Latest Educational News

'More than 300 free schools are approved but not yet open – let us help'

by TES, September 19, 2017

Toby Young, director of the New Schools Network, discusses support available to groups trying to open new free schools
When I took up my post as director of New Schools Network at the beginning of the year, I had a think about what else the charity should be doing to help free schools.

One obvious thing was to carry out some research into open schools so we could feed that back into the programme. But could we also be doing more to help the schools that have been approved to open but haven’t yet opened?

There are more than 300 schools in this position. They are already receiving a good deal of support from the Department of Education and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, but in some cases it’s not enough. Dozens of free schools are facing very complex challenges and they need as much help as they can get if they’re going to open on time.

For that reason, NSN has decided to launch a suite of services called the Delivery Programme for free schools in that critical phase known as “pre-opening” – approved, but not yet open. We currently provide free-school groups with intensive, one-on-one advice during the application stage, and our aim is to extend this proven model to schools once they have been approved to open.

Rise in 'over-capacity' secondary schools

by TES, September 19, 2017

Government dismisses claims that new figures reveal a 'school places crisis'
An increasing number of secondary schools are over-capacity in Year 7, according to new figures.

And in at least three local authority areas, more than two-thirds of schools opened in September with more Year 7 pupils than their published admission number allows.

The Liberal Democrat Party, which collated the figures from Freedom of Information responses from councils, warned of a “school places crisis”.

How can universities help international students feel at home?

by The Guardian, September 18, 2017

here’s never been a more important time for UK universities to nurture their international student population. With the number of applications from EU students falling after Brexit and the government’s approach to immigration deterring some of those from further afield, the quality of the student experience is key for recruitment and retention.

As the British Council’s Anna Esaki-Smith explains, the global education sector is becoming more competitive. “China, Japan and Malaysia are now aiming to increase inward mobility by providing international students with English-language curriculums, scholarships and less-expensive tuition fees when compared to those of the UK or US,” she says.

How can universities ensure their students are satisfied?
Read more
“In that kind of environment, it’s important for established universities to ensure that the international student experience meets expectations. Do universities deliver on the vibrant photos of engaging campus life being viewed by international students who have never left their home countries? Are home students aware of the benefits of an internationalised campus and encouraged to welcome their international counterparts?”

Three-quarters of school staff say 'relentless' work has caused health problems

by TES, September 18, 2017

More than half have considered quitting because of pressures – and one teacher 'broke down' in front of her class because of workload
Three-quarters of school staff say work has caused them health problems – and more than half have considered quitting in the past two years because of the pressures, a survey shows.

Among those who have considered leaving the education sector (53 per cent), approximately three-quarters cited volume of workload and poor work-life balance as reasons.

The YouGov research, commissioned for charity Education Support Partnership, comes after the government spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) found that more than two-thirds of school leaders see workload as a barrier to teacher retention.

The survey, of 1,250 school staff, also revealed that nearly a third (29 per cent) of school staff say that their job has made them feel stressed most or all of the time in the past few weeks – and nearly half (45 per cent) say they don’t achieve the right balance between their home and work lives.

Schools break law on religious education, research suggests

by BBC, September 17, 2017

More than a quarter of England's secondary schools do not offer religious education, despite the law saying they must, suggests research given to BBC local radio.
The National Association for RE teachers obtained unpublished official data under Freedom of Information law.
It says that missing the subject leaves pupils unprepared for modern life.
But the main union for secondary head teachers said many schools covered religious issues in other lessons.
"They might be teaching through conferences, they might be using citizenship lessons, they might be using assemblies," said Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.
By law, RE must be taught by all state-funded schools in England, with detailed syllabuses agreed locally.
NATRE says the FOI data, gathered by the Department for Education in 2015 but not published until now, showed that, overall, 26% of secondaries were not offering RE lessons.

