Latest Educational News

Parents spending thousands on tutors to help children pass grammar school exams

by Manchester Evening News, February 12, 2015

Private tutors in Trafford say they’ve seen a boom in the number of families seeking help getting their children ready for 11+ tests.

Trafford is one of the few borough in the UK that continues to operate the grammar school system, with its secondary schools among the most successful in England.

And a growing number of families are willing to fork out a £1,000 or more to help ensure their children can pass ability tests set by the borough’s seven grammar schools.

Paul Syrett, a private educational tutor who runs ‘Better Tuition’, an independent tuition centre in Urmston, said: “We see requests for private tuition for the 11+ and particular Grammar school exams is becoming ever more popular in Trafford. The numbers are growing year on year.

“More than one-third of the number of students we tutor is made up of those preparing to sit there 11+ and Grammar school exams.”

Clegg pledges to protect school budgets against inflation

by TES, February 12, 2015

The Liberal Democrats are putting education at the centre of their general election campaign with a pledge to protect real-terms budgets for schools, 16-19 colleges and sixth forms, and early years’ education.

“The Liberal Democrats will prioritise education, just as we have done over the last five years because nothing is more central to what we believe,” deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is expected to say in a speech later today.

“Nothing is more important to creating a fairer society where everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential.”

Parents seek sun, sea and unauthorised school absence, survey finds

by TES, February 12, 2015

More than a third of parents have taken their children on holiday during term-time since stricter holiday-absence rules were introduced, a new survey suggests.

Thirty-six per cent of parents with children aged between 5 and 16 have chosen to risk fines of £60 per pupil in order to avoid paying the increased price of flights and hotels during school holidays.

On average, families holidaying during term time saved £237.10 per person, the survey of almost 800 parents found. And 35 per cent of those who took their children on holiday during term-time said that they saved more than £250 per person.

Ed Miliband: Labour government would restore Blair-era cap on class sizes

by Guardian, February 12, 2015

Ed Miliband will revive the central pledge at the heart of Tony Blair’s landslide election victory in 1997 when he announces that a Labour government would restore the cap on class sizes for children aged five, six and seven.

In a speech on Thursday at the north London comprehensive school he attended in the 1980s, the Labour leader will promise to ensure that education acts as a “passport to a good life” by capping class sizes at 30.

Children's social problems 'cost £17bn a year'

by BBC News, February 12, 2015

Dealing with acute social problems affecting children and young people in England and Wales costs £17bn a year of public money, suggests research.

Some of the cash would be better spent on addressing the root causes of problems, argues the report by the charity Early Intervention Foundation.

Prevention would not only save money but could "transform children's lives", say the authors.

The government said it had taken action to improve all children's chances

Labour pledge to tighten infant class sizes cap in England

by BBC News, February 12, 2015

A Labour government would cap infant class sizes in state schools in England at 30, Ed Miliband is to announce.

The Labour leader will claim the coalition's free schools policy has contributed to a trebling in the number of 30-plus classes since 2010.

Labour is promising more school places in growing areas, while curbing free schools where they are "not needed".

The Tories said Mr Miliband's policy had "collapsed within minutes" as class sizes were already capped at 30.

Schools pay out more than £175,000 on supply teachers

by Western Gazette, February 11, 2015

MORE than £175,000 was spent on supply teachers across Gillingham’s schools last year.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information Request showed £162,255.04 was spent on directly employed staff while a further £14,541 was spent on agency staff – a total of £176,796.04.
Of this Gillingham School spent £62,647.94 on supply staff and £1,068 on agency staff. Head teacher Lorna Lyons said the expenditure was unremarkable, representing considerably less than one per cent of their overall budget.

Supply teachers can be called in to cover short and long-term illness, compassionate leave, maternity and paternity leave, training activity and other urgent business.

She said: “If a teacher is absent from a class it is necessary for a substitute teacher to be assigned to that class, both to supervise and to lead the learning (in the case of 6th form classes only longer absences will normally be covered; individual study work will be set for single lesson absences).

Schools 'stop poorer GCSE pupils taking hard subjects': Ploy to boost league rankings by denying access to exams including sciences

by The Daily Mail, February 11, 2015

Schools in deprived areas are denying pupils access to tougher GCSE subjects in a bid to improve their league table ranking, research suggests.
Particular concerns have been raised over access to triple science GCSE, with up to half the schools in some areas refusing to offer it, according to data published today.
Researchers said it was clear school leaders were trying to minimise poor exam results by ushering pupils towards easier subjects.

Sudden exit for head teacher who took on unions

by The Times, February 11, 2015

A “superhead” parachuted into a failing school has apparently been removed from his job after repeatedly clashing with teaching unions.
Rory Fox, who took over Ryde Academy on the Isle of Wight in 2013, left without notice on Wednesday last week, the day that he was allegedly due to hold serious disciplinary meetings with three teachers.
Staff arrived at the school the next day to discover that he was not there. His post was advertised immediately, offering a six-figure salary.

Eton change starts boom in tutoring

by The Times, February 11, 2015

Eton and other elite schools have led to a boom in private tutoring because they no longer give precedence to families who put their child’s name down at birth, a conference was told yesterday.
The demise of places awarded on a “who you know” basis has fuelled competition for top schools, and this has been intensified by the influx of the international super-rich wanting the best education for their children.

