National Middle Schools’ Forum Newsletter

January 2012

 News of important developments:

1) Book your place at one of our day conferences in February


The New Ofsted Framework and Middle Schools


           Special Day Conferences 2012

We are delighted that Ofsted have worked with the Steering Committee to arrange two day conferences in February which will provide an opportunity to hear a presentation about the New Inspection Framework by Gill Jones HMI, Principal Officer, Framework Development, Maintained Primary Schools, and Ofsted. There will be opportunities to share thinking about the development of systems for self evaluation and tracking progress to meet the new requirements.

We have been able to keep the cost to a minimum in the hope that this will enable schools to consider sending two delegates – a deputy head or chair of governors for example.

Dates and venues:

           Friday 3rd February 2012: Broadway House, London    

           Wednesday 8th February 2012: Holiday Inn, Bromsgrove  

Audience: Governors, Headteachers and senior staff in Middle Schools

Cost: £60 per person

Full details and booking form can be downloaded from the News section of the homepage for the  NMSF website –

2) Government proposals for a new funding system for schools

The government have recently published the results of the second stage of consultation on options for a change to a new national system of funding for schools. You can read the summary here:

In November I had an initial meeting with the DfE team leading this proposal to consider the position of middle schools. While much remains uncertain it is clear they wish to move to a much simpler, more transparent, formula. While primary schools would receive a proposed flat rate of £95,000, under current proposals, any school with secondary age pupils (i.e. all middle schools) would be funded almost entirely on pupil numbers.

I have worked with a number of small middle schools to develop some case studies on current middle school funding in different authorities, which I have submitted to the DfE team. From this work it is clear that many of these schools currently receive over half of their funding through flat rate elements and are potentially disadvantaged by these proposals (although I have not seen any modelling for individual schools).

It remains to be decided whether schools will be funded directly through this formula (with a few small areas left for local discretion), or the formula will determine the size of the LA pot, which a strengthened Schools’ Forum will then distribute.

The next step will be for proposals to be considered by ministers, which will be followed by a final round of consultation. We will need to ensure that we contribute our views at this stage.

3) National Curriculum Review – Report December 2011

The report of the National Curriculum expert group is available at this link:

There seem to be two important elements to the report we should consider for middle schools – the proposals to change the Key Stages and the implications for assessment and reporting.

Page 30 – Chapter 5 on Key Stages – Proposes dividing Key Stage 2 into two parts (see paragraphs 5.4 to 5.6) and then goes on to propose a two year Key Stage 3 (see paragraph 5.12).

The report seems to indicate there may be too many obstacles to change to a two year Key Stage 3 – but it would clearly be to our advantage. The report holds out the tantalising prospect of Key Stages aligning with 9 to 13 middle schools for the first time.

Page 9 and then Chapter 8 on Assessment outline the committee’s thinking on assessment. How this would work in practice remains unclear (and is not in the committee’s remit), but it seems to suggest the end of levels as we know them and developments along the lines suggested by Alison Peacock at our national conference in October.

We will want to contribute, where possible, to the next stage in the work of the committee. The proposal to split KS2 will meet resistance from primary schools, and much will depend on the detail of any assessment arrangements.

Nigel Wyatt

Executive Officer