Latest Educational News

Pupils to get lessons in respect

by BBC, January 31, 2006

A new approach to tackling anti-social behaviour is being piloted in primary schools in Fife.
Being Cool in School puts emphasis on respect for other people and on social skills, with even the youngest children learning lessons in empathy.

The aim is for children to learn how to manage their anger and to think about how their actions affect other people.

Teachers said bulling and aggressive behaviour had reduced and many timid children were more confident.

Give us your money. But not at any price

by Guardian, January 31, 2006

I want all schools to succeed - even academies. At a recent meeting this bald statement caused debate. But no teacher, or union representative, could sustain a case that looked forward to the failure of any school with optimistic young people walking through the school gate every morning. Schools attract enormous commitment from the people who work in and use them. A successful school community is a matter of pride; youngsters, parents and staff see real outcomes from their efforts.
Academies are no different from other schools in this respect. The majority of academies have admitted children from the toughest backgrounds. Every school, particularly those that represent the only hope for the children in them, should succeed.

But, like many others, I agree with William Atkinson's recent analysis in these pages (January 17) that policy-makers have come to believe that they cannot make every school a good school. As he said, the white paper really does represent an abandonment of hope for the most disadvantaged groups.

The white paper seems to ignore the fact that good local schools enhance their local communities and can be the key to reviving run-down communities and attracting new industry and jobs. Instead, the emphasis on "choice" and "marketisation" represents the default option for a government that has given up on the idea of a good local school for every child. Academies and self-governing independent school status are outcomes of that pessimism.

Hitting the wrong target?

by Guardian, January 31, 2006

It is a crisp blue-skied January morning and the view from this seventh-floor office across roofs to the British Museum a few blocks to the north would be fine indeed, but the Venetian blind slats are angled to keep views out. "If my staff ever come in and find me looking out of the window," says Alan Wells, "then they know I am really depressed."
Today, however, the blinds are shut. Despite the publication of a report by the House of Commons public accounts committee suggesting that nearly half the national workforce is virtually innumerate and more than a third is practically illiterate, the head of the Basic Skills Agency is refusing to be down.

The quoted figures - that about 12 million employed adults have literacy skills and 16 million have numeracy skills at level 1 or below - are very dodgy, he says, and many people would feel in their guts that he must be correct.

Without a prayer

by Guardian, January 31, 2006

There's a successful, popular comprehensive school right on Ruth Kelly's doorstep - a model for the future. But local children haven't a hope of getting a place.

Canon Slade School, on the Tonge Moor Road in Bolton, gets consistently good results at GCSE and A-level. It is full to the brim and oversubscribed. It has expanded to meet the demand from parents, making it one of the largest schools in the north-west, with more than 1,700 pupils. The head, the Reverend Dr Peter Shepherd, would like the freedom to expand again. Canon Slade is exactly the kind of school that could become common if the new education bill passes through parliament unscathed.
In government policy papers, this area would be described as disadvantaged. Nearby Hall i'th' Wood belies its picturesque name and is a tough council estate. If Ruth Kelly, the education secretary, were looking for exemplars for the new policy, she might be tempted to come to Canon Slade. She would not have far to travel: it is no more than a couple of miles away from her Bolton West constituency.

Yet Canon Slade also helps to explain why the government's education reforms are the focus of the biggest backbench backlash since the war on Iraq.

Return of the LEA

by Guardian, January 31, 2006

Reports of the death of local education authorities are starting to look premature. They are on the way up and gathering increasing influence over policy from birth to age 19 as Labour battles to re-invigorate local government and local democracy. Their influence is also extending over local Learning and Skills Councils (LSCs) and further education.
LEAs have seized the "every child matters" (ECM) agenda with gusto. They are the lead partners responsible for the welfare of every child from 0-19. Other key agencies, including local LSCs, have a statutory duty to cooperate with them.

Even so, there is no statutory duty on schools, nor for that matter colleges and work-based learning providers, to cooperate with local authorities. City and county halls are expected to develop local partnerships to engage learning providers in ECM. But to do this effectively they have to recognise what colleges and work-based learning providers are doing for growing numbers of 14- to 15-year-olds as part of the 14-19 agenda rather than the old notion of catering just for those aged 16-19.

