Latest Educational News
by Daily Mail, July 31, 2006
Schools will no longer have to teach children the difference between right and wrong, it was revealed yesterday.
Under new plans, the National Curriculum will be changed to say teachers merely have to help them develop "secure values and beliefs".
Learning about Britain's cultural heritage will also be dropped in favour of simply making sure pupils "understand different cultures and traditions".
There was anger and disbelief last night at the planned changes to the curriculum for 11 to 14-year-olds, coming at a time of mounting concern about anti-social behaviour and warnings of the consequences of record levels of immigration.
The Church of England said the proposals risked eroding the fundamental principle of schooling to give children moral guidance, while education experts said dispensing with right and wrong was an "alarming" idea.
by BBC, July 31, 2006
GCSE pupils should be prevented from taking coursework home as part of efforts to stamp out cheating, the exams watchdog for England has advised.
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority warns that copying from the internet and help from parents pose "a threat to the fairness" of GCSEs.
Ensuring more work is done at school rather than at home will also reduce the burden on students, it adds.
The government is expected to comment on the proposals later in the year.
by Guardian, July 31, 2006
Pupils will no longer have to be taught the difference between "right and wrong" under draft plans from England's exams watchdog.
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), wants 11 to 14-year-olds to learn the importance of "secure values and beliefs" and understand "different cultures and traditions".
However, the proposals - revealed in a letter sent to the former education secretary Ruth Kelly - have angered the Church of England, which said it was "fundamental" that schools should deal with "spiritual and moral" education.
The QCA's chief executive, Ken Boston, set out his proposals in a letter in March to Ms Kelly.
The current curriculum wording states: "The school curriculum should contribute to the development of pupils' sense of identity through knowledge and understanding of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural heritages of Britain's diverse society."
by Guardian, July 30, 2006
Schools will no longer be required to teach teenagers to understand the difference between "right and wrong" under new plans.
Instead, children will be encouraged to develop what officials have described as "secure values and beliefs".
And draft reforms to the National Curriculum have deleted the requirement to teach children about Britain's cultural heritage.
Experts expressed alarm at the proposals, which forms part of the Government's reforms to education for 11-14 year-olds.
Ministers want schools to have more flexibility in the way they teach this difficult age group and so have ordered officials to cut back the statutory National Curriculum.
Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), set out the proposed aims for the new slimmed down curriculum in a letter in March to the then Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly.
Currently the curriculum aims for 11-14 year-olds state: "The school curriculum should pass on enduring values. It should develop principles for distinguishing between right and wrong."
by Sunday Times, July 30, 2006
The proposal that schools should no longer be required to teach teenagers to understand the difference between “right and wrong” is as astonishing as it is absurd. Instead, under plans put forward to simplify the National Curriculum, children will be encouraged to develop what officials describe as “secure values and beliefs”. At the same time, the draft reforms, submitted to the Education Secretary in March, delete the requirement to teach pupils about Britain’s cultural heritage. Instead, schools should dwell on the benefits of British membership of the European Union. Rarely have officials drawn up proposals so inept, so out of step with current thinking and so likely to stir up public anger.
by Guardian, July 29, 2006
The multimillion-pound trade in internet cheating which sees thousands of students hand over money in return for bespoke essays is to be investigated by a committee of MPs, it has emerged.
The move comes as the Guardian unveils the scale of the market in online plagiarism, estimated to be worth £200m, which has seen a boom in the number of companies offering tailored essays in the last 12 months.
The owner of one online organisation says he employs 3,500 specialist writers who have written more than 15,000 essays for students wanting a leg-up in university courses. The company made £90,000 in one week in May and the owner has a Ferrari and a Lamborghini in his garage.
The scale of the problem, which affects schools and universities, was underlined last night when vice-chancellors announced they will hold a plagiarism summit in October to devise ways of stemming the online trade.
by BBC, July 28, 2006
Parents have claimed their children's education is being affected by new rights which allow teachers time away from pupils under the McCrone deal.
A survey by the Scottish Parent Teacher Council suggests widespread concern.
Those questioned said head teachers and classroom assistants sometimes had to provide cover or children were left to watch television and videos.
Local authorities said some schools may not have explained the changes well enough to parents.
