Latest Educational News

Vegetarian private school in court over 'racist' claims

by The Telegraph, March 20, 2014

Classified as Bullying.

A £30,000-a-year vegetarian private school is being sued by parents who claim their son was subjected to "racist bullying".

St Christopher School, in Letchworth, Hertfordshire - known as "St Chris" - differs drastically from similarly-priced traditional boarding schools, such as Eton and Harrow.

Staff and pupils are required to eat no meat, there is no school uniform and pupils address teachers by their first names, rather than as "Sir" or "Miss."

The school was founded in 1915 "to promote understanding amongst students of other cultures and religions" and create an environment "where all children are celebrated as individuals, regardless of their particular abilities." About a quarter of its pupils are non-white.

But the idiosyncratic school is now at the centre of a High Court row, after the parents of a pupil - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - refused to pay £25,000 in fees, claiming that "members of staff at the school were racist."

Mother wins victory for boy 'too young for school’

by The Telegraph, March 20, 2014

Classified as School.

A mother has won the right to postpone the start of her son’s education for a year after insisting he would be too young for his class.

Mary Lawler successfully appealed to Bradford council over when three-year-old Oscar should start school, because he was born just four days before September.

Analysis has shown that summer-born pupils get consistently lower results and are more likely to be unhappy at school as well as to leave education at 16. Mrs Lawler's move came after experts last year called for younger pupils to have their test results graded more favourably than older classmates, to correct the academic disadvantage faced by those with birthdays in the summer.

Children generally join primary schools in the September following their fourth birthday. Oscar was born on August 28 and Mrs Lawler, 34, was convinced that it would be premature for her son to start at a reception class this year.

She appealed to Bradford council, which allowed her to argue her case at a panel hearing. Now she has succeeded in her appeal, meaning Oscar will start school in September 2015.

Many students living in poor accommodation, says NUS

by BBC, March 20, 2014

Classified as University.

More than three-quarters of students live in poor accommodation, says the National Union of Students (NUS).

It also claims many struggle to get help from landlords.

The NUS wants tougher regulation for letting agents, like there is in Scotland, to help stop "exploitation of students".

The National Landlords Association says it doesn't recognise the NUS' findings and that its own figures show 69% of tenants are happy with private rental.

A spokesman said: "We work closely with universities to try to deal with any problems that arise."

Twenty-year-old Oliver Nelson and his friends moved into a student house last January.

"We decided we wanted to live together towards the end of the year and panicked when people said most houses were gone," he said.

Free school meals threat to poor pupil funds, say heads

by BBC, March 20, 2014

Classified as Schools.

Head teachers are concerned that pupil premium cash for poorer pupils could be undermined by the introduction of free meals for all children in the first years of primary school in England.

Schools claim pupil premium cash based on numbers eligible for free meals.

But when all pupils starting school will be entitled to free meals, there will be less incentive for parents to come forward for means-testing.

Head teachers want this information to be gathered centrally.

It is understood that heads' leaders are to meet ministers to discuss their fears.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "Schools will continue to receive pupil premium funding on the same basis as now."

Slough's grammar schools could be invited to set up annexes in the Royal Borough to help school places crisis

by Windsor Observer, March 19, 2014

Classified as 11 Plus.

The Royal Borough is looking at ways of establishing more secondary school places by 2017 when demand is expected to outstrip supply.
One option discussed at a meeting of the council’s Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Panel on Monday was for grammar schools in neighbouring authorities to set up annexes on new sites in the borough.
- See more at: http://www.windsorobserver.co.uk/news/roundup/articles/2014/03/19/98587-sloughs-grammar-schools-could-be-invited-to-set-up-annexes-in-the-royal-borough-to-help-school-places-crisis/#sthash.Ot7oz0ix.dpuf

Teacher who shot pupil during lesson is reinstated

by The Telegraph, March 19, 2014

Classified as Science.

A science teacher who was sacked after accidentally shooting a student during a classroom experiment has been reinstated by an appeals panel.
Richard West was dismissed as head of physics at St Peter's Collegiate School in Wolverhampton in January, sparking a Facebook campaign by current and former pupils calling for him to be given his job back.
It is believed a pellet fired from an air weapon rebounded off a table and struck a student on the leg last November, reportedly causing a minor scratch.

DfE bars 14 academy chains from taking on more schools

by The Telegraph, March 19, 2014

Classified as Academies.

More than a dozen academy chains have been barred from running more schools amid serious concerns over education standards and financial mismanagement, it has emerged.

The Department for Education revealed that 14 organisations – currently sponsoring 170 academies – are unable to expand until urgent improvements are made.

Ministers said the chains would be prevented from “taking on new projects” to put a renewed focus on driving up standards in their existing schools, although the Government insisted the number of groups hit by restrictions had actually fallen in the last six months.

Business Secretary Vince Cable wants degree-level apprenticeships to become the 'new norm'

by The Independent, March 19, 2014

Classified as University.

A major cultural shift in the thinking of tomorrow’s young people lies behind the decision by ministers to increase funding for degree-level apprenticeships.

Business Secretary Vince Cable he wanted it be the “new norm” for teenagers to put universities and apprenticeships on an equal footing when deciding their future career paths.

RTS awards: maths teacher's rude message for Michael Gove

by The Guardian, March 19, 2014

Classified as Maths.

Channel 4 series Educating Yorkshire landed a top TV award as one of the stars of the show hit out at the education secretary Michael Gove. The programme collected the best documentary series prize at the Royal Television Society awards staged in London.

Michael Steer, a maths teacher who was a regular face on the series set in Dewsbury's Thornhill community academy, offered an unflattering dedication as he picked up the award.

