Latest Educational News

Labour takes the lead in the battle for the teacher vote

by TES Connect, April 17, 2015

Classified as General.

More than four in 10 teachers in England and Wales intend to vote Labour at next month’s general election, making it the most popular party among school staff, a survey by TES and YouGov reveals.

The figures will be a welcome boost for Labour leader Ed Miliband and shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt, with just 20 days to go until the country heads to the polls.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the animosity towards the Conservative Party during Michael Gove’s tenure as education secretary, nearly 30 per cent of school staff said they intend to vote Tory. The relationship between the workforce and Mr Gove was described as “toxic” before he was replaced by Nicky Morgan in July last year.

The Liberal Democrats are likely to be the most disappointed by the survey results. In the week that deputy prime minister Nick Clegg claimed the Lib Dems were the “party of education”, the numbers reveal that just 10 per cent of teachers intend to support the party at the election.

UKIP, which has championed the expansion of grammar schools, came in fourth place with 7 per cent. The Green Party, which has pledged to scrap Ofsted, Sats and league tables, garnered 6 per cent.

Children put off sport by parents, according to MCC survey

by BBC News, April 17, 2015

Classified as General.

Children as young as eight are being put off sport by the behaviour of their parents, a survey has found.

Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which is responsible for cricket's laws, and cricket charity Chance to Shine spoke to 1,002 children aged eight to 16.

Of those surveyed, 45% said the bad behaviour of parents made them feel like not wanting to take part in sport.

And 84% of parents of those children agreed negative behaviour discouraged youngsters from participation.

In the survey, 41% of the children spoken to said their parents criticised their performance - 16% saying it happened frequently or all the time - with 58% of the parents believing there was more shouting from the sidelines compared to their childhood.

One child reported seeing a mother smash a car window after the opposition scored, another witnessed "a dad hit the ref for sending his kid off", while one parent recalled police being called when two opposing parents started fighting.

Free porridge and banning 'street language' transform London school

by The Telegraph, April 17, 2015

Classified as General.

Small changes such as the banning of “street language” and introducing free breakfast before school, have helped to transform the image of the City Academy Hackney, which opened in 2009 on the site of failing school Homerton House.
Principal Mark Emmerson says the school’s “phenomenal” progress over the last six years follows the introduction of a “marginal gains” strategy, inspired by the GB Cycling team’s success.
“If you can improve each area by one per cent then the progress is huge,” said Mr Emmerson. “Our five key areas are expectation, behaviour, teaching, assessment and feedback.”
The Academy has seen more improvement than any other London school over recent years, achieving second place in the country for student progress.
“We have a very consistent approach to behaviour policy,” said Mr Emmerson. “And we encourage a communal atmosphere. Staff are encouraged to walk around a lot and interact with young people.”
All members of staff, including receptionists and PAs, are personal tutors to three students each, which the headmaster says helps to strengthen staff-student relationships.
A “family dining” system sees students eat a communal lunch with their teachers and peers.
“It’s a simple idea influenced by boarding schools,” said Mr Emmerson. “Year 11s go first, then the lower school eat in house groups. We think it encourages a communal atmosphere.”

More than 13% of infants in England miss out on favoured primary school

by The Guardian, April 16, 2015

Classified as General.

Up to one in five infants in some parts of England have missed out on their top choice of primary school this year, with the picture even worse in some parts of London.

However, strenuous efforts by local authorities to add more classrooms appear to have headed off a serious shortage of places.

Based on figures compiled by the Guardian from 108 local authorities on national offer day, nearly 87% of more than 600,000 parents were offered their first choice of primary school for their children – a marginal fall compared with 2014 despite a pronounced increase in the numbers applying.

Nationally, the rise in the number of children applying to start school – caused by a spike in the birth rate in recent years – has placed great pressure on councils to meet demand for reception classes for four- and five-year-olds. But fears of widespread shortage appear to have been averted, with around 80,000 children missing out on their first choice, a figure similar to last year’s.

