Latest Educational News

Greater flexibility added to apprenticeship levy

by TES, June 26, 2018

Large employers will be able to transfer 10 per cent of their apprenticeship service funds to multiple businesses, the government has announced. Policymakers hope this will help boost the number of apprenticeships.

Levy-paying employers can currently already transfer up to 10 per cent of their apprenticeship service funds – but to only one other employer. Skills minister Anne Milton will today announce a move to greater flexibility, which will mean that from July, up to 10 per cent of their funds can be transferred to as many other employers as they choose.

Ms Milton will make the announcement at an event with over 160 employers. According to the government, only around 2 per cent of employers pay the levy but that investment has funded more than 40 per cent of the apprenticeships started in the last year.

FE funding 'too low', post-18 review told

by TES, June 26, 2018

Institutional funding for FE providers is too low, according to evidence submitted to the government’s review of post-18 education.

Addressing the Association of Employment and Learning Providers’ national conference in London today, review chair Philip Augar inssited the panel would look at the “full diversity” of FE providers.

Derby College was chosen as the venue for the launch of the review “quite deliberately as being representative of the broad universe of education institutions that the government is interested in”, Ms Augar said.

School offers children week off in term time

by BBC, June 26, 2018

A secondary school is offering parents the chance to take their children out of school for one week in July next year for an "enrichment week".

Woodlands School in Basildon says this will allow parents of pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 to give them "opportunities that are more affordable".

Pupils will have to complete a booklet outlining what they have learned.

The move comes as data shows rising numbers of pupils in England are being taken out of school to go on holiday.

More pupils take term-time holidays
Term-time holiday: What are the rules?
In his letter to parents, head teacher Simon Cox says 15 to 19 July 2019 will be set aside for an "enrichment week".

The 10 hardest universities to get into

by The Telegraph, June 25, 2018

The Complete University Guide has revealed the universities with the highest standards of entry for 2019. The data was collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, and is based on the average UCAS tariff score of new undergraduate students from 2016-2017. So which universities boast fierce competition for entry?

Deadline for grammar expansion bids extended

by TES, June 25, 2018

Grammar schools have been given an additional two weeks to submit bids to expand, Tes has learned.

The additional time allowed follows a report by Tes earlier this month, which revealed that just a handful of England’s 163 grammar schools had put out consultations on expansion plans.

Those interested in expanding their school, either by increasing onsite or setting up satellite sites elsewhere, had until 19 July to apply for a tranche of the government’s £50m Selective Schools Expansion Fund for 2018-2019.

But revised guidance issued in June stipulates that applicants now have until midday 2 August to submit an application.

Too many firsts risk universities' credibility, says think tank

by BBC, June 21, 2018

Universities risk losing their credibility due to "rocketing" grade inflation, a think tank has said.

According to Reform, the proportion of firsts awarded almost doubled between 1997-2009 and rose by 26% since 2010.

Their report calls for national tests to set degree grade benchmarks meaning only the top 10% of students could be awarded firsts.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said universities needed to act to protect the value of degrees.

Under Reform's proposals, universities would lose their ability to decide what their students should be awarded.

Ofsted chief inspector backs ban on phones in schools

by BBC, June 21, 2018

The chief inspector of Ofsted is backing head teachers who ban mobile phones to prevent bad behaviour.

In a speech, Amanda Spielman is expected to blame technology for making "low-level disruption" more common and endorse tough behaviour policies.

"The place of mobile phones in the classroom seems to me dubious at best," she will say.

Her speech comes after Culture Secretary Matt Hancock also called on head teachers to ban phones.

Ms Spielman is due to tell the audience at the Festival of Education at Wellington College that it was "entirely appropriate" for schools to use sanctions such as writing lines, detention or "community service" punishments such as picking up litter.

'Let's use sport to unite people around the world'

by TES, June 20, 2018

Next weekend would have seen my sister, Jo Cox, turn 44. We’ll be honouring her memory with a huge, nationwide celebration of what brings us together.

Last year we came up with the idea for the Great Get Together and the response was incredible. Millions all over the country joined together to celebrate everything we have in common, holding street parties and community events. Since then I’ve heard so many heart-warming stories of people making new friends, socialising with neighbours for the first time and even setting up new community groups.

We’re hoping this year’s Great Get Together, from 22-24 June, will be even bigger.

The Great Get Together can be whatever you want it to be – from being together to watch the football, putting on a picnic, to organising an event for the whole neighbourhood. It’s an opportunity to do something positive which doesn’t need to be a big effort or cost anything – you might need nothing more than a picnic blanket in the park and a bit of bunting.

'Our first year teaching the new GCSE was a facade’

by TES, June 20, 2018

The first years of teaching the new GCSEs have been a facade. We’ve all been confidently pretending to understand the complexities of specifications that were, in fact, quite alien.

