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Academy and School News Update May 10 –June 12 2015

Documents mentioned below can be found on http://tonystephens.org.uk

 

  • Universities are spending more money on improving access for students from ethnic minorities and disadvantaged backgrounds – but fewer students are receiving financial help, research shows.
  • Ofsted should place the same importance on the way schools teach “character development” as it does on attainment measures when assessing schools, the think tank Demos has said.
    • The government has published the Education and Adoption Bill, which will see all schools deemed to be “failing” converted into academies. Nicky Morgan anticipates there will be up to 1,000 such schools over the course of this Parliament. The bill will also aim to crack down on “coasting” schools.
      • Coasting schools

The new bill will put in place plans to tackle so-called “coasting” schools, putting them on a notice to improve. These schools will be given additional support from a team of “expert headteachers”, while those that do not show any improvement will be given new leadership.  Ms Morgan said the piece of legislation would allow the “best education experts” to intervene in schools from the “first day we spot failure”. Schools considered to be coasting will be told to improve even if they haven’t yet been warned about their progress by Ofsted.

We still don’t know what “coasting” actually means. Any heads and teachers hoping the new bill would shed light on what a coasting school looks like will be disappointed because the definition of the term will be published in the regulations of the bill and after a consultation, which is not likely until later in the summer. As of now the DfE is only saying that the definition will be based on data, performance over time and will focus on schools that are not allowing students to achieve their full potentials

More powers of intervention to the secretary of state

The bill hands considerable more power to the secretary of state. Previously, only the local authority was able to issue the governing bodies of maintained schools with a warning notice. Under the changes, the education secretary will have these powers as well. The bill also prevents local authorities from issuing a warning notice if the secretary of state has already done so. They can only issue a warning notice if the secretary of state allows them to. Any previous warning notice from local authority will cease to have an effect. The secretary of state will now be able to say who should be appointed to a governing body of a school that is “eligible for intervention” in a bid to improve the school. Whereas before it was left to the local authority, the new measures hand that power of who should be appointed to the DfE.

  • Failing schools

What we do know is that if a school has been rated “inadequate” by Ofsted and is not already an academy it will be converted into one. According to the DfE, the presumption will be that even if a school is showing improvement but is rated inadequate it will face an academy order. Local authorities and governing bodies must take reasonable steps toward a school’s “successful conversion into an academy” once it has been served with an academy order.

The government also said the bill will “sweep away bureaucratic and legal loopholes” and prevent campaigners from “delaying or overruling” the academisation process.

Under the new bill, the secretary of state will be handed the ability to revoke an academy order and thereby instruct a local authority to close a school.

