Latest Educational News

GCSE league tables out early to help parents choose school

by BBC News, July 16, 2015

Classified as General.

Secondary school league tables in England are going to be published earlier this year so parents can compare the most recent GCSE results when choosing schools.
At present, school league tables are published in January - after the application process has finished.
But from this year, the Department for Education will publish provisional GCSE results in mid-October.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said it would provide a more "informed choice".
The plans, announced by the Department for Education, will mean that parents looking at local secondary school places for the following autumn will have the most up-to-date exam results, at least in provisional form.
Rival league tables
At present, families may be shown individual school results from the most recent summer exams, but the official comparisons are based on results from the previous year.

Number of universities charging £9,000 a year is growing, says watchdog

by The independant, July 16, 2015

Classified as General.

The number of universities charging the maxim student fee of £9,000 a year is growing, according to a published report by the universities’ access watchdog.

The study by OFFA, the Office for Fair Admissions, shows the number has gone up from 130 to 139 in the past year - largely as a result of further education colleges running degree courses increasing their charges.
In all, 31 f.e colleges now charge the maximum for some of their courses - compared with just nine a year.

The number of universities charging the maxim for all their courses has also risen - up from 44 to 47 (roughly a quarter of all institutions). It means the average fee has risen from £8,716 to £8, 781 - only £219 short of the maximum.

However, the study which analyses access agreements struck by OFFA with institutions charging more than £6,000 for their courses, also reveals they are planning to invest £750.8 million on measures aimed at increasing the number of disadvantaged students going to university. Of this, £399 million be spent on financial support - including bursaries and fee waivers.

Universities agree to take more disadvantaged students

by BBC News, July 16, 2015

Classified as General.

Universities in England have agreed to take more students from disadvantaged homes, fair access watchdog Offa says.
Institutions have also agreed to spend £750m on outreach activities, bursaries and waiving fees for poorer youngsters.
Offa head Prof Les Ebdon said the new agreements with universities from 2016 would make a "lasting difference".
The government wants to double the rates of the most disadvantaged youngsters entering university by 2020.
Last week, the chancellor scrapped maintenance grants for students, converting them into repayable loans for those from families with low incomes.
Some interest groups fear this could have an effect on the number of students from poorer homes choosing to go to university.

Private education 'costs £286,000' on average

by BBC News, July 15, 2015

Classified as General.

The cost of putting a child through a 14-year private education in the UK stands at £286,000, research suggests.
It indicates average day school fees are now £13,194 per year and boarding fees cost an average of £30,369.
Private schooling from primary age to A-levels totals £286,000 for a day place and £468,000 for a boarder, the report from Killik and Co finds.
London remains the most expensive region, with an average day school place costing £15,500 per year.
The north of England and Scotland were the cheapest, at £10,400 and £10,700 respectively.
In a survey of 250 parents who privately educate their children, over a third (37.2%) said they saw private education as an "investment priority".

Eton College error offers 400 boys a conditional place

by BBC News, July 15, 2015

Classified as General.

Eton College has apologised after sending an email offering a conditional place to hundreds of pupils in error.
The elite college said it "deeply regrets" the system error which led to an email meant for just nine families being sent to a total of 400 recipients.
Those who wrongly received the conditional offer were hoping to attend the school from September 2017.
An internal review is now taking place.
Boys are offered conditional places to Eton College after they have passed an interview, aged 11.
They must then pass the Common Entrance exam in order to confirm their place.
'Regret the confusion'
A college spokesman said: "This error was discovered within minutes and each family was immediately contacted to notify them that it should be disregarded.
"We take this type of incident very seriously indeed so a thorough investigation, overseen by the head master Tony Little and led by the tutor for admissions, is being carried out to find out exactly what went wrong and to ensure it cannot happen again.

73-year-old pensioner graduates with 2:1 degree from Keele University in Staffordshire

by The independant, July 15, 2015

Classified as General.

After four years at university – which included sitting exams, a semester abroad in the US and a stint in student halls – a pensioner has finally graduated with a 2:1 degree.

