Latest Educational News

Parents ‘spend £244 per child for new school year’

by TES, August 15, 2018

Parents will spend an average of £244.90 on kitting out each child to return to school next month, a survey suggests.

School uniforms are at the top of the price list at £52.90 on average, followed by a coat at an average of £38.70 and school shoes at £36.50, according to the poll of 2,000 parents by VoucherCodes.co.uk.

PE kit will cost another £28.90 and books and stationery come to £26.

Those entering Year 6 to Year 8 are the most expensive to prepare, with parents of these pupils spending an average of £276.20.

Children entering school between Reception and Year 2 cost the least at £182.

A-levels: Is the popularity of English literature at risk?

by TES, August 15, 2018

As I sit on a sun-soaked beach immersed in holiday wellbeing, the curriculum change that has beset English departments since 2014 seems very distant, which may account for the more mellow tenor of my article.

At the inception of the new A levels, the political rhetoric was all about "raising standards" and "rigour" and "curbing grade inflation" to provide "world-class qualifications", all designed to raise the blood pressure for the hapless teacher and student.

'How will Ofsted inspect a school's curriculum?'

by TES, August 15, 2018

For many years the curriculum has not been a major focus of attention in school inspections. The chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, has now belatedly recognised that deficiency, and is promising to put the curriculum at the core, or the heart, of the inspection process. Recently her organisation has produced a working definition to guide its thinking and development work – none too clear in its tortured phraseology or obscure meaning:

The curriculum is a framework for setting out the aims of a programme of education, including the knowledge and understanding to be gained at each stage;
for translating that framework over time into a structure and narrative within an institutional context; and
for evaluating what knowledge and skills pupils have gained against expectations.

Level 4 and 5 qualifications 'improve earnings'

by TES, August 14, 2018

Studying at level 4 and 5 can increase earning potential and employability, according to new research published by the Department for Education this morning.

The research, which forms part of an ongoing review of education at the levels between A-level-equivalent and degree-level qualifications, found that students achieving a level 4-5 qualification by age 23 had higher median wages by the time they were 26 and were more likely to be in sustained employment than students who achieved a level 3.

There was also a growing demand for these qualifications from employers in key sectors such as ICT and engineering. Level 4 and 5 qualifications include diplomas of higher education and foundation degrees and are offered at FE colleges and universities.

A-level results day: 'We must change university admissions'

by TES, August 14, 2018

This week, around 300,000 18-year-olds will learn whether their A-level grades are good enough to get them to the university of their choice. These young people have had to navigate a system that is opaque in much of its decision-making and unfair to those who do not obtain their predicted grades.

For those who don’t make their required grades, the rush for clearing places began yesterday, although the staggering rise in the number of unconditional offers – from 2,985 in 2013 to 67,915 in 2018 – will reduce the pressure on clearing this year.

This increase means nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of applicants have received an unconditional offer – an unpopular statistic with schools that see students easing off when they should be aiming for their maximum grade.

Unconditional offers could mean fewer A* A levels

by TES, August 13, 2018

Top A-level pass rates could drop this year in part due to the soaring numbers of unconditional degree offers handed out by universities, it has been suggested.

There are warnings that the hike in these guaranteed places could mean students have "taken their foot off the pedal", leading to lower overall A-level results.

'Trust and flexibility are the key to teaching'

by TES, August 12, 2018

There’s a lot that goes on in college. Different subject areas, different accreditation, different types of students. It's a veritable myriad of difference (often within the same campus). First-year voc-eders rub shoulders with final-year degree students. AP learners walk the corridors alongside mainstream. In my opinion, I think colleges are better for it. The diversity within reflects the communities that they serve and caters for a wide range of learners.

However, I have noticed that this does lead to certain tensions in regard to teaching and learning and how standards are monitored. In large organisations such as colleges there is an understandable desire for parity in regards to the process of teaching, as it is perceived to be one of the ways that standards can be kept high. In fact, many institutions employ in-house teams whose responsibility it is to ensure that the quality of teaching and learning (and the way that this is achieved) are the best that they can be, often resulting in the pursuit of a uniformity in approach. The view that there can be a best way to teach is assumed and applied across the board.