  • Out of the 447 English schools currently rated “inadequate”, 240 – more than half – have yet to be converted into academies or recorded by the DfE as planned for academisation. Of these, 123 schools, or 51%, failed their Ofsted a year or more ago – yet still academy sponsorship does not seem to be on the horizon. Previous DfE threats to turn all primary schools at the bottom of Sats league tables into academies have yet to be borne out in reality; is the issue a shortage of sponsors.  Calculations indicate that almost half of the sponsored academies that have had an inspection are themselves rated “inadequate” (12%) – or “requires improvement” (34%)
  • Sir Michael Wilshaw has given his unequivocal backing to government plans to intervene in schools consistently rated less than good. “The big question for the government is scale, given that we have 30% of schools that are less than good. Have we got enough really good head teachers who can take over those schools in federations and clusters?” But Sir Michael accepts that academies can also struggle, and some have failed, and Ofsted would back interventions in any school, including academies or free schools that are regarded as “coasting”.
  • “She is teaching. It is kind.” Primary pupils depend on the kindness of teachers, research shows. The act of teaching makes teachers inherently kind, pupils believe. New research shows that, when asked to draw their teachers doing something which demonstrates kindness, primary-school children tend to depict them standing in front of a class and delivering a lesson.
  • Highly able pupils from poor homes are more than twice as likely to fall behind by the age of 16 as their wealthier classmates, new research from the Sutton Trust shows. Of the pupils who were in the top 10 per cent for attainment at age 11, about 7,000 students fail to get into the top 25 per cent for their GCSE grades, and it is pupils on free school meals who fare particularly badly. Out of the top-performing 11-year-olds, more than one in three of the disadvantaged boys will seriously underachieve at age 16, compared with one in six of those boys not eligible for free school meals. The research concludes that bright, disadvantaged pupils will score four A grades and four B grades at GCSE on average, as their equally able classmates from better-off backgrounds earn eight straight As. One in 10 of the disadvantaged but able pupils barely achieve C grades, lagging almost a whole GCSE grade per subject behind their more advantaged peers. The report also expresses concern that students from disadvantaged homes are less likely to take GCSEs in history, geography, triple sciences or foreign languages. It echoes the findings of a previous report from the Sutton Trust, which concludes that bright but disadvantaged A-level students are less likely to take the “facilitating” subjects often required by the Russell Group universities, such as English literature, maths, sciences or languages. The report says, “You have to think about the things these children had at primary school that made them successful. There is a lot of institutional difference between primary and secondary. At primary they have a very close relationship with one teacher and that disappears at secondary school. It is easy for children to get lost and drift through if there is not a concerted effort to do something about it.’ The Sutton Trust says that, since the demise of the gifted and talented programme, too many schools now lack provision for the highly able – the organisation has called for an effective national programme to be introduced. It also recommends that all schools are made accountable for the progress of their most-able pupils, who should be given access to a broad, traditional curriculum.
  • The reformed English literature GCSE will discriminate against pupils with dyslexia and special needs it is said, with claims that it contravenes the 2010 Equality Act because the new GCSE will not allow pupils with special needs “to fully demonstrate their knowledge, skills and understanding”. The new GCSE includes a closed-book test, for which pupils will be expected to have memorised 15 poems, “in complex and often ambiguous language, and drawn from a range of socio-historical contexts.” These poems must be memorised well enough for at least one to be analysed from memory during the exam. “A difficult task for all. an impossible one for the SEND minority
  • Ofqual has admitted that standards for the reformed maths GCSE have been set at the wrong level, and has instructed exam boards to draw up new questions. Ofqual decided to order sample maths papers to be re-written after research it commissioned – which involved thousands of pupils taking mock exams – suggested that three of the boards had set exams that were too tough and the fourth had produced a paper that was too easy. Teachers are unlikely to receive the new sample papers until the end of June – just three school weeks before they are supposed to start teaching the new qualifications.  Ofqual will also now be running extra checks on the level of difficulty for the reformed science exams.
  • More than four out of 10 teachers say they do not understand the new 9-1 grading system that will be introduced at GCSE to replace the A* to G system, research has shown.
  • Nick Gibb has not yet confirmed that the DfE will expect every student to take all the English Baccalaureate subjects at GCSE.   Mr Gibb said, “In due course, we will also set out details of our expectation that secondary school pupils should take English Baccalaureate subjects at age 16. In doing so, we will listen closely to the views of teachers, headteachers, and parents on how best to implement this commitment. And we will ensure that schools have adequate lead in time to prepare for any major changes”. Any requirement that all students must be taking a MFL course will cause problems for many schools/academies, and may limit how far students can be given a personalised curriculum that best meets their needs. However, the DfE believes that all students should have a core academic curriculum
  • The number of people applying for teacher training courses has slumped by 12 per cent over the past year.
  • Ofsted inspectors will face greater consequences for issuing poor judgements on schools under a shake- up of the entire inspection system
  • Nicky Morgan has confirmed the government’s plans to open 500 new free schools during the course of the current Parliament, creating 270,000 additional school places around the country. So far, the government’s free school programme has led to the opening of 254 schools, offering 125,000 places. Of these, 72 per cent are in areas which previously had a shortage of school places.
  • Thousands of primary schools have opted to assess four-year-olds purely on the basis of teacher observations rather than through tests, it has emerged. In a move that appears to show the strength of feeling against testing in the early years, the majority of primaries have opted for the only version of the new baseline assessment that does not use computers or paper-based testing. Six versions of the test have been approved for use, but only the one produced by Early Excellence is based entirely on teacher observations of children’s abilities.
  • Teachers anxious about their ability to teach an unfamiliar new computer science GCSE will be able to use an online programme to do some of the work for them, an exam board has announced. OCR has recognised the problem in its reformed computing GCSE, which will be taught from 2016. The exam board has linked the qualification to an existing online computer science education platform. It says the website, called Codio, can help teachers get to grips with the unfamiliar subject and teach their pupils more effectively as a result.
  • This summer’s A-level MFL exams will be more difficult than previous years’ papers, but the changes will not adversely affect students’ grades, teachers are being told. Language teachers are being asked to “reassure” their students that grades will not be lower, despite an increase in the number of difficult questions in AS and A2 reading, listening and writing papers. “The changes will not affect the proportion of candidates obtaining each grade in general (except, potentially, A*) as grade boundaries will be adjusted to match the wider spread of marks awarded.”
  • A £2 million fund has been launched to try to understand why some students who speak English as an additional language perform better than others. It builds on research by the University of Oxford which found a “massive variation” in the results achieved by pupils classified as EAL. The study reveals that belonging to a certain ethnic group can play a significant part in low attainment. For example, White Other (which includes many from Eastern Europe), Black African and Pakistani were shown to have markedly lower outcomes than their peers, while speakers of Somali, Lingala and Lithuanian had especially low outcomes aged 16.
  • A- and AS-levels in creative writing, music technology, and health and social care, along with a GCSE in geology, are being spared from Ofqual’s qualifications bonfire for 2017 starts. But the regulator has said that it will be axing international development A- and AS-levels, along with GCSEs in environmental and land-based science, health and social care and home economics: child development. The decisions come as part of Ofqual’s ongoing process of rationalising qualifications in preparation for the introduction of reformed GCSEs and A-levels.

