Latest Educational News

Exam pressures fuel rise in Childline calls about mental health

by TES, October 17, 2017

Children are suffering mental health problems because they feel that they have to conform, says NSPCC chief executive
Exam pressures have contributed to a near tripling in the proportion of Childline callers whose main concerns relate to their mental wellbeing.

Childline's annual review reveals that more than a fifth – 22 per cent – of the almost 300,000 young people whom it counselled in 2016-2017 were primarily concerned about their mental and emotional health. This was an increase from 8 per cent in 2015-2016.

Speaking to Tes at yesterday’s Childline Annual Review launch, NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “These issues reflect the pressure to conform and do well in exams.”

The NSPCC runs a Speak Out Stay Safe programme for primary school pupils, which provides assemblies and smaller workshops with counsellors.

Mr Wanless added: "Anything that can create an environment where young people feel a sense of pride and value in themselves is the critical thing."

Trainee teachers don't understand safeguarding role, says Ofsted

by TES, October 17, 2017

Inspectors find that trainees are unclear about their safeguarding responsibilities towards children
Trainee teachers are not being made fully aware of their future role in safeguarding children, Ofsted warned today.

Understanding safeguarding was one of the areas for improvement flagged up from the first stage inspections of initial teacher education this summer, Angela Milner, Ofsted's specialist HMI for initial teacher education, told a conference today.

Ms Milner told the annual conference of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) that it was “worrying” that safeguarding was one of the weaker areas of professional training.

“Trainees didn’t actually understand what safeguarding was about and their responsibilities as a teacher,” she said. There was also concern about trainees' knowledge of the Prevent duty and teaching British values.

Ms Milner said that one of the problems that inspectors of initial teacher education were finding with safeguarding was that students were not being provided with the documents they need.

Since September 2016, schools have had to ensure that all trainee teachers are provided with the child protection policy, the staff behaviour policy and information about the role of the designated safeguarding lead.

'We no longer have a curriculum – we simply prepare pupils for exams'

by TES Connect, October 17, 2017

'Free schools from the stranglehold of league tables, and get teachers to ditch the PowerPoint presentations' – one researcher explains how schools can refocus their attention on the curriculum
Amanda Spielman, the Ofsted chief inspector, is right that too many schools in England are guilty of circumventing a curriculum of study with teaching to the test.

Some schools have extended GCSE preparation from two to three years, and others have even increased it to five years. There is no curriculum, only preparing for exams. And in other schools they don’t have schemes of work with a planned curriculum. Instead, they store PowerPoint presentations which get passed from one teacher to the next.

It is certainly a breath of fresh air to hear the leader of Ofsted talk about the "vast accumulation of human knowledge" that sits at the "heart of education". Spielman is also right to note that Ofsted has played a role in establishing a system of schooling that is set up to demonstrate "progress" through Sats and exam results, which isn’t the same thing as providing a better education. However, this is vastly understated in her commentary. Here are five changes that would help schools to refocus their attention on the curriculum:

Warning over 'untested' teacher apprenticeships

by TES, October 17, 2017

School-based trainers back teacher apprenticeships in principle, but say they are concerned about the details
Apprenticeships risk opening up teacher training to “untested and unproven methodologies”, a school-based teacher training organisation has warned.

Emma Hollis, executive director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT), commented as the government was drawing up details of a postgraduate teacher apprenticeship route, expected to be announced shortly.

An undergraduate route, called a degree apprenticeship, is also expected to be developed, in which people would study for a degree alongside working in a school as a way of qualifying as a teacher.

Speaking at a House of Commons reception last night, Ms Holls said she welcomed the principle of apprenticeships. But she added: "For us there is a danger in opening up teacher training to untested and unproven methologies.

"Our view is that an undergraduate apprenticeship, where trainees first obtain a degree and then go on to achieve QTS might be an exciting way to bring additionality to the system – and it's much needed additionality.

"We look forward to working closely with relevant parties to ensure that the valuable lessons already learned by the ITT sector are not lost along the way."

