Good childhood report 2018
The Children’s Society has published (29 August) its ‘Good childhood report 2018’, which looks at the well-being of children and young people and provides the following key findings (source: The Children’s Society):
- The new version of ‘The Good Childhood Index’ (which measures children’s overall well-being and their happiness with 10 aspects of their lives) shows that children and young people are still least happy regarding both the future and their time at school.
- Girls had lower well-being and higher depressive symptoms while boys had greater emotional and behavioural difficulties.
- Children who were attracted to the same gender or both genders had much more negative scores on all three measures than other children. This pattern was stronger for well-being and depressive symptoms than for emotional and behavioural difficulties.
- Living in a household with lower income was more strongly related to emotional and behavioural difficulties than the other two measures.
- Girls (22%) were more than twice as likely as boys (9%) to self-harm.
- Children who were attracted to children of the same gender or both genders were much more likely to self-harm – in fact, almost half (46%) of these children had done so.
- Also, children from lower-income households had a higher than average risk of self-harming.
- The measures of well-being and emotional and behavioural difficulties were associated with frequency of physical activity, while the measure of depressive symptoms was not.
- All three measures predicted truancy, although the link with well-being was a little weaker than for the mental health measures.
- The measures of depressive symptoms and well-being were better predictors of children having self-harmed than the measure of emotional and behavioural difficulties.
- Not feeling close to a parent had a significantly greater negative impact on girls’ happiness with family and life as a whole.
- Frequency of arguing with their mothers was also more strongly related to girls’ satisfaction with family life than boys’. There was no gender difference in the effect of arguing with fathers.
- Boys who saw their friends more frequently outside school had higher happiness with friendships and with life as a whole. This pattern did not apply to girls.
- While relationships with family and appearance-related comments and behaviours – such as people making jokes or comments at school about other people’s bodies, looks or sexual behaviour – were more important for girls’ well-being than boys’.
- Children are aware of different expectations for boys and girls from a young age, and awareness of gender stereotypes had a bearing on the well-being of both boys and girls.
- The common thread running through the report is that children’s interactions with those around them – and the way in which children make sense of those interactions – are fundamentally important to how they feel about themselves and their lives.
Further details can be found: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/resources-and-publications/the-good-childhood-report-2018
The Children’s Commissioner has published (4 July) the 2018 ‘Vulnerability Report’, which sets out the following findings of interest to schools and MATs (source: Children’s Commissioner):
Many types of vulnerability, risk or harm are relatively common. In a typical classroom of 30 children, for instance:
o 15 children (52%) report having been bullied at some point
o 3 children (11%) living with limiting long-term conditions
o 8 children (25%) have a parent with mental health problems
There are other indicators of vulnerability which are less common, indicate higher prima facie levels of vulnerability and would still be found in the average classroom of 30 children:
o 1 child (2%) living in a household where both parents have serious mental health problems
o 3 children (11%) who have relatively serious mental health issues themselves
o 1 child (2%) caring for their parents or siblings
o 3 children (10%) with SEN, including 1 child with substantial additional communication needs
o 2 children (7%) living in homes with domestic violence and abuse
o 1 child (4%) living in material deprivation and severe low income
Some classrooms may not have any children with these vulnerabilities; other classrooms may have far more. In practice these levels of risk will be clustered by area, and will be higher in areas of greater deprivation.
Further information can be found: https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/publication/childrens-commissioner-vulnerability-report-2018/
School leadership in an international context
The Department for Education (DfE) has published (8 August) a review of leadership practices and continuing professional development in 6 high-performing countries - Estonia, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and Singapore - to inform policy development on school leadership. The key findings from the research are summarised below (source: DfE):
- With the exception of Singapore, the countries have an ageing workforce and are experiencing difficulties attracting and retaining school principals; consistent with the situation in many countries with established education systems.
- In Canada, Estonia, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands aspiring school leaders can self-nominate to train as a school principal - without a guarantee of a job - and then apply for a position in a school. In Singapore, the Ministry of Education identifies and develops school teachers who demonstrate leadership potential and establishing a ‘pipeline’ that provides a steady flow of school leaders.
