Latest Educational News

Executive head Sir Greg Martin retires from Durand Academy

by BBC News, August 28, 2015

Classified as General.

The executive head teacher of a south London academy that is being investigated by the Charity Commission is to retire.
The Durand Academy in Stockwell said Sir Greg Martin, 63, would be retiring in September after 29 years.
The trust running the academy received £17m from the government to set up a state boarding school in West Sussex, which opened last year.
The Charity Commission announced its investigation in February.
The Durand Academy has an early years centre, and a junior school and middle school in Stockwell.
It also has a weekly boarding upper school at the former St Cuthman's school site in Midhurst.
The Charity Commission is looking at the relationship between the academy and the Durand Academy Trust, a separate body that runs and governs it.
The investigation began after a hearing of Parliament's Public Accounts Committee which said there was an "unacceptable lack of clarity" over who owned assets held by the trust.

Forty-thousand years of Indigenous maths can get kids into numbers today

by The Guardian, August 28, 2015

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I am deeply concerned with the direction of Indigenous education in Australia and how mathematics education has been positioned in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I have a different vision for Indigenous education in mathematics; it’s a vision based on connecting culture and mathematics.

I’m from the Quandamooka people of Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island, Queensland). I have a PhD in applied mathematics and I’m currently a senior lecturer at Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland. I’m also the chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance (Atsima), which is a newly formed not-for-profit organisation with the vision for “All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners will be successful in mathematics.”

Warm up for the new school term with our brainteasers – quiz

by The Guardian, August 28, 2015

Classified as General.

t’s not just students who struggle to switch their brains back on after the summer break, teachers also have to shake off the summer haze and think in education terms again.

So, to help you shift from holiday mode to teacher mode, and to test whether your brain power has totally dissipated over the summer, we’ve collected some taxing teasers from across the internet, covering everything from spelling to maths.

We’re going old school (pardon the pun) so you’ll need a pen and paper to jot down your answers. The correct answers can be found at the bottom of the page (no cheating please).

Poor students need expert advice to get into medical schools

by The Guardian, August 28, 2015

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Over 90% of applications to medicine degree courses were rejected in 2014. For many would-be students, the odds of obtaining an offer to study medicine at university are extremely slim – especially if they are not from a priviledged background.

With just shy of 85,000 applications to UK medical schools last year, it is obvious that not everybody can secure a highly coveted place. However, the success rates of top applicants very wildly, with many receiving no offers, while some secure the maximum four. This is often down to the lack of support offered by some schools to students applying.

A recent report on university admissions highlighted how “a lack of support and guidance for applying to medical school is a major barrier for many students from less advantaged backgrounds”.

Widening access to medicine as a career remains a huge challenge. The financial burden of a degree that lasts at least five years acts as an obstacle for many students. And statistics show that those who study medicine generally come from well-educated homes – 65% of doctors in training have at least one parent who completed a university degree.

Primary pupils' results edge upwards

by BBC News, August 27, 2015

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The performance of children in England in tests at the end of primary school has edged upwards, the government has announced.
More pupils than ever have achieved the literacy and maths scores needed for secondary school, according to figures from the Department for Education
Four out of five pupils got good grades in all the tests, says the DfE.
However, Schools Minister Nick Gibb said schools in some council areas had performed poorly.
May tests
The results of this year's tests, taken in May by all 11-year-old state school pupils, show a one percentage point rise in those meeting the standard in mathematics (to 87%) and two percentage points in writing (to 87%).
There was a four percentage point rise in scores in the grammar, punctuation and spelling test (to 80%), while attainment in reading was unchanged on the year before, with 89% meeting the expected standard.
The government says 80% of pupils achieved the required "Level Four" standard or above in all subjects, compared with 78% in 2014 and 62% in 2009.

'Crack-down'
But Mr Gibb said schools in some local authority areas were still not doing well enough.
He announced a "crack-down" on councils, including Medway, Poole, Luton, Doncaster and Bedford, whose schools had performed poorly.
In these areas 73% of pupils achieved the required standard in all subjects, compared with in Kensington and Chelsea, the strongest performing area, where 90% of pupils met the grade.
Mr Gibb said the government was "committed to driving up standards as a matter of social justice".
"That is why I will be writing to the director of children's services and directors of education of councils that are bottom of the league tables and asking that they meet me as a matter of urgency to explain how they intend to improve the teaching of reading and arithmetic in the primary schools under their control," he said.
Overall, Mr Gibb said, he was "delighted that 90,000 more children are starting secondary school with a firm grasp of the basics compared to just five years ago".

