Latest Educational News

Teachers warn of unqualified staff

by BBC News, April 4, 2015

Classified as General.

A teachers' union is warning that schools are increasingly likely to use unqualified teaching staff.

"Parents no longer have the certainty when they send their child to school that they will be taught by qualified teachers," says NASUWT leader Chris Keates.

Labour's Tristram Hunt says "this is nothing less than a scandal".

But the Conservatives say there are fewer teachers in school without qualified status than in 2010.

The NASUWT teachers' union, holding its annual conference in Cardiff, will hear claims that more teachers without qualified teacher status are being used in schools.

Election battle

The union has asked its members about their experiences. Among the 4,600 who responded 61% said they were "working alongside unqualified staff", with 66% claiming the situation was "deteriorating" because of funding problems.

Warning over thousands of unqualified teachers 'jeopardising' children's education in Britain

by The Independent, April 4, 2015

Classified as General.

A teachers’ union has warned against the use of unqualified staff in schools, claiming it is jeopardising children’s education.

Figures from a NASUWT survey suggested that numbers of unqualified teachers were increasing, with more than 60 per cent of the 4,600 members questioned saying they were working alongside staff who had not completed their training.

Two thirds respondents also told the union they felt the situation was worsening because schools were either unwilling or unable to pay higher salaries for qualified staff.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Parents no longer have the certainty, when they send their child to school, that they will be taught by qualified teachers.

Primary school crisis could leave children without a place next year

by The Guardian, April 3, 2015

Classified as General.

Children due to start school next year may find themselves without a primary place, with two in five councils warning they expect to have more pupils than spaces, according to council leaders.

In a stark warning to politicians, the Local Government Association (LGA) said the country was facing an escalating national crisis, with more than half of councils warning that they will not have enough primary school places in 2017 and three in five predicting a shortage in 2018.

David Simmonds, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said the shortage of primary school places was the biggest challenge facing the next education secretary and called on the new government to give councils sufficient long-term funding to address the crisis.

“Mums and dads rightly expect their child to be able to get a school place where they live,” said Simmonds, “but our fear is that we will reach a tipping point when councils or schools cannot afford the massive cost of creating places or find the space necessary for new classes.”

The warning comes two weeks before parents are due to hear whether their children have a primary school place for this coming September.

Struggling teachers forced to use GOOGLE TRANSLATE to cater for foreign students

by express, April 2, 2015

Classified as General.

STRUGGLING teachers in Britain are being forced to use GOOGLE TRANSLATE to communicate with soaring numbers of foreign pupils, a union has said.

Speaking at a conference in Liverpool, members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) described how schools across the UK are now having to deal with pupils speaking up to 300 different languages.

Members of the ATL also warned that indigenous British pupils' education could be under threat as teachers have "little time or little training" to deal with the complexity of bilingual students.

They suggested that one in six primary school pupils in England do not speak English as their first language.

Joy Wilson of the ATL said: "UK schools are educating a rising number of EAL students and this continues day by day.

"There are more than 300 different languages and this is a challenge as we are experiencing growing numbers, and areas of previously no [bilingual] students now have them for the first time."

For our education system to flourish, school staff need a huge increase in support

by The Independent, April 2, 2015

Classified as General.

In all the sound and fury that this election campaign has produced so far, it is astonishing and rather sinister how little has been said about our creaking state education system. Labour will have something to say today about pre-school education, and there is a lively argument under way about tuition fees for university students, but the political leaders have so far avoided wading into questions affecting the future of more than eight million children now in state primary or secondary schools.

This is a political choice. The Conservatives prefer to fight a campaign on the economy; Labour’s strongest card is the NHS. Nobody would deny the importance of the health of the population and the health of the economy, but it could be said that education trumps them both. There is ample evidence that people who have been let down by the school system are more likely to suffer ill health later in life than those who have enjoyed a good education. And while the Government can do a certain amount in the immediate future to stimulate the economy or improve public finances, it is blindingly obvious that the nation’s long-term economic health depends on our schools turning out a generation that is literate, numerate, and able to think creatively.

SMART proposals for education?

by Our Kingdom, April 2, 2015

Classified as General.

Party political proposals for governing and accountability post 2015.

As the 2015 elections loom large, education is an important element of party political manifestos. Pre-election hype has already begun with promises of a radical overhaul of Ofsted and a middle tier of accountability to provide more effective school governance than exists at present. But how achievable are these aims - particularly in view of limited resources and the enormous changes that the Coalition Government imposed on the structure of England's education system? In this article Jacqueline Baxter takes a look at two key areas - school governing and school accountability and discusses whether these proposals are realistic based on the state of school governing and educational accountability today.

School absence rates in York among the lowest in the UK

by York Press, April 1, 2015

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THE number of pupils skipping lessons in York is among the lowest in the UK, according to the latest Government figures.

Attendance at City of York Council’s schools for 2013-2014 continues to be amongst the best nationally, according to data released by the Department for Education (DfE), with York returning the UK’s lowest number of persistent absentees for primary schools.

