Latest Educational News

'Our schools will not be academies,' says major local authority

by TES Connect, April 6, 2016

Birmingham City Council has passed a motion stating that it does not want its schools to become academies
At a meeting this week, Labour councillor Brigid Jones proposed the motion that: “This council believes that the government should not force well-achieving schools into a reorganisation that the school does not believe to be in the best interests of its pupils.”

Addressing the meeting in Birmingham, England's most populous local authority area, she said: “Our children are human beings. They’re not soulless memory sticks, waiting to be pumped full of information.”

She went on to say that children’s different needs cannot be separated out: what goes on at home affects their ability to learn at school. “At a local level, we can pull agencies together,” she said.

By contrast, academy chains often lack specific local knowledge. “By cutting schools off from local accountability, we’re making a really grave error, which I think will have an impact on our children,” Ms Jones said.

Children as young as six 'stressed' about exams and tests

by BBC News, April 4, 2016

The mental health of children as young as six is being blighted by exam stress, education staff have told the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.
Of 420 ATL members who responded to a poll, almost half said pupils in their school had self-harmed - and 89% said testing was the main source of stress.
Some staff said they were aware of pupils attempting suicide - and 18 of these were in primary schools.
The government says children's mental health is a priority.
'Excessive' pressure
Teaching staff complained the pressure placed on children of 10 and 11 by end of primary school tests was "excessive".
Others blamed the government for raising the stakes on testing and exams, affecting some of the youngest children in their schools.
"Mental health issues are probably our biggest barrier to academic progress," said the head of a Norfolk primary school, ahead of the second day of debate at the ATL's annual conference in Liverpool.
"As head of school I am spending more and more of my time supporting children with mental health issues," added the head, who added that the member of staff responsible for pastoral care was "now snowed under".
A member of staff at a secondary academy in London reported "a huge increase in physical symptoms of stress and incidents of self harm".
While "suicidal thoughts have escalated beyond control".
The teachers who took part in the survey also pinpointed fragmented home-lives, family break-up and social media as major factors contributing to pupils' mental distress.
Almost three quarters (73%) felt young people were under more pressure now than two years ago - while 82% felt students were more pressured now than 10 years ago.

Academy plan could cost £1.3bn, says Labour

by BBC News, April 3, 2016

Labour is predicting the government's plan to convert all England's state schools to academies could cost more than £1.3bn.
The party says the figure is based on a Parliamentary written answer which shows the government paid £66,000 per school for earlier academy conversions.
This would leave a black hole of more than a billion pounds in the education budget, Labour says.
The government says suggestions of a shortfall are "completely untrue".
Under the plan, announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Budget last month, all state schools must become academies by 2020 or have plans to do so by 2022.
It would mean every English school being funded directly by central government rather than through a local authority.

How English Became English by Simon Horobin review – ‘OMG’ was first used 100 years ago

by The Guardian, March 31, 2016

Modern usages that horrify linguistic purists in fact have deep historical roots, argues this Oxford scholar who praises texting, Tesco’s grammar and ‘amazeballs’

Every year, in Britain at least, the bestseller lists seem to bring news of another hit book on how our language is going to the dogs. As the eye-popping sales figures of authors such as Lynne Truss, Simon Heffer and NM Gwynne show, it’s an irresistible subject.

The Oxford scholar Simon Horobin’s new volume, by contrast, is part of an opposing genre of books by serious linguists on why, essentially, we shouldn’t care. Unfortunately the text sometimes slips into tutorial mode. We are treated to quite a lot of Old English, and talk of “preterite” tenses, “weak verb classes”, “inflexional endings”, and so on, as well as intermittent flashes of professorial humour (these days, would you believe it, “trolls are not just found lurking under bridges preying on unsuspecting billy goats, tweeting is not limited to birds, and surfing no longer requires a surfboard”).

Network and hustle: the key skills for women in technology

by The Guardian, March 31, 2016

We ran a live chat about how to get more women working in tech. Here’s a roundup of the best tips from our expert panellists.

The technology sector is burgeoning, so if women really want to be at the seat of power in the future, it’s a space they need to break into.

We assembled a panel of leading women in tech to take part in a live Q&A to discuss what we need to do to increase female representation in the sector. Here’s a roundup of some of the best advice they shared.

Merged or chopped … sixth-form colleges fear government review

by The Guardian, March 31, 2016

Sixth-form colleges have already suffered funding cuts and now face the ‘area based review’, aimed at creating fewer and larger institutions. Schools are exempt
Comment: School sixth forms: an outdated luxury

It is mid morning and students are streaming through the gates of Portsmouth college. But they are not late: lessons do not begin until 10am. Until recently, this sixth- form college started at 8.30am, but in September 2013, the principal, Steve Frampton, decided to start students’ days later to make them more focused. “Evidence shows teenagers find it hard to learn early in the morning and having a series of shorter lessons does not help them concentrate or achieve,” he says. Now students have two lessons: 9.55am-1.05pm and 1.50pm-4pm, with no free periods.

