Latest Educational News

Weak schools 'improving too slowly', says watchdog

by BBC News, October 30, 2014

There are 1.6 million pupils in England who are still not getting a good education but there is a failure to deal with under-performing schools, a spending watchdog has said.

A report from the National Audit Office said there was a lack of consistency in tackling under-performance.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said she was "appalled" at the lack of progress.

Maths student thanks her degree tutor for giving her confidence

by Guardian, October 29, 2014

Elaine Hill’s decision to start an Open University (OU) degree in mathematics was a big step. At 18, despite having good results in her Scottish Highers, she hadn’t felt ready to go to university, and instead started work in a bank. Elaine, now 45, often thought about taking an OU course, but first a promotion and then having her two children meant she didn’t think there was enough time for study.

Last year she took the plunge, and as she starts her second year, she wants to say thank you to OU tutor Felicity Bryers, who boosted her confidence and showed her what she was capable of. At first Elaine wasn’t sure that she’d be able to cope: “I had zero confidence. I felt that I wouldn’t be able to do it, that I wasn’t capable because I hadn’t gone to university.”

Student startups: could you be the next Mark Zuckerberg?

by Guardian, October 29, 2014

Through market research conducted while at college, Grant Ridley discovered that while companies had an increasing need for marketing, the amount of money they had to spend on it was declining.

This gave him an idea, and his company – GR Marketing – was born. By concentrating on guerrilla marketing stunts to gain media attention, Ridley created a low-cost alternative to traditional marketing that helped him build a healthy client list.

Hidden costs of state schools causing hardship for millions, says report

by Guardian, October 29, 2014

Millions of families are struggling with the hidden costs of sending children to state school, with many forced to take out loans or scrimp on food and heating to pay for basics such as dinners, uniforms, course materials and trips.

Parents face average annual bills of £800 a pupil, although this can be much higher, with some state secondary school uniforms costing more than £500, making the idea of a free education “far from reality”, according to the Children’s Commission on Poverty inquiry.

What do parents need to know about university?

by Guardian, October 29, 2014

In the early 80s, the percentage of the UK population over 17 years old in higher education was roughly 12%. In 2011-12 it was estimated at 49%.

That’s a huge discrepancy, and the number currently in higher education could rise, as the government has promised to lift the cap on students next year.

So, what of these parents – the ones whose children are going to university, when they didn’t go themselves? How does that feel? Should we all be terrified that there is a generation of adolescent Stewie Griffins out there, sneering at the people who raised them, convinced that they just aren’t very clever?

School tests causing pupil stress, teachers' survey finds

by BBC News, October 29, 2014

Annual school tests for children aged seven to 14 are causing so much stress some pupils are refusing to go to school, a survey of teachers claimed.

Members of the union NUT Cymru said the reading and maths tests put too much pressure on children too young, with one child even stopping eating.

They also raised concerns it affected pupil morale and said the tests had little impact on attainment.

The Welsh government said they were fundamental for raising standards.

Hidden school costs may price out poorest pupils - report

by BBC News, October 29, 2014

Millions of families across Britain are struggling to meet the hidden costs of state education, suggests research carried out by young people.

The cost of non-core items risks pricing poorer pupils out of some subjects, their report claims.

The Children's Commission on Poverty says basics, such as uniforms, school trips, materials and computer access can amount to £800 per child each year.

Cameron’s schools speech was an admission of failure over education

by Guardian, October 28, 2014

Did anyone else notice that debate on schools policy was strangely absent from this year’s party conferences? Education received no more than a passing mention. It’s all a long way from the days when it was almost guaranteed a central spot in any leader’s speech. “Education, education, education” seems to have given way to “health, health, health”. Although the emphasis on the NHS is entirely understandable given the challenges it faces, I hope that the relative silence on schools isn’t a sign that the parties think all is well.

Schools waste millions of pounds paying agency fees for supply teachers, says NUT

by Cambridge News, October 28, 2014

Public money is being wasted by schools paying recruitment agencies up to £1,000 a week for every supply teacher they take on, a union says.

Teachers from the East Anglia are heading to Westminster to shine a light on what they see as the scandal of funds being "siphoned" from children's education into the pockets of commercial agencies.

They are also angry at cuts in pay and conditions for supply teachers.

Shelagh Kavanagh, an NUT member and supply teacher from Newmarket, said: "Schools are paying hundreds of pounds a day for supply teachers. Up to half of the money paid to agencies does not go to the teacher - most agencies will take up to £100 per day commission."

Mail mix-up left parents with wrong marks for child's 11-plus results

by Local Berkshire, October 28, 2014

A MAIL mix-up resulted in some parents receiving the wrong scores for their child’s 11-plus grammar school test results.

