Latest Educational News

Head teachers to get £3.5m support scheme

by BBC, March 23, 2017

Head teachers are to be offered a new package of training support as part of a £3.5m Scottish government scheme.
The Excellence in Headship programme aims to help school leaders "improve critical self-awareness, leadership of learning, lead system change and organisational effectiveness".
The scheme will be launched by deputy first minister John Swinney later.
Mr Swinney will also announce a £3m partnership with the Hunter Foundation for a series of leadership academies.
The deputy first minister is expected to say: "Effective school leadership is key to the success of schools. As a result, it is vital we invest in our head teachers and support them to deliver superb schooling for children in Scotland.
"I am delighted to announce that Excellence in Headship is now open for recruitment, backed by £1.6m of Scottish government funding over the next four years.

Drop in teacher training recruits revealed

by BBC, March 23, 2017

There are fears it could get even tougher to recruit teachers after a drop in the number of trainees on courses in England.
The latest figures show a 7% drop in acceptances on to teacher training courses for this year.
Head teachers' leaders said the drop in recruits would deepen the teacher recruitment crisis.
The Department for Education said there were more teachers than ever before in England's schools.
It said it was investing £1.3bn in recruitment over this Parliament, and had devised schemes to ensure new teachers stayed in their jobs in those areas that have a poor record of retaining teachers.
Because of the high turnover in the profession, schools in England need to recruit about 30,000 new teachers every year to stand still.

One thousand schools could face further 7% funding cut after 2020

by TES, March 22, 2017

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has called on the government to reduce 'uncertainty' for schools over when the funding formula will take full effect
Around 1,000 schools could face a 7 per cent budget cut after 2019-20 – over and above the real-terms funding losses they are being hit with over the next three years – economists have warned.

A report published today by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) calls on the government to reduce the "uncertainty" over what will happen when a £300 million pot of transitional funding – aimed at protecting schools set to lose out under the national funding formula – runs out in April 2020.

Under the proposed formula, no school can lose more than 3 per cent of cash per pupil between 2017-18 and 2019-20, and none can gain more than 5.6 per cent. As a result, only 60 per cent of schools will receive the exact level of funding dictated by the formula in 2019-20, the IFS report says.

But the government's consultation on the formula, which closes today, does not set out when these transitional measures will end.

Removing the transitional funding in full would result in 5,500 schools experiencing an average cut of 4.5 per cent in cash terms, and 1,000 schools losing 7 per cent, although the report acknowledges it "seems unlikely" that this will happen overnight.

'Special schools and alternative schools are different – but both are suffering from a lack of funding'

by TES, March 22, 2017

Special and alternative provision cater for different types of pupils – although both are essential and in need of proper investment, writes one executive headteacher
Often people assume that "special" and "alternative" provisions are interchangeable, but they are not. And both types of provision need to be properly funded, if we are to ensure that each and every child gets the opportunity to succeed.

I oversee two schools catering for young people between the ages of 5 and 18. One of these schools – Bromley Trust Academy – offers alternative provision for children who have been excluded from mainstream school and the other – Bromley Beacon Academy (BBA) – offers special provision for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs.

Within our alternative provision, our goal for most of our students is to successfully prepare them for a return to mainstream education. However, for the majority of students with SEMH needs in special provision, going back into mainstream education will never be the right option.

Many of our students, often through no fault of their own, will have low self-esteem, very little motivation and no ambition. The cause of their SEMH needs will vary but all have an educational healthcare plan (EHCP) and many have quite complex issues.

These children need to be given a personal learning experience, with smaller groups and a much greater focus put on their mental and physical wellbeing. Their experience of mainstream school is unlikely to have been positive, and we must focus on helping them learn in a supportive and non-pressurised environment.

'Three problems with the new primary times tables check'

by TES, March 22, 2017

A lecturer in primary maths argues that the government's proposed times tables check will do more harm than good
Last month, schools minister Nick Gibb confirmed that the government plans to make 11-year-olds undertake a times tables check from 2019 onwards. Ordinarily, I’m less concerned than most about testing ─ although I have grave reservations about such data being used in league tables. When I was a Year 6 teacher, I actually found that getting the class to complete an old Sats paper would support my planning for the following term.

However, I believe this new proposal is at best misguided and, at worst, detrimental to pupils’ mathematics.

1. ‘Maths anxiety’
We’ll start with the "maths anxiety" that rapid-fire tests cause. Sweaty palms, shaking, tears – all caused by fear. If a short period of time is given to answer questions, this can lead to disengagement amongst those who struggle to recall information quickly, and the higher stakes of this new test will only accentuate this further.

This emphasis on speed is peculiar to maths. Imagine a scenario where a child, perhaps less confident in art, completes a drawing. Their teacher’s feedback is that they must “do it quicker next time”. Similarly, when assessing children’s writing, would a teacher judge them on how quickly they could recall alternative adjectives for "big"? How long did Shakespeare take to write his plays? Does anyone care? Given such unnecessary time pressure, it’s no coincidence that maths is viewed so unfavourably.

