Latest Educational News

Expanding grammars 'unlikely' to benefit pupils

by TES, May 23, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

The government's plans to expand grammar schools are "unlikely to bring benefits for young people", a major piece of research suggests.

Researchers from the UCL Institute of Education found that grammar school pupils do no better academically than similar pupils who attend non-selective schools.

And attending a grammar school has no positive impact on a teenager's self-esteem, their aspirations for the future or their English vocabulary, the study shows.

Earlier this month, education secretary Damian Hinds announced a new Selective School Expansion Fund worth £50 million a year to allow existing grammar schools to expand, either by providing more places or by building new annexes. Critics say the plans are a sop to middle-class parents.

'Schools are not factories merely producing workers'

by TES, May 23, 2018

The campaign group Parents and Teachers for Excellence have been keeping a list since the start of the year of all the calls made on schools to teach something new.

At the last count, they were up to 74 things that various thinktanks, commentators, and journalists would like us to tackle, ranging from teaching pupils about knives in maths to teaching them about the national anthem.

The purpose of schools seems to have been lost: they are now acting as a daycare for children so that parents can work longer hours, as primary agents of socialisation who need to raise children to do the things that parents would once have taken responsibility for or to create model citizens and solve the ills of society.

One of the more common calls is for schools to do more to prepare pupils for the world of work, with the CBI often leading the way. In fact, it seems to be a position that many teachers have some sympathy for with a recent poll found that 71 per cent with teachers agreed the statement that the purpose with education was to prepare pupils for work and only 22 per cent disagreeing with it.

Grammar schools could get cash for lowering 11-plus pass mark, and 4 other things we learned from Nick Gibb at education committee

by Schools Week, May 22, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

MPs have grilled the schools minister Nick Gibb for almost two hours over the government’s grammar school expansion plans, academy trust accountability and teacher pay.

Here are the five most important things we learned.

1. Selective schools could lower 11-plus pass mark to get expansion cash
Grammar schools hoping to get their hands on a share of the £200 million expansion could widen access by reducing the test scores needed to win entry, Gibb said today.

The minister set out some of the proposals selective schools could include in their “fair access and partnership plans”, which they must complete in order to bid for the cash.

Fewer parents feel schools act on their feedback

by TES, May 22, 2018

Fewer parents say schools are acting on their feedback, and the majority believe schools should be more accountable, a poll has revealed.

Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of parents surveyed by charity Parentkind said their school should be more accountable to parents.

Only 51 per cent of parents said that schools were taking action based on their views or feedback, down from the 56 per cent reported in a 2016 Parentkind poll.

Almost half (49 per cent) said they were not confident about talking to school governors,

The poll, which involved a sample of 1,507 parents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, found that most parents (84 per cent) would like to be routinely consulted by their children’s school.

Increased nursery hours 'help children at school’

by TES, May 22, 2018

Increasing free nursery hours may help children adapt to life in primary school, according to a new report.

The Scottish government plans to almost double free pre-school and childcare hours for children aged 3 and 4 – and some aged 2 – by 2020, and its new report examines trials in 14 local authorities.

In authorities where children attended a single early learning or childcare setting (ELC), the report finds, “primary school staff reported smoother transitions to school”.

Staff who ran the trials, which lasted for between six and 12 months, were also upbeat about children’s ability to move on to school.

The report states: “As a result of spending more time in ELC settings, children…have a sense of belonging, and are more prepared for transitions through nursery and into school.”

The report, published today, finds that parents “tended to speak positively” about the impact of extended hours on their child’s learning and behaviour, thanks to increased access to opportunities such as outdoor learning.

Ethnically mixed schools lessen hostility

by BBC, May 22, 2018

Pupils in secondary schools with a more diverse racial mix are much more positive about people of different ethnicities, say researchers.

The more mixed the school, the warmer feelings pupils are likely to have towards other races and ethnicities.

The study - from the London School of Economics and the University of Bristol - looked at the attitudes of 4,000 teenagers in English state schools.

Prof Simon Burgess said it showed how schools could change social attitudes.

The study examined young people's attitudes towards people of other ethnicities - such as whether they had friends from other racial groups.

It follows warnings about a lack of social cohesion in some communities and whether different ethnic groups were living parallel lives.

