Latest Educational News

Perry Beeches would be 'caging children' at new primary school

by Birmingham Post, November 11, 2015

Plans thrown out by city councillors after school group suggested playground two storeys off the ground could be fenced in

Support call as just 2.4% of looked-after children in Wales progress on to higher education

by Wales Online, November 11, 2015

Campaigners have called for more support for looked-after children in Wales after figures revealed only 2.4% progress on to higher education.
A report published today by researchers at Cardiff University highlights the gulf in educational attainment between children in care and their peers.

The Tories’ assault on further education will cost Britain dearly Lucy Powell

by Guardian, November 11, 2015

It is time to be blunt about what is going on in post-16 education. Over the past five years this crucial and often undervalued sector of education has been treated as a soft target by the government. It has been battered and worn down, and left to try to deliver for students from the “starvation rations” it has been bestowed.

Leaving EU would be a 'disaster', British universities warn

by The Guardian, November 11, 2015

A British exit from the EU would be catastrophic for universities and scientific research, leading academics and scientists say, warning it would cost tens of millions of pounds in funding and leave prestigious UK institutions struggling to compete on the world stage.

White British pupils least likely to go to university, says research

by The Guardian (DataBlog), November 11, 2015

White British pupils are on average the least likely ethnic group in the UK to go to university, a study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has revealed.
Young people from every other ethnic group, including those who tend to perform worse in school exams, such as black Caribbeans, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, are more likely to go on to further education.

North-south divide mapped in GCSE results

by BBC News, November 11, 2015

This year's GCSE results in England show few signs of a north-south divide getting any narrower.
SchoolDash, an education data firm, has mapped the provisional results from this summer's exams.
It shows that 4.7 percentage points more pupils in the south achieve five GCSEs including English and maths.
Last week Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said it was a "sad truth" that many underperforming authorities were in the north of England.

'World's best teacher' warns on too much testing

by BBC News, November 10, 2015

Classified as General.

The "world's best teacher" says that a culture of excessive testing can damage standards and "decimate morale" among teachers.
Nancie Atwell, a US teacher who won the Global Teacher Prize earlier this year, was visiting a school in London.
She also said that teachers could get more attention from pupils from talking quietly than shouting.
Ms Atwell won a million-dollar prize - but immediately gave the money to her school in Maine.
On her visit to Capital City Academy in Willesden, north-west London, she said part of the prize had been spent on fixing the school boilers.
Ms Atwell was demonstrating her award-winning teaching skills in an English lesson to a class of 12 and 13-year-olds, with Schools Minister Nick Gibb watching.

Softly spoken and fastidiously polite to the pupils, sitting in a circle around her, she taught a lesson about two poems. She also told them that her own pupils called her by her first name.
"I've been teaching a long time and something I've learnt is, almost the softer you are, the more attentive they are."
If there were behaviour problems, she said: "I would go to that student and say, 'What's the problem. You need to engage with this, stop talking.' I'm strict. I've also got what they call 'the look'... they fear it.
"The answer to almost every issue in the classroom is to talk to the kids about what's going on."
In terms of what made a great teacher, she said: "It's not my personality, it's not my intuition, it's what I know about professional methods."

England needs more grammar schools, says top industrialist

by The Telegraph, November 10, 2015

Classified as Grammar School.

England should build more grammar schools, one of the country’s foremost industrialists has said.
Juergen Maier, the chief executive of Siemens UK, told the CBI conference that schools had “to give people the hope and aspiration that they can be absolutely brilliant in society”.
However the idea was knocked down straightaway by Nicky Morgan, the Education secretary, who said she was "not going to fight the battles of the past".
Asked if he was “in favour of bringing back grammars”, he replied: “I am actually.”
Later Mr Maier, which runs a business that employs 14,000 staff in the UK that had £5billion sales in 2014, said: “I just think that a duel approach is a pretty good system.
“We have labelled them grammar schools, what I was really talking about is an approach that says at a certain age you are more destined for an academic route.
“And then you start to measure the success slightly differently – that is a lot of what we were talking about."