Warning over segregation in England's schools

by BBC, March 22, 2017

Thousands of state schools across England are segregated along ethnic or social grounds, according to research.
More than a quarter of primary and four in 10 secondary schools are ethnically divided, the social integration charity, The Challenge, found.
It says almost a third of primary and a quarter of secondary schools are segregated along socio-economic lines.
The Department for Education says all schools are expected to promote social integration and British values.
Researchers from The Challenge - working with the iCoCo Foundation and SchoolDash - measured how segregated a school was by comparing its numbers of white British pupils and those eligible for free school meals with those of the 10 schools closest to them.

‘The government is set to allow existing schools to convert to grammar status in the White Paper’

by TES, March 21, 2017

There is still time for a last-minute change of heart, but Downing Street is keen to pursue the most controversial element of its grammar school proposals
The education policy jungle drums are quickening – a White Paper following the publication of last Autumn's hugely contentious Schools that Work for Everyone Green Paper is just around the corner.

This is the point when many of the most loathed parts of the proposed reforms could be dropped without too much loss of face for the policy’s authors.

As such there are more than a few people hoping that the White Paper will have mysteriously lost chunks of the controversial Green Paper’s ideas. For example, it’s no secret that the independent sector is battling to see off proposals which would force its schools to sponsor academies or lose their charitable status if they don’t.

Within the plans to increase selection, the most derided idea (beyond all of it) is the section that would allow existing comprehensives to convert to grammar status.

Chinese maths textbooks to be translated for UK schools

by The Guardian, March 20, 2017

British students may soon study mathematics with Chinese textbooks after a “historic” deal between HarperCollins and a Shanghai publishing house in which books will be translated for use in UK schools.

China’s wealthy cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, produce some of the world’s top-performing maths pupils, while British students rank far behind their counterparts in Asia.

HarperCollins’s education division signed an agreement to release a series of 36 maths books at the London Book Fair, the state-run China Daily reported, with Colin Hughes, managing director of Collins Learning, calling it “historic”.

“To my knowledge this has never happened in history before – that textbooks created for students in China will be translated exactly as they have been developed, and sold for use in British schools,” the China Daily quoted Hughes as saying.

The textbook deal is part of wider cooperation between the UK and China, and the government hopes to boost British students’ performance in maths, Hughes added.

Cross-party campaign to fight PM's grammar schools plan

by LBC, March 19, 2017

Classified as 11 Plus.

A powerful new cross-party alliance will challenge Theresa May's plans to expand the number of grammar schools in England.

Conservative former education secretary Nicky Morgan, Liberal Democrat former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and Labour ex-shadow education minister Lucy Powell have joined forces to oppose the plan.

In a joint article in The Observer, they say creating new grammar schools will do nothing to promote social mobility and warn there is no room for more "division or political ideology" in the education system.

On this we can all agree. Selection is bad for our schools

by Guardian, March 19, 2017

More grammar schools are not the answer to improving social mobility and preparing Britain for the future

Politics is often defined by what people disagree on. However, some issues are above party politics and it’s time that tackling social mobility became one of them. As politicians from three different parties, we sparred across the despatch box but now we’re coming together to build a cross-party consensus, focused on looking at the evidence of what works, to tackle inequality in education and boost social mobility.

Successive governments have made progress in boosting attainment and tackling poor performance across the schools system, but with the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers stubbornly persistent it is clear more needs to be done.

Migrants have improved school standards in London – Michael Gove

by Politics Home, March 19, 2017

Immigration has been a driving force behind London’s high achievement in school standards, leading Brexiteer Michael Gove has said.

The former education secretary said migrant parents’ “extraordinarily” high expectations had helped improve standards in the capital.

Mr Gove also said it was “undeniably the case” that there were other examples of regions in England that had lower levels of migration and lower educational performance.

"There's lots of evidence that London having become more diverse has contributed to educational standards rising," Mr Gove told the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.

But he added that migration had also created pressure on public services, as he warned high levels could undermine the “sense of cohesion”.

Teach First head criticises 'depressing' grammars and says free schools don't work outside London

by Independent, March 18, 2017

Classified as 11 Plus.

'In many ways it’s better to be a low-income child living in London, than a child from a higher income background living outside of it," says Teach First founder Brett Wigdortz

Government plans to open more free schools are too London-centric and risk neglecting children from the poorest regions of the country, the CEO and founder of Teach First has said.

Speaking to an audience at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, Brett Wigdortz took a swipe at grammar schools, claiming that schools he had visited in Kent, which has a largely selective education system, were “some of the most depressing things” he’d ever seen.

