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

Challenges of keeping PE on the curriculum.

It’s a subject all teenagers should be regularly participating in, with long-term consequences for students’ health and happiness. And with British children often accused of being more interested in screens than sport, PE is arguably more important now than ever. But are tests, league tables and budget cuts getting in the way when it comes to secondary schools delivering PE properly?

Michael Crichton, chair of the Association for Physical Education is a passionate man when it comes to the importance of PE and he’s frank about the fact that some barriers do exist.

“Feedback from our members suggests that there can be some issues,” he confirms. “Unsurprisingly, funding is one of them and it’s really difficult for schools to combat, especially schools in vulnerable positions, desperately trying to meet various standards. If you’ve got fewer pupils taking PE option at GCSE and A-level, you might have to look at not offering it. You then lose individuals in the department and if you’re not careful your whole school PE provision is eroded.”

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Trainee teachers in Scotland to be in class after 5 week summer school?

TRAINEE teachers would be allowed to start work in Scotland after a five week summer school under controversial proposals for a new fast-track course.

Documents obtained under freedom of information legislation show the educational charity Teach First has suggested the setting up of a Scottish Summer Institute as part of a briefing to John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary. 

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The future of 3D printers in schools.

Simon Biggs, Education Liaison Officer for Wales at global engineering and scientific technology company Renishaw discusses the current use of 3D printers as an educational tool.

 In the 1950s, the slide rule was the most commonly used classroom tool for mathematical and engineering calculation, but by the mid 1970s, the newer technology – the electronic scientific calculator – made the slide rule almost obsolete. Since then, there has been an explosion of new technologies hitting the classroom for engineering and mathematical learning including the computer, the iPad and more recently 3D printers.

Renishaw 3D printing Education-Day-Miskin-1121An education day at Renishaw’s fabrication development centre at Miskin

3D printing is a well-established industrial technology for prototyping and manufacturing, particularly popular with the aerospace and defence sectors. Also known as additive manufacturing (AM), 3D printing is the process of making a solid 3D object from a digital computer aided design (CAD) file. The printer adds successive layers of material together until the final object has been created. This is different from traditional manufacturing methods like CNC machining, which removes material from a solid block using rotating tools or cutters.

3D printing is a rapid production method with minimal waste material. Its design flexibility means users can manufacture bespoke objects for a low cost. These advantages have made it increasingly popular as a production method in the manufacturing industry.

“Exciting and innovative projects are a simple way to keep pupils engaged in STEM subjects, which is a vital step forward in addressing the skills shortage”

Understanding and using this growing technology can benefit children’s learning, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects but also beyond these more traditional fields in music, design technology, history, geography and biology. In 2013, a pilot project introduced 3D printers into 21 schools to investigate learning through 3D printing. This project highlighted the need for robust training and good technical support for the widespread incorporation of 3D printing into the curriculum to be successful.

This project confirmed the potential for 3D printers as a teaching resource, providing that teachers can access adequate training for the technology. Many of the schools reported increased pupil motivation when engaged in 3D printing projects. Exciting and innovative projects are also a simple way to keep pupils engaged in STEM subjects, which is a vital step forward in addressing the STEM skills shortage. Since the pilot project in 2013, 3D printing has become more accessible and popular as a classroom technology.

The rise of 3D printers in schools

The increasing numbers of 3D printers in schools is not only due to the increasing recognition of 3D printing being a relevant and engaging educational tool, but also relates to the number and availability of low cost 3D printing machines. It is now possible for schools to buy a 3D printer for around £500, whereas previous versions were cost prohibitive. The decreasing price tag is drastically improving the technology’s pick up in the education sector.

Advances in resources available for teachers and other education professionals are also making 3D printing more widely accessible. Teachers can now download design software and access it via tablets and mobile phones. Easy tutorials for beginners are available for those without basic knowledge of the technology.

3D printing software is considerably more user friendly than it was two years ago, which makes it ideal for younger children to grasp. Innovative apps for mobile phones and tablets make it easy and efficient to create designs and send them to a 3D printer for production. These apps build up students’ skills using design platforms. However, the primary reason the technology is able to positively influence the learning process in design is the ability to learn through trial and error.

Developing new skills

Using 3D printing as a production method enables students and pupils to move from the conception of an idea to producing a physical object with relative ease. The technology provides the ability to produce a part quickly, which is an advantage for students learning about design, particularly the limitations and constraints of the different technologies. Interrogating a physical object can make it easier for pupils to spot mistakes in designs. This allows them to gain valuable problem solving skills in a creative, hands-on way; without the ability to print prototypes, it would be considerably more difficult for students to identify weaknesses in their designs and improve upon them.