Data from Hertfordshire county council shows that 81% of youngsters got their preferred school. London Councils, the local government association for Greater London, also said that just under 81% of pupils got their first-choice school – despite a record 103,387 applications for places being made.

London remains the most difficult region for families to secure their top choice of state school, while Kensington and Chelsea was by a considerable distance the most competitive in the country.

Primary school admissions: North East children to miss out as schools start to run out of room

by Chronicle Live, April 16, 2015

Classified as General.

Thousands of children and their parents face heartache with the news that schools across the region are massively oversubscribed.

Figures released today following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Labour Party reveal the breadth of the education crisis on the day when parents find out which school their children will go to.

Hardest hit is Northumberland where there will be 3,574 more primary pupils than places in September 2018, if sufficient places are not provided.

Ironically in Durham - where Durham Free School was opened in 2013 as part of the Coalition’s controversial free schools programme - schools are under-subscribed by almost 6,000 pupils.

Labour’s shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt slammed the Conservative Party for setting up free schools instead of allocating money where it is needed.

He said: “It is thanks to David Cameron and his decision to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money on a few free schools in areas where there are no shortages of places that the number of young children in supersize classes has more than tripled since 2010 and parents are finding it harder to get a place for their child at a local school.

“Like parents, Labour understands that young children do best in small classes.

“We will cap class sizes for five, six and seven-years-olds at 30 and prioritise spending for new places in areas which need them - paid for by ending the Tories’ flawed free schools programme.”

Primary school places revealed amid squeeze

by BBC News, April 16, 2015

Classified as General.

More than half a million families are discovering which primary schools their children will attend, amid a growing places squeeze in parts of England.

The day will bring relief for many, but others will be disappointed at learning they have missed out on a first-choice school.

It comes days after council leaders said two in five local authorities would have too few places by 2016.

Some schools have been maximising their capacity by building extra classrooms.

Pressure is growing, particularly in schools on London's fringes and in cities such as Leicester, Nottingham, Reading, Bristol and Peterborough.

And it is likely that more families will miss out on their first-choice school as the places crisis continues to bite.

'Balkanised system'

The crisis has been precipitated mainly by a booming birth-rate, partly by immigration and by families moving specifically to be near popular schools.

The demand for school places has risen steeply in Harrow, which has some very good primary schools. It was predicted to be 12% over capacity by this September but the council said it had worked really hard in its strategy to ensure there are enough places for Harrow children this year.

Eight UK universities on US financial watch list

by Times Higher Education, April 16, 2015

Classified as General.

Eight UK higher education institutions are included on an official US list of universities subject to heightened monitoring because of concerns about their finances or administration of US student loans.

The list of about 540 institutions on “heightened cash monitoring”, drawn up by the US Department of Education, mostly contains for-profit US colleges. But it also includes the universities of Brunel (which now says it has been removed), Birmingham City, Middlesex, Queen Margaret, Gloucestershire, Westminster, Rose Bruford College and the University of Wales, Lampeter, now part of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

The list has been widely reported in the US and could make the institutions less attractive to US students. A department spokesman defended an earlier decision not to release it on the grounds that doing so would “likely cause the institutions substantial competitive injury”.

However, in a blog earlier this month, Ted Mitchell, US under secretary of education, says that releasing it complements wider efforts by the department to make university study “more affordable and accessible” by increasing “both the quantity and quality of information that students, families, borrowers and the public have about higher education”.

Election 2015: Isle of Wight education highlighted in candidates' debate

by BBC News, April 16, 2015

Classified as General.

The candidates for the Isle of Wight in the general election have clashed over the future of education on the island.

Education has been run by Hampshire County Council since 2013 following concerns over standards on the island.

Speaking on a BBC Radio Solent election debate, Conservative candidate Andrew Turner insisted secondary schools were "getting better".

Other candidates criticised the government policy of free schools set up by parents and independent groups.

