Latest Educational News

Students ticked off by ban on watches in exams

by The Guardian, May 5, 2015

Classified as General.

If you’re planning to rely on your watch this exam season, testing times lie ahead. A number of universities have banned timepieces, fearing new smartwatches could enable students to access forbidden materials. And with exam season just around the corner, some students are less than happy.

Eleanor Bley Griffiths, an MA magazine journalism student at City University, has been told not to wear her watch during exams. She says she depends on it to pace herself and to make sure she doesn’t run out of time. “During exams, I have a habit of glancing at my watch every few minutes to make sure I’m writing at a good rate. Now I’m annoyed that I have to keep short-sightedly squinting at the clock at the front or put my glasses on, breaking my concentration,” she says.

Several universities have recently revised their watch policy. Students at City University in London are now banned from wearing any kind of wristwatch in exams, those at Southampton must place all watches in a clear plastic bag on the desk, while at Goldsmiths watches have to be stored under desks.

What teachers wish their students knew

by The Guardian, May 5, 2015

Classified as General.

A teacher in the US asked students to finish the sentence: “I wish my teacher knew …”. The touching and revealing results went viral on Twitter, with one child writing “I wish my teacher knew I don’t have a friend to play with me”. Others wrote of troubles at home. We asked teachers what they wish their students knew.

Jackie Schneider
Jackie Schneider
Jackie Schneider, music teacher, London

I wish my students knew that education is not a competitive sport. No child is a number. Levels tell you more about the school than the child. Gold stars, house points, smiley faces and stickers are a con. In the same way that some kids take longer to learn to walk and talk, some take longer to learn literacy and numeracy skills but this does not matter. Every child has the potential to be gifted and talented. Virtue is its own reward. And there is more to education than school. I wish they knew that reading could bring them more joy than they could ever imagine. And that their singing voice is beautiful.

PwC ends A-level criteria for graduate jobs

by BBC News, May 4, 2015

Classified as General.

Accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is to stop using A-levels grades as a way of selecting graduate recruits.

PwC, one of the UK's largest graduate employers, said using the grades to filter candidates could disadvantage those from poorer backgrounds.

The company said the policy could "drive radical changes" in social mobility and diversity.

Until now, the firm has not considered any applicants who failed to reach a defined threshold of A-level grades.

'Untapped talent'

But PwC said it would no longer consider a potential recruit's UCAS score - the score that tallies their A-level grades and is used in university applications - because some able candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds were losing out.

Richard Irwin, PwC's head of student recruitment, said: "We want to target bright, talented people and extend our career opportunities to untapped talent in wider pockets of society.

"Our experience shows that whilst A-level assessment can indicate potential, for far too many students there are other factors that influence results.

"Competition and assessment for our graduate roles will be as tough as ever - but those that want to get on with a career in business can do so."

Two out of three schools struggling to fill senior teaching posts, says new report

by The Independent, May 3, 2015

Classified as General.

Two out of three schools are struggling to fill senior teaching posts, according to a new survey.

A poll of more than 1,000 headteachers conducted by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) reveals that recruitment is being hampered both by a shortage of teachers and by the poor quality of candidates for posts.

“It’s time to be frank,” said Louis Coiffait, who leads NAHT Edge – a service set up to help teachers with management responsibilities. “We’re facing a recruitment crisis at all stages of the education system. Until we address it ... there’s no chance that we’ll have the quantity or quality of headteachers we need in the future.”

The survey found that 62 per cent of schools were struggling to recruit teachers for the highest paid positions in their schools. In addition, 14 per cent revealed they had failed to recruit deputy heads – while 20 per cent had failed to recruit assistant headteachers.

Among subject teachers, the biggest problem was recruiting maths teachers – 40 per cent of schools had struggled to make an appointment–followed by English, in which 32 per cent had experienced difficulty in finding staff.

Schools, yield no longer. Let’s reclaim education

by TES Connect, May 2, 2015

Classified as General.

With the election just days away, teachers must learn the lessons of the past five years – and never again allow such meddling

Outside the window, an election campaign is raging. Or at least it’s throwing a bit of a tantrum and refusing to finish its bacon sandwich.