Early GCSEs entry 'risk' to pupils' learning

by BBC, October 16, 2017

Large numbers of pupils taking GCSEs early could be putting their education at risk, says the exams regulator.
Nearly a fifth of entries in English language, Welsh and maths exams in the summer were from pupils from year 10.
Schools under pressure over performance was a factor to explain the growing practice, a 10-month review by Qualifications Wales found.
Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has now announced new rules so "interests of pupils are always put first".

Meet some of the UK's oldest university students

by BBC, October 14, 2017

What does a student look like?
Forget the stereotypes. Think of diversity in a different way. And meet some of the country's oldest undergraduates.
Maureen Matthews is starting a three-year law degree at the tender age of 79.
She's not even the oldest student on her new course at the University of West London in Brentford.
Sitting next to her in lectures is 84-year-old Craigan Surujballi.
This isn't dabbling in learning with an evening course - it's an intensive, full-time degree, studying alongside people with ambitions to become lawyers.
"You may look at me and see an older face - as may many young people," says Maureen.

Exclusive: Funding formula 'privileges' grammar schools

by TES, October 13, 2017

Classified as 11 Plus.

Formula branded 'fundamentally unfair' after Tes investigation shows latest changes particularly benefit grammar schools
The government's latest changes to the national funding formula for schools have hugely benefited grammars, a Tes investigation reveals.

Grammar schools are now 24 times more likely than primaries, comprehensives and secondary moderns to have their budgets boosted by at least 10 per cent by 2019-20, the analysis shows.

Under earlier plans, no school would have seen its funding grow by more than 6 per cent over two years. But the final version of the formula, published last month, will hand double-digit percentage increases to 313 schools, of which 51 are grammar schools.

Grammar schools account for 16 per cent of the schools that will do best out of the new funding arrangements, taking 26 per cent of the extra funding permitted because of the lifting of the 6 per cent "cap".

Exclusive: Funding formula 'privileges' grammar schools

by TES, October 13, 2017

Formula branded 'fundamentally unfair' after Tes investigation shows latest changes particularly benefit grammar schools
The government's latest changes to the national funding formula for schools have hugely benefited grammars, a Tes investigation reveals.

Grammar schools are now 24 times more likely than primaries, comprehensives and secondary moderns to have their budgets boosted by at least 10 per cent by 2019-20, the analysis shows.

Under earlier plans, no school would have seen its funding grow by more than 6 per cent over two years. But the final version of the formula, published last month, will hand double-digit percentage increases to 313 schools, of which 51 are grammar schools.

Grammar schools account for 16 per cent of the schools that will do best out of the new funding arrangements, taking 26 per cent of the extra funding permitted because of the lifting of the 6 per cent "cap".

Apprenticeships: 'It's the money that puts people off'

by BBC, October 13, 2017

Apprenticeship starts this summer were down almost two thirds on the same period last year despite a new funding scheme which started in April.
Tia Spencer, 20, from Manchester, recently completed a two-year apprenticeship in business administration.
Pay us better
"I think it's the money that puts people off. If you are being paid [the minimum] £3.50 an hour, how are you supposed to live?
"I was in care and have been living independently since I was 17.
"I started a two-year apprenticeship in business administration aged 18 but the money was just awful. I got £5 an hour.
"I pay all my bills so it was really hard to survive on such low pay.
"I completed the apprenticeship last year and I did think about going on to a level three [advanced] apprenticeship but the pay was rubbish."

Education funding boost 'bypasses sport'

by BBC, October 12, 2017

A school principal has expressed disappointment a funding increase for education will not be used to save a school sports scheme.
Some £10m of extra money for education was reallocated on by the finance department on Wednesday.
But the primary school sports curriculum is still to be axed at the end of the month, causing 50 job cuts.
Kevin Donaghy from St Ronan's primary school said he was disappointed the scheme's benefits had been ignored.
The scheme cost £1.3 million last year, and provided schools with a coach from either from the GAA or Irish Football Association to develop physical literacy.