A full list of the qualifications that will and will not be available in 2017 can be found on the above website, Documents- Latest documents

  • Children are increasingly suffering from exam stress, ChildLine has warned. The helpline said it has seen a 200 per cent increase in youngsters mentioning the issue during counselling sessions.
  • The world’s largest international education rankings, comparing standards in maths and science across 95 different countries, have been released. Levels of basic skills in the subjects have been combined with measures of national economic performance. The report ranks the UK 20th out of the core 76 countries. Singapore is top, followed by Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan. It shows that around a fifth of 15-year-olds in the UK lack the basic skills that would make them functionally literate in maths and science and able to perform simple tasks like exchange rate calculations.
  • The ministerial line-up at the DfE remains more or less exactly as it was before the election. The only change is the absence of ousted Liberal Democrat David Laws, erstwhile minister for schools. Nicky Morgan will remain education secretary. Nick Gibb retains his position as minister for school reform. Edward Timpson will remain minister for children and families, and Sam Gyimah the minister for childcare and education Lord Nash remains under-secretary of state for schools, in an unpaid role. The only new addition to the DfE team is Caroline Dinenage, who becomes the minister for equalities.
    • Teachers should now be able to spot pupils with high levels of term-time absence before those absences have even occurred. New research has shown that it is possible to predict pupils’ levels of year-round absence by taking note of how many days they take off in September.
    • The DfE’s non-schools budget faces a cut of £450m this year, the Treasury has announced.
    • Ofqual has launched a consultation on how the spoken language part of the new GCSE in English language will be assessed and graded. The exams regulator body is asking for feedback on how pupils will take the exams – including the option for teachers to carry out the assessment and provide video evidence of the test to exam boards. The grade for the spoken language assessment will remain separate from the grade for the written exam. The changes will be brought in from this September, for exams in summer 2017. The proposals include:
    • Spoken language exams assessed by teachers (or exam boards if necessary)
    • Three levels which a pupil can achieve – pass, merit or distinction. If the standard is not met, a pupil will receive a “not classified”. These levels will be awarded on a “non-marks based approach”
    • The exam being taken in a formal setting with an audience
    • Submission of audio/visual recordings of a sample of assessments to exam boards for monitoring

