Latest Educational News

Children as young as 3 grouped by 'ability' to prepare for Sats

by TES, December 1, 2017

Proposed Reception baseline could exacerbate labelling of young children, say researchers
Children as young as three are being grouped by "ability" to prepare for Sats, research has found.

Teachers say they are expected to group children in order to prepare them for the phonics check taken at the end of Year 1 and the KS1 Sats taken at the end of Year 2, a study by the UCL Institute of Education has found.

The study, commissioned by the National Education Union (NEU), discovered that, while 45 per cent of teachers think grouping damages some children’s self-esteem, it is seen as a “necessary evil” due to the pressure that schools are under from the statutory tests.

“The findings make for challenging reading,” Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that the pressure on schools to ensure pupils pass tests means children as young as three consider themselves ‘low ability’ right at the start of their academic life, a belief that could impact on their self-esteem, carry on throughout their schooling and determine the direction of their adult lives.

“The National Education Union will work hard to lobby the government to address accountability and curriculum pressures that lead to the labelling of children. As a first step to improving the situation, the government should commit to make the phonics screening check non-statutory.”

Teacher involvement in research has no impact on pupils' outcomes

by TES, December 1, 2017

A new report from the Education Endowment Foundation shows that pupils may benefit from teachers' interest in research – but this does not need to involve membership of a research learning community
Teacher involvement in research communities makes no difference to pupils' outcomes, a new study has found.

A trial conducted by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) did find some evidence of a positive relationship between teachers’ interest in academic research and pupils’ outcomes – but this was unrelated to whether or not they were members of a research learning community.

The EEF study states: “In recent years, there has been an international trend towards the use of evidence to inform practice. Both in the UK and internationally, greater focus has been placed on addressing the gap between research evidence and professional practice…

“For instance, initiatives such as ResearchED in the UK have aimed to bridge the gap between research and practice in education by bringing together researchers, teachers, and policymakers.”

Three-quarters of teachers 'want social media etiquette to be taught in school'

by TES, December 1, 2017

Poll also finds that a quarter of pupils have lied online within the last six months
Three-quarters of teachers believe that social media etiquette and ethics should be taught in schools, a poll has found.

But only a third say that they actually offer these lessons in their schools, according to the poll of 725 teachers, weighted to provide a representative sample of the profession.

The research included a separate poll of 1,041 children between the ages of six and 17, which found that more than a quarter – 26 per cent – admitted to having lied on social media within the last six months.

In recognition of this problem, 72 per cent of teachers said that social media etiquette and ethics should be taught in schools. This is greater than the proportion of teachers – 58 per cent – who believe that it is important to teach coding or computer programming.

However, only 36 per cent said that their schools currently deliver such lessons, while 43 per cent offer lessons in coding.

Most teachers 'lack confidence in assessing pupils'

by TES, November 30, 2017

A fifth of teachers do not know where to look for information on assessment, poll finds
Only a third of classroom teachers feel “very confident” in their ability to assess pupils' work and understanding, a poll shows.

And a fifth of teachers do not know where to look for information on assessment, the survey of more than 1,000 teachers in England has revealed.

Meanwhile, the majority of teachers did not receive training in undertaking assessments as part of their initial teacher training, according to the YouGov poll.

The findings have been published in a report from education thinktank LKMco and education company Pearson.

The report defines assessment as including impromptu verbal feedback during lessons, classroom tests, comparative assessments to see how pupils are performing against their peers, as well as statutory tests and exams.

Based on a year-long research project, the report also says that many teachers and pupils feel that statutory assessments “do not adequately capture pupils’ achievements”, partly because the accountability system “incentivises schools to pick certain qualifications”.

Number of pupils requesting extra time in exams rises, Ofqual data shows

by TES, November 30, 2017

And the number of modified question papers produced increased by 26 per cent this year
The numbers of candidates requesting extra time in exams rose by 8 per cent this year, according to new statistics out today.

Exams regulator Ofqual has this morning released data on access arrangements for the summer 2017 exam series.

Access arrangements are provisions made for candidates with disabilities, temporary illnesses or special educational needs to ensure they are not unfairly disadvantaged in an exam.

The most common type of access arrangement is a request for 25 per cent extra time during the exam – this year there has been a rise of 8 per cent in requests – up from 206,405 last year to 223,405.

These extra time arrangements made up 57 per cent of all approved arrangements this year compared to 55 per cent in 2015-16.

Overall, the new statistical release shows that the number of access arrangements approved for GCSE, AS and A-level candidates in England rose by 5 per cent this year.

Modified exams
Today's statistics also show that there was a 26 per cent rise in the number of modified question papers produced.