Belfast City Council proposes new guidelines for student housing

by BBC News, August 26, 2015

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Belfast City Council is proposing to develop new planning guidelines for student accommodation.
There are currently more than a dozen applications in the system representing more than 6,000 student beds.
The council is proposing internal guidelines for planners and a best practice guide aimed at developers.
The guidelines would not have determining weight in decisions, but could help influence proposals and ensure consistency.
A report to the council's planning committee said guidelines could also "provide reassurance to communities that existing residential amenity will be protected".
It added that any "policy deficiencies" can be addressed in the longer term in a new Local Development Plan.
The Ulster University's new campus on the northern edge of Belfast city centre has led to a wave of planning applications for student accommodation.

Councils unite in bid to tackle Scottish teacher shortages

by BBC News, August 26, 2015

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Six councils in the north east and north of Scotland have united to tackle teacher shortages in their schools.
The local authorities in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Highland, Orkney and Shetland are to hold a summit aimed at addressing the issue.
Ministers and officials from the Scottish government and the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) are among those also involved.
Councils have already tried individual initiatives to ease the problem.
Launching the initiative ahead of the 7 October summit, the councils said the challenge had been recruiting and retaining "sufficient numbers of high-quality teachers to provide the best possible education" for pupils.

Ten of the best value private schools in the UK

by The Telegraph, August 26, 2015

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The term 'private education' tends to conjure up images of £30,000 a year institutions, only accessible to the financial elite. However, there are plenty of schools across the UK that offer top class education for a significantly more manageable price. Academically, most of these schools compete results wise with their more expensive counterparts, as well as offering much the same array of extra-curricular options and sporting prowess. Despite the lower fees, there are still generous bursaries and scholarships available at many of these options, and even two schools from London make the list.

The focus here is on day schools, and all of these come in at under £15,000 annually. This is a list rather than a top 10 countdown, and schools are spread across the country, with a mixture of boys', girls', and co-educational secondary schools.

Educating Cardiff review: another heartwarming and witty lesson

by The Guardian, August 26, 2015

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Bunking off from class takes a certain amount of nerve and luck at the best of times. But when your school has been kitted out with wall-to-wall cameras and microphones by Channel 4’s Educating crew … well, let’s just say that no matter how far you pull your hoodie over your head, or how fast you leg it out of the school gates, the evidence is there for everyone to see. Not that Mr Hennessey needs to watch the tapes to know what Leah in year 11 is up to. He’s got her number – literally. Her attendance record is so bad that he’s resorted to calling her at 8am every day to remind her that yes, it is a school day, and yes, her presence is required.

Educating Cardiff (Channel 4) builds on the Bafta-winning template laid down in Essex, Yorkshire and the East End: rig a school with cameras – this time it’s Willows high school in Cardiff (motto: “Belong Believe Achieve”) – set them rolling, sit back and wait for the stories to emerge.

A gap year for shrewd students: don't travel – work and gain skills

by The Guardian, August 26, 2015

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Not every school leaver will have the confidence to chat about teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases to young people. But that’s exactly what Tegan Morgan did for a year as a volunteer before applying to university.

“Torfaen, where I’m from, has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Wales. A lot of my friends are now parents,” says Morgan, who worked for the organisation Volunteering Matters, which trains and accommodates volunteers to work in community projects in the UK and abroad.

She went on to apply to Cardiff University where she’s now studying social policy and sociology; a course she selected because of her voluntary work. She has a rapport with teenagers having been a rebellious teen herself, she says. “Volunteering definitely helped me with my university application. It gives me a real buzz – I’m always trying to improve something.”

Pilot schemes to give all children automatic library membership

by BBC News, August 25, 2015

Classified as General.

