December January Monthly News Round Up

This post has been written by Sue Chattoe

Gavin Williamson’s new year speech

After an uncertain few months, we face a new year with the knowledge that our education system will be in the hands of a Conservative government for the next few years at least.

Gavin Williamson, our current Secretary of State for Education, began the new year with a message. Some of his comments can be read below:

“I’m sure you know that the government announced a huge funding boost for schools in the autumn: £14 billion over three years, to be precise, plus £780 million in new funding for children with special educational needs and disabilities. This will go a long way to addressing some of the issues that most regularly come up in conversation when I am out visiting schools.

However, I know there are some challenges that continue, including ensuring special-needs provision, tackling unnecessary workload and recruiting and retaining staff.


We have already announced that we will increase starting salaries for new teachers to £30,000. 


This isn’t just about making teaching attractive to the most talented graduates. It’s about recognising the prestige and value that we, as a society, put on the profession.” 


As Williamson himself points out, none of the above is a quick fix and interestingly, the government seem reluctant to put a time scale on it. Only time will tell whether these promises come to fruition.


Read the whole speech here:



Latest developments for ‘stuck’ and ‘outstanding’ schools


In other news, I was heartened to read that Ofsted is urging for a judgement-free approach to schools which have been ‘stuck’ for many years with a poor rating.


Head teachers across the country must be breathing a huge sigh of relief after Amanda Spielman (Chief inspector of schools) was quoted as saying, “What the schools need is tailored, specific and pragmatic advice that suits their circumstances – not a carousel of consultants.”


If a school has failed to improve its rating after years of support, there must be something wrong with the support it is receiving, and it appears that this has finally been acknowledged. More information on this story can be found here:


On the flip side of this, it has also been proposed that schools who are currently rated as ‘outstanding’ should be inspected in the next five years. This meaning that the exemption (introduced in 2012) under which outstanding schools did not need routine Ofsted inspections will be scrapped.


Originally, the exemption was put in place with the intention of giving Ofsted inspectors more time to focus on those schools needing greater support, but this has meant that some schools have not been inspected for more than a decade. The concern is that parents are making decisions about their child’s education on outdated information.


It will be interesting to see if this proposition results in some outstanding schools being downgraded. For more information read the following:



Worries about shorter break times


Back in October, Classroom Secrets very own Jan Fitzpatrick blogged about current concerns that we are failing our children by not providing them with enough play and outdoor learning opportunities. See here.


This worry is supported by a 2019 report, carried out by University College London, which states that breaks have been getting shorter over the past two decades.


Michael Rosen, author and former Children’s Laureate, has joined a campaign to stop the erosion of break times due to timetabling, budget or behavioural issues. He states that, “Play isn’t an extra, it isn’t an add on. Play is a fundamental human right”.


The full report and video can be found here:


Let us know in the comments below if you have any thoughts about the stories highlighted above, or if you wish to discuss other educational developments or updates.


Sue Chattoe



Sue, a mum of three, has sixteen years teaching experience. She joined Classroom Secrets in its infancy and has been creating resources ever since. Her aim is to create stimulating resources that the children will enjoy doing.