Rule the school

by Guardian, January 31, 2006

When I was at school my ideas on pupil power were fuelled by the Pink Floyd hit Another Brick in the Wall and a paperback about Summerhill from my father's study. Any thoughts about being a pupil power pioneer at my own secondary school were dealt a fatal blow when the head refused to let me walk down the road to see Jimmy Carter, then president of the US, on his first overseas tour since taking office. "You might miss maths," she told me. It didn't add up then - and it still doesn't today.
So I have to remind myself how I felt then when I read about pupils becoming associate members of governing bodies. This right was granted by the education department in September 2003 and at the same time a study called I Was A Teenage Governor was launched by the Citizenship Foundation, an independent charity, and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a progressive thinktank.

The three-year project set out to explore pupil governance and measure its effectiveness in 13 pilot schools, before producing a model that could be rolled out to schools nationwide. Potential problem areas such as confidentiality, complexity, the exclusivity of pupils chosen, and training needs were examined in detail with the participants.

Sharp rise in school expulsions

by BBC, January 31, 2006

The number of pupils who have been permanently expelled from Scottish schools has risen sharply, new figures have shown.
Permanent exclusions increased by 54% to 271 in 2004/05, while temporary exclusions also rose by 8% to 41,703.

A quarter of exclusions resulted from verbal abuse, 30% from disobedience and 13% involved offensive behaviour.

The education minister said he welcomed councils taking tough action to remove troublemakers from classes.

A total of 84% of the exclusions involved youngsters at secondary school, while 12% were at primary school and 2% were at special school.

'Pressure cooker' schools warning

by BBC, January 31, 2006

Test preparation makes primary school a "pressure cooker" for some children, a senior government adviser has told MPs.
Former Ofsted director Jim Rose said it was "a real issue" for some schools.

Mr Rose is chairing the government's review of how children in England learn to read - now also the subject of a Commons education committee inquiry.

He told the committee that "teaching to the test" sensibly was often unavoidable - but taken to extremes it "put children into straitjackets".

Schools defend right not to tell parents in row over girl's bus pass fine

by Telegraph, January 31, 2006

Schools do not have a duty to disclose information about pupils to their parents, a spokesman for the independent sector said yesterday.

Right-wing anger as Cameron denies he is 'betraying' party principles

by Independent, January 31, 2006

David Cameron is under mounting criticism from right-wing Tories who accuse him of abandoning the party's traditional principles and policies.

The Tory leader vowed not to repeat the mistake of recent Tory leaders by lurching to the right when he was under pressure, and said that his party would continue to occupy the political centre ground. He denied the charge of "betrayal" and accused his internal critics of "one- dimensional thinking". Mr Cameron's strategy has provoked a right-wing backlash at the private weekly meetings of Tory MPs, who are furious that he has downgraded tax cuts, and dumped policies such as setting up more grammar schools and subsidising patients opting for private health treatment.

Tories must retake centre ground says Cameron

by Guardian, January 31, 2006

That meant finding new ways to deliver Conservative aims of improving social mobility or economic competitiveness, rather than resorting to old methods such as bringing back grammar schools or cutting taxes. Addressing rightwing critics, he said: "The change is not a betrayal. It is a recognition that the challenges faced by Britain are not the challenges of the 1970s. Social justice and economic efficiency are the common ground of British politics. We have to find the means of succeeding where the government has failed."

NI education faces major review

by UTV, January 31, 2006

Classified as 11 Plus.

Northern Ireland is facing a radical overhaul of its post-primary education system, with the 11 plus being phased out.

Instead of forcing children to go to grammar or secondary schools from the age of 11, there will be a comprehensive system with teenagers from 14 upwards making key decisions about their future.

Time for 'a new model of schooling

by UTV, January 31, 2006

With the phasing out of the 11-plus in Northern Ireland by 2008, children will be assessed during their primary and secondary school years through a pupil profile which will determine which schools they go to and what courses they will study.

All secondary level pupils will receive a comprehensive education between the ages of 11 and 14.

