Latest Educational News

Heads want end to league tables

by BBC, April 30, 2006

Head teachers have voted to launch a campaign to see school league tables in England abolished.

Members of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) - at their annual conference in Harrogate - voted overwhelmingly for the campaign.

They say a "fixation with test results" narrows the curriculum and ignores the "talents of later developers".

One suggestion for the campaign is to tell parents to bring children in late so they miss national curriculum tests.

Tables are based on results of tests for 11 and 14-year-olds as well as GCSEs and A-Levels.

Schools pushed towards bullying league tables

by Sunday Times, April 30, 2006

Schools are being forced to take the first steps towards league tables on bullying and bad behaviour as new government guidelines oblige them to collect data on violent and disruptive incidents.
The move is part of the government’s drive to improve pupil behaviour and will oblige head teachers to deal with endemic bullying.

The new rules will oblige schools in England and Wales to collect annual figures and publish the results to governors, inspectors and parents. Schools have not so far been required to collect such data.

The move would entail the schools publishing bullying and bad behaviour data in their prospectuses, alongside their academic results.

The move follows concern over growing violence and misbehaviour in schools. There have been several high-profile cases, such as the 2003 murder of 14-year-old Luke Walmsley by Alan Pennell, a 16-year-old whose bullying behaviour had been left unchecked at Birkbeck secondary school in North Somercotes, Lincolnshire.

Almost anybody else can run a school

by Telegraph, April 30, 2006

New government guidance on trust schools has been condemned as an education "free-for-all", which bars only breweries, gambling outlets and "adult" entertainment companies from establishing schools.

Draft guidelines on the new breed of "independent state schools" - the most controversial elements of the Education Bill - give carte blanche for almost any individual, organisation or business to become involved in running a school.

Headteachers 'may become extinct'

by Guardian, April 30, 2006

Headteachers could become a thing of the past with schools run by chief executives or health service administrators in future, a union was warned.

Members of the National Association of Head Teachers called on the Government to "come clean" over their plans for how schools will be managed in the future.

The warnings followed NAHT research which suggested that up to half a million children in England and Wales are already in schools without permanent headteachers.

Heads at the NAHT's annual conference in Harrogate claimed the recruitment crisis would be solved by appointing managers from health and social services - not education - to run schools.

Tim Benson, head of Nelson Primary School in East Ham, said primary schools were particularly vulnerable.

"It is clear to my mind that the growing view subtly referred to by many of our educational leaders, but not yet publicly articulated, is that just as we do not need qualified teachers in the classroom any more, we no longer need headteachers in our schools.

"Create a huge comprehensive with its chief executive and then create satellite primaries with leading teachers in all of them directing the work of the army of teaching assistants. He presto, recruitment crisis solved," he said.

School inspections 'humiliating'

by BBC, April 29, 2006

Critical school inspections represent a "public humiliation", the annual conference of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has heard.
The practice of sending letters to pupils describing the findings of the education watchdog Ofsted also came in for condemnation.

These were "patronising, condescending and supercilious", the NAHT said.

The letters gave children a "licence for bad behaviour", the conference in Harrogate heard.

Skills courses oust A-levels

by Cambridge, April 29, 2006

Cambridge Regional College yesterday (Friday, 28 April) told staff, students and parents it will stop offering full-time A-level programmes - including AS courses.

The college, with campuses in King's Hedges Road and Newmarket Road, said the move was mainly due to the Government urging further education colleges to focus on skills training and employability and leave academic courses to sixth form colleges like Hills Road and Long Road in Cambridge.

Rick Dearing, college principal, said CRC expected to lose nine full-time teaching posts and two technician jobs from its staff of almost 700.

But he said the college was keen to avoid any compulsory redundancies and a two-week consultation with staff had begun.

Children's Laureate tells parents to remember bedtime reading

by Independent, April 29, 2006

Children are missing out on bedtime stories because busy parents believe they are old enough to read to themselves, according to the award-winning author Jacqueline Wilson.

The Children's Laureate launched a campaign to encourage parents to set aside 15 minutes a day for reading stories aloud.

