Latest Educational News

The 'sexist' words your children are no longer allowed to use at school

by The Telegraph, October 20, 2015

Classified as General.

Children as young as five are going to be admonished for using language that enforces gender stereotypes as new guidelines are sent to every school in England this Tuesday.
Children as young as five are going to be admonished for using language that enforces gender stereotypes as new guidelines are sent to every school in England this Tuesday.
In response, some schools are creating volunteer squads of girls to police sexist attitudes and report back to teachers.
Schools are also being asked by the report to appoint senior teachers as 'gender champions', appointing them with the task of encouraging more girls to take traditionally 'male' subjects such as economics, computer science and physics at GCSE and A-level and more boys to take 'female' subjects such as English literature, foreign languages and psychology.
Stereotypes are blamed for the fact that there is a gender divide in the subjects taken at GCSE and A-level. Only 19 per cent of girls who scored an A* in GCSE physics studied it at A-level in 2011. This contrasts to the amount of boys - just under half of whom scored an A* in physics studied it at A-level in the same year.

Universities don’t need a regulatory big stick to drive better teaching

by The Guardian, October 20, 2015

Classified as General.

Suppose the government declares that a market needs some new regulation. What’s an Education Guardian reader to think? Congratulate the Conservative cabinet for accepting that the free market, left to itself, sinks into a moral morass? Oppose the proposals on the grounds that Conservative governments are there to be opposed? Or mumble about hypocrisy and move on? The problem is particularly acute when it is Education Guardian readers themselves who are about to be regulated.

I refer, of course, to the government’s proposed Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). The idea is that only those universities that score highly on teaching excellence will be able to link undergraduate fees to inflation; the rest will remain stuck at today’s £9,000.

When I hear of proposals for new regulation I reach for my copy of the Principles of Better Regulation [pdf], set out by the late and largely unlamented Better Regulation Task Force. Before regulating, you must identify the risk the regulation is intended to reduce, and then propose only regulations that will actually work, at proportionate cost and effort.

What, then, is the risk? It is alleged that universities are now so focused on research that teaching is neglected and standards are scandalous. And what is the evidence? Student satisfaction in the UK is measured by the National Student Survey (NSS). True, about half the universities in the country are beating themselves up about their results. But they are looking primarily at league table positions, and for every winner there must be a loser.

Term-time holidays: Isle of Wight parent's legal case thrown out

by BBC News, October 16, 2015

Classified as General.

Parents who take children on holiday in term time have "nothing to fear", a man at the centre of a legal battle says.
Jon Platt, from the Isle of Wight, was taken to court after refusing to pay a £120 fine for taking his six-year-old daughter to Florida in April, but the case was thrown out by magistrates.
Mr Platt argued the law only requires children to attend school regularly.
Isle of Wight Council said it was following government guidance and was reviewing the outcome of the case.
'No detrimental impact'
Mr Platt took his daughter out of school to go to Florida with 15 other members of their family, despite an absence request being rejected by the school.
"I cannot allow a local education authority to tell me what is right for my kids - I know what is best for my kids," he said.
He insisted his children got "great value and great experiences" from the trip, with "no detrimental impact whatsoever" on their education.

The open-plan university – noisy nightmare or buzzing ideas hub?

by The Guardian, October 16, 2015

Classified as General.

The era of university corridors lined with doors that open into tiny offices, artfully decorated with yellowing posters, inspiring quotes and research ideas on scraps of paper may be over.

A wave of new building work has followed the trend for open-plan work spaces, complete with soft seating, breakout areas and numerous “hubs”. Almost half of universities plan to expand their student intake over the next five years, so we can expect plenty more light-filled open spaces. But what do university staff think of them?

Against: ‘Shared offices cause stress’
Gail Kinman, professor of occupational health psychology at the University of Bedfordshire, argues that open-plan offices lower academic productivity:

It has recently been estimated that the average university desk is occupied for just 45% of office hours, and that just isn’t an efficient use of space. So there is a growing trend towards using open-plan offices, to increase efficiency and lower costs.

How can you boost literacy in your school? – live chat

by The Guardian, October 16, 2015

Classified as General.

