Friday Five: unregistered alternative provision, music hubs, exam scams, class-contact time, national curriculum


10th May 2024

1. Scale of unregistered alternative provision revealed in new SchoolsWeek research

Thousands of children, some of whom as young as five, are being educated in unregulated and unregistered alternative provision centres, a SchoolsWeek investigation has found. These centres, which are not inspected by Ofsted or any other body, are often staffed by teachers through recruitment processes that do not check whether they have qualifications or a criminal record. The investigation revealed provision even included ‘disturbing accounts of vans set on fire, knives allowed on site and children sent to work for a mechanic.’ While councils are aware of these practices, over a third do not know how many pupils in their region are educated in these settings. 

Read the full report here.

2. Music hubs to be consolidated 

The Government has announced a ‘new generation’ of music hubs, which will be consolidated to cover larger areas, reducing their number from 116 to 43. First established in 2012, music hubs are groups of schools, councils, community groups, and music organisations that offer support to education settings to develop high quality music education. These hubs are set to receive over £100 million in funding next year. The re-tendering process has named 41 organisations to lead these new larger hubs, with two hubs still waiting to be announced. 

Read more here.

3. Exam boards urge social media companies to take action against exam scams

Numerous accounts on TikTok and Instagram have falsely claimed to offer this year’s exam papers for hundreds of pounds. Students report that these accounts are easily accessible and psychologically manipulative. While schools are taking measures to educate students about these scams, exam boards are urging social media companies to take strict action against the scammers. Ofqual has warned that if students try to cheat, they could lose the qualification they have been studying for, even if the papers they try to buy are fake. The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) has acknowledged what it calls activity on the “fringes” of time zone cheating, where students who have completed their exams in certain countries have shared information with those yet to sit them. 

Read the full article here

4. New report calls on ScotGov to delay its teacher class-contact time target

A new report by economic consultants WPI Economics has called on the Scottish Government to delay its teacher class-contact time target to 2028. ScotGov’s aim to reduce teachers’ class-contact time by 90 minutes a week is possible by the current 2026 target, but only if the number of teachers in all sectors across Scotland is increased, the report argued. However, the target is possible by 2028 with current teacher numbers, albeit with the caveat that the proportion of teachers in primary, secondary, and special schools would need to change.

Read the full report here.

5. New SMF briefing on English curriculum calls for changes to GCSE assessment

While a bulging national curriculum in England is leading to rote learning and teachers skipping through content quickly, the real issue lies with GCSE assessment, a new briefing from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) has argued. Students spend too long learning for exams and not enough time exploring new concepts and gaining a proper understanding of the content they are learning, SMF argue. Meanwhile, the importance of GCSE results to schools leads them to prioritise maximising results over teaching content properly. Reforms should focus on slimming down GCSEs, exploring alternative assessment methods, reducing the importance of GCSEs for schools, and a modest reduction in curriculum content.

The full briefing is here.

That’s all for this week! If you found this blog useful, please be sure to share/tweet it and follow @theCfEY, @Barristotle, and @conorcarleton for future editions.