The gamble seems to have paid off: student numbers are up by 15% from last year. “I think the timetable’s really convenient,” says Sophia Vuksanovic, 17, who is studying art, English literature, history and religious studies. “It’s easier not to skip lessons, because you only have two.”

Snobbery is outdated – universities have to train students for jobs

by The Guardian, March 31, 2016

Young people expect their degrees to boost their prospects. It is up to universities to provide a balanced combination of theory and practical skills

oo many people, policymakers included, hold fast to the sentiment of Cardinal John Henry Newman’s 1873 work, The Idea of a University. He portrayed higher education as the disinterested pursuit of truth, and the cultivation of the mind.

So, for example, many worry that judging universities by the jobs their graduates go on to do (as proposed in the new Teaching Excellence Framework) will create an overly instrumentalist, and therefore debased, form of higher education.

There is more than a whiff of snobbery about this view. Only students who don’t need jobs can afford an education that does not prepare them for the workplace, and very few are in this position. “Getting a good job” is consistently given in student surveys as the main motivation for going to university, and students expect a professional degree to prepare them for their chosen profession. This is as true in law, engineering, architecture and medicine as it is in nursing, education or management.

Ucas Clearing system should be abolished, majority of students tell survey

by Independent, March 30, 2016

More than half believe the system has a 'bad reputation' while others express embarrassment at having to use Clearing

More than half of students want to see Ucas Clearing completely abolished and, instead, be replaced by a system that enables them to reapply in September with their actual grades, according to a recent survey.

Forum and wiki, The Student Room, spoke with just over 6,300 students to find almost 60 per cent want to see the end of Clearing, while 52 per cent said they believe it has a bad reputation.

Students also expressed embarrassment at having to use Clearing; when asked if they would tell their peers if they got in via the system, 48 per cent responded ‘no’, fearing they would be seen as “stupid” or “inferior.” A further 19 per cent said Clearing is “for people who are desperate to still get into university.”

I wasn't prepared for the culture shock of being an international student

by The Guardian, March 30, 2016

I thought student life in the UK would be much the same as in the Netherlands. But small things began to catch me off balance...

For any student, moving away from home can be daunting. But I didn’t expect student life in Scotland to be all that different from my home of the Netherlands. After all, we get the same news and TV shows online.

However, when I moved from Amsterdam to study at the University of Stirling, I began to realise that a few small things were catching me off balance. I was suffering a minor cultural shock.

In my first year, I quickly found out my English was not as good as I’d assumed. Most of my flatmates were born and raised in Scotland, and I constantly found myself having to ask people to repeat themselves. Their Scottish accents didn’t help and I was mispronouncing names and places all the time.

I also got confused about small cultural things. Much to my flatmates’ amusement, it took me two Christmases to figure out that mince pies are not actually filled with minced beef.

Quiz: Can you identify a simile, oxymoron and metaphor?

by Telegraph, March 30, 2016

Over a quarter of parents also struggle with the names of planets and key maths principles, but how well do you remember early school lessons?

Do you remember your grammar lessons from school? Are you a pedant when it comes to punctuation? Do you flinch when you see misplaced apostrophe's ...
While many adults will happily swear, hand on heart, that they have never split an infinitive, there are others who would struggle to identify an infinitive in a sentence, let alone take precautionary measures against splitting one.
In fact, research has suggested that one in five parents can't remember how to use an apostrophe, while almost a quarter do not know when to use a colon or semicolon.

Sexist bullying 'putting girls off hard subjects' for fear of being called 'swotty

by Telegraph, March 30, 2016

A leading teacher has said that although schools are dealing with this better than five years ago, they should do more to tackle 'a conspiracy of near-silence' among teenage girls and teach them to 'speak out'

Sexist bullying is putting girls off hard subjects because they are under growing pressure to appear attractive and escape being called 'swotty' as the use of social media rises, according to a leading teacher
Mary Bousted warned historical, societal attitudes to women were becoming internalised by female students, which is discouraging from studying traditionally male subjects, like physics and maths.

Parents' low expectations ‘condemning toddlers to a life of underachievement

by BBC News, March 30, 2016

Almost half of British parents risk condemning their children to a life of underachievement by seriously underestimating how much they should be learning as toddlers, the leading charity has warned.
Research by Save The Children suggests that, far from the popular idea of “helicopter” or “tiger” parents hot-housing children long before they go to school, hundreds of thousands of adults hold potentially harmfully low expectations for their child’s early learning.
A survey of people with children between the ages of two and 10 carried out for the study found that 47 per cent believe their children ought to know about 100 words or fewer by the time they are two and a half.

