Latest Educational News

'Staggering' trade in fake degrees revealed

by BBC, January 16, 2018

Thousands of UK nationals have bought fake degrees from a multi-million pound "diploma mill" in Pakistan, a BBC Radio 4's File on Four programme investigation has found.

Buyers include NHS consultants, nurses and a large defence contractor.

One British buyer spent almost £500,000 on bogus documents.

The Department for Education said it was taking "decisive action to crack down on degree fraud" that "cheats genuine learners".

Axact, which claims to be the "world's largest IT company", operates a network of hundreds of fake online universities run by agents from a Karachi call centre.

With names such as Brooklyn Park University and Nixon University, they feature stock images of smiling students and even fake news articles singing the institution's praises.

Exclusive: Major academy chain cuts teachers by 13 per cent and spends more than £1m on staff pay-offs

by TES, January 12, 2018

Delta Academy Trust took the steps as part of drive 'to ensure sustainability', its latest accounts show
One of the country’s biggest academy chains slashed its wage bill by more than 10 per cent and spent £1.2 million on staff pay-offs last year.

Delta Academy Trust, previously known as the School Partnership Trust Academies (SPTA), was on a drive to reduce its deficit and “ensure sustainability”, according to its latest financial accounts.

The trust, which runs 44 academies across Yorkshire and the Humber, spent £1.2 million on "staff restructuring" – comprising redundancy and severance payments – in 2016-17, up from £343,000 in 2015-16.

Most – £890,000 – of the restructuring costs in 2016-17 went on redundancy pay, up from £263,000 the year before.

Severance payments amounted to £380,000, an increase from the £79,000 spent in 2015-16. The biggest amount was handed to one unnamed individual who received £43,000.

Catholic schools' leader to become CEO of troubled Plymouth Cast academy trust

by TES, January 12, 2018

Raymond Friel has authored books such as How to Survive in Leadership in a Catholic School
A troubled academy trust has appointed the leader of the Catholic Independent Schools’ Conference as its next chief executive.

Plymouth Cast was set up by the Plymouth Roman Catholic Diocese in 2014. It runs 35 schools in South West England.

The trust has received official warnings about academic standards and finances during the last 14 months.

Ofsted review
In November 2016, a focused Ofsted review highlighted “significant decline” in some schools since joining the trust, and warned that its leaders “do not have the capacity to bring about improvement with the necessary urgency”.

First-class honours for a quarter of UK graduates

by BBC, January 11, 2018

More than one in four UK students graduated from university with a first-class degree last year, data shows.

The official figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that the share of graduates with the highest possible result rose 44% in five years.

The statistics may spark fresh debate on whether degrees are getting easier and if the ancient classification system is still fit for purpose.

In 2012-13, the first year of higher fees, 18% got a first.

Overall, 26% of graduates who completed their first undergraduate degree in the 2016-17 academic year achieved a first.

The data, published by HESA, also shows a hike in the proportion gaining an upper second (2:1) or above, with three in four (75%) making the grade.

Overseas students 'add £20bn' to UK economy

by BBC, January 11, 2018

International students are worth £20bn to the UK economy, says a report from the Higher Education Policy Institute.

The analysis says on top of tuition fees, their spending has become a major factor in supporting local economies.

London alone gains £4.6bn - with Sheffield the biggest beneficiary in proportion to its economy.

The think tank's director, Nick Hillman, says the figures support calls to remove students from immigration targets.

There are about 230,000 students arriving each year for university courses in the UK - most of them postgraduates, with China the most common country of origin.

Spending power
The analysis, carried out by London Economics, calculated the financial contribution of overseas students, such as spending on tuition and living expenses, and balanced that against costs, including the extra pressure on local services and non-repayment of loans.

'The new education secretary must show teachers he values their hard work'

by TES, January 10, 2018

How Damian Hinds can fix our education system in four simple, but radical, steps – the Green Party's education spokesperson (and a current teacher) lays out her challenges for the new secretary of state
Justine Greening was far from the perfect education secretary. Her voting record – supporting academisation, increasing tuition fees and ending financial support for college students – revealed the type of education system she and the government were trying to build: privatised and elitist. Yet Greening’s no-nonsense approach and apparent willingness to listen had started to rebuild fragile trust among the teachers Michael Gove left so decimated by his stint in post.

Greening’s resignation from the Cabinet this week has left that trust hanging in the balance.