Here we are, five years on from the last political whirligig, gazing blearily at ourselves in education’s tarnished mirror. How different we look.

Certainly I do. Billy Crystal’s once-funny line from the film City Slickers provides grim confirmation that I have arrived in the deepest thickets of middle age: “I’m losing hair where I want hair and I’m getting hair where there shouldn’t be hair.”

But while age is no guarantee of maturity, it’s timely to pause in this no-man’s-land between governments and, before the next wave of attrition begins, see what we’ve learned. In particular, what have five turbulent years of education policy taught us about politicians – and about ourselves?

A ministerial posting to the Department for Education was once like being pushed slowly off into the most languorous of political backwaters. As Margaret Thatcher’s first education secretary, Mark Carlisle, later admitted: “I knew nothing of state schools, having used them neither for myself nor my children.”

Nowadays, what happens in Whitehall matters. The past five years have taught us how naive we were when we assumed that the political process involved evidence-based proposals, deep consultation, trialling, implementation and evaluation.

Instead, policymaking has been more like wayward adolescents hurling dog-dirt over a pensioner’s fence. There has been a kind of gleeful sense of abandon and a schoolboy relish for the resulting turmoil.

We’ve seen how a single initial Education Act in 2011 has served as a catalyst for an onslaught of changes. We’ve learned how many of those were driven not by principle but by a -disturbing pragmatism about how schools these days work.

Far less attention has been paid to curriculum development than to tinkering with accountability measures. The subtext? Only two levers drive real change in schools: performance tables and inspection.

We can, of course, point accusing fingers at that pantomime villain of the educational fleapit, Michael Gove (pictured, inset). But my prediction is that history will judge him as far less significant than his collection of press clippings might suggest.

Gove’s legacy may well be that improvements in teaching -actually stalled as a result of his toxic cocktail of initiatives. The sheer quantity of changes was a distraction from the -quality of what matters most: the classroom.

Hunt: Labour can't promise teachers a pay rise

by TES Connect, May 1, 2015

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has told teachers that Labour cannot commit to offering them a pay rise if the party forms the next government.

Speaking at the annual conference of the NAHT heads' union in Liverpool today, Mr Hunt said that, if Labour were elected, he would “make the case” to Treasury colleagues that teachers’ pay should be increased, but acknowledged the tough financial climate meant this might not be possible.

“I will be in there making the case for you,” he said. “I can deliver on workload, I can deliver on terms and conditions. I can’t yet deliver on the kind of pay improvement packages you would quite rightly be advocating.”

Mr Hunt said this was because there were “very strong voices out there in terms of us being able to only promise what we can deliver in terms of the public finances”.

He said: “There has been a tough squeeze on public sector pay and public sector finances in recent years. I think as the labour market tightens, you're probably feeling the pressure on recruitment and attracting talented candidates for advertised posts.

“There are workload issues around teaching and making teaching an attractive and rewarding profession and it's not just recruitment, it's retention as well. We're seeing a massive, expensive loss of talent in our schools because of the cumulative effects of what we've been discussing.”

Mr Hunt also outlined Labour’s plans to allow new “parent-led academies” to be set up by parents, charities, community groups and local authorities. He said groups proposing new schools would have to show that they were taking an “innovative” approach, in order for their bids to be approved.

“We would hope to see as part of the application process a commitment to innovation in some form,” he said.

“That could take multiple different forms about technology or pedagogy, or sport or art or whatever, but doing something new will be the one of the bars to get through for the commissioning of a new school because the opportunity of commissioning a new school is such an exciting moment in terms of trying something new that we would want to embed that within the system.”

Parents have duty to play with children, says Hunt

by BBC News, May 1, 2015

Classified as General.

Children are arriving at school unable to speak properly because parents are not playing and talking to them enough, Labour's Tristram Hunt has said.

Many heads believe the problem has got "markedly worse" in the last 10 years, said the shadow education secretary.

Parents need to get "down on all fours" and engage with their children from an early age, he said.

