Latest Educational News

Four books to get primary pupils thinking

by TES, April 23, 2018

The edges of a child’s world congeal when her assumptions go unchecked. But when she bumps up against questions about what she takes for granted, then she has the opportunity to occupy a wider universe.

Here are four books that prompt children to enquire deeper and tease the edges of their world out a little further.

Teach bushcraft skills to boost grades of poorest pupils, say Scouts

by TES, April 23, 2018

Teaching bushcraft skills to pupils living in poverty could boost their performance at school, according to Scouts Scotland.

The Scouts want to work with schools during the holidays to provide outdoor experiences that they believe could improve attendance, behaviour and academic performance.

'College sport is about more than competition'

by TES, April 23, 2018

I like being surprised by things and I was not let down at the opening ceremony of the 40th annual Association of Colleges' Sport National Championships over the weekend. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been, but I was slightly taken aback, by the positive attitude of young students to a little bit of history. More about that in a minute.

First the background; the National Championships is a great event which really needs to be seen to be fully appreciated – the scale and organisation of it are impressive. This year we had over 1,730 students from 121 colleges competing across 13 sports, representing all the English regions plus Wales and Northern Ireland. The event shows just how vibrant college sport is, and how successful AoC Sport has been in facilitating the competition and student involvement in sport.

'Teachers shouldn't have to do the parents' job, too'

by TES, April 22, 2018

A light drizzle of news stories about parenting recently turned into a raining-cats-and-dogs affair when I read about a school (in which I had previously taught) that had succeeded in changing some pupils' attitudes and achievements by farming them out to other families.

I’m simply in awe of the headteacher who didn’t just exhibit the wisdom to try this out but possessed the considerable diplomacy and communication skills needed to make it happen. (That is a million-dollar effort if I ever I saw one, Mr Varkey.)

Scrap 'cruel' testing of five-year-olds, say Scottish campaigners

by TES, April 20, 2018

An influential group made up of hundreds of education and early years experts, teachers and headteachers – and backed by Scotland’s largest teaching union – is calling for the Scottish government to scrap the testing of five-year-olds in literacy and numeracy.

'Grandparents, not teachers, are key to preparing pupils for new economy'

by TES, April 20, 2018

An army of grandparents is being sought to bypass teachers and help prepare today’s youngsters for an economic future filled with robotics and artificial intelligence.

John Baruch, an astrophysicist from Bradford, believes that practical science is the key to preparing for the “fourth industrial revolution", but that England’s school system is failing to deliver.

Poorest families 'going without food or power'

by BBC, April 20, 2018

Hundreds of thousands of the poorest families in Britain are going without basic necessities, according to two separate surveys.

Citizens Advice said as many as 140,000 households are going without power, as they cannot afford to top up their prepayment meters.

And the Living Wage Foundation - which campaigns for fair pay - said many of the poorest parents are skipping meals.

However the government said workers are now earning more, and paying less tax.

The survey conducted by Citizens Advice suggests that most households that cannot afford to put money in the meter contain either children or someone with a long-term health condition.

Some people are left in cold houses, or without hot water.

Hatfield school denies charging pupils for water

by BBC, April 20, 2018

A school criticised on social media for charging for plastic cups on the hottest day of the year has denied claims children had to pay for water.

Onslow St Audrey's School in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, made national headlines over claims that children could not get water without paying for it.

The high school said pupils were encouraged to bring a reusable bottle in or buy a disposable cup for 5p.

But it provided cups free of charge if a child has no money, the school said.

National media reported that parents were angry because pupils were being charged 5p for a cup of water.

Acting head teacher Joelle Casotti, said: "Water has always been and continues to be freely available to students of the school."

'I want to be the first in my family at university'

by BBC, April 20, 2018

"I get butterflies thinking about it," says Firzah.

She's in her last year at school and approaching her exams - and, if all goes well, this autumn she has the ambition to become the first person in her family to go to university.

Her plan is to study psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University and have a career that her dad, a taxi driver originally from Pakistan, never had the chance to achieve.

Firzah is part of the inaugural cohort of a First Generation project that supports the applications of bright young people who have no experience of university in their families and are likely to come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

It's for people who might have walked past a university and thought of it as something "snobbish" or "elitist" and not for them.

More children are struggling with vocabulary, teachers say

by TES, April 19, 2018

Pupil, dictionaryMost teachers are reporting an increase in children at risk of underperforming because of their limited grasp of the vocabulary, with almost half of UK pupils affected, according to a poll conducted by Oxford University Press (OUP).

The majority of more than 1,300 teachers surveyed in primary (69 per cent) and secondary schools (60 per cent) reported that the number of pupils with a word gap was either increasing or significantly increasing in their schools.

Apprenticeship starts show no sign of recovery

by TES, April 19, 2018

The number of apprenticeship starts shows no sign of recovery, with a fall of almost a quarter compared to the same point last year.

Between August 2017 and January 2018 there were 206,100 apprenticeship starts compared to 269,600 starts at the same point last year, a decrease of 24 per cent.

Should twins be taught separately?

by BBC, April 19, 2018

Should twins automatically be put in different classes at school? New research suggests not.

A study from Goldsmiths, University of London, finds no strong evidence that putting twins into different classes at school is better for them academically.

And this is the case for both identical and non-identical twins.

It says there should be no strict rules on separating twins, and it should be left to the youngsters, their parents and teachers to decide what is best.

The researchers analysed data from more than 9,000 pairs of twins aged between seven and 16 in schools in the UK and Canada.

