Devon Association of GovernanceDevon Association of Governance

Spring 2023 Update


Welcome to the start of 2023. At the moment it’s always worth checking who the latest Secretary of State for Education is, Gillian Keegan took on the role in October, the tenth to hold the position of Secretary of State for Education since 2010, although this new team at Education do actually have some understanding of the sector.

Gillian Keegan was Skills Minister prior to being appointed Education Secretary and  the emphasis on technical vocational education is likely to be a significant theme for this department. Nick Gibb has returned to the department to provide stability in the more academic areas that he has long favoured, such as phonics and strict behaviour policies. Robert Halfon joined the department and has experience as chair of the Commons Education Select Committee so is aware of the complex debates at the heart of education. Early reports of the Prime Minister’s plans for a new British baccalaureate are at present lacking detail.


The UK Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine scheme support all children and young people arriving under these schemes to have the right to access education and childcare whilst in the UK.  These schemes remain in place for the academic year 2022/23. The latest school guidance Resources to help support children and young people arriving from Ukraine was updated with additional resources at the end of September 2022.

2.Infections including Covid and Scarlet Fever

Covid-19 rates are currently at a similar level to this time last year and it is likely there will be a similar rise in the rates over the rest of this term. Acute respiratory infections, as well as other infections, including Scarlet Fever and Norovirus are also circulating in addition to Flu. ‘Health protection in children and young people settings, including education’ was updated in December 2022 and provides advice for schools in relation to infectious diseases.

3.Assessment and attainment

As schools continue to focus on educational recovery it is useful to have a look at Education recovery: guidance for governors and trustees (April 2022) and consider the questions for boards to ask. Boards will also be engaging with the inspection data summary report (IDSR) as independent evidence for boards on how well their school is doing, this was updated for secondary and primary schools in December 2022.

With GCSE, AS and A level exams now back, the DfE believe it is important to move back to publicly available data about exam results for transparency.  They recognise the uneven impact on schools and colleges of the pandemic and ensure clear messages are placed on performance measures websites to advise caution when considering the 2021/22 published data, including strongly discouraging all users of the data from drawing comparisons with performance data from previous years.

For secondary schools the accountability guidance (updated December 2022) indicates that the DfE will publish results from qualifications achieved in 2021/22 on the ‘Find and check the performance of schools and colleges in England’ website, using their normal suite of KS4 accountability measures, as far as that is possible.

For primary schools this academic year, the accountability guidance (updated December 2022) indicates that 2021/22 results will not be published in the school performance tables but will be available at school, MAT and local authority level to inform school improvement discussions. As tests have taken place without adaptations they will show more clearly the impact of the pandemic, but clear messages will be placed on the school performance data to advise caution when considering the data for 2021/22.

Boards to consider: How can you provide evidence that school improvement is happening in your school?


There have been some headlines generated by school funding recently, it is worth just noting what will have an impact on our budgets as we all look towards budget setting later this term.

Covid recovery funding has been changing, the key schemes available for this year are:

Recovery Premium. Recovery Premium will be in place until 2024 and unlike its predecessor the catch-up premium which was for all pupils, is funding that builds on the pupil premium eligibility. The recovery funding is designed to help schools deliver evidence-based approaches for supporting the most disadvantaged pupils.  Schools must show how they are using their recovery premium effectively by reporting on their use of recovery premium as part of their pupil premium strategy statement. The National Tutoring Programme: NTP is a government funded initiative designed to support schools to address the impact of COVID-19 on pupils’ progress and attainment with a ring-fenced school led tutoring grant, State-funded schools will receive NTP funding over the course of the 2022 to 2023 academic year to deliver tuition to their pupils. This funding is paid in termly instalments via local authorities and academy trusts. It is intended to cover 60% of the unit cost of tuition, with schools targeting the tutoring offer towards their pupil premium cohort and making up the remainder of the cost using pupil premium or from other core school budgets.

£2.3 billion increase to educational spend. This increase announced last autumn will provide extra money for schools in 2023-24 and 2024-25, £4.6 billion in total. The announcement means that core schools budget will rise by four per cent in each of the next two years, with staff pay rises likely to account for £1.3 billion of the total £2.3 billion increase.

