Latest Educational News

School meal smoothie ban in obesity fight

by BBC, June 4, 2018

Smoothies and fruit juices could be banned from school canteens, as part of a campaign to tackle childhood obesity in Scotland.

The Scottish government wants to impose lower sugar limits on school meals in a move that would also affect yoghurts and some breakfast cereals.

A consultation is due to be carried out on the plans, which include increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to cut child obesity by half by 2030.

Around 29% of children in Scotland are at risk of being overweight, and 14% are at risk of being obese.

Aim to cut Scots child obesity by half
School meal standards to be reviewed
School dinner chicken 'from Thailand'
John Swinney, Scotland's education secretary, told BBC Radio Scotland that ministers wanted to strengthen the "already very high standards" expected for school meals.

Vocabulary: What does it mean to know a word?

by TES, June 2, 2018

Imagine you wanted to explain to a child what lavender was. How would you do it?

You might tell them the word and then show them a drawing. From this, they would get an idea of the shape, the outline and the purple colour of the flower.

Next, you could give them a piece of plastic lavender. This would helps them to understand that it is three-dimensional, how the petals link together, and a sense of weight (probably inaccurate).

But it isn’t until they encounter a bunch of real, fresh lavender, or see it in a garden, that pupils really understand how it looks, smells and feels. They might notice that it isn’t smooth like the plastic version. They might realise that it feels solid, yet fragile.

One in eight Sats moderators fails training test

by TES, June 1, 2018

One in eight would-be Sats moderators failed to prove they could accurately judge key stage 2 writing this year, Tes can reveal.

The figures come despite a major overhaul of the training process in a bid to resolve the "chaos" of inconsistent moderating.

Moderators check that teachers' assessments of Year 6 pupils' writing are consistent across the country.

They do this by visiting primary schools and checking that teachers’ assessments match a set of national criteria.

After a report from Ofqual found moderation in 2017 was "more inconsistent" than it could have been, The Standards and Testing Agency said it would improve the system in 2018, including by providing more "authentic" samples of pupils' work in the standardisation test taken by moderators.

'Every teacher should volunteer': here's why

by TES, May 31, 2018

The majority of schools pride themselves on providing their pupils with the means to be successful and fulfilled. Our young people are guided by their teachers to become active and responsible citizens who make a positive and valuable contribution to the wider community.

But it’s not just the pupils who should have the opportunity to learn and thrive. Teachers too need the tools, support and budget to take ownership of their professional development. This not only raises educational standards, but it's also a great way to combat the current retention crisis. And volunteering is a good way to offer staff CPD opportunities.

Why volunteering? Well, we already know that the benefits volunteering offers young people are plentiful. But I wholeheartedly believe that offering teachers the chance to develop their skills outside of the classroom – the kind of skills they can’t acquire in a lesson environment – is the missing piece of the jigsaw.

Nine UK unis in top 100 for reputation

by TES, May 30, 2018

Nine British universities have been ranked in the top 100 institutions in the world, as measured by the strength of their global “brand”.

Cambridge and Oxford come fourth and fifth in the list respectively, but the number of UK institutions in the top 100 has dropped from 10 last year.

The annual World Reputation Rankings, compiled by Tes’s sister magazine, Times Higher Education, uses a globally representative survey of more than 10,000 senior academics to identify “the top 100 most powerful global university brands”.

THE says that a university’s brand is vital for attracting talent, strategic partners, philanthropy and investment.

The top-rated institution in the list is Harvard University, followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University.

Hotter years 'mean lower exam results'

by BBC, May 30, 2018

In years with hotter weather pupils are likely to perform less well in exams, says a major study from researchers at Harvard and other US universities.

There is a "significant" link between higher temperatures and lower school achievement, say economic researchers.

An analysis of test scores of 10 million US secondary school students over 13 years shows hot weather has a negative impact on results.

The study says a practical response could be to use more air conditioning.

