Latest Educational News

Teaching attracting more Oxbridge graduates

by BBC News, June 19, 2015

Classified as General.

The number of Oxford and Cambridge graduates teaching in state schools has nearly doubled to 11,000 in the past 12 years, a report says.

The Sutton Trust education charity report says education is the top area of employment for Oxford graduates.

Teach First, which recruits top graduates into teaching, said the profession's status had been raised.

Independent schools are three times more likely to have Oxbridge-educated teachers than state schools,

The report says: "While there remains a gap between the state and independent sectors, however, there is evidence that this gap has narrowed.

"Since 2003, and extrapolating from the findings of this report, it can be estimated that the state sector has recruited about 6,000 additional secondary teachers from Oxbridge, while recruitment to the independent sector from the same has remained broadly stable.

"Extrapolating these figures for the nation as a whole, it can be said that there are now more Oxbridge-educated graduates in the state sector, than in the independent.

"This suggests that, while there is clearly a long way still to go, there has been progress in realising the goals of consecutive governments to recruit more teachers educated at the nation's best universities into the state school system."

Subject knowledge

Teach First founder Greg Wigdortz said: "Teach First is proud to have played a part in raising the status of the profession, with teaching now being seen as one of the most prestigious careers for the graduates.

"Great teaching and leadership are among the most powerful forces for social change."

CBI head calls for GCSEs to be scrapped

by BBC News, June 19, 2015

Classified as General.

The head of the CBI says a date must be set in the next five years to scrap GCSEs and introduce an exam system with equal status for vocational subjects.

John Cridland, director general of the employers' group, says England's exam system is narrow and out of date.

He proposes a system in which the most important exams would be A-levels, including both academic and vocational subjects, taken at the age of 18.

Ministers are pushing for all pupils to take a core group of academic GCSEs.

"By the end of this parliament, I want to see the date for the last GCSEs circled in the secretary of state's diary," said Mr Cridland, who warns of a "false choice" between academic and vocational lessons.

In a speech at the annual Festival of Education, Mr Cridland will set out an employers' blueprint for improving schools.

He says that for too long "we've just pretended" to have an exam system that values vocational education, when in practice, exams have operated as stepping stones towards a university degree.

'Oddballs'

Mr Cridland argues that GCSEs have been made an irrelevance when pupils stay in education or training until the age of 18.

In having such major exams at the age of 16, he says: "We have to face the uncomfortable truth that - internationally - we're the oddballs."

Further education provides a lifeline. But try telling the government that

by The Guardian, June 18, 2015

Classified as General.

Conservatives must currently be thrilled with the state of the English education debate. The fact that tuition fees were such a prominent part of the Labour platform back in May seems to have quietened that issue, and with it, grave concerns about the huge cultural and professional changes sweeping through higher education. For all the opposition to academies and free schools, the election result has re-energised the Tories’ great crusade on that front, and, it seems, wrong-footed Labour anew. When it comes to cuts, meanwhile, the mainstream media reaches for its collective notepad, hears the usual reassurances that the schools budget is protected, and then backs off.

Meanwhile, two huge stories bubble away. One is the crisis in state sixth-form education, which falls outside the department for education’s five-to-15 “ringfence” – and which, contrary to all that chatter about the glories of academic achievement, is really struggling. School sixth-forms are having increasing problems meeting curriculum requirements, but the gravest problems are faced by England’s 93 sixth-form colleges – some of which had lost around a third of their funding by the end of the last parliament, as well as being clobbered by the abolition of the educational maintenance allowance. Now they fear even worse cuts to come.

Those of us who benefited from what they do – and, for what it’s worth, if it hadn’t been for the sixth-form college I went to, I would probably not be writing these words – can attest to what is under threat: the huge contribution of institutions that send a higher proportion of students to university than school sixth-forms, thanks to their talent for giving young people self-respect, and ambition (“aspiration”, you might call it). What’s to blame, perhaps, is a mess of hopelessly traditionalist Tory ideas, whereby all sixth forms should be joined to schools, presumably so as to provide prefects, strapping chaps for the first XV, and more trophies for headteachers’ cabinets.

Let pupils apply after results day, universities say

by TES Connect, June 18, 2015

Classified as General.

The vast majority of university tutors think that the higher-education admissions system should be dramatically overhauled, so that pupils apply only after they have received their A-level results, a new survey has found.

