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.

Update on Free Schools.

Free schools: open schools and successful applications

Details of open free schools and successful applications in the pre-opening stage.

See the chart.

Girls better at working together?

When young people study or take exams the results are usually about rewarding their individual achievement.

But when they get into the workplace they will be told about the importance of social skills and the need to co-operate with other people on solving problems.

So are school systems out of step with what is needed by young people?

PISA, which compares students' abilities in reading, maths and science, has now carried out the world's first global tests on collaborative problem-solving skills.

As might have been expected, students who are high achievers in academic tests are also likely to be better at problem solving with other people.

They are likely to have the skills in interpreting information and complex reasoning that will help them with any kind of problem solving.

Read more.

Harassment in schools.

If sexual harassment in politics and showbiz has raised eyebrows of late, the level of it in schools should set alarm bells ringing. Reports of sexual offences by children towards other children are on the increase. There’s also a broad gamut of harassment in schools, as in all workplaces. Even in the less serious cases – boys pinging girls’ bras, for example – for those targeted it can be wearing and humiliating.

Teachers are not immune, either. Cases have yet to be reported of inappropriate behaviour by school leaders but there is plenty of pupil-on-teacher abuse. As a 23-year-old trainee I found the word “whore” written on my classroom door more than once. At the time I rolled my eyes and wiped it off. Now I’d be mad as hell.

Read more.

Should more of International Development pot be spent on Education?

Education should receive a bigger share of the UK's overseas aid budget, a cross-party report from MPs says.

The International Development Select Committee said education is vital to improving lives in the world's poorest countries.

The proportion of the UK's aid budget spent on education was about 7% in 2015, according to MPs.

Stephen Twigg, who chairs the committee, said more must be done for the "most marginalised children".

The report, examining the Department for International Development's work on education, highlights the lack of access to education in developing countries and conflict zones.

Read more.

Student Loans Company faces 'challenges'.

Student Loans Company faces 'challenges' over finance changes

A major shake-up in student finance in Wales could pose challenges for the Student Loans Company (SLC), its former chairman has said.

From September 2018, Welsh students will be eligible for a maintenance grant rather than tuition fee help.

Sir Deian Hopkin has raised questions about SLC's record in dealing with complex reforms and said administrative problems have historically been part and parcel of introducing a new system.

But the SLC said it was "confident" it would be ready in time.

Assessments for dyslexic students claiming disability allowances should be reviewed, peers have said.

Assessments for dyslexic students claiming disability allowances should be reviewed, peers have said.

The issue was raised by Lord Addington, who is president of the British Dyslexia Association.

He said it was unfair dyslexic students had to pay up to £600 to have their condition reassessed to claim the disabled students' allowance at university.

Education Minister Lord Agnew agreed the system should be reviewed.

Disabled university students can claim an allowance to cover extra costs because of their illness such as specialist equipment or a non-medical helper.

Read more.

Have the wheels fallen off the Academy bandwagon?

With a falling roll, weak standards and chronic financial issues, it was placed in special measures earlier this year amid calls for its sponsor, the Academies Enterprise Trust, to be driven off the island.

None of this is exceptional but what happened next, in its small way, certainly is. The Sandown Bay academy, with the support of a Tory-led council, a Conservative MP and the Department for Education, is being closed, then merged with a local primary into an all-through council-run school. The Isle of Wight children’s services are now run by the high-performing Hampshire county council. In this solitary outpost, the academy movement finally ran out of road.

It is almost 20 years since the Labour government set out to create a new generation of independent state schools free of local authority control and funded directly by central government.

Read more.

Unaffordability of lifting pay gap?

IPPR makes pre-budget call for government to restore pay to 2010-11 levels

Lifting the cap on the pay of teachers and other public sector workers would cost the government less than previously thought, a thinktank has said.

The IPPR said a significant amount of any money used to lift the pay cap would be returned to the Treasury almost immediately in the form of higher tax receipts and lower welfare payments.

The finding comes ahead of next week’s Budget and amid pressure on chancellor Philip Hammond to increase funding for schools and increase public pay above the current 1 per cent cap.

In September, education secretary Justine Greening told Tes that “competitive pay” was needed to attract and retain good teachers.

Today’s report cites NASUWT findings from last year that a school teacher outside London who was on £36,624 in 2010-11 would have suffered a £2,800 real-terms pay cut by 2017-18.

This would rise to £3,794 if the public sector pay cap was retained until 2019-20.

Read more.

6 Universities now told to change adverts.

The advertising watchdog has told six UK universities to take down marketing claims that could be misleading.

Leicester, East Anglia, Strathclyde, Falmouth, Teesside and the University of West London have all had complaints upheld against them.

The Advertising Standards Authority is warning against exaggerated claims made to attract students.

Chief executive Guy Parker says students need "good evidence" when making such a big financial commitment.

"Misleading would-be students is not only unfair, it can also lead them to make choices that aren't right for them," said Mr Parker.



Read more.

Prince William introduces 'Green Cross Code' for the internet.

Facebook and Snapchat are trialling a new, more direct way to help young people bullied online, following an intervention by Prince William.

The social media platforms will help those in need of emotional support to access counsellors.

The prince, together with tech firms, children's charities and parents, is also introducing the equivalent of a Green Cross Code for the internet.

It tells young people to "stop, speak, support" when online.

The aim is to encourage them to stop negative behaviour, tell a responsible adult and support victims of bullying.


Other firms, including Google and EE, have also taken part in the project. 

Read more.


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