Latest Educational News

Cambridge and Oxford universities slip in world rankings

by BBC News, May 5, 2016

The UK has 10 universities in the top 100 of the world's best when it comes to global reputation, but many have slipped down the rankings this year.
Cambridge and Oxford remain in the top five, at fourth and fifth place respectively, but both have moved down two places on their 2015 ranking.
The US continues to dominate the Times Higher Education (THE) world reputation rankings, with Harvard top.
Asia has 17 universities in the top 100 - up from 10 in last year's rankings.
Three London universities stay in the top third of the table - Imperial College London at 15, University College London at 20 and the London School of Economics and Political Science at 24 - but each has fallen slightly on last year's ranking.
University of Edinburgh (38th), King's College London (43rd), University of Manchester (joint 49th), London Business School (between 81st and 90th) and University of Warwick (between 81st and 90th) also made the top 100 global reputation ranking.

Good primaries show little benefit from becoming an academy, new analysis finds

by TES Connect, May 4, 2016

But poorly performing schools which become sponsor-led academies do improve markedly after they gain the status, research shows
Becoming an academy has little effect on primary schools which are already good, a new analysis looking into the effects of conversion has found.

But the analysis from SchoolDash does show that previously poorly performing sponsor-led academies improve markedly after they gain the status.

The research comes as pressure grows on Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, to withdraw plans to force all schools to become academies.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union, said earlier this week that the Department for Education should “press the pause button” on the plans and the County Councils Network, a largely Conservative group of 37 local authorities, has warned that the plans would not lead to higher standards.

The research from SchoolDash looked at the 2015 results of the 807 primary schools which chose to convert between 2010 and 2012.

Timo Hannay, founder of SchoolDash, said that 84.9 per cent of pupils in these academies got the expected level 4 in reading, writing and maths, compared with 83.7 per cent of pupils in similar local authority schools and 81.8 per cent in all local authority schools.

He concluded that while pupils in the convertor academies do better than those in local authority schools, the gap between academies and local authority schools with similar intakes is much smaller. He said this meant that most of the difference between local authority schools and academies was due to differing pupil characteristics, rather than the change in school structure.

Primary academies show 'mixed results'

by BBC News, May 4, 2016

An analysis of primary school test results in England suggests that successful schools are not likely to improve when they become academies.
But the study, by education data firm SchoolDash, says there can be gains for disadvantaged pupils in struggling primary schools that convert.
Most secondary schools are academies, but only about one in six primary schools has changed status.
The study comes as the government wants all state schools to become academies.
Research into the achievement of academies has tended to focus on secondary schools, whose numbers have risen over more than a decade.
But if all schools are forced to become academies, the greatest impact will be among primary schools, where more than 13,000 schools will need to change.
This SchoolDash analysis compared the performance in test results of academies with local authority primaries in similar circumstances, such as levels of deprivation.

More than half of school support staff experience stress, anxiety or depression, research finds

by TES Connect, May 3, 2016

Union warns of 'crisis in health and wellbeing' in schools
More than half of school support staff have experienced stress, anxiety or depression amid heavy workloads, research by Unison has found.

A survey by the union, published this morning, suggests that 52 per cent of UK school support staff have experienced stress, anxiety or depression and 42 per cent said they had difficulty in completing their work.

Some 13 per cent said they found it impossible to manage all that was being asked of them.

The union has warned of a “crisis in health and wellbeing engulfing schools” and said this could lead to a “mass exodus of hard-working, dedicated staff”.

Almost half of support staff (47 per cent) said they were considering leaving their jobs, citing issues such as low pay, stress and huge workloads.

'It is making staff depressed'
Many said it was difficult to talk about the pressures of their jobs, with two-fifths (40 per cent) saying they felt unable to report concerns about the size of their workload to managers.

Respondents to the survey reported instances of teaching assistants regularly taking on extra work because schools were frequently understaffed.

Parents keep children off school in test protest

by BBC News, May 3, 2016

Numbers of parents have kept their children off school for the day in a protest about primary tests in England.
More than 40,000 parents have signed a petition calling for a boycott of primary school tests, which are due to be taken later this month.
Parents supporting the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign have complained of a damaging culture of over-testing.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says taking pupils out of school "even for a day is harmful to their education".
It remains uncertain how many primary school children were kept off school across the country, but a social media campaign had urged parents to take children on educational activities for the day.
About 500 people gathered at Preston Park in Brighton, including children's laureate Chris Riddell.
"We should be turning children into readers with the pleasure that gives, rather than relying on a testing culture," said Mr Riddell.

SEND focus: please mind your language

by tes.connect, April 30, 2016

If there’s one thing that stops people from talking (or writing) about SEND, it’s the not-quite-knowinghow-to-put-it thing. And when they do concentrate on SEND, too often people get it wrong. I seem to be on the receiving end of dodgy things that people say about SEND rather more than most.

Of course, it might be because my son (pictured, above) has profound learning difficulties in the form of Down’s syndrome, and this seems to give some people a licence to say all sorts of things. (NO, he is not always loving, and YES, he does feel sadness.) And many teachers (sorry, teachers) assume that because they have taught a child with Down’s syndrome before, they are somehow an expert.

