ACT - The Association of Christian Teachers

for Christians working in education

The week
News items from the week’s daily and education press, covering the major education news stories of the week.

Truancy 'detectives' to be appointed in Essex.

Four schools in Essex will employ full-time truancy detectives in order to track down children believed to be absconding from school, it was announced yesterday.

Under the proposals, the schools will hire two full-time “attendance ambassadors” responsible for following up cases of truancy, with the new enforcers given licence to visit the homes of parents whose children are suspected of truancy.

An academy, two primaries and a junior school in Canvey Island have signed up to the trial scheme, which headteachers argue will help improve school attendance.

Read more.

Projects for vulnerable children.

Thirty-six million pounds is to be awarded to projects across the country that help improve the lives of vulnerable children, the Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families Edward Timpson has announced today (Monday 20 March 2017).

The 11 ambitious plans will help children who have been exposed to domestic abuse, support young disabled people living in care, and back care leavers as they get ready to start their adult lives.

The projects are part of the children’s social care innovation programme, which is backed by £200 million of government funding. This programme has supported 59 projects to date, providing evidence of best practice that is helping to improve children’s services across the country.

It is a key part of the government’s work to explore and develop the best possible services for vulnerable children and their families.

Read more.

Funding cuts for all by 2020.

Every state school in England will see budget cuts before 2020, even after new funding plans are put into place, research suggests.

The Education Policy Institute analysis looks at the impact of the new national funding formula against the backdrop of financial pressures in schools.

It finds even schools benefiting from the funding shake-up will see their gains wiped out by budget pressures.

The government insists schools funding is at a record £40bn level.

Read more.

School funding protest.

Hundreds of parents have taken part in a protest march against what they claim are "unfair" school funding plans.

The government has announced a new national formula for schools to address "inconsistent" funding levels.

The march started at Sandbach School on Crewe Road at 11:00 and ended at Sandbach Cobbles in the town centre.

Organiser Laura Smith said the march allowed Cheshire parents to show their anger at changes they claim will leave their children worse off. 

Read more.

Gove says immigration has helped London's high achievement.

Immigration has been a key reason behind London's high achievement in school standards, the former education secretary Michael Gove has said.

Addressing an international education conference, Mr Gove highlighted the importance of immigrant and refugee families pushing up results.

He said migrant parents had "high expectations" for their children.

But Mr Gove, a leading campaigner for Brexit, said migration had also created "pressure on services".

Read more.

Work experience in schools report.

This study, commissioned by the Department for Education, follows the publication of updated guidance for 16-19 study programmes (2015), which built on the work done following recommendations made in the Wolf review. The guidance advocates a period of work experience, or a more extended work placement, as a core part of programmes for all post-16 students, whether following an academic or a technical curriculum, in order to support them in developing their work readiness. Alongside the guidance for post-16 programmes, the government also revised its statutory guidance for schools, expecting schools to offer high quality work experience and encouraging them to engage fully with their local employer and professional community. The overall aim of the study was to consider current provision and operational practice of work-related activities at schools and colleges in England.

Read the report.

More children in care.

More children are being taken into care, some unnecessarily, because councils in England cannot afford to intervene earlier, a report suggests.

Late interventions often meant problems had escalated before support could be put in place, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children heard.

Its report into children's social care found 90% of councils were struggling to fulfil legal duties to children.

The government said offering early help was the best way to keep children safe.

Read more.

Head Teachers write on funding.

Head teachers representing some 3,000 schools in England have written to their local MPs and ministers calling for a rethink on school finance plans.

They say a new national funding formula, which should give underfunded schools more cash, ignores inflationary cost pressures faced by all schools.

The heads come from 14 local council areas and represent 1.5 million pupils.

The letter comes as the government's consultation period for the new school funding formula closes on Thursday.

The letter has been signed by primary, secondary and special school heads from a number of counties in England including West Sussex, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Devon and Cornwall.

Read more.

Prime Minister's Questions.

Theresa May has launched an attack on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for sending his son to a grammar school.

At Prime Minister's Questions she said: "Typical Labour, take the advantage and pull up the ladder behind you."

