Latest Educational News

Primary testing regime chaotic, say head teachers

by BBC News, April 29, 2016

The testing regime for primary schools in England is in chaos and distracting to pupils, says the National Association of Head Teachers.
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.
NAHT head Russell Hobby said primary tests no longer gave parents reliable information on children's progress.
Tests allow teachers to spot when pupils need more help, say ministers.
The NAHT highlighted issues such as a lack of time to implement the new primary curriculum and its "inappropriate content", a lack of clarity on standards and contradictory guidelines plus the late publication of materials.

Pay more so teachers stay at disadvantaged schools, says thinktank

by The Guardian, April 28, 2016

Disadvantaged pupils are being held back by high levels of teacher turnover, and schools should offer mentoring and extra pay to keep staff, according to a new report looking at the causes of educational underachievement.

The report by the Social Market Foundation thinktank found that the most deprived schools in England struggled to retain experienced teachers, leading to worse outcomes for pupils who most needed the help.

“We find stark inequalities in access to the highest quality teachers resulting in poorer pupils being taught by poorer quality teachers,” the report argues. “This provides an explanation as to why educational inequality in England persists.”

Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister and chair of the SMF’s inequality commission, said in launching the report: “This new research suggests that poor pupils are facing a cocktail of disadvantage – they’re more likely to have unqualified teachers, non-specialist teachers, less experienced teachers, and to have a high turnover of teachers.

Ofsted withdraws report accusing nursery of cultural diversity failings

by The Guardian, April 28, 2016

An Ofsted report that allegedly criticised a nursery for failing to teach children about cultural diversity has been withdrawn, the watchdog has said.

Town and Country Kiddies Nursery in Chestnut House, Market Rasen, had reportedly received feedback that it was not providing enough opportunities for its children to “learn about people who are different to themselves”.

As a result of the review, the nursery, which cares for the under-fives, was downgraded from “outstanding” to “good” by Ofsted.

The Guardian view on forced academisation: time to stop and think
Editorial: Rushing all schools into academy status will overstretch the Whitehall bureaucrats and risk the education of a generation

“There are things they’d like us to do over and above – children having understanding of other people and different cultures,” she told the paper.

Don't choose a master's before taking these four steps

by The Guardian, April 28, 2016

In the final term of university, with stress levels peaking, caffeine consumption reaching an all time high and family-members asking “what’s next?”, you also need to decide whether you want to embark on a master’s or not. And, despite the relative stress, many will apply to stay at uni after the summer in a range of postgraduate courses.

I made that decision when I graduated in 2015, opting for a year-long MA degree instead of joining the ranks of unemployed graduates. A lot of the time, I’m glad I did, but I’ll also admit there are parts I wish I’d given more thought. Here’s what you need to consider before applying.

Has the way universities teach economics changed enough?

by The Guardian, April 28, 2016

In the years following the global financial crisis, the academic study and teaching of economics has come in for a bashing. In fact, it has faced the kind of fundamental criticism rarely directed towards entire disciplines.

The apparent failure of economists to predict, let alone prevent, the 2008 crash has led to accusations that conventional economic teaching cannot adequately explain the complex dynamics and risks of modern economies.

Among those championing reform have been disgruntled students, who have demanded that a more “pluralist”, diverse, range of theories be taught on their undergraduate degrees.

What success have they had so far? After years of campaigning, universities are making modifications to their courses, or adding new ones.

Ofsted withdraws 'not diverse enough' nursery report

by BBC News, April 28, 2016

Ofsted has withdrawn a report which allegedly criticised a nursery in rural Lincolnshire for failing to teach toddlers about cultural diversity.
Town and Country Kiddies Nursery in Market Rasen was reportedly told its children were not learning about people who were "different to themselves".
The nursery was downgraded from "outstanding" to "good" by Ofsted.
The owner said the area was not very diverse and she felt that Ofsted had "unrealistic expectations".
An Ofsted spokeswoman said: "The regional director has spoken to the owner about her concerns and we have withdrawn the report while we review the case."
Before the report was taken back, Louise Davies told the Market Rasen Mail: "There are things they'd like us to do over and above - children having understanding of other people and different cultures.