Many tutors said that universities were more concerned about bringing in tuition fees than they were about recruiting high-calibre candidates.

More than 2,100 university and further-education tutors were surveyed by the University and College Union (UCU). Many of them work as admissions tutors or are involved in admissions for their institutions.

The survey found that almost half of the respondents believed that sixth-formers had no understanding of how their university applications would be assessed.

One of the tutors commented: “It’s not just at my institution that students don’t understand how their application will be assessed – this is true across the country.”

And seven out of 10 said that sixth-formers should be allowed to apply for courses after they had received their A-level results.

One respondent said: “University admissions is an act of crystal-ball gazing. Anything that can reduce the crystal-ball gazing would be beneficial. Post-results admissions is one way of doing that.”

This could be done in a number of ways, UCU's report says. Almost two-thirds of tutors said that they would welcome the adjustment of the exam timetable, so that pupils sat A-levels early and then applied to university. And more than half said that they would welcome a late-starting academic year, which enabled pupils to receive their results in August, and then apply for a university place.

At the moment, the admissions process relies on a combination of personal statement, A-level predictions, GCSE grades and, occasionally, an interview.

Almost two-fifths of the tutors said that the personal statement was not a useful tool for distinguishing between applicants. “The personal statement retains some value for assessing general language competence, but far less so for demonstrating competence,” one respondent said.

English pupil's maths scores improve under east Asian approach

by The Guardian, June 18, 2015

Classified as General.

Schools in England experimenting with east Asian teaching methods have seen an improvement in children’s mathematics skills after just one year, according to a study.

The research, published on Thursday, which represents the first hard evidence that introducing a Singaporean “maths mastery” approach into English classrooms can influence results, found a “relatively small but welcome improvement” in children’s performance.

The report’s lead author warned however that the mastery programme should not be seen as “a silver bullet” and called for it to be tested over a longer period in a greater number of schools in order to build a fuller picture.

Policymakers have been studying teaching methods in east Asian countries such as Singapore, Japan and South Korea, which dominate the Pisa international league tables measuring children’s academic achievement. Children there are on average more than one year ahead of their western peers in maths.

The mastery programme differs radically from current maths teaching in England, with fewer topics covered in greater depth, and every child expected to master the topic before the class moves on. Teachers hold weekly hour-long workshops to discuss lesson planning.

The study, led by UCL Institute of Education and the University of Cambridge, evaluated the impact of a Singaporean-inspired teaching programme in 90 English primary schools and 50 secondaries where it was taught to more than 10,000 pupils in year 1 (aged 5-6) and year 7 (11-12).

After a year they saw a small increase in children’s maths test scores compared with pupils in other schools which was roughly equivalent to one additional month of progress over the academic year. The programme is designed to have a cumulative effect, with the full benefit evident after five years.

Students awarded £400,000 compensation after complaints

by BBC News, June 18, 2015

Classified as General.

Universities in England and Wales paid £400,000 in compensation to students last year, following complaints.

In 2014, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) ruled on 2,175 cases, with 500 going in favour of the students.

Disputes over academic issues such as degree classification or marks for work formed 61% of complaints.

Universities UK said that two million students were covered by the system and the percentage of complaints was small.

The £400,000 in compensation was paid to 200 students following recommendations made to individual universities by the OIA.

The OIA is an independent body which runs the students complaint system in England and Wales.

Of the 2,175 complaints dealt with 59% were found unjustified, 14% were found ineligible for OIA intervention and 5% were withdrawn.

'Thorough job'

Less than a quarter, 23% (figures do not add up to 100% owing to rounding) went in favour of the student.

OIA chief executive Rob Behrens said: "Depending on the case, this may lead to the student being given a second chance to submit work or appeal against a decision, cancellation of a penalty imposed by a university, or financial compensation, which in 2014 reached almost £400,000.

"As importantly, the report shows that, overall, universities are doing a thorough job in dealing with the majority of complaints fairly."

The number of complaints dealt with by the OIA has remained pretty steady, at about 2,000 during the past three years.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said: "The shift in England from public funding to increased fees means that students are understandably, and rightly, demanding more from their university courses.

Schools 'will reject requirement to teach EBacc to all'

by BBC News, June 18, 2015

Classified as General.

Many head teachers in England will refuse to make all pupils study five traditional GCSE subjects, a director of a prominent education body has said.