Mr Hunt spoke to journalists after addressing the National Association of Head Teachers' annual conference.

Parenting skills

After his speech to the conference in Liverpool, he told reporters: "Whenever I talk to head teachers one of the big issues is the development and underdevelopment of speaking and listening skills, those motor skills, and what that comes from is playing and talking to children, getting down on all fours from goo-goo, ga-ga onwards."

He suggested the problem could be down issues like technology, time-poor working parents or a lack of understanding about the importance of engaging with babies and toddlers.

Fears Growing of a New Labour Threat to Grammar Schools

by Huffington Post, May 1, 2015

Classified as General.

This week I have written to Ed Miliband, calling on him to guarantee the status of England's existing 164 grammar schools in the event he becomes Prime Minister.

Why? Because a new poll conducted by ComRes has found four in ten (39 per cent) believe Labour will axe the remaining grammar schools if they win the election.

If they do, the Labour Party will be betraying thousands of bright pupils from poor backgrounds who will be the most damaged by such a move.

The poll finds half (51 per cent) of the British public support the opening of new grammar schools, while just one in ten (10 per cent) oppose them.

One half (48 per cent) think grammar schools give less privileged young people a chance to succeed, while fewer than one in five (18 per cent) think they are bad for social mobility.

And in an additional blow to those who claim grammar schools only help those who are privileged already, one half (46 per cent) of working class respondents think grammars are good for social mobility while only one in ten (10 per cent) do not.

Where there are grammar schools in the United Kingdom, social mobility is booming. At the upcoming general election, there is a huge political opportunity for any party that chooses to champion social mobility by actively supporting and promoting grammar schools. Unfortunately neither the Conservatives of Labour have done this, despite today's overwhelming evidence.

Schools providing £43.5m of extra support to children due to cuts – poll

by The Guardian, May 1, 2015

Classified as General.

Schools are providing an estimated £43.5m of unfunded support for children from low income families who have been left “high and dry” as a result of coalition cuts, a poll of headteachers has revealed.

According to the survey, published on Friday, eight out of 10 headteachers (84%) who responded said they were providing more support than five years ago, including food, clothes and washing facilities.

Others said their schools were paying for outings, head lice treatment and haircuts, as well as birthday cards and presents for pupils who would not otherwise receive any. Often teachers were paying out of their own pockets to help those most in need.

More than four out of five (84%) identified a change in financial circumstances among parents of those children affected, while 66% said they were having to step in to provide services that would previously have been delivered by health and social services – of which more than seven in 10 (72%) said they were providing mental health support.

Less than a week before the general election, the survey will raise grave concerns about the pressure on schools providing the additional support, and the impact on the most vulnerable children, of deeper cuts in the next parliament.

The poll of 2,000 school leaders across all phases of education was commissioned by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), which represents 29,500 school leaders in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and was published on the first day of its annual conference in Liverpool.

Schools face cash crisis, head warns parents

by BBC News, May 1, 2015

Classified as General.

A London head teacher had written to parents warning them of a looming "financial crisis" in secondary schools in England.

John Kerr, the head of Enfield Grammar, an academy school, says the budget plans of major political parties will not be enough to cover rising costs.

Mr Kerr said difficult decisions would have to be made as a result.

He said his school was considering cuts to some subjects but warned this "would narrow the curriculum".

'Damaging cuts'

"The only way we can make this order of savings is to get rid of people's jobs, or to increase class sizes, which is very difficult to do because rooms are a finite size, and you can't squeeze more students in to a classroom that we've got at the moment, quite frankly."

Mr Kerr told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme the school had already considered cuts to what he termed "the minor subjects like music, art" - but he warned "that would really narrow the curriculum severely for our students".

He has urged parents to challenge general election candidates about what he called "deep and damaging" cuts.

His letter says that within three years many secondary schools will face having to make significant savings of up to £1m in some cases.

In the letter Mr Kerr said this has been caused by increased pupil numbers as well as rises in teachers' pay and schools having to make increased employer contributions to staff pensions.

Higher tuition fees are distorting the choices poorer students make

by The Guardian, May 1, 2015

Classified as General.