73-year-old Gerry Watkin, from Nantwich in Cheshire, collected his certificate from Staffordshire’s Keele University following a “challenging six months.”

Speaking with The Sentinel, Mr Watkin described how his dissertation, essays and exams had cranked-up the pressure recently but that he “thoroughly enjoyed” studying for his degree in history and American studies.

Having left Wolstanton Grammar School in Staffordshire as a teen, Mr Watkin’s parents encouraged him to find work after his A-levels instead of pursuing his hopes of university – something, he said, he’d always resented.

He went on to work as a bank manager for 30 years, and as a football referee, before finally deciding to apply at Keele, beginning as a fresher in 2011.

'The assessment system is broken', says school head

by The Telegraph, July 15, 2015

Classified as General.

Exams do not measure the skills pupils require to function in society, a head teacher has said.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Peter Hyman, head teacher at School 21 and former head of communications at Downing Street, said the current assessment system was "completely broken".
He said: “I think we’ve got into a spiral of panic about standards. The result is a system nobody thinks is conducive to a decent education or getting most out of children or staff.”
Mr Hyman’s comments come at a time where GCSE and A-level reform is shifting the qualifications away from modular assessment towards more rigorous end of year examinations.

Make PSHE lessons compulsory, says Green Party MP

by BBC News, July 15, 2015

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Personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) should be a statutory subject in all state schools in England, campaigners say.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas is reintroducing a bill in Parliament saying PSHE is a "crucial part" of children's education.
Ms Lucas previously tabled a bill for compulsory PSHE in July 2014.
Critics say the issues covered in these lessons are the responsibility of parents, not schools.
Currently the subject, which covers core issues relating to health and wellbeing, relationships and living in the wider world, is not statutory in England.
But the national curriculum says all schools should make provision for PSHE using high quality teaching resources.

Cost of private education nearing £1 million, study finds

by The Telegraph, July 15, 2015

Classified as General.

The cost for middle-class parents hoping to send their children to private school is set to near £1 million, as fees are the least affordable in recent memory, a new study has found.
The report says professional families “risk being priced out” of private schooling as it reveals fees have more than trebled since 1990.
The findings follow previous analysis that shows school fees at public schools are at their least affordable for the so-called squeezed middle for at least five decades.
The research took a hypothetical family with two or more children attending private schools and found that the cost for children starting school in 2013 and 2015 would run to £890,000 “if current trends persist”. This represents an increase from £831,000 calculated a year earlier.

Is general studies a waste of time?

by The Guardian (DataBlog), July 14, 2015

Classified as General.

Sitting in an exam hall and turning over the first page of a test is usually a daunting prospect. But on starting a paper last month, I felt nonchalant.

Question one asked us to compare two images of a kitchen and suggest why they were different – which drew snorts of laughter from students.

The exam was on general studies, an A-level which, according to exam board AQA, is designed to “broaden minds by encouraging students to develop their thinking skills, capacity to construct arguments and ability to draw conclusions”.

Some schools, including my sixth form, make general studies compulsory as a fifth A-level option. In principle, the subject seems worthwhile: helping students to leave school with a more well-rounded education. But in practice, it feels more like a crash course in how to be a functioning member of society – for dummies.

Department for Education rapped over use of Sats data

by The Guardian, July 14, 2015

Classified as General.

Does becoming an academy improve pupils’ Sats results? That is the implication of much of the debate coming from the Department for Education, as ministers seek to drive more primary schools, in particular, into academy status.

But is this argument statistically valid? Well, last week the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) cast serious doubt on it, in a judgment that suggests ministers may have to rethink how they present data on their flagship reform.

The development centres on a DfE statistical publication, released in December and seized on by ministers repeatedly in advocating more academies. This showed, correctly, that Sats results over 2012 to 2014 improved more quickly in sponsored academies – former local authority schools taken over by a sponsor – than in non-academies.

