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for Christians working in education

The life
A Christian perspective on society and the education industry for the Christian professional in education.

Fitness trackers damaging mental health.


Fitness trackers are damaging youngsters’ mental health and parents should stop encouraging their children to wear them, a leading preparatory school headmaster has warned.

William Dunlop, head of Clayesmore Preparatory School in Dorset, said that “well-meaning” mothers and fathers are increasingly buying their children activity trackers as gifts.  

The trackers - which can measure anything from the number of steps you have taken that day to your heart rate - are viewed by many parents as a good way to encourage their children to exercise.

But parents are buying the gadgets without necessarily considering the negative side-effects, Mr Dunlop said, such as contributing towards anxiety or other mental health issues.  

Read more.

Parents go to extreme measures to get into top schools.

Parents are 'faking break-ups’ to get their children into top schools, an expert has warned

  • Rising pressure on school places  mean families can resort to fraudulent means
  • In 2015-16, 267 offers were withdrawn on the basis of fraudulent applications
  • Local councils have been trained to spot details such as recently moving house or short-term leases close to school 

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Well-being services needed for those in education.

Seventy-three per cent of employees in the education sector believe that some of the National Insurance payments should be redirected towards improving wellbeing

With a rise in workplace-related stress, illnesses and mental health issues, over two thirds (64%) of working adults in the education industry believe that businesses are not doing enough to support the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees, according to a new study released today.

Current treatments such as health check-ups, cognitive behavioural therapy and chiropractic treatment are provided by the NHS, through National Insurance contributions, but 68% of those surveyed by Westfield Health stated that the NHS does not have the budget to provide wellbeing services like these.

So is National Insurance becoming unfit for purpose? Employees in the education industry don’t seem to know, almost half (45%) of employees saying they do not know how much National Insurance they pay and 48% saying they do not know how much of the contribution goes where, be it the NHS, social security or their state pension.

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More adult education needed.

The current crisis at the Open University illustrates how public support for adult learning has gone so badly wrong in the UK. For nearly half a century, the OU has served a unique role in British educational life, complementing face-to-face learning in place-based institutions with distance education. While the 2012 tuition fees rise increased budgets for most universities, they have been disastrous for the OU, Birkbeck and others serving part-time mature students.

But the crisis in adult higher education participation is not limited to specialist institutions. Step by step, opportunities for adults to learn have been eroded. First, the 100-year tradition of university extra-mural departments aimed at adults closed one by one. Second, state funding for mature students to study at the same level or below their highest qualification went out of the window. Meanwhile, widening participation strategies were concentrated more and more on school leavers. Then the fees rise devastated mature and part-time study, especially at sub-degree level. And once the student number cap was lifted, most universities opted for the easily administered full-time young entrant over the less tidy part-time adult.

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Poor families.

Hundreds of thousands of the poorest families in Britain are going without basic necessities, according to two separate surveys.

Citizens Advice said as many as 140,000 households are going without power, as they cannot afford to top up their prepayment meters.

And the Living Wage Foundation - which campaigns for fair pay - said many of the poorest parents are skipping meals.

However the government said workers are now earning more, and paying less tax.

The survey conducted by Citizens Advice suggests that most households that cannot afford to put money in the meter contain either children or someone with a long-term health condition.

Read more.

Will schools be allowed to drop nationality question?

Privacy campaigners say the Department for Education is to drop the controversial requirement for schools in England to collect data about pupils' nationality.

The Against Borders for Children protest group had warned the information could be used to check on the immigration status of pupils.

Campaigners hailed it as a "victory" after a boycott and legal challenges.

The Department for Education would not confirm reports of the policy change.


But the Department for Education has declined to deny or confirm that it is about to shift its position.

Read more.

Young more likely to be lonely.

Young adults are more likely to feel lonely than older age groups, says a study from the Office for National Statistics.

The research found that almost 10% of people aged 16 to 24 were "always or often" lonely - the highest proportion of any age group.

This was more than three times higher than people aged 65 and over.

Researchers suggest that older people might become more "resilient" to worries about loneliness.

There has been growing political interest in loneliness as a significant social problem.


The prime minister earlier this year set out plans to alleviate loneliness and "social isolation" - with a warning that millions of people were suffering from a lack of regular contact with others.

The research from the ONS, based on a survey of more than 10,000 adults, found that about one in 20 people always or often felt lonely.

Read more.


What's it like to teach in an area where many young people carry knives and have seen the victims of stabbings? Teachers describe their first-hand views of the knife culture among some young people in London.

"It's not a shock anymore. It's not a surprise anymore," says Angela.

"If something happens in the area, you hope it's not somebody you've taught."

She has been a teacher for 28 years and is currently a head of department at a secondary school in south London.

Last year, a former pupil was stabbed to death.


They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The killers included another former pupil, who still had a younger sibling at the school.

"I taught them. I knew them," says Angela.

"It's the worst feeling. It's horrible. They're not the typical cliché kids you know, in a hoody, wearing a mask.

"They're the same students I taught. Got their GCSEs," she points out.

Read more.

Student suicide rising.

The suicide rate among UK students is higher than among the general population of their age group, claim researchers.

The study, to be presented next month at the International Suicide Prevention Conference in New Zealand, has analysed figures for student suicides between 2007 and 2016.

But the Office for National Statistics cautions that "year-to-year differences could reflect change in the population of students across time as opposed to change in the risk of suicide".

There has been much concern about mental health worries on university campuses - but it has often been argued that suicide rates for students have been lower than the general population.

Read more.

Low skilled jobs rebranded as apprenticeships.

Fast food giants, coffee shops and retailers are relabelling low-skilled jobs as apprenticeships and gaining subsidies for training, a report says.

The study by centre-right think tank Reform says many firms have rebranded existing roles after being obliged to contribute cash to on-the-job training.

It adds that 40% of government-approved apprenticeship standards do not meet a traditional definition of them.

The government says "quality" is at the heart of its apprenticeship reforms.

As part of the changes, it introduced an apprenticeship levy on organisations paying more than £3m in salaries a year. 


They have to pay 0.5% of their wages total into a "digital account" held by HMRC.

They then "spend" these contributions on apprenticeship training delivered by registered providers. They can also get back up to 90% of the cost of training.

Read more.


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