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.

Geography undervalued?

Improving skills in ­literacy and numeracy are vitally important components of school education. But it is wrong to assume that these can only be achieved by teaching English and Mathematics respectively. Many other subjects can and do teach these skills using real life examples.

The number of young people not in employment, education or training drops?

The number of young people not in education, employment or training (Neet) has fallen by 28,000 to 800,000, official figures show.

The figure for the first quarter of 2017, covering 16 to 24-year-olds classed as Neet, is down by 68,000 from a year ago.

The percentage of all young people in the UK who were Neet was 11.2%, down 0.4% from October to December 2016 and down 0.8% from a year earlier.

Read more.

Is EBacc harming creative subjects?

A majority of secondary school leaders believe the EBacc has had a negative effect on school curriculums, and two-thirds believe provision in arts and creative subjects has suffered in their school as a result of changes to the curriculum and performance measures.

These are the findings of the latest annual survey by school leadership organisation The Key, presenting the views of 1,182 school leaders and 1,257 governors of mainstream schools in England.

58% of secondary respondents said the EBacc had a negative impact on their curriculum, with only 9% saying it had a positive impact. By contrast, statistics were more balanced on the impact of Progress 8 and Attainment 8, with 37% reporting a negative impact and 31% reporting a positive one.

Read more.

Sir Michael Wilshaw warns about budget cuts.

School standards are at risk if budgets continue to be slashed, former Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw warned today. 

The ex-London headteacher who recently stood down as Ofsted’s chief inspector said Government cuts to education could jeopardise the rapid progress made by English schools.

Read more.

Will school breakfast costs treble?

Giving a free breakfast to every primary school child in England could cost more than treble the £60m the Tory party set aside for it, academics say.

Experts analysing the plans re-costed them at between £180m and £400m, depending on how many pupils take them.

A Conservative Party spokesman said the original £60m costing of its universal offer was based on a 25% take-up rate.

Researchers at Education Data Lab say it also assumes food costs of 25p per pupil and does not include staff costs.

In their manifesto, the Conservatives said they would scrap free lunches for infant school children in England, in favour of a universal offer of a free breakfast for all primary school children.

Read more.

The arguments over school funding in the manifestos.

A new Conservative government would leave schools in England worse off financially than they currently are, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says.

The Tories have promised £4bn extra but this equates to a £1bn rise in real terms, the independent think tank says.

When growing pupil numbers are taken into account, investment per pupil will fall 2.8% by 2022, the IFS says.

Labour has pledged to increase spending per pupil by 6% over the course of the next Parliament.

The IFS says this would require an increase of around £4.8bn in real terms or 2017-18 prices.

The Liberal Democrats' plans protect per pupil spending over the course of the Parliament in real terms at the present level (for 2017-18).

This would require £2.2bn extra investment.

Read more.

Main points of conservative education manifesto.

A ban on new selective schools will be lifted with provision put in place to ensure pupils can join at other ages as well as 11.

To build at least a hundred new free schools a year with councils banned from creating new places at schools rated inadequate or requires improvement.

Plans for a national funding formula will be changed to ensure no school loses out.


The overall schools budget will increase by £4 billion by 2022 with free school meals for all infants to be scrapped and replaced with free breakfasts.

Chemistry Exam a blessing?

Thousands of students are celebrating the “blessing” of an AQA chemistry paper after sitting the GCSE exam this morning.  

Pupils tweeted the exam board to thank them for the test, with some particularly zealous teens even calling it a “gift from God”. 

The test comes just days after AQA caused controversy with its GCSE Biology exam by asking students to explain: “Why Charles Darwin was drawn as a monkey.” 

Schools get extra time to hit EBacc target.

The Conservative Party manifesto sets out plans to require schools to enter at least 90 per cent of pupils for the five EBacc subjects by 2025, instead of 2020

The target for schools to enter 90 per cent of pupils for the English Baccalaureate GCSE subjects would not have to be hit until 2025, under a Conservative Party manifesto plan published today.

The previous deadline for 90 per cent of pupils to sit GCSEs in English, mathematics, history or geography, the sciences and a language was 2020.

The manifesto states: "We will expect 75 per cent of pupils to have been entered for the EBacc combination of GCSEs by the end of the next parliament, with 90 per cent of pupils studying this combination of academic GCSEs by 2025."

The move follows concerns from headteachers about the target, partly due to a shortage of language teachers.

Read more.

Conservatives 'force' independent schools to sponsor a state school.

At least 100 of the country’s leading independent schools will be forced to sponsor a state school or risk losing their charitable status, under the Conservatives' education proposals.

The Tory manifesto states that private schools must sponsor an academy or set up a free school, as part of plans to create the "world’s great meritocracy".

In a move that will be seen as a warning that private schools will not be able to ignore the demand, the Tories said that they are “keeping open the option of changing the tax status of independent schools if progress is not made”.

Read more.


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