Or it could be because of my chosen teaching specialism – SEND.

Working with children with additional learning needs is certainly an eye-opener. You’d think that we would know more about it, seeing as we work with children with special needs almost every single day, but when you listen to the language used by many in schools, you realise that this is not the case.

Academisation, Sats tests, Minecraft and Game of Thrones; it's the TES podcast

by tes.connect, April 30, 2016

Join the TES team as they discuss the biggest education news and views of the week all found in latest edition of TES. We talk about the government’s plans for a fully-academised school system, how difficult the new key stage 2 Sats tests are and how Minecraft is increasingly being used by schools around the world. And there’s also a My Best Teacher from Game of Thrones actor Owen Teale. Tune in enjoy.

'Pupils are giving up their phones to reconnect with the real world'

by tes.connect, April 30, 2016

A new initiative is challenging young people to give up digital technology for one week to raise awareness about the amount of time people spend online
The thought of turning off your phone for a whole week might cause some people mild panic, but this is exactly what groups of secondary school students have been doing as part of a new project to raise awareness about the amount of time we spend online.

The Reconnect Project, a screen-awareness initiative that promotes a balance of online and offline activities, has been asking school students across the country to switch off for a week in order to reconnect with offline activities.

The project is targeted primarily at secondary school pupils, but is designed to promote wider debate and conversation. It begins with a six-week scheme of work that explores issues around the use of digital technology. In the penultimate week, pupils are encouraged to switch off for seven days and then reflect on the experience.

School leaders demand more funding and status for early years

by tes.connect, April 30, 2016

Early years teachers and settings should receive the same funding and status as the rest of the education sector if all children are to fulfil their full potential, the school leaders’ union NAHT says
The current funding for early years education is “insufficient” and makes it harder to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children, the NAHT union has said.

At the its annual conference in Birmingham today, the NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby called for the early years pupil premium – which is a maximum of £302 per pupil per year – to increase to reach parity with the £1,300 for primary pupils.

He also called for a greater emphasis on staff quality and qualifications in early years – such as a highly qualified graduate level manager or teacher in every nursery.

‘Subject knowledge is not enough – to be a great teacher you need a lot more’

by tes.connect, April 30, 2016

The failure of some sports coaches to communicate their ideas to their players is illustrative of the fact that you need more than expertise to be a great teacher, writes one leading educationist
Carl Hendrick recently drew attention to similarities between great teachers and great football coaches – building results on foundations of trust and respect. But other similarities have been noticed.

The US Soccer Federation, seeking to improve the quality of coaching at youth level, called in Doug Lemov, of Teach Like a Champion fame, to work with senior coaches. As Amanda Ripley tells it, experts in the sport seemed to lack the tools for effective teaching. One coach was reduced to standing on the touchline yelling, “Where should you be?” to a befuddled player in a practice game. After sessions with Lemov, the coaches restructured their sessions, giving clearer instructions, checking for understanding, not moving on until mastery had been achieved, engaging every player individually.

Nicky Morgan is jeered and heckled by headteachers over Sats and academies

by tes.connect, April 30, 2016

But the education secretary reassures primary schools that no more than 1 per cent more schools will be below the floor standard than last year, despite 'tougher' tests
Nicky Morgan also urged parents not to take their children out of school next week in a protest over primary testing as she received an icy reception from headteachers today.

School leaders shouted “rubbish” and “you are not listening” as the education secretary addressed the NAHT annual conference on the controversial topics of primary assessment and forced academisation.

But the minister bit back, accusing one headteacher of being "sexist" after he asked whether she controls the department or (the more junior) schools minister Nick Gibb.

'Our staff need to fight this, they are on their knees': headteachers may take industrial action over academy plans

by tes.connect, April 30, 2016

'Do we really want to be the generation of school leaders who allowed this to happen?' one primary head asks delegates at the NAHT annual conference
The school leaders' union unanimously carried a motion opposing forced academisation at their annual conference in Birmingham this afternoon.

The motion, which was backed by more than 95 per cent of delegates, follows Nicky Morgan's defence this morning of the plans to turn all schools into academies by 2022.

The education secretary claimed in her speech today that enforcing academy status will not lead to the closure of good rural schools, as many have feared. School would be encouraged to work in "local clusters" she said.

But headteachers remained unconvinced today as they voted "to consider all options open to NAHT up to and including as a last resort industrial action". It is not clear if this would go as far as a strike, although such action is not unknown: the NAHT took part in the first strike in its 114-year history in November 2011 over pensions.

Primary tests in England too hard, say head teachers

by BBC News, April 30, 2016

New national tests to be taken by 11-year-olds in England are too hard, say head teachers.
Members of the National Association of Head Teachers said pupils previously thought to be good performers may soon be deemed to be failing.
The new national tests, being sat in early May, are designed to measure pupils' grasp of the toughened national curriculum.
Ministers say tests allow teachers to spot when pupils need more help.
Heads gathering for the union's annual conference in Birmingham are urging the government to work with them to set up a new assessment system for next year.
Outgoing NAHT president Tony Draper said pupils had done two years of this curriculum but were being tested on four years of material.
"It will be devastating for children who have been told they have been performing well to suddenly be told they are sub-standard."