Children in care 'too often denied mental health treatment'

by BBC News, April 28, 2016

Children in care are too often missing out on treatment for mental health problems despite being four times more likely to experience them, say MPs.
The Commons Education Committee says children fostered in England are sometimes denied treatment simply because they move placement too often.
They should instead be given priority for mental health support, the committee says in a report.
The government says it is investing £1.4bn in children's mental health.
Almost half of children in care have a diagnosable mental health disorder, the MPs heard, compared with about one in 10 children who are not in care.
But provision for children in care with mental health problems is poor in many parts of England, says the report.
A significant number of local authorities are failing to identify mental health issues when children enter care, it adds.

Best teachers in the world are more likely to use textbooks, government adviser claims

by TES Connect, April 28, 2016

Children learn better using textbooks than viewing information on-screen, says expert
The best teachers from around the world are more likely to use textbooks in the classroom, according to a government adviser on the curriculum.

Tim Oates, group director of assessment research and development at Cambridge Assessment, who led the government’s review of the national curriculum in England, is calling for textbooks to be used more widely in the country’s schools.

In a seminar on the importance of using textbooks today, Mr Oates will say that support for using textbooks in the classroom is most likely to come from the best teachers in top performing jurisdictions around the world.

Graduate debt in England higher than any other English-speaking country

by Independent, April 28, 2016

University students in England are graduating with higher levels of debt than those in any other English-speaking country, a new report has revealed.

According to the Sutton Trust, English students who graduated last year under the new £9,000 fees regime owed an average of £44,500 - higher than their American counterparts, and more than those in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Closer to home, however, the situation isn’t much better as the findings also highlight the growing complexity in arrangements in the UK nations, with different fee levels in Scotland from those in the rest of UK.

Too many university applicants 'pick wrong subjects at 16'

by BBC News, April 28, 2016

Too many university applicants realise too late they picked the wrong school subjects at 16, says Which?
The consumer group said almost a third (28%) of more than 1,000 UK 18- and 19-year-olds university applicants surveyed said they wished they had chosen different subjects.
And 41% wished they had considered which subjects would be of most use.
The Russell Group of selective universities said clear information on subject choice was crucial.

Future Prospects
The research, carried out by Youth Sight, in January, also found only about half of the university applicants felt well enough informed at school about how the subjects they had studied could affect their choice of degree and university.

England degree debt 'highest in English-speaking world'

by BBC News, April 28, 2016

University graduates in England face higher debts on graduation than their peers in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the Sutton Trust says.
The social mobility charity says those who graduated from English universities last year - under the £9,000 fees regime - owed an average of £44,000.
It says average debts in other English-speaking countries ranged between approximately £15,000 and £29,000.
The government says England's funding system is "fair and sustainable".
The Sutton Trust says on average American graduates owe between $29,000 (£20,500), for students at public or private non-profit universities, and $32,600, for those at private for-profit universities.

Children in care 'too often denied mental health treatment'

by BBC News, April 28, 2016

Children in care are too often missing out on treatment for mental health problems despite being four times more likely to experience them, say MPs.
The Commons Education Committee says children fostered in England are sometimes denied treatment simply because they move placement too often.
They should instead be given priority for mental health support, the committee says in a report.
The government says it is investing £1.4bn in children's mental health.
Almost half of children in care have a diagnosable mental health disorder, the MPs heard, compared with about one in 10 children who are not in care.

Reluctant writers? 10 top tips to help primary pupils write poetry

by The Guardian, April 27, 2016

Most key stage 2 teachers have pupils who balk at the prospect of writing a simple sentence, let alone an entire poem. But it doesn’t need to be overwhelming – lots of children love being creative with words, they just need a confidence boost. Here are 10 tried-and-tested techniques I’ve developed to help students get started.

Take the fear out of poetry-writing
Poetry is a mysterious concept to many children and when you ask students to pen a poem, less confident writers can freeze up. So start with a big dollop of reassurance. Tell them there’s no right or wrong in poetry, as long as it makes you go “Wow!”

List all the fun things you can do with a poem – such as sing it, set it to a beat, put it in a picture, inside a card, round the walls in giant letters, on the stage in a performance – to sweep away the mystery. Inspire students by showing some crazy shape poems and suggesting they re-write theirs in shapes afterwards, or read a funny or spooky verse.

Cameron hints at concession over councils working with schools

by The Guardian, April 27, 2016

David Cameron has hinted at concessions on his plan to force all schools to become academies, saying they will still be able to work with councils.