The McCrone agreement, reached in 2001, secured a 23% salary rise over three years for Scotland's 50,000 teachers.
The deal also capped teachers' working week at 35 hours and included the hiring of 3,000 more support staff.
by Times, July 28, 2006
The chance to study robotics, aerospace engineering and house valuation will be offered to pupils aged 14 to 19 under a plan for vocational diplomas that is expected to revolutionise secondary education.
By bringing together employers, schools, colleges and universities, the Government hopes to offer specialised diplomas that will be respected by business leaders.
In one of the most radical changes to secondary education since the introduction of GCSEs in 1988, the Government hopes to persuade more teenagers to stay on at school after they reach 16. Britain has one of the worst staying-on rates in the West.
The first five diplomas — in IT, construction, media, health and social care, and engineering — will be available in England from September 2008. The target is 14 subjects by 2013.
Teenagers will be able to study for the diplomas alongside GCSEs. The course will combine work experience with academic study. Half the learning should involve practical activities outside the classroom.
by Guardian, July 28, 2006
Schools in the government's £5bn academy programme are achieving mixed results, with many suffering from poor pupil discipline, bullying and badly designed buildings, according to a government-backed report.
The study looked at 11 academies and found that seven had improved their results at 14 and GCSE. However, standards at the other four had deteriorated.
"There is a clear diversity in pupil performance both between and within academies, and this is one of the most important findings to emerge from the research to date," the report stated.
by Guardian, July 28, 2006
Details of what teenagers will study in the new specialist diplomas were disclosed today.
The qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds, which have been developed jointly by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and industry representatives, will be a blend of general education and work-related study in a special subject.
English, maths and IT skills will be core components of each diploma.
Students will additionally be expected to complete a project and take part in relevant work experience, as well as completing academic study in their chosen diploma subject, the DfES announced.
by Oxford, July 28, 2006
Oxford University has been accused of using "immoral" methods to increase the number of students it takes from poor backgrounds.
Tutors at Oxford's colleges will consider the academic record of a candidate's school "as systematically as possible" when deciding who to shortlist for interview under controversial reforms.
Pupils from schools near the bottom of league tables could be offered an interview - and subsequently a place - at Oxford, while some with better grades from top schools may not.
The policy, agreed last month, aims to prevent bright sixth-formers from schools or colleges with traditionally poor results from being penalised if they get lower GCSE grades than candidates from top schools.
by Mirror, July 28, 2006
Tony Blair's controversial academy schools have cut back on bullying - by scrapping old-fashioned toilets.
The flagship schools have replaced communal loos with single cubicles attached to or just outside classrooms.
A new report says it has led to dramatic improvements in bullying, vandalism and general behaviour.
Pupils are no longer able to bunk off lessons after claiming they are going off to the toilets. And troublemakers cannot meet in communal loos to smoke and bully children who walk in.
Overall, the independent report by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers delivers a mixed verdict on the academies, which are mostly in tough inner city areas. Seven out 11 of those studied had improved results.
by Belfast Telegraph, July 28, 2006
Baroness Blood's remarks to the House of Lords in support of integrated schooling in Northern Ireland (Belfast Telegraph, July 19) are misconceived but will no doubt carry political clout given her role as chairperson of the Integrated Education Fund. They should not be allowed to rest unchallenged, however.
Baroness Blood put her case in the Lords calling for greater support for mixed religion schools, noting that to date "all transforming schools have come from the Protestant Controlled Sector with none from the Catholic Maintained Sector".
In bringing up this red herring May Blood no doubt hopes that our attention will be deflected from understanding what schools are for, to what she, and those of her ilk, think schools ought to be about.
The fact is that all schools in Northern Ireland, from primary through secondary and grammar, from controlled, maintained and independent, follow a common academic curriculum and undergo common independently assessed examinations. When one looks at the GCSE and A level results year on year, one can see why the Northern Ireland results are the envy of the rest of the United Kingdom.
by Guardian, July 27, 2006
The government's controversial academy programme is popular with parents but the scheme has cost taxpayers £48.5m more than was originally budgeted, an independent report reveals today.
The study, by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), shows that academies, which are designed to replace failing schools struggling to fill places, are oversubscribed. The new academies in Hackney, Southwark and Lambeth have six times more applications than available places; Mossbourne community academy, which replaced the troubled Hackney Downs school, has received 1,137 applications for just 191 places. Overall, there have been three times as many applications for academies as there are places available.