Three ways to involve parents in school life this term

by TES, September 15, 2017

By setting the right tone with parents early in the new term you can reap the benefits for the rest of the school year, says the acting chief executive of parent-teacher organisation PTA UK
So early in a new term, it probably feels that you have more than enough on your plate without worrying about engaging with parents. But this is actually the perfect time to set the right tone and start to build relationships of trust that will benefit both you and your pupils throughout the coming year.

Here are my tips on how you can involve parents in a positive way this term.

1. Start by showing support

Whichever way you look at it, parents are the principal stakeholders in their children’s education. Seek to build goodwill from parents in peacetime, so that you can draw upon their support later on, when you might be facing a host of other challenges.

A simple phone call home with some positive news about something that a child has achieved in the first few weeks of term can work wonders. You can also try to increase opportunities for parents to come into school informally (both physically and virtually) to meet staff and have a voice on policies and issues that affect their families.

This type of engagement can ‘see off’ time-consuming parent behaviours and complaints, but don’t assume you know what support parents need. Make a point of asking them – their responses may surprise you.

Academics uncover 30 words 'lost' from English language

by BBC, September 15, 2017

Snout-fair, dowsabel and percher are among 30 "lost" words which experts believe are still in current use.
Researchers have drawn up the list to persuade people that these defunct words can still have a relevance.
Snout-fair is a word for handsome, dowsabel means "lady-love", and a percher is a social climber.
Dominic Watt, senior linguistics lecturer at the University of York, said he hoped people would re-engage with the language of old.
The team spent three months searching through old books and dictionaries to create the list.

'Historic' schools funding change confirmed

by BBC, September 14, 2017

"Historic" changes to the schools funding formula in England will make it fairer and more transparent, says Education Secretary Justine Greening.
Changes announced last December sparked protests from parents concerned their schools were set to lose out.
Ms Greening said she was increasing the basic level of funding schools would get per pupil - with a minimum level of £3,500 for primary schools by 2019-20.
But Labour said it would still mean a real terms cut, due to inflation.
The new national funding formula was announced by the education secretary last December, following years of complaints that schools in different parts of the country were receiving different levels of per pupil funding.

SATs for seven-year-olds scrapped from 2023

by BBC, September 14, 2017

Controversial tests taken by England's seven-year-olds will be scrapped by 2023, but nine-year-olds will have to sit times table tests under new plans.
Announcing the end to compulsory SATs, the government said children would instead have a "baseline" check in reception year, aged four or five.
This would allow their progress to be tracked and would "free up" teachers, the education secretary said.
But times table tests for year four pupils will be introduced in 2019/20.
The Key Stage 1 tests in reading, writing, maths and science - used to monitor schools' progress - have been compulsory for seven-year-olds in England with around 500,000 children taking them each year.

'It's time for Ofsted to stop giving a school's teaching and learning an overall grade'

by TES, September 13, 2017

Ofsted no longer grades individual lessons – now it's time for it to stop doing likewise for a whole school, writes one former inspector
The chief inspector argued at last weekend’s ResearchEd annual conference that "Ofsted is absolutely right not to grade individual lessons now, and it would be great if all schools would stop doing it as well". Welcome news to that audience, I don’t doubt, but also, I suspect, greeted in some quarters with a degree of scepticism.

There’s a lot of nonsense being talked about lesson grading. Inspectors claim that they no longer grade lessons; many teachers claim they still do. Both are right...in a way. Many headteachers claim that their leadership teams do not use lesson grades for judging performance and performance-related pay; many of their staff claim it’s still happening. Both are right…in a way. It all depends on what is meant by "grading”.

Let’s be clear. Observing a lesson without making any qualitative judgements is virtually impossible if the observer is a human being rather than a robot. Actions observed inevitably elicit a response in the mind of the observer and that response includes effective elements and cognitive ones. An overall judgement or appreciation is difficult, if not impossible, to avoid. ("That was a good lesson." "It was a reasonable lesson but no more than that." "What an amazing lesson." "Poor" – are four out of a myriad of possible responses.) Teachers themselves reflecting on their last lesson also employ such overall judgments.

