Latest Educational News

Poet raps universities for elitism

by The Times, July 12, 2014

Elite universities such as Cambridge need to work harder to create more diversity, says a black performance poet from a council estate
Elite universities need to work harder to attract working-class students, according to a black performance poet from a council estate.
George Mpanga, 23, known as George the Poet, is a recording artist and spoken word performer who graduated from Cambridge last year with a 2:1 in politics, psychology and sociology.
He grew up in Harlesden, northwest London, before winning a place at grammar school.

Ofsted chief slams local councils for not reporting failing schools

by Independent, July 12, 2014

Ofsted’s chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, lambasted local authorities today for their “worrying” failure to keep tabs on poorly performing schools.

“The problem is far too few of you are [raising concerns about schools with the Government or Ofsted],” Sir Michael said. “My postbag is not exactly bulging with letters from concerned directors of children’s services imploring Ofsted to go in and inspect a poorly performing school within their boundaries.”

Secret Teacher: I'm caught in a performance-pay conspiracy

by Guardian, July 12, 2014

Dear Headteacher,

Thank you for the kind feedback you gave me on my lesson observation that took place two weeks before the end of the school year when I and my students are at our most exhausted.

I welcome the fact that whereas all my other observations this year have been "good to outstanding", you still deem me as "requires improvement". Although you don't intend on acting on this before the summer holiday, action will be taken in the new academic year, which presumably means you will not consider me to go through threshold as an M6 teacher which would require you to pay me more.

An ode to Birmingham: how can the UK's second city fix its image problem?

by Guardian, July 12, 2014

There was once a book called Birmingham Is Not a Boring City. On the title page, the word "Not" looked as though it had been added at the last minute in handwriting. More recently, there was a popular blog called birminghamitsnotshit.co.uk, the aim of which was to offer a counter-narrative to those who believed otherwise.

But in both cases there was a problem: each made it look like the city had a case to answer. Really, they suggested, there was more to Britain's second city than a risibly depressive adenoidal accent, a road system that Jeremy Clarkson alleged was diabolically devised to take you away from the cheerlessly brutalist post-industrial city, and a culinary speciality whose name was Urdu for bucket. But the counter-narrative often only served to highlight the original narrative. Birmingham's problem? It protests too much.

Parents prosecuted for taking children on holiday during school term

by Guardian, July 12, 2014

A couple who took their children on holiday to Australia during school term time have been given criminal records.

The pair, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of their children, were handed conditional discharges at Nuneaton magistrates court and told to pay a total of £800 towards costs after being prosecuted by Coventry city council.

Last September, the Department for Education decided to remove the discretion of headteachers in England to approve absences in "special circumstances", prompting an outcry.

Flagship University Technical College to close due to falling pupil numbers

by TES, July 11, 2014

A flagship University Technical College has been forced to announce its closure because of falling pupil numbers.

Hackney UTC in east London has said it will be close just two years after it first opened after receiving only 29 applications for September out of a target of 75. It follows a critical Ofsted report in February which said the college was underperforming in a number of areas.

The college, which has the Duke of York (pictured) as its patron, will not accept any new students this September, but all current year 10 students will continue until the end of year 11 to complete their GCSEs in 2015. The college will then close in August 2015.

Slough ranked among worst in England for pupils getting secondary school preferences

by Local Berkshire, July 11, 2014

Only 60.8% of primary school pupils in Slough were offered their preferred school for 2014/15 - making it the fourth worst local authority in England and the worst outside of London. There were 1,875 secondary school places up for grabs for the next academic year in Slough, and applications were received from 1,787 parents. Only 82.6% of pupils were offered one of their top three preferences. The figures, released by the Department for Education on June 24, revealed that of the Slough pupils offered school places, a quarter were for schools outside of the local authority.

Teacher suspended after GCSE coursework lost

by The Scunthorpe Telegraph, July 11, 2014

THE head of science at Baysgarth School in Barton has been suspended because GCSE coursework has “gone missing” for an entire class – and could face the sack.

Up to 25 year 11 students at the secondary school could be affected following the “administrative error” that came to light on the day of their prom.

Colin Byrne, a long-serving teacher at the school, was suspended with immediate effect when the error came to light last Thursday.

However, head teacher Colin Saywell has stressed students will not be “disadvantaged” in their final exams.

Pollen Britain: How hay fever can affect exam results

by Independent, July 11, 2014

As a hay fever sufferer I have no doubt this summer has been merciless for those who are allergic to trees, plants and grass. Forget pollination – this year the UK has become the Pollen Nation. We're reportedly experiencing the worst pollen levels for years. And experts say the soaring pollen count across swathes of England and Wales will continue for months to come.

With so many people affected there seems to be a growing awareness and understanding of just how miserable pollen can make people feel. Statistics suggest that the UK is the hay fever centre of the world and some scientists are predicting that 45 per cent of the population will be suffering by 2030. A recent study even showed that driving with hay fever is just as dangerous as driving after drinking alcohol.

Secondaries face dealing with rise of thousands of pupils

by Oxford Mail, July 11, 2014

OXFORD’S secondary schools will soon have to take hundreds more pupils because of a rising population.

It comes as an MP warned that unless another secondary school is built in Oxford, children could face “overcrowding”. Countywide, Oxfordshire County Council has predicted a 12 per cent increase in the number of children needing school places from Year Seven upwards by 2018/19.

