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.

Most children do not go to nearest school.

Most families do not choose to send their children to their nearest school, shows the biggest ever study of state secondary school choices in England.

More than 60% opt for a school that is further away - usually because it is higher achieving.

"Contrary to a widely-held belief, only a minority of parents choose their local school as their first option," say researchers.

It also debunks the idea that richer families are more engaged with choices.

Chasing places

The study, from researchers at the universities of Cambridge and Bristol, is the most detailed examination of choices of secondary school places in England, using more than 520,000 applications from 2014 to 2015.


It found that parents were actively using the system of preferences - and were not passively accepting their nearest option.

Read more.

Afro-hair and schools.

One in six children with afro-textured hair are having a bad or very bad experience at school, according to a report from the charity World Afro Day.

It's because of school rules surrounding hair and how you wear it.

They say that they are worried that some school hair policies can negatively affect children with afro-textured hair.

These rules can include how short students wear their hair or what styles they wear it in.

So what do you think, should you be told how to have your hair at school? Has this been a problem for you?

Read more.

£10,000 prize for teacher.

A primary school headteacher has won a £10,000 playwriting prize for his comedy about a disastrous Ofsted inspection.

Headless, by Colin Dowland, won the 2019 Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize.

The headteacher in the play is found drunk and unconscious and locked in a toilet on the day inspectors visit.

Mr Dowland said his job was perfect inspiration because "in school something ridiculous happens every day".

'Most terrifying'

Headless, which includes compromising revelations of a dominatrix, an illicit affair and a wayward gap student, will now be considered for production by Liverpool's Royal Court Theatre.


The competition is run by the theatre and Liverpool Hope University.

Read more.

Should schools have meat free day?

All state schools in England should offer pupils a compulsory plant-based menu one day a week, under new recommendations to the government that aim to make school meals more environmentally friendly and reflect changing dietary advice.

Given wide acceptance that diets need to change to address the climate crisis – including by eating less meat and more beans and pulses – the Soil Association is urging the Department for Education to replace a non-mandatory recommendation for a weekly meat-free day with a statutory menu once a week offering only plant-based proteins and foods.

The relatively few schools that already offer a meat-free day are often serving up less healthy lunches such as cheese-laden pizza, the organic food and farming group says, underlining the need for kitchens to be given support to provide more imaginative, healthier meals.

The DfE has started reviewing school food standards in light of the latest evidence on reducing meat and sugar consumption and boosting fibre in Britons’ diets.

Read more.

Measles endemic.

Measles will become endemic in Britain within 30 years unless vaccinations are made compulsory for school children, academics have suggested.

A new study predicts current efforts will be insufficient to keep the disease at bay.

Last year, 3.7 per cent of the population was believed to be susceptible to measles, comfortably below the 7.5 per cent needed for “herd immunity”, the threshold below which outbreaks of measles tend not to spread.

However, the computer model analysis found that merely continuing with current practices will not be sufficient to suppress the tide of vaccine scepticism, meaning the proportion will break the 7.5 per cent barrier by 2050 at the latest.

Read more.

The problems of the GCSE system.

Our GCSE system, with its comparable outcomes basis, undervalues the achievements 
of too many students. This must end, says Geoff Barton


The exams season is upon us once again and I know many readers of SecEd will be doing everything possible with their teams, in a characteristically calm and reassuring way, to ensure your students are as prepared as possible.

I also know the students you will be most concerned about are those you are trying to get on the right side of the GCSE cliff-edge of a Grade 4, particularly in English and maths. You will know, better than anyone, how high the stakes are for these young people.

At ASCL, our concern is that the current system is constructed in a way which means far too many young people fall on the wrong side of that cliff-edge. It consigns around one-third of 16-year-olds to attaining less than a “standard pass” in English and maths each year – qualifications which are seen as a passport to onward progression in education and are required for entry to many careers.

The reason this happens lies in the system of “comparable outcomes” under which, at national level, the percentage of pupils achieving the respective grades is roughly aligned with the outcomes achieved by previous cohorts of similar ability.

Read more.

Fern Britton attacks pressures of education system.

Fern Britton launched into an epic Twitter rant about protecting children from the 'gruelling' pressures of the education system.

The former This Morning star claimed more needed to be done to consider the mental health of youngsters who are living - what she described as - a 'break neck, stressful' lifestyle.

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Fern, who is mum to four children, stunned her thousands of followers on Thursday as she tweeted out a impassioned plea under the hashtag 'HelpOurKids.'

She fired: "School break times are shrinking. Hours of homework. We are teaching our young people to live a break neck stressful life. Relationships, mental health and physical health at risk. Teachers leaving. And all because of govt performance targets."

See the tweet.


Gendered language a barrier in school leadership.

As a leader in girls’ schools, I am also particularly interested in how we develop the next generation of women and prepare them not only to take their place in society but also to lead that society. I’m also interested in how language is used to support – or damage – an individual or cause. I think that much of this use of language plays into a particular bugbear of mine: the stereotype of a leader.

Here, the language used to describe behaviours can, and does, I believe, have a detrimental effect on women when they are in the process of thinking themselves into whether they could succeed in a particular role.



In this situation, mentor schemes such as that established between Brightfield Consulting and the Girls Schools Association, where I used to be president, can help a great deal, by encouraging women to think about themselves as potential leaders and role modelling leadership, not just in education but outside of it too. In addition, those of us who are leaders can help to support the next generation through informal mentoring and the tap on the shoulder to encourage someone in the right direction.

Read the full story.

Support staff pay rise unfunded.

Pay rises for support staff are crippling academy trusts that have specialist provision schools – with one trust facing almost £670,000 in additional costs.

Heads say the government is treating alternative provision (AP) and special educational needs schools as the “forgotten sector” by failing to fund salary increases for the support staff they rely on.

Wellspring Academies, which has 20 schools, including three special needs school and six AP schools, has revealed it had to find £669,000 to fund pay increases for non-teaching staff this year.

It follows the Department for Education award of an up to 3.5 per cent pay rise for classroom teachers this year and next, with schools expected to contribute the first 1 per cent with the government covering the rest.

Read more.

Consistency in behaviour for government project.

Schools that demonstrate “consistency” in behaviour management are being sought for a new £10 million government project – and there is no preferred strategy, the government’s behaviour tsar has said.

The government appointed Tom Bennett (pictured) last week to lead the three-year project to support up to 500 schools across England in developing better behaviour management policies.

We’re looking for different phases and ranges of schools that can demonstrate different types of strategy, as long as they’re very good at this core model

He and the Department for Education will recruit a network of lead schools and advisers across England to drive the project forward.

Read more.


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