Latest Educational News

The class book review: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, by Melissa Keil

by tes.connect, April 15, 2016

Teacher review

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl tells the story of Alba, a 17-year-old girl living in a small and remote town in Australia. She’s an aspiring comic-book artist who, along with her alter ego Cinnamon Girl, is struggling to come to terms with the fact that school is over for good and it’s time for her and her friends to move on to the next chapter in their lives. Oh, and as if that wasn’t emotional enough, overnight YouTube sensation Original Ned has just declared her home town of Eden Valley the only place to avoid the impending apocalypse.

First of all, I should state that as a 30-something male I know that I am not the target audience for this novel. I found the dialogue unrealistic and clichéd at times and as a result didn’t feel a great connection with Alba or any of her friends. I also tend not to like novels where the ending is evident from the beginning.

The shortlist for the TES Schools Awards 2016 is revealed

by tes.connect, April 15, 2016

The shortlist for the TES Schools Awards 2016 is revealed ahead of this summer’s glittering ceremony
Today, we reveal the names of the schools and teachers that have made the shortlist for the prestigious annual TES Schools Awards.

The awards, which are now in their eighth year, celebrate the vision, commitment and outstanding contribution to education made by teachers and teams in the classroom and the wider community.

Among the 17 categories are awards for primary and secondary schools, early years settings and alternative provision, as well as for those schools putting creativity, sport and food education at the heart of their work.

Individual accolades handed out at the ceremony recognise teacher-bloggers, headteachers, and practitioners who have shared their resources with fellow educators around the world via the TES website.

Subject categories include arts and drama, English, maths and science, technology and engineering. The awards also recognise the links that schools forge with the wider world and within their local communities.

IGCSE grading ‘can’t be trusted’, private schools say

by tes.connect, April 15, 2016

Report calls for review after thousands of pupils receive lower-than-expected English language results
An exam board’s attempt to compensate for grading that it now admits was too “lenient” has left thousands of pupils with crucial results that “cannot be trusted”, a report released today claims.

Analysis by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) and the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), which represent leading independent schools, says that there is “overwhelming evidence” of a “major problem” in the grading of the English language IGCSE qualification run by the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) board.

The board decided in June 2015 to “tighten standards” for the papers taken last summer, after research it carried out found its grading of the 2014 paper had been too “lenient”.

It has acknowledged that, for the IGCSE English language qualification taken by 17,000 independent school pupils last year, this led to 9 per cent of schools having “markedly worse” numbers of A grades than in 2014.

There are also concerns about 194,000 mainly state school pupils who took a different version of the qualification that used the same exam papers with the same grade boundaries. The Association of School and College Leaders said that several thousand candidates from the maintained sector had also received lower-than-expected grades.

State school entries for IGCSE English rose by more than 80 per cent. The author of the HMC report believes that a perception the qualification represented an “easier” option may have had a knock-on effect on independent sector results.

Heads say exam results unreliable

by BBC News, April 15, 2016

Independent school head teachers have said there was a "major problem" with an exam taken last summer.
They have published a report saying the results of the IGCSE in English language were flawed and pupils received unfair grades.
The exam board, Cambridge International Exams, said it was "confident" in the accuracy of the results.
Exam regulator Ofqual said the exam results were reliable and pupils had received "appropriate" grades.
The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) and Girls' School Association said an "unprecedented number" of schools had come forward with concerns about the results.
The report said the exam results "cannot be trusted" and there had been a "large-scale award of false grades" for the IGCSE English language paper taken by pupils in May 2015.

Thousands of pupils start school underweight, say MPs

by BBC News, April 15, 2016

Thousands of children in England started school underweight last year, according to official figures highlighted by MPs.
Rising numbers of children do not get enough to eat, says the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger.
"For a minority of children, the school lunchtime represents the only chance each day to eat something substantial," the group reported.
The government said it was committed to an "all-out war" on food poverty.
The report urges the government to use some of the money from the new sugar tax to extend free school meals for poor children into the school holidays.
The government should also make greater efforts to ensure poor families take up their entitlement to vouchers for free milk, fruit and vegetables, it adds.

