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Items relating to the work of schools and colleges, including resources and training opportunities.

Evaluation of scheme to attract STEM and MFL teachers.

There is an increasing need for qualified teachers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and MFL (Modern Foreign Languages) subjects. Demand for MFL teachers has been challenging and the demand for STEM skills is increasing. As a result, more high-quality teachers are needed to support the teaching of MFL and help increase pupil attainment in STEM subjects and, in particular, in maths and physics at GCSE. In 2010, the Department for Education (DfE) introduced the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) as a school performance measure. As schools increase their entries into EBacc subjects, the DfE anticipates that there will be more demand for specialist teachers in these subjects, especially for MFL teachers.

Read the report.

 


Should schools stay open evenings and weekends.

Schools should stay open during evenings and weekends to tackle knife crime, the Children’s Commissioner has said.

Anne Longfield said that in areas which experience high levels of violence should be placed in “emergency measures”.

Speaking at the education select committee, she said that when it comes to tackling knife crime, there is a lot of discussion, but a lack of “urgency” when it comes to actually taking action.

“I think we should almost be on emergency measures in the areas of high violence,” she told MPs. “I would like to see schools staying open in the evenings and opening at weekends. I would like there to be youth workers who are proactively in schools talking to the kids at risk.”

Ms Longfield added that for efforts should be stepped up to protect vulnerable children by having family workers “knocking on their doors and talking to their siblings”.

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School exclusions on rise.

After years of decline, school exclusions are on the rise again, according to official figures for the Department for Education. The Timpson review, carried out by former children’s minister Edward Timpson, also shows that children in care and other “children in need” are disproportionately likely to be excluded. This amplifies the educational disadvantages they already face. 

There are around 75,000 children in care at any one time in England. Collectively, they have some of the lowest educational outcomes of any identifiable group for reasons that are complex and multidimensional. The 2016-2017 figures show they are five times more likely to have been temporarily excluded than other children. Children in need -– the wider group needing support from their local authority –- were nearly four times as likely to be temporarily excluded and twice as likely to be permanently excluded.

Among Timpson’s 30 recommendations, he argues that all teachers should be trained in attachment theory as a means of understanding and addressing behavioural issues in school. This isn’t the first time this has appeared in a government report, but it feels like momentum is building.

Indeed, there is growing evidence that one pathway to reducing exclusions is for schools to adopt an “attachment and trauma aware” approach.

 

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More choice for 16 year olds.

Sixteen-year-olds in England should not be restricted to a choice of A-levels or T-levels, business leaders say.

The new Technical levels, or T-levels as they will be known, will be introduced from 2020. 

The Confederation of British Industry says the government needs to avoid "premature" cuts to other qualifications such as Btecs.

Ministers have been consulting on withdrawing money from qualifications that may overlap with T-levels.

They have made it clear they would prefer students who want to study choosing from these two types of qualifications after GCSEs. 

    

In a consultation that has just closed, the government has asked for views on withdrawing public funding from qualifications for 16 to 19-year-olds that overlap with either A-levels or T-levels.

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Secondary school teachers want more working flexibility.

Secondary school leaders are being urged do more to accommodate teachers who want to work part-time or flexibly.

A report by the National Foundation for Educational Research says there is an "unmet demand" from secondary teachers wanting to reduce or alter their hours.

It estimates that one in six teachers would like to reduce their hours - one in 12 by more than one day a week.

The government said it was supporting schools to do more to implement flexible working.

With the number of secondary school pupils in England set to increase by 15% between 2018 and 2025, the NFER's report says attracting and retaining enough teachers is "a key challenge".

    

The latest data for the workforce in England indicates that 19% of secondary school teachers worked part-time in 2017, compared to 27% of primary teachers.

The report says that "a lack of part-time and flexible working opportunities is an important factor contributing to some secondary teachers leaving the profession, and is preventing others from returning".

Read more.


“more variation than usual” in this year’s GCSE and A-level results, as reforms take their toll schools warned.

 

Schools have been warned by the exam watchdog to be braced for “more variation than usual” in this year’s GCSE and A-level results, as reforms take their toll.

This summer is the second year that students are taking re-vamped GCSE exams in a raft of subjects. The new courses were part of a package of reforms by former Education Secretary Michael Gove, designed to toughen up syllabuses, make courses more linear, and cut down on the number of students getting A*s.

A-level courses haven also been re-designed, with coursework and modules axed in many subjects. The shake up followed concerns from universities that schools leavers were insufficiently prepared for the demands of higher education.

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Most A'Level music classes have only three students.

The average A-level music class now has just three students, a study has found.

One in five entries for the subject are from fewer than 50 schools, according to research commissioned by the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music.

Academics from Birmingham City University analysed patterns of entry for A-level qualifications in Music over the past five years and found that numbers had fallen by 35 per cent, from 8,369 to 5,440.

The study also found that independent schools account for a disproportionately high number of A-level music entries.

“It seems significant that the average class size for many of the entry centres in these local authorities does not exceed the national average of 3.3 students,” the report said, adding that the subject is “disappearing” altogether from schools in deprived areas.

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Should teaching time in Scotland be cut to 20 hours a week?

Calls for teachers to cut the time they spend in the classroom to 20 hours a week or less are to be debated this week.

Scotland’s largest teaching union, the EIS, will discuss demands from some local branches to reduce classroom time to as low as 17.5 hours a week.

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Is there any point sending children to private schools?

Sending children to private schools like Eton is a waste of time because academic success is written in the genes meaning youngsters would do just as well at the local comprehensive, a leading scientist has claimed.

Robert Plomin, Professor of Behavioural Genetic at King’s College London, said he and his team had spent decades trying to unpick how much of achievement in education was down to nature or nurture.

He concluded that 50 per cent of academic success is due to genes, but they are yet to discover what accounts for the other half. What they do now know, however, is it is not due to schooling or upbringing.

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Outdoor learning has benefits.

Research shows that healthier and happier children do better in school, and that education is an important determinant of future health. But education is not just about lessons within the four walls of a classroom. The outdoor environment encourages skills such as problem solving and negotiating risk which are important for child development.

But opportunities for children to access the natural environment are diminishing. Children are spending less time outside due to concerns over safety, traffic, crime, and parental worries. Modern environments have reduced amounts of open green spaces too, while technology has increased children’s sedentary time. It is for these reasons and more that many think schools have arguably the greatest potential – and responsibility – to give children access to natural environments.

Read more.


 

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