Figures released by the Department of Education this week revealed that more five-year-olds than ever before are achieving expected standards in literacy and maths. What’s more, the gender gap – where boys are outperformed by their female classmates – has reduced (though it is still present).

But other research has been less positive about our literacy results. According to a 2010 study by Dr Sammy Rashid and Professor Greg Brooks for the University of Sheffield, although literacy is a key focus in primary schools, the emphasis can often be lost at secondary level. Researchers found that almost a fifth of 16- to 19-year-olds have a reading age at or below 11 years and 17% of teenagers are leaving school functionally illiterate.

So how can we support teachers to boost literacy? What best practice is there? And what strategies should you avoid? On Wednesday 21 October, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm, we will be discussing all things literacy-related. Our panel of teachers and other related experts will be on hand to answer all your questions and debate key issues. From sharing teaching tips and lesson plans to intervention ideas across primary, secondary, special educational needs (SEN) and English as additional language (EAL) – no stone will be left unturned.

Comments are open so please post your questions and ideas below now and our panel will respond when they are online. Alternatively, you can join us live on Wednesday 21 October, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm, or follow all the action via @GuardianTeach using #literacychat.

What's it like to take the 11-plus? 'To be written off as a failure is a travesty'

by The Guardian, October 15, 2015

Classified as 11 Plus.

Receiving the result was pretty traumatic for me
At the age of 10, for family reasons, I moved from rural Cornwall to Leeds, Yorkshire, and though my English ability was high I found I was way behind in mathematics which ultimately (I presume) led to my 11-plus failure.

Receiving the result was pretty traumatic for me and my working-class parents who, although on a low income, had supported me by buying books. A further blow was losing many friends because they went on to grammar school.

I ended up at a secondary modern school where pupils left at 15 without taking GCEs. I was top of my class in every subject except maths, getting 100% in English, history and geography, and the head tried to get me transferred to the local grammar school. However, because my maths were seen as so poor they refused to accept me. I spent the rest of my time at school saved from boredom by winning essay prizes, becoming director of the school’s internal radio programme, writing and acting in plays, and contributing stories to the school magazine. Afterwards I got a clerical job at the Home Office and continued my education at night school. Not easy.

Later, by the way, I went to university, got a good degree, and enjoyed a 40-year career, first in advertising, then as an English and drama teacher.

Needless to say, I am vehemently opposed to selective education!

William Earl, retired teacher, Spain

School uniform prices raised by supplier contracts, says CMA

by BBC News, October 15, 2015

Classified as General.

The cost of school uniforms has risen by up to £10 an item owing to the use of exclusive suppliers, according to the UK's competition authority.
School governors must ensure that deals allow parents to get good value for money, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said.
Complaints from parents have prompted the CMA to write an open letter to governors and suppliers in England.
It has the power to fine suppliers if they are found to be anti-competitive.
The CMA said there was no intention to take any legal action at this stage, but it has joined forces with various associations to call on schools and suppliers to review their agreements.
The Schoolwear Association, which represents suppliers, said that exclusive deals often ensured that uniforms of good quality were available in all sizes.

First 'new' grammar school in 50 years

by BBC News, October 15, 2015

Classified as 11 Plus.

England is to get its first "new" grammar school for five decades after ministers allowed a grammar school to build an "annexe" in another town.
Weald of Kent school in Tonbridge will open a site in Sevenoaks, Kent - side-stepping a ban on new grammar schools.
But Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said this would not "open the floodgates" to more schools being allowed to select by ability.
Labour described the decision as a "hugely backward step".
The decision to allow the new grammar school site, with places for 450 girls, has raised expectations of similar bids in other parts of the country.
But Mrs Morgan said this was a "genuine expansion" of an existing school - describing it as "one school, two sites" - and it "does not reflect a change in this government's position on selective schools".

Grammar schools: What are they and why are they controversial?

by BBC News, October 15, 2015

Classified as 11 Plus.