Parents face 'complex' school criteria

by BBC News, April 15, 2016

The most socially selective schools in England are making parents jump through numerous hoops in order to get places for their children, a report suggests.
The Sutton Trust charity's research found the 100 most socially selective schools used up to 18 categories to decide on oversubscribed places.
These schools tend to be faith-based, with religious families coming from higher social groups, it added.
Researchers compared the social make-up of schools with their local areas.
They identified the schools with the greatest difference between rates of free school meal pupils in schools and in their surrounding neighbourhood.

Popular schools make parents face 'oversubscription criteria'

by BBC News, April 15, 2016

The most socially selective schools in England are making parents jump through numerous hoops in order to get places for their children, a report suggests.
The Sutton Trust charity's research found the 100 most socially selective schools used up to 18 categories to decide on oversubscribed places.
These schools tend to be faith-based, with religious families coming from higher social groups, it added.
Researchers compared the social make-up of schools with their local areas.
They identified the schools with the greatest difference between rates of free school meal pupils in schools and in their surrounding neighbourhood.
'Inequalities exacerbated'
Socially selective schools are defined as those which have free school meal rates much lower than the population in their localities.
They were almost all in urban areas where it is possible for children to walk to a number of schools.

A fragmented system, a teacher drought and 8 other challenges of total academisation

by tes.connect, April 14, 2016

One educationalist sets out the top 10 problems of a fully academised system and some suggested solutions
A lot has been said and written about the proposal in the government’s White paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, for a fully academised system. Opponents point out that one size does not necessarily fit all, and wonder why schools which are doing perfectly well under local authority control should be forced to become academies. These are good points and we would urge the government to relax the compulsory requirement when it brings forward its White paper proposals.

We would strongly encourage ministers to allow federated groups of maintained schools alongside multi-academy trusts. Groups of schools have the potential to create the conditions for deep and sustainable partnerships that build professional capacity, collaborative learning and joint practice development, and have collective responsibility for pupils’ outcomes.

Ofsted hails Trojan horse school's 'remarkable progress'

by The Guardian, April 14, 2016

The school at the centre of the Trojan horse scandal has been given a clean bill of health by Ofsted inspectors, two years after allegations of an Islamist plot to infiltrate education made national headlines.

Rockwood Academy, formerly known as Park View, a state secondary school in Alum Rock, east Birmingham, has been upgraded to “good” by Ofsted following a visit by its inspectors, ending a long period of upheaval for pupils and staff.

Inspectors praised the “passion and determination” of the school’s new leadership and said Adrian Packer, the executive head brought in after the previous trustees were ousted by the Department for Education (DfE), had “worked relentlessly and with great resilience to tackle the wide-ranging failures” highlighted in previous inspections.

“Pupils at Rockwood Academy are now experiencing a suitably broad education that ensures they are well prepared for life in modern Britain,” the latest Ofsted report will say.

Teacher training applicants fell last year, says UCAS

by BBC News, April 14, 2016

The number of applicants for teacher training in England fell by 6.5% last year compared with the previous 12 months, according to a new analysis.
But despite the drop in applications, more people were accepted to train.
The figures, from university admissions body UCAS, look at applications both for higher education and schools-based teacher training schemes.
Despite the figures, a Department for Education spokeswoman said teaching remains "hugely popular".
However, teaching union Association of Teachers and Lecturers said the numbers "don't provide reassurance" that the teacher supply crisis is being addressed,
UCAS says its calculations differ from previous figures in that they show acceptance rates for teacher training places.

A league of their own: India ranks its universities for the first time

by The Guardian, April 14, 2016

hen the director of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, a top university in India, discovered that it had ranked fifth for engineering in the country, he addressed students in the gymkhana. Fifth place, for the illustrious institute’s director, was simply not good enough. Students, staff and administration, he said, would have to pull together and make sure that the university rose up the ranking next year.