He said further plans would be brought forward at the Queen’s speech next month, and suggested schools who wanted the support of local authorities would be able to receive it.

His comments suggest the government may be preparing a compromise that would let local authorities be involved in running academies, amid a threatened rebellion.

Pressed by Jeremy Corbyn about the issue at prime minister’s questions, he said: “There are lots of ways that schools can become academies. They can convert and become academies, they can be sponsored by an outside organisation, they can work with other schools in the area, they can look at working with the local authority.

Schools plan could lead to 10,000 multi-academy trusts, MPs told

by The Guardian, April 27, 2016

A profusion of 10,000 multi-academy trusts running schools in England could result from the government’s plans to turn every state school into an academy, the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, has conceded to MPs.

Appearing before parliament’s education committee, Morgan gave few clues on which parts of the government’s education white paper would become legislation, but appeared to be firm that all schools would become academies by 2022.

Pressed on where the additional multi-academy trusts (Mats) able to run the 16,000 schools remaining in the maintained sector would come from, Morgan said there would be “different solutions for different areas,” and that new groups would come forward.

Parents plan 'stay at home' school protest over Sats

by BBC News, April 27, 2016

Thousands of parents in England plan to keep their children off school for a day next week in protest at tough new national tests, campaigners say.
Parents from the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign said children as young as six were labelling themselves failures.
In a letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, they said primary pupils were being asked to learn concepts that may be beyond their capability.
The government said the tests should not cause pupils stress.
These new tests, known as Sats, have been drawn up to assess children's grasp of the recently introduced primary school national curriculum, which is widely considered to be harder than the previous one.
The letter from the campaign, which says it represents parents of six- and seven-year-olds across the country, says children are crying about going to school.

Parents plan 'stay at home' school protest over Sats

by BBC Newsround, April 27, 2016

housands of parents in England plan to keep their children off school for a day next week in protest at tough new national tests, campaigners say.
Parents from the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign said children as young as six were labelling themselves failures.
In a letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, they said primary pupils were being asked to learn concepts that may be beyond their capability.
The government said the tests should not cause pupils stress.
These new tests, known as Sats, have been drawn up to assess children's grasp of the recently introduced primary school national curriculum, which is widely considered to be harder than the previous one.

Ofsted warns of Muslim school staff gender segregation

by BBC News, April 27, 2016

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has warned of gender segregation among teachers in Muslim independent schools.
Inspectors had found male and female staff and governors were being divided in Luton's Rabia Boys and Girls School, the education watchdog's head said.
Last year, Sir Michael wrote to the education secretary with "serious concerns" about staff segregation.
He has now written to her again, warning it continues to "actively undermine" equality in schools.
In Wednesday's letter, Sir Michael told Education Secretary Nicky Morgan that inspectors "expressed their concern when, at the initial meeting with inspectors, the school insisted on segregating men and women through the use of a dividing screen across the middle of the room".

Morgan offers no academy concessions

by BBC News, April 27, 2016

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan offered no concessions over controversial plans to force all of England's schools to become academies.
Mrs Morgan was pressed by MPs on whether she was committed to pushing the plan forward as legislation.
"That is the government's position," she told the education select committee.
Mrs Morgan told MPs that the changes to schools would create a "strong, consistent system".
But Labour's Ian Mearns questioned how she could run a school system which could have 10,000 separate academy trusts.
The education secretary was questioned on her academy plans by the cross-party committee of MPs.

'We should recognise that good teachers don’t all teach in the same way'

by tes.connect, April 27, 2016

A head of humanities shares his experiences of being observed as a NQT and explains why we should not be judging all lessons by the same criteria
In my first term as a NQT, I was observed with a Year 9 class teaching about the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The children used sources to explain different interpretations of the reasons and then evaluated these interpretations to reach a substantiated judgement. The lesson was teacher-led and students sat in rows facing the front. In the 20 minutes, they wrote up their answers in a comfortable silence. Looking back, I think it was a good lesson.

The observer graded my lesson as "required improvement". I was devastated to read that “the students didn’t really enjoy the lesson because there wasn’t a wide enough range of activities". In the feedback, I was advised to “try using drama and role-play to increase student engagement”.

That phrase haunted me for years. It inhibited the development of my teaching and remembering it still makes me really angry. Here’s why.

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