Latest Educational News

'I persuaded my school to start later in the day - and the results were transformational'

by TES, December 30, 2016

Numerous studies have suggested that pushing back the start of the school day improves results for students - this teacher convinced her school to give it a try

I have never loved mornings.

I remember my mother dragging me out of bed for an early morning church class that I went to during high school. The class started at 6am. From there I’d walk to school, muscle my way through classes and stay awake by munching on Pop Tarts and Goldfish. Most of the year I had rehearsal for a play in the evening. As tired and sleep deprived as I was, my brain would come alive again once rehearsal started and I’d come home and stay awake far later than was healthy, but not late enough to satisfy my night owl tendencies. I would swear to anyone that I did my best writing after 10.30pm.

Boarders perform better at 'outstanding' £13,000-a-year Colchester Royal Grammar School

by Braintree & Witham Times, December 29, 2016

Classified as 11 Plus.

COLCHESTER Royal Grammar School has again been rated “outstanding” by inspectors.

Ofsted also said that the 30 or so sixth-formers who pay £13,200 a year to board at the state-funded selective academy school perform better than students who only attend during the day.

Colchester Royal Grammar School, which was founded in 1206, was judged “outstanding” across all categories.

This included the overall experience and progress of children and young people, the quality of care and support, how well they are protected and the impact and effectiveness of leaders and managers.

11-plus exams: an insider's guide to revision and preparation

by Telegraph, December 25, 2016

Classified as 11 Plus.

Christmas has almost arrived – but amid all the festivities many families will be mindful of the forthcoming 11-plus exams in January, which govern admission to various types of secondary school.

Involving children both in the independent and state sectors, the exam comprises papers on literacy, numeracy, verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Whether you are frantically preparing for January 2017, or starting a more leisurely journey towards exams in 2018, here is some advice.

Spending plans for 1,112 schools thrown out by Education Authority

by The Irish News , December 23, 2016

EVERY school in the north has had its spending plans rejected by government, throwing budgets into disarray, the Irish News has learned.

Education chiefs were forced to take the unprecedented move to throw out all plans due to a "serious deterioration" in schools' finances.

Schools are struggling to tighten their belts because millions of pounds have been taken out of the system.

The amount of money given to schools in 2016/17 was about £1.2bn - about £10m less than the previous 12 months.

In addition, major changes to funding are taking their toll.

Schools must now pick up the tab for increases in employers' contributions to national insurance and superannuation. Many warn this will cost them tens of thousands of pounds, with the cash coming straight out of their budget.

For some, this means making teaching and non-teaching staff redundant.

After being informed of their budget share, all schools were asked to provide three-year spending plans to the Education Authority (EA).

It has emerged that the EA has rejected every single one - 1,112 schools. This effectively means that schools have no approval to spend all the money they need to spend.

Tuition fee rise 'sneaked out' on website

by BBC News, December 22, 2016

The move to increase university tuition fees in England to £9,250 has been launched - without any announcement from the Department for Education.
The changes to the fees, affecting more than 500,000 students beginning in the autumn, was put onto a government website last week.
Opposition parties have called it "shabby" and "avoiding scrutiny".
The Department for Education has rejected suggestions it wanted to deflect attention from the increase.
Tuition fees in England have been fixed at £9,000 since 2012 - but the government wants to allow fees to increase each year with inflation, with an initial increase to £9,250 from the autumn.
MPs wanting to scrutinise the plans had been waiting for the government to publish its bid to increase fees.
'Piling up debts'
But it has emerged that the regulations to enable the higher fees were published last Thursday without being put on the announcements on the Department for Education's website.
Instead the regulations were placed on a government website managed by the National Archives, http://www.legislation.gov.uk, on Thursday, the day school league tables were published.
Labour's Gordon Marsden accused the government of trying to "sneak out" the changes - saying that this is the "increase that doesn't like to speak its name".
"They are hell-bent on keeping this increase as low-profile as possible as it's piling up debts on students," said Mr Marsden.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: "This is a shabby little way to announce something, hiding it away in a far-flung corner of a government website.

More than 100 free schools take lessons in temporary sites

by The Guardian, December 22, 2016

Labour has accused the government of failing pupils after figures showed children at more than 100 free schools in England are doing lessons in temporary, makeshift buildings.