Figures for the first five half terms of 2013-14, shows that York is the UK’s joint second best-performing local authority for primary school attendance at 96.7 per cent. City of York Council primary schools also had the joint lowest numbers nationally for persistent absentees at 1.3 per cent.

Jon Stonehouse, director of education at City of York Council, said: “The work of teaching staff, police and council partners in the health sector as well as parental commitment all contribute to this excellent outcome which helps ensure that children overcome any barriers to attendance and have access to a good education.

Charity uses volunteer tutors to help GCSE students in Sheffield

by The Star, April 1, 2015

Classified as General.

An educational charity is working with schools in Sheffield to help GCSE students.

Action Tutoring is working with Sheffield Springs Academy, Sheffield Park Academy, Parkwood Academy, Hinde House School and Fir Vale Academy Trust.

The charity partners volunteer tutors with GCSE pupils to increase their subject knowledge, while building on confidence and study skills.

It started out as a pilot scheme in Hackney, London, in 2011 and now has 2,200 volunteers working in cities across England.

British pupils 'suffer under influx of foreign students', teachers warn

by The Telegraph, April 1, 2015

Classified as General.

British pupils are suffering because teachers are struggling to cope with an influx of foreign students speaking a total of 300 different languages, a union has said.

UK schools are educating a rising number of students for whom English is an additional language (EAL), but teachers have limited time and resources to deal with these students.

One in six primary school pupils in England do not have English as their first language and they are being educated in areas where there were previously no EAL students.

Joy Wilson of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said that pressure on teachers meant they had put aside training on how to deal with bilingual students to focus on more demanding priorities.

Two schools worlds apart in Lancashire

by BBC News, April 1, 2015

Classified as General.

Almost half the children in Bethnal Green and Bow, east London, are classed as poor, while in Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine, in eastern Scotland, it is just over one in 20.

Using newly available data from the Department for Work and Pensions, Danny Dorling, professor of Geography at the University of Oxford and Simon Szreter, professor of History and Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, have mapped child poverty by constituency across the UK.

They wanted to highlight the huge variation across the country - and to demonstrate to MPs that their own constituency cannot be entirely representative.

In future, they hope to encourage MPs from very different constituencies to swap places for a week to broaden their experience. For a list of the top 50 pairings, see below.

The Sooner The Better: Early Childhood Education, A Key To Life-Long Success

by Forbes, April 1, 2015

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“The sooner the better” is the perfect tag line for early childhood education. There is no magic bullet to ensure a lifetime of self-fulfillment in personal and career terms. But rigorous research shows that high-quality early childhood education is an extraordinarily powerful means to promote continued success in school, in the workplace, and also in social and civic realms.

It may seem surprising, but the experiences of children in their early years have disproportionately large impacts relative to experiences during their school years and beyond. If children lag in those early years, chances are that they will never catch up. Remediation of deficiencies in learning of all types is far more difficult and expensive than learning early on. The good news is that high-quality programs focused on early childhood years can have powerful long-term impacts for all racial and economic groups across the country.

Teacher unions to meet staff at West Kirby Grammar School over job loss fears

by Liverpool Echo, April 1, 2015

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Trade union bosses are set to meet staff at West Kirby Grammar School this afternoon to discuss redundancy fears.

Employees are said to be “distressed” following the launch of a consultation over their jobs and are set to meet with officials at NASUWT, a teachers’ union, at 4pm.

The meeting comes despite claims by headteacher Alison Duffy that no redundancies have been announced, though she accepted the school was facing “difficulties” due to funding cuts.

The assistant secretary of NASUWT’s Wirral branch today hit out at West Kirby Grammar School, rated “outstanding” by Ofsted.

Announcing NASUWT was set to work with teachers at West Kirby Grammar School, Mr Robinson said: “I have been provided with a breakdown of the school’s funding, a draft copy of the business case for the redundancies and a timeline for the process but there has been no consultation with the teacher or support staff trade unions about any of these. Staff in the school are confused and distressed at the way the process is being carried out.

New era as Education Authority starts work

by Belfast Telegraph, April 1, 2015

Classified as General.

Education in Northern Ireland has entered a new era today following the dissolution of the five education and library boards.

The system will be administered by a single Education Authority (EA). It has a £1.5bn budget, a total of 37,000 employees and will be responsible for educational administration such as transport, teacher support, building and catering.

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools will remain outside the EA and will continue with its role as the employing authority for the 5,900 teachers within the Catholic sector. The EA has already been handed a budget cut of £10m, with fears staff will be made redundant.

'Mickey-Mouse' A-Level science practicals warning

by BBC News, April 1, 2015

Classified as General.

The "Mickey-Mouse practicals" students do under the current A-level system, have nothing to do with "real science", a teaching union conference has heard.

Science teacher Simon Clarkson told the ATL annual conference the current system of controlled assessments simply asked students to "jump through hoops".

However, delegates did not feel the answer was to remove practicals from the A-level grades altogether.

New tougher A-levels are due to be taught from September 2015.

Practical experiments

The exams regulator, Ofqual, has decided students taking new A-levels in chemistry, biology and physics will perform at least 12 practical experiments.

