Latest Educational News

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.

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 ukessays.com 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.

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