Latest Educational News

Voices of education win New Year honours

by Guardian, December 31, 2005

Critical friends of New Labour in schools and higher education gained recognition in the New Year honours list, as the government continued to flag up its education credentials.
Headteachers' leader David Hart, who has often criticised ministers but backed their plans to give schools more autonomy, is knighted, along with Professor Ivor Crewe who helped deliver universities' support for top-up fees.

Teaching special needs children to be at home in outside world

by Scotsman, December 31, 2005

A Christmas tree stands in one corner of a clutter-free open-plan lounge, while in the kitchen there's all the usual equipment you would expect to find - kettle, cutlery, washing machine.

On closer inspection though, there are subtle but crucial differences to the normal fittings. The kettle is on a stand, making it easier to lift, spoons have chunky easy-grip handles and buttons on the work surfaces can change their height if pressed.

New Year honours in education

by Guardian, December 31, 2005

Full list of academics, teachers and educationalists in New Year honours list

Professor John Macleod Ball. Sedleian professor of natural philosophy, University of Oxford. For services to science. (Oxford, Oxfordshire)

Professor Averil Millicent Cameron, CBE. Professor of late antique and Byzantine history, University of Oxford, and warden, Keble College. For services to classical scholarship. (Oxford, Oxfordshire)

Professor Ivor Martin Crewe, DL. Vice-chancellor, University of Essex and formerly president, Universities UK. For services to higher education. (Colchester, Essex)

Anna Patricia Lucy Hassan. Headteacher, Millfields community school, Hackney, London. For services to education. (Barking, Essex)

School chiefs bid to get pupils on board for PE

by Scotsman, December 30, 2005

PUPILS who don't want to play traditional sports, such as football and hockey, during PE classes are being given the chance to go skateboarding instead.

The move is aimed at getting more youngsters involved in physical activity and tackling the growing problem of childhood obesity.

Teachers from around the world flock to Scots schools

by Scotsman, December 30, 2005

Record numbers of teachers are coming to work in Scotland from elsewhere in the UK and abroad, according to new figures.

Nearly 1,500 have registered in the past year - an increase of 40 per cent from a year ago.

Inspection body 'underused cash'

by BBC, December 30, 2005

A teaching union has accused Estyn, the body in charge of school inspections in Wales, of underusing its money.
NUT Cymru claims more than £2m has not been spent by the body and handed back to the Welsh Assembly Government.

The union criticised Estyn's actions at a time it claimed schools in Wales were "struggling with inadequate funding".

The assembly government said where underspends occur, funds can be "held in reserve and deployed to educational and other priorities as they emerge."

According to the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in Wales, Estyn's funding increased by £15.5% in 2005 compared with the previous year.

Grammars Are Enemy Of Equality

by News Letter, December 30, 2005

Proponents of Costello education recommendations offer a future of social inclusiveness in our schools. Their opponents in the grammar lobby contend they already offer this, as well as providing a ladder of opportunity to poorer families. Government policies sound great, equality of opportunity for all kids, yet as usual money saving is probably the main purpose of the Costello proposals. The new 24/27 subject choices illustrate this clearly, sending all kids to a local school at 11 will save a fortune on bus costs, forcing schools to provide 24 subjects at GCSE and 27 at A-level will necessitate huge unwieldy schools (2,500+ pupils) and financial saving through the economies of scale.

If the Government was serious about equality of opportunity, why not start with the basics?

Taxpayer to bail out private nurseries

by Times, December 30, 2005

A crisis in childcare has forced the Government to use taxpayers’ money to subsidise privately run nurseries in an attempt to improve standards.

Private and voluntary nurseries will be given up to £10,000 a year for every graduate they recruit, The Times has learnt.

Ministers have been forced to act after a series of damning reports into the conditions in private nurseries and crèches used by 630,000 children. Official inspections revealed the lack of staff, poor security and dirty premises faced by parents who spend up to £200 a week on nursery places.

Just one in ten staff at private nurseries has a degree, despite research that shows children do far better at nursery if the staff includes a qualified graduate teacher.

The Government’s own research found that there are 20,000 private, voluntary or independent pre-schools not headed by qualified teachers. In addition, 40 per cent of nursery workers are educated only to NVQ Level 2, not the NVQ Level 3 that is recommended by experts.