Cuts could close four in 10 colleges, says Labour

by BBC News, November 10, 2015

Classified as General.

Up to four in 10 further education and sixth-form colleges in England could close if the government presses ahead with savings, says Labour.
College budgets are not protected and might be vulnerable to cuts in the 2015 Spending Review, says the party.
The analysis comes as further education members of the University and College Union strike over pay.
The government says it is determined young people should have funding to "enjoy high-quality courses".
Chancellor George Osborne has asked government departments to come up with savings plans for 25% and 40% of their budget ahead of the Spending Review on 25 November.

Grammar school ‘annexe’ in Kent is a dangerous moment

by The Guardian, November 10, 2015

Classified as Grammar School.

It must be nice to have £200,000 of public money to play with. This is the generous contribution that the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is making to the development of a new grammar school in its area.

This news slipped out at a time when most other schools and councils in England are trying to find ways to save, not spend. It was also within days of the secretary of state for education saying that her new grammar school “annexe” in Sevenoaks, Kent – nine miles away from its partner school – would not open the floodgates to similar bids.

Several more prospective grammar school plans have since emerged, convenient maybe for someone with a new-found ambition to be leader of the Conservative party but deeply disturbing to the rest of us.

It is also puzzling. Michael Gove successfully held the pro-grammar right of his party at bay. Reversing his position flies in the face of the Conservatives’ alleged One Nation approach to social policy, which Nicky Morgan attempted to invoke last week.

Grammar schools are socially divisive and anti-aspiration. They don’t, and never have, done much for the majority of poor children. Most successful applicants come from affluent homes as admission is accompanied by costly private tuition. The rest are rejected before they have even started their secondary school careers.

Call for overhaul of child 'fat letters'

by BBC News, November 10, 2015

Classified as General.

The "fat letters" posted to parents in England to tell them if their child is overweight are crude and unhelpful and need an overhaul, say health experts.
The Royal Society for Public Health says only half of parents understand why their children are being weighed and few find the information in the letter useful.
It says parents need more support to help tackle child obesity.
Currently, a fifth of UK children leaving primary school are obese.
And one in 10 children in Reception classes - the start of primary school - is obese.
The National Child Measurement Programme, which was launched in England in 2005, checks the height and weight of children as they join and leave primary school, to track their progress and provide important data for the population.
There is no direct equivalent of the scheme in Scotland or Northern Ireland, but Wales has had a similar Child Measurement Programme since 2011.
A poll of 678 parents by the RSPH suggests many are unaware of the scheme and what the results it yields mean.
Shirley Cramer, RSPH chief executive, said: "Our research finds that only one-fifth of parents find the 'fat letter' useful, and we believe that the letter should be seen as the beginning of a dialogue with parents, not simply flagging whether their child is obese."

Leicester teachers quit 'troubled Uplands Junior School'

by BBC News, November 10, 2015

Classified as General.

Ten teachers have resigned from a troubled Leicester school after claiming they were put under "excessive scrutiny".
Uplands Junior School, which was placed in special measures last year, has been temporarily run by a government board.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said its members were angry at the board's rude and obtrusive behaviour.
The Department for Education said it was "disappointed" by the resignations.
The 10 teachers handed in their notices last month, which means they will leave at the end of the year.
According to the union, it follows frustrations over the way they were treated by an Interim Executive Board (IEB) which took over the responsibilities of the school's governing body in May.
Uplands is being forced to become an academy by the government in a bid to improve standards.
The school - on the city's Melbourne Road - has 21 classroom teachers, according to its website.

Jo Johnson won't fix teaching, he'll just make life harder for academics

by The Guardian, November 10, 2015

Classified as General.

Like many other postgraduates in their final year, I think about my future career prospects a lot. The outlook is not great. The number of lecturers employed on precarious, short-term or hourly contracts is steadily increasing. According to data collected by the University and Colleges Union (UCU), higher education is second only to the hospitality sector in this regard.