Can you really teach a child to love reading?

by TES, August 12, 2018

There is a simple logic to children’s reading: those who can read well tend to enjoy reading. Because they enjoy reading, they are more likely to read often. Because they read often, they become better readers and their enjoyment of reading is reinforced.

In his 2015 book, Raising Kids Who Read, Daniel Willingham refers to this as the “reading virtuous cycle”.

As a working-class student who tried and failed to navigate the grammar school system, let me tell you exactly how elitist it is

by The Independent, August 1, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

As I shuffled down the corridor of my local grammar school to sit my 11-plus, all I could think about was how I was missing my auntie’s wedding day to take the test. I stared down at the countless symbols and numbers on the exam paper that was supposed to determine my future and knew, as a working-class student without an inherent talent in maths, or money from my parents for extra tutoring, that the odds were stacked against me.

Figures for pupils like me facing the 11-plus are bleak, as 70 per cent of children in England who are tutored secure a place in a grammar school, compared with just 14 per cent of those who had no extra help. Furthermore, 12 per cent of grammar students were privately educated in the last year of primary school.

Despite all this, I wish that I could tell my 11-year-old self that failing that entry test would not be a reflection on my later achievements – and that this archaic, elitist system of selective education does not have to seal your fate.

Grammar schools: Thousands of new places created

by BBC, August 1, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

There are 11,000 more grammar school pupils in England now than in 2010, BBC analysis of official data shows.

And by 2021, the data suggests, the number of extra places created will be equivalent to 24 new grammar schools compared to eight years ago.

The analysis shows a rise in numbers even before the distribution of a new £50m growth fund, announced in May.

The government says schools will be eligible for funding only if they improve access for poorer pupils.

Grammar schools are state-funded secondary schools which allocate places to pupils on the basis of their performance in an extra academic test at the end of primary school.

Prime Minister Theresa May had to drop controversial plans to overturn the ban on new schools after the last election, but the expansion of existing grammar schools has been encouraged.

Disadvantaged pupils get just 4.5% of grammar school places

by Schools Week, August 1, 2018

The most disadvantaged pupils secured just 4.5 per cent of all grammar school places last year.

Data collected by anti-selection campaign group Comprehensive Future shows that of 12,341 places available at 80 grammar schools across England last September, just 564 were offered to pupils who attract pupil premium funding.

In fact, there were 22 grammar schools that failed to admit a pupil premium child in 2017, despite 28 per cent of pupils receiving the pupil premium this year.

Schools get pupil premium funding for children who have been eligible for free school meals, in care, or whose parents have served in the armed forces at any point in the past six years.

Grammar schools: Thousands of new places created

by BBC, August 1, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

There are 11,000 more grammar school pupils in England now than in 2010, BBC analysis of official data shows.

And by 2021, the data suggests, the number of extra places created will be equivalent to 24 new grammar schools compared to eight years ago.

The analysis shows a rise in numbers even before the distribution of a new £50m growth fund, announced in May.

The government says schools will be eligible for funding only if they improve access for poorer pupils.

Grammar schools are state-funded secondary schools which allocate places to pupils on the basis of their performance in an extra academic test at the end of primary school.

Oxford University student graduates aged 95

by BBC, July 30, 2018

A 95-year-old man has graduated from Oxford University, 76 years after he completed his degree.

John Philip Trower finished a shortened wartime BA in modern history at New College in 1942.

However, he said he did not collect his degree at the time due to "inefficiency on my part", and waited more than seven decades to do so.

The graduation ceremony was arranged by his nephews Richard Trower and Martin Soldau.

Mr Trower was born on 16 May 1923 in London and attended school in Dorset before spending four years at Eton College.

Classroom teachers in England getting 3.5% pay rise

by BBC, July 24, 2018

Teachers in England are to receive pay rises between 1.5% and 3.5% from the autumn, ministers have announced.