Greens lead student protests against wage gap at universities

by The Guardian, March 19, 2014

Classified as University.

Students are out wielding placards on campuses this week, aiming to bring attention to wage inequality in universities that a report has labelled "shocking".

The report, created by the Young Greens and based on data gathered from Freedom of Information requests sent to British universities, shows that university heads are earning an average of 19 times more than the lowest paid university staff, many of whom are not receiving the living wage.

Exam board to re-mark 318 English GCSE papers following internal review

by The Guardian, March 19, 2014

Classified as GCSE.

An exam board is to re-mark more than 300 English GCSE papers following an internal review.

The WJEC, in Wales, announced the decision after an investigation found some marks were "unexpectedly low". It had been prompted amid hundreds of complaints from headteachers after January's new exam, which was sat by about 22,500 pupils.

The WJEC said it found its marking scheme had been applied "consistently" in all but one of the cases reviewed.

Online porn and bullying - children 'need more protection'

by BBC, March 19, 2014

Classified as Bullying.

Stronger action must be taken to protect children from online bullying and pornography, MPs have said.

Internet firms are also warned they may face prosecution for failing to show commitment to safeguarding youngsters.

The Commons culture, media and sport committee said efforts by the industry to eradicate child porn may prove "woefully insufficient".

It also said younger children were able to access social media sites owing to inadequate age verification processes.

WJEC exam body to re-mark some GCSE English papers after review

by BBC, March 19, 2014

Classified as GCSE.

Welsh exams board WJEC is to re-mark some of the new GCSE English papers taken in January after carrying out a review into "unexpectedly low grades".

The grades, which were issued earlier this month, left heads at secondary schools across Wales shocked.

Excluded: the schoolboy who demanded more homework

by The Telegraph, March 18, 2014

Classified as Homework.

A teenage schoolboy has been excluded after organising a mass walkout of pupils over a lack of homework.

Aaron Parfitt, 14, led the “100-strong” protest at Bispham High School in Blackpool, Lancs, because he was concerned about teaching standards.

He contacted Blackpool council and Ofsted about the matter but said he had lost patience with them and organised the walkout on Wednesday.

However, his teachers excluded him for two days on Thursday and Friday last week.

Pupil Aaron Parfitt excluded after school protest calling for MORE homework

by The Independent, March 18, 2014

Classified as Homework.

A 14-year-old boy has been excluded from school after leading fellow pupils in a class walkout - because he wanted his teachers to hand out more homework.

Aaron Parfitt organised the mass gathering on the playing fields of his school in Blackpool, Lancashire, because of his concerns over teaching standards.

The pupil complained he was not being given enough homework to help with his maths after he had failed an exam, and expressed concern over a high turnover of teachers in the subject.

Childcare subsidy for working parents to be increased

by BBC, March 18, 2014

Classified as Childcare.

As many as 1.9 million working families will get the chance to benefit from a childcare subsidy worth up to £2,000 per child under government plans.

The online scheme, affecting children up to the age of 12, will come in from September next year.

David Cameron said "squeezed" families would benefit and Nick Clegg added it would be "really simple" to use.

Gown town: Durham locals fear losing their city to ‘studentification’

by The Independent, March 17, 2014

Classified as University.

Crossgate in Durham is used to invasions. In 1346 the Scots army poured across the border hoping to catch the English napping as they prepared to battle the old foe France, while in industrial times a towering viaduct was driven through the area, bringing with it the thundering trains of the east coast mainline.

The most recent incursion has been scholastic in nature, but equally unsettling for those who still live in this historic city centre suburb.

It is estimated there are just 400 non-student households left in a community that was until recently home to 2,000 permanent residents. In some streets all but a handful of what were once desirable family homes are now let out in term time, most of them occupied by five or six students, standing empty for nearly half the year.

Ofsted inspectors 'lack key skills'

by BBC, March 17, 2014

Classified as Schools.

Many Ofsted inspectors do not have the skills needed to make fair judgements of schools, a think tank report says.

The Policy Exchange report says many are employed part-time by private firms, and lack experience of primary teaching or special needs training.

It also calls for inspectors to pass an accreditation exam before they go into schools.

Ofsted, which carries out inspections in England's schools, said it would study the recommendations closely.

The report, Watching the Watchmen, recommends that Ofsted abolishes or radically reduces the number of inspectors it uses from private firms. It was compiled after researchers consulted 300 head teachers.

Report author Jonathan Simons said the quality of schools was critical to the future prospects of the country.

He said: "That is why we need an independent schools regulator that inspects all schools freely and fairly. But it is also why we must make sure that the school inspection regime is fit for purpose."

Small schools 'could close to save cash', says ex-DfE chief

by The Telegraph, March 17, 2014

Classified as Schools.

Ministers should consider axing small schools amid fears parts of the education system are acting as a drain on the public finances, according to the Department for Education’s former chief civil servant.

Sir David Bell said the Government should investigate the merger or even closure of some small primaries to create more value-for-money and divert cash to universities.

He suggested the existing ring-fence around the schools budget should be scrapped after the next General Election because it has allowed head teachers to “take the foot off the efficiency pedal”.

Ofsted lesson observations are ‘not valid or reliable’ tests of teacher performance, says right-wing think tank

by The Independent, March 16, 2014

Classified as Schools.

School inspectors might just as well “flip a coin” as judge teachers on their lesson performance, according to a highly critical report on Ofsted published today.

The report, from the right-wing think-tank Policy Exchange, recommends scrapping lesson observations altogether because they are “neither valid nor reliable” and raises serious questions about the quality of some inspections.

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