It affected a handful of pupils who sat the grammar school test at Kendrick School, in Reading, and wanted to be considered for selective grammar schools in Slough. The Slough Consortium — a body overseeing admissions to Slough grammar schools — sent out letters advising parents of results. However, they admitted a mix-up with their mail merge database means some candidates were sent the wrong results.

Slowdown in number of schools converting to academies

by Guardian, October 28, 2014

Is becoming an academy going out of fashion? Have we perhaps seen peak academisation? The number of schools in England that are converting seems to be slowing, with new academy conversions in the secondary sector dropping dramatically, Education Guardian can reveal.

The total number of new academies in the year to 1 October was 889, a fall of 11% compared with the same period in 2012‑13. In the secondary sector, only 125 schools became academies over the period, compared with 215 in 2012-13, 436 in 2011‑12 and 707 in 2010-11.

How much does an Oxbridge undergraduate really cost?

by Guardian, October 28, 2014

The leaders of our oldest universities tell sorry tales about the losses they incur when teaching undergraduates. Andy Hamilton, the vice-chancellor of Oxford, puts the annual cost of each one at around £16,000.

After discounting the £9,000 tuition fees, he says that leaves “a funding shortfall of more than £7,000 a year per student”. Our most prestigious institutions are now lobbying to be allowed to charge more, while also looking closely at the Australian government’s attempt to abolish fee caps.

Here is the news: children love language, writing and wordplay

by Guardian, October 28, 2014

“Ours is bangin’!” The words of a 17-year-old student at the Guardian Education Centre, describing the front page he and his friend had just completed, said with a big grin on his face and a congratulatory pat on the shoulder for his colleague. Every day we run sessions on news media for classes of schoolchildren from year 5 to the sixth form. The most popular is a workshop using the day’s breaking news stories to make their own front page. They spend four hours researching, writing and subediting. And they love it.

Private school charity status should end, says Orkney campaigner

by BBC News, October 28, 2014

An Orkney woman who wants independent schools stripped of their charitable status is taking her campaign to the Scottish Parliament.

Ashley Husband Powton believes the rules should change on allowing private institutions the reduced tax bill.

She will put her case to MSPs on the public petitions committee.

However, John Edward, who is director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, said the charity status test was a stringent one.

Children too often treated as 'small adults' by police

by BBC News, October 28, 2014

Children and young people have a "profound lack of trust" in the police, bordering on fear in some cases, a report by MPs and peers has suggested.

Children are often treated as "small adults", with their specific needs disregarded, according to the all-party parliamentary group for children.

Premium paid for houses near top state schools soars (with dearest and 'best value' top 10s)

by The Independent, October 27, 2014

More than a million parents will be forced to negotiate a “minefield” as they seek school places for their children, a parents' leader has warned - with some prepared to pay a £500,000 "premium" on houses that are closest to the most desirable school.
The search for primary and secondary school places for more than 1.2m children for next September has just begun in earnest.

Scrap tuition fees, say students taking part in 'week of action'

by Guardian, October 27, 2014

Students are rallying on campuses to demand that politicians scrap tuition fees and take the student voice seriously.

The week-long protests, that begin today on university campuses around the country, will build up to a national demonstration ahead of the general election.

Those taking part in the “week of action”, organised by the Student Assembly Against Austerity and the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, include students at Durham University, Goldsmiths University and London Metropolitan University.

Are academies actually any good?

by Guardian, October 27, 2014

Some tell-tale emails have been dredged up, suggesting that superhead Dame Rachel de Souza may have been told in advance when schools in her academy chain might be inspected. Naughty, naughty: schools are only meant to be given half a day’s notice. And I thought academies were meant to be better than ordinary schools. If they’re not, whatever are they for?

If a school needs perking up and fancies a uniform, Latin, Vera Wang tea sets and no national curriculum, fine – but why call them academies? Why not just schools? What’s the difference? We pay for them. Not the sponsors. Perhaps they just want to sound a bit more Kensington and a bit less Worksop.

Term-time holiday rules: Breaks 'in rare cases only'

by BBC News, October 27, 2014

Holidays for pupils in term-time should only be granted in circumstances that are "rare, unavoidable, significant and short", says a head teachers' union.

But more clarification was needed over the current rules, which allow such breaks in England under "exceptional circumstances", the NAHT added.

The union has published its detailed guidance on term-time holiday requests.

Marking boycott will hit students at 69 UK universities

by BBC News, October 27, 2014

Hundreds of thousands of students are likely to be affected by a marking boycott by academics angry at proposed changes to their pensions.

The University and College Union says the action, involving members at 69 UK universities, will start on 6 November.

It will halt any planned exams and stop students from receiving coursework, formal marks or feedback.

Universities UK, which represents the institutions, was "disappointed" at "a damaging course of industrial action".

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