It’s one thing to make such an overall judgement; it’s a very different matter if that is converted into a numerical grade, which is then attached to that lesson, and, in the worst cases, attached to that particular teacher and his/her teaching. It’s another yet to convey that to the person observed, especially in a stressful situation where that judgement is likely to be remembered forever by the adjudged party. But pretending that a judgement is not being made and will not be used in some way does a disservice to both parties.

Young people fear for futures in Brexit Britain, says study

by BBC, September 13, 2017

More than two-thirds of young people in the UK have an "international outlook" and many fear for their prospects once the UK leaves the EU, says a report.
Ipsos Mori questioned a representative group of almost 2,000 18 to 30-year-olds for a study by cross-party think tank Demos, for the British Council.
Overall, young people said they feel "overburdened" by responsibility and "multiple barriers", says the report.
Ministers said schools worked hard to prepare pupils for life in a modern UK.
The report is part of the British Council's Next Generation series of studies of young people in countries facing pivotal change - others include reports on Bangladesh, Ukraine, Colombia, Turkey and South Africa.

Workload and policy changes trigger teachers' decisions to quit

by TES, September 13, 2017

But low pay is an important factor for younger teachers who decide to go
Workload is the most important factor in teachers' decisions to leave the profession, an analysis published by the Department for Education has found.

A survey of 1,023 ex-teachers commissioned by the DfE has found that 75 per cent cited workload as the reason they quit the profession.

Changes in policy or initiatives by the government was the second highest cause, and feeling undervalued by their leadership team was the third.

In contrast, earning a higher salary elsewhere was cited by 17 per cent.

When asked about how they made the decision to leave, 61 per cent said there was a single tipping point that had triggered their departure, with 55 per cent saying that they did not leave for a higher paid job.

But the analysis found that when split by age, pay was a much larger factor for younger teachers.

The OECD warned yesterday that relatively low pay was becoming a “key obstacle” to attracting young people into teaching, compared to similar graduate professions.

Young people fear for futures in Brexit Britain, says study

by BBC, September 13, 2017

More than two-thirds of young people in the UK have an "international outlook" and many fear for their prospects once the UK leaves the EU, says a report.
Ipsos Mori questioned a representative group of almost 2,000 18 to 30-year-olds for a study by cross-party think tank Demos, for the British Council.
Overall, young people said they feel "overburdened" by responsibility and "multiple barriers", says the report.
Ministers said schools worked hard to prepare pupils for life in a modern UK.
The report is part of the British Council's Next Generation series of studies of young people in countries facing pivotal change - others include reports on Bangladesh, Ukraine, Colombia, Turkey and South Africa.

Government 'cannot show' it is doing enough to keep teachers in the classroom, warns watchdog

by TES, September 12, 2017

The National Audit Office finds vast majority of secondary school headteachers feel the government is failing to help them with high-quality teacher recruitment
The Department for Education cannot show that its attempts to keep teachers in the classroom are having a positive impact on recruitment or are good value for money, according to the government's spending watchdog.

Today's report also warns that secondary schools are facing significant challenges in recruiting enough teachers to keep pace with rising pupil numbers.

Tens of thousands of teachers left England's schools before reaching retirement age last year and headteachers are finding it difficult to fill jobs with good-quality candidates, the report states.

It says that almost 35,000 qualified teachers (34,910) left the profession for reasons other than retirement last year.

Labour seeks to derail tuition fee rise

by BBC, September 12, 2017

Labour is forcing a vote in the House of Commons in a bid to prevent an increase in tuition fees in England.
Fees are due to rise to £9,250 this year and then again to more than £9,500 for next year.
Labour is tabling a motion for Wednesday that would reverse the tuition fee increase - with the claim that the outcome would be binding.
But the Department for Education says that even if the government lost the vote "this motion has no legal effect".
Labour is attempting to use parliamentary process to block the tuition fee increases which are due to be implemented for students from this autumn.