As Damian Hinds becomes the third education secretary in two years, teachers across the country, like myself, have been left facing more broken continuity. Already struggling to properly prepare the next generation for life in the face of dwindling budgets, schools and teachers are again vulnerable to the ideological whims of a politician. But we must not forget that this change is also an opportunity. The government claims to care about our children and young people – and now Hinds holds that claim in his hands. What he does next will determine whether a government in chaos is able to retain the shred of credibility Greening had built among teachers. If Hinds is serious about cementing it, there are some critical tests he needs to pass.

Teenagers in Scotland given right to ask for extra support in school

by TES, January 10, 2018

Change aimed at pupils aged between 12-15 who have additional support needs – the Scottish equivalent of special educational needs
Scottish pupils now have the most rights in Europe when it comes to their entitlement to ask for support in school and be involved in decisions about their education.

Amendments to Scotland's Additional Support for Learning Act 2004 come in to force today, extending rights to children aged 12-15 that were previously only available to their parents or carers.

Now, when children reach their 12th birthday, they will have the right to ask their school or local authority to find out if they need extra support; have a say in plans made about the support they may get; advocacy to ensure their views are shared and taken into account and legal representation at tribunals; and be actively involved in resolving disagreements about their support

A new children's service called My Rights My Say has also been created in Scotland to make sure children know about and understand their rights and are able to access advocacy and legal representation where needed.

Second new DfE minister has shown support for grammar school expansion

by TES, January 10, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

Nadhim Zahawi's comments from 2016 will fuel speculation about a new push to encourage more academic selection
A second new DfE minister wrote about his support for the expansion of academic selection before his appointment to the department, it has emerged.

It follows the news that new education secretary Damian Hinds outlined his support for the creation of a nationwide network of “elite” grammar schools in 2014 – two years before Theresa May brought the issue back into mainstream political debate.

Nadhim Zahawi, who became a junior education minister yesterday, wrote in September 2016 that he “firmly believed” in the government’s plans to “increase the role of selection into our state education system”.

The appointment of another grammar school supporter to the Department for Education will add to speculation that the removal of Justine Greening could herald a renewed government push to expand grammar schools.

University bosses face curbs under fair-pay rules

by BBC, January 10, 2018

University heads will be barred from being involved in setting their own salaries, under a new fair-pay code announced in the wake of claims of excessive pay for vice-chancellors.

Senior pay would also be expected not to rise more quickly than the average for other academic staff.

The voluntary code has been drawn up by the Committee of University Chairs.

But the chief executive of the new Office for Students, Nicola Dandridge, said the proposals were "insufficient".

She said that "people are rightly concerned by the level of pay", and not just the "process" by which it was decided.

University heads' pay was put under intense scrutiny last year, with accusations of "fat cat" salaries and claims that some university leaders were overpaid and out of touch.

The vice-chancellor of the University of Bath stepped down amid the protests.

Scottish children ‘have most rights in Europe’ in education

by Denbighshire Free Press, January 10, 2018

Children in Scotland now have the most rights in Europe if they need additional help with schooling, Education Secretary John Swinney said.

He spoke out as new legislation extending their rights come into force.

Provisions in the Education (Scotland) Act 2016 mean that from January 10 youngsters aged between 12 and 15 who require additional support in their education will be able to influence decisions about this.

As part of this, students will be able to ask their school or local council to find out if they need extra help and to have a say in any support plans that are made.

Exclusive: Grammars view Damian Hinds' appointment as boost for expansion plans

by TES, January 10, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

New education secretary was a pupil at a Catholic boys' grammar school
Grammar school heads believe the appointment of an ex-grammar school pupil as education secretary is likely to put their expansion plans back on the agenda.

Theresa May’s plans to change the law to allow the creation of completely new selective schools were scuppered after she lost her Commons majority last year.

However, the current legal framework allows existing grammar schools to expand or open new schools as "annexes". But the Department for Education under Justine Greening did not make this a priority after the election.

Now, the appointment of Damian Hinds, who was educated at a Catholic boys' grammar school, as her successor has been interpreted as opening the door to stronger DfE support for grammars to expand.

Jim Skinner, chief executive of the Grammar School Heads' Association, told Tes: “I believe there are a number of schools that are looking at annex development and it may well be that he is more sympathetic to that type of expansion. I would hope he would be more sympathetic.”

And asked whether Mr Hinds’ appointment would make it more likely that grammar schools considering expansion would put their plans into action, he said: “It could well do.”