Bill Watkin, operational director of the school support and training body SSAT, said many heads felt the EBacc was not appropriate for all youngsters.

It comes as Education Secretary Nicky Morgan confirmed pupils would have to study the EBacc from September.

She said the move would ensure pupils received a rigorous academic education.

'Academic grounding'

From September, all pupils will have to study English, a language, maths, science and history or geography at GCSE, in the EBacc.

Those schools that do not have 100% of pupils studying this set of subjects as part of their GCSE courses will not be able to obtain Ofsted's top rating of "outstanding".

The government said the wraparound qualification had been introduced to ensure pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds were not deterred from studying academic subjects.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "As part of our commitment to delivering real social justice, we are determined to ensure that every child who is able studies the core academic subjects that will set them up for later life and help them reach their potential.

"We will work with the sector to make sure there are enough teachers with the right skills and knowledge to allow pupils to study EBacc subjects at GCSE.

Details of exam marking quality to be published from 2017

by TES Connect, June 17, 2015

Classified as General.

Details of how accurately exam boards mark GCSE and A-level papers will be published from 2017, the exams watchdog Ofqual has said.

The regulator has announced plans to introduce “publishable marking metrics” that will demonstrate the quality of exam boards’ assessment processes.

In a speech outlining the plan today, chief regulator Glenys Stacey said that the move was designed to “increase the quality of marking” and to increase confidence in the exam marking system.

Ms Stacey said “anyone involved in the examination system” would be able to “inspect marking quality on a subject-by-subject, board-by-board basis”.

An Ofqual spokeswoman said further details of the metrics were not yet available.

But William Richardson, general secretary of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents independent schools, told TES that he would like the “metrics” to include details of how many appeals had been made against each exam paper and how many individual markers had been investigated over possible irregularities in their “pattern of marks”.

“Neither of those is reported at the moment and they may be good starting points,” he added.

He said it was important that the “metrics” allowed the quality of marking by different exam boards to be compared, rather than allowing boards to submit different types of data about their assessment procedures.

During the speech Ms Stacey also said initial trials of the National Reference Test, which aims to provide exam boards with an independent measure of the ability of a year group, would provide feedback from about 200 schools and 4,000 students. She urged schools to agree to take part in the test, saying it would “only be successful” if they did.

Student tuition fees could rise again, warns former Universities Minister David Willetts

by The Independent, June 17, 2015

Classified as General.

A warning that student fees could rise again was delivered by former Universities Minister David Willetts as he insisted the ceiling of £9,000 a year could not be held indefinitely.

In a pamphlet published by the Policy Institute at King’s College London, Mr Willetts - who was minister when the current system was introduced - argues that, as a first step universities should be allowed to increase them in line with inflation for the lifetime of this Parliament.

In addition, he wants the level at which students have to repay loans for their fees to be frozen at the current level of £21,000 - again for the lifetime of this Parliament.

Under an agreement with the Liberal Democrats at the time of its introduction, the ceiling was allowed to increase every year in line with inflation.

His comments come as financial experts warn up to 45 per cent of student debt will remain unpaid when the 30-year period during which debts can be repaid comes to an end - costing billions of pounds.

Teacher training summer school cancelled over costs

by BBC News, June 17, 2015

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A major summer school that helped to train teachers has been cancelled by Northern Ireland's Education Authority (EA) due to a lack of funding.
About 2,000 teachers attended the Regional Training Unit's (RTU) summer school each year.
The summer school had been running for more than a decade, and this year's event was due to take place on 18-19 August.
An EA spokesperson said it cost £50,000 to run in 2014.
The wider teacher training budget has also been cut by 25%, from £1.2m in 2014/15 to £893,000 for the coming school year.
Teachers continue to train and develop their skills when they are in a job, a process known as continuing professional development.

'Intelligence cannot be defined by exams'

by The Telegraph, June 17, 2015

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“Many highly intelligent people are poor thinkers. Many people of average intelligence are skilled thinkers. The power of a car is separate from the way the car is driven.” - Edward de Bono
ADVERTISING
Each year at this time, the pressure cranks up in the race for school and university places, as SATS and A-levels prepare to feed another raft of league tables. As these help determine our standing on the world stage, through the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), our obsession with measuring children takes centre stage.