But sponsored academies generally take over schools with poor results, with perhaps more room for improvement than most non-academies, we thought. So was the DfE comparison fair?

Oxford University Visits Saint Paul’s

by ukeducationnews.co.uk, July 14, 2015

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Students from Oxford University recently visited Saint Paul’s Catholic High School in Wythenshawe to talk to their pupils. The students from Corpus Christi College, Oxford spoke to Saint Paul’s High Flyers about university life and what it could offer them. They discussed the social and financial aspects of university, what life at university actually involves and the unique advantages of Oxford University.

The purpose of the visit was to show pupils, from Years 7-10, the benefits of progressing to Higher Education, and especially Oxford University, from early on in their secondary education. The aim was to raise the aspirations and motivation of the pupils whilst at the same time allowing the pupils to gain a lot of information about university life.

“The aim of the visit was to raise aspirations and encourage our most able pupils to consider University as an option for their futures,” said Mrs Clare Hunt, Assistant Headteacher at Saint Paul’s. “It was an excellent opportunity for our pupils to get an insight into what life at university is like. The pupils were able to spend some time talking to the students and realised that, with some hard work and dedication, university could be a realistic future option for themselves.”

Poorest pupils 'should start school aged two'

by BBC News, July 13, 2015

Classified as General.

The poorest children should be taught in primary schools from the age of two, Ofsted's chief inspector has said.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said school-based age-appropriate education could help them catch up with their more advantaged classmates.

Some 260,000 disadvantaged two-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early education a week, but only 58% of these are taking this up.

Primary schools were best-placed to offer this education, Sir Michael said.

But currently they offer only a small percentage of the places.

In a speech in London, Sir Michael said: "Let me be clear: What the poorest children need is to be taught and well taught from the age of two.

"Children who are at risk of falling behind need particular help. And it remains my view that schools are often best placed to deliver this."

Earlier start

He said schools had more access to the kind of specialists they may need, such as speech and language therapists, behaviour management and parenting support.

And they would be able to track children's progress more readily.

"So put simply, we need to get more of the poorest children into primary schools earlier," he said.

Research suggests that such children tend to do worse at school than their more advantaged classmates.

Ministers launched a scheme to offer free early education to the most disadvantaged two-year-olds in England in 2013 as part of attempts to help them catch up.

Boost for special needs education in Norfolk schools

by Eastern Daily Press, July 11, 2015

Classified as General.

The news came as Churchill Park School in King’s Lynn climbed up to a ‘Good’ Grade in its most recent report, which means the county’s 11 complex needs schools are either considered ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by education inspectors.

And these high standards are also reflected in nearby schools across the boarders into Cambridgeshire and North Suffolk.

James Joyce, chair of the Children’s Services Committee at Norfolk County Council, said: “This is a group of schools that is going from strength to strength and giving children and young people with special educational needs an excellent standard of education.”

A great deal of the success is due to the schools working closely together to help each other overcome any challenges or difficulties they happen to face.

He added: “They [the schools] support and challenge each other to develop their curriculum, share knowledge and make improvements for the benefit of Norfolk’s children and young people. The results are clear to see.”

This already robust collaboration is being further strengthened with this weekend’s launch of Trust Norfolk-SEN, a platform for experts to share their expertise in special needs education.

Commenting on Churchill Park School’s Ofsted report, headteacher Paul Donkersloot said: “We achieved a Good grade due to the commitment and passion from the team and children who attend.”

In recent years, Norfolk’s education services in general have faced various difficulties. Recruitment has been particularly challenging and in March headteachers formed an alliance in a bid to attract more teachers to the region.

Find out about the Norfolk’s complex needs schools at the launch of Trust Norfolk-SEN at The Forum in Norwich this weekend.

Schools 'disrupted by GCSE league table changes'

by BBC News, July 10, 2015

Classified as General.

England's schools face "disruption" after ministers changed their minds about which GCSEs will count in school league tables, says the heads' union ASCL.

Ministers are phasing in new, toughened GCSEs and originally said the old ones would count in league tables during the transition to the new exams.

