Latest Educational News

Are academies actually any good?

by Guardian, October 27, 2014

Some tell-tale emails have been dredged up, suggesting that superhead Dame Rachel de Souza may have been told in advance when schools in her academy chain might be inspected. Naughty, naughty: schools are only meant to be given half a day’s notice. And I thought academies were meant to be better than ordinary schools. If they’re not, whatever are they for?

If a school needs perking up and fancies a uniform, Latin, Vera Wang tea sets and no national curriculum, fine – but why call them academies? Why not just schools? What’s the difference? We pay for them. Not the sponsors. Perhaps they just want to sound a bit more Kensington and a bit less Worksop.

Term-time holiday rules: Breaks 'in rare cases only'

by BBC News, October 27, 2014

Holidays for pupils in term-time should only be granted in circumstances that are "rare, unavoidable, significant and short", says a head teachers' union.

But more clarification was needed over the current rules, which allow such breaks in England under "exceptional circumstances", the NAHT added.

The union has published its detailed guidance on term-time holiday requests.

Marking boycott will hit students at 69 UK universities

by BBC News, October 27, 2014

Hundreds of thousands of students are likely to be affected by a marking boycott by academics angry at proposed changes to their pensions.

The University and College Union says the action, involving members at 69 UK universities, will start on 6 November.

It will halt any planned exams and stop students from receiving coursework, formal marks or feedback.

Universities UK, which represents the institutions, was "disappointed" at "a damaging course of industrial action".

School absence guidance issued by head teachers' union

by BBC News, October 26, 2014

New guidance for head teachers in England on the situations in which pupils can be given time off during term time have been drawn up.

A crackdown has seen a rise in fines for unauthorised absences, but parents have said the rules are confusing.

The guidelines have been drafted by the head teachers' union, the NAHT.

Funerals, weddings and religious events will count as acceptable "exceptional circumstances" but cheaper holidays will not be "a good enough reason".

How to teach creatively and still get a good Ofsted rating

by TES, October 25, 2014

There can’t be many schools that would invite Ofsted inspectors to meditate in a Mongolian yurt or join a class of eight-year-olds to round up some water buffalo. And with good reason: the general consensus is that Ofsted would hate that sort of thing. Yet Mike Fairclough, headteacher of West Rise Junior School in Eastbourne, East Sussex, did just that.

“The inspection was carried out under the latest rigorous criteria, within an educational climate that critics were describing as restrictive and Victorian,” writes Fairclough in the 24 October issue of TES.

Scholarships are decisive in bringing new blood into teaching, finds research

by TES, October 25, 2014

New research suggests that scholarships to train to teach shortage subjects have been successful at bringing people into the profession who would not otherwise have considered it.

One in four applicants for scholarships in shortage subjects said the award was the decisive factor in prompting them to train to be a teacher, according to a survey.

And one in five said they would not have applied if scholarships had not been available.

Students with a 2:1 or first in physics, maths, computing and chemistry are eligible for scholarships. The awards, offered by the professional bodies in each area, are worth £25,000 for trainees starting in 2015/16.

Muslim pupils must study two religions

by The Times, October 25, 2014

Children taking a GCSE in religious studies will have to study at least two religions under government plans to tackle cultural isolationism and extremism.
Pupils will also be expected to debate moral dilemmas in the context of religious beliefs in class. The changes are likely to have the biggest impact on faith schools, which can now choose to teach only their own religion and ignore others.

Murdoch University head quits after being referred to corruption watchdog

by Guardian, October 25, 2014

Murdoch University’s suspended vice chancellor, Richard Higgott, has resigned from his position at the university, and from academic administration.

The 65-year-old had been suspended on full pay since last month when the university referred him to the West Australian Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) following an internal investigation.

Secret Teacher: stop treating NQTs as cannon fodder

by Guardian, October 25, 2014

I remember feeling mixed emotions when I entered my newly-qualified teacher (NQT) year. After a tough PGCE, I was nervous about starting my new career, but I also had an overriding sense of excitement and optimism. I was proud to call myself a teacher.

The bullying started suddenly. In my enthusiasm I missed the warning signs that things might be tough in my new school: the headteacher had a reputation for being extremely authoritarian and although I was employed as a full-time teacher, on my second day in the job I was told I would be part-time support staff which didn’t give me enough hours to complete my NQT year. Instead of having just one subject mentor I ended up having three through the course of the year due to staff changes.

Ofsted's Norfolk schools inquiry faces independent review

by BBC News, October 24, 2014

The investigation into alleged inspection irregularities at three Norfolk schools faces a review by an "independent figure", Ofsted has said.