£1.8billion of capital funding. This amount has been committed for this academic year to improve the condition of school buildings. In addition, seven schools in Devon will benefit from the ten year Schools Rebuilding Programme.

£500 million to help energy efficiency upgrades. The Department for Education has confirmed that they are investing £500 million to help state schools and colleges with energy efficiency upgrades, helping to manage energy consumption and save on bills. The money could be used to install better heating controls, insulation to reduce heat loss or switching to energy efficient lighting like LEDs. This investment should work out, on average, at £42,000 per secondary school and £16,000 for a primary school with funding paid to schools in December. The DfE have also published new guidance for schools and colleges to help them reduce energy usage and maximise energy efficiency this winter and beyond. They also provide guidance for schools and those responsible for school buildings on managing energy and water use, undertaking capital projects and strategic estate management in good estate management for schools (GEMS).

NFF. The aim is still to move all schools to a direct National Funding Formula, but this requires a change in legislation in order to allow the Secretary of State to determine schools’ funding allocations directly. This formed part of the Schools Bill which was scrapped so we will need to wait and see what happens.

Local Funding (DEF). Following the Devon Schools’ Funding Consultation last term, the Local Authority proposal to transfer 0.5% from the Schools Block to the High Needs Block for 2023-24 through a one-off transfer of the growth fund surplus was not supported by Devon Education Forum (DEF) members and the local authority are now to make a Disapplication Request to the Secretary of State. DAG will keep you up to date as this issue progresses.

Additional Income. With pressures on school budgets many schools will be considering how to raise additional income, make sure you have a look at DAG Busy Governors Guide to Raising Additional Funds before deciding on a course of action.

Financial Accountability: All academy trusts must complete the self-assessment tool and submit their completed checklist to ESFA by 15 March 2023.  Maintained schools should submit their School Financial Value Standard (SFVS) to their local authority no later than 31 March 2023.

Boards to consider: Does our school have well trained finance governors/trustees and does the board provide full accountability for the funding it receives as evidenced by up to date statements on the school website?


Attendance continues to be one of the key issues schools face. Working together to improve school attendance came into effect September 2022. It has a useful summary table of responsibilities to clearly inform governors and trustees what their responsibilities are. There are a series of useful webinars available, including the latest one, ‘Analysing absence and attendance data’ and previous webinar ‘Effective governance that supports stronger attendance’.

Board to consider: Does your board track attendance, behaviour data and intelligence to intervene early and review policies and processes regularly?

6.Schools white paper

The Schools white paper led to the Schools bill which has now been scrapped. Elements of the bill will be prioritised when formulating the legislative agenda in the future. In terms of the aims within the Schools Bill for MATS, a review is now considering what the DfE can achieve in introducing MAT standards through the use of both legislative and non-legislative routes and is expected to produce recommendations soon. In terms of the 2030 target for all schools to be in, or moving to a MAT, there is recognition that this target would be very hard to achieve and there are now calls for clarity about what the government’s thinking is. As at Oct 2022, 56% of schools in Devon are Academies (including free schools) and 44% are LA maintained schools. Scrapping the bill will take the pressure off boards a little, but governors and trustees still need to consider the longer term benefits of working within a group of schools and reflect this in their strategic plan.

Boards to consider: Have we discussed the future of partnership working and the implications for our school(s)?

7.SEND green paper

The SEND green paper proposes new national SEND standards for the provision that children and young people should expect to receive. It includes reforming Education and Health Care Plans (EHCP) with new standardised, digital templates being developed to reduce variations between councils.  The SEND review also proposes reforms to the process that deals with EHCP disputes, after the rise in tribunals demonstrated the increasing frustration of parents and carers with the system and proposes to make mediation mandatory before appeals. The DfE plan to publish an Improvement Plan early in the new year.

Here in Devon the Local Authority is running with a very significant overspend of the SEND High Needs Block, £40 million in total for this year, £127 million total overspend.  An Ofsted visit last year reported that the local authority had not made sufficient progress in tackling the issues around SEND provision in Devon. Devon schools should expect SEND provision to continue to be in the spotlight this academic year.

Boards to consider: How does the number of SEND children in my school compare with the National average and the Devon average? (noting that Devon has higher rates than National) and are all SEND children within my school supported by a plan for additional provision and do we use the Devon Graduated Response Tool or other appropriate plan throughout our organisation?