For the past week, deans and vice-chancellors at universities across India have been holding similar meetings with faculty members and students to discuss the country’s first national league tables, released by the Indian government last week.

Institutions that ranked highly have already put out advertisements and local newspapers are celebrating their towns’ top colleges. Meanwhile, a new mini-industry of consultants, who will work with universities to improve their rankings, is approaching administration staff.

“This is going to have a huge impact on admissions,” says Dheeraj Sanghi, dean of academic affairs at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology in Delhi. “We are looking very carefully at why we were ranked 53rd when we should be much higher.”

Edinburgh council refusing to pay £1.5m PFI charges following school closures

by The Guardian, April 14, 2016

Edinburgh council is refusing to pay the latest private finance initiative charges for the 17 schools shut down because of safety fears in a sharp escalation of the controversy over the potentially dangerous buildings.

With thousands of schoolchildren and teachers facing weeks of further disruption, council officials said on Wednesday they were withholding the latest £1.5m instalment of the private finance charge, invoking their legal rights under the PFI contract.

“We will not be paying them that this month,” a council spokesman said. “We’re applying all the contractual terms, and those include deductions for non-availability [of the schools].”

With the council now preparing for a major compensation claim against the PFI firm involved, the Guardian has established that the true lifetime cost of the contract will reach £529m in cash terms by 2032 – nearly 50% more than the original, publiclydeclared costing of £360m.

The city is being charged £17.6m this year as it repays the building costs, debt financing costs and day-to-day maintenance costs under the 32-year-long contract, Treasury figures for the PFI contract show.

Secretive Harvard club breaks silence in sex row to defend all-male membership policy

by The Telegraph, April 14, 2016

A secretive Harvard club has broken centuries of tradition by speaking out against pressure to change its all-male membership policy.

In the most extensive public comments in its 225-year history, the Porcellian Club hit back at a recent Harvard report that linked such so-called "final clubs" with “nonconsensual sexual contact”.

Charles M. Storey, Class of 1982, wrote an email to the Harvard Crimson newspaper, noting it was "the first time an officer of the club has granted an on the record statement to a newspaper since our founding in 1791".

“This reflects both the PC’s abiding interest in privacy and the importance of the situation,” he wrote.

While an undergraduate president has, in fact, given a public statement before - in 1983 when an African-American was admitted into the club for the first time - such an outspoken defence of its policies was unprecedented.

The mass child abduction by Boko Haram that remains ignored

by The Telegraph, April 14, 2016

Built on a half-parched river bed that snakes through the arid Sahel of northern Nigeria, the ancient town of Damasak fights a never-ending battle with the dunes of the advancing Sahara.

These days, though, it is not just the residents' farms and crops that are disappearing into the surrounding desert. Last year, Boko Haram gunmen abducted some 300 local children, whose whereabouts have remained a mystery ever since.

If the story has a familiar ring to it, that is not surprising.

Exactly two years ago today in the town of Chibok, 200 miles south from Damasak, Boko Haram carried out arguably the most publicised mass child abduction of modern times, kidnapping some 219 schoolgirls as they sat exams at a local government secondary school.

Once again a town was robbed of an entire generation of its youth, and once again - despite a newly-released video of them - there is still no word as to where they are.

UK lags behind other rich countries on child inequality

by BBC News, April 14, 2016

The UK is lagging behind other rich countries on reducing inequalities between rich and poor children, a Unicef report says.
The UN body set up to promote the rights and wellbeing of children highlights "concerning gaps in health, education, and income".
The lack of progress means ambitions to eradicate child poverty are unlikely to be realised in coming years, it adds.
The government said there were 300,000 fewer children in poverty since 2010.
The gap between rich and poor had narrowed in the UK in recent years, largely because the income of the poorest families had fallen more slowly than that of the average household, Unicef said in its Report Card 13 report.
But Unicef added that were it not for benefits, the income gap in Britain would be among the greatest in Europe.