The move follows the emergence of emails that were not available to the original investigation.

The report, published last month, found no evidence the academy schools had been improperly warned about when to expect inspections.

Ofsted's integrity "is vital" said chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw.

The original report into the claims was carried out by Ofsted's director of quality and training, Sir Robin Bosher.

Camerons join secondary school dash as admissions deadline looms

by Guardian, October 24, 2014

For David and Samantha Cameron, like every other parent of a child in their final year of primary school, time is almost up. After all the open days, the headteachers’ speeches, and the poring over Ofsted reports and league tables, next Friday is the deadline for applications for secondary school admissions.

The Camerons have been looking for a school for their daughter Nancy, 10, and the expectation is she will attend a state secondary in central London – a far cry from Eton and Marlborough College (day fees £28,000 a year), the institutions attended by her parents.

Let parents take kids out of school to beat half term holiday costs, LGA says

by The Independent, October 24, 2014

Local council leaders have urged the Government to let up on its attempts to stop parents taking their children out of school during term time.
Up until September 2013, head teachers were allowed to grant 10 days holiday a year during term-time, but regulations have been changed so leave can only be granted in “exceptional circumstances”, with local authorities obliged to fine parents if their child’s absence is unauthorised.

Schools angered by decision not to count IGCSEs in league tables

by TES, October 24, 2014

Hundreds of secondaries could drop down the league tables after the government decided that IGCSEs will not count fully for performance measures, TES has learned.

Heads have expressed anger at the decision; the change was discovered after their pupils had already sat the exams, which are used in more than 1,700 schools and colleges.

It is expected that the move will lead to more schools falling short of the crucial GCSE “floor standards”, resulting in some secondaries facing possible government intervention and, ultimately, closure.

Academics are pressed to give better marks

by The Times, October 24, 2014

Academics have complained of pressure from their universities to give students better marks as higher education becomes more competitive.
In a survey of more than 1,000 university academics, 38 per cent said they faced increasing pressure to award higher marks to students.
In response to another question, 32 per cent accused their university of accepting less able students in order to maintain or boost their undergraduate numbers, thus jeopardising quality.

Fewer Scots apply to study medicine

by The Times, October 24, 2014

The number of Scottish students applying to study medicine, dentistry and veterinary science across the UK has fallen by 10 per cent
The number of Scottish students applying to study medicine, dentistry and veterinary science across the UK has fallen by 10 per cent.
The drop is double the fall in English and Welsh students applying for these courses, both of which were down 5 per cent on last year.

Oxford applications up, Cambridge down

by The Times, October 24, 2014

Oxford received another record number of applications for undergraduate places this year, the university said yesterday.
Applications rose by 5 per cent on last year, with 18,325 candidates competing for about 3,230 places.
However, the University of Cambridge, which raised its standard entry tariff for science and maths-based degrees this year to two A* grades and one A at A level, appeared to have had a drop in applications.

Relax term-time holiday ban, say councils

by The Times, October 24, 2014

Council leaders have defied the government on one of its most controversial school reforms by challenging strict rules against parents taking children on term-time holidays.
Town hall politicians called for a more “commonsense” approach, saying that head teachers should have greater flexibility to approve parents’ requests to take children out of school.

Ban on term time holidays should be overturned, say council leaders

by Guardian, October 24, 2014

Tough new rules on term-time holidays should be overturned, leaving headteachers to decide whether to allow pupils to be taken out of school, council leaders have said.

The changes, which mean school leaders can only grant permission for trips in “exceptional circumstances”, fail to recognise that family life is not simple and there may be times when parents need to take children out of lessons for legitimate reasons, said the Local Government Association (LGA).

'Scrap ban' on term-time holidays

by BBC News, October 24, 2014

The ban on term-time holidays from school should be scrapped so head teachers can take a "common-sense approach", say council leaders.

Since September last year, local authorities have been obliged to fine parents who take children out of school for unauthorised absences.

But the Local Government Association says the new rules do not recognise the complexities of family life.

League tables are 'nonsense', say private schools

by TES, October 23, 2014

ndependent school leaders have attacked official league tables as “a nonsense” after a rule change sent their GCSE scores plummeting.

According to government data released today, the proportion of private school pupils achieving the main five A*-C GCSEs, including English and maths, nearly halved from 54.4 per cent in 2013 to 28.4 per cent this summer.

But the Department for Education (DfE) has admitted that this “large change” is mainly down to its decision to stop counting IGCSEs that have not been regulated by Ofqual in the league tables.

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