Youngsters up to the age of 12 who have had regular bedtime stories are noticeably more confident and articulate than other children, Ms Wilson claimed. But most parents abandon daily stories by the time their child is seven because they believe they are old enough to read to themselves.

"I have been surprised by how very few children seem to have any kind of story read to them by their parents," said Ms Wilson. "They all have story tapes and TVs in their bedrooms but what they don't have is mum or dad or carer snuggling up with them and reading aloud. It is a sad reflection of our busy lives."

School admission code would bar interviews

by Guardian, April 29, 2006

Schools may be in breach of the law unless they take steps to ensure they do not choose pupils for their intake on the basis of their social background, under proposals on admissions released by the government in a bid to head off a backbench rebellion.
A legally enforceable code on admissions is seen by critics as crucial to stopping the government's planned school reforms, including introduction of self-governing trust schools, leading to new forms of back door selection.

The education secretary, Ruth Kelly, has pledged to end selection by the front door, the back door, or any other door. The draft code released late on Thursday goes further than previously by stating that schools will be expected to ensure their intake matches the social and class mix of their catchment area. It will be scrutinised next week by the committee of MPs studying the education bill line by line.

Under the proposals annual reports will be prepared by school admission forums and sent to the government's schools commissioner, setting out information on the number of preferences met and the social and ethnic mix of schools, compared with communities they serve.

Nobody wants to be head teacher

by Telegraph, April 29, 2006

About half a million children are in schools without permanent head teachers because of a mounting recruitment crisis, a survey showed yesterday.

Lack of applications for what was once the most sought after position has led 1,200 schools in England alone to rely on deputies or temporary agency staff to run them, said the National Association of Head Teachers.

Staff are reluctant to take on the responsibility of headship and most vacancies have to be advertised two or three times, its report says.

Delegates at the union's annual conference in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, were told the Government was imposing a "football manager syndrome" on the profession.

A-Level axe will create division

by Oxford, April 28, 2006

After more than 50 years of setting the gold standard for education worldwide, the A-level may finally be forced to retire.

While the Government is trying to breathe life back into the embattled exam with a series of measures to distinguish the brightest candidates, private schools are already hammering the nails into its coffin.

Claiming the qualification is now devalued with too many students getting top grades, they are looking elsewhere for a course that will challenge their sixth-formers.

For good results learn the science of swotting

by Times, April 28, 2006

It’s E-word time: the big month of GCSE and A-level exams has come crashing in with the calm inevitability of a runaway locomotive. Along with the exams come the pressure and cajoling, most often in the guise of advice, much of which can prove unhelpful, self-defeating and annoying to the poor student who has to do the work.
And, anyway, in these final few weeks it can feel too late for rescue; that it’s not worth trying anything new. But there’s hope: psychologists have discovered a battery of scientifically based strategies that could help to improve students’ scores if they are practised in the final run-up to the tests.

We’ve put them all together here for you, along with tips for parents on being cool coaches, and nutritional advice (overleaf) for feeding that exam-crunching brain. The bad news is that there is no substitute for revision, but the good news is that students can listen to their favourite music and have fun while doing the work.

Schools may ditch A-Levels

by Oxford, April 28, 2006

independent schools in Oxfordshire have revealed they may ditch A-Levels within two years for a new diploma.

Magdalen College School, Oxford, Oxford High School, Radley College, Abingdon and Abingdon School are among those interested in the 'Cambridge Pre-U' being developed by the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) for independent schools only.

State school heads, worried the diploma could give private school pupils an unfair advantage in university admissions, have condemned the move.

Last year, the percentage of students passing A-Levels reached 96.2 per cent, with almost 23 per cent achieving A grades. The Government is considering introducing measures to help differentiate between high-flying candidates, although Andrew Hallsok, head of Magdalen College School, said these would not restore confidence.

Growing gap in Wales-England GSCE results, study claims

by Guardian, April 27, 2006

Welsh pupils are falling behind their English counterparts at GCSE level, it was claimed today.
A BBC study said pupils in England were outperforming pupils in Wales, and a 3% gap has appeared in the years since devolution in 1999.