- In Estonia, Finland, Singapore and some provinces of Canada aspiring school principals are required to have a recognised leadership qualification before they can be appointed as the head of a school. This is not the case in Germany, the Netherlands and the remaining Canadian provinces; however most aspiring principals do nonetheless complete a relevant training course in these countries.
- Aspiring principals must have teaching experience in Estonia, Singapore, Germany, and some Canadian provinces. Teaching experience is not generally required in the remaining Canadian provinces, the Netherlands or Finland - although those selected for a permanent post in Finland are usually recruited from among experienced teachers.
- School principals in Finland, Germany and Alberta (Canada) are considerably more likely than those in Singapore, the Netherlands and Estonia to have teaching responsibilities.
- School principals are on average paid substantially more in the Netherlands and Canada than in Estonia, Finland and Singapore. Comparable figures are not available for Germany.
- There appears to be an emphasis on distributed leadership - in which a range of staff in schools share the school principals’ traditional responsibilities - across all the countries considered in the review, apart from Germany.
- Instructional leadership - which involves school principals focusing on student learning and teacher practice - is generally valued amongst school principals in the six high performing countries.
- In Estonia, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada, professional development for school principals from pre-primary to upper secondary education is optional and is not necessary for promotion. In contrast, Singapore applies a systematic and compulsory approach to the leadership development of school principals
- Singapore and Estonia have put systems in place that are designed to ensure that CPD programmes are linked to key leadership competencies. There is less consistency in the approaches adopted in the other countries, although there have been calls for this issue to be addressed in Finland.
Further details can be found: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-leadership-in-an-international-context
Potential for success
The Sutton Trust has published (19 July) its report – ‘Potential for Success’ – which analyses how high attaining students fare in secondary schools in England. The report also explores issues surrounding how to maximise the potential of high attaining young people through analysis of existing literature and case studies of good practice in schools that do particularly well for these students. The key findings from the report are summarised below (source: Sutton Trust):
· Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to be in the top 10% for attainment in English and maths at the end of primary school (high attainers). Disadvantaged students are three times less likely to be in this high attainment group than their more advantaged peers: only 4% of disadvantaged students have high attainment at KS2, compared to 13% of non-disadvantaged pupils.
· Even for those disadvantaged pupils who do perform strongly in primary school, they are much more likely to fall behind at secondary school, compared to other high attaining students, across a range of measures.
· These students are also less likely to achieve the top grades that open doors to universities and employers: while 72% of non-disadvantaged high attainers achieve 5 A*-A grades or more at GCSE, only 52% of disadvantaged high attainers do.
· High attainers from disadvantaged backgrounds who are white have the lowest level of attainment at GCSE compared to their peers in any other ethnic group. Only 45% of disadvantaged white students with high prior attainment gain 5A*-A at GCSE, compared to 63% of black students and 67% of Asian students from similar backgrounds.
· Students with high attainment do better at GCSE in schools with lower proportions of students on free school meals, schools in London, in converter academies, and in schools with higher numbers of other previously high attaining students.
· Disadvantaged students make up a much smaller proportion in grammar schools, compared to those in comprehensives, with disadvantaged high attainers only half as likely as high attainers overall to enter a grammar. In grammar schools, only 1 in 17 of all high attainers are from disadvantaged backgrounds, compared to 1 in 8 high attainers in comprehensive schools.
· Maximising the potential of highly able young people poses three main challenges in schools: identifying the right students, offering them the right programmes and interventions, and managing the process organisationally in a sustainable way. While highly able students from certain backgrounds, in certain parts of the country, and attending certain types of schools face substantial barriers, what schools actually do for such students can be crucial for success.
The report makes the following recommendations in relation to schools:
· Improving attainment of highly able pupils, specifically those from disadvantaged backgrounds, should be monitored and incentivised. Ofsted inspections should as a matter of course assess a school’s provision for its disadvantaged highly able students, and GCSE attainment scores for disadvantaged pupils with high prior attainment should be published as part of school league tables.
