Latest Educational News

High Court to rule on Isle of Wight term-time holiday case

by BBC News, May 13, 2016

The case of a father who refused to pay a £120 fine for taking his daughter on an unauthorised term-time holiday is due to be heard by the High Court.
Magistrates had ruled that Jon Platt had no case to answer as, overall, his daughter had attended school regularly.
But Isle of Wight Council has asked the High Court to clarify whether a seven-day absence amounts to a child failing to attend regularly.
Campaigners say the case could redefine the way the law is applied in England.
Since 2013, tougher government regulations have meant head teachers can only grant leave of absence to pupils during term time in "exceptional circumstances".
Term-time holiday: What are the rules?
According to local authority data, almost 64,000 fines were issued for unauthorised absences between September 2013 and August 2014.
Many parents complain that the cost of going away in the school holidays can be four times as much as during term time - but the government says the rules are needed because missing lessons can harm pupils' chances of getting good qualifications.

Why do women get more university places?

by BBC News, May 12, 2016

Why are women getting so many more university places than men?
This isn't just a slight difference. Women in the UK are now 35% more likely than men to go to university and the gap is widening every year.
A baby girl born in 2016 will be 75% more likely to go to university than a boy, if current trends continue.
The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has published research examining this increasingly polarised gender divide.
And as university remains the gateway to better-paid, more secure jobs, Mary Curnock Cook, head of the Ucas university admissions service, warns that being male could be a new form of disadvantage.
"On current trends, the gap between rich and poor will be eclipsed by the gap between males and females within a decade," she writes in an introduction to the report.
And she says while there is much focus on social mobility and geographical differences, there is a collective blind spot on the underachievement of young men.

Helpline takes more calls over exam stress

by BBC News, May 11, 2016

A rising number of UK youngsters are seeking help to cope with the stress of exams, the charity ChildLine says.
Data shows the charity conducted 3,077 counselling sessions about the issue over the past year - up 9% on 2014/15.
ChildLine also undertook 1,127 counselling sessions about exam results - up 20% on 2014/15.
The helpline, which is run by the NSPCC, says the pressure to succeed is being felt by an increasing number of young people.
One 15-year-old boy told counsellors: "All I can think about is exams and I can't deal with it any more.
"I revise all night because I'm so worried I'll fail and I feel so tired all the time. I can't really concentrate on other things and I'm not really eating properly either.
"These exams are only my mocks, and I don't know what I will be like for the real exams if I can't even deal with the mocks."
And a 17-year-old girl admitted: "I feel so overwhelmed at the moment so it's impossible to concentrate on revising. I'm worried that I won't get the grade I am predicted now.
"I don't know where to start and I think I am too far behind now to catch up. I'm worried that people will say I am attention-seeking if I tell them how I feel."

University strike could threaten exams

by BBC News, May 9, 2016

University lecturers have announced a two-day strike at UK universities this month, threatening to disrupt exams.
The walkout on 25 and 26 May is part of a pay dispute - with the University and College Union rejecting an offer of 1.1%.
Lecturers have also warned of escalating the dispute to disrupt the allocation of places after A-level exam results in the summer.
University employers described the decision to strike as "disappointing".
The walk-out will involve academics, such as lecturers and researchers, but would also include university employees such as librarians.
The strike days are during the exam season - but the university employers' body, the University and Colleges Employers' Association, said individual universities would look at how they could minimise any impact on students taking exams.
The employers also said exam invigilators would not necessarily be academics, who might be affected by the strike call.
"Industrial action which impacts on students is never taken lightly, but staff feel that they have been left with no alternative, said Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU lecturers' union.

Exclusive: Control over admissions should be removed from schools, new study recommends Helen Ward

by TES Connect, May 6, 2016

Academics say there are too many incentives for schools to ‘choose’ the most desirable pupils
Control over admissions should be removed from schools, according to a new report, which places further pressure on ministers to reform an “unduly complex” system.

London School of Economics (LSE) researchers Anne West and Audrey Hind argue that changes are needed to make school admissions fairer and simpler.

Their study of state secondary admissions in London, published today, finds that the proportion of schools selecting pupils by aptitude in a subject has doubled from 5 per cent to 10 per cent by since 2001. It also finds that the use of catchment areas has tripled from 6 per cent to 18 per cent over the same period.