English GCSE resits surge as overall number of retakes plummets

by TES, November 30, 2017

This month was the first opportunity for students to resit the reformed 9 to 1 maths and English GCSEs
The number of candidates resitting GCSE English this month has surged while the overall number of pupils retaking their GCSEs has dropped, new statisitics show.

Exams regulator Ofqual has released new data for November GCSE entries today showing that there has been a 29 per cent increase in GCSE English entries.

But overall, the number of GCSE resits fell by 19 per cent compared with November 2016 – bringing the overall entries in 2017 back into line with the entries in November 2015.

Last year, there was a spike in the number of GCSE entries, as November 2016 was the last chance for pupils to resit the legacy GCSEs.

First chance to resit new GCSEs
This month is the first time that pupils have been able to resit the reformed 9 to 1 maths and English GCSEs.

Summer-born children twice as likely to miss early years benchmark

by TES, November 30, 2017

Gap between oldest and youngest pupils in class revealed by new data
Almost two-fifths of summer-born pupils fail to reach the government’s benchmark at the end of Reception, compared with one-fifth of autumn-born children.

Department for Education statistics released today show how different children perform in the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile assessment.

To reach a good level of development, children must have reached the expected level in 12 of the 17 areas in which they are assessed, including being able to count to 20, read simple sentences and take turns when playing.

Overall, the proportion of four- and five-year-olds who were judged as having a good level of development at the end of Reception rose to 70.7 per cent this year from 69.3 per cent in 2016.

'Let younger children defer for a year'
But the new data reveals the gap between children who are only just, or are still, four years old when the assessment is carried out – and their older classmates who have turned 5 soon after starting school.

There have been calls from parents of summer-born children for them to be allowed to keep their children off school for a year – beginning in Reception just after they turn 5.

The calls have been backed by Nick Gibb, the schools standards minister, who has said that the government intends to change the admission rules to prevent summer-born children going straight into Year 1 if they defer. But the changes to the admissions code have yet to be published.

The tables published today also reveal that only slightly more than half (56 per cent) of children eligible for free school meals reach a good level of development – compared with 73 per cent of other pupils.

Grammar schools to make 'formal' commitment to admitting poorer pupils

by TES, November 30, 2017

Classified as 11 Plus.

The announcement by schools minister Nick Gibb comes after government plans to open a new wave of grammar schools were dropped
Grammar school headteachers will make a formal commitment to trying to increase the number of disadvantaged children they admit, schools minister Nick Gibb has suggested.

In a response to the Commons Education Select Committee's report on grammar schools, he said selective school heads will commit to improving their admissions of poorer pupils in a "formal agreement".

One of the recommendations from the committee of MPs in February was to ensure that tests were not the only basis on which admissions to grammar schools were decided.

In the government's response, Mr Gibb wrote: "The Grammar School Heads' Association (GSHA) has been clear that their members are committed to improving admission rates for disadvantaged pupils, and it is important this commitment is now delivered by selective schools.

"I welcome the fact that the GSHA will codify this commitment in a formal agreement with the Department for Education."

Earlier this year, Tes exclusively revealed that more than a third of the existing grammar schools in England were set to change their admissions procedures next year to take more children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Teach Reception children how to grip a pencil, says Ofsted

by BBC, November 30, 2017

Children in Reception class in England should be taught how to grip a pencil properly and how to sit correctly at a table, says the watchdog Ofsted.
Inspectors say a third of five-year-olds do not have the essential knowledge and understanding they need following their first year at school.
They say the picture for children from poorer homes is worse, with nearly half failing to gain necessary skills.
Heads said the good work of early years professionals should not be undermined.
Ofsted says primary-school teachers should be reading lots of stories, poems and rhymes out loud to children.
It says encouraging them to join in and learn them by heart introduces them to new vocabulary, language structures and ideas.
Providing children with the right reading books to practise what they have been taught in their phonics lessons will make sure they master the alphabetic code so they can read by themselves.
Reading should be the focus in the Reception year and reading "was at the heart of the curriculum" in successful schools.

Teacher training target missed for fifth year in a row in England

by BBC, November 30, 2017

There has been a failure to attract a fifth of the trainee teachers the government says are needed for secondary schools in England.
Department for Education figures show only 80% of trainees were recruited on to schemes in 2017 and targets were hit in only two of 15 subjects.
It is the fifth year in a row teacher training targets have been missed.
However, School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said there were a record number of teachers in schools.
"We simply cannot go on like this," said the Association of School and College Leaders' head Geoff Barton.
"There are severe teacher shortages in many subjects and in many areas of the country, and this is having a real and detrimental impact on the quality of education that we able to provide to our young people.
"It is imperative that we better incentivise teaching as a career, not least through a cost-of-living pay increase which addresses the significant real-terms decline in teaching salaries and which is fully funded by the government."