In 2008, Isle of Wight Council scrapped the island's three-tier education system for two tiers, which led to the closure of some schools.

Four of the island's six secondary schools were rated "inadequate" in their Ofsted reports from 2012 - the lowest grade.

The government subsequently directed the council to form a strategic partnership with Hampshire County Council to run its education and children's services.

Isle of Wight Council is once again consulting on secondary school provision on the island as it seeks to tackle issues related to over-capacity.

UKIP launches manifesto with promise of more grammar schools

by TES Connect, April 15, 2015

Classified as General.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has pledged to give all secondary schools the opportunity to become grammars in his party’s election manifesto.

Launching its list of intentions in Thurrock, Essex, the party promised to give schools the chance to reintroduce selective education. It also pledged to crack down on teachers’ workload, slim down Ofsted and scrap performance-related pay for teachers.

But the reintroduction of grammar schools was UKIP’s most eyebrow-raising policy: the party would aim to increase the number of grammars, while giving more young people the opportunity to attend the selective schools.

In its manifesto, UKIP states that the “old 11-plus selective system was not perfect, so we will ensure attendance is not based on a one-time fixed test and introduce transfer examinations taken later at ages 12, 13 and 16, to pick up pupils who develop in an academic direction, but at a slightly slower pace”.

The party pledges to push for a “range of different types of school, including grammar, vocational, technical and specialist secondary schools within a geographical area”.

Teachers’ workload would be tackled through a reduction in the amount of paperwork the profession deals with, such as overly detailed individual lesson plans, data collection and excessive internal assessments.

Ofsted would be streamlined, and teachers with at least 15 years of successful classroom experience would be “prioritised” when Ofsted inspectors were recruited.

Hundreds of extra spaces to be created in primary schools in Staffordshire

by Express and Star, April 15, 2015

Classified as General.

More than 400 extra spaces will be created in primary schools across Cannock, it was announced today.

Council bosses say they will need £4.5million and the money will be spent on building new classrooms and facilities.

Rising birth rates and an increase in planned housing developments are the reasons behind the move.

Schools in line for a slice of the cash include West Hill Primary in Hednesford and Hob Hill Primary in Rugeley.

Both schools will boast an additional 105 places and another 210 extra spaces will also be created at schools in Heath Hayes and Wimblebury - taking the total number of extra spaces up to 420.

Education chiefs also say there are plans to buy land somewhere in the district to build a new primary school.

Reality Check: How do education plans compare?

by BBC News, April 15, 2015

Classified as General.

The Liberal Democrats have unveiled their pledge on education spending, promising to trump both Labour and the Conservatives.

Education budgets are under pressure from rising prices and pupil numbers, which could leave schools worse off unless funding increases.

Remember we are only talking about England here - education policy is devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Labour promised to ring-fence the entire education budget, from pre-school up to the age of 19. This means the amount of money available each year will stay the same and it won't be eroded by inflation. However, the number of schoolchildren is expected to increase by about 460,000 between now and 2020. With this growth in the population the amount of money spent on each pupil will fall.

Lib Dem manifesto pledges regulation and review for higher education

by Times Higher Education, April 15, 2015

Classified as General.

The Liberal Democrats have pledged in their manifesto to hold a review of higher education and to introduce legislation on the sector’s regulation.

Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, led his MPs in signing a pledge before the 2010 election to vote against any rise in university tuition fees.

But he was among 28 of the party’s 57 MPs who then voted to treble fees to £9,000 when the party entered coalition with the Conservatives.
The Lib Dem manifesto, published on 15 April, says that the party has “ensured that no undergraduate student in England has to pay a penny up front of their tuition fees”, with “the highest university application rates ever, including from disadvantaged students”.

However, there have also been claims that the new loans system is unsustainable in its impact on public finances, while many Lib Dem members and MPs remain hostile to fees.

