Latest Educational News

Schools marked down over ‘ridiculous’ GSCE decision

by The Times, November 22, 2014

Schools face a large drop in their GCSE league table score because they have unwittingly breached an obscure and “ridiculous” government rule, school leaders have warned.
Good grades in key English GCSEs are not being counted in the schools’ scores because of the order in which pupils sat their exams this summer, according to TES magazine.
According to head teachers’ leaders, the league table scores of about 100 schools will fall, with up to 30 being “substantially” affected

Muslim schools may be shut over fears for child welfare

by The Times, November 22, 2014

Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, has threatened to shut six independent Muslim schools found to be inadequate by Ofsted inspectors who had concerns over children’s welfare.
At one school, the designated child protection officer was unaware he held the post. In another pupils told inspectors that women stay at home to clean and cook. At a third, girls had to wait for boys and male teachers to return from the mosque before their lessons began.

Life inside an Islamic boarding school

by The Times, November 22, 2014

Laylah Hussain was 11 when she became a pupil at Jamia Al-Hudaa, a faith school in Nottingham. This is her account of the five years she spent there – a period, she says, that stunted her education and stifled her freedom
My mother thought the girls in our family had run wild. In truth, they were just taking a puff of a cigarette in the park or meeting up with friends, including boys. Ordinary teenage stuff. But in our close-knit Pakistani community there were always “aunties” who’d say, “I saw your daughter smoking,” which distressed my mother because this could ruin a girl’s reputation.

I’d be written off at 16 today, says head teacher

by The Times, November 21, 2014

A headmistress says she would have been “written off at the age of 16” by the unforgiving exam system endured by today’s teenagers.
Alice Phillips,president of the Girls’ Schools Association, will tell its annual conference on Monday that pupils are given no second chance if they make mistakes.
In her speech, seen by The Times, she says that schools are required to play the system to ensure pupils do well.

Ofsted chief: pupils at east London faith schools at risk of radicalisation

by Guardian, November 21, 2014

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, has said pupils at independent Muslim faith schools in Tower Hamlets may be vulnerable to “extremist influences and radicalisation” and called on the government to act with urgency.

Wilshaw’s advice note to the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, on Friday follows Ofsted inspections last month of six independent schools in the east London borough, as well as Sir John Cass school, a state secondary. All seven schools were judged to be inadequate or failing by inspectors.

'Leaky pipe' between 1980s grammar schools and university

by BBC News, November 21, 2014

Grammar school pupils in the 1980s were no more likely to gain degrees from "elite" universities than comprehensive pupils, research suggests.

But private school pupils had a greater chance of gaining degrees at the highly selective institutions, it suggests.

The researchers analysed data on 7,700 people in England and Wales, born in the same week in 1970.

But current grammar school heads said it "does not provide a great deal of illumination on current provision".

'Embrace engineering's creative side' to fix skills crisis

by BBC News, November 21, 2014

Engineering needs to emphasise its creative side to encourage more young people to take it up as a career, says a leading member of the profession.

Engineers should embrace the arts, Sir John O'Reilly, a fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, argued in a lecture.

About 59% of engineering companies in the IET's 2014 survey feared skill shortages could threaten business.

Pushy parents in private schools: public enemy number one for teachers?

by Guardian, November 20, 2014

In the pantheon of education stereotypes, the pushy private school parent is up there with the unwashed physics teacher and smokers behind the bike shed. At the drop of an A*, mummy or daddy are in the Range Rover and off to school to demand a better hockey team spot for Constanza or a higher maths set for Milo.

But are the cliches true? Should teachers in the independent sector really brace themselves for an onslaught of unreasonable demands from overzealous parents, or is there a more positive side to the relationship?

Talking Book trial to help 'poorest of poor' in Ghana

by BBC News, November 20, 2014

Hundreds of handheld audio computers are to be given to some of Ghana's poorest communities to help spread potentially life-saving information.

The Talking Books will let families play sound files as well as make their own recordings, which can be shared with others or used to give feedback.

Organisers plan to use the kit to teach people about Ebola, how to deal with diseased crops and the importance of breastfeeding, among other topics.

Tristram Hunt says A-level changes are 'confusing'

by BBC News, November 20, 2014

The changes to A and AS-levels in England are so confusing the Department for Education should write to every school to explain them, says shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt.

From next year, A-levels will be separated from AS-levels.

But some universities still want pupils to study AS-levels - and Cambridge has asked schools to carry on with them.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said the changes would remove an "unnecessary burden" on pupils.

Brian Lightman of the Association of School and College Leaders said "politics is getting in the way", with secondary schools facing "confusion and uncertainty" over planning for exams.

Tuition fees and student loans: system must change, say experts

by Guardian, November 19, 2014

Loans that no one expects to be repaid. No limit to the number of students institutions can recruit. If radical changes over the past two years to financing UK higher education have sometimes appeared risky, that is because they are, according to a report published this week.

The report, compiled by the Higher Education Commission – a cross-party group of MPs and representatives from business and academia – warns that the current system of fees and loans is the worst of all worlds, and is unsustainable for the future: “An experiment is under way, with potential consequences for English HE stretching decades into the future.”

It points out that the government is investing heavily but getting no credit for it; students feel they are paying substantially more despite having debts written off, and universities are being seen as rolling in tuition-fee money when their grant has been cut and fee income has failed to rise with inflation.

Do teachers in private schools really work fewer hours for more money?

by Guardian, November 19, 2014

Recent research shows that teachers in independent schools are working longer hours for little extra pay. So how does this compare with the state sector?
Teachers in private schools are working longer hours this year for little extra pay, according to a recent survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

The research also finds that the number of students attending private schools has risen at its fastest rate since the financial crash in 2008.

