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In the News

Government finally confirms U-turn on free primary school breakfasts policy

Plans to offer free breakfasts to all primary school pupils have been cancelled, in yet another government U-turn on a major manifesto pledge. The children’s minister Robert Goodwill has confirmed that the government will not be pursuing the policy, following repeated questions from the shadow education secretary Angela Rayner and other MPs. In its manifesto ahead of June’s general election, the Conservatives had pledged to axe universal infant free school meals and use some of the money to fund breakfast clubs. This is yet another humiliating U-turn on education policy The plan proved controversial, not least because the original costings of the proposal only allocated 7p per breakfast. The Conservatives were also criticised for planning to axe infant lunches, and the schools minister Nick Gibb announced on July 4 that they would continue, which cast the first doubt on the future of the breakfasts proposals. But it has now emerged that the plan for free breakfasts was also quietly shelved at the same time, and the announcement was sneaked out in the House of Lords just hours after Gibb dodged questions about whether the government would proceed. This announcement, made by school system minister Lord Nash, has now come to light as...

Durand blocked critical Ofsted report to ‘keep EFA at bay’, court told

Durand Academy Trust has been accused of blocking a critical Ofsted inspection report from being published to “keep the EFA bay” in the High Court today. Durand Academy, due to have its funding agreement terminated next year, is challenging the inspectorate’s report, which stated the south London school should be put into special measures. The inspectorate’s lawyers told the court today that Durand was “prolonging its complaint” against an ‘inadequate’ grading to prevent its funding from being terminated, arguing the report should be published in the public interest. Lawyers claimed that the report’s findings, which remain unpublished after Durand got an injunction blocking them from release, were a fair assessment of teaching and safeguarding problems at the schools, and the trust was the “author of its own misfortune”. But lawyers for Durand, which is chaired by former superhead Sir Greg Martin, insisted inspectors were biased against the trust because the Education Funding Agency (EFA) had already announced in January its funding would be terminated over separate financial governance concerns. Ofsted accidentally published a draft report, which placed Durand into special measures, on its website in February before taking the report down. The trust then obtained an injunction preventing it from...

Academy trust boss appointed as new South West RSC

An academy trust boss has been appointed as the new regional schools commissioner (RSC) for the south west. Lisa Mannall, chief executive of The Learning Academy Trust (TLAT), will take over the role from Rebecca Clark, who is joining Ark. Mannall has served on the region’s headteacher board since September 2014, where she worked under the now national schools commissioner Sir David Carter. The appointment means Sir David now has a full team of commissioners again, after Sue Baldwin, a director at the Department for Education, was appointed as RSC for the East of England and North-East London last month. “Lisa’s experience of leading a successful MAT of ten primary schools will be an invaluable addition to my team of commissioners,” said Sir David in a statement. “I got to know Lisa well when she was elected to the SW headteacher board in September 2014 and have seen first hand her quality as a leader and her ambition for children to be successful.” He praised the “fantastic” trust, made up of ten primary academies in Cornwall, and thanked its board for its “support throughout the process for both Lisa and myself”. Dave Hobbs, chair of trustees at TLAT, added: “This...

Long-term disadvantaged pupils are slipping further behind peers, study finds

The pupil premium has done little to boost the attainment of long-term disadvantaged youngsters, who are actually falling further behind their peers, a new study has suggested. A blog post by Education Datalab has explored the impact of the premium, which represents extra money given to schools to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. Pupils who get the funding include those who have been eligible for free school meals at any point in the last six years – with £1,320 paid per secondary pupil, and £935 for a primary pupil. Datalab looked at the attainment progress of pupils, compared with a national average based on its own calculations, broken down by how long they have been claiming free school meals. It presents quite a challenge The study found that attainment had been improving for pupils who were eligible for free school meals for less than 60 per cent of their time in schools. However the improvement was small for pupils eligible for free school meals between 60 per cent and 90 per cent of the time. And for pupils who were eligible for free school meals on almost every occasion the school census was taken (90...