NAHT conference: Industrial action threat over academies

by BBC News, April 30, 2016

Head teachers have threatened industrial action over plans to make all state schools in England academies, after heckling Education Secretary Nicky Morgan at their conference.
National Association of Head Teachers delegates said ministers were simply not listening to their concerns.
Mrs Morgan's speech was met with cries of "rubbish" as she talked about the academies programme and testing.
"I hear the strength of feeling in the hall," she said.
The government has said that all schools will either have to convert to academy status - which sees them funded by the Department for Education but run by a governing body or trust independent from the local authority - by 2020 or commit to doing so by 2022.

Head teachers' leader doubtful about mass academisation

by BBC News, April 30, 2016

A head teachers' leader has expressed doubts about government plans to force all schools in England to become academies.
Incoming NAHT leader Kim Johnson, who is an academy head, says he knows the merits of autonomy and freedom.
But in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, he warns that the programme is costly and the benefits uncertain.
The government says it wants all schools to be able to enjoy academy freedoms.
It has published plans to require all schools to become academies by 2022.
But there has been opposition from teachers, Labour politicians and from some Conservative MPs and councillors.

'I had to relearn grammar rules in order to teach them' - one leading head on the new Sats

by tes.connect, April 29, 2016

Jane Austen did not need to worry about transient verbs, the school leader argues as she calls for a review of primary assessment
A leading headteacher has complained that she had to reteach herself grammar rules that are "too difficult for children to understand" in order to prepare pupils for this year’s key stage 2 Sats.

Amanda Hulme, headteacher of Claypool Primary School in Bolton and a member of the NAHT headteachers' union executive, said teachers were spending as much as two hours planning individual lessons on KS2 grammar.

The primary headteacher, who has 23 years of teaching experience, admitted: "I have a degree in English language and there were a number of questions that I couldn’t answer. I can now answer them but I have had to relearn."

University applicants are regretting the A-level subjects they took, new research shows

by The Independent, April 29, 2016

Young students are being urged to carefully choose their A-levels, as new research reveals university applicants are regretting the subject choices they made.

New research from Which? University has shown almost 30 per cent of university applicants wished they had chosen different A-level subjects, while just over 40 per cent wished they had thought more about what subjects might help them get into university.

Almost a third of freshers have already dropped out of university
In the survey of just over 1,000 UK students, under the age of 19, who had applied to university, only half felt suitably informed about how their A-levels could affect their choice of university or course.

Thousands of parents to take children out of school in protest over 'stressful' exams

by Independent, April 29, 2016

Parents across England are preparing to take their children out of school for a day of protest over “unnecessary” new examinations and a lack of creative learning within the primary school curriculum.

The protest, organised by anonymous members of the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign, comes as head teachers warn that children as young as six are becoming anxious and stressed over National Curriculum tests (SATs).

Almost 30,000 people have signed a petition in favour of the SATs boycott on Tuesday May 3, with thousands pledging to take part in a day of “fun learning out of school” with their children to promote the value of creative outdoor learning.

In an open letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, campaigners said their children’s mental health was at risk from the stress of sitting exams too young.

Managing an anxiety disorder in academia is a full-time job

by The Guardian, April 29, 2016

I cried when the mental health professional told me I had generalised anxiety disorder (Gad). It wasn’t sadness that prompted the tears, it was relief. I received my diagnosis five years ago, but for the previous 20 years, I’d experienced and been treated for symptoms of depression. In that moment in the consultation room, however, I realised that the depression was itself a symptom.

The real cause of my troubles was my anxious thoughts and feelings. They are ever-present, like discordant elevator music, and the volume and intensity increases with particular triggers. These triggers are known as anxiety-provoking assumptions (APAs). These are the unshakeable, unchallenged and largely false beliefs that anxiety suffers carry with them about themselves and the world.

Academic life frequently triggers anxious thoughts and feelings connected to my APAs: approval, perfectionism, control, vulnerability and dependency. High-pressure events – such as giving a paper at a conference or a job interview – prompt worry and stress (as they do for almost everyone), but it’s the meaning attached to those events that fuels excessive anxiety and sometimes panic attacks.

Child mental health crisis 'worse than suspected'

by The Guardian, April 29, 2016

The crisis in children’s mental health is far worse than most people suspect and we are in danger of “medicalising childhood” by focussing on symptoms rather than causes, the government’s mental health champion for schools has warned.

Natasha Devon, who has been working in schools for almost a decade delivering mental health and wellbeing classes, said an average of three children in a class were diagnosed with a mental illness, but many more slipped under the radar.

Devon, who founded the Self-Esteem Team, was appointed by the government to look into young people’s mental health and find out what a good school support system looks like. However, she said the government was asking the wrong question.

“The question we should be asking ourselves is what are the emotional and mental health needs of all children and are they being met in our schools?” she said.

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