Why grammar lessons should be renamed ‘understanding language’

by Guardian, July 11, 2014

Some of the country’s most eminent linguists came together for English Grammar Day, presented by UCL and Oxford University in association with the British Library, last week. With talks from grammarians including David Crystal and Dick Hudson, the event served as a crash course in the history, prevalence and importance of grammar. The main focus, however, was on the problems with how grammar is taught in schools.

How things have to improve was made clear: we need to embrace grammar, teach it in context and uphold its importance within the education system. One answer is to call it something else. Lindsey Thomas, school improvement consultant at Buckinghamshire Learning Trust, suggested that teachers replace the word “grammar” with “understanding language”.

The public sector strike shows how much times have changed

by Telegraph, July 11, 2014

I once asked the headmistress of my son’s school if I could whisk him away a few days before the end of term, to halve the cost of my holiday. The answer was “No”, followed by a stern letter sent to all parents who might have similar plans. “There is no such thing as a cheap flight,” she warned, “if it means losing a single, irreplaceable day of your child’s education.” It was, of course, infuriating. But still, a reminder of how lucky I’d been to have found a school that cared so much about learning, and that the best teachers really do believe that every day matters.

Unlike Australian universities, UK universities are hierarchical and sexist

by BBC News, July 11, 2014

"Well, if you don't like it, leave and find another job at another university" was the harsh response from the human resources department. I had asked for their advice on dealing with a senior academic whose persistent verbal abuse and sustained and determined efforts to undermine me threatened my post at one of the UK's top universities.

This wasn't my first academic job or the first time this had happened. At the university post I'd held immediately before, there had been less verbal abuse and more snide remarks, but keeping me on the bottom rung of the ladder appeared to be a common goal, with similar tactics employed to achieve this.

Master teachers, how genes affect maths skills and research ethics

by Guardian, July 11, 2014

As well as having an impact on pupils reading levels, scientists have found that genes also influence their maths skills.

Around 2,800 British families were looked at as part of the study, which tested 12-year-old twins and children from unrelated families on maths questions from the national curriculum and then analysed the results alongside their DNA.

The researchers found that half of the genes that played a role in literacy also affected maths ability. External influences, such as a child's environment, home life and schooling, had roughly the same impact on their achievement levels as their genetic make-up.

No specific genes have been linked to numeracy or literacy, and scientists are unsure about what the various gene variants do, but they think they may affect brain function or other processes that are important for learning to read and do sums.

Jump from infants to juniors seen as 'character building' for youngsters

by Coventry Telegraph, July 10, 2014

With many schools now simply primary schools, the transition from infants to juniors experienced by some can be forgotten.

Aged just seven, these youngsters will be expected to go to a different school often on a different site at the same time as changing from being one of the oldest to one of the youngest in the building.

It’s tough enough taking a radical change in the pecking order as a grown-up but how will the youngsters fare?

My child pointed out: “I am the second smallest in my class so now I am going to be nearly the smallest in the whole school.”

Parents felt less worried about this. One commented: ‘Isn't that a learning curve in life? A change in the pecking order is good for character! And it will happen again in seniors.”

Grammar schools offer so much more to pupils

by Derby Telegraph, July 10, 2014

IT is quite confusing that, on the one hand, Labour are still dismissive of UKIP as being of no consequence and then they speculate feverishly about the policies in UKIP's forthcoming manifesto.

With the benefit of her crystal ball, Anne Johns, "Grammar school system was horribly damaging" (July 3), predicts that "UKIP has vowed to bring back secondary modern schools".

The truth is that UKIP supports the expansion of grammar schools. To my knowledge, no mention has been made of secondary modern schools. Ms Johns chooses to use secondary moderns as an emotive ploy.

Fears of ‘Trojan Horse’ plots spread beyond Birmingham schools

by The Times, July 10, 2014

Schools in Bradford and Luton have undergone inspection amid fears they have been taken over by hardline Muslims in a similar fashion to schools in Birmingham.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of Ofsted, confirmed today that a second phase of inspections was under way into whether schools beyond Birmingham had been targeted.

Tories pledge strike reform as teacher walkout shuts schools

by Times, July 10, 2014

David Cameron has vowed to push for a ban on strikes backed by only a minority of union members, as thousands of schools are forced to shut today.
Teachers will join a million public sector workers in the biggest show of industrial muscle since 2010, when the coalition’s austerity programme began.

NUT walkout: why are teachers striking?

by Telegraph, July 10, 2014

Today, members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) will walk out in what will be 2014’s second national day of action following the strike in March.
Differing to March, however, today’s day of action will be alongside members of UNISON, UNITE, GMB, PCS and the FBU – representing council and health workers, firefighters and civil servants.

Including these other unions, Thursday’s strike is expected to involve more than a million people, in what has been billed as the biggest single walkout over pay since the coalition came to power.
The NUT walkout is the latest in a series of strikes that the union has called to tackle issues that have remained similar for over two years.

Christine Blower: education will suffer, unless our concerns are addressed

by Telegraph, July 10, 2014

We are taking strike action as part of the NUT Stand Up for Education Campaign because we are genuinely concerned about the direction the Government is taking education.
Strike action is always a last resort and no teacher wants to be in this position. The fact however that teachers are prepared to do so is an indication of the strength of feeling and anger about the Government’s imposed changes on the profession.

For teachers, performance related pay (PRP); working until 68 for a full pension and a heavy workload of up to 60 hours a week, is unsustainable.

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