The Welsh assembly says it is an unfair comparison, but in Westminster ministers are likely to see it as validation of their policy of league tables and innovations such as trust schools and academies.

In Wales the assembly has scrapped national curriculum tests (Sats) and league tables, and stuck with comprehensives.

Statistics obtained by the BBC from the assembly and the Department for Education and Skills showed that in 1999 the percentage of 15-year-old pupils achieving at least five A* to C grades or equivalent at GCSE/GNVQ level was 48% in both Wales and England.

Ministers have defended the cost of building city academies ...

by BBC, April 27, 2006

Ministers have defended the cost of building city academies, saying they are the same as other similar schools.

It has often been said that academies cost far more.

Last year the Commons education select committee said their start-up capital cost was "significantly beyond that of other new schools".

But the government said some non-academy schools now cost up to £35m, more than the average for an academy of similar size and location.

In its report, the select committee questioned the wisdom of investing so much public money in untested types of school.

But a spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said academies were built to similar specifications as other state schools.

Good quality schools for all, not just the few

by Socialist, April 27, 2006

Education is always a vital political issue, especially at times of local council elections. But now, with New Labour introducing its Education and Inspections Bill pupils, parents and teachers all face chaos as Blair and Co. aim to overturn the comprehensive education system.

They also want to let the 'free market' and big business take over much of the education system, wrestle all control of schools away from local authorities and give much of the more money-spinning sections over directly to big business and religious organisations.

There are no educational arguments for the government's bill. But Blair has shown how much emphasis his government put on their education 'reforms' by the sleaze stories that appeared in the media recently.

'Creationist' school is praised

by BBC, April 26, 2006

A college that is sponsored by a fundamentalist Christian foundation has been rated as an outstanding school by Ofsted - for the third time in a row.
Emmanuel College, in Gateshead, is backed by Christian philanthropist Sir Peter Vardy, and attracts controversy by teaching pupils about Creationism.

The city technology college was called "remarkable" in the latest report.

It is now one of only 12 secondary schools in the country to have received three consecutive top ratings.

Emmanuel College has a strong Christian ethos but has attracted controversy by teaching Biblical creationism as well as evolutionary theory.

School rolls rise in private sector

by Scotsman, April 26, 2006

SCOTLAND'S independent schools have bucked the national trend by increasing pupil numbers while state school rolls are falling.

Figures released yesterday by the Scottish Executive showed there were 30,321 pupils in independent schools in 2005, 67 more than in 2004. Over the same period, the number of pupils in the state sector fell by about 10,000, in line with the country's dwindling population.

More pupils go to independent schools as overall numbers fall

by The Herald, April 26, 2006

The number of pupils attending private schools in Scotland has risen, despite an overall decline in the school-age population.

There are now 30,321 pupils in independent schools in Scotland, 67 more than in 2004.

Official statistics show that about 4% of parents now have their children educated in the independent sector compared with just over 3.5% in 1995.

Academy sponsors 'not deterred'

by BBC, April 26, 2006

The government says more people have offered to sponsor academies in England - despite the "cash for honours" row.
Education Secretary Ruth Kelly said the target of having 200 academies by 2010 might not be ambitious enough.

The trust which supports academies has given a statement to police investigating allegations that Labour backers were promised honours.

It said none of its council or staff had promised an honour to sponsors of specialist schools or academies.

Ms Kelly was asked on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 whether the government was having difficulty finding backers for new academies.

Postcode lottery 'unfair' to our school children

by Belfast Telegraph, April 26, 2006

The prospect of children being selected for post-primary school education through a postcode lottery hits at the fundamental sense of fairness of Northern Ireland society.

That's the view of Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey which he shared yesterday at a major party seminar on the future of our education system.

Parents, teachers, church representatives and business and industry representatives were among those at Stormont yesterday morning who heard Sir Reg's scathing views on the direction direct rule politicians have taken the education debate on a replacement for the 11-plus.


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