The figures revealed by the Department for Education show that about one in four free schools – set up independently by parents or community groups – do not have a permanent home.

One establishment has been in temporary accommodation for at least five years, and roughly half of all the 429 free schools in the country have been in makeshift buildings at some point.

Mike Kane, shadow schools minister, said it showed the government’s schools policy was in disarray.

“Their flagship policies are failing, and children and parents are paying the price,” he said. “Time and again ministers fixate on the name above the door rather than ensuring schools have the resources and teachers in the classroom to deliver an excellent education for all.

“Their free school failure means children in unsuitable temporary classrooms disrupting their education and threatening school standards.”

A Department for Education spokesperson disputed the accusations, saying free schools are creating thousands of good-quality school places for children, many in disadvantaged areas.

Term-time holiday case heading to Supreme Court

by BBC News, December 21, 2016

A long-running legal battle over whether parents are allowed to take children on holiday during term time is to be decided in the Supreme Court.
The Isle of Wight Council tried to fine Jon Platt £120 for taking his daughter on a once-in-a-lifetime family holiday to Florida during term time.
But magistrates backed the father, so the council appealed to the High Court, which again ruled in Mr Platt's favour.
The Supreme Court has said it will allow a final challenge by the council.
On Wednesday, a panel of three justices who reviewed the case decided a hearing should go ahead.
It is expected to take place on January 31.
'Disappointment'
Isle of Wight Council, as the local education authority, took the case to London's High Court but senior judges backed the magistrates' ruling in favour of the father.
He had argued he should not be fined over the absence because his daughter's attendance was considered good.

'Schools don't understand behaviour or what "success" should really mean'

by TES, December 20, 2016

The head of a pupil referral unit says his Christmas wish is for a better school system that understands behaviour and what success at school should mean
I really like my job as the headteacher of a pupil referral unit, but sometimes the enormity of it hits home. Christmas can be particularly hard when it comes to behaviour.

Three of our pupils are on the verge of homelessness this week. With few resources to take care of themselves and nowhere safe to go, a punched wall or a broken chair might be the way a child tells us just how scared they are feeling about their possible time alone over the holidays.

Couple homelessness with family breakdown, with drug addiction (to numb the pain), paranoia, death and loss of primary carers and often a seriously shame-based identity leading to a sense of worthlessness and that the good stuff just isn't for them – well, life is hard sometimes in our school.

But we plan for joy here at Christmas, nonetheless. Feasts, parties and fun. Presents, well wishes and promises we will still be here in January. We hold hope for people where sometimes children and families feel there is none. When others have stepped away because the behaviour of these students - communicating deep rage, shame and despair - is too much to bear, deemed as delinquent, intolerable and hard to manage – we remain.

We hope to help all begin to make better choices. But what if those not so good choices are the choices that have kept these students alive for the past 15 years? What if trusting again leads to even more pain and suffering?

What a dilemma our pupils have. How hard it is to see the world and relationships differently. How do they even dare to trust again?

College of Teaching appoints seven teachers to its council

by TES, December 20, 2016

The College of Teaching has announced seven more trustees
More than 100 teachers applied to join the College of Teaching's council - and now seven have been appointed.

The teachers, who will join the existing board of trustees, were chosen by a select committee which included Dame Alison Peacock, chief executive designate.

Dame Alison said: "During the interview process, I was thrilled by the commitment to continuing professional development and high standards shown by all of the applicants."

Membership of the college opens next month. Dame Alison added: "We have an exciting challenge ahead to connect the teaching profession across all phases, specialist areas of education and subject disciplines.

"Our aim is to provide a collective voice for the profession through listening to teachers, providing scholarship opportunities and building regional research communities.

"Our council will play a vital role in helping the Chartered College to achieve this."

The seven new council members are:

Sarah Lachlann-Dean, Dee Banks SEN School (Cheshire)

Sarah is a classroom teacher working with pupils with complex needs. She is currently completing her MA in Leadership and Management for Education.