All Scottish children could automatically become library members in a bid to promote literacy.
Pilot projects are being developed in every council area to enrol children during their early years.
Children will be given library cards either at birth, age three or four - or in P1.
The scheme will also see libraries working with schools and communities to promote the services they offer to families.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will join P1 members at Glasgow's Mitchell Library later to promote the initiative.
The children are part of Glasgow Life's pilot which will target 2,000 pupils in six areas with issues of lower literacy.
From 7 September, every baby registered in the Glasgow area will be given a library card by the registrar.
Ms Sturgeon said: "Our libraries are often the hub of a local community - providing vital access to information and resources that people would otherwise not have.
"Now, thanks to £80,000 Scottish government funding, every local authority in Scotland will trial methods to give children automatic membership to their local library.

SNP political control over universities 'could cost millions'

by The Telegraph, August 25, 2015

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Scotland’s universities have warned that that tens of millions of pounds of their funding are being put at risk by SNP plans giving ministers unprecedented political control over how they are run.
Umbrella group Universities Scotland said the Higher Education Governance Bill creates such close links with the state that it endangers institutions’ charitable status and could mean they are officially classified as part of the public sector.
Some of their “most important sources of finance” could be cut off as a result, they warned, giving them no choice but to scale back their activities and operations.
Changing their status would mean they were no longer be eligible for tax breaks worth more than £27 million per year and would "severely” hamper their ability to raise the £53 million per year they currently receive from philanthropists.
Universities also warned the change would endanger sources of funding that support the “great majority” of their investment programmes, which are worth around £370 million per year.

Call for school exam failure levy to aid FE colleges

by BBC News, August 25, 2015

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Schools where pupils fail to get good GCSE grades in English and maths should pay a levy to fund pupils who re-take their exams in further education colleges, says a think tank.
Policy Exchange has published a report highlighting that FE colleges in England teach a higher proportion of pupils re-sitting exams than schools.
But FE colleges face greater pressures on their budgets than schools.
Two teaching unions have criticised the levy proposal.
Brian Lightman, of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said the idea of a levy was an "own goal".
'Passing the buck'
The report from the right-leaning think tank suggests re-allocating financial support to further education colleges in England which take on pupils who have previously struggled in school.
It proposes that secondary schools where pupils have failed to achieve at least C grades in GCSE English and maths should face a financial penalty of about £500 per pupil which would then be used to support students retaking exams in further education colleges.

Schools should be fined for their students' GCSE fails, argues think tank

by The Telegraph, August 25, 2015

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Secondary schools whose pupils fail GCSE maths and English should be fined, a paper by a think tank with close links to Downing Street has said.
Funds from the “resit levy” should then be transferred to Further Education (FE) colleges to help them cope with the extra costs of helping students with compulsory resits, Policy Exchange said.
However, teachers said introducing this monetary fine would be an “own goal” because schools are already struggling financially and wouldn’t be able to cope.
The think tank calculates that in 2013 FE Colleges took on five times more students who retook English than schools did.
The Department for Education said that every pupil who does not get at least a C in maths and English GCSE at age 16 is allocated an additional £480 per subject, although this funding is not ring-fenced for those qualifications.

Classroom problems cannot be solved entirely by outsiders

by The Guardian, August 25, 2015

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Thankfully we have moved on from the days when teachers were the only adults in the classroom. It’s not unusual to find sports professionals, artists, employers and even symphony orchestras in schools, all playing their part in educating the next generation. These willing partners bring skills and energy to our classrooms and often that “something extra” that can make all the difference to children’s lives.
Education is more outward looking than ever before – which is a change for the good. Teachers are not the source of all wisdom and if we are as ambitious as we claim, we must look for ideas from wherever we can.

However, despite their rhetoric of trusting teachers, it sometimes seems the government’s distrust of other parts of the education system – what Michael Gove called “the blob” – leads them to assume outsiders have all the answers.

The 60% extra funds enjoyed by England’s free school pupils

by The Guardian, August 25, 2015

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England’s free schools received 60% more funding per pupil than local authority primaries and secondaries in the latest financial year, new analysis by Education Guardian shows.

The average amount of state funding given to free schools in 2013-14 is £7,761, compared with a national figure for local authority schools of £4,767, according to Department for Education data released last month. DfE statistics on academy spending (free schools are a type of academy) includes data for 54 mainstream free schools, set up in the first two years of the scheme. A quarter are documented as receiving at least £10,000 per pupil in 2013-14, compared with national averages for conventional state schools of £5,817 among all secondaries and £4,402 among primaries.