The long-awaited decision on the plan by a Kent grammar school to build what it describes as a "satellite" school on another site has pushed the arguments about the rights and wrongs of a selective school system to the fore.
First 'new' grammar school in 50 years
What is a grammar school?
Grammar schools are state secondary schools that select their pupils by means of an examination taken by children at age 11, known as the "11 Plus".
There are only about 164 grammar schools in England, out of some 3,000 state secondaries, and a further 69 grammar schools in Northern Ireland.
Under the grammar school system, pupils who pass the exam can go to the local grammar, while pupils those do not go to the local "secondary modern school".
More common across the UK is the "comprehensive" system, in which pupils of all abilities and aptitudes are taught together.
There are no state grammars in Wales or Scotland, and although some retain the name "grammar school", they are non-selective and have no special status.

Cambridge to launch £2bn funds drive to compete with Ivy League rivals

by The Guardian, October 15, 2015

Classified as General.

Already the wealthiest university in the UK, Cambridge is to launch a £2bn fundraising drive this week to enable it to compete with wealthy US Ivy League rivals such as Yale and Harvard.

With £5.9bn at its disposal, Cambridge has the largest endowment of any university outside the US – Oxford trails behind on £4.4bn – but both are dwarfed by the vast wealth of their American rivals.

UK higher education experts are concerned however that an “ever-widening gap” is growing between the funds that Oxford and Cambridge can attract and those raised by institutions in the rest of the sector.

Earlier this year Oxford university announced it had raised its own record £2bn and had the fastest-growing endowment of any European university, raising more than £200m a year through philanthropic giving, the highest rate in UK higher education.

Cambridge revealed on Thursday it had already raised £500m towards its £2bn target, with the money coming from benefactors including the inventor James Dyson, one of 5,000 donors – many of them Cambridge graduates – who have already contributed to the campaign.

Bracing themselves for possible future cuts in the government’s spending review next month, other UK universities have been working hard to raise money from philanthropic giving but can only look on with envy at Oxbridge’s fundraising clout.

Conservatives give green light to first grammar school in half a century

by The Guardian, October 15, 2015

Classified as Grammar Schools.

David Cameron has given the go-ahead to approve the opening of the first selective state school in England for 50 years, although the government’s decision to allow the new grammar school in Kent faces stiff legal and political opposition.
The Department for Education and education secretary Nicky Morgan are reported by the Times to have put the official seal on allowing the new grammar school to be opened in Sevenoaks, although Whitehall sources maintain that the ultimate decision after months of prevarication came from No 10.

The news instantly drew sharp criticism from Labour’s shadow education secretary Lucy Powell, who accused the Conservatives of sabotaging its efforts to use education to counteract the effects of disadvantage.

“Having made social mobility the centre of his conference speech, David Cameron should look at the clear evidence on grammar schools: they do not increase equality of opportunity, they make it worse,” said Powell.

Kent grammar: what you need to know about the first new selective school in 50 years

by The Guardian, October 15, 2015

Classified as 11 Plus.

The government’s decision to allow what is in effect a new grammar school in Kent reopens an old debate in British education: who gets to go to the best state schools?

What is a grammar school?
It’s another name for a selective school, a school that makes admissions decisions on the basis of academic ability – in this case through an exam known as the 11-plus sat by pupils entering secondary school. There are currently 164 state secondary schools in England designated by law as able to select on entry to year 7.

Where did they come from?
The modern grammar school dates back to the 1944 Education Act, which established a tripartite secondary school system. Those pupils who passed the 11-plus got into a grammar school; the rest went into non-selective secondary moderns; and there was also a technical college strand, although very few were built.

Didn’t Margaret Thatcher abolish grammar schools?
Not quite, although as education secretary Thatcher did bring about the closure of more grammar schools in the 1970s than any other politician. From the 1960s onwards both central government and local authorities began to prefer all-ability comprehensive schools, as a way of providing a better education to the 75% of children forced into inadequate secondary moderns.

Many teenagers 'unhappy by the time they leave school'

by BBC News, October 15, 2015

Classified as General.