Hunt wants cross-party exam consensus

by BBC News, June 17, 2015

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Labour's Tristram Hunt is calling for a cross-party review to work on long-term changes to England's exams and curriculum for 14 to 19-year-olds.
The shadow education secretary wants the GCSE system updated to include academic and vocational subjects.
In a motion in the House of Commons, he will call for a "new political consensus" on education policy.
"We have a long-standing mismatch between the education system and the labour market," says Mr Hunt.
Mr Hunt is understood to want a more "constructive" approach to opposition after Labour's general election defeat.
'Nothing off the table'
The motion in the House of Commons will emphasise the common goals of wanting to improve education to drive economic growth and calls on the government to create a cross-party review "to cover exams, educational institutions and curriculum".
Mr Hunt wants to build a political consensus on moving away from the current GCSE system, which he argues needs to be overhauled when the leaving age has risen to 18 and these are no longer the final school-leaving exams.
The shadow education secretary wants a broader baccalaureate system incorporating both vocational and academic exams.

An invaluable grammar resource

by School World, June 17, 2015

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This handbook covers every aspect of grammar and its application to the analysis of text that is necessary for success in AS and also much of A2 Language and combined Language and Literature courses, regardless of exam board.

The book assists grammatical acquisition from word class, to phrase then clause level, finally showing students how to analyse sentences in text. Sentence analysis will be a stand alone requirement for students of the new linear OCR A Level Language course from 2015. Each section of this book is accompanied by clear and useful tasks which are designed to allow students to demonstrate their understanding and apply and consolidate their knowledge.

- See more at: http://www.schoolworld.org.uk/?p=4186#sthash.gOKw4Z9l.dpuf

Academic subjects alone won't 'set every child up for life'

by The Guardian, June 17, 2015

Classified as General.

It’s no surprise that Nicky Morgan is in favour of the English baccalaureate (EBacc). But what is genuinely puzzling is her assertion that “evidence shows” that sticking to “these core academic subjects…” – [a GCSE in maths, English, a science, a language and one of history or geography] – “… sets every child up for life”. Even if what she really meant was that it sets every child up for a job, there’s not much “evidence” to sustain the proposition. In fact, it all points the other way.

OK – a good fistful of the EBacc five should set you up for A-levels, and a good fistful of A-levels might set you up for a good university, and a good degree might – just might – set you up for a job that uses a tiny bit of what you’ve spent 10 years learning (if it’s not mostly redundant by then). But what successful employers, big and small, hi-tech and no-tech, are crying out for are recruits who are innovative and creative, who can think laterally, communicate clearly and work as part of a team. These are all abilities that are most effectively developed for children through the arts and music.

Hunt wants cross-party exam consensus

by BBC News, June 17, 2015

Classified as General.

Labour's Tristram Hunt is calling for a cross-party review to work on long-term changes to England's exams and curriculum for 14 to 19-year-olds.
The shadow education secretary wants the GCSE system updated to include academic and vocational subjects.
In a motion in the House of Commons, he will call for a "new political consensus" on education policy.
"We have a long-standing mismatch between the education system and the labour market," says Mr Hunt.
Mr Hunt is understood to want a more "constructive" approach to opposition after Labour's general election defeat.

Squeeze on secondary school places in England now worse than for primaries

by The Guardian, June 16, 2015

Classified as General.

The pressure on state school places in England has spread from primary schools to secondaries, with official figures showing it is getting harder for pupils to get their top choice of schools.

Figures from local authorities show that applications for secondary school places this year reached their highest since 2009, as the first cohorts of the recent baby boom begin to finish their primary education and move up.

The increase saw the proportion of applicants being offered their first preference dropping from 85% to 84% in the space of a year, to the lowest levels since 2010.

About 20,000 pupils, nearly 4% of applicants, failed to receive an offer from any of their named choices for the new school year starting in September.

While much attention has been on creating additional primary school places, council leaders have warned that local authorities struggle to create new secondary school places because of government policy restricting new schools to being academies or free schools.

David Simmonds, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: “Councils face a challenge creating places on time and in the right places when their hands are tied by red tape and they are short of money to do so.”

Families in London were the worst hit by oversubscription, as fewer than seven out of every 10 applicants gained a place at their first choice of secondary school.

Places were even harder to come by in some inner London authorities such as Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster and Wandsworth, where fewer than 60% of first preferences were filled.

