Latest Educational News

Stark gender gap in pupils’ favourite subjects

by TES, September 4, 2018

The subjects that boys and girls most enjoy are still defined by a stark gender gap, a new poll shows.

A survey by YouGov asked more than 4,000 children aged 6 to 15 how much they enjoyed a list of subjects.

The biggest difference of opinion between the sexes was in art: 62 per cent of girls studying the subject said they enjoyed it, compared with only 34 per cent of boys – a difference of 28 percentage points.

Girls were also much more likely than boys to say they enjoyed English (42 per cent compared with 25 per cent of boys), music (48 per cent against 34 per cent) and languages (28 per cent against 18 per cent).

Subject preferences 'down to gender stereotyping'
By contrast, boys were much more likely to say they enjoyed computing (64 per cent compared with 46 per cent of girls), maths (42 per cent against 32 per cent), science (48 per cent against 39 per cent) and physical education (51 per cent against 42 per cent).

'Super-selective' grammar school must change rules

by TES, September 4, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

A ”super-selective” grammar school has been ordered to change its admission policy after it was found to be in breach of admissions laws.

The Rochester Grammar School, a “popular and oversubscribed” girls’ school in Medway, Kent, was found to give priority to pupils with siblings in other secondary schools within its multi-academy trust, including a selective school for boys.

In a report published today, the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) says it considered the views of the local authority as well as those of a legal adviser for the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, which runs the grammar, and those of “an objector,” among other documents, in reaching its decision that the school breached the admissions code.

The report quotes claims by the objector that the school was "super-selective" and that it favoured pupils from primary feeder schools within its multi-academy trust, although schools adjudicator David Lennard Jones did not uphold this claim.

UK 'missing out' on overseas students

by BBC, September 4, 2018

University leaders are calling for changes to the UK visa system to allow international students to stay and work for two years after they graduate.

Universities UK says otherwise overseas students, worth £26bn to the UK economy, will opt for countries such as the US, Canada and Australia.

Research has shown Australia is already overtaking the UK as the second biggest destination for overseas students.

The government has said there is no cap on legitimate overseas student numbers.

This month, the Migration Advisory Committee, which gives the government independent advice on immigration, is to report on the impact of international students - currently counted as those from outside the UK and the European Union.

The government has previously rejected calls to take international students out of migration targets.

Class sizes rise as recruitment crisis bites

by TES, August 30, 2018

Pupil-teacher ratios have risen since 2010 because student numbers have grown and teacher recruitment has failed to keep up, new figures show.

Research from the Education Policy Institute thinktank lays bare the severity of England’s teacher recruitment crisis, with just one in five physics teachers holding a relevant degree in some parts of the country.

According to the EPI’s analysis, pupil numbers have risen by around 10 per cent since 2010, while teacher numbers have remained steady.

This has resulted in pupil-to-teacher ratios increasing from around 15.5 in 2010 to nearly 17 in 2018.

Teacher training applications were down by around 5 per cent compared with the same time in 2017, with training targets persistently missed in maths and science.

England's schools face 'severe' teacher shortage

by BBC, August 30, 2018

England's schools are facing a "severe shortage" of teachers, with bigger class sizes and more subjects taught by staff without a relevant degree, says the Education Policy Institute (EPI).

The independent think tank says that as schools prepare to return after the summer break, the problems of teacher recruitment remain unresolved.

The think tank says targeted pay increases could reduce shortages.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has made staff recruitment a top priority.

Specialist teachers
Former education minister, David Laws, now chairman of the EPI, says the "government faces a significant challenge to recruit enough teachers - particularly in subjects such as maths and sciences".

'Schools are so much more than exam factories'

by TES, August 29, 2018

During the week spanning A-level and GCSE results day, Tes and I launched a social media campaign using the hashtag #MoreThanAGrade. Thanks to the involvement of a celebrity name or two, we briefly trended (hurrah!).

The idea was to recognise and celebrate all the aspects of education that cannot be seen in an exam result – the times when teachers have motivated, inspired, entertained and gone above and beyond for their students.

As I scrolled through the thousands of contributions to the hashtag, two things struck me. The first was how long our memories of school stay with us – childhood and adolescence are a crucial, formative time in our brain development. People in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond could recall with absolute clarity minute examples of wisdom and kindness that their teachers had showed them (the teachers had probably, by now, forgotten themselves). The second was how closely correlated people’s "favourite subject" at school was with their "favourite teacher". I don't think it's a coincidence that students tend to show the most enthusiasm for subjects taught by someone they have a connection with and, in the case of the stories being shared, this often went on to inform huge decisions about further education and employment.

'Rewards don't improve school attendance'

by BBC, August 29, 2018

It's the back-to-school season - and many young people may be feeling reluctant about returning for the start of another academic year.

And in many schools there are deliberate attempts to boost attendance by giving rewards, school prizes and commendations to those who have the best records for not missing any lessons.

But do such prizes really change behaviour?

According to a large-scale study of secondary school students in California in the US, awards for good school attendance seem to make no significant difference - and in some circumstances, could make absenteeism worse.

The study, published by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Massachusetts, examined the effect of rewards schemes on more than 15,000 students in 14 school districts in California.

'GCSE resit data shows we need a policy rethink'

by TES, August 28, 2018

Last Thursday morning, alongside the 16-year-olds picking up their GCSE results, thousands of college students received their English and maths GCSE grades.

For some, there would have been well-deserved jubilation. Finally, they have that magic grade 4 – or, in a few cases, 5 – in English and/or maths. Sadly, for so many more, they won’t have reached the grade and will be signed up for English and maths classes, yet again.

What does a more in-depth look at the 16 to 18 results tell us? What is the story behind the figures?

Most took 9-1 papers
The first thing to remember is that this summer, all students doing resits took the reformed 9-1 GCSEs.

'Government missed an opportunity on FE pay'

by TES, August 28, 2018

So, now we know. Anne Milton’s letter to Association of Colleges (AoC) chief executive David Hughes today confirmed what many in the sector had already feared: that the government will not make available any extra funding to help colleges fund a pay increase for their teaching staff.

There had been hope. Only last month, the government announced school teachers would get a pay rise of between 1.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent, and although this would not be funded from new money from the Treasury, schools will also not be expected to pay for those increases from their existing budgets. Instead, the DfE said it was assuming schools had budgeted for a 1 per cent rise, and the government would pay for the difference from savings elsewhere in its budget.

Three tips for setting up your classroom

by TES, August 27, 2018

By this point in the summer holidays, if you haven’t already gone into school to sort out your classroom, you are probably gearing up to do just that. Here are my tips for getting it all done as quickly and painlessly as possible, so that you can go back to enjoying the last days of summer.

1. Time it right
Some people like to do a few hours here and there throughout the holidays, but I'm a great advocate of allocating a full day and blitzing it all in one go.

The question is: which day do you go in?

If you're a parent, you'll have to pick from two options.

GCSE results rise despite tougher exams

by BBC, August 23, 2018

GCSE pass rates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have risen this year - despite an overhaul to make the exams more demanding.

The proportion of students reaching the pass levels - England's new grade 4 and grade C in Wales and Northern Ireland - is up by 0.5% to 66.9%.

For the first time most of the GCSEs in England are being graded from 9 to 1.

About 4% of entries received the top grade 9 - and 732 pupils scored a clean sweep of grade 9s in all subjects.

Girls continued to do better than boys - in terms of both the highest grades and in the pass rate. But the gender gap has narrowed this year with boys catching up.

In total, 17.2% of boys' entries scored an A or a 7, up from 16.4% last year, while girls' remained static at 23.7%.

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.

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