The prime minister's cherished scheme received a boost yesterday when a mother lost the first of a series of legal challenges in the high court. She was trying to prevent her children's Islington primary school from being replaced by an academy.
Despite Tony Blair's enthusiasm, the programme, inaugurated by the former education secretary Charles Clarke, in 2000, has largely failed to deliver improved results. Last summer it emerged that, although only 42% of state school pupils received five good GCSEs, academies' results were worse.
by Guardian, July 27, 2006
Oxford University yesterday drew fierce criticism from independent schools after announcing changes to its admission system designed to attract more pupils from poorer backgrounds.
Oxford colleges will consider the academic record of a candidate's school when deciding whom to shortlist for interview. Pupils from schools near the bottom of the government's league tables could be offered an interview while some with better grades from top schools may miss out.
The initiative has been welcomed by those campaigning for a fairer deal for state school pupils at leading universities. But heads from the independent sector said the reforms risked discriminating against hardworking pupils from their schools.
by Times, July 27, 2006
Parents are backing Tony Blair’s controversial city academy programme overwhelmingly, according to an independent report that will reveal today that each place is heavily oversubscribed.
The day after a mother failed at the High Court to prevent her children’s Islington primary school being replaced by an academy, a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is expected to show that the semi-independent schools are receiving three times the applicants to places available.
The findings are a “massive vote of confidence” by parents in the Government’s programme to build 200 academies by 2010, Lord Adonis, the Schools Minister, told The Times, in spite of criticism by teachers’ unions and Labour leftwingers that they are unaccountable and too expensive.
by BBC, July 27, 2006
A father has lost a High Court challenge to his son's school being replaced with an academy.
Rob Macdonald, from south-west London, said the consulation over the conversion plans for Tamworth Manor school, Merton, had been flawed.
But the High Court decided on Thursday that this was not the case.
Schools Minister Lord Adonis said he was "delighted" by the judgement. Another legal challenge to academies by a parent failed on Wednesday.
by Politics.co.uk, July 27, 2006
The government should stop the "spin" about city academies, according to lawyers representing a mother in the high court yesterday.
Hayley Powers lost her battle against her daughter's school becoming an academy, a day before PricewaterhouseCoopers published the third of five reports into the performance of the semi-independent schools.
The lawyers said although she was disappointed at losing the case, she hoped it would end the practice of forcing parents and pupils to agree to close existing schools without being told what the replacement would be.
"She hopes the government will stop the 'spin' about academies and finally admit the problems that currently exist at many of them," they said.
Today's improvements to the funding agreement model for academies was "not enough to secure the rights and protections for parents and pupils", but it was "a step in the right direction", the lawyers added.
by Independent, July 27, 2006
Experts have been wringing their hands at the underachievement of boys. But now a group of schools in Yorkshire is showing the world how to kick-start their enthusiasm for learning.
Boys don't do well in school. They work less hard than girls, act up in class, and fall down in exams. Their underperformance hampers their life chances and blights society - disaffected youths are the main perpetrators of violence and anti-social behaviour. Yet to many teachers and parents their failure is an enigma. What can you do, they shrug. They're boys.
The answer is: a lot. And fast. In fact, a city-wide project is proving that we already know exactly what to do to get boys going. And when it is done, results show up almost immediately.
Eighteen months ago a group of Bradford schools set out to raise boys' school marks, behaviour and aspirations. A pilot group of 22 primary schools began the work, and 18 of them improved boys' attainments within the year, with 13 seeing an average increase of 5 per cent in literacy and 10 per cent in numeracy in national test scores.
Teachers are also seeing a real turnaround in boys' attitudes, and boys are reporting changes. "I feel a lot better about everything," says Grant Steel, 14, whose secondary school is one of the nearly half of all Bradford schools now involved in the project. "I'm much more positive about what I can do now."
by New Statesman, July 26, 2006
Will the government reach its target of 200 city academies by 2010? The wrangling over the Education Bill has already exposed key flaws in the plan for these "independent" state schools, but a more lethal threat has now emerged in the form of legal challenges by parents who don't want them in their communities.