Latest Educational News

Cambridge urges schools to enter students for AS-levels

by BBC News, November 5, 2014

Cambridge University has written to schools and sixth forms urging them to continue to enter students for AS-level exams at the end of Year 12.

The leading university says the exams provide a "strong measure of applicants' recent academic progress".

AS-levels were brought in under reforms introduced in 2000, when traditional two-year A-levels were split in half.

But from 2015 in England, AS-levels are due to be split into a separate qualification from A-levels.

Pisa tests for individual schools to launch next year

by Times Educational Supplement, November 4, 2014

All UK schools are being offered the chance to participate in controversial tests designed to show how they compare to results in the world’s top-ranked schools systems.

The Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) test for schools’ will cost £3,550 a time and will be administered twice a year in the spring and autumn, starting next year. They are based on the global education rankings of the same name.

The tests in reading, maths and science are being sold to schools as allowing them to measure the extent to which their 15-year-old pupils are “prepared to succeed in a global economy”.

But their introduction is controversial as teaching unions are concerned that will be used by schools in prosperous areas to create rankings and marketing tools, “undermining the efficacy” of Pisa.

University 'drop-out risk for poorer students'

by BBC News, November 4, 2014

University students from poorer homes are more likely to drop out and less likely to achieve a good degree than those from richer homes, research says.

The gap remains even if the poorer students start degree courses with similar grades to their richer peers.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies report says students from less advantaged homes need more support at university.

Ministers say they are working closely with universities to ensure students receive the support they need.

The report assessed data concerning English students who started a degree at a UK university between the years 2004-05 and 2008-09 - around one million individuals in total.

Model pupils from state schools refused student loans

by BBC News, November 1, 2014

Bright students from state schools are at risk of missing out on university because of their uncertain immigration status, Newsnight has learned.
At least 120,000 school children in the UK do not have the legal right to live in the country, even though many of them were born in Britain.
For those with good grades and ambition, their uncertain status has a big implication for their future because they cannot receive student loans.

Militant teachers are lazy and rude, claims superhead

by The Times, November 1, 2014

A “superhead” parachuted into a failing school has accused teachers of laziness and unions of confrontational behaviour.
Rory Fox said that some senior teachers at the school — some on top rates of pay — had turned up late for classes, or not at all, opposed lesson observations, bullied junior staff, refused to set homework and were petty and aggressive.

Nicky Morgan’s end of term report

by The Times, November 1, 2014

It’s three months since the prime minister ousted her predecessor, Michael Gove. So how’s Nicky Morgan, the new education secretary, doing so far? Janice Turner meets the woman with the hardest job in the cabinet
Nicky Morgan’s ministerial Jag smells of passion fruit. The plan is that I will interview the new education secretary in the back seat between Portsmouth and Petersfield service station, whereupon her special adviser Luke Tryl will pop out and buy us sandwiches, then we’ll swap places so he and the minister can tap away at their BlackBerries together all the way back to London.

School should be a safe, nurturing place – not a daily nightmare

by Guardian, November 1, 2014

You never forget them. The children who were marked apart. In our class at primary school, they were called “Bugsy”, all three of them. The children who turned up bedraggled, a bit whiffy and wearing only a rough approximation of school uniform. You’d hear the bolder, more domineering children talking about them. “So-and-so smells.” “So-and-so wears gutties [plimsolls] instead of shoes.” “So-and-so’s Bugsy.”

Trainees who failed to gain QTS are teaching in schools

by Times Educational Supplement, October 31, 2014

Hundreds of trainee teachers who failed to gain qualified status are working in classrooms, official figures reveal.

Statistics published by the Department for Education show that more than 300 trainees who were unable to achieve QTS still managed to find work in schools, with nearly half employed in the primary sector.

“Of the trainees who were not awarded qualified teacher status in the academic year 2012 to 2013, 328 were in a teaching post. The highest proportion, 44 per cent, were non-specialist primary teachers," the document says.

Under government reforms, academies and free schools can hire staff without QTS – a move that ministers were keen to claim would allow such schools to employ talented individuals who were experts in their field.

Labour has made the issue a key area of education policy in the run-up to next year’s general election, pledging to ensure that every teacher either has or is working towards QTS. The Liberal Democrats have followed suit.

Teachers warned that praise can make pupils complacent

by Independent, October 31, 2014

Teachers who lavish praise on pupils are doing them a disservice, according to a study published today.
It can be counter-productive and is more likely to lead to poorly performing pupils becoming complacent, rather than encouraging them to do better in class, says the report from researchers at Durham University. In fact, the report adds, getting angry with children can act as more of a spur to improve their performance.

University turns back to fossil fuel

by The Times, October 31, 2014

A university which condemned fossil fuel companies for contributing to climate change has now admitted that oil and gas will be needed “for many decades to come”.
The University of Glasgow angered many of its senior scientists this month when it agreed to a demand from a student environmental group that it sell £18m worth of shares in the fossil fuel extraction industry.