Now old GCSEs will count for students but not for school accountability.

The government said the move meant consistency between exams.

Ministers have pushed through a range of changes to GCSE and A-level exams which require complete new syllabuses and examinations to be drawn up, approved and accredited.

English and maths GCSEs are being introduced this year, with other subjects to reach schools for teaching in 2016.

'Invidious dilemma'

Many schools, however, run three-year GCSE programmes, which start in Year 9, with some exams being taken in Year 10 and some in Year 11.

This enables students to spread exams over two years, rather than having to take a large number of exams in one, and creates space in the timetable to focus on key subjects such as English and maths in Year 11.

Students starting these three-year courses in September cannot take the reformed GCSEs in Year 10 because they are not yet available. So, schools had planned that GCSEs taken in Year 10 would be in the unreformed older courses.

ASCL president Peter Kent said: "School leaders are now left with an invidious dilemma.

"They must either change decisions already made with students and parents, and rip up existing timetables, to make sure everybody takes the new reformed GCSEs, or press on with the plans they already had in place and accept that their performance tables will suffer because they will include unreformed GCSEs.

"This has plunged schools, students and parents into disruption and uncertainty."

League tables: GCSE U-turn plunges schools into uncertainty

by TES Connect, July 10, 2015

Classified as General.

Headteachers have accused the government of “plunging schools into disruption and uncertainty” by “shifting the goalposts” on GCSE reforms.

The ASCL heads’ union has criticised a U-turn by the government that means some unreformed GCSEs will be excluded from school league tables for 2018.

Heads claim the change has forced schools to reconsider at the last minute plans to start teaching GCSEs in some subjects to Year 9 students from September 2015, for exams to be taken in summer 2017.

Many schools take this approach because it allows them to free up space for pupils to concentrate on GCSEs in core subjects when they reach Year 11. But under the new ruling the students' earlier exams would not count towards a school’s 2018 league table score.

Previously, all qualifications gained by a student by the end of Year 11 counted.

The U-turn will affect 13 subjects in which reformed GCSEs will be available to teach from September 2016. These include drama, geography, history, PE, religious studies and science.

Peter Kent, president of the ASCL and headteacher of Lawrence Sheriff School in Rugby, said the move left schools with an “invidious dilemma” at the end of the school year, with decisions having to be taken in time for September.

“They must either change decisions already made with students and parents, and rip up existing timetables, to make sure everybody takes the new reformed GCSEs, or press on with the plans they already had in place and accept that their performance tables will suffer because they will include unreformed GCSEs,” Dr Kent said.

“This has plunged schools, students and parents into disruption and uncertainty.

“In my school we have decided to take the hit on performance tables, but there is no right answer. It is a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”

The decision is a reversal of an announcement by ministers last year that unreformed GCSEs would continue to count towards league tables.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Our new world-class GCSEs are raising the bar so more young people have access to the world-class education they deserve, equipping them with the skills they need to get on and succeed in life. We want pupils to be taught these new gold standard GCSE courses as soon as possible.”

She said schools should help students choose courses that “are best for them, not the league tables”.

Successful schools could plummet down league tables after old-style GCSEs banned from rankings

by The Independent, July 10, 2015

Classified as General.

Successful schools could plummet down the Government league tables after Education Secretary Nicky Morgan banned old-style GCSEs from the rankings in an unexpected U-turn.

Schools across England have been “plunged into disruption and uncertainty” by a Government decision to shift the goalposts over new GCSEs without warning, the president of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) warned.

Last month minsters unexpectedly ruled that only new-style reformed GCSEs will be included in school performance tables as they become available, and that any unreformed exams taken by these students will not count in the rankings. The new GCSEs were introduced by former education secretary Michael Gove to raise standards and return to more “traditional” teaching methods.

The Government had previously pledged that old-style unreformed GCSEs would still count in tables during the transition to the new exams.

Top state school charging for Oxbridge applications

by The Telegraph, July 10, 2015

Classified as General.

