Latest Educational News

Calculators can boost maths skills, research finds

by TES, March 23, 2018

Research suggests primary school pupils should not use calculators every day, but secondary pupils should have 'more frequent unrestricted access' to them
Children's maths skills are not harmed by using calculators in the classroom, according to a study published today.

Instead, using the devices in maths lessons can help to boost pupils' calculation skills, the report commissioned by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Nuffield Foundation suggests.

Scottish schools prepare for the second teacher-only strike since 1980s

by TES, March 21, 2018

NASUWT union plans action in East Dunbartonshire and warns that teachers' patience and goodwill is 'exhausted' across Scotland
Strike action has been threatened by teachers in three schools today, in what would be just the second teacher-only strike in Scotland since the 1980s.

The NASUWT union has today issued a notice of strike action to East Dunbartonshire Council. The union says this follows the council’s “failure to tackle management practices which have an adverse impact on the workload and working conditions of teachers”.

The last teacher-only strike in Scotland involved secondary teachers in neighbouring West Dunbartonshire in 2016.

Apart from that, there has been no such strike action since a long-running national dispute in the 1980s.

Scottish teachers also took part in the 2011 UK-wide strikes over pensions, but this was along with other public-sector unions.

Notices of strike action next Tuesday, 27 March, have been issued in three schools: Kirkintilloch High, Lenzie Academy and Bearsden Academy, which the NASUWT says is an “initial response to the council’s failure to act to support teachers”.

It warned that, without progress, more action could follow, and that this may extend to other schools.

The union said that it was “embarking on a programme of action in local authorities who fail to address teachers concerns”, on top of a dispute it has with the Scottish government.

Essay-writing company's adverts banned

by BBC, March 21, 2018

An essay-writing company has had its adverts banned after they were deemed to be misleading to students.

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that UK Essays had failed to make it clear that the papers were not meant to be submitted as students' own work.

The online ad also gave a "misleading impression" that the firm had received positive press coverage, the ASA said.

UK Essays said it would ensure its fair usage policy was more prominent within the website.

A website for featured text that stated "guaranteed grade, every time. We're so confident you'll love the work we produce, we guarantee the final grade of the work.

"Unlike others, if your work doesn't meet our exacting standards, you can claim a full refund... loved by customers & the global press UK Essays have lots of press coverage from all over the world confirming that a 2:1 piece of work produced by us met this standard... We were the first company in the world to offer you guaranteed 2:1 and 1st class work".

The sign of a successful school isn't simply good exam results – it's the confident, well-rounded pupils they produce

by TES, March 20, 2018

We want pupils to do their very best in their exams, of course – but a well-earned C might just be as valuable as an equally well-earned A*, writes one headteacher
A few weeks ago, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership called for schools to be judged on the employment success of former students at the age of 25. This is an interesting suggestion and one that would be of interest to any school that aims to prepare young people for life, not just exams. The idea has a great deal of merit, as it would take away the "dead-end judgement" of assessing schools on the performance of pupils in a final exam and, in theory at least, look at how well schools really do prepare and educate young people for the rest of their lives.

10 ways to spice up your primary maths problems

by TES, March 20, 2018

Creating variation in maths problems is crucial to ensuring children's maths knowledge is secure, says this assistant headteacher
Say you have a simple maths objective such as adding three-digit numbers using written methods. You could set out the question as 367 + 613 = ___ and most children who were "on track" would be able to attempt it.

However, rearrange it to ___ = 367 + 613 and some of those very same children will stumble.

Equally, I’ve seen lots of children manage to calculate something like 30 per cent of 250, but get stuck when it’s put across as 30 per cent x 250.

Both the above examples require exactly the same skill, but are set out in different ways.

We try and prepare children for this by varying our maths problems in lessons, but if we're honest a lot of us could push it further. At the start of this year I certainly realised I was not including as much variation in my maths problems as I could have been.

So since then I have been searching out ways to spice up my maths problems, and I have listed 10 of the best below. These examples are based on one objective – subtracting two-digit numbers – but they could be applied to many different objectives.

Working dads lose out in workplace, say MPs

by BBC, March 20, 2018

"I came back to a load of photocopying," says tax specialist Richard Cahill of his return to work at a major international company after the birth of his second child.

"Basically they wanted to make the point that they weren't happy with me," he says of his former employers.

He had taken the time off under government rules which since 2015 have allowed mums and dads to share parental leave - but according to a new report from MPs, his story is typical of many working fathers who want to take a more equal share of childcare but fear their employers' reaction if they ask for flexible work.

Government efforts to support fathers in the workplace have not yet delivered despite good intentions, says the report, from MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee.

"Workplace policies have not kept up with the social changes in people's everyday lives," according to committee chair Maria Miller, who describes "outdated assumptions" about men's and women's roles in relation to work and childcare" as a further barrier to change.

