Latest Educational News

Pupils to get lessons in respect

by BBC, January 31, 2006

A new approach to tackling anti-social behaviour is being piloted in primary schools in Fife.
Being Cool in School puts emphasis on respect for other people and on social skills, with even the youngest children learning lessons in empathy.

The aim is for children to learn how to manage their anger and to think about how their actions affect other people.

Teachers said bulling and aggressive behaviour had reduced and many timid children were more confident.

Kelly defies critics in sponsors drive

by Times, January 30, 2006

Ruth Kelly will defy Labour critics of the Government’s education reforms today by meeting major businesses and charities interested in sponsoring independent trust schools.
The Education Secretary will host talks with 25 organisations about taking over the running of state schools. They include Microsoft, the accountancy firm KPMG, the Corporation of London and the Mercers Company, the charitable body that controls the fee-paying St Paul’s School and Thomas Telford City Technology College, the country’s leading state comprehensive.



The meeting underlines Ms Kelly’s determination to press on with the controversial White Paper reforms despite opposition from more than 90 backbench Labour MPs. A succession of senior Labour figures told Tony Blair yesterday that he would have to compromise on the proposals to avoid a potentially devastating party split. Alan Milburn, the former Health Secretary and a key confidant of the Prime Minister, said that the vote on the forthcoming Education Bill “could decide the course of British politics for years”.

Tony, prepare to compromise

by Guardian, January 30, 2006

What delicious irony. Just when Labour is winning the strategic political battle we risk snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. With almost 100 of my Labour colleagues apparently opposing the government's school reforms, the timing could hardly be worse. Nor could the consequences.
Since last year's election victory New Labour has won an even more crucial battle - the ideological one. Look at the Liberals. They have imploded not because of any personal peccadilloes, but because we put them in the wrong political position. They simply couldn't find a response to Tony Blair's annexation of the political centre ground. Now they face the choice Charles Kennedy delayed making - to tack right or left.

David Cameron's arrival signifies something even bigger: acquiescence in the New Labour political settlement. Cameron's new-found acceptance of the minimum wage, just like his ditching of grammar schools and patients' passports, are the political equivalent of waving the white flag. It remains to be seen whether he can develop substance alongside style. Or whether the Tories are so hungry for power they will digest an unpalatable diet of policy U-turns.

Educational supplement?

by The Lawyer, January 30, 2006

The much-publicised white paper 'Higher Standards, Better Schools for All: More Choice for Parents and Pupils' has generated far more media interest than proposals for education legislation usually do. After all, since this government came to power, we have had an Education Act roughly once a year, and yet media interest is generally slight. So why are these proposals different?
There are two reasons, only the first of which is to do with the content of the paper itself. The second is that the proposals have been purposefully given a higher place on the political and publicity agenda of the Government than even the much-quoted 'education, education, education' priorities list occasioned. This must be due in large measure to the Prime Minister's personal desire to leave a legacy of educational change when he quits Number 10. The crucial thing that educationalists and parents want to know is whether this legacy will be one of which he can justifiably be proud.

Kelly hints at schools compromise

by BBC, January 30, 2006

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has hinted at a compromise with Labour MPs over school plans for England.
She told the Evening Standard she would "explore" concerns, "especially" on admissions and local authorities' role.

About 90 Labour MPs want safeguards to ensure new independent "trust" schools do not re-introduce academic selection.

Meanwhile Ms Kelly has been holding talks with 25 companies and charities, including Microsoft and KPMG, about sponsoring trust schools.

The meetings are the first in a series of planned seminars with private sponsors and head teachers about the controversial plans to allow sponsorship of schools.

Blair compromise urged in schools row

by Financial Times, January 30, 2006

Two former Labour ministers with close ties to Tony Blair have called on the prime minister to compromise in the row over his education reforms, warning that a revolt by rebel MPs would have serious consequences for the party.

Alan Milburn, the Blairite former cabinet minister who helped co-ordinate Labour's general election victory last May, joined senior figures at the top of the government who believe Downing Street will have to listen to the rebels if it is to get Mr Blair's flagship legislation through the Commons.

More than 90 Labour MPs have signalled their opposition to reforms that are contained in a white paper introducing independent "trust" schools. A vote on a forthcoming bill is expected in March.

Kelly opens talks with firms over sponsoring schools

by Telegraph, January 30, 2006

Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, will anger Labour rebels opposed to the Government's controversial education reforms today by holding talks with major firms interested in sponsoring independent trust schools.

She will meet 25 businesses and charities at the Department for Education in the first of a series of planned seminars with private sponsors and head teachers eager to back or become trust schools.

