We Asked, You Said, We Did

Below are some of the issues we have recently consulted on and their outcomes.

We asked

The Department for Education consulted on changes to the School Admission Appeals Code to allow appeals to be held remotely as well as in person and to allow appeal hearings to continue with two panel members where the third member needs to withdraw.

You said

There was broad support for most of our proposals, in particular the proposal to allow admission authorities to offer remote appeals. The proposal to allow appeal hearings to continue with two panel members where the third member has to withdraw also received support but those who opposed the change raised important concerns about fairness and the perception of fairness.

A total of 488 responses were received. Of these, 94 were from local authorities, 135 were from representatives of schools and academy trusts, 169 from admission appeal panel members and 72 responses were from individuals.

We did

Alongside the publication of the government’s response to the consultation, a revised Appeals Code was laid before Parliament on 16 June 2022. The revised Appeals Code, subject to the Parliamentary process, will come into force on 1 October 2022. The current 2012 Appeals Code will continue to apply until this date.

We asked

Respondents to comment on the proposed changes to the ‘Teacher misconduct regulatory regime’.

You said

That it was only right for all children and young people to be safeguarded and protected wherever they are receiving their education.

 

We did

We have not made any further changes to our proposals. We plan to implement all of our proposals when the next legislative opportunity arises, and we will provide further guidance as necessary at that time.

We asked

The Department for Education published for consultation a draft statutory instrument proposing amendments to the regulations which set out the rules for the Teacher’s Pension Scheme.

You said

Nearly all respondents agreed that the draft amendments achieved the policy aims as described in the consultation document.

We did

The draft regulations now form the basis of the final regulations which were made and laid before Parliament on 18 March 2022.

We asked

We asked for views on our proposals to make changes to the fees Ofsted charge children’s social care providers and reset the three-year inspection cycle for residential family centres, voluntary adoption agencies, adoption support agencies and fostering agencies.

You said

Just over half told us that the proposed fee increase, for those not paying the full cost of Ofsted inspection and regulation, would have a minimal or moderate impact and considered that the proposed increase was fair or thought the fee increase could be sufficiently covered within existing budgets. Almost all other respondents advised that it would have a moderate effect and two said it would have a major effect. Some concerns were raised about the fee increase and the impact of wider financial pressures.

Most respondents were supportive of our proposals on fees for multi-building children’s homes. Likewise, most respondents were also supportive of our proposal to reset the three-year inspection cycle. However, there were some concerns raised, particularly around the potential for a longer time between inspections for some providers. 

We did

The results of the consultation have been set out in a report on the gov.uk website. Based on these results, the department has decided to implement a 10% increase in fees for children’s social care providers not paying the full cost rate, introduce fees for multi-building children’s homes and reset the three-year inspection cycle for residential family centres, voluntary adoption agencies, adoption support agencies and fostering agencies.

We asked

We asked for views on proposals to reform how local authorities' school improvement functions are funded.

You said

While many responses indicated that they understood the rationale for these proposals, we recognise many also raised concerns. These centred on whether schools and councils would be able to absorb further funding pressures; what would happen if schools forums did not agree to de-delegation for core school improvement activity; and the desire for further clarity on what is considered core school improvement. Others noted the challenging implementation timescales. We address these concerns in our government response.

We did

We recognise that there is concern, particularly from councils and the maintained sector, about removing this additional source of funding. However, one of the key rationales of these proposals is to create greater parity between how school improvement is funded in the maintained and academies sector. Therefore, after careful consideration of the responses, the government intends to proceed with implementing the proposals.  

As such, we will (1) reduce the grant by 50% for the FY 2022-23 and bring it to an end in FY 2023-24 and (2) include provision in Part 7 of Schedule 2 to the School and Early Years Finance (England) Regulations for FY 2022-23 which would allow councils to de-delegate for all improvement expenditure, including all core improvement activities. We will monitor the impact of the changes during the year. 

We asked

Respondents to comment on the proposed revisions to the Teacher misconduct: the prohibition of teachers - Advice on factors relating to decisions leading to the prohibition of teachers from the teaching profession.

You said

That, overall the revisions provided further clarity to the process, but that it should better define some of the terms used and say more on safeguarding and teacher standards.

We did

We have, where appropriate, made some further revisions to strengthen the advice further.  

We asked

We asked for views on the approach to prioritising schools for future places in the School Rebuilding Programme.