Seven festival pitfalls and how to avoid them

by The Telegraph, April 13, 2016

Summer festival season is upon us. You don’t want to be that person who’s had one too many drinks and collapsed in the Chemical Brothers crowd. Nor do you want to be the one who gets sunstroke on the first day and spends the rest of the weekend in a dark tent.

In many ways, one weekend at a festival can amount to a year’s worth of fun. Maybe the mistakes and rookie errors are all part of the experience. But if you want to avoid at least some common pitfalls then read on, because we’ve got them covered.

Not washing
Some think that going to a festival means it’s compulsory to not wash for a week. Grimy fingernails, along with a vintage top hat or a Topshop headpiece, might all be part of the “festival look”. But there’s nothing inauthentic about staying clean, if you can.

Take some wet wipes, take a toothbrush and take a shower if possible. It might make you feel better.

“My friends sneered at the fact that I would get up every day to walk 30 minutes to go to the showers, which was totally not their priority,” says Alastair Smith, 22, a student from Leeds. “One friend in particular found the concept of showering absurd. I know it’s not the point of a festival, but a shower every two days helped me come back to life and feel ready to get back involved.”

Call for 'a decent education' for all

by BBC News, April 13, 2016

Access to good schooling in England is still "patchy" and more must be done to make sure all children receive a decent education, a report says.
The Fair Education Alliance (FEA) says while progress has been made in improving standards, this has been uneven, with some pupils missing out.
The FEA says more must be done, such as overhauling careers guidance and efforts to promote pupils' wellbeing.
Ministers say their policy is about achieving fairness and social justice.
In 2014, the FEA - a group of education organisations - published targets to be achieved by 2022, to help close the gap in opportunities and achievement between rich and poor children in England.

Cameron denies removing parent governors from schools

by BBC News, April 13, 2016

David Cameron has rejected claims that the academy plans for England will mean the "removal of parent governors from school governing bodies".
He was accused in Prime Minister's Questions of an "attack on parents" with proposals to end the obligation for schools to have them as governors.
Mr Cameron said it was "simply wrong" to say it would scrap them.
But Labour said the plans would mean "removing the requirement" for academies to have parent governors.
Mr Cameron was questioned by Labour's Catherine West about the government's White Paper that proposes all state schools in England should become academies.
Ms West said there was "sadness and anger" that this would also end the requirement for individual schools to have parent governors.
She said parent governors provided an "important civic duty" in supporting their local schools.
In response Mr Cameron said: "Parents have a great role to play, but no school should think that simply by having parent governors you've solved the problem about how to engage with parents."

Foster carers warn cuts threaten children's welfare

by BBC News, April 13, 2016

The wellbeing of thousands of children in care is under threat because of budget cuts in England, a charity says.
The Fostering Network says children in care are finding it harder to access social worker support as a result.
Town hall bosses says the number of children receiving intensive support through child protection plans has risen 60% in the past eight years.
Cuts to early intervention budgets left councils with very difficult decisions, they added.
'Truly shocking'
The Fostering Network's chief executive, Kevin Williams, said: "We are extremely concerned that so many foster carers feel that recent cuts are having a negative impact on their fostered children's access to the support and services that they so vitally need.

Edinburgh council postpones students' practical exams

by BBC News, April 13, 2016

Practical exams due to be held this week have been postponed due to the Edinburgh schools closures.
The city council decided on Friday to shut 17 schools amid safety fears.
About 7,600 pupils missed the first two days of the new term following the Easter break and most will not be back in class until next week.
The council has now announced that practical exams due to take place at the five high schools affected by the closure have been postponed.
Five secondaries, 10 primaries and two additional support needs schools were shut due to concerns over structural issues.
All of the schools, which are about 10 years old, were constructed under the same public private partnership contract.