Give poorer pupils vouchers for extracurricular activities, Sutton Trust says

by TES, October 12, 2017

A poll by the charity finds that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are significantly less likely than their wealthier peers to take up extracurricular activities
The government should introduce a means-tested voucher system to help lower-income families access extracurricular activities, the Sutton Trust has said.

Disadvantaged pupils are significantly less likely to take up extracurricular activities than their wealthier peers.

This is despite the fact that disadvantaged pupils have the most to gain from taking part in such activities, according to a new Sutton Trust report, published today.

The trust polled more than 2,000 teachers and employers, as well as more than 2,500 secondary pupils. It found wide recognition among all three groups of the importance of life skills such as confidence, motivation, resilience and communication.

Disadvantaged pupils' gaps
But there were substantial gaps between the extracurricular clubs and activities that teachers said were provided for pupils, and the level of take-up by pupils.

Ninety children taken into care each day, figures show

by BBC, October 12, 2017

Ninety children are being taken into care every day in England and Wales and it's claimed social workers are "firefighting" the most serious cases late into the night.
Prof Ray Jones, who works in social services improvement, says staff fear children slip through the net as they try to keep up with rising pressures.
Latest government figures show 32,810 children were taken into care in 2017.
Ministers said extra money was being targeted towards improving services.
The total number of children in care is a record 72,670 - up 3% on 2016.
Council bosses, who are responsible for child protection services, say it's the biggest rise in seven years.
The Local Government Association, which is taking part in a conference on care services in Bournemouth, says it comes as children's services face a £2bn a year funding gap by 2020.

The primary curriculum: 'Where has Ofsted been all this time?'

by TES, October 11, 2017

A former senior Ofsted inspector is delighted that the inspectorate has woken up to its own impact on the curriculum in the primary phase – but worries that it’s too little, too late
As an HMI who advised on the introduction of the national curriculum and later its implementation in primary schools, I find today’s commentary on the curriculum from Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman jaw-dropping. Where has Ofsted been all these years? Why does it take a research programme to reveal what everyone knows and – in the case of the primary curriculum – has known for years and years and years? How is it that Ofsted present their findings as if they were new in some way? It’s as if the author has been in a time-warp for 30 years and has returned to schools to find what are, to her, astonishing developments.

As far as primary education is concerned, the commentary is right but far too late – and naïve, to boot.

Of course, as the report points out, the primary curriculum has narrowed and is still narrowing in a large majority of schools (not in "some", as it indicates) as a consequence of too great a focus on preparing for key stage 2 tests. Of course, Ofsted has played a major part (not "may have helped") in that process. Those messages need to be stated, but they needed to be stated long ago – before so many primary-aged children became test-fodder and were denied their broad curriculum entitlement.

Supply teachers 'quitting over low pay'

by BBC, October 11, 2017

Supply teachers are having to take on extra jobs to make ends meet and many are considering quitting the profession, it has been claimed.
Campaigners say employing classroom cover through agencies has led to lower pay and poorer terms and conditions.
There are about 4,500 supply teachers in Wales, covering for sickness absence and professional development.
One leading agency denied taking an excessive cut and said it gave teachers "regular and consistent work".
Llyr Gruffydd AM, Plaid Cymru's education spokesman, said he had been approached "by a number of very demoralised supply teachers".
One could only find supply work in Denbighshire through an agency and this left her £115 a day pay reduced to £85.
"Another is considering giving up a job he's done for 18 years because of the drastic cut in pay and lack of any personal development or pension payments," he said.

Teaching to the test gives 'hollow understanding'

by BBC, October 11, 2017

Schools in England are focusing on tests and exams, rather than giving pupils a good grounding in a wide range of subjects, the head of Ofsted warns.
Amanda Spielman says the focus on GCSEs and national curriculum tests, often known as Sats, is at the expense of "rich and full knowledge".
She accepts a good school curriculum should lead to good exam results.
But she says good exam results do not always mean children have received the subject knowledge they need.
Her comments came as she set out the preliminary findings of an Ofsted research project into the curriculum in England's state schools.