More than one in five applicants in Hammersmith were offered places at schools that they had not named.

Schools 'ignore bad behaviour' to fool Ofsted inspectors, says classroom tsar

by The Guardian, June 16, 2015

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Some schools and teachers ignore the magnitude of bad behaviour taking place in their classrooms, flattering official statistics and fooling Ofsted inspectors, according to the government’s newly appointed expert on pupil behaviour.

“When Ofsted come calling, loads and loads of schools hoover up the naughtiest kids before inspections,” said Tom Bennett, named by education secretary Nicky Morgan as head of a task force to improve teacher training on classroom behaviour in England.

“From my own experience I’ve known schools that have had very patchy behaviour but they’ve had good ratings simply because the inspectors have only seen certain lessons or certain situations, which are often quite artificial.”

According to Bennett, who also spent six years running nightclubs in Soho, the official paper trail a school is supposed to leave will simply not exist, “because if a school is very bad at recording bad behaviour then it will look pristine. Whereas the opposite might be true”.

“A lot of schools don’t record as much bad behaviour as they should, because they know it’s not going to make them look good. I hate to say it but they do.

“Some teachers are afraid to even record bad behaviour, because they don’t want to look bad.”

The problem can start from early in a teacher’s career, with some schools too willing to throw inexperienced teachers into the toughest situations. Bennett – himself a veteran of teaching in Essex comprehensives – said that inexperienced staff can be “torn apart” without sufficient support.

“A lot of new teachers are given these kind of positions because some headteachers think that’s how you learn, you chuck them in at deep end. But we don’t do that for anybody else. They don’t even do that in the army.

Teenagers are shunning Saturday jobs as they opt for revision over riches

by The Independent, June 16, 2015

Classified as General.

Thousands of teenagers are shunning Saturday jobs - so they can swot for their exams, a new report says.

A new report from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, the Government’s skills experts, says the number of 16 and 17-year-olds combining part-time work with their studies has more than halved.

Figures in the report, Death of the Saturday Job: the decline on earning and learning amongst young people in the UK, show that - while 42 per cent took part-time jobs in 1996 - the figure for last year was only 18 per cent.

Asked why they had not opted for a part-time job, 55 per cent identified a “desire to concentrate on their studies” as the main reason.

“It seems that young people are actively shunning the idea of working while studying as the fear of not doing well (in exams) pervades our society,” said Fiona Kendrick, UKCES Commissioner and chief executive officer of Nestles UK and Ireland.

GCSE reforms: Every pupil must study five core subjects and examiners make it harder to get top grades

by The Independent, June 16, 2015

Classified as General.

Every secondary school pupil will have to study the five core academic subjects of English, maths, science, languages and geography or history up to GCSE level as a result of radical reforms.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan will insist that all pupils study the English Baccalaureate subjects up until the age of 16. At present, only 39 per cent do - itself up from 22 per cent when the EBacc measure was first introduced in 2010 by her predecessor Michael Gove.

Teachers’ leaders will argue the plan is too prescriptive - and that not every pupil is suited to such a demanding academic diet.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said last night that Ms Morgan had reversed the previous government policy of allowing schools to decide which pupils to put in for the EBacc “with just one speech” and “without the least consultation”.

Test fitness at primary school, say health campaigners

by BBC News, June 16, 2015

Classified as General.

Children should be tested for fitness, as well as maths and English, to reduce inactivity, say health campaigners.

Campaign group ukactive says the UK faces a "ticking time bomb" of health problems due to lack of exercise.

Its report says only half of seven-year-olds in England are active for an hour a day, and says more activity should take place in the classroom.

The government says it has increased funding for PE, and that primary schools offer two hours of it per week.

Walking to school

In the "Generation Inactive" report, researchers argue that Body Mass Index (BMI), which measures weight and height, gives little indication of a child's physical fitness and says a child can be slim but still unhealthy.

"We should focus on the health of our hearts, not just the size of our waists," say the authors.

They argue that the way to improve a child's fitness is to incorporate exercise throughout the school day. Walking to school and standing in lessons are ways in which a child's inactivity can be improved.

Former children's commissioner Prof Sir Al Aynsley-Green said: "Whether walking, cycling or being active in and out of PE lessons, providing children with opportunities to be active throughout the day, before, during and after school, is key to engaging even the most disengaged children."

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