Latest Educational News

Fewer schools applying to be academies

by TES, March 13, 2018

Parliamentary question reveals steady month-on-month fall in applications
The number of schools applying to become academies has fallen, year-on-year, in each of the past six months, official statistics reveal.

There were 88 applications last month – the lowest number for February in any of the four years for which figures were provided.

And in January, just 63 applications were received by the Department for Education – compared with 102 last January.

The five 'P's of positive behaviour

by TES, March 13, 2018

One teaching assistant explains how using more positive language in the classroom has helped to improve pupil behaviour
When I was approached by my line manager about an upcoming course, I was sceptical. In my experience, courses are often packed with theoretical concepts but very little practical application. However, as the topic was behaviour management — a personal area of weakness — I decided to give it a go.

As a higher-level teaching assistant (HTLA), I am either responsible for small groups or assist in the management of full classes. This role is varied and can involve quite an impromptu approach to discipline. Rather than formal behaviour-management strategies, I needed quick and simple tricks that I could try in the classroom and, to my amazement, that is exactly what I got.

What does an inclusive classroom really look like?

by TES, March 13, 2018

Making learning accessible to all pupils needn't be complicated, says Gemma Corby, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the basic adjustments that will make our classrooms more inclusive
A lot has been written and debated about the best ways to support students with learning difficulties – so much so that it can be hard to sift through all the information that is out there. I think we need to go back to the basics and remind ourselves of just what an inclusive classroom looks like in practice. So, here’s a reminder of some adjustments we can all make.

University strikers reject pension deal

by BBC, March 13, 2018

University strikers have turned down an agreement reached by university union leaders and employers to end the pensions dispute.

It means the strike will continue - with threats to disrupt final exams and assessments in the summer term.

University staff rejected the deal as failing to address their concerns over threats to their pensions.

The university strike is in its fourth week and has meant classes being cancelled in over 60 universities.

It began over planned changes to the pension, which the University and College Union said could mean a £10,000 per year reduction in retirement income.

An agreement between the UCU and Universities UK, announced after days of negotiations, had offered a deal - but this failed to convince a meeting of university representatives on Tuesday.

'Pre-exam warm-ups were helpful, supportive and worthwhile for pupils. Naturally, they've been banned'

by TES, March 12, 2018

JCQ has banned teachers from holding pre-exam warm-up sessions for pupils – this absurd and extreme move will benefit no one, writes one head of humanities
Thank goodness those people at examination HQ have their finger on the pulse and know what is in everyone's best interests.

This year a new exam regulation from the JCQ insists that "prior to the examination commencing, centres cannot hold revision sessions or coach candidates in the designated examination room(s)".

Degree courses to be rated gold, silver and bronze

by BBC, March 12, 2018

Degree courses are to be rated for quality, subject by subject, under a new pilot scheme which ministers say leaves universities "no place to hide".

Individual subjects at different universities will be graded gold, silver or bronze by a new tool feeding in official data on teaching quality.

But students will not be able to use the rankings to choose their courses until 2020, when the tool goes live.

Universities say the assessment of subjects must be effective.

'Lagging behind'
The new system to rate teaching is part of the government's attempt to get tough on universities, which charge students nearly £30,000 for a three-year degree, and have come under fire for paying their senior managers very high salaries.

The degrees that make you rich... and the ones that don't

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said: "Prospective students deserve to know which courses deliver great teaching and great outcomes - and which ones are lagging behind.

Why it's time to say goodbye to group work

by TES, March 10, 2018

Group work causes problems with behaviour and limits students' understanding, so perhaps it's time we stopped using it, says Grainne Hallahan
We have gathered here today to say our farewells to group work. Descended from the kinaesthetic-learning-style dynasty and a loyal friend to the edutainment clan, group work lived a long life. It will live on in some form or other – probably as targets on observation forms, when the observer can’t think of anything constructive to say.

