Latest Educational News

Head prefect of school dinners

by Times, December 30, 2006

When Jamie Oliver, aka the Naked Chef, was still in nappies, Prue Leith was firmly, but politely, trying to get across the message that good food matters and that children should learn to cook and eat well.
Coming from another generation and a different background — “I’m a bossy, middle-class know-it-all,” she admits — the cook, businesswoman, novelist and veteran of many a worthy committee went about it in a more conventional, less Establishment-bashing way. But their aims are exactly the same, says the grande dame of British cookery, as she prepares for the job of promoting what Oliver, and now the Government, wants.



Next month, Leith, 66, will take over as chairman of the School Food Trust, an independent body set up by the Government to improve meals in schools. Her role is to raise the profile of the trust, encourage, inspire and lead. “It’s a marketing job,” she says briskly. It’s also part-time and carries with it a salary of only £15,000. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy keeping the trust in the public eye. “Until now it has seemed to be a bit invisible,” says Leith, who plans to use her celebrity to highlight the problems faced by schools.

Head prefect of school dinners

by Times, December 30, 2006

When Jamie Oliver, aka the Naked Chef, was still in nappies, Prue Leith was firmly, but politely, trying to get across the message that good food matters and that children should learn to cook and eat well.
Coming from another generation and a different background — “I’m a bossy, middle-class know-it-all,” she admits — the cook, businesswoman, novelist and veteran of many a worthy committee went about it in a more conventional, less Establishment-bashing way. But their aims are exactly the same, says the grande dame of British cookery, as she prepares for the job of promoting what Oliver, and now the Government, wants.



Next month, Leith, 66, will take over as chairman of the School Food Trust, an independent body set up by the Government to improve meals in schools. Her role is to raise the profile of the trust, encourage, inspire and lead. “It’s a marketing job,” she says briskly. It’s also part-time and carries with it a salary of only £15,000. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy keeping the trust in the public eye. “Until now it has seemed to be a bit invisible,” says Leith, who plans to use her celebrity to highlight the problems faced by schools.

Extra lessons will be offered to 800000 gifted pupils

by Guardian, December 29, 2006

Ministers are studying a plan to give the brightest 800,000 pupils in England extra lessons paid for through ringfenced funds to schools.
It is believed schools do not do enough to identify those children in the top 10% of the ability range, and the aim is to encourage such children by expanding schemes such as weekend and summer schools at universities, and out-of-hours tuition. Ministers say the mainstream state system must prove it can stretch the most able and challenge the reputation of private and grammar schools for being better at doing so.

Three in 10 secondary schools have failed to send any pupils on a programme already offered to the top 5% of pupils over 11 through a centre at Warwick University. One in five secondaries has also failed to identify a single pupil as being in the top 10%. The schools have been warned to do so in a pupil census next term, and the requirement is being extended to primary schools.

E-mail school reports considered

by BBC, December 28, 2006

Parents in England may get more frequent progress reports from their children's schools via e-mail or even mobile phones, the government says.
Ministers want to use new technologies to improve the flow of information between schools and parents.

They say research shows parental involvement is vital to children's progress, and want to go beyond traditional parent-teacher evenings.

They might also set up chatrooms to discuss the way local schools are run.

Tuition fees push parents to demand more from universities

by Times, December 28, 2006

Parents are tackling universities over poor grades and lack of teaching time as they seek better value for money from their children’s degrees.

As students increasingly turn to their families to help with tuition fees, Baroness Deech, head of the student complaints watchdog, has given warning that parental disgruntlement will escalate.

Last year the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), which was set up to handle student complaints against universities, upheld a third of the 350 cases it investigated.

Passes galore for the GSC-Easy generation

by This is London, December 28, 2006

The brightest pupils now find GCSEs so undemanding that huge hauls of passes are becoming standard.

The number of teenagers amassing 14 or more has risen from just 67 when Labour came to power in 1997 to nearly 18,000 this year - 260 times higher - Government figures show.

Flaws in system could mean some miss the cut

by Telegraph, December 28, 2006

To select 10 per cent of children from all schools —as the Government proposes —and label them as "gifted and talented" is deeply flawed for many reasons.

First of all, it is necessary to differentiate between the terms "gifted" and "talented".

Since the 1970s, it has been generally accepted in Europe and the USA that the term "gifted" refers to children who score high on a reputable and properly administered test of intelligence. "Talented" refers to those who demonstrate outstanding ability in one specific area, such as mathematics, art, music or an area of sport.