Lidington re-affirms Conservative commitment to NI grammar schools

by Conservatives, January 31, 2006

Following a meeting with David McNarry, UUP MLA for Strangford and Education spokesman, David Lidington, Shadow Secretary for Northern Ireland, re-affirmed the Conservatives' commitment to maintaining Northern Ireland's grammar schools. Commenting, Mr Lidington said:

"We are completely opposed to the Government's plans to scrap all forms of academic selection in Northern Ireland's schools. The Conservative Party fully supports the wishes of the vast majority of parents in Northern Ireland who wish to retain a form of academic selection - not the 11+ - and their existing schools structure.

Labour's education rebels begin to talk compromise

by Guardian, January 30, 2006

Hopes of a compromise on the government's controversial school reforms grew stronger yesterday as both sides signalled their keenness to reach a deal and prevent the Tories from benefiting from a split in Labour ranks.
About 100 MPs and senior party figures - including Alastair Campbell, Neil Kinnock and former ministers Nick Raynsford and Estelle Morris - are opposed to key proposals in the white paper. But yesterday the rebels said they were discussing which changes to admissions policies and the role of local education authorities could win them over.

Kelly pledges school reforms debate

by Scotsman, January 30, 2006

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly promised to "explore and discuss" how the Government's controversial school reforms will work in action before publishing a Bill.

The minister said the "conversation" on the plans was "continuing" amid opposition from about 100 Labour MPs and senior party figures.

Ms Kelly said that the White Paper proposals for a new breed of "trust schools", free from local authority control, "would not be for everyone".

But many private companies and faith groups were interested in backing the new schools as partners in the trusts that will run them, she said.

Speaking after a "seminar" with 25 potential backers, Ms Kelly said: "The seminar is just one part of the continuing conversation we are having about our education reforms.

Kelly opens talks with firms over sponsoring schools

by Telegraph, January 30, 2006

Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, will anger Labour rebels opposed to the Government's controversial education reforms today by holding talks with major firms interested in sponsoring independent trust schools.

She will meet 25 businesses and charities at the Department for Education in the first of a series of planned seminars with private sponsors and head teachers eager to back or become trust schools.

They will include the software giant Microsoft, the accountancy firm KPMG, the Corporation of London and the Mercers Company, the charitable body which controls the fee-paying St Paul's School and sponsors Thomas Telford City Technology College, a leading comprehensive.

Blair compromise urged in schools row

by Financial Times, January 30, 2006

Two former Labour ministers with close ties to Tony Blair have called on the prime minister to compromise in the row over his education reforms, warning that a revolt by rebel MPs would have serious consequences for the party.

Alan Milburn, the Blairite former cabinet minister who helped co-ordinate Labour's general election victory last May, joined senior figures at the top of the government who believe Downing Street will have to listen to the rebels if it is to get Mr Blair's flagship legislation through the Commons.

More than 90 Labour MPs have signalled their opposition to reforms that are contained in a white paper introducing independent "trust" schools. A vote on a forthcoming bill is expected in March.

Kelly hints at schools compromise

by BBC, January 30, 2006

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has hinted at a compromise with Labour MPs over school plans for England.
She told the Evening Standard she would "explore" concerns, "especially" on admissions and local authorities' role.

About 90 Labour MPs want safeguards to ensure new independent "trust" schools do not re-introduce academic selection.

Meanwhile Ms Kelly has been holding talks with 25 companies and charities, including Microsoft and KPMG, about sponsoring trust schools.

The meetings are the first in a series of planned seminars with private sponsors and head teachers about the controversial plans to allow sponsorship of schools.

Educational supplement?

by The Lawyer, January 30, 2006

The much-publicised white paper 'Higher Standards, Better Schools for All: More Choice for Parents and Pupils' has generated far more media interest than proposals for education legislation usually do. After all, since this government came to power, we have had an Education Act roughly once a year, and yet media interest is generally slight. So why are these proposals different?
There are two reasons, only the first of which is to do with the content of the paper itself. The second is that the proposals have been purposefully given a higher place on the political and publicity agenda of the Government than even the much-quoted 'education, education, education' priorities list occasioned. This must be due in large measure to the Prime Minister's personal desire to leave a legacy of educational change when he quits Number 10. The crucial thing that educationalists and parents want to know is whether this legacy will be one of which he can justifiably be proud.

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