In reality, we still do not truly know what a grade 4 looks like, nor what it might take to reach the coveted grade 9 – and we won’t know this until August.

History is an inherently subjective discipline, and teachers and leaders have only been able to make educated inferences this year as to what the new GCSE really wants from our students.

So, has this changed after watching our pupils sit their first exams of this new specification?

Cross-teaching topics
The sheer volume of content that teachers and students were expected to wade through for these new exams was clear from the offset. With coursework relegated, an extra module and the added challenge of the “historical environment” requirement, teaching history has felt even more like a marathon; a never-ending list of events, dates and facts, with little time to fully explore the key concepts and debates.

Dropping parent governors was a ‘mistake’, ex-adviser admits

by TES, June 20, 2018

A policy to remove the requirement for academy trusts to have parent governors was a “mistake”, an ex-Number 10 adviser has admitted.

Rachel Wolf also said the growth of multi-academy trusts (MATs) had resulted in parents becoming more distant from schools, and added that the Department for Education was “terrible” at talking to parents.

Ms Wolf worked as a special adviser to Michael Gove when he was education secretary, before going on to advise David Cameron and Theresa May on education in Downing Street. She now runs a public affairs firm called Public First.

Removing the requirement for academies to have parent governors was set out in the schools White Paper published in March 2016 by Nicky Morgan when she was education secretary, but it was dropped by her successor Justine Greening.

Poor pupils hit hardest by maths teacher shortages

by TES, June 20, 2018

Secondary school pupils in the most disadvantaged schools are being hit hardest by maths teacher shortages in England, according to research.

Students across all year groups in those schools are much more likely to be taught by an inexperienced teacher, the Nuffield Foundation found.

Its report said post-16 maths students in the most disadvantaged schools are almost twice as likely to have an inexperienced teacher as those in the least disadvantaged schools – 9.5 per cent versus 5.3 per cent.

The foundation said there was a shortage of maths teachers in England because 40 per cent of teachers leave during their first six years in the profession, while there is an increasing demand for teachers due to moves to increase participation in maths for 16- to 18-year-olds. Teaching is also competing against higher private sector wages for maths graduates.

It commissioned researchers from FFT Education Datalab to examine how secondary schools have responded to this shortage of maths teachers, and the impact it has on students.

Using data from England's School Workforce Census, researchers found that schools were deploying their most experienced and well-qualified maths teachers for year groups where the external stakes are high: GCSE, A-level and GCSE retakes.

The school children who live in England but are taught in Scotland

by BBC, June 20, 2018

Schools in the Scottish Borders are teaching more than 100 children who live in England.

Many of the pupils attend the secondary schools in Eyemouth and Duns.

One reason for the high number of placing requests may be the legacy of problems at Berwick Academy - although the school's new acting head believes it has now turned the corner.

A total of 103 secondary school pupils with English postcodes are at schools run by Scottish Borders Council.

The largest number are at Eyemouth High and Berwickshire High School in Duns which are within easy travelling distance of Berwick.

The reasons why parents from Northumberland have asked to send their children to schools in the Borders have not been made public.

'Level 2 qualifications are vital for progression'

by TES, June 19, 2018

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers’ national conference is less than a week away, and delegates will be very keen to hear what skills minister Anne Milton has to say about the apprenticeship reforms. In particular, about the start numbers which are now falling way behind the curve for achieving the government’s 3 million manifesto target.

For us, it is not just about the raw total of starts. The reforms should be about a successful balance of provision from level 2 to level 7, but the proportion of apprenticeship starts at level 2 and for young people has been steadily falling since the levy was introduced. AELP believes that this is bad for social mobility, workforce productivity and for meeting employers’ skills needs with Brexit almost upon us.

It is extraordinary how many policymakers and opinion-formers don’t appreciate how significant level 2 attainment is for both the economy and the large proportion of young people who leave school without it. AELP often has to point out that it’s impossible for a young person to embark on skills training or technical education at level 3 without having access to a level 2 programme first. Whether it is via an apprenticeship or some other form of further education, recognition of achievement at level 2 is vital for motivation and progression.

Fly-on-the-wall grammar to sponsor secondary modern

by TES, June 19, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

A London secondary modern school which featured in a recent BBC fly-on-the-wall documentary is to be absorbed into a multi-academy trust by a “forward-thinking” grammar school.

Erith School will be sponsored by nearby Townley Grammar School – both based in Bexley, South London – and renamed "King Henry School".

Townley Grammar's head, Desmond Deehan, first mentioned the plans when the schools were featured in a three-part BBC Two documentary, Grammar Schools: who will get in?, which concluded last week.

