The upcoming election
Ok, let’s get straight to the big story, there’s no point trying to ignore it! The election - it’s looming large. The proximity of the date to Christmas immediately caused consternation with the fate of nativity plays across the country in question as school halls are pressed into polling station service. Parents quickly and silently split into two different camps. On the one side - relief, as the annual event slipped from their overstuffed diaries, and on the other - dismay at the prospect of a Christmas without the festive challenge of producing an emergency sheep costume with just hours until the big performance. Then came the inevitable announcement of the ‘Grinch fund’ (not our term!) to help councils find alternative polling station venues to avoid any potential disruption.
Of course, there will be far bigger implications to come for schools following the result of the election. The major parties have all declared big plans for schools in the years ahead and drastic education policies have the potential to be big vote winners and losers. Whatever individual teachers feel about an upcoming election though, there is one emotion guaranteed to be felt en masse amongst the education sector - uncertainty.
Teachers have long complained of change being implemented too quickly and cited this as a major frustration affecting job satisfaction, as detailed in Ofsted’s Teacher Well-being report, released in July 2019. The news of another election is sure to have teachers wondering if their carefully crafted schemes of work will be obsolete next year, whether their budgets and objectives will be overhauled, and whether campaign promises being made in the weeks ahead of us will be kept.
SEND inquiry published
The House of Commons Education Committee has published the first report into the wide-reaching changes introduced by the Government in 2014 to transform the educational experiences of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
The report didn’t pull any punches and included the findings that “the reforms have resulted in confusion, and at times unlawful practice, bureaucratic nightmares, buck-passing and a lack of accountability, strained resources and adversarial experiences”.
Whilst the report did note “the significant funding shortfall” as a serious contributory factor in the failure of the reforms, it cited “a general lack of accountability” as the key issue. The report goes on to make several recommendations to improve provision for pupils with SEND and calls generally for greater oversight. One major recommendation was that the government should look into the cost of requiring all schools and colleges to have a full-time dedicated SENCO – the key SEND decision-maker.
Changes to French and German GCSE marking
After a review of French and German GCSE grading by Ofqual, the exams regulator has said changes would be made to bring the grading of the two subjects into line with GCSE Spanish.
The announcement has been made to make the grading of languages fairer but also as an attempt to reduce the decline of students studying languages at GCSE. A BBC News analysis of exam entries, published earlier this year, showed a dramatic drop in exam entry for French and German, a trend that began in 2013.
A shake-up for modern foreign languages
Hot on the heels of the news about French and German GCSEs, the government announced a review of modern foreign language GCSEs that will consider making the qualifications more accessible and relatable for students in a bid to increase uptake.
What the review will recommend is yet to be seen, but we can assume an increase in focus on modern foreign languages at Secondary Schools in the year ahead.
£18m funding for Opportunity Area programme
Education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has announced an extra £18 million in funding for the year ahead for the programme aimed at improving social mobility in areas of deprivation, supporting projects across literacy, maths, attendance, teacher training and recruitment, post-16 options and careers advice.
The programme operates in Blackpool, Derby, Norwich, Oldham, North Yorkshire Coast, West Somerset, Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent.
So, what does all this mean for your edu-marketing?
- Your marketing to schools will have to highlight flexibility and adaptability as key selling points to appeal to schools that might be hesitant to commit at a time of uncertainty.
- The reassurance of a free trial, free sample resource, or a no-obligation meeting in your emails to school leaders will always help to put minds at ease when spending decisions are being made.
- If you’re offering a solution targeted to a SEND audience, focus your message less on how you can help and more on the proven benefits that will be felt by students, teachers, and parents when using your solution.
- Don’t underestimate the power of testimonials to create trust to help your solutions find space in an already squeezed funding area when emailing schools. Teachers trust other teachers, so a good reference that proves your solution is a great inclusion.
- Highlight your knowledge of changes to policies and specific subjects to identify yourself as an expert in the field.
- If you’re targeting specific geographical areas with your schools marketing, consider how you can help advise your audience to apply for additional funding that might be available.
See you next month for more edu-news!