Setting creates ‘double disadvantage’ for poor pupils

by TES, December 19, 2016

Setting by ability is more likely in Scotland than abroad, despite warnings that it promotes social class differences
Pupils in Scottish secondaries are more likely to be grouped by ability than those in almost any other western country outside of the UK, new figures show, prompting one leading academic to warn that setting puts poorer pupils at a “double disadvantage”.

An inclusion expert has also warned that grouping by ability is now increasingly common in Scottish primary schools – just as the government is striving to “close the attainment gap” between the most and least well-off pupils.

Although Scotland has among the least academically selective school admissions systems in the world, last week’s Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) results show that almost 92 per cent of Scottish secondaries grouped students by ability for “some subjects”. This compared with an average of 38 per cent across member nations of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which runs Pisa.

Grouping by ability within classes for some subjects is also more likely to take place in Scotland – 85.7 per cent against an OECD average of 50.5 per cent.

Professor Becky Francis, director of University College London’s Institute of Education, said that grouping by ability caused the lowest attainers – who tended to come from disadvantaged backgrounds – to perform significantly worse than if they were placed in mixed-ability classes. She also hit out at the “cultural assumption or myth” that it is harder to teach mixed ability.

Professor Francis told TESS: “Given that kids from disadvantaged backgrounds tend to be over-represented in these [lower] sets and streams, the disadvantage is doubled because they come into the system behind their more affluent peers and then are subject to practices that we know will have a detrimental impact on their progress and educational outcomes.”

DfE research: 'Limited evidence’ holding degree in subject improves pupil outcomes

by TES, December 19, 2016

There is “limited evidence” that teachers holding a degree in the subject they teach improves pupils outcomes, according to a new study.
Research by the Department for Education has found that while there is evidence "specialist" teachers have a "small" positive impact on pupil outcomes at GCSE in maths, English and humanities, there is "no discernible effect" of "non-specialist" teaching at GCSE for modern foreign languages and science.

The DfE’s analysis – published in a research paper – categorises teachers as "specialist" or "non-specialist" on the basis of whether they hold a degree or other post A-level qualification in the subject they teach.

It is not possible to directly link data on individual teachers to pupil outcomes, so the analysis looks at the proportion of specialist teachers in a subject area at school level.

The DfE’s research reveals "mixed or limited findings" which "do not imply a causal link" between specialist teaching and pupils outcomes.

A "positive association" was found between specialist teaching in English and maths and GCSE attainment, but this was without controlling for other factors.

Looking at KS2 to KS4 value added – and again without controlling other factors – specialist teaching is "positively associated" with schools’ value added in English, maths and humanities. However there is "no relationship" between value added and specialist teaching in science and modern foreign languages.

When other variables are controlled for there is "no discernible effect" of non-specialist teaching on pupils’ GCSE outcomes in modern foreign languages and science.

Grammars 'will not boost poorest pupils' science grades'

by BBC News, December 17, 2016

Top scientists fear plans for more grammar schools in England will not boost disadvantaged pupils' grades.
Overall, the poorest pupils do worse in science and maths subjects in areas with selective schools, suggests research for the Royal Society, the UK's independent scientific academy.
New grammars are likely to help "only a small proportion" of the poorest pupils, it says.
Ministers maintain that their proposals will improve social mobility.
A government consultation on plans for more selective education closed earlier this month.
"Social mobility is a complex issue," said Prof Tom McLeish, chairman of the Royal Society's Education Committee.
"We support the government's commitment to ensuring all students fulfil their potential, regardless of their background.
"However, we are concerned that the approach to selective education outlined in the green paper may only support the small number of high ability disadvantaged pupils who do attend selective schools, at the cost of disadvantaged pupils who do not."

Ofsted: Greenwood Academies Trust ‘let down pupils’

by TES, December 16, 2016

Greenwood Academies Trust has 'let down pupils over a number of years and across a number of schools', Ofsted has judged
An inspection of six of the Greenwood multi-academy trust’s schools by the regulator found that three required special measures. Two were judged to be good and one was judged to require improvement.

Two of the four secondary academies that had previously been inspected had declined since their last inspection, and none had improved, the watchdog found.

Greenwood Academies Trust is the eleventh largest MAT in the country, running 31 academies located in the East Midlands and East of England.

