The Engagement Model – An Announcement or Something Else?

On Monday 27th of January 2020, the DfE released draft guidance called “The Engagement Model”. Strangely, it didn’t appear in the Governments announcements or the DFE Email Digest, and it doesn’t appear in the list of News and Communications from the DfE.

They also uploaded a video to YouTube called ‘The Engagement Model’ on the 20th of January 2020. It seems if you want to keep up with the DfE these days, you need to subscribe to their YouTube channel!

If you google “The Engagement Model”, you will find the first entry that isn’t from the DfE is a blog article from the LEARN Teaching School Alliance announcing that they will deliver training on the new “Engagement Model” across the East Midlands andHumber. The article mentions the reduction of 7 aspects to just 5. This was posted in October 2019. Why has the DfE only announced this now?

It seems that the Engagement Model got caught up in the General Election. It was likely due for release in the second half of the autumn term but got caught up in Purdah. Purdah is a period before an election that limits communication from Governmentdepartments. Purdah prevented the DfE making any announcements between the 5th of November 2019 and the 19th of December 2019. Are we now getting the backlog of announcements from the DfE?

The Engagement Model document says it is draft and that ‘This draft guidance will be reviewed before spring 2020, when a final version will be published’. A clue that along with the blog article mentioned above that this should have been released earlier.

I am not sure what to make of this announcement/document as it is only draft guidance that was due for release a few months ago. Now it has been released it didn’t warrant an announcement or communication. According to the document itself, it has alreadybeen reviewed; reviewed before spring 2020 and purdah doesn’t stop the work, only the announcements and they will publish the final version in Spring 2020. It seems the final guidance will be coming before the 3rd of April 2020 (end ofspring 2020).

Why wasn’t it announced? Why did it not feature in the email digests or the News and Communications?

Is it because the final guidance will be significantly different, and they didn’t want people to pay attention to this document? If so, why release the document? Do they have to release the draft guidance before the final guidance could be released? Isthere a minimum time limit between draft and final guidance?

As I write this article, the first “Train the Trainer” event is happening for The Engagement Model, in Lancashire. The photos on twitter show slides with 5 areas of Engagement. Are the trainers being trained on the draft guidance or the final guidance? Why is the Government still so bad at sharing information? Is it because it only affects a few people so it can take a backseat, not realising the impact this guidance will have on the pupils, schools and hopefully families.

For our customers using our Engagement Steps for assessing pupils not yet engaged with subject-specific learning, we will wait for the final guidance. Something about how this document was released tells me that the final guidance might be different or more guidance will follow which will make things clearer.

We are now over 6 years on from the release of the new Primary curriculum, and they are still dragging their heels when it comes to guidance for pupils with SEND. Fingers crossed 2020 will be the turning point and things will improve for pupils with SEND, their families and the professionals who support them.