Tuition fees have been at the forefront of political parties’ pre-election campaigning, but what do we really know about how the cost of higher education affects the number of students going to university, and the choices they make when applying?

What happened following the trebling of tuition fees in 2012 has surprised virtually all of those working in higher education and politics: for full-time young students (the situation is quite different for part-time older students) applications have not fallen. For young people from deprived neighbourhoods it has actually increased.

This may encourage some to argue that young people are immune to the impact of rising costs, and that it may even be possible – and desirable – to further increase fees. This would be a dangerous step to take.

Fees may not be deterring many from going to university, but they are distorting the choices young people make at the application stage, and once they start their course.

Private schools in UK attracting record numbers of students

by The Guardian, May 1, 2015

Classified as Independent Schools.

Independent schools in Britain appear to have weathered the economic downturn with record numbers now attending fee-paying private schools – although the rise is underpinned by increasing numbers of pupils from overseas.

The annual census conducted by the Independent Schools Council of more than 1,200 private schools found 517,000 pupils enrolled in 2015, the highest number since it began keeping records 40 years ago.

But the number of UK-domiciled pupils remains lower than before the financial crisis hit, with the overall total boosted by a 33% increase since 2008 in the number of non-British pupils whose parents live overseas.

Excluding overseas pupils, 490,000 British residents are currently attending independent schools, compared with 491,000 in 2008.

Teachers bringing packed lunches for pupils 'in return to Victorian Britain

by The Telegraph, May 1, 2015

Classified as General.

Teachers are bringing an extra packed lunch for poor pupils, washing their clothes and even cutting their hair as they warn of a return to Victorian poverty.
They are also providing PE kits and giving families tickets to attend school trips from their own pockets and school budgets to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds, a survey of school leaders has found.
Louis Coiffait, of the National Association of Head Teachers, which carried out the study, said: “If you’re a poor child growing up in what seems like Victorian Britain at times, schools have to provide basic parenting and other services.”
He cited a case of a teacher in Hackney, east London, who had to teach a child how to brush her teeth after the pupil came to school with food in her teeth and toothache.
Other teachers had to provide their students with toothbrushes and monitor that they brushed their teeth during school hours.
Mr Coiffait said he has visited schools that now had a room with a washing machine and kitchen facilities. “Teachers give pupils new clothes while they wash their dirty clothes and prepare breakfast for them in these rooms,” he said. “They look like a family home.”

Record number of pupils in private schools, data shows

by The Telegraph, May 1, 2015

Classified as General.

Record number of parents are paying the highest ever prices to send their children to private schools as the UK recovers from financial crisis, new figures show.
Parents prioritising private schooling for their children, as they face growing pressure to achieve top grades, helped the increase.
• Independent schools 'more popular than ever'
• Private schools: more parents pay less
• No wonder private school numbers are rising
A rise in the number of bursaries handed out to families has also contributed to more pupils being able to attend private schools.
Figures published by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) show a slight rise in the numbers of youngsters being educated privately compared to last year.

Google should be allowed in exams – weekly news review

by The Guardian, May 1, 2015

Classified as General.

Students should be able to use Google in exams, according to the head of OCR. Mark Dawe, chief executive of the exam board, told the Today programme on Radio 4 that allowing access to the internet in tests, including GCSEs and A-levels, reflects the way students learn and was “inevitable”.

A leading education academic has suggested schools should outsource marking to people overseas to cut teachers’ workload. Dr Rebecca Allen, director of Education Datalab, said that more radical approaches needed to be considered to reduce workload and that research had found “incredibly reliable” marking services abroad for £2 to £3 per hour.

Nick Clegg has revealed plans for seven- to 11-year-olds to receive free school meals from 2017/18, costing £610m a year, if elected. He also said an estimated £100m would be provided for primary schools to improve their kitchen and dining facilities.

Good news Friday: fundraiser goes onesie step further

by The Telegraph, May 1, 2015

Classified as General.