“There is a concern that with increasing academisation and more schools controlling their own admissions, there will be even greater complexity,” the researchers write. “Moreover, at least in some cases, schools appear to be choosing pupils rather than parents choosing schools for their children.”

Earlier this week, headteachers’ leaders called for admissions to be returned fully to local authorities. Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union, told its annual conference: “It is not appropriate for schools to act as their own admissions authorities.”

Exclusive: Teachers choose smaller classes over pay rises

by TES Connect, May 6, 2016

Staff believe smaller classes are the most effective way to improve learning, TES Global research finds
Teachers believe that smaller class sizes are more effective than staff pay rises at improving learning, despite research evidence that teaching smaller groups has little or no effect on performance, according to new poll findings.

A survey by TES Global, parent company of TES, asked more than 4,300 UK teachers to prioritise how any extra resources to improve learning should be allocated and found that smaller class sizes was their top choice by a large margin.

Almost 56 per cent chose reduced class sizes – nearly three times as many as the second most popular option, better teacher pay, which was chosen by 19 per cent. The third choice was better professional development, chosen by 11 per cent of respondents.

However, according to research by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which runs the Programme for International Student Assessment’s (Pisa) international education rankings, smaller classes do not boost pupils’ performance.

A 2012 OECD report on Pisa’s findings said: “At the country level, Pisa finds that the size of the class is unrelated to the school system’s overall performance; in other words, high-performing countries tend to prioritise investment in teachers over smaller classes.”

‘Exploited’ supply teachers could lose £200 a month

by TES Connect, May 6, 2016

Fears that supply staff will quit the profession as they miss out on thousands of pounds a year
Thousands of supply teachers could lose out on more than £200 a month because of changes to tax relief rules that research shows could worsen the teacher recruitment crisis.

Schools could also be made to pay more for vital supply staff as a result of the move.

One union leader labelled the changes as “nothing short of scandalous”, describing them as “a blow” to an already exploited part of the workforce.

Many supply teachers have seen a cut in their take-home pay this month following the government’s decision to axe tax relief on travel and subsistence expenses. Teachers affected are those who are employed by an agency that pays via a separate umbrella company that looks after its payroll.

Hundreds of these staff could turn down jobs in schools in more remote areas, push for more pay or even leave the profession altogether, new research suggests.

Campaigners say these teachers could lose £3,252 a year now that the perk – which gave them greater flexibility to take work far away from their home – has gone.

Also, new research from the FCSA, a trade association for professional employment services, shows that 30 per cent of supply teachers questioned would consider an alternative job in light of the tax changes.

The survey, of more than 430 supply teachers, also reveals that half of the respondents would be more selective when choosing where to accept placements.

The organisation says that it believes just under half of supply teachers have historically received tax relief on their legitimately incurred travel and subsistence expenses.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said that the changes to tax relief were “nothing short of scandalous” and “another blow for a group of teachers who are already exploited and undervalued”.

GCSE and A-level delays will cost teachers their summer holidays, union leader warns

by TES Connect, May 5, 2016

More than a fifth of new specifications still not approved by Ofqual less than 10 school weeks before they are to be taught
Teachers will have to spend their summer holidays preparing for the introduction of new GCSE and A-level exams because delays in approving the qualifications mean they still do not have all of the information they need, a union leader has warned.

There are now less than 10 school weeks before the end of term but more than a fifth of new GCSE and A-level specifications that will be taught from September have still not been approved by exams regulator Ofqual.

The watchdog has admitted that progress in accrediting the new qualifications was "certainly not at the pace we had hoped" and that this has left schools with "much less time to choose their preferred exam board and associated resource materials, and prepare for the new school year".

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, told TES that delays in approving new qualifications had reached a “ridiculous” stage.

“The process of GCSE, AS and A-level accreditation has been dogged by delays since it began,” she said. “With just 10 weeks to go, with a fifth of qualifications still not accredited, that’s a really untenable situation.

Cambridge and Oxford universities slip in world rankings

by BBC News, May 5, 2016

The UK has 10 universities in the top 100 of the world's best when it comes to global reputation, but many have slipped down the rankings this year.
Cambridge and Oxford remain in the top five, at fourth and fifth place respectively, but both have moved down two places on their 2015 ranking.
The US continues to dominate the Times Higher Education (THE) world reputation rankings, with Harvard top.
Asia has 17 universities in the top 100 - up from 10 in last year's rankings.
Three London universities stay in the top third of the table - Imperial College London at 15, University College London at 20 and the London School of Economics and Political Science at 24 - but each has fallen slightly on last year's ranking.
University of Edinburgh (38th), King's College London (43rd), University of Manchester (joint 49th), London Business School (between 81st and 90th) and University of Warwick (between 81st and 90th) also made the top 100 global reputation ranking.