“They’re doing group work!” Beams the classroom teacher, standing in front of a class who are chatting and squabbling noisily. There is paper and stationery everywhere – and a slightly frenzied look in the teacher’s eye as she stops them every few minutes to shout at them to keep the noise down.

Teacher workload 'unmanageable', DfE study finds

by TES, March 10, 2018

Senior leaders describe their jobs as 'crisis management'. Teachers cite Ofsted, exam reform and heads' expectations among reasons for long hours.
Teachers are experiencing “unmanageable” levels of workload, according to Department for Education research published today.

The results of in-depth interviews with a representative sample of school leaders and teachers reveals that the government’s exams reforms, administration, behaviour monitoring , data tracking, marking, planning and meetings are all contributing to long hours.

Damian Hinds to cut workload to tackle teacher shortage

by BBC, March 10, 2018

The education secretary has promised to cut teachers' workload in an attempt to resolve a recruitment crisis in England's schools.

Damian Hinds told a head teachers' conference in Birmingham that there will be no more new changes to primary tests, GCSEs or A-levels.

But he faced challenges from delegates over school funding shortages.

And Mr Hinds told head teachers: "It has been tough, funding is tight, I don't deny that at all."

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed the education secretary's promise to cut the "bureaucratic burden" on teachers.

Academy and private school fined for failing to pay minimum wage

by TES, March 9, 2018

Independent Lyndhurst School blames 'historical clerical error which was rectified immediately'. Holbrook Academy blames 'incorrect information' provided by training organisation.
An academy and an independent school have been fined for failing to pay workers the minimum wage.

The government today named and shamed Holbrook Academy in Suffolk, and Lyndhurst School in Surrey, as two of nearly 180 employers found to have broken national minimum wage laws.

It said that Holbrook failed to pay £1,862.05 to two workers between September 2016 and January 2017.

Meanwhile, Lyndhurst had failed to pay £1,696.21 to three workers between September 2015 and March 2017.

Schools' reputations are put at risk by social media, heads warn

by TES, March 9, 2018

Some schools are beginning to ask parents to agree how they will use social media as part of relationship agreements when their child starts at school, ASCL says
Schools are being forced to trawl social media to protect their reputations due to parents posting complaints online, according to headteachers.

Dealing with issues raised by social media has increased teachers' workload "exponentially", the Association of School and College Leaders said.

In some cases, teachers may be feeling bullied by parents taking to the internet to air grievances.

Some schools are beginning to ask parents to agree how they will use social media as part of relationship agreements when their child starts at the school, union leaders said.

Speaking as ASCL met for its annual conference in Birmingham, the union's general secretary, Geoff Barton, said that while in the past parents would call, email or write to schools if they were unhappy, now they will post their grievances online.

He said that, in his time as a headteacher, his school would "spend a lot of time monitoring our reputation" and contacting parents if complaints were raised online.

Parents complain on social media
"For example, if someone on our Facebook page put, 'A maths teacher was unpleasant to our child today, that school is a disgrace,' kind of thing, we would immediately phone that parent up and say, 'Would you just come in and talk to us about this?'"

He said that schools need to interact with parents because "too often that ability to post something can actually then unravel into lots of people weighing in".

Mr Barton agreed that reputations are being put at risk by social media.

ASCL president Carl Ward said: "I would say for at least eight years or so now, the workload element that increases for school teachers, and specifically leaders, in dealing with issues that are picked up by social media is exponential from the way it used to be, completely, totally."

Mr Barton said schools are in uncharted territory and want to work with parents and other agencies on dealing with all aspects of social media.

He also acknowledged that some teachers may be feeling bullied through social media, saying: "There will be examples of where there will be teachers feeling that way, without a doubt."

Asked by reporters if schools need to teach parents about how to use social media and report complaints, Mr Barton said: "I think many of them are. We're seeing examples of what schools are doing at the beginning of a parent's relationship with them.