'Reading is like a chocolate-covered strawberry'

by TES, May 21, 2018

Reading is deliciously enjoyable and good for you, too – it doesn't matter which book you pick, says Katie Thistleton

When I think of the books I read growing up, I separate them into two categories: books that I had to read, and books that I wanted to read.

Now, as an adult, I’ve revisited some of the books I studied in school or college and appreciated their brilliance –The Catcher in the Rye, Death of a Salesman, George Orwell’s 1984. When I was studying these books it didn’t ever occur to me that anyone would ever read them for pleasure. Even though English was my favourite subject at school and I’d always been a keen reader, I thought of these books as part of the curriculum and not something I was supposed to enjoy, just something I merely had to survive.

I think people can be put off reading at a young age because we are told it’s so good for our learning and development – in the same way, we detest vegetables even more because we are told we have to eat five a day. But reading for pleasure can be the chocolate-covered strawberry that enhances your life in so many ways.

Greenwich University fined £120,000 for data breach

by BBC, May 21, 2018

The University of Greenwich has been fined £120,000 ($160,000) by the Information Commissioner.

The fine was for a security breach in which the personal data of 19,500 students was placed online.

The data included names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, signatures and - in some cases - physical and mental health problems.

It was uploaded onto a microsite for a training conference in 2004, which was then not secured or closed down.

The Information Commissioner said Greenwich was the first university to receive a fine under the Data Protection Act of 1998 and described the breach as "serious".

How schools are cutting workload

by TES, May 20, 2018

Workload is still cited as one of the biggest factors contributing towards the teacher recruitment and retention crisis. But schools across the country are being active when it comes to introducing a more healthy work-life balance and reducing unnecessary workload. How? Here's how.

Centralising detentions
As teachers are the most valuable resource in any school, detentions should be run by members of the leadership team and even support staff where appropriate.

Where systems like this are already in place, all detentions are on a set timetable. During lessons, a classroom teacher simply clicks the student's name on the register, enters a short description of why the detention has been issued, and with that, the responsibility for all of the above is taken unashamedly out of the teacher’s hands.

The only time the teacher will hear of it again is a confirmation email confirming that the student has completed the detention and any accompanying work.

Exams: How do the new 9-1 GCSE grades work?

by BBC, May 17, 2018

Thousands of teenagers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are revising hard as they sit their GCSEs. But, in England, there have been major changes, with a new 9-1 grading system being phased in to reflect a more demanding curriculum. So what's the new grading system all about?

What are the new grades?
The new grading scheme is designed to reflect the fact that the new GCSE content in England is more challenging and rigorous.

A 9 is the highest grade, while 1 is the lowest, not including a U (ungraded).

Three number grades, 9, 8 and 7, correspond to the old-style top grades of A* and A - this is designed to give more differentiation at the top end.

The exams watchdog, Ofqual, says fewer grade 9s will be awarded than A*s and that anyone who gets a 9 will have "performed exceptionally".

School delay does not help summer-born, study shows

by BBC, May 17, 2018

Delaying a summer-born child's entry to primary school has little impact on attainment, research suggests.

Children born in England between April and August, whose start in Reception was put back a year, did only marginally better in Year 1 tests, according to a government study.

The number of applications to councils for delayed entry has risen sharply.

Head teachers' unions want clearer guidance on whether delayed school entry for summer-born children works.

Department for Education researchers looked at results achieved in the Phonics Screening Check, taken by pupils at the end of Year 1.

Pupils whose school start was delayed a year in 2014 and 2015 scored on average 0.7 marks higher than other summer-born children.

The researchers say the difference is not statistically significant.

Pupils who were not summer-born outperformed both the delayed and normal admission summer-born pupils.

'Year 11, you will survive your GCSEs. Here's how'

by TES, May 14, 2018

Exam season is underway and Year 11s will be frantically revising. Here one teacher offers her survival guide

Dear Year 11,

You are about to enter one of the most significant phases of your life so far. This GCSE period will pave the way for so much of what comes next in your lives. You will be nervous and maybe a little bit excited, too, at this single chance to show off all you have learned.

'Schools can help Mental Health Awareness Week'

by TES, May 14, 2018

We can't let Mental Health Awareness Week be overshadowed by the royal wedding, says Tes' mental health columnist

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week. This annual event usually generates a flurry of activity from press and campaigners around a specific theme (this year’s theme is stress). Whilst this undoubtedly has value, the week inevitably attracts criticism from those who say that mental health issues impact a significant proportion of the population for 52 weeks, not one week, of the year.