Geography just keeps getting more popular – so what's the subject's secret?

by TES Connect, August 24, 2015

Classified as General.

The subject is growing faster than any other in secondaries. One leading proponent explains the story behind the statistics
As geography teachers return to school they will see their subject continuing to expand at all stages of education. For the fifth year running, GCSE entries have risen. At A-level, geography had the largest percentage increase of all the major subjects in 2015, with candidate numbers rising sharply by 13 per cent, following on from the 19 per cent increase in GCSE in 2013. Enrolment on undergraduate courses is running higher than national averages, and graduating geographers experience some of the lowest unemployment levels of any degree subject. Such positive news is welcome and provides a firm foundation for the introduction of the new GCSE and A-levels from September 2016.

So, what has happened to boost geography over the past 10 years? In short, it's a powerful mix of sustained advocacy, support from successive governments, independent evaluation and the slow trickle of messages getting through.

The initial boost for geography came in 2006. This marked the first time the government substantially invested in geography at school, with Lord Adonis signing off a five-year, £3.8 million action plan. The Royal Geographical Society (RGS) led the advocacy for this, bringing representatives together from across the community – schools, universities, employers and business leaders. Breadth of community support, leadership by learned societies and professional bodies, a strong subject body in the form of the Geographical Association and speaking with one voice as a community have been powerful forces for the discipline ever since.

Meanwhile, geography teachers saw the action plan as a long-awaited vote of confidence in their discipline, as well as providing essential professional support.

With new challenges under the coalition government came new opportunities. In my opinion, the challenge was both good and necessary. It was time for a review of the curriculum, time to strengthen, modernise and rebalance content, to embed skills, to remove repetition and to reinforce fieldwork. Geography is naturally strong on knowledge and the rationale is clear – we all need to understand the changing world we live in, from the smaller scale (neighbourhoods and hillsides) to the larger (global cities and tectonic plates). So now we have a 5-19 curriculum that embraces the "what and where" of geography but also progresses systematically to the "how and why" – the economic, environmental and social processes that together bring about changes in landscapes and communities, places and regions, the biosphere and the atmosphere.

Parents miss pressures on girls, says Girlguiding

by BBC News, August 24, 2015

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Parents are too often out of touch with the mental health pressures faced by girls and young women, suggests research.
Self-harm was the biggest health concern for girls aged 11-21, according to the Girlguiding Girls' Attitudes Survey 2015.
Researchers questioned a representative sample of more than 1,500 UK girls and young women aged seven to 21.
The findings "provide a stark warning", said chief executive Julie Bentley.
Resilience
The figures show the mental wellbeing and resilience of UK girls are under threat - and yet adults are failing to recognise this, according to the organisation, the UK's largest charity for girls and young women.
Among more than 1,000 11-to-21-year-old girls and young women questioned, the top health concerns were self-harm, mental illness, depression and eating disorders, along with smoking.
Some 62% of this age group said they knew a girl or young woman who had experienced a mental health problem, while 82% said adults often failed to recognise the pressures they faced.
Overall, more than a third (37%) said they had needed help with their own mental health.

GCSE results: The great balancing act

by The BBC, August 24, 2015

Classified as General.

The results have been published for more than five million GCSE entries - which will be five million different stories of exam dreams, dramas and disasters.
But the overall national picture for GCSE grades is very similar to last year. The proportion getting A* to C grades has nudged up from 68.8% to 69%.
That represents an improvement for more than 10,000 exam entries. But the overall message - and the even smaller decline in the proportion of top A* and A grades - is that there is "stability".
This isn't an accident. The annual exam results are not like going outside and measuring the temperature as a natural phenomenon which might fluctuate.
It's more like setting the central heating to an agreed level and then holding up a thermometer to see if the temperature is where it should be.
Well, perhaps that's not a complete analogy, but the national exam statistics, with their neat similarity to last year, are a work of design rather than nature.

The world's top 10 fashion schools for undergraduates – in pictures

by The Guardian, August 24, 2015

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Where’s the best place to be a fashion student? Industry bible the Business of Fashion (BoF) has revealed its first global fashion school rankings based on global impact, learning experience and long-term value
• UK fashion schools top global rankings, but are their students ready for work?

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