Government sets aside £26 million to support breakfast clubs

by TES, March 19, 2018

Funding from the levy on soft drinks will cover new and existing school breakfast clubs
Up to £26 million is to be pumped into supporting breakfast clubs across England, the government has announced.

More than 1,770 state schools will benefit from the cash, according to the Department for Education, with money targeted at the most disadvantaged areas of the country.

Rise in the number of full and over-capacity primary and secondary schools

by TES, March 15, 2018

Union calls for careful planning for extra capacity as the bulge in the number of primary school pupils starts to hit secondary schools
A growing number of schools are full or have more pupils than they have capacity for, according to new government statistics.

Today’s data shows that the number of primaries that were full, or where pupil numbers exceeded capacity, increased from 3,781 in May 2016 to 3,826 last May.

Parents fined £24m for children's truancy and term time holidays

by BBC, March 15, 2018

Parents across England and Wales have been fined about £24m for failing to send their children to school during the past three years, it has emerged.

A BBC investigation also shows some councils are issuing penalties at rates five times higher than the average.

Some parents say they now actively budget for the cost of fines when planning holidays.

While some councils admit they have become "stricter", they say they are protecting the education of children.

Between them, 155 local authorities in England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland do not issue fines) issued about 400,000 penalties over three years. A further 19 did not supply data.

On average, 12 penalties were issued per 1,000 children - whether for truancy or for parents taking children away on holiday during term time - during 2016-17.

University place demand to grow by 300,000 by 2030

by BBC, March 15, 2018

About 300,000 new places will be needed at universities over the next 12 years, experts predict, making the higher education funding model unsustainable.

A rise in the number of 18-year-olds by 2030 will push demand up by 50,000, the Higher Education Policy Institute says.

A further 350,000 places will be needed to keep pace with the existing growing participation rate, it adds, but other factors may reduce that by 50,000.

The government has set up a review of university fees and funding.

Last year, 534,000 students were accepted on to the hundreds of mainly three-year degree courses on offer in England.

The Hepi report examines the impact of policy changes on university entrant rates, feeding a number of scenarios into the calculations to arrive at the 300,000 figure.

The 18-year-old population has been declining steadily for a number of years, but from 2020 it will increase again, rising by nearly 23% by 2030, says Hepi.

Scottish secondary school teacher numbers rise in most subjects, after years of decline

by TES, March 14, 2018

But recruitment problems in some subjects, including maths, computing and home economics, continue to cause concern in schools
Most subjects studied in Scottish secondary schools have had a rise in teacher numbers after years of decline, according to official figures.

It had already emerged in December that overall teacher numbers in Scotland were at their highest level since 2010 – up from 50,970 in 2016 to 51,513 in 2017. But new data shows how this has played out in individual subjects.

Most subjects have had a modest increase in teachers – who are measured “by main subject taught” – after successive years in which numbers have fallen.

'We need an education secretary who prioritises the needs of children over politics'

by TES, March 14, 2018

Damian Hinds' promise to halt curriculum and exams reform may sound good, but what we really need is a root-and-branch review of the education system by the people in the heart of it – the teachers
So the education secretary, Damian Hinds, has promised a moratorium on all new curriculum and exams reforms for the length of this Parliament.

At first glance, it's all very laudable, but haven't we heard this kind of thing before? And, more to the point, is this really a good idea?

Calling a halt to all new reforms, as Mr Hinds has promised, should be brilliant news, but, in truth, I can only take it seriously if it is linked with a root-and-branch review of what we do now, conducted not by politicians but by the people at the very heart of the system.

‘Want pupils to score more highly in GCSE English? Focus on creative writing’

by TES, March 14, 2018

One teacher explains how focusing your teaching on the creative elements of the new English GCSE could help struggling students to achieve more highly
The new English language GCSE has plenty of critics. Research has even suggested that the new course could be putting pupils off reading.

But I disagree. I think that the new GCSE gives real scope for creativity and for us to make the qualification more accessible to those learners who have had a negative experience of studying English.

Last year I secured funding through Shine’s Let Teachers Shine competition to support a project I’ve been working on called Write On!, which is an approach to the GCSE resits that maximises progress by focussing mainly on written literacy and creative-writing skills.

Almost one in six Reception staff 'are unpaid volunteers'

by TES, March 14, 2018

New study highlights a downward trend in qualification levels among staff working with the country's youngest children
Unpaid volunteers make up more than one in seven staff in Reception classes, according to new analysis out today.

The report from the Education Policy Institute into the qualifications and pay of people working in early years shows that 15.5 per cent of staff working in Reception classes are unpaid (including placement students), and 6.3 per cent are temporary staff.

This compared with 10.8 per cent of staff in nursery classes being unpaid, although there are more temporary staff in nursery classes – making up 8.9 per cent of the workforce.

Textbooks 'pay for themselves' in four and a half minutes

by TES, March 14, 2018

Cutting back on textbooks is a 'false economy' because they save teachers valuable time in planning lessons, says study
Textbooks "pay for themselves" if they save teachers more than four and a half minutes a day, a new study shows.

