Latest Educational News

Thousands of schools shut by NUT strike

by BBC, March 26, 2014

Classified as Strike.

Thousands of schools in England and Wales were closed on Wednesday, as teachers joined picket lines in action over pay, pensions and conditions.

The strike was staged by members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT).

Union leaders said the action had been a "clear demonstration" that teachers were thoroughly tired of "intolerable pressures" from the government.

The Department for Education (DfE) claimed only 12% of schools in England were forced to close completely.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said the one-day national walkout had been a success and did not rule out further strikes next term.

Ofsted: Extent of child neglect 'not understood'

by BBC, March 26, 2014

Classified as Ofsted.

Local authorities are not doing enough to protect children from neglect, according to a report by Ofsted.

The education watchdog wants the extent of neglect better understood by councils and safeguarding-children boards, and development of more shared strategies to prioritise action.

Figures suggest most children know another child suffering from neglect.

The Department for Education said it was "already on track" to deliver some of the report's key recommendations.

The Ofsted inspectors found "inconsistent approaches" to assessing neglect, and conclude that children are being left for too long in harmful situations in nearly half of the long-term cases they examined.

Family holidays accounted for 11% of authorised school absences in 2012-13

by The Guardian, March 25, 2014

Classified as Truancy.

More than 10% of school term-time absences last year were caused by pupils given leave to take family holidays, official figures have revealed, showing the scale of the problem faced by head teachers as parents seek to dodge peak holiday prices.

Figures collected by the Department for Education show that holidays accounted for more than 11% of authorised absences granted during the 2012-13 academic year, a practice that has been barred since September last year, over concerns that too much authorised time off was hurting pupil attainment.

Primary pupils will be forced to drop their foreign language studies once they reach secondary school

by The Independent, March 25, 2014

Classified as Languages.

More than 400,000 pupils a year will have to drop the languages they have studied from the age of seven once they move to secondary school, says a report out today.

Just 27 per cent of secondary schools are able to guarantee that pupils can carry on with the same language, while 46 per cent of primary schools admit they have had no contact with neighbouring secondary schools to find out what languages they teach.

Damning Ofsted reports into academy chain schools heap pressure on Michael Gove

by The Independent, March 25, 2014

Classified as Academies.

An “overwhelming proportion” of pupils attending one of the country’s biggest academy chains fail to receive a good education, according to a damning inspection report.

There is an “urgent need” for E-ACT, which has 34 schools on its books, to improve the quality of its teaching, according to the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted).

Ofsted is forbidden by law from inspecting academy chains. However, because of concerns over standards at E-ACT schools, it mounted 16 separate inspections of individual schools run by the sponsor. The watchdog’s critical verdict will heap more pressure on the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, to bow to demands to allow the watchdog to inspect chains.

Teachers 'intimidated' to take part in national strikes, says union

by The Telegraph, March 25, 2014

Classified as Strike.

Teachers have been threatened and intimidated by a union to force them to take part in strikes in which thousands will walk out on Wednesday, leaving hundreds of schools with no option but to close, it has been claimed.

David Cameron warned that strike action being taken by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) would put children’s education at risk.

The NUT is the only union to take part in industrial action, signalling a split with other unions – particularly the NASUWT which has claimed members have been intimidated during an “aggressive” campaign by the NUT.

NASUWT announced last month that it would not be taking part in the strikes.

Record numbers of parents fined for letting children miss class

by The Telegraph, March 25, 2014

Classified as Truancy.

The number of parents being fined up to £120 after their children missed school has risen by a quarter to 52,000 in the last year

The number of parents being fined for allowing their children to miss lessons rose by more than a quarter last year, according to official figures.
A crackdown on mothers and fathers who pull their children out of classes to secure cheaper holiday deals or turn a blind eye as they play truant saw 52,370 penalty notices issued last school year compared with 41,224 the previous year.
There was also an increase of 23 per cent in the number of parents being prosecuted for failure to pay the £60 fines, with almost 8,000 cases being taken to court last year.

Thousands of parents fined, as persistent truancy falls

by BBC, March 25, 2014

Classified as Truancy.

Record numbers of parents in England have been issued with truancy fines, as the number of pupils persistently missing classes falls, data shows.

