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.

Many secondary schools not teaching RE.

Up to a quarter of secondary schools are breaking the law by failing to teach religious education, a new survey has shown, as one expert said the subject can be seen as an "easy loss" amid financial pressure.

A survey published by the Religious Education Council and the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) found that a quarter of the schools polled said they do not offer the subject to all students at GCSE level (aged 14 to 16).

In addition, the survey found differences between types of schools - with 96 per cent of faith schools saying they offer the subject to all 14 to 16-year-olds, compared with 73 per cent of academies.

Information gathered by the two organisations from the Government's workforce census under Freedom of Information requests also suggests that some schools are not teaching religious education. 

Read more.

Interim report from Commission on RE.

1. A national entitlement for RE. This would set out clearly the aims and purpose(s) of RE and what pupils should experience in the course of their study of the subject. This national entitlement should be for all pupils at all state-funded schools and we seek to consult with independent schools about whether they should adopt it. We are advocating RE for all not because children belong to religious traditions or not, but because in our age a nuanced understanding of the role of worldviews must be a part of citizens’ intellectual make-up. it is to do with their ability to function effectively as citizens and as human beings. This is as important an aspect of education for pupils in schools of a religious character as it is in those without a religious character. It should be introduced through non statutory guidance as early as possible with a view to it ultimately becoming statutory, either to supplement or replace the current legislation on agreed syllabuses. This national entitlement provides a reinvigorated vision for RE for all pupils in the future, drawing on the very best of the RE that we know happens in some schools. it seeks to be a basic statement of what all pupils are entitled to, but is not a national syllabus or curriculum. We hope that the flexibility of the proposed national entitlement will ensure that a diversity of high quality approaches will emerge and that this will best suit the landscape of a school-led system. We recognise that schools will need guidance and support to translate this entitlement into curriculum planning and we are reviewing where this guidance and support should come from.

2. Holding schools to account for the provision and quality of RE. The evidence presented to us indicates that at present too many schools are not being held to account for failing to provide adequate RE. Schools should be required to publish details on their website of how they meet the national entitlement for RE. Inspection frameworks should be revised to ensure that inspectors monitor whether schools meet the national entitlement for RE. The Commission has also given thought to how schools should provide for those key Stage 4 pupils who are not taking the GCSE in Religious Studies and would like to consult on the possibility of a revised qualification for these pupils to ensure that their work can be accredited.

3. A national plan to improve teaching and learning in RE. The Commission would like to develop a national plan for developing teaching and learning in RE, along the lines of the national plan for music education. The national plan will bring together the Commission’s recommendations for improving teacher subject knowledge and confidence and we seek to consult on how this can best be achieved.

4. A renewed and expanded role for standing advisory councils on religious education (sacres). The evidence we have received suggests that SACres can have an important role in promoting and supporting RE and in promoting good community relations more broadly, but that their capacity to deliver this role fully has been diminishing in many local authorities. The Commission’s suggested recommendations, which are  consultative at this stage, call for consideration to be given to adding the promotion of improved community relations to the remit of SACres and make proposals for the securing of resources for their work. There are also recommendations that seek consideration of the composition of SACres with a call to ensure that they are fully representative, with representatives of non-religious worldviews as full members.

The full recommendations are set out on pages 8 to 12.

Read the full interim report.

Pupils leave Academy school with strict new rules.


A new academy school that introduced strict rules in a bid to turn its fortunes around has seen more than 20 children leave since the start of term, parents have claimed.

Great Yarmouth Charter Academy's rules include that pupils must track a teacher with their eyes whenever the teacher is talking, pupils must walk between lessons silently in single file and are advised to be asleep by 9.30pm each night.

Parent Kelvin Seal, who set up the Facebook group Yarmouth High Worried Parents in response to concerns over the new rules, said he had been told that 23 parents had taken their children out of the school since the start of term, and that some of these were in response to the rules.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said it had received 13 requests for transfers from Great Yarmouth Charter Academy to another school, but could not comment on the figures claimed.

