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.

Social media blamed for rise in girls self harming.

There has been a big rise in reports of girls self-harming - with experts suggesting digital media may be to blame.

Between 2011 and 2014, reports of self-harm among girls in Britain aged 13 to 16 rose by 68%.

The figures come from data collated by researchers from the University of Manchester.

They looked at records from 674 general practices, focusing on the number of 10 to 19-year-olds who had self-harmed.

Of all those who had self-harmed, almost three quarters (73%) were girls.

For girls aged 13 to 16 the rate rose from 45.9 cases per 10,000 individuals in 2011 to 77.0 cases per 10,000 in 2014.

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1 in 10 take term time holidays.

New figures show a rise in the proportion of youngsters missing lessons for family trips, compared to the year before.

In total, 9.4% of primary and secondary school children missed at least half a day of schooling for this reason during the autumn and spring terms of the 2016/17 academic year, according to official statistics.


This is up from 7.6% for the same two terms the year before.

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Ear infections causing reading and writing problems.

Ear infections are the number one reason for preschool children to visit the GP. Ear infections can be painful, cause difficulty with balance and can also lead to temporary hearing loss.

Most parents assume that there will be no long lasting effects once an ear infection clears up – and most of the time this is true. But in some cases, children can become permanently deaf after repeated infections – which is also known as “glue ear”.

It seems that repeated ear infections can also increase the risk of reading difficulties – as our recent study shows. We found that a third of children who had repeated ear infections had reading difficulties at age nine.

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Ninety children taken into care each day.

Ninety children are being taken into care every day in England and Wales and it's claimed social workers are "firefighting" the most serious cases late into the night.

Prof Ray Jones, who works in social services improvement, says staff fear children slip through the net as they try to keep up with rising pressures.

Latest government figures show 32,810 children were taken into care in 2017.

Ministers said extra money was being targeted towards improving services.

The total number of children in care is a record 72,670 - up 3% on 2016.

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Council bosses, who are responsible for child protection services, say it's the biggest rise in seven years.

The elderly join universities.

What does a student look like?

Forget the stereotypes. Think of diversity in a different way. And meet some of the country's oldest undergraduates.

Maureen Matthews is starting a three-year law degree at the tender age of 79.

She's not even the oldest student on her new course at the University of West London in Brentford.

Sitting next to her in lectures is 84-year-old Craigan Surujballi.


This isn't dabbling in learning with an evening course - it's an intensive, full-time degree, studying alongside people with ambitions to become lawyers.

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Lack of sleep harms academic development.

The study, carried out by the University of Leeds in conjunction with Silentnight, looks into the effect of bedtime routines and the impact on quality of life of 6-11 year olds.

Led by Dr Anna Weighall, a developmental cognitive psychologist with expertise in sleep research, this is the first major study to characterise children's sleep habits in the UK and has been conducted after consultation from more than a thousand parents.

The findings have revealed that 36 per cent of primary school age children get eight hours or less sleep a night and 15 per cent get seven hours or less. Such low levels of sleep are likely to have a negative impact on a child's ability to function in the classroom and reach key milestones.

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Children sexually assaulting each other.

Reports of sexual assaults by children on other children are rising, according to police figures seen by BBC Panorama. But those reported cases are only the "tip of the iceberg", according to one police child abuse expert.

Emily - not her real name - was 15 when she was sexually assaulted by a boy in her class, unnoticed by her teacher, who was at the front of the room.

But after reporting the ordeal to the police, she says she was bullied by her classmates.

"About 10 to 15 pupils were all swearing and shouting at me, like 'you're a grass'… I got some comments like 'he should have raped you'. I was tagged in photos. I was called a liar."

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Sexual assault in schools.

Rachel's daughter was raped by a boy at her school. He was arrested, bailed, and put back in his normal lessons, alongside his victim, the following day.

"Somebody who's been raped is already in a terrible place, but to be expected to be back in the same space as the rapist is just terrible," she told the Victoria Derbyshire programme. "It's re-traumatising - it's just a terrible thing to do to a rape victim."

The government says it is writing interim guidelines for schools to prevent schoolchildren being forced to share classes with pupils who have raped or sexually assaulted them, but campaigners say it is taking too long.

Rachel - not her real name - said her daughter's anonymity was compromised at an early stage - which made life especially difficult.

"Being in the same classroom as the person that's raped you is difficult enough, but when people in that room know what's happened and they're watching how you cope being in the same room as the rapist - that's just awful," she explained.

Read more.

The changing face of student loans.

Theresa May has pledged to overhaul student loans and tuition fees, which could lead to the fifth funding system in 20 years.

Among possible changes are freezing fees at £9,250 a year and raising the earnings repayment threshold for students who started university from September 2012 onwards from £21,000 a year to £25,000. 

However, the Prime Minister said the whole system would be reviewed, and a move to a graduate tax instead of the current system could remain a possibility.


Vaccinations lead to drop in early signs of potential cervical cancer.

The number of young women in Scotland showing early signs of potential cervical cancer has dropped by 41% since a school vaccination programme was introduced, researchers have said.

The University of Aberdeen study looked at women who had received the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine.

It found 758 women were referred for further investigation in 2013-2014, down from 1,294 in 2008-2009.

The vaccinations were introduced in 2008 for girls aged 12 and 13.

Read more.


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