The study from Frontier Economics, commissioned by the Publishers' Association, estimates that the time UK teachers spend on preparing lessons is worth £4.8 billion a year.

With schools shelling out about £196 million per year on printed resources, the researchers calculated that the amount of money spent on textbooks was equivalent to around four and a half minutes of teachers’ weekly preparation time.

“This research shows that cutting spend on textbooks is a false economy and demonstrates the important role that good quality textbooks can play in saving teacher time,” Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers' Association, said.

“When teachers are struggling under heavy and sometimes unmanageable workloads, quality textbooks not only offer a way to reduce the amount of time spent planning lessons, but they have also been shown to improve pupil attainment and education standards.”

Budgets for textbooks cut
The report comes after a thinktank said last week that the lack of textbooks in classrooms was putting the national curriculum at risk.

Policy Exchange argued that there is no guarantee that all children will receive a broad and balanced education without better curriculum materials – and it wants to see all schools judged to be “coasting” or “requires improvement” compelled to use externally provided resources.

Last year, in a survey carried out jointly by the NUT and ATL teaching unions, 73 per cent of teachers said their budget for books and equipment had been cut.

And a Tes-YouGov survey in September 2017 found that only one in 10 teachers said they used textbooks in more than half of their lessons – and just 8 per cent thought they would use textbooks that often by 2020.

Reducing teachers' workload is a key aim for education secretary Damian Hinds, who told the Association of School and College Leaders’ conference this weekend that he wanted to “give teachers the time and space to focus on what actually matters”.

Schools could be forced to ensure pupils mix with children from different backgrounds

by TES, March 14, 2018

Government also wants 'British values' to be promoted across the national curriculum
Schools where pupils come from a single ethnic or religious community could be required to ensure they mix with children from other backgrounds, under government proposals to encourage social integration.

The proposed Integrated Communities Strategy also calls on schools to teach "British values", and sets out plans to boost English language skills and encourage women from minority communities to find jobs.

A consultation paper on the plans - launched by communities secretary Sajid Javid with the backing of £50 million of government money - follows the 2016 Casey Review, which warned that social cohesion cannot be taken for granted in the multicultural UK.

'Men can be nursery teachers too'

by BBC, March 14, 2018

Two in three councils providing nursery services do not employ any men, the Victoria Derbyshire programme has learned. How can diversity in the profession be improved?

"A lot of men don't see it as a man's job and a lot of men are not aware that the role even exists," says Jamel Campbell, who started teaching the under-fives 16 years ago.

He is still frustrated by how little status is given to his job.

"People are entrusting their precious babies to us, to care for them and to teach them," he says. "There is a lot of stigma based on negative stories - children being at harm... men not being nurturing, men not being able to work with children that small."

Early years education runs from birth until children are five, including preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.

Of 400,000 early years educators, 98% are female. The starting salary for nursery practitioners is about £18k.

In England, a Level 3 Early Years Educator qualification is needed, which takes one to two years to complete, depending on experience.

Tuition fee value for money: 'I feel ripped off'

by BBC, March 14, 2018

"I feel ripped off. They do the bare minimum and I honestly don't see where my money is going."

"I am in nearly £40,000 worth of debt and often wonder why I went to uni."

These students, asked by the new Office for Students if university tuition fees represent good value, are among a significant majority - 62% - who say they don't think it's worth it.

The OfS finds only 38% of students in England think the tuition fees for their course are good value for money.

Course subject is a major factor which influences students' perception of tuition fees, with computer science students, those doing physical sciences and law students the most likely to say that the tuition fees represented good value for money.

Those doing historical and philosophical studies, languages and creative arts and design are least satisfied with the value they have received.

'Wasted potential' of mature students

by BBC, March 14, 2018

A university group says that the government's review of tuition fees in England should make a priority of finding ways to attract more mature and part-time students.

The Million Plus group says there is a "huge pool of untapped potential" among adults who missed out on university.

After fees increased in 2012, mature student numbers fell by 20%.

Les Ebdon, head of the university access watchdog, backed calls to reverse this "very worrying trend".

Mature students - counted as people starting courses at the age of 21 or over - were among the most likely to be deterred by the raising of tuition fees to £9,000 in 2012, which have since risen again to £9,250.

Almost half of recent graduates believe they will never be able to pay back their student loan in full

by The Telegraph, March 13, 2018

Almost half of recent graduates believe they will never be able to pay back their student loan, as experts warn that they would be better off without university.

A major report, commissioned by the new universities regulator, The Office for Students, analysed the views of 6,000 young people about value for money in higher education.

Just ten per cent of school leavers thought they would be unable to pay back their loan within 30 years, which rose to 28 per cent of university students. Among recent graduates, 42 per cent said they do not expect to repay their loans in full.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), said it is “telling” that the proportion of youngsters who believe they will never earn enough to pay back their student loan rises sharply after they graduate.


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