You said

The majority of respondents were supportive of the lead approach proposed in the consultation. This was to combine a light-touch nomination process, where responsible bodies can request that we consider a school informed by condition data held by the department, alongside the ability to submit supplementary professional evidence (e.g. a structural survey by a chartered structural engineer) of severe need.

Overall, respondents thought we should focus on the condition of buildings and that we should prioritise projects with the greatest need for rebuilding. 

We did

We will adopt a prioritisation approach based on the lead proposal in the consultation and continue to prioritise the schools in the poorest condition. The overall approach can be found in the consultation response document. Full details of how to nominate schools for inclusion in the programme can be found on gov.uk.

We have published an Equalities Impact Analysis which has been informed by responses to the consultation.

We asked

The Department sought views on moving to a “direct” schools national funding formula (NFF), where the Department would determine funding allocations for schools directly through a single national formula, without adjustment through local authority (LA) funding formulae.

You said

The majority of respondents (59%) were in favour of the Secretary of State allocating funding for all pupil-led and school-led factors as part of the direct NFF. This funding would be allocated directly to schools, without further adjustment by LAs. There also was strong support for our proposals for transitioning towards the direct NFF, by requiring LAs to use each of the NFF factors from 2023-24 and move their local factor values closer to the NFF factor values by 10%.

We did

The Department will implement the direct NFF where all mainstream schools funding would be allocated on the basis of a single national formula, replacing the current system where LAs allocate funding. To get there, the Department will require LAs to use each of the NFF factors, and only NFF factors, and move their factor values at least 10% closer to the NFF in 2023-24.

In spring 2022 will go back to the sector for further views on detailed proposals regarding the direct NFF’s implementation.

We asked

We asked for views on the report and recommendations produced by the expert advisory group appointed to review the ITT market for courses leading to qualified teacher status.

You said

Many respondents were supportive of principles of the Quality Requirements but noted logistical and resourcing challenges to implementing them in practice, particularly for the requirements on intensive practice placements, minimum time allocations and mentoring. Respondents were concerned about providers' ability to prepare their applications for accreditation in the time available, given the indicative timeline set out in the consultation document.

We did

We have accepted the report's central recommendation that all ITT courses leading to qualified teacher status should adhere to a set of Quality Requirements, and that all providers of these courses should go through an accreditation process taking place in the 2021/22 and 2022/23 academic years to ensure they can meet the new requirements on an ongoing basis.

Based on the consultation feedback, we have amended the Quality Requirements proposed by the expert advisory group to address the potential challenges to implementation identified by respondents. We have also extended the timeline for first delivery of the Quality Requirements by one year to September 2024 and will be providing funding to support providers and their partners to implement them into their ITT courses.

Our full response to the report’s recommendations, including the results of the consultation, can be found in on the GOV.UK website.

We asked

We asked for views on amending regulations in relation to: 

  • Ofsted’s minimum frequency of inspections of children’s homes; and
  • The minimum frequency of inspections for children’s social care provision more generally from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022

You said

The majority of respondents agreed with our proposal to amend the minimum frequency of Ofsted inspections for Children’s homes, so that minimum inspection frequencies are based on the judgement from the given current inspection year and not from the judgement from the previous inspection year. Most considered that the current safeguards in place were sufficient, specifically highlighting the importance of intelligence gathered through the monthly visits by an independent person.

Most respondents also agreed that we should amend the minimum frequency of Ofsted inspections for children’s social care more generally, so that Ofsted should comply with the minimum frequency of inspections ‘so far as reasonably practicable’ for the period 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.

We did

The results of the consultation have been set out in a report on the gov.uk website. Based on these results, the department has decided to amend Ofsted inspection frequencies for children’s care homes and to enable Ofsted to comply with minimum inspection frequencies ‘so far as reasonably practicable’ for the period 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.

We asked

We asked for views on a proposed suite of national standards for providers of semi-independent provision for looked after children and care leavers aged 16 & 17 and how these settings should in future be regulated by Ofsted.

You said

Many respondents agreed that the proposed national standards covered the right areas. The main themes identified for further consideration covered: providing more detail on training and qualifications that will be required; introducing requirements around pre-placement visits and interviews; and, further strengthening the standards on accommodation and support. Respondents also gave views on the advantages and disadvantages of a provider level and individual-setting level Ofsted registration and inspection regime.   