Top five questions for education new boy Damian Hinds

by BBC, January 9, 2018

Damian Hinds has become the new Education Secretary, replacing Justine Greening. What are the questions waiting at the top of his in-tray? And what should he do differently to avoid the sudden exit of his predecessor?

1) How to get back the political initiative?

Damian Hinds will have to re-energise the Conservatives' vision for education, finding something positive that will connect with the public.

From the perspective of 10 Downing Street, it must have seemed as though Labour was making much of the weather over schools and universities.

Parents were worried about being asked to bail out cash-starved schools. And Jeremy Corbyn's promise to scrap tuition fees had seen Labour's student vote reaching record levels.

Justine Greening seemed unenthusiastic about the prime minister's Tory heartlands view of education, characterised by the push for more grammar schools.

Four reasons it should be 'head of sciences', not 'head of science'

by TES, January 9, 2018

Emily Seeber argues that the traditional title of ‘head of science’ is inaccurate and detrimental to learning
Students always get twisted in knots over graph drawing in science. Should they join up their points or draw a line of best fit, start their scale at zero, or use a zig zag?

Biology asks for one thing, chemistry another and physics something else entirely.

This is just one of the myriad ways referring to the sciences as a single entity – "science" – is unnecessarily confusing for students.

And the reason we do it isn’t exactly convincing.

Science teaching
During the Victorian era, attempts to justify adding the sciences to school curricula experienced vicious attacks from the establishment. Each science was seen as being a list of "barren" facts for students to memorise, unworthy of inclusion.

In response, educational reformer HE Armstrong moved away from scientific content to focus on the common method of the sciences. This shifted the goalposts.

The pro-science lobby now emphasised the importance of scientific processes on developing independent thought, where learning scientific knowledge was passive. Biology, chemistry, and physics banded together as "science": a single, unified subject, which was incorporated into the curriculum.

A 150-year-old debate, however, hardly seems good justification for continuing to lump the sciences together. Here are four reasons we need to shift from "head of science" to "head of sciences".

Five steps to maximise the impact of teaching assistants

by TES, January 9, 2018

If you have a TA in your classroom, these five steps will ensure you utilise their skillset to support students
If you are lucky, your school may have avoided the worst of the cuts and you will have a teaching assistant or special educational needs and disability (SEND) teacher supporting students in your classroom. This is an extra level of support we should never take for granted – so how do we ensure we make the most of it by utilising the expertise of that additional member of staff?

1. Do your homework
It would be difficult, if not impossible, to write an article on additional adults in the classroom without referencing the excellent work of Rob Webster, Anthony Russell and Peter Blatchford. Their book Maximising The Impact of Teaching Assistants can be found on most Sencos desks up and down the country. Read it!

2. Empower your teaching assistants
This is a simple but effective step. Do not just rely on calling your TA "miss" or "sir". Using names is the first step in building a positive working relationship and it also raises the profile of your TA in the eyes of the students. Empower your TA by giving them specific roles in the classroom. Say to your students, "myself and Mr Smith will be checking that you have done such-and-such".

Provide TAs with the opportunity to reward students, although tread carefully when it comes to TAs handing out sanctions. Some TAs may not feel comfortable doing this and it is not their job – it is the responsibility of the teacher. However, if a TA identifies unacceptable behaviour in your classroom ensure that you act upon what they have said. You need to show the students that you are a team and that you are working together for the benefit of their education.

Some schools may have a TA-teacher agreement in place. This can be useful, particularly if you have a high-turnover of staff or a large SEND team, in identifying the strengths and areas of expertise of your TAs. Make sure that you play to the strengths of the TAs in your classroom. They are an incredibly valuable and increasingly rare resource.

Educational support for deaf children in England 'in complete disarray'

by The Guardian, January 8, 2018

Educational support for England’s 45,000 deaf children is “in complete disarray” with a dwindling number of specialist teachers struggling to meet growing demand, according to research.

A report by the Consortium for Research into Deaf Education says the number of teachers of the deaf has been cut by 14% in the past seven years, at the same time as a 31% increase in the number of children requiring support.

In some areas the situation is so critical there is just one specialist teacher for every 100 students. Without intervention, researchers say the crisis is likely to worsen, with many existing staff close to retirement.

Susan Daniels, the chief executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said despite deafness not being a learning disability, deaf children already fell a whole grade behind their hearing friends at school. Almost 80% of deaf children attend mainstream schools with no specialist provision.