They will include the software giant Microsoft, the accountancy firm KPMG, the Corporation of London and the Mercers Company, the charitable body which controls the fee-paying St Paul's School and sponsors Thomas Telford City Technology College, a leading comprehensive.

Kelly pledges school reforms debate

by Scotsman, January 30, 2006

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly promised to "explore and discuss" how the Government's controversial school reforms will work in action before publishing a Bill.

The minister said the "conversation" on the plans was "continuing" amid opposition from about 100 Labour MPs and senior party figures.

Ms Kelly said that the White Paper proposals for a new breed of "trust schools", free from local authority control, "would not be for everyone".

But many private companies and faith groups were interested in backing the new schools as partners in the trusts that will run them, she said.

Speaking after a "seminar" with 25 potential backers, Ms Kelly said: "The seminar is just one part of the continuing conversation we are having about our education reforms.

Labour's education rebels begin to talk compromise

by Guardian, January 30, 2006

Hopes of a compromise on the government's controversial school reforms grew stronger yesterday as both sides signalled their keenness to reach a deal and prevent the Tories from benefiting from a split in Labour ranks.
About 100 MPs and senior party figures - including Alastair Campbell, Neil Kinnock and former ministers Nick Raynsford and Estelle Morris - are opposed to key proposals in the white paper. But yesterday the rebels said they were discussing which changes to admissions policies and the role of local education authorities could win them over.

flagship school hit by exclusions row

by Telegraph, January 29, 2006

A city academy is at loggerheads with parents after excluding record numbers of pupils under a controversial zero-tolerance discipline policy.

The row, at the new Trinity Academy, in Doncaster, is the latest controversy to dog the Government's flagship initiative. It has erupted days after Bexley Academy, in south-east London, was criticised by inspectors and league tables revealed several other city academies are among the worst-performing schools.

The £22 million Trinity Academy school, in the working-class area of Thorne, is run by the Emmanuel Schools Trust, a Christian organisation founded by Reg Vardy, the car dealership tycoon. The trust also runs Emmanuel College, in Gateshead, which hit the headlines for teaching creationism theory alongside evolution.

Opened in September the school, which replaced Thorne Grammar, a comprehensive with low results but deemed by inspectors to be improving, was billed as a fresh start based on firm discipline and an ethos of high expectations.

Labour 'must agree over schools'

by BBC, January 29, 2006

Senior Labour figures have warned of serious consequences for the party if MPs and ministers cannot resolve their differences on education reform.
The proposals, which would give secondary schools more independence, are opposed by more than 90 Labour MPs.

Former health secretary Alan Milburn said "give and take" was needed to prevent a backbench rebellion.

Former education and home secretary David Blunkett said the controversy had become "a seminal moment in politics".

Blair under pressure over reforms

by Scotsman, January 29, 2006

Senior Labour figures were lining up to warn that Tony Blair will have to compromise with rebels on his controversial school reforms.

More than 90 Labour MPs oppose plans to introduce independent trust schools as part of the Government's education White Paper.

Former health secretary Alan Milburn said "a bit of give and take" would be needed to prevent a rebellion, but it would be a "huge self-inflicting wound" if reforms were abandoned entirely.

Lord Smith of Finsbury, who as Chris Smith served as culture secretary, said it was "inconceivable" that Mr Blair would force through the plans as they stand.

Key Blair allies warn PM over schools Bill

by Telegraph, January 29, 2006

Senior Labour figures are lining up to warn that Tony Blair will have to compromise with rebels on his controversial school reforms.

More than 90 Labour MPs oppose plans to introduce independent trust schools as part of the Government's education White Paper.

Today former health secretary Alan Milburn said "a bit of give and take" would be needed to prevent a rebellion but it would be "huge self-inflicting wound" if reforms were abandoned entirely.

Lord Smith of Finsbury, who as Chris Smith served as culture secretary, said it was "inconceivable" that Mr Blair would force through the plans as they stand.

And former cabinet minister David Blunkett said there was a "real possibility" of a compromise over the reforms while Lord Hattersley warned Mr Blair "cannot survive" if he relies on Tory support to win a Commons vote on the proposals.

The White Paper proposes establishing trust schools backed by private funding from business, charities or faith groups, which also have the power to set their own admissions policies.

Normally loyal stalwarts Lord Kinnock and John Prescott have previously voiced concern about the plans.

PM 'must compromise' over education

by Virgin, January 29, 2006

Senior Labour figures were lining up to warn that Tony Blair will have to compromise with rebels on his controversial school reforms.

More than 90 Labour MPs oppose plans to introduce independent trust schools as part of the Government's education White Paper.

Former health secretary Alan Milburn said "a bit of give and take" would be needed to prevent a rebellion, but it would be a "huge self-inflicting wound" if reforms were abandoned entirely.

