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

The role of schools in Obesity and Health Education.

Childhood obesity is one of the pressing issues of our generation. By the start of

primary school, almost a quarter of children in England are overweight or obese.


This rises to over a third by the time children leave Year 6. Obesity in children

starting Reception has risen for the second year in a row. Naturally, this issue is a

high priority for the government, and the recently published obesity strategy sets out

the responsibility we all have to support young people in meeting the challenge.

Obesity in children happens for complex reasons. Every child is influenced by many

factors and we do not have a full understanding of how these factors interact when it

comes to individual children. However, the messages reaching children need to

consistently reinforce the importance of choices that lead to better health. Without

this, the attractions of sugar, fat and inactivity will more often win the day over

healthier choices.

Schools have an important role to play in reinforcing these

Read more.

Science teaching at primary school poor.

Basic science knowledge of many primary school teachers is “woefully inadequate”, a leading professor has warned.

IVF pioneer and TV presenter Lord Winston raised his concerns at Westminster after witnessing a teacher tell a pupil they were wrong for correctly stating nitrogen was the commonest gas in the atmosphere.

The Labour peer argued the Government was not doing enough to ensure proper science teaching at the primary level, which can lead children to take up careers in the field.

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We are doing more work on improving the curriculum in primary schools, and science is a key part of that

Lord Agnew

Lord Winston told the House of Lords that in carrying out his outreach work for Imperial College, he had visited up to 30 primary schools over the last six months to speak to the children about science.

He said: “It is astonishing when you ask them which is the commonest gas in the atmosphere.

“They might come up with oxygen; they mostly come up with carbon dioxide and sometimes come up with hydrogen.

“Nitrogen is never recognised. Recently, when a child opted for nitrogen as the commonest gas, the science teacher told him in my presence that he was wrong.

Read more

Secondary schools testing pupils on transfer day.

When primary school teacher Ed Finch discovered that his son Douglas, in year 6, would be tested on his literacy and numeracy during a “transition day” at his new secondary school this term, he was outraged. “I thought it was a pretty shoddy and bizarrely unhelpful thing to do,” he says. Transition days are children’s first experience of their new big school – the idea is to gently help them to get used to a new, often daunting, environment, and meet children in their form group.

“A transition day should be about reassuring children that they will feel safe at secondary school in September and that the school will value them,” says Finch.

Douglas enjoyed the first of his two transition days at Oxford Spires academy, which included investigations in the science lab and a fun dodgeball contest, but on the second day he was faced with a multiple choice reading comprehension quiz, a “write as much as you can in 10 minutes” essay and a spelling test. “He was doing something he had never done before, in a hall he had never been in before. He was told he could only look forward or down. My son likes tests but even he felt nervous.”

Read more.

Schools alone cannot fix childhood obesity.

Schools are not a "silver bullet" to tackle childhood obesity, the head of Ofsted has said in a report.

A study of 60 schools found no link between schools' efforts to tackle obesity and pupils' weight. 

Factors outside the gates make it impossible for schools "to have a direct and measurable impact on children's weight", said chief schools inspector, Amanda Spielman.

Even so, they still have a vital role to play in fighting obesity, she added.

Ofsted looked at the approaches of a carefully selected group of 60 primary schools across England, to compare schools where pupil obesity was higher than in similar schools, with those where pupil obesity was relatively low.


The report looked at the measures schools were taking to tackle obesity and promote healthy lifestyles among pupils and parents, but found "no pattern to suggest that any intervention was related to higher or lower obesity".

Read more.

Increase in permanent exclusions.

There's been a spike in the number of permanent exclusions from England's schools, with heads blaming cuts to mental health and behaviour programmes.

The Department for Education figures show a 15% rise in the number of pupils expelled from state schools between 2015-6 and 2016-7, from 6,685 to 7,720.

The expulsion rate is low overall, however, with 0.1% of pupils affected - up from 0.08% the previous year.

The government said schools should only permanently exclude as a last resort.

It added that it supported teachers in taking proportionate and measured steps to ensure good behaviour in schools.


Nonetheless the figures correspond to around 40 pupils being expelled per day.

Read more.

Academies not always the best.

The Independent is reporting that the Department for Education did not pay enough attention to scrutiny checks in a rush to convert large numbers of schools into academies, a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report has found.

MPs said they were concerned about a lack of clear direction from the government on converting schools to academies – as well as the levels of support available to struggling schools.

The Department for Education’s (DfE) arrangements for oversight of schools are “fragmented and incoherent” which has led to “inefficiency for government and confusion for schools”, report says.

It comes after a number of failed academy chains – including Wakefield City Academies Trust – encountered major problems that left parents worried about their pupils’ future.

Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC, said: “Government’s haste in pushing ahead with academisation has come at a cost, with high-profile failures indicating significant weaknesses in its assessment regime.”


Supersize classes could be the norm.

Supsersize classes could become the new norm, it is feared, as new figures show that the secondary school population is set to swell to 3.3 million within a decade.

The hike is fuelled by a baby boom in the early 2000s, as well as a high birth rate among women from immigrant communities.

The bulge in the population of children has been making its way through the school system, passing up from primary to secondaries.

Secondary pupil numbers are expected to rise by 14.7 per cent in the next 10 years, meaning there will be another 418,000 children in secondary schools by 2027, according to Department for Education’s (DfE) latest projections.

Read more.

Terroist taught after school class.

A headteacher has been banned from the classroom for allowing one of the London Bridge terrorists to teach an after school class.

Sophie Rahman allowed Khurum Butt to teach children as young as three without doing any background police checks which would have revealed his violent past.

Butt even took a class at Eton Community School, in Ilford, east London, which was known as Ad Deen Primary School, the day before the attack that left eight dead.

Read more.

Should University staff visit Mosques?

UK university staff should consider spending time in mosques and youth centres across the country to boost the number of students from minority groups, the higher education regulator has said.

Sir Michael Barber, chair of the Office for Students (OfS), has accused UK universities of “passively waiting” for underrepresented students to apply, instead of seeking them out

Read more.

Fast track to teaching in Scotland

A fast-track teacher training course aimed at plugging shortages has received official accreditation.                The course covers the two-year postgraduate diploma of education (PGDE) and teacher induction in 18 months by reducing holidays.                                                    Developed by Dundee and the Highlands and Islands universities, it is targeted at recruiting teachers in chemistry, computing, home economics, mathematics and physics in rural areas.                                                     The course comes with a bursary and is open to students with a 2:1 undergraduate degree and above.

Read more.


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