The MAT was selected for a focused review because Ofsted’s analysis of its pupils’ outcomes in 2015 revealed “significant concerns” about underperformance.

Based on inspections of the six academies at the beginning of November, Ofsted concluded the trust had “not done enough” to identify the weaknesses of its academies or to support them to improve.

“Leaders have not spotted and reacted quickly enough to the underperformance of key groups of pupils across the trust, such as disadvantaged pupils and the most able pupils,” the inspection report states.

Are our schools set to fail students in maths?

by TES, December 16, 2016

Ability grouping is all the rage in Scotland – but it could risk leaving some children behind
My Name is Emma Seith and as a teenager I was in a one of the bottom classes for maths. It feels good to get that off my chest.

That general-foundation maths class was carnage. The teacher had no control over his motley crew of maths failures. He was well-intentioned – kind even. But when the backdrop to his lessons was Barry Murphy letting off in Jenny McDonald’s face, having climbed on her desk beforehand in order to get the best possible angle, our attention was somewhat divided.

At my school you could glean your level of maths mediocrity by the teacher you were given. And when you reached the status of mathematical whizz, you found yourself taught by the head of department.

Needless to say, I never had the pleasure. But I did claw my way out of general-foundation, which, during that era at least, was akin to clawing your way out of the deepest, darkest pit of hell. I would like to say it was all down to me, but without my pushy parents I fear it’s possible I would have been condemned to breathe in that sulphuric stench for the full two years.

Things have almost certainly improved since my day. But when Professor Becky Francis – who is leading a major project into setting – talks about the disadvantages that come with grouping classes by ability, I can see where she’s coming from.

And the problem is not simply that when you are placed in a bottom class you might decide to give up. According to Francis, bottom sets often end up with poorer teachers and uninspiring lessons and, even though these groupings are ostensibly based on ability, once you are assigned a class, in reality, there is little hope of escape – be it up or down.

Female secondary teachers earn 6.4% less than men

by TES, December 16, 2016

Unions say female teachers are being ‘denied thousands’, as new gender pay gap data released
Female teachers working in secondary schools are earning on average 6.4 per cent less than their male colleagues, new government figures reveal.

However, in primary and nursery education, female teachers are paid on average 0.5 per cent more than men.

Justine Greening, who holds the ministerial brief for women and equalities as well as being education secretary, has launched a new online tool showing the gender pay gap in different occupations.

The figures have been calculated using median hourly pay rates, excluding overtime, and relate to teachers across the UK. They do not include headteachers but do include deputy and assistant heads.

Women teaching in secondaries earn on average £22.34 per hour, compared with the £23.87 received by their male colleagues – a 6.4 per cent difference.

The gap is slightly smaller for those working full-time in secondaries, at 4.7 per cent, and much larger for those working part-time, at 14.2 per cent.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: “The cost of the gender pay gap equates to female teachers being denied thousands of pounds each year in lost income. Gender inequality also signals the failure of employers to recognise and value the potential of all teachers in meeting the needs of children and young people.”

Four reasons for the sharp drop in challenges to GCSE and A-level marks

by TES, December 15, 2016

Insufficient resources and Ofqual's new re-marking process are being blamed for the 'unfair' fall
The number of challenges to GCSE and A-level grades has fallen by 25 per cent this year.

And yet nearly a fifth of the challenges resulted in a regrade, Ofqual figures revealed today.

Here are some of the main reasons thought to be behind the significant drop in grade challenges this year:

1. Schools lack sufficient resources to mount enquiries into grades

Schools will be forced to find £3 billion of savings by 2019-20 amid soaring costs and real-terms funding cuts, the National Audit Office warned this week.

And the pressures on budgets could be putting schools off from lodging appeals, the NAHT heads' union has said.

Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary, said: “The appeals process is both costly and complicated. With school budgets at breaking point, we face the prospect of a two-tier system where justifiable appeals are available only to those schools with the money and time to put into them.

“Government need to address the inequity at the heart of the appeals system.”

Peter Hamilton, chair of the Headmasters' & Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) academic policy committee and head of Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, said: “We are very concerned about students whose state schools are struggling more and more to appeal because of lack of resources.

“This is doubly unfair and a significant worry to anyone who cares about all young people reaching their potential.”