Lord Smith of Finsbury, who as Chris Smith served as culture secretary, said it was "inconceivable" that Mr Blair would force through the plans as they stand.

Former cabinet minister David Blunkett said there was a "real possibility" of a compromise over the reforms, while Lord Hattersley warned that Mr Blair "cannot survive" if he relies on Tory support to win a Commons vote on the proposals.

The White Paper proposes establishing trust schools backed by private funding from business, charities or faith groups, which also have the power to set their own admissions policies. Normally-loyal stalwarts Lord Kinnock and John Prescott have previously voiced concern about the plans.

Schools white paper - key points

by Politics.co.uk, January 27, 2006

Here is a summary of the key points included in the government's controversial schools white paper, which has prompted a large rebellion among Labour backbenchers.

"We are at an historic turning point: we now have an education system that is largely good, after eight years of investment and reform, which has overcome many of the chronic inherited problems of the past.

"Now, with the best teaching force and the best school leadership ever, we are poised to become world class if we have the courage and vision to reform and invest further and put the parent and pupil at the centre of the system.

"Our reforms must build on the freedoms that schools have increasingly received, but extend them radically.

"We must put parents in the driving seat for change in all-ability schools that retain the comprehensive principle of non-selection, but operate very differently from the traditional comprehensive.

"And to underpin this change, the local authority must move from being a provider of education to being its local commissioner and the champion of parent choice."

Your views on the trust schools row

by BBC, January 26, 2006

BBC News education correspondent Mike Baker wrote about the continuing confusion surrounding the government's school reforms.

We asked for your responses. Here are a selection from those we received.

The only significant thing that these reforms would provide is to allow schools more freedom to run their own affairs. As a governor of a voluntary aided school, I am sure that this would improve education in schools still further. We already have the Office of the Schools Adjudicator controlling admissions policies very tightly, and the Office for Standards in Education driving up the quality of teaching.

Is this the strange death of New Labour?

by Economist, January 26, 2006

What is it about Tony Blair's school reforms that has made them, in the minds of both the prime minister and those who oppose them, a crucible for the very idea of New Labour?

At face value, next month's education bill will be not much more than a cautious evolution of some moderately promising existing policies. Yet to hear some of Mr Blair's critics one would think he was plotting the greatest act of political vandalism since the dissolution of the monasteries.

Lord Kinnock, a former leader who up till now has been scrupulously loyal to his successors, last week condemned the plans as “at best a distraction and at worst dangerous”. More than 90 Labour MPs have signed up to a so-called “alternative white paper”. Few of them include the “usual suspects”, habitual rebels who can always be relied upon to cause trouble.

Top-class pupils set new records for exam passes

by Surrey, January 26, 2006

School pupils from across Surrey have achieved their highest ever exam results, with many performing well above the national average.

The school achievement and attainment tables have been published by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) showing that Surrey schools continue to improve in GCSE or equivalent examinations.

Most of the schools in the east Surrey area recorded more than 60 per cent of pupils achieving five or more A* to C grades. The national average was 57.1 per cent.

All of the pupils who attend Reigate Grammar School achieved five or more A* to C grades in their GCSE exams last year.

Grammars Won't Escape

by News Letter, January 26, 2006

The complacency of some grammar schools and their parents is staggering at this time of the greatest threat to the existence of grammar school education ever. One can only surmise that some principals, governors and parents believe that their school's position in the leafier suburbs of Belfast or other towns and cities will ensure that the right sort of child gains entry. Without any form of academic aptitude being required, grammar schools will be forced to accept the children who live closest to the school and whose parents wish them to attend it, irrespective of their ability to cope with academic work.

The school will be obliged to cater for the ability level of its pupils; it would be failing in its basic duty to educate if it did not. However, when more teachers are needed for remedial English and mathematics they will not be extra to the school, but will have to come from the body of staff, or be fresh appointments to replace someone who has retired. What subject teachers will not be replaced? Which departments will be considered less important?

Hypocrite David Cameron yesterday accused Tony Blair of making U-turns on education

by Mirror, January 26, 2006

But the Old Etonian has been staggeringly inconsistent about school selection in the past year alone.

Since winning the Tory leadership Mr Cameron has changed his tune on grammar schools and selecting pupils by academic ability at 11.

Last June, he said: "The fact that grammar schools continue to improve at a faster rate shows how wrong it is for Labour to continue undermining them."

Four months ago, he again pledged to support "grammar schools". But on January 10, he said: "Under my leadership, there'll be no going back to the 11-plus, no going back to grammar schools."

Five days later, he said: "The prospect of bringing back grammar schools has always been wrong and I've never supported it."

In the Commons yesterday, he clashed with Mr Blair over selection of pupils by ability.