SATs: how tricky do adults find the primary school grammar test?

by The Telegraph, May 4, 2016

This week, more than a thousand parents of seven- and eight-year-olds kept their children at home, in protest at them becoming the first primary school children to sit the new SATs – revised standard assessment tests to determine capabilities in spelling, grammar, reading and maths.

The exams have been criticised as “age inappropriate” and pointless exercises in stress, and when Education Minister Nick Gibb fought back – defending the need for children to be taught and tested rigorously, especially in grammar – his message was slightly dented by his incorrect answer to a question about prepositions during an interview on Radio 4’s The World at One.

Good primaries show little benefit from becoming an academy, new analysis finds

by TES Connect, May 4, 2016

But poorly performing schools which become sponsor-led academies do improve markedly after they gain the status, research shows
Becoming an academy has little effect on primary schools which are already good, a new analysis looking into the effects of conversion has found.

But the analysis from SchoolDash does show that previously poorly performing sponsor-led academies improve markedly after they gain the status.

The research comes as pressure grows on Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, to withdraw plans to force all schools to become academies.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union, said earlier this week that the Department for Education should “press the pause button” on the plans and the County Councils Network, a largely Conservative group of 37 local authorities, has warned that the plans would not lead to higher standards.

The research from SchoolDash looked at the 2015 results of the 807 primary schools which chose to convert between 2010 and 2012.

Timo Hannay, founder of SchoolDash, said that 84.9 per cent of pupils in these academies got the expected level 4 in reading, writing and maths, compared with 83.7 per cent of pupils in similar local authority schools and 81.8 per cent in all local authority schools.

He concluded that while pupils in the convertor academies do better than those in local authority schools, the gap between academies and local authority schools with similar intakes is much smaller. He said this meant that most of the difference between local authority schools and academies was due to differing pupil characteristics, rather than the change in school structure.

Primary academies show 'mixed results'

by BBC News, May 4, 2016

An analysis of primary school test results in England suggests that successful schools are not likely to improve when they become academies.
But the study, by education data firm SchoolDash, says there can be gains for disadvantaged pupils in struggling primary schools that convert.
Most secondary schools are academies, but only about one in six primary schools has changed status.
The study comes as the government wants all state schools to become academies.
Research into the achievement of academies has tended to focus on secondary schools, whose numbers have risen over more than a decade.
But if all schools are forced to become academies, the greatest impact will be among primary schools, where more than 13,000 schools will need to change.
This SchoolDash analysis compared the performance in test results of academies with local authority primaries in similar circumstances, such as levels of deprivation.

More than half of school support staff experience stress, anxiety or depression, research finds

by TES Connect, May 3, 2016

Union warns of 'crisis in health and wellbeing' in schools
More than half of school support staff have experienced stress, anxiety or depression amid heavy workloads, research by Unison has found.

A survey by the union, published this morning, suggests that 52 per cent of UK school support staff have experienced stress, anxiety or depression and 42 per cent said they had difficulty in completing their work.

Some 13 per cent said they found it impossible to manage all that was being asked of them.

The union has warned of a “crisis in health and wellbeing engulfing schools” and said this could lead to a “mass exodus of hard-working, dedicated staff”.

Almost half of support staff (47 per cent) said they were considering leaving their jobs, citing issues such as low pay, stress and huge workloads.

'It is making staff depressed'
Many said it was difficult to talk about the pressures of their jobs, with two-fifths (40 per cent) saying they felt unable to report concerns about the size of their workload to managers.

Respondents to the survey reported instances of teaching assistants regularly taking on extra work because schools were frequently understaffed.

Parents keep children off school in test protest

by BBC News, May 3, 2016

Numbers of parents have kept their children off school for the day in a protest about primary tests in England.
More than 40,000 parents have signed a petition calling for a boycott of primary school tests, which are due to be taken later this month.
Parents supporting the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign have complained of a damaging culture of over-testing.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says taking pupils out of school "even for a day is harmful to their education".
It remains uncertain how many primary school children were kept off school across the country, but a social media campaign had urged parents to take children on educational activities for the day.
About 500 people gathered at Preston Park in Brighton, including children's laureate Chris Riddell.
"We should be turning children into readers with the pleasure that gives, rather than relying on a testing culture," said Mr Riddell.