Students taking exams in a summer heatwave might have always complained that they were hampered by the sweltering weather.

But this study, from academics at Harvard, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and Georgia State University, claims to have produced the first clear evidence showing that when temperatures go up, school performance goes down.

Researchers have tracked how secondary school students performed in tests in different years, between 2001 and 2014, across the different climates and weather patterns within the US.

Opinion: Cuts to school funding and music education mean we are failing Bristol's children

by Bristol Post, May 29, 2018

Schools in Bristol are facing huge cuts to their funding, with academies cutting music lessons and arts programmes from their curriculum.

Phil Castang, director of Creative Learning and Engagement at Bristol Music Trust, argues why losing the creative arts is folly.

“Bristol often appears in lists of top destinations to visit and places to live. When colleagues visit Bristol from other parts of the UK they always comment on how rich and vibrant the cultural scene is.

“Music, theatre, festivals, museums, popular entertainment and galleries - you only have to look up at the side of many buildings to experience art. To the rest of the UK and beyond, Bristol is regarded as an independent creative and cultural hotspot.

“In addition to Bristol’s professional or commercial arts scene, there are numerous amateur choirs, orchestras, bands and ensembles of all shapes and sizes. There are amateur theatre groups and artist collectives.

Free schools boost for England's worst-performing areas

by BBC, May 29, 2018

The government's free school programme is being redirected towards the worst-performing areas of England, particularly the North East.

Ministers are targeting the next wave of about 35 new schools in the bottom third of lowest-performing areas.

It comes after criticism that the free school programme has focused on the wealthier South East.

The government will also give councils £50m to create about 740 new school places for children with special needs.

The money could help to build facilities including sensory rooms and playgrounds with specialist equipment.

It is part of £680m which the Department for Education (DfE) has allocated to help create 40,000 more good school places in primaries and secondaries by 2021.

'All GCSE resit students can improve grades'

by TES, May 27, 2018

In her seminal TED Talk on growth mindset, Carol Dweck tells us that “if you 'fail' you’re nowhere, but if you get the grade ‘not yet’ you’re on a learning curve.”

That’s what the GCSE resit policy should have done; in conjunction with an untiered, numerical grading system, and the progress agenda; it should have removed the word "fail" from the vocabulary we use in discussing English. It could have rallied students, teachers and all stakeholders to the flag of persisting with this vital subject until a common standard is reached, rather than just an arbitrary age.

However, the government has not only "failed" to make the case for this policy, or to support it, but it has actually confused matters further by introducing terms such as “strong pass” to something that is not really a pass/fail qualification. Of the 133,790 post-16 entries into GCSE English language last year, 91.6 per cent technically passed. Fact. Go on; check it. But not nearly enough students made progress from their starting point. Despite our best efforts, the policy is not a success… not yet.

Students are all capable of improving
The critics of growth mindset make much of the lack of replicability of Professor Dweck’s original trials. They mock, with justification, the absurd posters adorning classrooms and corridors that suggest anyone can do anything just by believing they can.

Less justifiably, they draw parallels between growth mindset and some of the truly-brainless edu-fads we’ve seen, from learning styles to lollipop sticks. I suspect this negativity arises from a minority of schools and colleges imposing the idea as another tick-box on the observation bingo card or garbling its message in over-simplified assemblies.

I think the negativity is unfair because a growth mindset can only do good. The belief that with appropriate support and enough effort we can get better at something is surely a prerequisite for working in education. Whatever sinister arguments might be made about genetic predestination on the swivel-eyed fringes, we have to keep the faith and keep doing our best for all students because the alternative is unthinkable.

GCSE English resit students are all capable of improving their grade.

A pupil premium for FE
But Tes FE editor Stephen Exley was correct last week to call the Department for Education’s failings over the policy “a scandal”. While promising millions in funding to expand grammar schools, a regressive move and an obvious nod to the nostalgic activists carrying the Conservative Party further from the centre, the bright future of the country as embodied in its diverse, dynamic, and vibrant colleges is quietly suffocated through lack of funding.