"So when a child moves into the school, traditionally there's always been a home-school agreement of some kind, so the parent signs a contract saying what they'll do, the school says, 'Here's what we'll do,' and part of that has always been, 'Here's how we'll communicate with each other.'

"I think what a lot of schools are doing is actually trying to set expectations of how each of the parties will use social media, and I think we're at a very early stage of that. But I think we'll see more of that, without a doubt."

UK parents help less with homework

by BBC, March 9, 2018

Parents in the UK are much less likely to spend more than an hour per day helping with their children's homework compared with parents in other countries, a survey suggests.

A survey of 27,830 parents in 29 countries found only 11% of UK parents spent an hour per day helping their children, far behind 62% in India.

But 87% of UK parents valued the quality of their children's teachers.

This was among the highest levels of any of the surveyed countries.

Kenyan parents had the most positive view of their teachers, with 92% rating them as good.

Valuing 'happiness'
The survey, commissioned by the Varkey Foundation, which organises the annual Global Teacher Prize, has compared the attitudes and priorities of parents in a range of different countries.

There were many common attitudes - with parents concerned about whether their children would get good jobs and careers.

Over one in 10 young people not in education or work, figures show

by Aol UK, March 1, 2018

More than 600,000 young people are not in work or education, new figures show.

Just over one in 10 16 to 24-year-olds were considered Neet - not in education, employment or training - as of the final three months of last year.

The official Government statistics do show that the proportion of young people falling into this category has fallen, compared to the same point in 2016.

But there are some warnings that there is still a need to ensure that young people get the right "transferable, future proof" workplace skills.

National Offer Day: Parents must have choice when it comes to education

by The Telegraph, March 1, 2018

Today, thousands of parents across the country will find out which secondary school has offered a place for their child. After attending open evenings, reviewing prospectuses and doing the necessary research, we know today is an important day for pupils and parents.

Last year, the proportion of pupils getting a place at their first choice of school across the country remained high; 83.5 per cent of first choice applications resulted in an offer and 94.6 per cent of parents received an offer from one of their top three preferences.

Since 2010, the government has created 735,000 new school places across the country. We will continue to build on this by investing £5.8billion to create even more good school places, because we are determined to give parents choice when it comes to their children’s education.

National offer day: Heads call for national school places strategy

by TES, March 1, 2018

Parents find out today where their children will go to secondary school in September
School leaders have called for a national strategy to create enough school places across the country, on the day that families are being told which secondary school their children will attend.

Last year, 93,000 pupils – 16.5 per cent of the total – did not receive a place at their first-choice secondary school, representing a small rise on the 15.9 per cent who missed out in the previous year.

The nationwide figure masked wide geographical variations, with the proportion getting into their prefered school ranging from 98.2 per cent in Northumberland to 53.6 per cent in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Across the country, 94.6 per cent of pupils secured a place at one of their top three secondary schools.

It comes at a time that the number of secondary school pupils is rising.

Local councils are legally responsible for ensuring there are sufficient school places, but cannot order academies to expand to help achieve this.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers' union, said: “In an increasingly fragmented school system, we lack a coordinated approach to place planning. Instead, it’s haphazard; decisions are being made in isolation and new schools and new school places are not always being commissioned in the areas they are most needed.”

He said there was “a desperate need for long-term planning that spans all sectors”, and added: “Until some agency at the local or regional level has the information and the clout to prioritise school places where they are most needed, parents and children will always be unsure that the system will give them what they want.”

When approached by Tes, the DfE did not comment on the issue, and instead referred to a media statement in which school standards minister Nick Gibb said the government is investing £5.8 billion to create school places, following the creation of 735,000 places since 2010.

Last year, an analysis of DfE data showed that 80 out of 151 councils saw a drop in the proportion of pupils given their first choice of secondary school in 2016.

At the time, the Local Government Association said existing academies should be made to expand where needed, or councils should regain powers to open new maintained schools.