Read more.

Dyson Institute of Engineering set up.

Students will earn while they learn and plug the skills gap in engineering, according to billionaire inventor

The UK has “got it wrong” in its attempts to persuade young people to pursue careers in engineering, according to inventor and billionaire Sir James Dyson. The founder of Dyson told Tes in an interview that he was unsure why there was such a shortage of young engineers coming through the system, but “we have just got it wrong”. “We have forgotten what makes us great,” he said.

In a bid to tackle the shortage, Sir James just has now created the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, which opened last week. But while the name of the institution, based in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, may evoke the government’s enigmatic Institutes of Technology (IoT) project, intended to support engineering and STEM subjects, Dyson was keen to stress that this is very much a university. Indeed, it’s the first new institution to be created under the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.

Read more.

Manchester United's class of 92 to open a university.

Members of Manchester United’s famous “class of 92” have unveiled plans to open a university that will teach students how to understand finance, cope under pressure and “maintain a healthy body and mind”.

University Academy 92, or UA92, the brainchild of Gary Neville and former teammates Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville, will open in Trafford in September 2019.

The institution, which is backed by Lancaster University and Trafford council, aims to attract students who otherwise might not go on to higher education. It plans to offer “broader courses than traditional degrees, designed to enhance life skills as well as employability”.

Read more.

Greening to face legal action?

The education secretary, Justine Greening, could face legal action if she does not take steps to prevent schoolchildren being forced to share classes with pupils who have raped or sexually assaulted them.

Lawyers who have been contacted by victims have written to Greening complaining that there is still no clear guidance telling schools what they should do when rapes and sexual assaults are reported, despite concerns being raised a year ago.

As a result, schools are failing to support victims of peer-on-peer abuse – usually girls – and can end up “re-traumatising” them by putting them back in classes with pupils they have accused of rape or sexual assault.

Read more.

Free mental health resources published.

Teenagers have a good awareness of mental health problems but still hold some worrying misconceptions, research involving 23 secondary schools has discovered.


The survey of 3,500 students aged from 11 to 18 found that the vast majority understand that mental health problems can happen to anyone.

A third of the young people had also acted to help someone with a mental health problem.

At the same time, however, a third believed that people are born with mental health problems, while a third also thought that a mental health problem is when someone finds it difficult to learn something new.

Read more.

DfE scraps P scales.

Recommendation from Rochford Review approved

The government is altering the current system used to assess children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who are working below the expected national curriculum standards.

The statutory requirement for teachers to use performance scales (P-scales) to assess pupils with SEND who are not working at the standard of national curriculum assessments will be removed, the government has announced today. 

The decision follows final recommendations from the Rochford Review last year for how pupils who are working below the standard of the national curriculum tests should be assessed.

The statutory requirement will be dropped from the 2018-19 academic year onwards to allow the government to make the necessary changes to legislation. 

Read more.

Labour motion to reverse planned increase in tuition fees.

A Labour motion calling on the government to reverse a planned increase in university tuition fees in England has been approved without a vote in the Commons.

There was no vote because the Conservatives didn't oppose the motion.

The government says it is not bound by the result, but shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said the vote reflected the will "of this House".

She called on the government to scrap the changes.

She said there was a constitutional crisis because the government was "running scared and not allowing votes in this House".

But the Department for Education said that even if the government lost the vote "this motion has no legal effect".

Labour was attempting to use parliamentary process to block the tuition fee increases, which are due to be implemented for students from this autumn.

Read more.

University uncovers lost words!

Snout-fair, dowsabel and percher are among 30 "lost" words which experts believe are still in current use.

Researchers have drawn up the list to persuade people that these defunct words can still have a relevance.

Snout-fair is a word for handsome, dowsabel means "lady-love", and a percher is a social climber.

Dominic Watt, senior linguistics lecturer at the University of York, said he hoped people would re-engage with the language of old.

The team spent three months searching through old books and dictionaries to create the list.

Read more.


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