Inside the schools that dare to break with traditional teaching

by Guardian, February 11, 2015

On 21 October 2015, we will finally arrive at the point in time that Marty McFly travels to in the 1989 sci-fi sequel, Back to the Future II. But if a teenager today were to drive Doc Brown’s DeLorean back to Hill Valley High, the film hero’s fictional school, would he or she notice any difference?

Just as we are still waiting for someone to market hoverboards and self-tying shoelaces, we have yet to see a radical shift in teaching models, despite the ebb and flow of education reforms. There are schools, however, that are breaking the mould and daring to free teachers from the shackles of curriculum dictates. They are giving students and educators the power to become masters of their own learning.

Pupils in some areas are not offered 'vital' GCSEs

by BBC News, February 11, 2015

Pupils in some parts of England are unlikely to take exams that could be vital to their job prospects - such as sciences and languages - due to a subject "desert", a study has found.

The Open Public Services Network examined GCSE statistics from 2013 and found in some authorities a third of schools did not offer triple science.

There are concerns limited subject choices could harm social mobility.

The government said thousands more pupils were now taking core subjects.

Failing academy sends pupils home as teachers call in sick

by The Times, February 10, 2015

A secondary school sent home most of its pupils after a quarter of its teachers called in sick.
Parents with children at St Aldhelm’s Academy in Poole, Dorset, received text messages telling them that it would not open the next day due to staff illness. Nine teachers — about one in four of the teaching staff — were off, with most citing flu or viruses but “one or two” saying that they were suffering from stress.

A day in the life of Khan Academy: the school with 15 million students

by Telegraph, February 10, 2015

“If this does not blow your mind, then you have no emotion,” says Salman Khan. It’s a suitably provocative come-on from a YouTube superstar. But he’s talking about a maths equation.
Khan is on a mission to bring a world-class, customised education to anyone, anywhere, for free. To do that, he has spent a good part of the last decade in the closet - literally - making around 5,000 videos about maths and science.

Parents struggle with 'escalating costs' in state schools

by Telegraph, February 10, 2015

Escalating costs in state schools mean that many parents are having to pay increasing amounts of money towards equipment, school meals and uniforms, according to a new survey.
It could mean that access to educational opportunities is becoming increasingly dependent on parents' ability to foot the bills, with rising costs acting as a "barrier" to certain schools.

Charges for school trips 'exclude poorer pupils' from key subjects

by Independent, February 10, 2015

Schools are breaching guidelines by charging parents for field trips that are central to exam courses – leading to fears that children from poor families are opting not to study geography and biology.

A survey of 2,500 parents revealed that more than a third of those with children over the age of 11 have been required to pay for field trips that are compulsory parts of assessed courses.

Teacher workload crisis: unions join forces to criticise ministers' proposals

by TES, February 10, 2015

Leaders of five heads’ and teachers’ unions have written to the education secretary and deputy prime minister branding the government’s response to the profession’s workload crisis a “missed opportunity”.

The general secretaries from the Association of School and College Leaders, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, heads’ union the NAHT, the NUT and Voice have penned a joint letter stating that both Nick Clegg and Nicky Morgan’s plans to lighten teachers’ workload do not “get close to the root cause” of the problem.

As exclusively revealed by TES last week, both ministers published what they described as a “new deal” for teachers in response to the Workload Challenge, which pledged to put a stop to major changes to Ofsted inspections or government policy during the academic year “except when absolutely necessary”.

School science needs more money, not more practical exams

by Guardian, February 10, 2015

I can only assume that Paul Nurse and the other scientists, educators and universities trying to reverse Ofqual’s decision to remove practical science from the overall grade for GCSE and A-level science (Letters, 7 February) have not been into schools and seen what is actually going on. Trying to ensure pupils are awarded marks that represent the skills they have and are comparable with other schools is an impossible task that causes staff and students enormous stress and wastes huge amounts of time. Removing these exercises in jumping through hoops will free up schools to include more, not less, challenging and relevant practical work. Teachers know that practical work is one of the most motivating aspects of science courses and are not going to stop doing it.

Good local schools for all – even Nicky Morgan gets the point at last

by Guardian, February 10, 2015

It has been a source of some amusement to me and to many of my friends to hear the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, talk about the fundamental wish of most parents for a good local school. To witness this unassailable truth from the lips of a Conservative cabinet minister, indeed from the lips of a cabinet minister of any party, is satisfying.

Poll after poll reveals that this is a priority for the electorate. Yet the prevailing rhetoric of the past decade has been barely concealed disdain for the local offer, especially if it is a socially mixed community comprehensive school.

Birmingham Library opening hours nearly halved

by BBC News, February 10, 2015

The opening hours at Birmingham's new £189m library are to be cut by nearly half to save money, the city council has confirmed.

The authority said the library, which opened in September 2013, would open 40 hours a week - down from 73 hours.

Plans to make redundant 100 of the 188 library staff are still being discussed, but the council expects at least 90 people will lose their jobs.

Council tax will also increase by 1.99% across the city in 2015/16.

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