Government statistics show the number of truancy penalty notices issued went up by more than a quarter in the academic year 2012-13 to 52,370.

The data shows 300,895 pupils were "persistently absent" (missing 15% of school) - down from 333,850 in 2011-12.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said there was no excuse for missing school.

The figures show that 52,370 penalty notices of £60 were issued to parents and guardians for a child's unauthorised absence from school in 2012-13 - up from 41,224 (27%) in the previous year, 2011-12.

Of the fines handed out in the last academic year, 27,977 were paid within 28 days, after which the fine doubles to £120.

In 7,806 cases, a parent was prosecuted for non-payment of a fine, up 23% from 2011-12.

Wisbech Grammar School pupils take part in Cambridge debate with national finals place at stake

by Wisbech Standard, March 24, 2014

Classified as 11 Plus.

Eight Wisbech Grammar School pupils debated Russia’s relationship with the European Union in a competition organised by the European Youth Parliament at The Cambridge Union Society.

The school was one of nine teams from schools and sixth form colleges across East Anglia which took part in the competition, which also included debates on the importance of immigration to the EU, fishing and fish stocks, employment and entrepreneurs.

The winner, who will go through to the national finals, has yet to be announced.

Tim Chapman, head of politics, said: “It was an exciting day out for the members of the group, who honed their debating skills and pitted their wits against other top schools.”

The true cost of private contracts in universities

by The Guardian, March 24, 2014

Classified as University.

On 28 February this year, students protested outside Senate House in the University of London. A small group somehow got into the office of the vice-chancellor, Adrian Smith. While there, they took a cache of documents. I have seen two, and they that reveal a dark underside to one of the most contentious aspects of higher education.

In the past few years, universities have become the arena for a whole series of fights, and not only over £9,000 tuition fees. Academics have been striking over falling salaries, even as their managers have been awarding themselves ever-higher payouts. The poorest workers are battling for either a living wage or for less miserable terms and conditions. And students from Sussex to Birmingham and Edinburgh have been campaigning against the privatisation of their services and the accompanying clampdown on protest.

At the root of all these disputes is an existential argument: what is a university for? Is the old ideal of a community for critical inquiry to be superseded by what are effectively degree-awarding businesses? Is education a public good, or a means to rack up CV points and deliver housetrained recruits to big employers? These questions aren't novel – but they've become ever more urgent as Vince Cable and David Willetts cut public funding and steer higher education towards the market.

Bar talks: how New Yorkers quench their thirst for knowledge

by The Guardian, March 24, 2014

Classified as University.

Heard the one about the professor who walked into a bar? New Yorkers soon will: the city is preparing for a mass public education event in which 50 world-renowned academics will escape from the lecture theatre and deliver free talks to drinkers in the bars and cafes of Manhattan.

The pioneering project, Raising the Bar, is sponsored by Columbia and New York universities, with more top higher education institutions due to come on board as it expands to Boston and the West Coast in the coming months. The aim is to bring the wisdom of high profile educators such as the economist Joseph Stiglitz and Higgs Boson scientist Michael Tuts to a wider community – who must book tickets but will pay nothing (except their bar bill).

Organisers say the model is designed to address concerns that the ivory tower image of higher education pushes away many prospective students, deepening socio-economic discrimination. By "embedding education as a non-threatening pop culture", they say, access can be widened to anyone willing to walk into a bar, sit down and listen. With a social media buzz already developing for the 29 April event, that audience could number over 5,000 bar room learners.

Do you help your children with homework? Don't, says study

by The Telegraph, March 24, 2014

Classified as Homework.

Do you help your children with homework? It could be that you are actually bringing down their test scores.

A new US study, published this year, has indicated that there is no clear connection between parental involvement in homework and improved student performance.

The study, carried out by Keith Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and Angel Harris, a sociology professor at Duke University, looked at how parental involvement affects academic achievement.

Looking at over 30 years’ worth of surveys of American parents, the researchers analysed over 60 different measures of parental participation, from volunteering in school, to talking about future plans and helping with homework.

Pupils to be taught English as foreign language

by The Telegraph, March 24, 2014

Classified as English.