We did

We will introduce mandatory national standards and provider level Ofsted registration and inspection of these placements. We will publish a copy of the national standards in early 2022, which will provide further detail and take into account the feedback received through the consultation. Ofsted will begin registering providers from April 2023, with the national standards becoming mandatory in Autumn 2023. Ofsted will begin inspections from April 2024. 

We asked

We asked for views on a proposed suite of national standards for providers of semi-independent provision for looked after children and care leavers aged 16 & 17 and how these settings should in future be regulated by Ofsted.

You said

Many respondents agreed that the proposed national standards covered the right areas. The main themes identified for further consideration covered: providing more detail on training and qualifications that will be required; introducing requirements around pre-placement visits and interviews; and, further strengthening the standards on accommodation and support. Respondents also gave views on the advantages and disadvantages of a provider level and individual-setting level Ofsted registration and inspection regime.   

We did

We will introduce mandatory national standards and provider level Ofsted registration and inspection of these placements. We will publish a copy of the national standards in early 2022, which will provide further detail and take into account the feedback received through the consultation. Ofsted will begin registering providers from April 2023, with the national standards becoming mandatory in Autumn 2023. Ofsted will begin inspections from April 2024. 

We asked

We sought views on proposals to attach conditions to the payment of the Local Authority School Improvement Monitoring and Brokering grant in order to ensure that it is contributing, all across England, to the delivery of urgent school improvement priorities.

You said

Broadly, respondents were supportive of our proposals, or indicated that the proposed conditions would not have a significant impact on local authorities, schools and pupils.

We did

After careful consideration of the responses, we decided to proceed with our proposals to attach conditions to the grant. In light of queries raised by respondents, we have ensured that the grant terms and conditions allow local authorities flexibility in how they carry out their school improvement functions whilst prioritising educational recovery; we have provided an indication of the types of activity that a local authority should undertake in order to demonstrate compliance with the grant conditions; and we have clearly set out the process by which the department will work with local authorities to secure compliance where there are concerns.

We asked

We asked for your views on a system of Post Qualification Admissions (PQA) which could bring about reform to the higher education (HE) admissions system. We suggested two models of PQA:  

  • Model 1: Students apply and receive offers to HE once they know their Level 3 results. 
  • Model 2: Students apply to HE before they know their Level 3 results (as they do now) but only receive and accept offers after results day. 

We also asked for your comments and suggestions about alternative reform measures.

You said

Two-thirds of respondents (324/489, 66%) were in favour of change to a PQA system in principle, but many respondents were concerned by practical implications of how it could operate, and 60% respondents felt that the models of PQA would be either worse than, or no better than, current arrangements. There were a variety of different models favoured but no consensus as to what change should look like.

Key issues raised included:

  • The effect of change on student well-being. Respondents were clear that any new system should not create additional barriers for groups already underrepresented in HE. High-quality information, advice and guidance were considered  essential in preventing further disadvantage.
  • Operational challenges that may result from PQA, for example, changes to Level 3 results days, timetabling of auditions, tests and interviews and involving the Devolved Administrations and international students.
  • The need for greater transparency about how admissions decisions are made by HE providers.
  • The need for careful planning with a range of stakeholders before introducing a new system.

We did

We carefully considered the responses we received to the consultation and will not be implementing PQA.

The more urgent sector priorities on continuing to deal with Covid recovery, on the skills agenda and the introduction of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement have led the Department to conclude that now is not the right time to press ahead with what would be a major, time-consuming reform.

We will continue to work with UCAS and sector bodies to tackle problems with admissions at their root, including the growth in unconditional offers and reforming the personal statement to underpin fairness for students of all backgrounds.  

The full consultation response can be found here: Post-qualification admissions in higher education: proposed changes - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) which was published alongside our policy statement and  consultation on HE Reform. This sets out our plan for Post-16 education across England and how we are planning to bring higher and further education into alignment and create a fairer and more sustainable system for students, institutions and the taxpayer. 

We asked

We asked for views about introducing a new international teaching qualification called iQTS based on English standards and training methods, accessible in a range of international markets. The consultation set out a proposed blueprint for the qualification and asked for views on the proposed framework and market potential.

You said

Responses to the consultation were very positive and respondents overwhelmingly agreed with the vast majority of proposals and the overarching approach to align iQTS closely with English ITT. Responses evidenced clear demand both in terms of ITT providers who expressed an interest in being involved in delivering iQTS, and the international sector in highlighting the demand for a UK Government-backed qualification.