Private school head predicts end of all-boys' schools

by TES, May 27, 2018

The "tide is retreating" for all-boys' schools, the headmaster of an independent school has predicted.

Guy Sanderson, who leads Eltham College in southeast London, is reported in the Sunday Times as saying that boys need exposure to girls in order to receive a rounded education.

His school, which opened as a boys’ school in 1842 for the sons of missionaries, will start taking girls at the ages of 7 and 11 from 2020. At present, girls can enter the school only in the sixth form.

According to the Sunday Times, Mr Sanderson said: "The tide is definitely retreating for boys’ schools.

“If we want to prepare students properly for the future, this is the best way of doing it.”

Mr Sanderson also reportedly said he hoped the change would mean that boys noticed more quickly than he had done that girls can be highly intelligent – he only realised this himself when he was 22 and met his wife, a Cambridge graduate who is a senior City executive.

Could knitting help pupils cope with exam stress?

by TES, May 27, 2018

During this year’s Winter Olympics, the news that half of the 102 athletes representing Finland were spending their spare time at the games knitting got the internet talking.

Initially, the discussion was around how odd it was to see competitors sitting at the sidelines with knitting needles and wool. But the debate quickly moved on to how ‘knit one, purl one’ can, unexpectedly, offer an advantage to athletes trying to perform under pressure.

First colleges to teach new vocational T-levels named

by BBC, May 27, 2018

The first schools and colleges to teach new technical qualifications called T-levels have been announced.

From 2020, they will offer teenagers in England courses in construction, digital, and education and childcare.

Each course will include a three-month work placement and are intended as vocational alternatives to A-levels.

Prime Minister Theresa May said they would help the UK to "compete globally", but Labour called the plans "little more than meaningless spin."

A further 22 courses will be rolled out in stages from 2021 which will cover sectors such as finance, hair and beauty, engineering, and the creative industries.

The courses' curriculums are being "created by expert panels of employers," the government said.

The first 52 high schools and colleges to teach the courses span all parts of England.

Art & Design GCSE entries stay strong in face of EBacc

by Schools Week, May 24, 2018

Fewer pupils have been entered for non-EBacc subjects this year, except in art and design which has bucked the decline and increased by two per cent.

Official government figures released this morning also show entries to EBacc subjects have soared, especially in the sciences.

A larger cohort of pupils means there are more overall GCSE entries this year (5.1 million) up by around one per cent compared to 2017.

However, EBacc entries increased by five per cent, while non-EBacc entries decreased by 13 per cent compared to last year.

Subjects with the largest drops included physical education, which went from 112,550 entries down to 87,825 (a 20 per cent drop), while performing/expressive arts entries reduced from 14,950 to just 8,795 (a 40 per cent drop).

'Schools should teach dangers of livestreaming'

by TES, May 24, 2018

Schools are being told to teach the dangers of livestreaming, as a poll reveals many children are posting content that they later regret.

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of 10-year-olds and more than half (57 per cent) of 12-year-olds said they had livestreamed content on the internet, according to a poll by the children’s charity, Barnardo’s.

The charity warns that, as well as potentially exposing children to online sexual predators and harmful content, many youngsters are left with regrets after livestreaming.

Almost a quarter of 10- to 16-year-olds (24 per cent) say they or a friend have regretted posting live content on apps and website.

Barnardo’s wants pupils to be taught the dangers of livestreaming at school.

Ofsted: Let us routinely inspect 'outstanding' schools

by TES, May 24, 2018

Ofsted is pressing the government to let it routinely visit "outstanding" schools, warning that the current regime is not "sustainable".

The inspectorate says there are schools that have now not been inspected for up to 12 to 13 years and this is undermining parents’ confidence.