Education and social equity

by Trinidad Express, December 29, 2005

In my last article I referred to the fact that active discussion is taking place in the United Kingdom on the latest White Paper on education that has been put forward by the Tony Blair government. It is important to understand this discussion since it goes to the root of an important aspect of social equity in education and so I will amplify on some of the points made in my last article.
After World War II, with the advent of the Labour Government in Britain, considerable emphasis was placed on education and a system of selection for entry into secondary schools was established based on the ranking of performance at an examination at age 11 (the 11-plus or Common Entrance examination). This was intended to allow students from all classes of society to be able to attend the best schools if they performed well at this examination. This resulted in the creaming off of the students who performed best to attend the Grammar schools and the rest to attend Secondary Modern schools. It is this system of meritocracy that we followed in Trinidad and Tobago. In this country the Common Entrance resulted in creaming off of the better performing students into so-called “prestige schools ” and the rest into five-year schools or Junior Secondary schools perceived to be of lower quality.

Free fruit 'a success' in Scottish schools

by Guardian, December 29, 2005

The Scottish executive today claimed success with their healthy eating plan for schoolchildren - saying that pupils who receive a daily dose of free fruit are more likely to eat their veggies at lunchtime.

Five and six-year-olds in Scotland now receive a daily piece of fruit for free - and a survey by the executive shows it is encouraging them to switch to healthier snacks, and that more children are trying vegetables at lunchtime too.

90% of schoolworkers surveyed said giving primary one and two (five and six-year-old) pupils free fresh fruit was improving youngsters' eating habits, while 60% also said that pupils were eating more fresh fruit and vegetables at lunchtime, as a result of the scheme.

Education minister in the Scottish parliament, Peter Peacock, said: "Young people are enjoying healthier school meals, fresh fruit and water as part of their daily routine.

Call to test parent power change

by BBC, December 29, 2005

Plans to change the way parents become involved in the running of Scotland's schools should be piloted first to see if they work, the Tories have said.
The Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill would enable new parent councils to be established, with a wider focus than school boards.

The Scottish Tories warned that parents could lose their say over issues such as senior teaching staff appointments.

The Scottish Executive said the aim was to give parents more say, not less.

A spokeswoman said the executive was currently consulting on plans to boost parents' involvement in appointing senior teaching staff.

Pupils to be weighed in battle against obesity

by Daily Mail, December 29, 2005

Nurses hope to spot children who are becoming too fat by weighing and measuring them as they start primary school and again before they move up.

If a problem is identified, the youngsters will be given advice on healthier diets and exercise.

The Department of Health will issue guidance to primary care trusts next year on how to conduct the checks.

The move follows a 2004 White Paper aiming to halt the year-onyear increase in obesity among under-11s by 2010.

Infant industry

by Times, December 29, 2005

Nursery education is the forgotten element in the nation’s schooling. There are times when it is treated — by parents and schools alike — as something more akin to an extension of childcare than the earliest stage of what, for most, is now 15 years of formal learning; for many children, there are almost two decades from the first day in nursery to the last at university. Yet there is little doubt that exposure to books, words and their peers at the age of 3 will assist longer-term academic development. That is why the Government has sought to encourage an expansion of this sector — a drive that many in the middle classes have pre-empted by private payment.
There are areas of education where money both talks and delivers. This is, though, not one of them. For as we report today, the Government, in an unusual move, is proposing to subsidise directly the salaries of graduate nursery workers employed by private nurseries in an attempt to improve the quality of teaching. While the provision of state-funded nurseries has increased, the independent and voluntary element of this market has been, and probably will remain, dominant.

The quality of the education pro- vided here is, nonetheless, surprisingly indifferent. The best is excellent but substantial fees and superficially attractive facilities are no guarantee of intellectual stimulation. Most studies suggest that programmes offered to very young children by nurseries where the head teacher is a graduate and many staff members are also graduates are frequently superior to others in the hands of those without formal training. While it is the norm for state nurseries to be led by a graduate, this is rarely typical in private and voluntary institutions. Nor are such bodies inclined to recruit graduates as teachers, not least because of the extra expense.

‘It’sa real privilege and dream come true’

by Bucks, December 29, 2005

THE long-serving deputy head at the Royal Grammar School has been appointed headteacher to carry the school forward.

Roy Page, 55, from Ford Way, Downley, fought off stiff competition from 11 other candidates to replace out-going headmaster Tim Dingle.

He will take up his new role after the Easter break in April, when Mr Dingle travels to Argentina to become head of a college in Buenos Aires.

Having spent his entire working career with the school in Amersham Road since being appointed as a maths teacher in 1972, Mr Page said it was a huge honour to be put in charge.

He said: "It is a real privilege and a dream come true.

"This is one of the great schools in the country and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead."

Positions as boarding master and head of sixth form followed, before Mr Page was appointed deputy headmaster in 1989. He was made senior deputy in 2000.

