are-overcoming-isolation/fight-or-flight-how-stuck-schools-are-overcoming-isolation-evaluation-report

Using the terms ‘stuck’ and ‘unstuck’ schools, tells it as it is. I was especially struck by the paragraph in the Executive Summary that said:

‘Most stuck and unstuck schools stated that they had received too much school improvement advice from too many different quarters of the school system. Often, the advice was intended to help schools with their improvement strategy. However, this rarely had the intended impact. Leaders perceived that the quality of the advice itself was often lacking. School leaders also commented on a poor match between the problems of the school and the advice on offer. While many were concerned about the lack of support available following inspection, schools often welcomed the fresh thinking and impetus that independent inspection had given them. Schools did not appear to be inhibited from discussing some of the challenges of inspection during this project.’

Ofsted’s suggests that there is enough capacity in the system to move ‘stuck’ schools forward, but that the content of the support, including whether it enables focused may be lacking.  There also needs to be effective action that responds directly to the issues identified. Additionally, is the support for a ‘stuck’ school best provided internally or externally to the school or MAT and there is also a question about the quality of those coordinating or delivering the support?

This last point is important as the fractured governance model for schools sometimes makes it difficult to identify the organisation responsible for taking the lead role in actually improving these schools.

What is the penalty for failure? Obviously, for local authorities and maintained schools, it is a transfer to become an academy. But what of academies? And, especially what of academies that are part of faith-led MATs where the Church doesn’t want to give up running the school, but cannot stop it being a ‘stuck’ school within a reasonable period of time?

Should there be a review of each Office of Regional School Commissioner to establish a baseline of the number of ‘stuck’ schools and a target for improvement that has consequences if not met? Alternatively, should the Office of Regional School Commissioner be abolished and a closer link to local democracy be once again added to our school system?

Finally, there needs to be a discussion about both funding for ‘stuck’ schools and how any extra funding is allocated under a National Funding Formula that clearly doesn’t take fully into account the fact that some pupils need more resources to achieve a desired level of outcome than do others.

Staff Development, and especially leadership development, also needs to be looked at afresh by the DfE. Should we re-introduce a qualification for leadership with modules about leading a ‘stuck school’? At least then the system would have a better idea of capacity to support and ‘unstick’ these schools.

We cannot allow the next decade to be wasted as the last one has been in so many cases as far as the education of these young people is concerned.

 

No room in the school

Last week the Children’s Commissioner for England published a disturbing report about children placed into care and moved away form their local area. Entitled Pass the parcel: children posted around the care system is resonated with concerns raised by this blog in the past about the education of these children. https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/cco-pass-the-parcel-children-posted-around-the-care-system.pdf

The report highlighted the fact that 30,000 children are placed in care setting ‘out of their area’. Of these, some 11,000 are more than 20 miles from what they term ‘home’, with 2,000 placed more than 100 miles away. There may be good reasons for such a move. These include safeguarding issues such as avoiding former gangs or groups that were sexually exploiting the child.

However, the Children’s Commissioner Report suggests that often this type of move is because there is nowhere locally for these children to live. Pressure on Children’s Social services was always going to intensify as the number of children taken into care increased.   With local government having experienced a period of significant funding cutbacks from government it is not a surprise that services where need is expanding, such as this, are facing particular challenges, especially as the concept of  a ‘just in time’ economy meant resources could not be funded to be on stand-by if needed..

This blog has highlighted the issue of schooling for these children placed ‘out of area’ in several previous posts. Indeed, all Oxfordshire MPs in 2017 wrote to the Minister about the matter. As a result, it is disturbing that the Children’s Commissioner’s Report highlight this issue as still a matter for concern.

We spoke to children during September and October and many of them had no school place for the beginning of the school year. This was a common occurrence for older children, a number of whom were stuck waiting for decisions from professionals. This waiting game could last weeks or months, despite statutory duties to prioritise education, and in the case of emergency placements to secure suitable education within 20 school days.14 Virtual School professionals responsible for managing education plans for looked after children informed us that when children are placed outside of their local area it can contribute to delays because different areas have different application procedures to be understood and navigated. We were advised that children with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans15 usually suffer further setbacks because their applications must go via Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) teams and because schools take time to assess whether they can meet children’s needs. Page 15 of the Report – my emphasis.

In all, the Report concludes that ‘5% (140 children) of this out of area group missed a term of school or more, compared to 2% of those staying in their home local authority.’ The Report doesn’t identify the reasons why finding a school place should be so time-consuming for these young people whose lives have already been disrupted. Is the issue especially bad in areas where there are clusters of Children’s homes taking in children placed into care?

The Report concludes with the recommendation that:

‘The DfE ensure that its review of the role of virtual school heads looks at education processes in response to out of area placements. This review, which is already in progress, should consider: how virtual school heads can have a greater role in placement decisions; giving local authorities powers to direct academy schools to admit children placed away from their home areas; how delays in school transfers can be minimised for these children, especially unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) and children with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans, including how admissions processes can be simplified; how children can be kept in mainstream schools as far as possible.’   Page 17 of the Report

I would add and also look at what happens when children used to a comprehensive style of schooling are placed in secondary modern schools. These young people deserve better from Society.