Spending on supply teachers rises to £1.3 billion

by TES, November 29, 2017

Local authority maintained schools spend greater share of budget on supply teachers than academies, according to figures published today
Schools in England spent £1.3 billion on supply teachers in 2015-16, according to new government figures published by the government.

The figure represents a 4 per cent increase on 2014-15, when schools spent £1.24 billion, according to Department for Education figures contained in a presentation from June.

Nick Gibb, the minister for school standards, published today's figures in response to a parliamentary question from Anna Turley, the Labour MP for Redcar.

They also show that local authority schools spend more on supply teachers as a proportion of their budget than academies.

According to his response, in 2015-16 maintained schools in England spent 3.26 per cent of their total expenditure on supply teachers, compared with 2.28 per cent in academies.

Taken together, this equates to just under £1.3 billion, or £58,699 on average, per school, although the amounts will vary widely.

‘Outdated and incoherent’ RE curriculum needs overhaul, academics say

by TES, November 17, 2017

RE curriculum criticised for teaching 'jumble of unrelated topics and disconnected facts'
An “incoherent, confusing and outdated” religious education curriculum is turning children off the subject and needs radical reform to stay relevant, academics have said.

According to a report from the University of Exeter, children in RE lessons are studying a “jumble of unrelated topics and disconnected facts”, which prevents them from fully understanding what they have learned and applying it to other subjects and life beyond school.

Currently, schools without a religious character are required to provide a curriculum which should “reflect the fact that the religious traditions of Great Britain are in the main Christian whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain”.

'Lacks coherence'
However, an “expert group” made up of academics, teachers and school inspectors said that with schools given “considerable room for manoeuvre in the choice of specific content” but little time to teach the topic, the teaching of RE “generally lacks coherence and continuity”.

“At school level, RE topics may veer on a half-termly basis between aspects of different religions (eg. pilgrimage), episodes from the life of Jesus (eg. Holy Week and Easter), exemplars of a faith (eg. Mother Teresa), a moral issue (eg. abortion) and so on,” the report states.

“Students regularly experience this jumble of what can appear to be unrelated topics and disconnected facts with no common thread or conceptual ‘pegs’ to help them make sense of them all.”

An 'extra 50,000 pupils' eligible for free school meals under universal credit shake up

by TES, November 16, 2017

Government launches consultation on eligibility as it rolls out the introduction of controversial new benefit
50,000 more pupils could get free school meals under government plans to change eligibility criteria as it introduces universal credit.

In a consultation launched today, ministers say that currently “some of the most disadvantaged low-income households do not qualify for free school meals”.

To address this, they plan to base the eligibility on each household’s net earnings, rather than the number of hours worked, as at present.

These net earnings would not include additional income from benefits.

The government plans to introduce a £7,400 net earnings threshold in April 2018 for households to be entitled to free school meals.

The document suggests that about 10 per cent of pupils currently entitled to free schools meals would lose this eligibility.

However, it says it would introduce protections to ensure that no child would lose their free school meals during the transition to universal credit, and any pupils still receiving free meals once the switch is complete would continue to get them until they finish their current phase of education.

Universal infant free school meals, which the Conservatives proposed scrapping in their 2017 election manifesto, would not be affected.

Maths and English student teacher numbers fall well short of targets

by TES, November 14, 2017

Scottish government insists that 'disappointing' figures should be set against an overall rise in student teachers
English and maths are among the subjects struggling to attract enough student teachers in Scotland, according to new figures.

Maths recruited 112 students for 2017-18, 47 per cent of the Scottish Funding Council target of 237. The intake for English is 155, or 63 per cent of its target of 247.

Other low figures include technological education (29 per cent), home economics (54 per cent) and music (58 per cent). There are no student teachers for Gaelic, despite a modest target of five.

Across all subjects, 30 per cent of places on PGDE courses – the most common route into secondary teaching in Scotland – have not been filled.

Teacher shortages have affected swathes of Scotland, and the new figures show that there were 816 vacant posts in total across the pre-school, primary and secondary sectors in September – up from 685 a year previously.

Are secondary free schools really achieving what they’re supposed to?

by TES, November 14, 2017

When they were first proposed, the coalition suggested free schools would drive up educational standards. But have they?
A key part of the 2010 coalition government’s education strategy, free schools were introduced to create a more autonomous and self-improving school system by driving up standards through greater school choice and increased local competition.