Many UK children have become less confident about succeeding in life by the time they leave school, a report says.
The study by think-tank Demos says some pupils feel school is just preparing them for exam success.
It urges the government to help schools and colleges explore how self-belief, perseverance and resilience can be instilled in pupils.
The government said it had allocated funds to promote character education.
The Mind Over Matter report is based on interviews with experts, a survey of 1,000 teenagers and a round-up of previous academic research.
But its own survey suggests there is a steady decline in children's self-belief between 14 and 18.
Final-year students are half as likely to feel happy (33%) as 14-year-olds (60%), it says.
These 18-year-olds are also more likely to think there is too much focus on exams rather than preparing for life in general.

Parents pay millions more than needed for school uniforms, says watchdog

by The Guardian, October 15, 2015

Classified as General.

Parents could be spending millions of pounds more than they need to on school uniforms because of exclusive deals between schools and suppliers, the government’s competition watchdog has warned.

Headteachers and school governing bodies were told by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Thursday that they must let parents “shop around” for affordable uniforms for their children, using supermarkets if they wish rather than be forced to buy more expensive items in exclusive arrangements with suppliers.

In a highly unusual move, the CMA has written an open letter to all headteachers, governing bodies and suppliers in England warning that they must let parents buy uniforms at the best possible prices.

The sale of school uniforms has come under fresh scrutiny after the CMA said it was bombarded with complaints from parents concerned about prices and quality after buying uniforms for the start of the school year in September. It was shocked to find that some parents in England had been forced to pay up to £10 extra per item of uniform where schools had appointed exclusive suppliers.

Let's shine a light on the dark art of micropolitics in universities

by The Guardian, October 15, 2015

Classified as General.

Is internal politicking a Machiavellian dark art or vital oil for the wheels of higher education leadership? We all know it goes on – the decisions about what to communicate and to whom, what to reveal and conceal, whom to invite on board – but how many of us talk about it openly? And would leadership be better if we did?

New research from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and the University of Southampton draws on interviews with staff in academic and professional roles in universities – from vice-chancellors to heads of department, registrars to faculty administrators – and has found that most of those working in higher education are aware of politicking, and some are more comfortable with it than others. The popular view is that it is ubiquitous and mostly beneficial (from a leader’s perspective, at any rate), especially when power is used in a subtle and positive way.
Stories from the field show that power and politics are deployed everywhere. One vice-chancellor explains how they do not conceal information from staff, but ensure that it is not easily accessible, otherwise “you wouldn’t really have any negotiating position”. Another recalls holding one-to-one conversations with the “old guard” to dismantle a power base of professors dug in to bullying ways. A new head of department admits to “recrafting” data about the areas that are making and losing funds, to establish an alternative reality as a context for discussion.

Arguably, politicking is something to which higher education institutions are particularly susceptible. University staff defend their autonomy and so overt displays of power are often seen as inappropriate. Many academics expect their leaders to support their individual work, rather than the institution as a whole.

So it’s not surprising that micropolitical processes are more intense in universities than other kinds of organisation, where decisions are implemented in a more straightforward way. When leaders don’t have a strong authority position, micropolitics is a necessary alternative.

Grammar school decision likely to spur more bids for 'satellite' developments

by The Guardian, October 15, 2015

Classified as 11 Plus.

The government’s controversial decision to approve the first selective school in 50 years looks set to prompt a series of similar applications for “satellite” developments to existing grammar schools.

A school in Buckinghamshire is likely to be one of the first to use the decision to approve a new 450-pupil grammar school in Sevenoaks, Kent, to push forward plans for a similar extension on a satellite site.

After months of legal wrangling, the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, is expected to give the go-ahead on Thursday to an extension of the Weald of Kent girls’ grammar school in Tonbridge, in the face of what will be stiff legal and political opposition.
Among those watching closely and awaiting the decision are councillors and council officials in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, who have been hatching their own plans for a grammar school, despite a ban on opening new selective schools brought in under Tony Blair.

As in Kent, the new school will be a “satellite” in Berkshire – and therefore treated as an extension – of an existing grammar school in neighbouring Buckinghamshire. Sir William Borlase’s grammar school in nearby Marlow has expressed an interest in being involved.