The result of spoken language assessment cannot go towards the result for the written exam. The spoken language result can be carried forward, if a retake is needed for the written exam. The deadline for comments is July 2, https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/gcse-reform-regulations-for-english-language

  • Eight University Technical Colleges (UTCs) have been listed among England’s worst providers for overall absence. The figures come just days after the doomed Black Country UTC was hit with an Ofsted inadequate result with a report that outlined poor attendance and behaviour. Six of the existing 30 UTCs are operating at up to just 33.3 per cent of their capacities. The DfE is now reviewing the UTC programme
  • School leaders are being urged to enter “vulnerable” pupils into fast-tracked ICT qualifications, taught in just three days, to ensure they achieve five A* to C grades. The PiXL Club has this week sent emails encouraging its 1,300 members to consider enrolling pupils for the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) qualification. It is worth the equivalent of a GCSE in school performance tables. PiXL suggested enrolling “vulnerable” pupils who could take the exam as an “insurance policy” to ensure they got five A*-C GCSEs.
  • A lack of “local authority oversight” over academies could help to explain the “huge increase” in calls to a whistleblowing advice line. Whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work (PCaW) has revealed a 92 per cent rise in the number of calls from the education sector to its helpline
  • Bridlington School will join at least 63 others in being “trousers-only” for girls after male teachers allegedly said they were uncomfortable with female pupils’ short skirts.
  • Government figures chart absence rates from the autumn term 2014 compared to previous autumn terms. The overall absence rate across state-funded primary and secondary schools increased slightly from 4.3 per cent in 2013 to 4.4 per cent in 2014. The rate in secondary schools rose from 4.9 per cent to 5.1 per cent with the primary rate remaining unchanged at 3.9 per cent. The percentage of pupil enrolments who are, or may become, persistent absentees has remained unchanged since autumn 2013, at 4.7 per cent

A copy of this document can be found on the above website, Documents-Latest documents

  • A new programme claims to predict the grade a school would score in an Ofsted inspection . . . in just 20 seconds. Data experts have developed an algorithm that crunches thousands of figures used by the government to measures a school’s performance and converts it into their likely Ofsted grade. Arbor Education Partners say the programme will increase accountability and transparency in inspections – making schools more data smart and handing them more clout in analysing their grade. Launched in November, so far 1,200 schools have paid for a report. It costs £150 for primary schools and £200 for secondary schools.
  • Figures published by Ofsted

  • The web address below explains  the new funding structure for pupils with SEN in mainstream schools

http://schoolsweek.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/DPS.pdf

 

The DfE recommends that all headteachers check the opt-in status of their school before the window closes at the end of June.

By opting in to the new accountability system, based upon the Progress 8 measure, for exams taken in 2015, schools are agreeing to:

  1. a floor standard based on Progress 8
  2. data in performance tables (to be published in early 2016) that will reflect the new Progress 8 measures
  3. Ofsted taking Progress 8 opt-in status in to account during inspections
  • Summer-born children are at risk of behaviour problems and poor academic attainment in their first year at school unless the curriculum is tailored to take their needs into account, according to research. The major study found that the early years foundation curriculum in England favours older children with more advanced language skills, and that children born in the summer months – who can be almost a year younger than their classmates – were in danger of being left behind.
  • The government is trialling yet another round of tests for pupils in England. The move would mean some children facing official assessments in all of the first four years of their education, with Sats in years 2 and 6. New baseline assessments for reception children are due to start from September. In year 1, pupils already sit a “screening check”, which assesses their ability to decode text. Those failing it currently face a resit in year 2. Now, ministers are to trial a second resit of the phonics check in year 3, for those failing the assessment twice. Separately, the coalition introduced a spelling, punctuation and grammar assessment for year 6 pupils. The Conservatives have already announced plans to introduce Sats resits in year 7 for pupils who failed to achieve good enough standards in year 6.
  • The computer system with which examiners are marking this year’s Sats tests is facing a string of technical problems. This is the first year when all Sats papers are being marked on screen, with written scripts scanned and sent to markers electronically. An experienced KS2 reading marker says that every late afternoon, when markers go online after school, the Pearson ePEN software “starts limping”: freezing for up to a minute after the examiner submits each marked question. Each marker marks hundreds of questions.