Ofsted was responding to a National Audit Office report published today, which highlights that there are now 1,620 schools that have not been reinspected for six years – including 296 that inspectors have not been to in 10 years.

Under current legislation, schools with Ofsted’s highest grade are exempt from routine inspection. This change was brought in in 2011 by the Department for Education to allow inspectors to focus resources on under-performing schools.

Boys twice as likely as girls to claim to be a maths 'natural'

by TES, May 24, 2018

Boys are almost twice as likely as girls to call themselves a "natural" at maths, a poll reveals.

While nearly one in five (19 per cent) of boys aged 11-16 make the claim, the same is true of only one in 10 girls.

Two in 10 boys aged 11-16 say they love the subject and find it easy – a sentiment expressed by just one in 10 girls.

Two thirds (67 per cent) of pupils surveyed believed their maths ability was good or very good – with just 7 per cent saying it was poor or very poor.

But boys were far more likely (33 per cent) than girls (19 per cent) to say they were very good at maths.

'Relax A-level grades for some medical students'

by BBC, May 24, 2018

Academic entry requirements for medical degrees should be relaxed for students applying from the worst UK secondary schools, researchers say.

A study from the University of York says these students should be able to drop one or two A-level grades.

The study finds those on medicine courses with lower A-level grades do at least as well as their peers.

The Medical Schools Council said the research added "important data" to the entry requirement debate.

Competition for a place to study medicine in the UK is fierce, with about 11 or 12 applications made for each place on offer and entry grade requirements are high - at least AAA at A-level.

But the research paper says there is an over-representation of socioeconomically privileged individuals in the medical profession and that most of the schools that provide medical students are selective.

"It is known that 80% of UK medical students come from 20% of secondary schools and tend to come from economically advantaged backgrounds," it says.

Ofsted admits some 'outstanding schools aren't that good'

by BBC, May 24, 2018

Some schools rated outstanding may no longer be as good as their rating suggests, Ofsted has said amid official criticism of its work in England.

A National Audit Office report found 1,620 schools, mostly outstanding, had not been inspected for six years or more, and 290 for a decade or more.

Outstanding schools were decreed exempt from routine inspections in 2011.

Ofsted bosses said there was no way of telling if these schools had since fallen into a "mediocre" category.

Although, inspections can be triggered at any school if a safeguarding concern is raised, or if there is a significant drop in results.

It no longer goes into these top-rated schools on a regular basis.

Grammar school expansion money ‘won’t improve outcomes’

by Schools Week, May 23, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

The expansion of grammar schools is “unlikely to bring benefits for young people” as selective schools do not offer better social, emotional or educational outcomes than non-selective establishments.

Instead of encouraging existing grammar schools to expand, the government should focus its funding on improving education “for all young people”, according to a new study.

Earlier this month, the government launched renewed calls for grammar schools to take advantage of a £200 million expansion fund, set up in 2016 to cover capital costs for new classrooms. In exchange, they must widen access to disadvantaged pupils.

However, analysis of pupils’ attainment, engagement and wellbeing at school and their future aspirations by the UCL Institute of Education found that attending a grammar school had “no positive impact” on pupils’ self-esteem, attitude to school, future aspirations or vocabulary at age 14.

Grammar school pupils 'gain no social or emotional advantages' by age 14

by The Guardian, May 23, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

Grammar school pupils gain no social or emotional advantages by age 14 over children who do not attend a selective school, a study suggests.

The research by University College London (UCL) is the latest to call into question the government’s plans to expand selective state education, which have been fiercely opposed by educationalists and policymakers.

Recent studies have suggested that grammar schools only outperform their non-grammar peers academically because they select well, rather than because they add value, and do not increase social mobility.

Researchers from UCL’s Institute of Education took a novel approach, examining a range of social and emotional outcomes important to parents and children when choosing a school. They concluded that attending a selective state school had no positive impact upon teenagers’ attitudes towards school, self-esteem, aspirations or their English vocabulary.


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