Grammar schools: what was your experience of the 11 plus exam

by The Guardian, October 15, 2015

Classified as 11 Plus.

News that the government has approved the opening of grammar school in England has reignited tensions about selective schools and their merits.

A new school in Sevenoaks was given the go-ahead, despite a legal ban on the opening of new grammar schools. Technically, the school will be a “satellite” development of an existing grammar school in Buckinghamshire.

We’d like to hear about people’s experiences of attempting to get into grammar school via the 11 plus – whether you ended up going to grammar school or not. How was your experience? Did you have to be tutored to have a chance of getting in? And if you didn’t end up going to grammar school, are you glad?

Share your stories via GuardianWitness or via the form below. You do so by clicking on the ‘Contribute’ button on this article. You can also use the Guardian app and search for ‘GuardianWitness assignments.’

Early GCSE school tables are published

by BBC News, October 15, 2015

Classified as General.

The education department is publishing league tables for secondary schools in England, based on provisional data from this summer's GCSE results.
The aim is to give up-to-date information to parents submitting application forms for secondary school places this month for September 2016.
Full secondary school league tables will be published in January as usual.
Head teachers warned the partial, provisional tables may give parents an "inaccurate and incomplete picture".
The Department for Education data, to be published at 09:30 BST on Thursday, will include the percentage of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C, including English and maths.
They will also show the percentage of pupils achieving the English Baccalaureate (GCSEs at grades A* to C, including maths, English, two science qualifications, a foreign language and either history or geography).
But the tables will be based on results given out in August, before the appeals process took place, and will not include subsequent changes to grades following re-marks.
In 2014, more than 54,000 GCSE grades were changed after being challenged.

Grammar school decision Q&A: everything you need to know

by TES Connect, October 15, 2015

Classified as 11 Plus.

Today education secretary, Nicky Morgan, announced that she was approving the first new grammar school in 50 years. Here is your essential background briefing:

Weren’t grammar schools abolished years ago?

Most were (or at least, they were converted into comprehensives) in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. But some held out. A rump of 163 grammars remain in England, many in the counties of Kent, Lincolnshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex. Sixty-nine still exist in Northern Ireland.

Didn’t Labour try to get rid of the remaining grammars when it took power in 1997?

Labour fudged what ministers realised would be a hugely controversial issue. In 1998, legislation was passed banning new grammars and allowing local ballots on the end of academic election. But for a ballot to be triggered, campaigners first had to collect signatures from at least 20 per cent of those entitled to vote in it. In practice, that meant 50,000 signatures were needed for a ballot in Kent. Ripon, a small North Yorkshire cathedral city with a single grammar school, was the only area that crossed the required threshold. But the resulting ballot led to the victory of the pro-selection campaign by two votes to one. The issue then lay dormant until 2013.

Ofqual chief: schools are using exam appeals unfairly

by TES Connect, October 14, 2015

Classified as General.

The head of the exams watchdog today accused schools of systematically appealing all exam papers that fall one or two marks below the grade boundary.

Glenys Stacey, chief executive of Ofqual, told the education select committee that some schools were indulging in this “strategic appealing” and that it “did not seem particularly fair” to students or to other schools that did not.

She stressed that 400,000 requests for marks to be reviewed were made last year, but only a fifth of them resulted in grades being changed. She said only 627 had been changed by two grades or more.

“What’s going on there?” she said. “Contrary to popular belief, it’s not necessarily rogue markers. It’s generally systems issues, so perhaps scripts have been disaggregated and not put back together fully or the adding up of the marks isn’t right or isn’t complete.

“So the issues for exam boards are often about improving their systems so they are as foolproof and robust as possible.

“Of the 50,000 markers there will be occasions where markers are not working well enough. [But] now that marking is done electronically, exam boards can supervise it live.”

She said this meant that if a marker was “watching Coronation Street” whilst marking papers, and this caused them to give the same marks to every question, online systems would pick this up.

Ms Stacey repeated Ofqual’s pledge to overhaul the appeals system to “significantly improve” the way in which appeals are handled. The watchdog first announced proposals for an overhaul in a report published in February 2014.


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