Sats: How hard was today’s Spag test?

by TES, May 14, 2018

More than 600,000 pupils aged 10-11 were tested on their spelling, punctuation and grammar today

Sats week began today with Year 6 children facing a "tough" spelling paper, as part of the spelling, punctuation and grammar (Spag) test.

The test consists of two papers: a 45-minute question-and-answer booklet and a 15-minute spelling test in which the teacher reads out 20 words that the pupils have to write in their answer booklet.

Rise in mental health referrals by schools

by TES, May 14, 2018

Number of children referred by schools for mental health treatment up by a third in three years

The number of referrals by schools seeking mental health treatment for pupils has shot up by over a third in the last three years, it was revealed today.

In total, schools made 123,713 requests for help for pupils from the NHS child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) between 2014-15 and 2017-18, said the NSPCC children’s charity.

'Dissatisfied' teachers moving overseas

by TES, May 14, 2018

Nearly half of teachers working in British international schools say their move was influenced by "dissatisfaction" with the education system at home, new survey findings reveal.

And nearly a third (32 per cent) of international school teachers were thinking about quitting the profession before moving abroad, according to the poll by the Council of British International Schools (COBIS).

Cuts put deaf children's education at 'breaking point'

by BBC, May 14, 2018

Tom Bishop is 11 and deaf. The specialist teacher he had was a "life-line", say his family.

But two years ago her post was cut, leaving his family "lost and worried," about their son's future

His mother Emma described impact of the cut as "appalling".

Thomas's story is not unusual, says The National Deaf Children's Society, with one in 10 teachers of the deaf having their jobs axed in the past four years.

And figures obtained by the charity under Freedom of Information laws suggests the cuts are about to get worse.

One in three councils in England are planning to cut deaf children's support services this year saving £4bn.

Newspaper headlines: 'Green light' for grammar schools

by BBC, May 11, 2018

The government's decision to put £50 million towards providing more grammar school places divides opinion.

For the Daily Mirror, it is a "scandal" that has been "blasted" by union leaders angry that selective education is getting more money while comprehensives face cuts.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds tells the Daily Telegraph it will enable grammars to "widen the net" to include more children from poorer backgrounds, possibly by lowering the pass marks they need to achieve in the entrance exam.

The Daily Mail hails the expansion scheme as a "new dawn" that is "making good on the Tories' pledge to increase choice for parents".

The Grammar School Heads Association tells the paper that many of its members have been "keenly awaiting" the announcement and have already begun prioritising applications from disadvantaged youngsters.

The school admissions campaign group Comprehensive Future complains to the Independent that the policy will allow grammars to get around the ban on building new selective schools by permitting them to create annexes - often on completely separate sites.

UK university staff offered 2 per cent pay rise

by Times Higher Education, May 11, 2018

UK university staff have been offered a pay increase of 2 per cent for 2018-19.

The final pay offer was made by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, which negotiates pay for 147 UK higher education institutions, in its third meeting with union representatives on 10 May.

The proposed deal includes higher pay uplift for the lower paid, with base pay for all staff increasing by between 2 and 2.8 per cent. This marks an increase on previous the 1.7 per cent pay rise proposed in Ucea’s second meeting with union representatives.

Overall, it would mean that the average pay increase received by the sector employees covered would be 3.5 per cent once additional incremental rises linked to seniority are considered, said Ucea.

10 colleges to be hit by strike action

by TES, May 11, 2018

A total of 10 further education colleges will be hit by strike action throughout May and June in a row over pay between members of the University and College Union and college management.

Staff at nine colleges in London, as well as Sandwell College in the West Midlands, will walk out for up to seven days. The move by union members follows what they said was an unacceptable pay offer of 1 per cent from the Association of Colleges in September last year. The UCU said FE staff have suffered years of pay suppression and have seen their pay drop by 25 per cent in real terms since 2009.

This is the third wave of strikes in the dispute, with staff at many at the affected colleges having taken strike action in February and March. While the dispute centres around pay, at some colleges it also includes concerns about working conditions, including holiday entitlement, workload and observation policies.

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