The arrival of the government’s much anticipated green paper has simply added insult to injury. In particular, Jo Johnson’s supposedly sector-reviving Teaching Excellence Framework (Tef) and its link to increasing fees signals a huge attack on my profession.

Back in September, Johnson introduced the idea of the Tef by criticising research-focused academics, who fail to “go the extra mile”. The green paper continues in a similar vein, using data from the National Student Survey (NSS) to denigrate the quality of teaching.
There are two fundamental problems with this accusation. First, it ignores the simple fact that teaching quality varies because employment quality varies. As a graduate teaching assistant (GTA), I am expected to attend lectures, prepare seminars, provide feedback, answer emails and mark essays in a few hours a week. This means that my actual hourly pay is below the living wage.

Schools 'phoning ex-pupils to become teachers' due to shortage

by The Telegraph, November 7, 2015

Classified as General.

Schools have taken to phoning ex pupils to convince them to take up teaching as a career in a bid to fill a shortage of staff, a leading teacher has said.
Teachers in shortage areas are also being "poached" at other neighboring schools during organised training days.
The desperate measures school leaders are resorting to emerged as official figures showed that the net number of extra teachers needed yearly will peak at 2019 at 24,550 - a 5 per cent rise on this year. And by 2026, 23,689 teachers will be needed.
However, the Department for Education insisted efforts are being made to recruit record number of teachers.
Jay Stevens, deputy headteacher at Parmiter's School in Watford, Hertfordshire, said schools like his are increasingly turning to former students to make up for the lack of staff.
At his school, he told the Times Educational Supplement (TES), former pupils are either teaching or training to become teachers.
He said: "We've always invited students to join the Old Parmiterians, but it used to be just a social network.
"Now, in the past three or four years, we have started actively contacting former students and asking them if they want to become teachers.
"They don't bypass anything. They still have to apply through Ucas. But it encourages them to apply. Sometimes it may not even have occurred to them to become a teacher.
Teachers in shortage areas are even "poached" during organised training days at other schools, according to Vic Goddard, principal of Passmores Academy and star of TV show Educating Essex.

Cookham's Holy Trinity primary school 'back on the map' with 'outstanding' Ofsted report

by Maidenhead Advertiser, November 6, 2015

Holy Trinity Primary School, Cookham, was considered as ‘requiring improvement’ when the last government inspection was carried out two years ago. However the school has now been awarded the top marks in all categories and has now been deemed ‘outstanding’.

Government plan to allow 'better' universities to raise fees

by The Guardian, November 6, 2015

Classified as General.

The best universities in England will be allowed to charge students more than £9,000 per year for tuition under a new plan published by the government that links improvements in teaching quality with fee increases.

In the biggest shakeup of higher education since fees were introduced nearly 20 years ago, a number of university agencies could be scrapped and replaced with an Office for Students (OfS) that will rank universities based on student satisfaction, teaching quality and employment outcomes.

Universities that receive high ratings will be allowed to increase their tuition fees by the rate of inflation, according to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills green paper. The consultation document also hints that staff pay and promotion could be linked to teaching performance. Fees have been frozen at £9,000 a year since 2012, when the government raised the cap from just over £3,000.
Jo Johnson, the minister for higher education, said the changes were needed because the high international reputation of British universities masked inconsistencies. “While there is a lot of excellence, there is also, as the sector acknowledges, patchiness and variability in and between institutions. We’re helping the sector address that patchiness so we drive up the quality of teaching for everybody.

“Students should come out of their university years feeling they’ve got value for money for their time there. Unfortunately, there are too many students coming out feeling that they haven’t, and I want to address that.”

'Perfect storm' has state schools struggling to balance the books

by The Guardian, November 6, 2015

Classified as General.

State schools in England are facing budget deficits of around half a million pounds each, with thousands contemplating cuts of up to 20% in teaching staff and larger class sizes as they struggle to cope with increased costs and lower incomes.

