Latest Educational News

Friday Five: staffroom comments guaranteed to wind up an English teacher

by The Guardian, April 15, 2016

f you want to stay on friendly terms with the English department, it might be best to avoid the following...
They say that it’s the many contradictions in the English language that make it so hard to learn, so imagine how difficult it must be to teach. Spare a thought for the literature lover who became a teacher to share their love of language, only to end up explaining apostrophes for the millionth time this week. Or, you could just wind them up a bit more... Here are five phrases that are guaranteed to irritate English teachers everywhere.

Labour’s education policies were startlingly prophetic

by tes.connect, April 15, 2016

As the DfE makes remarkably similar plans for education to those in Labour’s 2015 manifesto, the opposition would do well not to attack them too vehemently
They say that a week is a long time in politics, which is presumably why the 2015 general election is already a distant memory.

Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg are now little more than political footnotes, such was the dramatic and unexpected nature of the results. Not only is the 2015 election consigned to history, but the manifestos published by each party are nowhere to be seen.

While the political arena has moved on at a frenetic pace since the election, and many new debates have emerged, several education issues remain as pertinent now as they were a year ago. But some of the thinking behind Labour’s election manifesto was more prescient than they could have imagined.

Phone line secrets of a student caller

by The Guardian, April 15, 2016

Copious cups of tea, a biscuit or two, persistence and a headset: that’s all a student caller needs to get through a calling shift.

Universities around the UK employ anything from 20 to 100 students to call alumni and persuade them to contribute to the scholarships and bursaries that the university offers its students.

With 77% of students now having to work to fund their studies, the role of student caller is seen as an attractive one, with shifts taking place during evenings and weekends, often on campus. For every phone call made, it’s one small step closer to financial security for both the student making the call and the students they’re raising money for.

How should we cope with sexism? That's the wrong question

by The Guardian, April 15, 2016

A few days ago, one of my post-doc students asked to speak to me about a scientific workshop she had just attended, and the conference dinner in particular. It was clear that she had more to share than the usual mix of heroic discoveries-in-the-making, rumours of poor scientific conduct, and the latest lab hook-ups.

She wanted to talk about the conference organiser, a man in his late 50s, who had sat next to her at the dinner, leaned over, grazed her back and whispered that she was the most beautiful woman at the conference.

She didn’t seem particularly indignant about this incident. Her first question was how she should handle such advances from senior academics, and the second was whether there was something about her conduct which singled her out as a flirt.

Secondary schools face sharpest cuts to funding since 1970s, says thinktank

by The Guardian, April 15, 2016

Secondary schools in England face the steepest cuts to funding since the 1970s, according to analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that reveals differences in spending of nearly £20,000 per pupil during their time in the classroom.

The thinktank’s figures – which forecast a funding cut of 7% per pupil by 2020 – set off calls by teaching unions for the funding freeze to be relaxed, while opposition parties said the government should avoid diverting funds into converting all schools into academies as required by the latest education white paper.

“This backs up what our members have been saying. With flat cash education spending at a time of rising costs, school budgets are being pushed to breaking point,” said Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers.

The IFS researchers said that in real terms school budgets will still be about 50% higher than they were in 2001, before the last Labour government’s substantial investment in schools.

Poor children need better chance of good school place, says report

by The Guardian, April 15, 2016

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds should be given higher priority in admissions decisions to stop primary schools becoming divided by class, according to education charity the Sutton Trust.

More than 1,000 primary schools in England admit far fewer pupils from poor or disadvantaged families than live in the school’s local area, a report from the trust found, with faith schools especially likely to have lower proportions of children on free school meals than their surrounding neighbourhoods.

The research comes only days before 600,000 families in England will be told if their child has been offered a place at their preferred primary school when local authorities send out the results of their applications.

The researchers also found a correlation between social selection, league table performance and Ofsted ratings, with the schools that had socially selective intakes more likely to do better in both measures.

Will English school academy plan actually happen?

by BBC News, April 15, 2016

Will every state school in England be an academy in six years' time? Plenty of Conservatives doubt it, despite the plan being announced at the Budget. This is what's going on.
1) There's a remarkable fightback from Tories
First Conservative councillors complained. Then Tory MPs spoke out - not anonymously briefing journalists but laying into the policy in the House of Commons. In a remarkable debate, normally loyal Tories attacked one after another, including some parliamentary aides who are supposed to toe the line.
One - Steve Brine, who works for the health secretary Jeremy Hunt - told BBC Radio 4's Today there was "great concern" among Tories and the government needed a "way out". Labour are doing everything they can to turn opposition into rebellion.

Campaign aims to inspire teachers to run their 'dream school'

by tes.connect, April 15, 2016

Teachers are being urged to set up the kind of school they've always wanted to teach in
The New Schools Network, a charity that helps applicants set up free schools, has launched a campaign to inspire the profession to join their teacher colleagues in opening new schools.

More than 70 per cent of free schools have been founded by teachers – a number that has steadily grown over the past few years, according to the charity.

The campaign, which will target teachers online and through social media, aims to reach senior and middle leaders in the profession.

It encourages anyone interested in setting up a new school to come forward to discuss their ideas with the New Schools Network.

The charity has already helped numerous teachers to set up schools, including Johnette Barrett, founder of Paxton Academy in Croydon.

Joining a MAT is like 'getting married with no chance of a divorce', experts warn

by tes.connect, April 15, 2016

Lawyers urge schools to think 'very carefully' before joining a multi-academy trust
Individual schools will legally “cease to exist” and be left powerless to leave academy chains under government plans for a fully academised system, experts have warned.

The government has said that all state schools must become academies by 2022 and has made it clear that it expects most to become part of multi-academy trusts (MATs).

But lawyers and headteachers’ leaders have cautioned that schools will lose all independence in legal terms once they join a MAT, becoming mere “local branches” of the trust. They fear that some schools may be unaware of the full implications.

David Wolfe, a QC with Matrix Chambers and a specialist in education law, told TES that a school in a MAT had “no more ability to move to another MAT than a branch of Tesco can decide to become Sainsbury’s”.

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.”