Number of challenges to GCSE and A-level marks falls by quarter

by TES, December 15, 2016

But almost a fifth of challenges still resulted in a grade change, findings show
Challenges to GCSE and A-level grades fell by 25 per cent last summer, the exam regulator Ofqual revealed today.

More than 427,000 challenges were made by schools in 2016, down on 572,400 last year.

But the proportion of challenges which resulted in a grade change has remained fairly consistent: from 19 per cent in 2015 to 18 per cent this year.

The new figures show that 67,900 GCSE and A-level grades were changed after schools demanded remarks – compared to more than 90,000 last year.

In the report from Ofqual today, the exam regulator suggests the drop in reviews may be a result of changes to performance measures in schools and universities being more flexible about taking students who hadn’t met their offer.

The report follows changes made by Ofqual to their enquiries and appeals system this summer. Under the new measures, exam boards were not be allowed to change a mark unless there has been a “clear marking error”.

Sally Collier, chief regulator of Ofqual, said: “Quality of marking is a very important issue for us. The ability to have marking reviewed, and corrected if necessary, is critical to a fair qualifications system.

“To help us understand this year’s reviews statistics more fully, a thorough evaluation of the changes to the review process will be conducted, to check that errors were indeed identified and corrected, and that legitimate marks were unchanged.

Ofsted: school governors lack knowledge to challenge headteachers

by TES, December 15, 2016

Weak governors know too little about education to ask probing questions, a new report says
Many school governors lack the expertise needed to hold school leaders to account, according to a new Ofsted report.

Weak governors often know little about pupil achievement or budget management at their schools, and therefore fail to challenge headteachers sufficiently, the report concludes.

“When inspectors judge the leadership and management of a school to be less than good, a common underlying weakness is the failure of governors to hold school leaders to account,” the report, published today, states.

Ofsted drew on evidence from 2,632 responses to a call for evidence, along with a close study of governance at 24 improving primary, secondary and special schools.

In particular, its report highlighted the fact that governors often lack the necessary skills and training to challenge school leaders effectively. It cites one example of a governing board that accepted a senior leader’s assurance that the school budget was in a healthy position. One week later, they discovered that the school had a deficit of more than £300,000.

Number of foreign undergrads at UK universities decreases

by The Guardian, December 15, 2016

The number of international students accepted as undergraduates at UK universities has gone down for the first time in five years, according to the higher education admissions service, Ucas.

Although the figure only relates to undergraduates, who make up a small proportion of international students in UK higher education, the sector is nervous as speculation mounts about government plans to cut the overall numbers of non-EU students as part of its drive to reduce immigration.

According to the Ucas end-of-admissions report for 2016, published on Thursday, the number of students accepted from outside the EU fell by 2.3% to 38,300, which marked the first fall since 2011. The fall in numbers was due to a decrease in both applicants and the acceptance rate.

In contrast the number of EU students accepted to start their studies in September rose by 7%, with big increases from countries including Poland and Bulgaria. Most will have applied before the Brexit vote.

Now all eyes will be on the January university admissions deadline to start studies next year to see how international and EU student figures hold up. Cambridge University, which has an earlier applications deadline, has already seen a 17% drop in EU applications.

Disadvantaged pupils already eight months behind when school starts

by TES, December 15, 2016

Children from poorer backgrounds in the UK are already about eight months behind their more privileged peers in reading attainment when they start school, according to a new study.
Research by the Sutton Trust has found that the UK lags behind Canada and Australia when it comes to the reading gap between the children of lowly and highly educated parents.

In Canada and Australia five year olds with less educated parents are already behind the children of highly educated parents by an estimated six months when they start school, whilst in America they are about a year behind.

While the study was based on parental education, the researchers said the gaps were similar for parental income.

The research also found that the attainment gaps in the US and UK are much bigger today than they were for children born 40 to 60 years ago, although these gaps have started to narrow slightly in the past decade.

The Sutton Trust said greater efforts were needed to reduce the disparity in Britain by focusing on the early years.

The foundation has called on the government to make sure that disadvantaged children have access to the best early years education by employing qualified and well-trained staff in all early settings.

Access to free child care places should be accompanied by easy access to proven parenting programmes, it said.

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