SEND focus: please mind your language

by tes.connect, April 30, 2016

If there’s one thing that stops people from talking (or writing) about SEND, it’s the not-quite-knowinghow-to-put-it thing. And when they do concentrate on SEND, too often people get it wrong. I seem to be on the receiving end of dodgy things that people say about SEND rather more than most.

Of course, it might be because my son (pictured, above) has profound learning difficulties in the form of Down’s syndrome, and this seems to give some people a licence to say all sorts of things. (NO, he is not always loving, and YES, he does feel sadness.) And many teachers (sorry, teachers) assume that because they have taught a child with Down’s syndrome before, they are somehow an expert.

Or it could be because of my chosen teaching specialism – SEND.

Working with children with additional learning needs is certainly an eye-opener. You’d think that we would know more about it, seeing as we work with children with special needs almost every single day, but when you listen to the language used by many in schools, you realise that this is not the case.

Academisation, Sats tests, Minecraft and Game of Thrones; it's the TES podcast

by tes.connect, April 30, 2016

Join the TES team as they discuss the biggest education news and views of the week all found in latest edition of TES. We talk about the government’s plans for a fully-academised school system, how difficult the new key stage 2 Sats tests are and how Minecraft is increasingly being used by schools around the world. And there’s also a My Best Teacher from Game of Thrones actor Owen Teale. Tune in enjoy.

'Pupils are giving up their phones to reconnect with the real world'

by tes.connect, April 30, 2016

A new initiative is challenging young people to give up digital technology for one week to raise awareness about the amount of time people spend online
The thought of turning off your phone for a whole week might cause some people mild panic, but this is exactly what groups of secondary school students have been doing as part of a new project to raise awareness about the amount of time we spend online.

The Reconnect Project, a screen-awareness initiative that promotes a balance of online and offline activities, has been asking school students across the country to switch off for a week in order to reconnect with offline activities.

The project is targeted primarily at secondary school pupils, but is designed to promote wider debate and conversation. It begins with a six-week scheme of work that explores issues around the use of digital technology. In the penultimate week, pupils are encouraged to switch off for seven days and then reflect on the experience.

School leaders demand more funding and status for early years

by tes.connect, April 30, 2016

Early years teachers and settings should receive the same funding and status as the rest of the education sector if all children are to fulfil their full potential, the school leaders’ union NAHT says
The current funding for early years education is “insufficient” and makes it harder to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children, the NAHT union has said.

At the its annual conference in Birmingham today, the NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby called for the early years pupil premium – which is a maximum of £302 per pupil per year – to increase to reach parity with the £1,300 for primary pupils.

He also called for a greater emphasis on staff quality and qualifications in early years – such as a highly qualified graduate level manager or teacher in every nursery.

‘Subject knowledge is not enough – to be a great teacher you need a lot more’

by tes.connect, April 30, 2016

The failure of some sports coaches to communicate their ideas to their players is illustrative of the fact that you need more than expertise to be a great teacher, writes one leading educationist
Carl Hendrick recently drew attention to similarities between great teachers and great football coaches – building results on foundations of trust and respect. But other similarities have been noticed.

The US Soccer Federation, seeking to improve the quality of coaching at youth level, called in Doug Lemov, of Teach Like a Champion fame, to work with senior coaches. As Amanda Ripley tells it, experts in the sport seemed to lack the tools for effective teaching. One coach was reduced to standing on the touchline yelling, “Where should you be?” to a befuddled player in a practice game. After sessions with Lemov, the coaches restructured their sessions, giving clearer instructions, checking for understanding, not moving on until mastery had been achieved, engaging every player individually.

Nicky Morgan is jeered and heckled by headteachers over Sats and academies

by tes.connect, April 30, 2016

But the education secretary reassures primary schools that no more than 1 per cent more schools will be below the floor standard than last year, despite 'tougher' tests
Nicky Morgan also urged parents not to take their children out of school next week in a protest over primary testing as she received an icy reception from headteachers today.

School leaders shouted “rubbish” and “you are not listening” as the education secretary addressed the NAHT annual conference on the controversial topics of primary assessment and forced academisation.

But the minister bit back, accusing one headteacher of being "sexist" after he asked whether she controls the department or (the more junior) schools minister Nick Gibb.