But these will be assessed as a pass or fail and will not count towards the A-level grade.

Instead, written exams at the end of the two year course will form 100% of the final grade.

Leading science organisations have already criticised the plan, arguing it will lead to practical work being "de-prioritised" in schools.

Why the yearning for grammar schools?

by Spiked, April 1, 2015

Classified as General.

If you happen to be stuck in a room full of teachers, education policy wonks, or other school-related busybodies and, perhaps unsurprisingly, are bored, take my advice: lob the words ‘grammar school’ into the air, then sit back and enjoy the spectacle. The think-tank Civitas has bravely waded into the great grammar-schools debate with the publication this month of The Ins and Outs of Selective Secondary Schools.

Few topics are better guaranteed to polarise education debates than the idea that children aged 10 or 11 should sit a test to determine their choice of secondary school. For ‘traditionalists’, moist-eyed in reminiscence of some golden age of standards and discipline, the widespread closure of grammar schools in the 1970s was the point at which the UK started going downhill. Meanwhile, ‘progressives’ loudly despair at the wickedness of an academically elitist system that, they argue, reinforces social inequality and places excessive pressure on young children.

PM should 'use his authority to approve new grammar school'

by The Telegraph, April 1, 2015

Classified as General.

David Cameron must exert his "personal authority" to expand a grammar school for the first time in half a century and show he cares about social mobility.

In an open letter sent to the Prime Minister, Robert McCartney, the chairman of the National Grammar Schools Association (NGSA), wrote that the Conservative Party has a great opportunity to approve the first grammar school in more than 50 years.

But he said that the Conservatives continue to "dither and delay over plans" for the annex in Sevenoaks, Kent.

Under plans, the new school would be established in Tonbridge and would be run as an "annexe" of the already-existing Weald of Kent school nine miles away.

The new school, which already has planning permission and funds for a £16 million building, would take in 90 students a year from 2016.

'Education is too important to be left to politicians'

by The Telegraph, April 1, 2015

Classified as General.

Education in England is highly politicised. The problem is that it is party-politicised, which means that change tends to be top-down, subject to frequent redirection if not reversal, and run on a timescale dictated by the frequency of elections and the churn of secretaries of state.

The rush to change things quickly enough to get results between elections, and to minimise the chances of the plug being pulled by a successor, added to the fact that partisan policies arise out of conviction and ideology rather than the accumulation of evidence, means that changes are often introduced without piloting or evaluation.

The speed at which the fruits of policy initiatives have to be seen to ripen, combined with the need in a cash-strapped economy to be seen to be doing things that are cost-neutral, increases the attraction of the most easily-pulled lever of education policy – public examinations.

Funding cuts 'put support for disabled children at risk'

by TES Connect, April 1, 2015

Classified as General.

Funding cuts could leave schools and colleges unable to meet their legal obligations to support disabled pupils, a teaching union has warned.

The warning came after research by the ATL found schools were providing a growing amount of support for disabled pupils, but were concerned that staff did not have the expertise or training to properly meet the needs of these children.

A survey of more than 500 education staff, published by the union at its annual conference in Liverpool today, found 65 per cent of teachers believed their school had provided more support to physically disabled pupils in the past two years.

Almost half (49 per cent) said their school or college had more pupils with physical disabilities than it did two years ago, and 56 per cent said it had more than it did five years ago. Many teachers told the ATL this was due to increased awareness of such conditions.

Teachers' union warns on funding gaps for special needs

by BBC News, April 1, 2015

Classified as General.

Special needs provision in England has been "drastically damaged" by cuts to support services, said Mary Bousted leader of the ATL teachers' union.

"We fear many schools and colleges are unable to meet their legal obligations for disabled pupils," she said.

The union's annual conference has heard claims some schools used special needs reforms as a "smokescreen" to cut jobs.

The government introduced the changes to help parents "battling against a complex and fragmented system".

When the changes were launched in September 2014, the government described them as the biggest education reforms in a generation, but some charities warned they were implemented too quickly.

'More support'

The aim of the new system was to give children and young people with special educational needs, and their parents, a greater say in the support they receive.

Ministers launching the reforms promised a "simpler and more joined up system" with a single category of special needs.

School support staff play a vital role in education – so why are they on poverty pay?

by Left Foot Forward, April 1, 2015

Classified as General.

With around one in five workers paid below the living wage, and the current government having done little to tackle the low wage economy, it genuinely matters for low paid workers which party gets in to government.

As manifestos reach their final drafts, it is worth looking to campaigning organisations – from charities and pressure groups to trade unions – to see what they are saying their members need and what Labour can do to address issues such as low pay.

The GMB Southern Region recently published their manifesto for school support staff and called for recognition of the work this valuable group play in ensuring that every child gets the best start in life.

During his time as secretary of state for education, Michael Gove proposed phasing out teaching assistants despite leading educational charities being clear that they play an important role in schools.

Significant numbers of Labour Party members – councillors, activists and parents – are active in schools and on school governing bodies. In the absence of legislation to make this happen, we can all make a difference by pushing for those often working with the most vulnerable children to be paid at least a living wage.

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