Oxford University Press Education UK given new look

by Design Week, January 8, 2018

Oxford University Press Education UK has been rebranded by Baxter and Bailey, which says it has taken a “playful, creative approach” to targeting learners, teachers and parents.

Oxford University Press (OUP) is attached to Oxford University and has an established reputation as an education leader.

Baxter and Bailey says it was brought in to show the breadth of services the publisher now offers. Everything from digital resources, to school improvement programmes and consultative expertise.

Identifying and representing new audiences
Today OUP Education UK is involved with syllabus work and consulting with schools rather than just selling materials to them.

“The OUP Education UK division was struggling to communicate this wider and more diverse offer,” says Baxter and Bailey partner Matt Baxter.

A new strategy identified the three key target groups – learners, teachers and parents – which were explored through new messaging.

Eight reasons Finland's education system puts the US model to shame

by The Independent, January 8, 2018

Finland's repeated success in national education rankings suggests there are at least a few lessons the US can learn.

For one, the tiny Nordic country places considerable weight on early education. Before Finnish kids learn their times tables, they learn simply how to be kids - how to play with one another, how to mend emotional wounds.

But even as kids grow up, the country makes a concerted effort to put them on a track for success.

Here are some of the biggest ways Finland is winning in global education.

1. Competition isn't as important as cooperation.
Finland has figured out that competition between schools doesn't get kids as far as cooperation between those schools.

One reason for that is Finland has no private schools. Every academic institution in the country is funded through public dollars. Teachers are trained to issue their own tests instead of standardised tests.

GCSE computing: Students' work will not count

by BBC, January 8, 2018

GCSE computer science programming tasks worth a fifth of the marks will no longer count towards students' final grades after they were leaked online.

Writing to students, exams regulator Ofqual said the decision had been made "with reluctance" but "we do not want anyone to have an unfair advantage".

Repeated leaks of the questions and answers emerged in November, throwing the qualification into disarray.

Students should still complete the tasks as planned, the letter said.

"While not contributing to your grade, the task will continue to be an important part of the qualification," said Ofqual's director for general qualifications, Julie Swan, in the letter.

"Learning about a high-level programming language and having the opportunity to show that you can use it to solve problems is an important aspect of a computer science course of study."

The change affects students due to sit the exam in 2018 and 2019.

English, maths and science teacher training applications all drop by a quarter

by TES, January 4, 2018

And the number of applicants wanting to train to teach history has almost halved since last year
The number of trainees for English, maths and science has dropped by around a quarter since last year.

And the number of history trainees dropped by almost 50 per cent, according to data from the university admissions service, Ucas.

These figures include the number of applicants to specialise in subjects either individually or in combination with another subject.

The data showed that:

The biggest drops were in citizenship and design and technology (systems control), both of which had applications fall by 67 per cent between December 2016 and December 2017.
The number of applicants wanting to teach English fell by 25 per cent.
Maths applications fell by 28 per cent.
Science applications fell by 23 per cent.
History was particularly hard hit, with a drop of 46 per cent in the number of applications.
There were 52 per cent fewer applicants for social science this year.
And 47 per cent fewer people were interested in teaching psychology.
Music also had a large decrease in applicants, by 45 per cent.
Art (including art and design) received 37 per cent fewer applicants than last year.
Applicants to teach European languages fell by 27 per cent.
French was the European language worst affected, with a drop of 29 per cent.
Only one subject had an increase in the number of applicants. The number of applications for ICT rose from 10 in 2016 to 20 this year: an increase of 100 per cent.
The number of applications for special educational needs teaching remained the same.

'Alarming' new stats show teacher recruitment down by a third

by TES, January 4, 2018

'Disastrous' new figures reveal that the number of applicants for teacher training is down by 6,510 on the previous year
Teacher recruitment numbers are down by a third compared with a year ago, according to "alarming" new data published by Ucas today.

Statistics published this morning show that at 18 December 2017, 12,820 people had applied for teacher training. At the same point in the previous recruitment cycle, 19 December 2016, 19,330 people had made applications. The figures equate to a drop of 6,510 (33 per cent).

Candidates can apply for up to three courses – so the number of applications is higher than the number of applicants. There were 34,200 applications in December 2017, compared with 52,590 in December 2016.

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, described the figures as "alarming" and "pretty disastrous".

“It’s alarming, I think, particularly as we know there are going to be another half a million children coming through the system over the next nine years... It’s pretty disastrous for a profession which is going to need more teachers.”

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