Pupils losing out as schools prepare for GCSE early, says Ofsted

by TES, October 11, 2017

Some children never study history, geography or a language after the age of 12 or 13, the schools inspectorate warns
It is unnecessary to shorten key stage 3 to make more time for GCSEs, Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of Ofsted, has said.

An investigation by the schools watchdog has found that schools are often shortening KS3, which means “some pupils never study history, geography or a language after the age of 12 or 13”.

The intensity of exam preparation is getting in the way of pupils receiving the subject knowledge they need, the watchdog has said.

Narrowing the curriculum
Ofsted today published the preliminary findings of its rev

Exclusive: Hundreds of maths GCSE students 'double entered' in summer 2017

by TES, October 10, 2017

Students entered for two foundation tier exams or both foundation and higher maths GCSE papers
Almost 500 students were entered for maths GCSE with more than one exam board this summer, according to Ofqual.

Allowing students to sit the same subject with more than one board gives them two attempts at the same exam and is potentially seen as malpractice.

It is believed it may be happening owing to the pressure that schools are under to achieve high pass rates.

Freedom of information requests to Ofqual by Tes reveal that 499 pupils were entered for maths GCSE with more than one exam board in summer 2017, and 31 schools entered students with two exam boards.

It comes after the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) confirmed last month that 15 schools were being investigated for potential malpractice after double entering pupils for maths GCSE in 2016.

Maths teacher Mel Muldowney, who blogs as Just Maths, has also been investigating the practice – and says she is angry and concerned about the effect on pupils.

She said: "It is happening. It may be the pressure of accountability, which is massive, and sometimes they are doing it for the kids – because that kid needs a grade 4.

Number of girls in education around the world falls by hundreds of thousands

by The Independent, October 10, 2017

The total number of girls in education worldwide has fallen for the first time in 10 years in what has been described as a “global crisis which perpetuates poverty”.

The number of girls who are currently out of education has increased from 130.3 million to 130.9 million based on a survey by The ONE Campaign of 122 countries across the world.

The research reveals that the countries with the lowest proportion of girls in school are also some of the world’s poorest with South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Niger topping the list.

Group of top girls' schools scraps the 11-plus because the exam puts too much stress on children

by Daily Mail, October 10, 2017

A group of the most elite girls' private schools in the country have announced they are scrapping the 11-plus because it puts too much stress on children.
The North London Independent Girls' Schools' Consortium is dropping its notoriously tough entrance exams in a bid to halt the 'dreadful prepping' and 'over-tutoring' that many applicants endure.
Concerns have long been raised that pushy parents in the capital are putting too much pressure on their daughters to perform well in the exams.
Many have been paying through the nose for private tutoring because they are so desperate for their child to win a place.

Academic gap between independent and state primaries narrows as fees rise

by TES, October 9, 2017

Rising fees have not produced a greater private-school advantage, study finds
The academic gap between pupils in independent primary schools and pupils in state primary schools has narrowed – yet the fees for prep schools have escalated, new research suggests.

Attending a private primary school still provides an “early advantage for children over their similarly able peers” in UK state primary schools – even when a wide range of family and individual characteristics are taken into account, according to a new study from UCL Institute of Education.

But parents are now paying more for prep schools than in the 1970s – and their children have a smaller academic lead over pupils in state primary schools than three decades ago.

The study, which looked at three generations of children living in the UK, said: “The fact that increasing school fees have not produced an increased private-school advantage is surprising.

“We can speculate that increased performance pressures on state primary schools may have gone some way to counterbalance the increased resources enjoyed by the private sector.”

'Very notable gap'
The research, which used data from three birth cohorts (1958, 1970 and 2000-2001), found the benefit of attending a prep school for academic progress is “not commensurate with the associated costs”.

It concludes: “Parents of the youngest cohort are paying (proportionately) the most, but the benefits were not greater than for the 1970 cohort.”

Pupils in private primary schools in the 1970s had an 8- to 10-point advantage, whereas children in prep schools in the 2000s only had a 5-point advantage, the study finds.

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