Ability groups and too much praise can harm pupils

by The Times, October 31, 2014

Teaching children in ability sets can be harmful to their education, experts warn in a report today. They also claim that excessively praising pupils can do more harm than good.
Grouping children by academic ability into sets is criticised in the report, which examined 200 pieces of research into the best teaching practice.
Academics from Durham University write: “Evidence on the effects of grouping by ability, either by allocating students to different classes, or to within-class groups, suggests that it makes very little difference to learning outcomes.”

Thou shalt not praise: the seven deadly sins of teaching

by TES, October 31, 2014

Telling students they have done a good job may seem like a sensible form of encouragement, but dishing out excessive praise has been named as one of the seven deadly teaching sins.

“Lavishing” approval on pupils, grouping by ability and ensuring students are always “active learners” are among the teaching don’ts that appear in research released today.

Whereas having a deep knowledge of the subject they teach and enforcing good classroom management are among the six teaching dos for educators.

Ofsted struggling for credibility and must be overhauled, say councils

by Guardian, October 31, 2014

Ofsted is struggling for credibility among parents and councils because of its erratic judgment and needs to be overhauled, according to the Local Government Association in a stinging rebuke aimed at the schools and children’s services inspectorate.

The LGA said it was “calling for an independent review of the schools watchdog’s operations, to understand what has gone wrong and to re-establish the credibility of an organisation which seems to have become media-driven, rather than focused on the experiences and outcomes of children and young people”.

Education study finds in favour of traditional teaching styles

by Guardian, October 31, 2014

Schools need to put more effort into evaluating what makes effective teaching, and ensure that discredited practices are rooted out from classrooms, according to a new study published by the Sutton Trust and Durham University.

The study suggests that some schools and teachers continue using methods that cause little or no improvement in student progress, and instead rely on anecdotal evidence to back fashionable techniques such as “discovery learning,” where pupils are meant to uncover key ideas for themselves, or “learning styles,” which claims children can be divided into those who learn best through sight, sound or movement.

A recipe for great teachers, absence guidance and hidden costs of education

by Guardian, October 31, 2014

Great teachers. A new report from The Sutton Trust, which looks at what teaching techniques work and how teachers should be assessed, has found that popular approaches, such as lavishing praise on pupils and encouraging students to discover key ideas for themselves, may be harmful.

Student absences. The National Association of Head Teachers will issue new guidelines for school leaders about on what constitutes an “exceptional circumstances” in which children can miss school.

What A-levels would give my daughter the best start in life?

by Guardian, October 31, 2014

Twice a week we publish problems that will feature in a forthcoming Dear Jeremy advice column in the Saturday Guardian so that readers can offer their own advice and suggestions. We then print the best of your comments alongside Jeremy’s own insights. Here is the latest dilemma – what are your thoughts?

My 15-year-old daughter has to choose in the next month or so what A-levels to take. She has no real preference for the arts or sciences, as she is good at both. She has an A-level in Japanese, plus GCSEs in Japanese, Latin and statistics and is studying for nine more this year. She is bilingual, good at maths, and she likes both arts and science subjects. She has good communication and empathy skills.

Investigation into Gillingham school isolation room use

by BBC News, October 31, 2014

An investigation is under way at a Kent school amid claims pupils were put in an isolation room for hours at a time.

A former employee at Brompton Westbrook Primary School in Gillingham and two parents have made the allegations.

Medway Council said it had investigated and passed the issue to school trustees - but parents said they wanted to see the council report. The school said an investigation was still taking place.

The school became an academy this month and is no longer under council control.

Independent review of Ofsted 'urgently required'

by BBC News, October 31, 2014

Ofsted is in urgent need of independent review in light of concerns about its objectivity and reliability, local government leaders have said.

A series of leaks and U-turns have thrown the independence of England's education watchdog into question, said the Local Government Association.

A review would "restore faith", Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said.

Lavish praise from teachers 'does not help pupils'

by BBC News, October 31, 2014

Teachers who give struggling pupils "lavish praise" could make them even less likely to succeed, research into classroom tactics has suggested.

The Sutton Trust education charity has warned that many strategies used by teachers have no evidence to show that they really work.

Too much praise for low achievers can "convey a message of low expectations".

Robert Coe of Durham University said teachers needed to know what was "most likely to be effective".

Privately educated graduates earn more - even with the same qualifications and job

by Independent, October 30, 2014

Graduates from state schools earn less than their private school counterparts - even if they leave university with the same degree in the same subject and go into the same occupation.
A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows a six per cent gap in earnings between state and private school alumni - equivalent to £1,500 a year - even when their qualifications are exactly the same.

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