Teachers' union votes for strike ballot over academies

by BBC News, March 30, 2016

Teachers are calling for a one-day strike as part of a campaign against plans to force every school in England to become an academy.
The National Union of Teachers says there is no evidence to show academy status will improve schools more rapidly than local authority schools.
The union's conference has backed a strike ballot for this summer term.
The Department for Education says the union was "playing politics with our children's future".
And the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has told teachers she has no intention of backing down, warning another teachers' union, the NASUWT, that there is no "reverse gear" on the proposed reforms.
Mrs Morgan was heckled and faced shouts of "rubbish" from delegates during her speech arguing that the compulsory academy policy would raise standards.

Thousands of police visits 'criminalise' children in care homes

by BBC News, March 30, 2016

Police in England and Wales are being called to children's homes thousands of times a year, according to figures.
One force, West Mercia, saw the equivalent of more than five call-outs a day to homes in 2014-15, the Howard League for Penal Reform found.
It said children were being wrongly "criminalised" because staff often called the police over minor incidents.
But the Independent Children's Homes Association said homes were "rigorously inspected" and staff well-trained.
The majority of children legally defined as "looked after" in England and Wales are placed in foster care, but in 2014, some 5,220 were living in residential care homes.

Toddlers 'need early years teachers in nurseries

by BBC News, March 30, 2016

Every nursery in England should have a qualified early years teacher to help toddlers develop skills like speech and language, a children's charity says.
Save the Children says pre-schoolers can be "set back decades" if their brains are not adequately stimulated before they start formal schooling.
It says early years teachers can assist children and parents with learning.
Ministers say they are making major investments in the sector, working with the profession to improve its status.
To become an early years teacher, candidates need a degree and at least a GCSE C grade in English, maths and science. They have to pass professional tests in numeracy and literacy and complete a period of initial teacher training.

Puff Daddy is opening a school in Harlem

by Independent, March 29, 2016

The 46-year-old rapper and producer said it was his 'dream come true'.

Hip-hop mogul Sean Combs, better known as “Diddy,” has signaled his plan to enter the world of education by opening a new school in the Harlem neighhourhood where he was born.

The Capital Prep Harlem will begin its upcoming school year with 160 pupils aged 11-12, offering “college preparatory education that develops lifelong learners, leaders, and agents of social change,” according to its website.

“I want to impact the lives of young people in my community, and build future leaders,” Combs said in a statement.

Academy sixth-form closure to end A-level provision in UK borough

by The Guardian, March 29, 2016

Decision by Halewood academy, last school offering A-levels in Knowsley, Merseyside, due to dwindling numbers and funding cuts

An academy in Knowsley, Merseyside, is under fire after it announced plans to close its sixth form, which will bring to an end A-level provision in the borough.

Halewood academy was the last school offering A-levels in the area but is now consulting on plans to close its sixth form to new students from September as a result of financial cutbacks and dwindling pupil numbers.

If agreed, the decision means that students in Knowsley, which is the worst-performing local authority at GCSE in England, will have to travel to neighbouring boroughs if they want to study A-levels.

Labour’s shadow education secretary, Lucy Powell, condemned the move, saying it went to the heart of what is wrong with “the fragmented education system” the Tories are creating and flagged up concerns about government plans to convert all schools to academies in the next six years.

UK should leave the EU 'to have freedom to let migrants in

by Telegraph, March 29, 2016

Militant members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) accused the European Union of "vicious racism"

Militant teachers have said the UK should leave the European Union to have the freedom to open up borders and allow migrants in.
Some members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) attempted to put forward a motion accusing the European Union of "vicious racism".
The draft motion said they believed that "vicious racism is built into the foundations of the European Union", allowing free movement to just those with the "right passports".

However, the anti-EU motion was watered down by the executive for fears the union could be taking a 'divisive' position.

Libraries lose a quarter of staff as hundreds close

by BBC News, March 29, 2016

Almost 8,000 jobs in UK libraries have disappeared in six years, about a quarter of the overall total, an investigation by the BBC has revealed.
Over the same period, some 15,500 volunteers have been recruited and 343 libraries have closed, leading to fears over the future of the profession.
Children's author Alan Gibbons said the public library service faced the "greatest crisis in its history".
The government said it funded the roll-out of wi-fi to help libraries adapt.
The BBC has compiled data from 207 authorities responsible for running libraries through the Freedom of Information Act. Our analysis shows:

Leaving EU 'devastating for young', says Nicky Morgan

by BBC News, March 29, 2016

A vote to leave the European Union could have a devastating impact on the life chances of young people, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has said.
Entering the debate over EU membership, she urged parents and grandparents to think how their vote would affect opportunities for the next generation.
She also told young people to make sure they voted in June's referendum.
The Vote Leave campaign said the EU had been bad for young people, with a generation on the continent unemployed.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast ahead of a speech at the Fashion Retail Academy in London, Mrs Morgan said companies were already suspending hiring decisions as they waited for the outcome of the vote on 23 June.