They found that, on average, separating them had no substantial positive or negative effect on the twins' academic achievement, cognitive ability and motivation.

Narrow vocabulary 'hits pupils' grades'

by BBC, April 19, 2018

Monosyllabic adolescents may be nothing new, but the latest research suggests a big chunk of them do not know enough words to do well at school.

According to academics, four out of 10 pupils in their first year of secondary school have such a limited vocabulary that it is affecting their learning.

Many teachers from the 800 secondaries involved in the Oxford University Press research say the problem is worsening.

They blame the "word gap" on too little reading for pleasure.

Studies suggest breadth of vocabulary is strongly influenced by the number of words a child comes into contact with on a daily basis.

This includes conversations with parents, siblings and friends, as well as what they read.

Six ways to reduce exam stress for GCSE students

by TES, April 14, 2018

Having noticed an increase in the number of GCSE students struggling to manage stress, this maths and physics teacher shares some tips for how schools can minimise exam stress next term
Anxiety around exams is nothing new, but, lately, I find that more and more students are coming to me because they are struggling to manage the stress triggered by GCSEs.

I am not alone in noticing this increase. In 2017, the phone counselling service Childline revealed that the number of calls they received about exam stress had risen by 11 per cent in two years. And a recent survey by Barnardo’s found that almost half of 12- to 16-year-olds feel sad and anxious on a weekly basis, with their biggest worries being about school and their futures.

So, as the exam period approaches, what can schools do to help?

Parents going to 'extraordinary lengths' to secure first-choice primary school, poll finds

by TES, April 13, 2018

One parent lodged a Freedom of Information request in bid to get coveted first choice
Almost a fifth of parents are upping their housing costs just to be closer to the primary school of their choice, according to a Mumsnet survey.

The extreme lengths that parents go to ensure their child gets into their preferred school is laid bare ahead of National Offer Day on Monday, when parents discover which primary school their child will attend.

Mumsnet surveyed 1,072 of its users and found that London parents were less likely to get their first choice of school – 21 per cent, compared with 13 per cent nationally. They were also most prone to going to “extraordinary lengths" to secure that first choice place. A third of those living in the capital also reported finding the process difficult, compared with 19 per cent of parents nationwide.

Suburban parents were almost 34 per cent more likely than average to go the extra mile, the poll also found.

The most common measure taken by parents to get their first choice school includes spending extra on a house purchase or rent in order to be in the right area before applications open - a step taken by 18 per cent of those surveyed.

Others (4 per cent) suddenly started going to church, or to "make other religious observance", while some (3 per cent) lived close to the school prior to their older child being accepted by a school, before moving away once they were settled in.

System 'can't handle the crisis of pupils' mental health'

by TES, March 28, 2018

Survey of more than 4,000 pupils and parents reveals 'unacceptable barriers' to pupils getting help with mental health issues
A charity today released figures showing that a third of pupils who looked for support for mental health issues from their school or college had problems getting it.

The YoungMinds charity, which campaigns for better mental health support for children and young people, has released the figures to coincide with its 25th anniversary.

They show that just 6 per cent of young people and 3 per cent of parents believe that there is enough support to address children's mental health problems.

Looked-after children are five times more likely to be temporarily excluded, and six other figures released today

by TES, March 28, 2018

Seven key facts about the outcomes of looked-after children published in government statistics today
The Department for Education has published figures today on how looked-after children do at school.

Here are some of the key findings:

1. Looked-after children are five times more likely to be temporarily excluded than pupils overall – but less likely to be classed as 'persistent absentees'
The statistics show that 11.44 per cent of looked-after children had at least one fixed period exclusion in 2016, compared with 2.11 per cent of all children. Both rates have risen since 2015.

But one in 10 looked-after children in 2017 were classified as persistent absentees – meaning they missed 10 per cent of more school sessions - compared with 10.8 per cent of all children.

10 steps to boost independent writing in primary schools

by TES, March 28, 2018

Primary schools need to create independent writers but too often no one agrees what exactly that means, says this headteacher. He here offers his tips...
What is independent writing? The requirement for independence in pupils' writing sits firmly in the assessment framework, yet, in truth, I don’t think anybody has a true picture of what it means.

Getting writing right is a massive challenge.

I do, however, see a drive towards overly structured writing. I see structure strips, models of what teachers want pupils to produce that essentially just tell pupils "this is what we want you to write", I see "slow writing".

Tests and narrow curriculum behind 'explosion' in mental ill health, says union

by TES, March 28, 2018

Union conference set to debate whether the education system has led to students feeling suicidal
High-stakes testing and a narrow curriculum have contributed to an "explosion" in pupils' mental ill health, the co-leader of the country's largest education union has warned.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU union, said that children were being made to feel like failures by a system "that cannot do anything but increase pressure and discontent and unhappiness".

Next month, the ATL section of the NEU will be holding its conference in Liverpool. The union is set to discuss four separate motions on children's mental health. Bousted said this was the highest number of motions on the subject on record, which she found "very concerning".

Grammar school success 'down to privilege' - study

by BBC, March 27, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

Grammar schools perform no better than non-selective state schools, once their pupils' higher ability and wealth is taken into account, a study suggests.

Academics at Durham University found the "apparent success" of these wholly selective schools was down to their brighter and more advantaged pupils.

They say increasing the number of schools that select pupils by ability would be dangerous for equality.

The government said it was working to widen access to grammar schools.

Grammar schools have a reputation for high academic achievement and dominate the top of the school league tables.

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