However, free schools have attracted a lot of controversy since their inception, with some commentators claiming they are expensive and wasteful – and set up in places where there is surplus capacity, while supporters say they are located in areas of need and provide a better quality of education than local authority schools. Who is right? We explore some of these issues here and ask why so much of the new provision has happened in London.

The first free schools were set up in 2011, following the passing of the 2010 Academics Act. By September 2017, 311 primary and secondary free schools had opened (excluding UTCs, studio schools, 16-19, special and alternative provision free schools). Nine have closed since opening.

Language skills 'must be a priority for schools as Brexit approaches'

by TES, November 14, 2017

Brexit will mean more speakers of Spanish, Mandarin, French, Arabic and German are needed, says report
Languages should be given the same priority as science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects in schools to help tackle the UK’s “language deficit”, a new report suggests.

Language provision in many schools already “looks increasingly vulnerable”, the British Council report warns, and Brexit could further erode the already “limited language capability” in the country.

The report calls for a “bold new policy” to improve language learning in the UK and says it a “concern” that only just over one in three Britons say they are able to hold a conversation in another language.

The Languages for the Future report says Spanish, Mandarin, French, Arabic and German are the languages the UK will need most once the country leaves the European Union.

“Some of the languages we are likely to need most in future have only a marginal place in our education systems,” the report warns.

There was a 9.9 per cent fall in GCSE entries for French this year, compared with last year, with numbers dropping by more than a quarter (down 26.5 per cent) since 2010; while German saw a 13.2 per cent fall compared with last year, and the numbers dropped by more than a third (38 per cent) since 2010.

Late teacher's book republished to raise awareness of mental health

by TES, November 14, 2017

All of the proceeds from the sales of Striker Boy will go to the teacher's family and to the mental health charity Mind
Last year, teacher and author Jonny Zucker took his own life after living with depression for more than two decades.

In early October, to commemorate his life and to raise awareness of mental health issues in adults and children, education software company 2Simple republished his popular novel Striker Boy. All proceeds will go directly to his family and to the mental health charity Mind.

And today, to support the release of the book, 2Simple are launching a range of free teacher resource packs for schools, including "emotional resilience" resources designed to stimulate and support discussion on promote positive mental health.

The company is asking teachers across the country to join in with the campaign by making the book available in the school library, hosting a Striker Boy book sale, and using the resources in the classroom.

Heads complain of having to ask parents for school funds

by BBC, November 14, 2017

Head teachers representing more than 5,000 schools across England are supporting a protest letter to the chancellor over "inadequate" funding.
The letter, being delivered to Downing Street, warns of schools increasingly having to make "desperate requests to parents for 'voluntary' donations".
Heads are calling for an extra £1.7bn per year for schools.
The government has already moved £1.3bn of education funding directly into school budgets.
The protest, ahead of next week's Budget, has been organised by regional groups of head teachers representing schools with 3.5 million pupils in 25 local authorities from Cornwall to Cumbria.
It follows a letter warning about funding cuts, sent to the parents of more than 2.5 million pupils in September.
This is the biggest collective protest so far from the school funding campaigners, who have been warning of an overall lack of investment and a failure to resolve differences in levels of per pupil spending.

The importance of keeping faith in higher education

by Yorkshire Evening Post, November 14, 2017

As I sat with a concerned group of educators, each wondering how best to secure the future of teaching and research, I was asked the classic interview question. “What is the greatest challenge that higher education will face over the years ahead?” Possible answers swirled around my mind, but only one came out of my mouth: “To keep faith in higher education.” You might think that was a strange answer. After all, who wouldn’t want an educated workforce, trained doctors and scientists, or the innovation and investment by companies in towns and cities across the UK directly linked to universities? In fact, as one person said, if you want a city to thrive, build a university and then wait 100 years.

Dads must engage more with children’s education, research suggests

by Schools Week, November 13, 2017

National programmes that involve fathers in their children’s education can help tackle boys’ underachievement in schools, new research has found.
Fathers who are actively involved boost to their children’s self-esteem, which leads to more positive outcomes, according to the research by Natasha Ridge, Susan Kippels and Brian Jaewon Chung of the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research in the United Arab Emirates.

Commissioned by the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), the research found that it is especially important for fathers to act as “strong role models” for their sons when it comes to learning, as their increased involvement sends a positive message about the value and importance of education.

Recent exams data shows that boys’ performance continues to lag behind that of girls at both primary and secondary level. At key stage 2, girls outperformed boys in all areas this year, beating them by seven percentage points in the reading test. And despite evidence that they are closing the gap in some subjects, boys remain behind at GCSE.