ACT - The Association of Christian Teachers

for Christians working in education

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

Why do children self-harm?

Saturday’s Times featured the headline "Schools buckle under 70,000 self-harm cases". The article went on to detail how, owing to inconsistencies in the way self-harm is recorded and dealt with across different schools, this figure probably only gave a small indication of the true scale of the problem. Surveying 28 schools that had been able to provide six years' worth of data, the Times found that teachers blamed social media as one of the largest contributors to self-harming behaviours.

Anecdotally, I’d say that self-harm is one of the fastest growing mental health issues in young people. However, I do not think if the Times’ survey had asked pupils themselves, rather than their teachers, that the top answer for why they were self-harming would have been the internet.

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Adoption and care rates vary by region.

For a child born in England in 2011-2012, the chances of being placed for adoption by the age of five varies starkly by local authority, research suggests.

For a child in Southampton, which had the highest rate, almost one in 50 children was put up for adoption.

For a child in Greenwich, an authority with similar socioeconomic profile, it was less than one in 600.

The findings come from Freedom of Information inquiries carried out by Professor Andy Bilson of the University of Central Lancashire, and shared with the BBC and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

He focussed on two year groups of children, those born in 2011-12 and those born 2006-7, asking detailed questions about child protection.

Adoption is intended to take children out of care, because their chances of stability and success in education, and life, are better. But in the 20 authorities where adoption rose over five years, the number of children in care had risen as well.

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Modern students prefer work to drugs.

Students are more likely to want universities to take a tougher line against drugs on campus, rather than a more liberal response, say researchers.

The study - from the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) and the University of Buckingham - found 71% of students had not taken illegal drugs.

But almost 40% thought their university had a "problem" with drug use.

Hepi's director, Nick Hillman, said students were "more hardworking and less hedonistic" than was realised.

The study, which surveyed more than a thousand undergraduate students, rejects the image of students being sympathetic to drug use, and suggests a more clean-living generation.

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Children living in B&B.

"I lived in a B&B with my mum for over two months, I was the same age I am now, 12," says Ellen.

"It was always cold. I don't think there was heating. There were a lot of strangers around. I didn't feel safe.

"You didn't know who was living there or what they might be capable of."

Ellen was interviewed about her experiences of homelessness as part of a child-led campaign, calling for more to be done to stop children in England being placed in unsuitable accommodation.

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Should parents take phones off teens?

Schools and parents should not be scared to take smartphones and other electronic devices away from teenagers, the headmaster of Eton has said.

Simon Henderson, head of the private school since 2015, says it is sometimes appropriate to take devices away.

Speaking at a Girls' Day School Trust conference in London, Mr Henderson said Eton now requires its Year 9 boys to hand in their devices at night-time.

He said the boys liked the move, as it removed the pressure from them.

Asked how schools could help teenagers navigate social media, Mr Henderson told the conference: "It's a 24/7 culture, but there's a place for taking phones and things off them.


"Sometimes parents and schools are reluctant to do that.

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Air quality study on 3000 children.

A new £2.5m study to assess the effectiveness of air quality control measures is to check the lungs of 3,000 children.

Researchers will compare the health of two 1,500-strong groups of primary school pupils; one based in central London and the other in Luton.

While the London schools will be within a new Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), Luton is subject to a range of anti-congestion measures.

The study will last four years.

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Cloud Pets withdrawn overt cyber security concerns.

Amazon and eBay are among retailers pulling a brand of cuddly smart toys from sale after warnings they pose a cyber-security threat.

Concerns were raised about CloudPets products in February 2017 after it was discovered that millions of owners' voice recordings were being stored online unprotected.

Manufacturer Spiral Toys claimed to have taken "swift action".

But subsequent research commissioned by Mozilla found other vulnerabilities.

The devices' California-based maker has not responded to requests for comment

Read the detail.

Cambridge needs help enrolling black students.

Cambridge University says it needs the "support of schools and parents" to help increase the number of black British students it enrols.

A freedom of information request by the Financial Times showed some Cambridge colleges admitted no black British students between 2012 and 2016.

The university told the newspaper it would not be able to improve diversity "on its own".

The figures follow criticism of Oxford University for similar failings.

Of Cambridge's 29 undergraduate colleges, six admitted fewer than 10 black British or mixed-race students between 2012 and 2016.

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The makeup of Oxford students.

A group of Oxford University students has placed an advert in a national newspaper, urging potential undergraduates from all backgrounds to consider applying to the institution.

The advert from the Oxford Student Voice says the university must become a "fairer and more equal community".

The university has faced criticism for not admitting enough black students, as well as those from lower social groups.

Oxford said the publication added to the debate on student admissions.

The advert, in the Guardian newspaper, says: "We are a movement of over a thousand Oxford University students who come from extraordinarily diverse backgrounds, and who are committed to working both with the university and potential applicants to it to achieve our aims.

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Graduate earnings.

Family background, subject choice and university have a significant impact on English students' earnings five years after graduation, new data shows.

Figures compiled by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) show economics and medicine students earn about 60% more than history and English graduates.

Those from the highest social groups have an 8% premium on earnings, while every A at A-level adds about 3%.

The data controls for socio-economic background and prior attainment.

The IFS examined the school and university exam records of graduates from England attending UK universities, alongside their tax returns.


It found that, typically, graduates of physics and maths had higher earnings than those who studied subjects such as psychology and sociology.

Read more.


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