Head teachers and budget managers said that they were being forced to turn to financial reserves in order to make ends meet, with one finance officer admitting that he would run out of options for their school budget as soon as 2016/17.

In a survey of more than 1,000 state schools published by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), nearly two out of three schools said they could only balance their budget by raiding their savings or by imposing significant spending cuts. Half reported that they were making cuts in staffing, including teaching and teaching assistant posts.

The funding crisis has emerged because funding per pupil has been frozen while schools face increased costs due to higher national insurance and pensions contributions, as well as pay rises. The survey found that more than 80% of school leaders feared standards would be hurt by their cuts, while 45% said their current budgets would be unsustainable within two years.

“The money coming into schools is not keeping up with the expenditure they face,” said Russell Hobby, the NAHT’s general secretary.

New student champion to make sure undergraduates get 'value for money'

by The Telegraph, November 6, 2015

Classified as General.

Students will have part of their tuition fees refunded if they feel their course doesn't offer value for money, the universities minister has said as the announced a radical plan to appoint a students champion.
As part of the shake up, employment data will be available to students to determine which course will provide them a better career path. Government sources said this will make universities more conscious of their outcomes and will push them to improve the courses they offer so they match demands from employers.
As part of this new drive to make universities more accountable the Government is planning to launch a new student champion and regulator that would have new powers requiring universities to release data to better inform students.
It would be tasked with ensuring students and taxpayers get "valued for money" in a new era where they pay and underwrite the loans for higher education, according to the university ministers, Jo Johnson.
Under the plans, universities will also be allowed to charge higher fees - in line with inflation - if they meet teaching quality. However, union leaders said students shouldn't be treated like consumers and fees should not be linked to performance.

Schools close to funding breaking point, warn heads

by BBC News, November 6, 2015

Classified as General.

Nearly two-thirds of school leaders (64%) in England are making significant cuts or dipping in to reserves to fill deficits, a head teachers' union warns.
The National Association of Head Teachers says increased employer costs for national insurance and teachers' pensions will put schools under strain.
The NAHT says heads are having to cut back on areas such as equipment, maintenance and teaching assistants.
The Department for Education said it was protecting the schools budget.
The NAHT's questionnaire of 1,069 school leaders (the majority of whom, 82%, were primary heads) found that:
over three-quarters (76%) of heads were using reserves
64% were reducing investment in equipment
half were reducing their maintenance budget
49% were reducing numbers or hours of teaching assistants.
The NAHT survey also found almost half of school leaders (45%) thought their budget would be untenable, on current projections, within two years.
Two-thirds (67%) said they would not be able to balance the books in four years' time, and 7% of those surveyed were already running a deficit.
Four in five (82%) said budget cuts would have a negative impact on standards.

Nicky Morgan: Free schools could help poor Scots pupils

by The Telegraph, November 6, 2015

Classified as General.

Nicky Morgan has outlined how freeing schools from local authority control in England has driven up standards there as startling new figures suggested the gulf between the best and worst state schools in Scotland is widening.
Speaking to the Telegraph following talks with her SNP counterpart in Edinburgh, the Education Secretary in England said that “putting teachers and parents in the driving seat” there had demonstrated that a world-class education was not “the preserve of the rich or the lucky”.
She emphasised that she was not trying to dictate to Nicola Sturgeon what she should do, saying she said wanted to share “ideas and best practice” with SNP ministers about what had worked south of the Border and was happy to learn from Scotland.
But she said the attainment gap between the wealthiest and poorest pupils had closed in England at both primary and secondary level since the introduction of the pupil premium, extra funding paid directly to schools in the poorest areas.
While literacy and numeracy standards have fallen at all levels measured in Scottish schools, Ms Morgan said 90,000 more English children are reaching the expected level in the 3Rs at the end of primary schools and more secondary pupils are studying “rigorous academic subjects” that she said would help get them the best start in life.


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