We did

On the basis of responses to the consultation, the Department for Education will create a new international teaching qualification called International Qualified Teacher Status (iQTS), beginning with a small pilot before moving to full roll-out. The public response summarises our findings and outlines our next steps.

We asked

Respondents to comment on proposed revisions made across all parts of KCSIE as well as to comment on proposed revisions to the Department’s stand-alone advice Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges.

You said

We should clarify terms which are already explained within the document, and add additional information, particularly information regarding child on child/peer on peer abuse.

We did

We have revised and further strengthened key sections of the guidance (parts one and five) and the stand-alone advice 2021 to better support schools and colleges prevent abuse, identify abuse and respond appropriately where abuse is reported.

We asked

The department sought views on proposals to maintain flexibilities on the timing of medical reports in the foster carer and adopter assessment processes, the use of virtual visits, and the continued suspension of the regular cycle of Ofsted inspections of children’s services providers. The department also asked for views on two proposals relating to adoption; to allow medical reports to be completed by other qualified medical professionals and to remove the requirement for a full medical examination.

You said

The majority of respondents agreed with the proposals to maintain the flexibilities on the timing of medical reports in the foster carer and adopter assessment processes, the use of virtual visits, and the continued suspension of the regular cycle of Ofsted inspections of children’s services providers. On the two proposals relating to adoption; whilst a majority agreed with the proposal to allow medical reports to be completed by other qualified medical professional, there were a greater number who disagreed with the second proposal, to remove the requirement for a full medical examination, and concerns were raised in relation to safeguarding.

We did

The department decided to continue only with plans to extend the existing flexibilities on medical reports (for fostering and adoption), virtual visits and Ofsted inspection cycles, as set out in this document. We have reflected on the responses to the two other proposals to amend adoption regulations and, as safeguarding is an area on which the department places paramount importance, we decided to give this further reflection and are not proceeding with these additional flexibilities at this time.

The department is clear that the flexibilities will only remain in place for as long as they are needed; they will be reviewed in terms of monitoring and in line with the Government roadmap to recovery and there currently are no plans to extend them beyond 30 September 2021.

We asked

Last year, the Department for Education consulted on changes to the School Admissions Code, to improve access to schools for vulnerable children, reducing to a minimum any gaps in their education.

You said

There was broad support for most of our proposals, in particular for the introduction of mandatory deadlines for both in-year applications and Fair Access Protocols (FAPs) that improve the process for all children who need a school place in-year.

A total of 270 responses were from organisations. Of these, 118 were from local authorities and 73 from schools and academy trusts. 1,277 responses were from individuals. 

We did

Alongside the publication of the government’s response to the consultation, the draft Code was laid before Parliament on 13 May 2021. It has now completed its Parliamentary process and the new School Admission Code 2021 will come into force on 1 September 2021. The current 2014 Code will continue to apply until this date.

We asked

The consultation set out ten proposals for reforming the future arrangements for subcontracting of ESFA funded post 16 education and training. The proposals sought to reduce the overall volume of subcontracted delivery across the sector by eliminating provision that is poorly managed and delivered, and provision undertaken for the wrong reasons. It also sought to strengthen the ESFA’s oversight of subcontracted activity.

You said

In general, respondents felt that some of the proposals, particularly where we have suggested obtaining prior agreement from the agency, would be excessively bureaucratic, both for providers and the agency. Many have pointed out where some of the proposals may be suitable for some funding streams but not for others.

We did

We have reflected upon the responses and have made changes to our final approach taking account of the views expressed. We have, in some cases, decided to differentiate our approach by funding stream and to take account of particular structures/modes of delivery. Overall, we have tried to eliminate proposals that would be excessively bureaucratic and will build more of our oversight and assurance into the development of the Standard for the Management of Subcontracting (proposal 9).

We asked

Do you agree with the proposed 10% increases to fees for 2020-21, and how will that affect you as a provider?

You said

The fees should not be increased because doing so will put additional pressure on the budgets of providers.

We did

The majority of providers are a long way from paying the full cost of the inspection and regulatory activity undertaken by Ofsted, which means that the taxpayer continues to subsidise the regulation of the majority of children’s social care providers. However, due to additional pressures on the sector caused by Covid-19, we have since decided to waive the collection of the uplift in fees for the financial year 2020-21.