Today he confirmed the "ambitious" plan was going ahead with Erith School, which is currently rated by Ofsted as "requires improvement". As part of the process, Townley Grammar has established a multi-academy trust (MAT), the Odyssey Trust for Education, bringing Erith School into it. The Trust will be effective from the 1 September 2018.

‘Testing does apply to the real world’

by TES, June 19, 2018

The testing effect is one of the most fascinating findings in educational research. We are accustomed to thinking of tests as something you do to provide other people with information about your performance. But the research shows that tests can actually have a learning benefit, too.

In a test, you are often trying to recall information from memory, and the very act of trying to recall a fact helps to strengthen your memory of it. So this kind of retrieval practice is actually a good way to learn something, and is the reason why revising with flashcards or quizzing is better than just rereading or highlighting the material you need to learn.

But one criticism of the testing effect is that, while fine for acquiring basic facts, it isn’t that helpful for applying those facts. For example, it’s clear that filling in times-tables grids will help to solidify the memory of the times tables themselves. But what about if your aim is for pupils to apply such knowledge in more of a real-world situation? Does the testing effect help then?

Study or test
A study from 2010 [1] explored this exact question. Pupils aged 9-11 were set the task of learning the names of places on a map. To begin with, they were shown the map with the labelled regions they had to learn, and then they had to revise this information.

More pupils experience 'positive' outcomes

by TES, June 19, 2018

The gap between pupils from the most and least deprived areas who go on to university, college or a job after school is closing, new figures show.

The difference in the proportions of former pupils from the least and the most deprived areas classed as being in a "positive destination" nine months after leaving school has dropped from 11.2 percentage points in 2015-16 to 8.8 percentage points in 2016-17, according Scottish government figures published today.

In 2016-17, 87.6 per cent of school leavers from the most deprived areas were in a positive destination after school, compared with 96.4 per cent from the least deprived areas.

This is an improvement from 2015-16, when 85 per cent of school leavers from the most deprived areas were in a positive destination after school, compared with 96.2 per cent from the least deprived areas.

Overall, 92.9 per cent of last year’s school leavers were recorded as being in a positive destination – the highest figure since 2009-10.

'How art can help students explore mental health'

by TES, June 19, 2018

Mental health issues are on the rise in the post-16 sector, as Tes reported earlier this month. Depression, anxiety and stress appear to be at a record levels, with advice often focused on exercise, a good diet, talking therapies, medication and simply taking a break.

But can art help?

Art allows space for students to explore their lives and experiences. Art pathways are unique in that each student can devise their own projects in which they must demonstrate skills against which they are assessed. This allows an opportunity for students to explore what is relevant to them in an art context. For many, they choose to explore their health and the issues that affect it, from the personal to the global.

By developing projects alongside research into artists’ work, we can explore their ideas and apply them to our own. This process of researching, contextualising, understanding and applying allows students to use an artist’s method as a template. For my students this year, the photographic artist Jo Spence has been a particular influence.

'Impossible' French A-level exam 'a disgrace' say students

by BBC, June 19, 2018

Students and parents want an urgent review after errors in an A-level paper left candidates guessing answers.

Candidates took to Twitter to complain that sound files provided in a French listening exam were jumbled up and did not coincide with the questions.

One student said she was waving "au revoir" to her university chances after the exam.

The board, Eduqas, has admitted mistakes on the paper, taken by more than 800 students in England.

One Twitter user, Ellie, called the paper a disgrace and said it was beyond a joke.

Computing exam changes are a turn-off

by TES, June 18, 2018

Fewer and less diverse students are studying computing due to exam reforms, a new report warns.

The report from the University of Roehampton says that the numbers of key stage 4 students taking any computing qualification declined slightly until last year – and were now on a "cliff edge".

It says that the drop had been expected because the ICT GCSE is being scrapped and other vocational qualifications will no longer count in school league tables.

The report’s authors say that while numbers of students taking the new computer science GCSE have risen until now, computing science and ICT are quite different qualifications and are taken by quite different students.

Data from the Joint Council of Qualifications in 2017 revealed that 64,159 students entered GCSE computing and 59,438 entered ICT computing.

‘Extra revision classes don’t have to be a burden’

by TES, June 18, 2018

To me, intervention has always been something that I’ve seen as marginally effective. It wasn’t until I moved schools that I realised the true value of teaching additional sessions outside of prescribed lesson time.

Recently, I came across an article by Mark Enser about why teachers should “say 'no' to revision sessions out of hours”, from December 2017. It got me thinking about why my views on intervention have changed.

Enser raises some really important points about the increased pressures that our profession is facing. He discusses the “race” to equip students with the knowledge they need to succeed in exams, and how out-of-hours revision sessions are helping to make teaching less sustainable.

However, referring to this as the “tragedy of intervention” is, in my opinion, missing the real reasons why some of us choose to put these sessions on for our students.

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