The manifesto pledges that the Lib Dems would “establish a review of higher education finance within the next Parliament to consider any necessary reforms, in the light of the latest evidence of the impact of the existing financing system on access, participation (including of low-income groups) and quality. The review will cover undergraduate and postgraduate courses, with an emphasis on support for living costs for students, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Edinburgh University on course to divest from coal and tar sands

by The Guardian, April 15, 2015

Classified as General.

The University of Edinburgh is expected to divest its £292m endowment from coal and tar sands companies following a recommendation from senior management on Tuesday.

Student representatives were informed of the response from the Central Management Group ahead of the final decision, which will be announced in May.

In October, Glasgow University became the first academic institution in Europe to commit to divest from the fossil fuel industry. The University of Bedfordshire followed suit in January.In total, more than 220 institutions – from pension funds to faith organisations to foundations – have now made similar commitments to divest as part of a global campaign started by 350.org.

Activists who have been pressuring the University of Edinburgh for three years expressed disappointment that the recommendation did not go further.

Kirsty Haigh, student campaigner and the vice president, communities for NUS Scotland said:
“It would be very rare for the court to reject a recommendation from the central management board so this is very significant. It’s absolutely crucial that the university does not give in to big fossil fuel companies and flout their moral obligations. Full divestment from fossil fuels is the only responsible action. Our futures are too important to be gambled away for university profit.”

According to a freedom of information request by NUS Scotland, the university currently has a minimum of £8.6m of direct investments in fossil fuel companies including Shell, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and an additional £5.9m in fossil fuel services such as Petrobras and the Weir Group.

Professor Charlie Jeffery, senior vice principal said: “The University of Edinburgh was the first university in Europe to commit to the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment. Since then, we have carried out a consultation process involving students, staff and alumni to help determine how we should best take forward our commitment to responsible investment.”

How technology is changing speech and language therapy

by The Guardian, April 15, 2015

Classified as General.

Speech and communication skills are at the heart of human relationships – without them we couldn’t share ideas and emotions. But technology is carving out a special role in boosting those skills. Pioneering research shows just how machines are helping people to make themselves understood.

Here we look at three projects wherKaspar the robot: helping children with autism communicate
Meet Kaspar: he can be talked to, tickled, stroked, played with and you can even prod and poke him and he won’t run away. Kaspar, developed at the University of Hertfordshire by a team under professor Kerstin Dautenhahn, is a child-like talking robot with a simplified human face and moveable limbs and features. He’s designed to help children with autism develop essential social skills through games such as peekaboo and learning activities.

Kaspar, the size of a small child, was “born” back in 2005 and has been developed since thanks to funding raised by the university. The multi-disciplinary scope of the project, spanning robotics, psychology, assistive technology and autism therapy, harnesses technology to assist communication. But this broad approach means it falls between research council stools and misses out on their grants, says Dautenhahn.e a range of academic specialists and industry partners have come together to develop and widen access to their innovations.

Under pressure? Give your child a break, says head

by The Telegraph, April 15, 2015

Classified as General.

Anxious parents are “dervishes” about their children’s education and should be more detached to allow them to develop naturally, a leading headteacher says.
Peter Tait, headmaster of Sherborne Preparatory school in Dorset, said modern parents who find it hard to trust teachers or schools to do a proper job on their child’s education should be less hands-on in their approach.
Writing in Attain, the magazine of the Independent Association of Prep Schools, Mr Tait said: “While [parents] are determined to do the very best for their child, ironically, they can end up doing the opposite. It is vital to trust your intuition.”
He said parents need to exercise “common sense and parental instinct” when it comes to raising their children.
He added: “Parents also need to have confidence in those whose job it is to look after their children’s education. To do this requires a certain detachment, a willingness to trust the passage of time, focusing on whether their children are happy, challenged and purposeful and are learning the right values. If so, they will be fine.”
However, he said, some parents are changing from “sensible” and “moderate” people, who have faith in their schools and teachers, and are “turning into dervishes ready to battle with anything and anyone on behalf of ‘their’ child?
“What has made some parents put their own child at the centre of the universe and to hell with the rest?”