An inner-city school with children of more than 50 nationalities will become the first in the country to give every pupil lessons in English as a foreign language.

Even British-born pupils at City of Leeds School in Yorkshire will be forced to take the lessons because their standard of English is so poor.

Fewer than one in four of pupils at the school have English as their first language and more than half have moved to the country within the past four years.

Georgiana Sale, the head teacher, admitted the school had decided to “rethink the way we do things” in an attempt to raise standards, prompting the unusual decision to teach all pupils English as a second language.

More than 90 schools in Leicester and Leicestershire to be hit by teachers' strike

by Leicester Mercury, March 24, 2014

At least 91 schools in the city and county will be hit by a teachers' strike on Wednesday in a row over pension cuts and working arrangements.

Some 40 are known to be shutting, while a further 51 will be partially closed to students.

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) are striking as part of the union’s campaign over pay, pensions and working conditions.

Teachers' strike over pay and pensions likely to hurt primary schools

by Guardian, March 24, 2014

A strike called by the National Union of Teachers for Wednesday is likely to affect thousands of state schools in England and Wales – but the strike's impact could be more diffused compared with previous years, thanks to fatigue and changes in school management.

Pupils from Watford Grammar School for Girls win area finals of national Target 2.0 competition

by Watford Observer, March 23, 2014

Classified as 11 Plus.

Five budding economists from Watford Grammar School for Girls have become South East of England Champions in the Area Finals of the national "Target 2.0" competition, run by the Bank of England and The Times.

The team has secured a place in the national finals and £1,000 for the school.

Team Captain Shamima Manzoor, Jenny Lee, Olivia Martin, Vayana Skabrin and Aliya Al-Yassin beat strong competition from schools in the south east region to be declared champions.

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Universities minister refuses to rule out increase in tuition fees

by The Guardian, March 23, 2014

Classified as University.

The Conservative universities minister has refused to rule out raising tuition fees for students after the next election, amid warnings from Labour that the current system is a "financial timebomb" that will leave a big hole in higher education funding.

David Willetts, who oversaw the tripling of tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 in 2012, said the government would "have to see how the income of universities performs" when asked whether he would consider raising fees after 2015.

The comments came after one of Willett's former political advisers, Nick Hillman, called for a rethink of the student loans system and admitted the government got its maths wrong by overestimating the amount of graduate debt that will be repaid.

Hillman on Friday called for action to address the "big funding gap" looming in the universities sector caused by mistakes in the government's modelling and the fact that graduates are earning less than expected. Some experts believe the level of default on student loans is approaching the level at which the £9,000 fee system will not save the taxpayer any money or may even be more expensive than the old regime.

40 per cent of children are at risk of developing literacy problems because they don't bond with their parents

by The Independent, March 23, 2014

Classified as Literacy.

Research by the Sutton Trust education charity, dedicated to campaign for equal opportunities in education for all pupils regardless of background, shows 40 per cent of children fail to bond with their parents.

The report concludes: “With the right early parenting, children can develop a secure attachment to their mothers and fathers - a base from which they can thrive.”

Heads being dumped like football managers, says union

by The Independent, March 23, 2014

Classified as Headmasters.

Headteachers are being treated like football managers and kicked out of their jobs at a moment's notice for poor performance, it was claimed yesterday. Figures revealed at the Association of School and College Leaders conference in Birmingham showed that 146 heads had lost their jobs during last term.

Generation of children left without vital skills

by The Telegraph, March 23, 2014

Classified as Education System.

The Government is “letting down a generation” of children by failing to equip them with the skills needed to secure a good job, a former Conservative education secretary has warned.

In a strongly worded intervention, Lord Baker insisted that every level of the education system was “dysfunctional” and struggled to meet the needs of modern business.

The peer – architect of the national curriculum under Margaret Thatcher in the Eighties – said that schools, colleges and universities were unable to produce enough young people with vital technical skills.

He said the shortage was so acute that many companies relied on migrants to fill vital roles, with estimates that almost 1.3 million highly trained scientists, engineers and technicians will be needed in Britain by 2020.

The crisis is being compounded by a school curriculum that is too “theory based”, meaning tens of thousands of children missed out on the chance to “use their hands” and make things in the classroom, he warned.

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