Government slammed over plans to spend £20million taking children to nearest grammar school by taxi

by Mirror, March 18, 2017

Classified as 11 Plus.

Angela Rayner said the Government has cut funding for school buses and replaced them with a 'Grammar school Uber'

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner has slammed ministers over plans to spend £20million on taxis to take children up to 15 miles to the nearest grammar schools .

The government had previously cut a larger amount from the school transport budget that had supported a far larger number of pupils to get to school by bus.

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced £5million per year – £20million over the Parliament – in the Budget to provide transport for pupils to the nearest grammar school, up to a limit of 15 miles from their home.

Childcare is too expensive for families, new research reveals, as more than 80 per cent of parents say they would work more if they could afford to

by Daily Mail, March 18, 2017

.Australia's childcare costs have risen at five times the rate of inflation
.New research by Goodstart found childcare is becoming too expensive
.82 per cent of parents surveyed said they would work more if costs were lower
.Childcare users were found to be paying between AUD $90 and $119 a day

It is a truth universally acknowledged that childcare is expensive.
But new research has found that Australia's childcare is becoming too expensive for average families.
According to a new study, costs have risen at five times the rate of inflation over the course of a year, with 82 per cent of parents surveyed saying that they would work more if childcare costs were lower.

More grammars 'will open up jobs in professions': Tory MP says schools are needed to ensure rich former pupils don't dominate leading roles

by Daily Mail, March 18, 2017

Classified as 11 Plus.

.Tory MP Graham Brady said more grammar schools will lead to a fairer society
.He said law and other professions are dominated by ex-private schools students
.Brady said state schools ‘lack’ the capacity to get pupils into top universities
.Theresa May is formulating plans to introduce new grammar schools in the UK

More grammar schools are necessary to stop rich former public school pupils dominating top professions such as law, a senior Tory backbencher has said.
Graham Brady, chair of the Conservative 1922 Committee, said politics, the civil service and even acting are now disproportionately dominated by those who went to private schools.
He said part of the reason is that comprehensives often ‘lack’ the capacity to get their pupils into the top universities, meaning success in life is limited.

We have to learn the lessons from the sadness in our schools and make sure our children are happy

by, March 18, 2017

Teachers and kids are in a pressure-cooker environment. No wonder both groups report anxiety and other mental health ­problems

A society in which our kids are unhappy is an unhappy society. Sadly, according to a BBC report, our kids ARE unhappy.

A worrying 70% of secondary school pupils have experienced feelings of anxiety, fear or unhappiness in the past year. That doesn’t surprise me.

Teach children about fake news to stop them becoming extremists, OECD says

by Telegraph, March 18, 2017

Children must be taught about fake news in schools to stop them from turning to extremism, a major international think-tank has said.

Under new plans unveiled on Saturday, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), will add a new category to its global tests called "global competency", which will assess youngsters on how well they can think critically about information diseminated on social media, and detect dubious claims.

The shake-up to the OECD's global test is aimed at preventing students from being brainwashed into believing, for example, that they should travel to Syria to fight for the so-called Islamic State.

Underfunding Hits Free Childcare Plan

by Morning Star Online, March 18, 2017

A TORY pledge to increase free childcare for almost 400,000 low-income parents has completely fallen flat, Labour pointed out yesterday.
The government promised that the amount of free childcare available for pre-schoolers across the country would increase to 30 hours a week in September.
But only a third of English councils are confident of being able to cope with demand, a recent survey by the Family and Childcare Trust found.
Analysis of Budget papers has also suggested that the number of places on offer could rise more slowly than predicted.

Primary school teachers' suicide rate nearly double national average, figures reveal

by Independent, March 18, 2017

Three in four suicides among teaching professionals are primary and nursery school teachers, statistics show, amid warnings it is 'one of the most highly stressed occupations in the country'

The suicide rate among primary school teachers in England is nearly two times higher than the national average, figures have revealed.

Risk of suicide among primary and nursery school teachers was 42 per cent higher than patterns in the broader population of England during the period 2011 to 2015, according to data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

GCSE resits cause 'significant problems', says Ofsted boss

by BBC, March 17, 2017

Forcing resits on teenagers who do not get good GCSEs in English and maths is causing "significant problems", the new head of Ofsted has argued.
Amanda Spielman said the policy, introduced in 2013, was "well intentioned" but questioned whether it was "the right way forward".
She pointed out that only a third of students managed to improve their GCSE grades in resits last year.
Ministers say they aim to develop "credible" alternatives to resits.
In 2013, the coalition government introduced a policy that said students in England who fail to get at least C grades in the two subjects should carry on studying them until the age of 18, with the aim of meeting the standard.
But, in her speech to the Association of Colleges Ofsted conference, Ms Spielman pointed out that, last year, fewer than a fifth of students achieved the required grades when they resat and two thirds did not improve on their original marks.


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