Mr Corbyn had accused the government of finding money for Mrs May's grammar school "vanity project" while cutting funding for other schools.

The Labour leader's son Ben went to a North London grammar school although Mr Corbyn was reported to be against it.

The issue is said to have led to the break-up of Mr Corbyn's second marriage in the late 1990s, with his then wife Claudia insisting that the child should not attend a local Islington comprehensive school.

Read more.

Christian Education Europe.

'An international group which supports more than 20 schools in England is giving a platform to a speaker about the “hidden dangers of challenging homophobia in primary schools”.

Christian Education Europe, which supports and provides curriculum material to 24 independent schools, will hear from a researcher called Brian Hadley in a speech entitled “society indoctrinating the innocent.”

It forms part of an event by Christian Education Europe which will take place on Saturday called “Unmasking Secular Education”.

Campaigners have said the speech is “incredibly disappointing” and warned it could enable hateful attitudes.

A spokesperson for Christian Concern, which speaks on behalf of Christian Education Europe and has also published Hadley’s book, said his talk was “just about asking questions” on government strategy.

“How does this show we’re homophobic? We certainly believe he’s got something worthwhile to say, and yes it’s about education, but it’s not directly about our schools. It’s his research.”

He added that delegates at Christian Education Europe, which also distributes the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum, “may not agree with” Hadley’s words.

“All of our schools have anti-bullying policies. This speaker has done some research and is suggesting some dangers of the CHIPS scheme. We wouldn’t have someone who is pro-bullying.”

The Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools (CHIPS) is a resource created by Andrew Moffat, a gay assistant headteacher in Birmingham who was forced to leave his post after a minority of religious parents complained about their children being taught by him three years ago.

The resource says “five-year-olds need to be taught that gay men, lesbian women, bisexual and trans people exist.”

Meanwhile, Hadley has contributed to a book called What are they teaching the children?, published by Christian Concern, that claims to “expose the way in which state education has become a vehicle for promoting secular and liberal beliefs about religion, morality and the family.”

Ten of the schools which use the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum received simultaneous Ofsted inspections in January this year – with nine downgraded to “inadequate” or requires improvement, including over failures to teach British values.

At the time, the chief executive of Christian Concern, Andrea Williams, said the inspections were “part of an agenda against these schools” by Ofsted.

We’re incredibly disappointed by this

She said “these schools have a very strong Christian ethos in the way they teach about marriage, morality and science”, confirming that same-sex marriages were not taught in the schools.

Chris McGovern, a former principal and chair of the Campaign for Real Education, which argues for a traditional education, said schools needed to “respect the viewpoint of some faith communities” that teaching children about gay people could be “robbing children of their childhood.”

He said it could “even cause trauma for some young children”, and that government policy should be tolerant of different religious views.

Another speaker at the event is Sylvia Baker, co-founder of the Christian Schools Trust, which runs 27 independent schools in England.

Sue Sanders, chair of pro-LGBT education charity School’s Out, told Schools Week the conference was in danger of promoting discriminatory and hateful attitudes.

“We’re incredibly disappointed by this.

“There has been a huge rise in homophobic hate crime since Brexit, and schools need to be very careful that how they present any attitudes to any minority group does not support prejudice against them.”

Her words were echoed by a spokesperson for the British Humanist Association, who welcomed Ofsted’s recent inspections of schools using the ACE curriculum but said they still needed more “scrutiny”.

“The details of this conference suggest that there’s still a lot of work to do in getting these schools to change their approach.”

Guidance to Ofsted inspectors on homophobic and transphobic bullying in 2013 recommended asking pupils whether they “had any lessons about different types of families” or learnt from teachers that the word “gay” meant “something rubbish or wrong”.

When asked about Christian Education Europe’s speaker, a spokesperson for Ofsted told Schools Week that all schools had a responsibility to “prepare pupils for life in modern Britain” and were “expected to provide a broad curriculum, which teaches respect and tolerance towards everyone.”

The Department for Education (DfE) added it was committed to tackling homophobic and transphobic bullying and had made £3 million available for that task from 2016 to 2019.'


Taken from Schoolsweek.


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