Schools will receive a grant of £508m over two years to cover the increases, drawn from existing Department for Education budgets.

"There are no great schools without great teachers," said Education Secretary Damian Hinds.

But the government has not implemented the independent pay body's call for an across-the-board 3.5% increase.

Head teacher Jules White, who has campaigned against school funding shortages, says it will mean schools having to "raid their already devastated budgets to fund part of the increase".

Millions of families 'worse off' than 15 years ago

by BBC, July 24, 2018

Millions of "just about managing" families are no better off today than those in 2003, new research from the Resolution Foundation indicates.

The remarkable income stagnation for so many reveals that the economy has been failing to generate income for people over many years despite record levels of people in work.

In 2003, households on the lower half of incomes typically earnt £14,900.

In 2016/17 that figure had fallen to £14,800, the research shows.

Both figures are adjusted for inflation and housing costs.

There are over eight million low and middle income households, just under half of which have children.

And it is not just poorer households which have been facing a pay squeeze.

On average, incomes for all households in 2017/18 increased by just 0.9%, the lowest rise for four years and less than half the average between 1994 and 2007, just before the financial crisis.

Teacher wins £15k to help GCSE resit students

by TES, July 23, 2018

An English teacher has been awarded £15,000 to help support GCSE resit students using virtual reality.

Alice Eardley, from Activate Learning’s City of Oxford College Technology Campus has won £15,000 to use virtual reality (VR) and gaming systems to build an online vocabulary development programme.

Adult education 'helps parents and their children'

by TES, July 23, 2018

Parents feel more confident about helping their children with reading, writing and maths after taking adult education courses, a survey reveals.

The Workers' Educational Association, a voluntary sector provider of adult education, has published the results of a survey it carried out as it launched its parenting campaign Grow Together – Learn Together.

WEA surveyed 4,000 of its learners, and three out of five parents said that taking part in a course while their child was at school improved their confidence to help out with homework.

The research comes as the annual Varkey Foundation Global Parents' Survey revealed that a quarter of British parents do not help with their children’s homework for fear of embarrassment.

'Why am I still in school this week?'

by TES, July 23, 2018

While there is obviously a cheerful end-of-term buzz in staffrooms this week, there’s also a degree of resentment in the air. What rankles us is that “this week” exists at all. We all know schools that are already “off”. They sensibly closed on Friday.

Why are we still opening the stable doors for two or three more days, only to reflog a horse that has been resoundingly dead for at least a week? Inevitably, some of our young colts have already bolted from the stable, and it is hard to blame them. Personally, I would rather chase down a couple of teaching friends who have sent me pointed images today from their “delightful” little holiday gite in deepest France. The place they took last year turned out to be infested with mice; let’s hope this one's different. Rats, perhaps?

The holidays haven’t always been as divisive as this. Previously schools may have sometimes closed on different dates but teachers knew that justice would prevail in the end. They had faith that some all-powerful term-timetabling figure in the local authority would ensure that schools all equalised out over the course of the year. We knew that a stunted little week like this one was all part of that balancing-out process. It was still annoying and pointless, but at least it was seen as fair.

'The school summer holidays are non-negotiable'

by TES, July 20, 2018

When an article appears in the education press from a parent-journalist decrying the six-week break, you know the holidays are imminent.

Many teachers with children understand the problems of arranging childcare – they are not unsympathetic about the difficulties faced by other parents needing to child cover at inconvenient times.

Rich children who sit grammar school test away from local area can be advantaged, study finds

by The Independent, July 12, 2018

Affluent families whose children sit the 11 plus test for grammar schools in local authorities where they do not live are gaining an edge over disadvantaged pupils, new study finds.

There is no evidence that expanding grammar schools will promote social mobility by providing more opportunities for disadvantaged pupils, research from a Durham University academic says.

The varied proportion of grammar school places in local authorities – from 1.4 per cent to 37.4 per cent – has led to imbalanced grammar school opportunities for pupils from different backgrounds.

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