Oxford dons reject plan to hand powers to 'oligarchy' of outsiders

by Independent, December 28, 2006

Oxford dons have rejected plans to hand over control of the 900-year-old university to business and political leaders.

The bitter row, which has rumbled on for much of the past year, split academics into opposing camps while allegations of dirty tricks and acrimony have shattered the peace of the famous cloisters.

But a majority of members of Oxford's Congregation - the so-called parliament of Dons - rejected the proposals in a postal ballot that has undermined the authority of the scheme's architect, the vice-chancellor, John Hood. His backers claimed reform was necessary to drag the institution into the 21st century and compete with the Ivy League colleges of the United States in an increasingly competitive global market for research and higher education. Those who opposed him said Oxford's historic independence was being lost and centuries-old democratic traditions were being flung away in favour of "oligarchy".

Labour backs bright pupils with voucher scheme for extra lessons

by Times, December 28, 2006

A groundbreaking voucher system is being introduced to schools in England for the first time next week in an attempt to meet the educational needs of the brightest pupils.
Under the initiative the country’s brightest 800,000 pupils will receive vouchers to spend on extra lessons, such as “master classes” at university-run summer schools, online evening classes or even web-based courses from Nasa, the US space agency.

Every primary and secondary school will be told to supply the names of 10 per cent of their pupils who best meet the new criteria for the “gifted and talented” programme when they complete the January schools census.

Only 5 per cent of pupils achieving top marks in national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds have been eligible for funding under the programme. The new project would ensure that the brightest 10 per cent in each school were selected, regardless of how many pupils met the present criteria. Each pupil will initially receive 151 credits that act as vouchers towards extra lessons.

Voucher scholarships for top pupils

by Guardian, December 28, 2006

A voucher system is being introduced to schools in England for the first time in a bid to meet the educational needs of the brightest pupils.

The initiative will see the country's top 800,000 pupils receive vouchers to spend on extra lessons - such as "master classes" at university-run summer schools or online evening classes.

According to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, pupils could even buy web-based courses drawn up by Nasa, the US space agency.

The paper reports that every primary and secondary school will be told to supply the names of 10% of their pupils who best meet the new criteria for the "gifted and talented" programme when they complete the January schools census.

Currently, just 5% of pupils achieving top marks in national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds are eligible for funding under the programme.

Bright pupils to receive vouchers for extra lessons

by Guardian, December 28, 2006

A voucher system to provide extra lessons for the brightest 10% of children in England is being introduced in schools, the Department for Education and Skills said today.
The initiative will help an estimated 800,000 pupils who will be able to spend their vouchers on additional courses, "master classes" at university-run summer schools or online evening classes.

The scheme, an extension of the government's National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth, which has run into passive resistance from a sizeable minority of schools, is being promoted by Lord Adonis, the schools minister and former No 10 adviser.

He has been infuriated that 30% of secondary schools have not registered pupils with the academy and 20% said they had no gifted children.

E-credits for more gifted pupils

by BBC, December 28, 2006

The government is arranging "e-credits" for schools to access extra lessons for an estimated 800,000 gifted pupils.
The £65m scheme is part of its drive to ensure all children in England with special talents are given extra help.

It requires all schools to list their gifted and talented pupils in the census data it now collects each term.

Some teachers have resisted the whole idea - while others say the obvious answer is to reintroduce grammar schools in all areas.

Give power back to teachers, say Tories

by Telegraph, December 27, 2006

School tests for seven-, 11- and 14-year-olds are harming children's education and should be scrapped, an influential think-tank says today.

Too many schools "teach to the test" to inflate their position on exam league tables, meaning pupils fail to get a proper understanding of literacy and numeracy, according to a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research.

The findings follow claims by the Conservatives that league tables are masking huge drops in basic standards at all ages.

Scrap school tests to stem rising tide of illiteracy, says think-tank

by Times, December 27, 2006

National tests for pupils aged 11 and 14 should be scrapped and replaced with random tests in order to develop broader skills in reading, writing and arithmetic, according to a leading left-wing think-tank.
The Institute for Public Policy Research believes that the current testing regime encourages teachers to drill children to pass tests, resulting in a narrow curriculum.



It calls instead for a system based on internal teacher assessments, backed by “sample monitoring tests” to ensure that schools continue to be held accountable for their teaching and results.

The radical proposals come after Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, suggested that children could be measured on individual progress rather than against national targets.

He said that the system was too narrow and needed to be opened up to give more incentives to teachers and bored under-achievers. With the introduction of the national curriculum in 1988, test or “Sats” results for children aged 7 and 11 in the three Rs rose consistently until 2001, the think-tank said.