The union asked more than 1,000 teachers in independent schools about their working hours; 67% said they work more than 48 hours a week during term time – up 1.3% from last year. Nearly half (44%) said they worked between 49 to 60 hours a week and a quarter work more than 60 hours a week.

How have teacher workloads changed over the past 25 years?

by Guardian, November 19, 2014

Talk to any teacher and they’ll tell you about their working week of 50 hours or more, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said last month.

His words came as he called for teachers to say what unnecessary tasks they do and how the “runaway train of bureaucracy” might be reined back.

We’ve been exploring how teachers can gain a better work-life balance, and as part of that we set out to find out how workloads have changed over the past few decades. How have the pressures of the job changed and why? Here’s what teachers, who have been in the profession for more than 25 years, told us:

Nick Clegg: raising tuition fees has not deterred poor from going to university

by Guardian, November 19, 2014

Nick Clegg has defended the rise in tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 a year as he prepared to become the villain of a large student demonstration in London.

Thousands of students are expected to march through central London on Wednesday calling for free higher education.

Speaking on LBC, the Liberal Democrat leader said he had learnt lessons from his broken pledge to abolish tuition fees, but added: “It is worth remembering the predictions were that people would not go to university, it would discourage kids from poorer backgrounds going to university, but actually what has happened is there are more people on full-time courses than ever before, more youngsters from poorer backgrounds than ever before, and more kids from ethnic minorities than ever before.”

Schools 'should scrap dedicated English lessons'

by Telegraph, November 19, 2014

Traditional English lessons should be scrapped because dedicated classes in the subject are damaging pupils’ language skills, a private school teacher has warned.
Lessons covering disciplines such as reading, writing, spelling, punctuation and grammar are creating “anxiety” among children and undermining their natural flair, it is claimed.
Heather Martin, head of languages at St Faith’s, a leading prep school in Cambridge, said English was “not something to be analysed and interrogated” because pupils can “learn it by accident”.
Writing in the Times Educational Supplement, she insisted English was already taught as a key component of every other subject including the classics, drama, history, religious education, geography and foreign languages, meaning that standalone classes were unnecessary.
The comments were made despite fears that thousands of children currently leave school without being able to compose a sentence, spell difficult words or write a coherent email.

'Please don't axe English lessons'

by Telegraph, November 19, 2014

If latest reports are to be believed, I and thousands of other English teachers, could soon find ourselves out of a job.
Dr Heather Martin, head of languages at St Faith’s, a leading private school in Cambridge, has argued in the “Times Educational Supplement” that English skills could be picked up “by accident”, without any “stand-alone” lessons.
Dr Martin is indeed worried that lessons in reading, writing, spelling, punctuation and grammar, cause children too much “anxiety” and, in the process, stifle their natural flair.
Even English Literature, she suggests – such a strong part of the English curriculum – could easily be incorporated into other subjects. For example, studying the Bible could teach children narrative skills; while “scientific observation” could do away with the need for them to learn formal descriptive writing.
I’m staggered. There are plenty of learning “accidents” in my classroom each day – most of them consist of horrendous grammatical howlers. That’s why I find it so irresponsible that anyone should suggest English skills should not be tackled with rigour and purpose.

Watch: students protest against tuition fees in central London

by Telegraph, November 19, 2014

Thousands of students from across the country descended on central London to plead with politicians to end the "chain" of high tuition fees and student debt.
The army of student activists, led by the organisation Student Assembly Against Austerity, gathered outside the University of London near Euston before marching towards Whitehall and the House of Commons.
Hundreds carried placards and banners protesting against high fees, chanting "When they say cut back, we say fight back", and "No ifs, no buts, no education cuts".
A samba band created a carnival atmosphere, before leading them through the streets of the capital, shouting and whooping.
As the march began, some of the protesters lit flares.

Now Ofsted boss signals return of grammar schools: Bright pupils offered 'high-level academic' path at 14

by Daily Mail, November 19, 2014

Classified as 11 Plus.

The head of Ofsted yesterday called for children to be streamed at the age of 14 as part of a radical overhaul of the school system.
Sir Michael Wilshaw said pupils should be directed towards either an academic or vocational school halfway through secondary education.
His blueprint – outlined in a speech to business leaders – will be seen as tacit backing for a revival of academic selection.

Should grammar schools make return to education system?

by Cambridge News, November 19, 2014

Classified as 11 Plus.

Boris Johnson is a fan but grammar schools will be at expense of disadvantaged children, says Cambridgeshire headteacher Rob Campbell.

Christmas is just around the corner, which means the supermarkets are stacked full of goodies such as selection boxes – and it seems that this proliferation of ‘selection’ on display has given rise to renewed debate recently on the presence and extension of ‘selection’ in schools, particularly at the age of 11.

Grammar schools, of the kind attended by readers in their 50s or older, were part of the English education system for centuries until they were systematically altered from their selective state through legislation in the mid-1970s. The majority became comprehensive schools, while 119 did opt to become fee-paying independents.

Buckinghamshire County Council education chiefs to look over results of 11 plus test today

by Bucks Free Press, November 19, 2014

Classified as 11 Plus.

AN ANALYSIS of the most recent 11 Plus test results is to take place at County Hall this afternoon.

Grammar school headteachers are to discuss the results of the most recent tests with members of Buckinghamshire County Council's Education, Skills and Children's Services Select Committee.
Provisional results for the most recent examinations, which took place in September, show a third of pupils passed the test.

A report outlining initial analysis of the results said: "The headteachers of the thirteen Buckinghamshire grammar schools were very keen to maintain a co-ordinated selection system to avoid an admissions and testing ‘free for all’ to the detriment of the pupils and families.

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