8.Safeguarding: Statutory safeguarding guidance, Keeping Children Safe in Education(KCSIE), came into effect on 1 September 2022. Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that all governors and trustees receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection (including online) training at induction and notes that their training should be regularly updated.

Boards to consider: Does every member of the board have up to date safeguarding training?

9.Your Board:

Formal Proceedings, Committees and Panels: Governors and trustees will most likely be asked to take part in formal proceedings committees and panels at some point. Formal proceedings can relate to exclusion, complaints, admissions or staff procedures. In all of these instances those involved in governance will have a role directly underpinned by their school policies. There is advice already available to support clerks around the practicalities of these meetings, see DAG Busy Clerks Guide to Formal Committees, however there is very little advice for governors on how to chair a formal committee or panel.  DAG has put together the DAG Busy Governors Guide to Formal Proceedings, Committees and Panels to support governors to effectively chair these meetings, manage expectations and perhaps help to mitigate stress or anxiety.

Boards to consider: Do we have effective procedures in place to deal with formal proceedings when they arise?

 Diverse Governance: Something that Devon boards struggle with,it is worthwhile having a look at a series of webinars, the free ‘Diverse Governance Series’  is available as a series of YouTube videos, six sessions in total.

Boards to consider: Do we support school leaders to create a culture which celebrates diversity and champions equality and inclusion?

DAG Community Networks – Chairs: Support for chairs from across the Devon local authority to come together in an interactive session each term to discuss the latest issues affecting governance. Those who attend are chairs of governing boards, chairs of academy trusts and chairs of local academy bodies.

Clerks: DAG also supports clerks to come together regularly in an interactive hour-long session that recognises that clerks have a key role in delivering effective governance.

Each forum will have a theme and will be facilitated by DAG board members or associate members with considerable governance experience. Members are asked to register in advance via [email protected] and the dates for this term will be published in our newsletter shortly.

Questions for the board to consider: Are all opportunities being taken to share experiences and concerns to support board members and the clerk?

Just to be aware…

Careers – The Education (Careers Guidance in Schools) Act 2022 came into force on 1 September 2022. From 1st January 2023 schools must provide at least six encounters with providers of technical education and apprenticeships for all pupils, during school years 8 to 13 to give all pupils a full picture of the education and training options available when they leave school. Trust boards and maintained school governing bodies must ensure the new requirements are followed.

Pupil Premium – As part of the pupil premium allocations and conditions of grant for 2022 to 2023, schools are required to demonstrate how their spending decisions are informed by research evidence.  A fascinating report on social mobility in the South West has been published by the Centre for Social Mobility at Exeter University. The report shows that the South West has the worst educational outcomes for disadvantaged young people in the country along with low social mobility compared with other areas. The report and its recommendations will be of particular interest to all those involved in governance in the South West.

Admissions – Always a complicated process, but boards do have responsibilities within strict timelines. A public consultation is underway to review the proposed admission arrangements for state-funded schools in Devon along with the home-to-school transport policy for Devon County Council for the academic year 2024-25. The consultation closes on 6th January 2023 and the policies can be viewed at This scheme applies to all types of state funded school in the DCC administrative area at primary and at secondary phase, including all admission authorities for those schools.  It does not apply to admission to special schools or for boarding places in schools.  Own admission authority schools should also have a consultation running on their own school website for their policy for 2024-25. Are you your own admissions authority? Confused by admissions?  See our Busy Governor’s Guide to Admissions to help clarify your role in the process.

Climate Strategy: From 2022, to assess the impact of the government’s action, they will introduce an annual climate literacy survey to benchmark progress in improving the climate knowledge of school leavers. By 2023 they aim to develop and publish a framework to evaluate the impacts of the actions set out within the strategy. See Sustainability and climate change: a strategy for the education and children’s services systems.

What Schools Must Publish Online: From this academic year schools will be required to provide more information about their school uniforms and the hours they are open. Schools have now been given a statement they can add to their website when publishing KS2 results. See What Maintained Schools Must Publish Online and What Academies and Free Schools Must Publish Online.

Prevent Duty: This is part of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy, preventing people from being involved in terrorism or supporting terrorism. To have ‘due regard to’ Prevent is a statutory duty for all schools. From 16th January 2023 the revised free online training course has moved to a new link.





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