Northern Ireland education faces £100m 'cost pressures'

by BBC, September 11, 2017

Education faces "cost pressures" of more than £100m in 2017/18, according to the top civil servant at Stormont's Department of Education (DE).
The permanent secretary at the department, Derek Baker, also said that the department had £24m less to spend this year than in 2016/17.
The warnings come in a letter from Mr Baker to SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan, which has been seen by the BBC.
Mr McCrossan had submitted a series of questions on school funding.
Mr Baker also said that the department had tried to protect pre-school provision, schools and youth services "as far as possible".

Poor pupils get less tutoring and homework help - study

by BBC, September 7, 2017

Better-off families are secretly using tutors to prevent their less able children from failing at school, research suggests.
Bright teenagers from poor homes get half as much extra tuition as less able pupils from wealthier homes, a report for the Sutton Trust charity suggests.
Disadvantaged pupils also miss out on homework help from parents, with half of poor 15-year-olds getting support.
This compares to two-thirds of pupils from the most advantaged homes.
On average, GCSE-year pupils in England spend 9.5 hours per week receiving extra tuition, help with homework from parents or support from school.
The Sutton Trust said private tuition was the "hidden secret" of British education in an "educational arms race" that reinforces the advantages of youngsters from richer homes.
Tutoring is a £2bn a year industry, according to the trust, but a lack of transparency means that it is difficult to get an accurate picture of the market.
The trust claimed to be "lifting the veil on its prevalence" to shine a light on "important social mobility issues" surrounding the differences in children who get extra tuition.

University heads asked to justify pay over £150,000

by BBC, September 7, 2017

Spiralling rates of pay for university vice-chancellors are to be curbed by a series of new measures being set out by the universities minister.
Jo Johnson urged institutions to show restraint, when it emerged that dozens of university heads were earning £300,000, and some more than £400,000.
Now, he wants universities to justify pay rates topping £150,000 a year to a new regulator, the Office for Students.
Details of staff earning above £100,000 year would also have to be made public.
Universities have argued that their leaders are managing large institutions, have enormous responsibilities and huge budgets, and therefore command large salaries.

Heads say university applicants must know tuition fees

by BBC, September 6, 2017

Head teachers say that applicants to university in England must be told "as soon as possible" how much they will pay in tuition fees in autumn 2018.
But the Department for Education says it has still to confirm whether an increase will go ahead.
The first deadline for applications for next year is next month - but ministers have not yet decided whether to raise fees to above £9,500.
University websites tell applicants that fees have yet to be decided.
The tuition fee level will be decided "by autumn 2017, before the majority of students have applied for a University place for 2018-19", said a Department for Education spokesman on Wednesday.
This is likely to fuel speculation that the government is considering whether or not to press ahead with the increase.

Schools are harming low-ability pupils' chances by teaching in sets, academics say

by TES, September 5, 2017

They argue that schools are rejecting mixed-ability classes, despite research evidence in their favour
Academics have accused schools of harming lower-ability pupils' chances of success by continuing to set and stream children by ability.

They say that schools are teaching pupils in ability-based groups, despite research showing that this can be detrimental to lower-ability pupils' results.

Schools' decisions are influenced by fears of parental responses to mixed-ability teaching, the academics say.

The research, carried out by academics including Becky Francis, director of the UCL Institute of Education, and Louise Archer, professor of sociology of education at King’s College London, said that setting – where pupils are grouped into ability-based groups for individual subjects – is overwhelmingly used for maths and English, in primary and secondary schools.

The academics had no problem at all recruiting 120 secondary schools that teach pupils in sets for the study they were conducting.

However, they struggled to find even 20 schools that taught pupils in mixed-ability classes. They eventually found 17 such schools, recruited from across England.

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