Nick Clegg: The choice is me, Salmond or Farage

by BBC News, April 15, 2015

Classified as General.

Nick Clegg has said no party will win an outright election victory and warned voters they face a choice between the Lib Dems, the SNP and UKIP over who holds the balance of power.
Launching his manifesto, the Lib Dem leader said he would seek to form a "coalition with conscience" that would not "lurch off to the extremes".
He pledged £2.5bn more for education after 2017 to boost opportunity.
The Conservatives and Labour have both insisted they can win on their own.
Speaking in south London, Mr Clegg said no party would win enough seats to gain victory on 8 May and either the Conservatives or Labour would have to work with others if they wanted to take power.
He said the Lib Dems' "gutsy" decision to join the Conservatives in coalition in 2010 had been vindicated, saying they had turned round the economy and governed with "compassion and a sense of fairness".

Who should pay for university education?

by The Guardian, April 15, 2015

Classified as General.

Higher education is often an election hot potato, and this year is no exception. Ed Milliband’s pledge to reduce the tuition fee cap to £6,000 has rattled cages, with some arguing that it is a step in the wrong direction, and others that it doesn’t go far enough.

There may never be consensus, but does anyone have a workable solution to higher education’s ongoing funding headache?

Tuition fees – a very brief history
“Our universities are strained to breaking point,” reads the Labour manifesto of 1966 – a year in which just 12% of people went to university.

Expansion was inevitable. It was hoped more universities and more students would stretch participation outside of the elite classes and answer a demand for more highly skilled workers. But it brought with it a new problem – funding.

Is education making the grade in your part of the world?

by The Independent, April 15, 2015

Classified as General.

At the turn of the century, world leaders pledged that all primary school-aged children would be in school by 2015. The ambitious vision failed to come to fruition, but significant progress has been made.

By 2010, enrolment in primary education in low-income countries reached 90%, up from 82% in 1999. But the UN estimates there are still 58 million primary school-aged children missing from the world’s classrooms.

While the previous education goals focused on getting more children in school, the proposed targets for the next 15 years focus on the quality of education children receive once they are at school. The sustainable development goals, which leaders are expected to adopt in September, call for governments to ensure all girls and boys complete “free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education” by 2030.

Majority of Kent voters want grammar ban lifted as Governement considers The Weald of Kent Girls Grammar School expansion

by Kent Online, April 15, 2015

Classified as 11 Plus.

There is strong support among voters for more grammar schools in Kent, with three out of four voters indicating they would like to see a ban on new selective schools lifted.

The issue has already proved a flashpoint in the campaign and divided the parties.

In an exclusive county-wide survey of 1,000 people conducted on behalf of KentOnline, 75% said they wanted more grammar schools, with support particularly strong among Conservative and Ukip voters and those over the age of 55.

However, the Conservative-led coalition has faced criticism for failing to give the green light for a new grammar school annexe in west Kent - the first ‘new’ grammar in decades.

Election 2015: Lib Dems pledge £2.5bn for education

by BBC News, April 15, 2015

Classified as General.

The Liberal Democrats will pledge an extra £2.5bn for England's education budget in their election manifesto.

The party said the cash would ensure spending was protected "from cradle to college" and went beyond other parties' commitments on education.

Leader Nick Clegg will say the plans are all about boosting opportunity.

But the Conservatives said the Lib Dems offered "uncertainty for parents" while Labour said Nick Clegg's party had "broken their promises" in government.

The Lib Dems are the last of the three largest Westminster parties to launch their manifestos after Labour and the Conservatives.

The BBC's assistant political editor Norman Smith said he expected it to be a "minimalist, pared-back" document, with a focus on a few key priorities, after the party was unable to deliver its main commitment on tuition fees from 2010.

In other election news:
UKIP is also launching its manifesto, with a pledge to employ 6,000 former army veterans in the police, prison service and Border Agency and spend 2% of national output on defence

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