A top girls’ school is charging its students to help them apply to Oxford and Cambridge, according to reports.
Camden School for Girls has told parents it will introduce a new “admission fee” of between £50 and £100 in return for help with Ucas forms for gap-year students.
According to a report in the Camden New Journal, pupils in the sixth form have been told they must make cheques payable to the school’s finance department.
The service, which has been free in the past, includes teachers checking the pupils’ forms for “accuracy” and providing an official “confirmation of qualifications”. It is understood the school has had to start charging parents because of recent cuts from the Government to state schools.
One mother with a child in the sixth form told the local newspaper: “I and other parents are outraged. I’ve never heard of any other state school that says they will only provide a reference if paid a fee. The school says it’s for administration, but it’s a huge disincentive to applying for university.

Javid wants overseas students to leave UK after graduation

by Times Higher Education, July 10, 2015

Classified as General.

Sajid Javid, the business secretary, wants to “break the link” between overseas students coming to study in the UK and staying on to work after graduation.

Mr Javid, who is in charge of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which is responsible for higher education, made the comments in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.

The government’s decision to abolish the post-study work visa in 2012 is seen by universities as being a deterrent to non-European Union students considering coming to the UK, and as a particular factor in the decline in Indian student recruitment.

Mr Javid was asked if he would reverse government policy to allow overseas students to stay on after graduation.

“I think what we need to make sure, and we do have this, is that our immigration system allows those from abroad that want to come to Britain to study in our world-class universities, our fantastic colleges, to come here,” he said.

The interviewer, Justin Webb, then asked: “And stay on?”

“No,” replied Mr Javid. “But we’ve also got to have a system that doesn’t allow any abuse where people are using the right to study as a way to achieve settlement in Britain.

“So it shouldn’t be about settlement. We’ve got to break the link and make sure it’s focused on people who want to study and then, once they’ve had their studies and completed that, then they leave.”

Mr Javid’s interview was to discuss the government’s productivity plan, to be published later today.

Jo Johnson, the universities and science minister who is a colleague of Mr Javid’s in BIS, co-authored a 2012 Financial Times article, published shortly after the scrapping of post-study work visas, that said the UK’s international competitors in the overseas student market such as the US, Australia and Canada “take a smarter approach to post-study work”.

Mr Johnson’s article added: “Students value this highly (partly because it enables them to start paying off student loans), and will invest their human capital elsewhere if [post-study work] is not available.”

Peer tutoring is ineffective and can be detrimental, research finds

by TES Connect, July 10, 2015

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Two new studies on peer tutoring conclude that the technique – which involves students helping each other to learn – makes no impact on reading or maths scores.

The results from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) contrast with previous research identifying peer tutoring as one of the most effective ways to improve learning.

The EEF evaluations of Paired Reading and the Durham Shared Maths Project, published today, say that neither project has any impact on children’s attainment.

Previous EEF advice, based on nine studies, estimated that peer tutoring could help students to make an extra six months progress over a year.

Robbie Coleman, research manager at the EEF, said: “Today’s findings are surprising because international and British evidence collected to date on peer tutoring has been very positive. It would be a big mistake to ignore the new findings or attempt to brush them under the carpet.

“Both individual studies appear to be robust, due to the quality of the evaluation design, the number of schools involved and the fact that most schools that began the project stayed involved until the end.

“But equally, we should not dismiss the international and domestic evidence base that has accumulated over the past 33 years, when the first review of peer tutoring included in the Toolkit was published.”

In the Paired Reading programme, Year 7s are tutored by Year 9s during timetabled sessions for 20 minutes a week.

The younger pupil chooses a book that is above their reading ability and the two pupils begin to read it aloud together. The older pupil then stops reading, listens to the younger pupil and helps them to pronounce any tricky words. Tutors are expected to praise the younger pupils when they read a difficult word well.

But some teachers found that Year 9s were not mature enough to take on the responsibility and some lower-ability Year 9s had their confidence knocked because they were embarrassed to have the same reading ability as a Year 7.

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