Since then the rate of improvement has levelled off and one in five children now leaves primary school unable to read, write or add up well enough to cope at secondary school.

Pupil tests 'should be replaced'

by BBC, December 27, 2006

Tests for primary school pupils and 14-year-olds in England should be replaced with teacher assessments, a think tank says.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said "too many" pupils left primary school unable to read and write and do mathematics well.

It said regular teacher assessments of pupils' work should replace the testing of pupils aged 11 and 14.

Scrap Sats tests, says think tank

by Guardian, December 27, 2006

National school tests for 11 and 14-year-olds should be scrapped, Tony Blair's favourite think tank has said.

Schools focus on drilling children to pass the tests rather than teaching the broader maths and English skills pupils need, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says.

The IPPR called for the current system of national curriculum "key stage" tests, often known as "Sats", to be replaced by internal teacher assessments.

IPPR associate director Richard Brooks said every child needed to master the three Rs. "An end to national 'key stage' testing should make space for better teaching and learning, but it would also mean new assessment responsibilities for teachers. We need a 'new deal' where teachers and heads are respected and held accountable as professionals."

Sats exams 'should be scrapped in favour of regular pupil assessment'

by This is London, December 27, 2006

National school tests for 11 and 14-year-olds should be scrapped, Tony Blair's favourite think tank said today.

Schools focus on drilling children to pass the tests rather than teaching the broader maths and English skills pupils need, the Institute for Public Policy Research says.

It called for the current system of national curriculum "key stage" tests, often known as "Sats", to be replaced by internal teacher assessments.

Institute associate director Richard Brooks said every child needed to master the three Rs: "But for that to happen, there needs to be accurate assessment and a special focus on identifying pupils at risk of low attainment.

"An end to national 'key stage' testing should make space for better teaching and learning but it would also mean new assessment responsibilities for teachers.

"We need a new dealwhere teachers and heads are respected and held accountable as professionals."

Tests at 11 and 14 'should be scrapped'

by Politics.co.uk, December 27, 2006

National school tests at age 11 and 14 should be scrapped in favour of teacher-led assessments and more focus on reading, writing and maths skills, a new report has urged.

A study from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a think tank close to New Labour, says the current exam system leads to pupils being 'taught the test' rather than wider skills and knowledge.

It calls for a '3Rs guarantee' that would require schools to identify pupils at risk of failing to achieve the necessary level in reading, writing and maths at the end of primary school.

These children should be entitled to a programme of structured support, such as an intensive one-to-one reading scheme, it says. Similar help should also be available to those pupils below the target levels of attainment in their first year of primary school.

The IPPR notes that the number of children reaching the required levels of the 3Rs has risen significantly in the past ten years. But it warns primary level improvements are slowing, and says action is needed to address this.

Schools minister takes life skills off syllabus

by Guardian, December 27, 2006

Ministers have scaled back plans to teach teenagers "life skills" such as communication and teamwork as part of GCSEs and A-levels, despite warnings from employers that too many school leavers are poorly prepared for work.
Jim Knight, the schools minister, halted moves to embed "personal, learning and thinking skills" within all GCSEs and A-levels. Exam courses will instead concentrate on subject knowledge, rather than trying to assess nebulous concepts like creative thinking.

The Confederation of British Industry warned that many youngsters were not equipped for working life and called on schools to teach teenagers vital social skills.

Ministers had intended for skills - including communication, personal presentation, creative thinking, teamwork and reliability - to be embedded across the school curriculum for 14 to 19-year-olds.

But after receiving advice from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Mr Knight said he did not want to force these skills to sit "unnaturally" within GCSEs.

The minister wrote in a letter to the QCA: "A-levels and GCSEs, by their nature, test deep subject knowledge rather than naturally assess these skills.

Blairite think-tank calls for Key Stage tests to be scrapped in favour of three R's

by This is London, December 27, 2006

School key stage tests should be scrapped because pupils can pass them without mastering the three Rs, a leading Blairite think tank has urged.

It found that much-trumpeted improvements in SATs results owe as much to question-spotting and "teaching to the test" as genuine progress.

In a devastating analysis, the Institute for Public Policy Research said the tests left children with a "shallow" and "narrow" grasp of English and Maths.

It called on Tony Blair to dismantle the testing regime for 11 and 14-year-olds - loathed by many teachers and often resented by parents for the stress placed on children - and replace it with internal teacher assessment.

Pupils would still take tests to monitor schools' performance, but not in as many subjects, and they need not be told of the results.

Researchers said reforms were crucial because schools too often concentrated on drilling children to pass the tests without necessarily improving their understanding.

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