Teachers still falling for 'fads', warns senior Ofsted official

by TES, March 1, 2018

More support for teachers needed on what is evidence-based and what is a 'fun idea', says Ofsted's head of research
Teachers are still falling for fads, despite the growing interest in evidence-informed teaching, a senior Ofsted official said today.

Speaking at a London conference, Daniel Muijs, head of research at Ofsted, said: “There is still a big issue in education in terms of being still susceptible to various fads and there is not enough clarity on what is really evidence based and what is the latest fun idea from someone giving a TED talk because they went to school 20 years ago and are a very successful entrepreneur, for example.”

He told delegates at the Westminster Education Forum that while educational technology could attract a lot of financial investment, it did not necessarily have the evidence in terms of impact

When asked about examples of fads he said: “Ipad schools .. I am entirely unconvinced that we have any evidence of impact in that particular area,” he added.

Speaking after the conference, Mr Muijs said that it wasn’t ipads in particular that he was concerned about but the wider issue of schools investing money in expensive technology but not necessarily changing the way they teach to make the most of it.

“If you invest in a laptop, and then all you do is type, rather than write notes, then it is not very useful. It could be useful – but if you’re going to invest in it then you need to invest in pedagogical process that allows teachers to use that technology effectively,” he said.

Dame Alison Peacock, chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, said the pressure on schools led to teachers grasping for answers.

“Fads are symptomatic of a culture that is trying to find a silver bullet, in a system that is hyperaccountable,” Dame Alison said.

Mr Muijs also said that while it was great that teachers wanted to attend conferenecs on a Saturday, it should not be expected and space should be found within their contracted hours to carry out cpd.

Heads want teachers to be more flexible over their working hours

by TES, February 28, 2018

The standard 8.45am to 3.30pm school day 'stifles innovation', say Scottish headteachers
Headteachers are calling for the hours that Scottish teachers work to be more flexible, with school leaders in one council saying current arrangements “stifle" innovation.

The Scottish government has set in motion a series of reforms to change the way in which schools in Scotland are run. The goal is for schools to be free to take more decisions about issues such as staffing, the curriculum or the way the school day is organised – things that are sometimes be dictated by councils.

Dolly Parton donates 100 millionth book to further children's literacy

by TES, February 28, 2018

The singer's Imagination Library has been providing children with free books since 1995
She is renowned for singing of the trials of working nine to five. But, in real life, Dolly Parton has shown that hard work and commitment can pay off.

The country singer has just donated her 100 millionth book to children, in the interests of promoting literacy.

Universities should pay back students for strike, says minister

by BBC, February 28, 2018

The universities minister says students whose courses have been disrupted by the university strike should receive compensation for lost classes.

Sam Gyimah said this could mean a refund on tuition fees or rearranging cancelled lectures.

At the launch of a new higher education regulator, Mr Gyimah told universities this was the "age of the student" and they deserved better value for money.

King's College London says it will have a fund to compensate students.

The university says that it will ring-fence any savings from staff pay on strike days and use the money to "offset the impact of the strike on our students".

'Winds of change'
A King's spokeswoman said they would be "considering cases for any further compensation that may be warranted in light of cancelled classes".

More Scottish school leavers stay on in education

by BBC, February 27, 2018

The percentage of Scotland's school leavers staying on in education has continued to rise while the numbers going into training continue to fall.

New figures showed the percentage signing up for university last year was 40.7%, up from 37.8% six years ago.

A total of 26.8% opted for a college course - up 0.1% on 2011/12.

However, the percentage of school leavers going into training has steadily fallen from 4.5% in 2011 to 2.4% in 2016.

According to official statistics, there has been a year-on-year reduction in the percentage of leavers who are unemployed and seeking work or training.

In 2011/12, there were 8.25% who fell into this category, while in 2016/17 that figure was recorded at 4.5%.

The latest figures show that almost a quarter, 22%, have taken up employed work, down slightly on the previous year but up by 2.2% on 2011/12 figures.

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