In recent years, the price of consumer 3D printers has dropped as the market has expanded. This makes the purchase of a machine easier to justify in the education sector, but for those schools that feel unable to justify the cost of owning a 3D printer despite recognising the benefits it can offer to learning, a purchase is not always necessary. Facilities such as the Fabrication Development Centre (FDC) at the Renishaw Miskin site, near Cardiff, contains five 3D printers that local schools use during their design and technology lessons.

Believed to be the only facility of its kind in the UK that is attached to a manufacturing site, Renishaw’s FDC enriches pupils’ learning experience further by showing them how industrial metal additive manufacturing machines are made and used to produce medical devices and dentures within the co-located Healthcare Centre of Excellence. This gives students the opportunity to see Renishaw manufactured metal 3D printers in action — producing objects such as dental frameworks and facial implants. Students are able to relate their learning in the classroom with practical applications in industry, a link that may otherwise be difficult to grasp.

3D printing has a number of benefits to a wide range of school subject areas, from design and technology to physics and even model building for subjects such as biology and geography. A major hurdle to overcome in the education sector was mastering 3D printing machines. However, the emergence of simple software packages and the availability of online tutorials have greatly improved accessibility to the technology. With the reduction in cost of materials and printers, and schools’ focus on active learning and addressing the skills gap, it would be logical for 3D printers to become a widely used educational tool in years to come. Who knows, they might even prove as popular as the electronic calculator.

Whole class fails course exam for second year.

A Higher Media exam run by Inverness College UHI has been failed by all students for a second year in a row.

Thirteen students had taken the course, which the college redesigned after none of the 22 who had signed up for the media exam passed it last year.

Roddy Henry, acting principal at Inverness College UHI, described the latest results as a "real shock".

The college said it had put in place additional support for the students as part of the redesign.

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As term starts 100s of vacancies in Scotland.

Scotland’s largest teaching union has raised concerns after it emerged hundreds of posts remain unfilled at the start of the new school term.

Research by The Herald suggests Scottish schools have as many as 500 vacancies as pupils prepare to return to the classroom.


A total of 20 councils reported 404 unfilled posts evenly split between primary and secondary schools, while the remaining 12 local authorities were advertising for around 100 jobs, the newspaper found.

Read the detail.

Schools over zealous in radicalisation claims.

Safeguarding teams warn that this can lead to unnecessary, time-consuming assessments and create problems with families

Schools are being “overzealous” in referring concerns to social workers as part of their duty to prevent pupils from becoming radicalised, according to claims in a report published today.

The research report published by the Department for Education looks into how children's social care workers in local authorities were responding to radicalisation.

Schools have a legal duty under the Prevent policy to identify children at risk of being radicalised and to take action, for example by referring their concerns to safeguarding teams.

However, the DfE's research found that social workers were concerned about the number of referrals they were receiving from schools and other services.

The report says: “Where universal services [including schools] were perceived to be overzealous or over-sensitive in their referrals, this was felt to be a potential stress on safeguarding and child protection resources."

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New college at Stansted to be built to train workforce of future.

A new £11m college is to be built at Stansted Airport to train up its workforce of the future.

The site - which has been given planning permission - aims to create a new generation of skilled workers.

Courses will concentrate on subjects like science, technology, engineering and maths, as well as training students in areas more specific to an airport environment including logistics, hospitality and customer service. 

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Universities need clarity over Brexit.

UK universities could lose talented EU staff unless they receive "greater clarity" from the government on the post-Brexit rights of EU nationals, according to the Russell Group.

The group of top research universities says Brexit is causing EU staff "uncertainty and anxiety" and making the recruitment of others harder.

The group has outlined 10 points it says the government must answer.

Ministers say they want "a reciprocal agreement as quickly as possible".

The Russell Group is composed of 24 universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow and Cardiff, which are often oversubscribed at undergraduate level and heavily focused on research. 

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Abusive behaviour by pupils.

Teachers who identify abusive behaviour among their pupils have nowhere to turn for proper support, despite government plans to ramp up relationships education in schools, according to experts.

Despite studies revealing nearly a quarter of teenage boys have engaged in “sexual coercion”, the growing impact of easily accessible pornography and the rise in incidents of sexting, even schools with a robust approach to tackling the issue are struggling.

The government is set to introduce compulsory sex and relationships education in all secondary schools, and relationships education in all primary schools, across England from 2019.

They said while the move to introduce such teaching in school is welcome, it is lacking a next step. 

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Children expelled for sexual misconduct.

Hundreds of children, including some as young as five, are being expelled or temporarily excluded from school for sexual misconduct including abuse, assault, harassment and watching pornography, according to new figures.

The research reveals that pupils are being disciplined for a wide range of incidents described as sexual misconduct, including bullying and “lewd” behaviour, as well as sharing indecent images on social media.

Figures obtained via a freedom of information request by the Press Association from 15 local authorities found 754 children had been expelled or temporarily excluded from school as a result of sexual misconduct in the past four years.

Read more.


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