Having worked closely with Mr Dingle for the last five years, Mr Page feels he has learned a lot that he can use in his new role.

Adonis in 'conflict of interest' row over Islington academy

by Independent, December 29, 2005

When Tony Blair rejected his local Islington state school and opted to send his children to the Catholic London Oratory in west London instead, it garnered him some unfortunate press.

Now the curse of Islington Green School has struck again, and this time it's Lord (Andrew) Adonis - Blair's education minister - who is on the receiving end.

Adonis has been specially charged with setting up 200 "city academies" by 2010. One of the first comprehensives in line for the change - which would see millions of pounds injected into it - is Islington Green School. This also just happens to be on Lord Adonis's doorstep, and is the school he's likely to consider for his own children, who are currently at a state primary school in the borough.

Fat link to kiddies' toys

by The Sun, December 28, 2005

Kids are getting fatter because of new Christmas TOYS, a report on child obesity said yesterday.
Computer games and DVDs do not encourage enough healthy play compared to toys from the 1970s like spacehoppers and Chopper bikes, said the study for the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education.

Eighty-five per cent of school PE teachers thought pupils were unfit.

Professor Kate Sullivan said: “If you ask a child what they had for Christmas this year it won’t be anything to do with physical exercise.”

Teaching jobs in doubt as pensioners set to outnumber pupils by ...

by Scotsman, December 28, 2005

Scotland's demographic time-bomb will explode in three years, when the number of pensioners north of the Border overtakes the number of children in school, the Executive has been warned.

A team of civil servants working on strategic plans for the country's future has told ministers that by 2009, the number of pensioners will exceed the 650,000 young people predicted to be in primary and secondary education.

The stark warning that the demographic changes will hit home sooner than many had expected has prompted moves to end the Executive's "target culture", which could see the ditching of its commitment to employ 53,000 teachers.

Action speaks louder than words when it comes to teaching boys

by Telegraph, December 28, 2005

Boys are writing a musical "rap" describing the circulation of blood around the body in one classroom while a group of 12-year-olds down the corridor have moved their desks to design a campaign plan of the Battle of Hastings.

Older pupils are acting out Shakespeare to each other in the English department of Hampton school as part of an experiment to match teaching styles to the active way boys are believed to learn best.

The underachievement of boys in state schools has been acknowledged as a challenge by the Government, which has set up working parties to draw up ways of closing the gap with girls.

But Hampton, a traditional single-sex day school in west London, has little to worry about. Last summer three quarters of its pupils' GCSE entries were awarded the top A* or A grade and almost four fifths of A-levels were achieved at grades A or B.

The school, however, is closely monitoring the national debate about the poor performance of boys in national tests. Currently, boys lag 17 per cent behind girls for writing at the age of 11 and in examination results where they are eight per cent less likely than girls to get good GCSE grades.

Jettison prep schools and 11-plus coaching

by Belfast Telegraph, December 27, 2005

Proponents of the Costello education recommendation claim to offer a future of social inclusiveness in our schools. Their opponents in the grammar lobby contend that they already offer this, as well as providing a ladder of opportunity to poorer families. It is hard to know who to believe. Both are probably less than fully honest.

The Government policies sound great - equality of opportunity for all children - yet, as usual, money saving is probably the main purpose of the Costello proposals.

The new 24-27 subject choices illustrate this clearly, sending all children to a local school at 11 will save a fortune on bus costs and forcing schools to provide 24 subjects at GCSE and 27 at A-level will necessitate huge unwieldy schools (2,500 plus pupils) and, therefore, financial saving through the economies of scale.

If the Government was serious about equality of opportunity, why not start with the basics? Remove the funding from the grammar prep departments, remove them from school campuses and disassociate the grammar schools' name from the preps.

Preps offer nothing positive to the greater number of our children but allow a small number of pretentious parents to think that they are providing a private education for their children.

These pushy parents also value keeping their little darlings separate from the unwashed masses, who, ironically, are funding two thirds of the cost of this ridiculous snobbery through their taxes.

Third of school kitchens fail basic hygiene tests

by Scotsman, December 27, 2005

Nearly a third of Edinburgh school kitchens have failed to meet basic hygiene standards.

A total of 20 out of the 66 school kitchens assessed by food safety inspectors since January this year had failings ranging from

mouse droppings and mouldy food to worn-out facilities and equipment.

The inspection reports, released to the Evening News under the Freedom of Information Act, show the varying degree of kitchen cleanliness on offer to the city's 46,000 school children.

Critics today called on the council to invest more cash into schools kitchens after inspectors found that nearly half of the kitchens pulled up for breaches of food safety legislation needed urgent modernisation.