The weekend is about to arrive, and that means one thing – another Good News Friday column.
In the news this week, an exam board chief executive from OCR says pupils should be allowed to take Google into their exams to help teachers assess the way students apply information to their learning; leading psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist has said that smartphones are making children borderline autistic as they become less able to engage with facial expression and more concerned with technology; and Cambridge has been named the hardest university to get into in the UK.
• Last time: hanging with puppets at Purcell
Elsewhere, a head teacher came into school dressed as a giraffe to raise money for the science department and pupils at Sydenham High School are calling for politics to be taught to younger year groups. Read on to find out more.

Independent school pupils at record high

by BBC News, May 1, 2015

Classified as General.

The number of pupils at independent schools in the UK is at its highest level since records began.
Figures published by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) show a slight rise in the numbers of privately educated pupils since last year.
The data also shows parents are on average now paying more than £15,500 a year for private schooling.
In total, there are 517,113 pupils at ISC schools this year, according to the council's annual survey of members.
This is up by about 1%, or 5,000 more students, on 2014.
The council says this means that student numbers are at their highest levels since records began 40 years ago.

Schools providing £43.5m of extra support to children due to cuts – poll

by The Guardian, May 1, 2015

Classified as General.

Schools are providing an estimated £43.5m of unfunded support for children from low income families who have been left “high and dry” as a result of coalition cuts, a poll of headteachers has revealed.
According to the survey, published on Friday, eight out of 10 headteachers (84%) who responded said they were providing more support than five years ago, including food, clothes and washing facilities.

Others said their schools were paying for outings, head lice treatment and haircuts, as well as birthday cards and presents for pupils who would not otherwise receive any. Often teachers were paying out of their own pockets to help those most in need.

More than four out of five (84%) identified a change in financial circumstances among parents of those children affected, while 66% said they were having to step in to provide services that would previously have been delivered by health and social services – of which more than seven in 10 (72%) said they were providing mental health support.

Free meals for infants may cost schools millions in pupil premium cash

by TES Connect, May 1, 2015

Primary schools could miss out on tens of millions of pounds in pupil premium funding as a result of free school meals being introduced for all infants, TES can reveal.

Research by the NAHT headteachers' union has found that three-quarters of school leaders believe their school is losing out because of a drop in the number of pupils registered as eligible for the additional cash.

The pupil premium – worth £1,300 per student – is dependent on parents registering their children for free school meals (FSM). But since last September, all four- to seven-year-olds have been entitled to free lunches regardless of their family income, removing a major reason for parents to sign their children up for FSM.

Respondents to the survey estimated that an average 12 per cent of eligible pupils were not registered for FSM, meaning that schools were each missing out on thousands of pounds of government funding.

“The pupil premium and the universal meals are two really good policies that help children, but one is having a negative impact on the other,” said Nicky Gillhespy, school business manager at Cheam Fields Primary School in Surrey.

The three main political parties’ spokespeople for education – the Conservatives’ Nicky Morgan, Labour’s Tristram Hunt and the Lib Dems’ David Laws – are all due to address the NAHT’s annual conference in Liverpool, which starts today. A motion at the conference will call for a national data-sharing system to be set up so that schools are automatically informed of pupils’ entitlement to FSM, rather than relying on parents to tell them.

Meanwhile, a separate NAHT survey published today reveals that schools are spending £43.5 million per year on basic support such as food, clothes and showering facilities for children living in poverty.

Independent school pupils at record high

by BBC News, May 1, 2015

Classified as General.

The number of pupils at independent schools in the UK is at its highest level since records began.

Figures published by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) show a slight rise in the numbers of privately educated pupils since last year.

The data also shows parents are on average now paying more than £15,500 a year for private schooling.

In total, there are 517,113 pupils at ISC schools this year, according to the council's annual survey of members.

This is up by about 1%, or 5,000 more students, on 2014.

The council says this means that student numbers are at their highest levels since records began 40 years ago.

'Remarkable'

There are 10 more schools in the ISC than last year, with 1,267 in total. And comparing only those schools that took part in the survey in both years, there has been a 0.6% rise in numbers.

There were increases in the numbers both of British and international pupils taking up places, the ISC said.

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