· Increasing access to high quality teaching is essential to allowing those with high potential to flourish. Teachers with more experience and subject specialism should be incentivised, for example by offering more money and more time out of the classroom, by government, or through multi-academy trusts, to teach in more disadvantaged schools and geographical social mobility cold spots.
· Support for the highly able should be as inclusive as possible. Highly able students can be difficult to identify. To ensure that all such students (especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds) have access to work that will fit their needs, programmes should be made widely available where possible, and any grouping or targeting should be flexible and regularly reassessed.
· Students of all backgrounds should have access to high quality extra-curricular activities in order to boost essential life skills that facilitate academic attainment and future success. The government should introduce a means-tested voucher system, or encourage schools to do so, in order for lower income families to access additional support and enrichment, including extra-curricular activities and one-to-one tuition. Development of essential life skills should be incentivised and rewarded in Ofsted inspection criteria.
Further details can be found: https://www.suttontrust.com/research-paper/potential-for-success-schools-high-attainers/
Role of primary schools in tackling childhood obesity
Ofsted has published (18 July) its report – ‘Obesity, healthy eating and physical activity in primary schools’ – which looks at what actions primary schools are taking to reduce childhood obesity.
· planning a challenging and well-sequenced curriculum, including learning about the body in PE and science, and about healthy eating and cooking
· providing ample opportunity for children to take physical exercise during the school day – with lots of opportunities to ‘get out of breath’
· teaching particular skills like how to cook or how to dance
· updating parents on their children’s physical development, such as agility, balance and coordination
Further details can be found: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/obesity-healthy-eating-and-physical-activity-in-primary-schools; and in the associated press release:https://www.gov.uk/government/news/schools-not-silver-bullet-to-tackling-childhood-obesity
Pupil and parent omnibus survey
The Department for Education (DfE) has published (7 September) findings from wave 4 of its regular omnibus research on pupils and their parents or carers in England, and responses to questions asked in the survey. Data was gathered from school pupils aged 11-17 (years 7-13), attending a state-funded secondary school across England, and their parents or carers.
· Overall, 81% of pupils had taken part in any extra-curricular activity (either at school, outside of school, or both) in the past 12 months.
· Most school pupils regularly took part in some form of extra-curricular activity at school (70%) or outside of school (69%).
· Three-fifths (61%) of school pupils had taken part in a musical activity (either at school, outside of school, or both) in the past 12 months.
· Over half (56%) had taken part in a musical activity at school in the last twelve months, either as part of, or outside, normal classes.
· Overall, more parents/carers would be ‘satisfied’ than not if their child was being taught by a teacher with flexible working arrangements (e.g. part-time, job sharing) (35%, compared with 30%).
· The proportion of school pupils who reported being a victim of bullying at school at least once a month in the last year is lower at wave 4 (20%), compared with wave 2 (33%).
· 79% of school pupils reported that their school has a specific member of staff that they can talk to if they have a problem or worry.
· 79% of school pupils said their school encourages staff and pupils to care for, and look after each other.
· Pupils were least likely to say that their school ‘talks about mental health outside of classes’ (28% ‘true’).
· Nearly all school pupils in year 9 and above (97%) said they had heard about the grading changes to GCSEs, demonstrating an increase in awareness from 85% in wave 1.
· 71% of school pupils highlighted parents/carers as their main source of careers advice.
· When thinking about their future careers, the overriding consideration for school pupils was to be able to do ‘A career or job I enjoy’, mentioned by 76%; followed by ‘earning a good wage’ (72%).
· Most school pupils (69%) agreed that they ‘know what kinds of skills and qualifications they might need for their future job/career’.
· Over three-quarters of school pupils (77%) agreed that their performance at school will affect how they get on in life.
· Most parents/carers of school pupils (82%) felt confident in their ability to support their child’s learning and development.
Further details can be found: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pupils-and-their-parents-or-carers-omnibus-wave-1-survey