What will our schools face in 2017?

Notebook and pencils. Picture: Getty Images

Notebook and pencils. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Ah, 2016 - an exhausting year for schools. Exclamation marks almost got the chop, parent governors hung in the balance and pyjamas at the school gates came under fire.

And with the threat of grammar schools looming and code-breakers poised to help students understand their new GCSE results, the year ahead is set to be as turbulent.

Education correspondent Lauren Cope has rounded up what teachers, parents and politicians will be debating in the months ahead.

Apprenticeship levy


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Already-stretched schools will this year be counting the cost of plans to boost apprenticeship funding in the UK.

From May, all employers with wage bills over £3m a year must pay 0.5pc of it into the new apprenticeship levy.

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It will cover larger multi-academy trusts and all - even small - council-run schools, which fall under the local authority's wage bill.

Though ministers say it will be the councils, and not schools, paying the levy, headteachers have been warned to adjust their spending plans to account for the cost.

GCSE results

This summer marks the start of a gradual farewell to GCSE letter grades.

By 2019, A* to Gs will be phased out in favour of a numerical system of nine to one - with the top three grades of nine, eight and seven replacing the current A* and As.

This year, students opening the all-important results envelope will be greeted with a mix of both - five As, two Bs, two nines and a seven, for example.

It won't come as much of a shock to find that people are confused - 70pc of more than 400 parents and pupils asked by Ofqual did not understand the new system.

Grammar schools

Since Theresa May announced she would be ending the ban on the creation of new grammar schools last autumn, they have barely spent a day out of the headlines.

And with the most recent news that grammar schools could ask parents for up to £40 a month to cover funding shortfalls, the fascination is unlikely to ease this year.

Though support has been found in some quarters, the selective schools has been criticised for being elitist and divisive.

Over the coming months, parents and teachers will be keeping an eye on policy changes and new grammar schools springing up.

Budgets

Costs, cuts and clampdowns have dominated the education landscape in recent years, and remain at the top of the list of headteachers' concerns.

Rising staff costs, inflation and slashed grants mean money is tighter than ever - despite the government's insistence that the schools budget remains the same.

In a recent national survey, 72pc of headteachers said their budget would be untenable by 2019/20.

The shortfall is revealing itself through bigger class sizes, less teaching support and tired technology, as leaders grapple to see front-line education go unscathed.

Recruitment

It is perhaps down to a combination of the above that encouraging new blood into teaching is proving tricky.

Schools are looking abroad, rehiring former staff members and training in-house to combat the national recruitment issues.

Though nondiscriminatory in nature, rural areas have been dealt an even tougher hand - with coastal and fenland areas in our region identified as particular challenges.

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