Pupils are at risk of receiving unfair and incorrect marks for their Sats exams this summer because of problems caused by the introduction of online marking according to whistle-blowers. Markers submitted marks that they later realised were “wrong”, but they were unable to retrieve and correct them under this new system.

  • Girls have more firmly embraced digital literacy and formats such as Facebook, email and text message, while boys are more comfortable with traditional printed media such as comics, manuals and newspapers, according to a study published by the National Literacy Trust. The snapshot – based on responses from 32,000 pupils at more than 130 schools in the UK – found that girls continue to outpace boys in their enthusiasm for reading outside school at all age levels, with black girls in particular showing a prodigious appetite for literature.
  • A survey of 6,000 schoolchildren has found widespread misconceptions about the number of immigrants and non-white people living in England, as well as negative attitudes towards Muslims and those born overseas. The study, believed to be the largest of its kind to be carried out in the UK, found that 60% of the children questioned believed it was true that “asylum seekers and immigrants are stealing our jobs”, while 35% agreed or partly agreed that “Muslims are taking over our country”.
  • Too many disadvantaged students are still dropping out or failing to get top degree passes despite a rise in their acceptance rates, the head of the universities’ fair access watchdog has said.
  • Nearly half a million university students believe they may have chosen the wrong course to study, according to a major new study. One in three told researchers that – knowing what they now know about their university – they would have chosen a different course. A breakdown of courses shows students who are studying architecture or business and administration courses that are the unhappiest – with 43 per cent saying they “definitely” or “maybe” should have chosen a different course.
  • The gap in literacy skills in the UK between young people neither employed nor in education and those in work is the widest of any Western nation, according to a new study.
  • Hundreds of thousands of school-leavers are being failed by the Government’s apprenticeship drive, with too few places to fulfil demand, according to new research. Last year alone, there were 1.8 million applications for only 166,000 apprenticeships in England, leaving most with no hope of securing one.
  • Nicky Morgan has announced that more that £500,000 will be allocated to a project, which will see rugby coaches from 14 professional clubs drafted into schools to instil character and resilience in disruptive pupils. Other grants for the same purpose have gone to the Princes Trust, Scouts, St John’s Ambulance, PSHE Association, the Challenge Network and the University of Birmingham

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  • The Education Secretary has ruled out the introduction of for-profit schools into Britain’s education system.
  • Figures show that the proportion of 16 to 24 year olds recorded as NEET in January to March 2015 fell annually and is now at the lowest comparable rate since records began in 2001. The highest ever recorded proportion of 16 to 17 year olds, more than 9 in 10, are now participating in education or training. This trend continues for 19 to 24 year olds who are NEET with the lowest comparable rate in 10 years.
  • From 1 July 2015, the Counter Terrorism and Security Act will place duties on educational establishments to prevent young people being drawn into terrorism and challenge extremist ideas that support or are shared by terrorist groups. The new rules are more rigorous than those already in force, which require schools to promote British values and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. There are keys points that school leaders need to consider in light of the new legislation and how they will ensure that they comply with their obligations. New obligations include the need for teachers to assess the risk of students being drawn into terrorism and manage prayer and faith facilities.
  • From the Queen’s speech
The commitment to reform strike action was highlighted. In particular the proposals to ensure strike action in important public services are subject to more stringent requirements in order for them to be legal strikes.Currently the plans include:

» A 50% turnout threshold for ballots on industrial action. At present balloting rules do not require any specific level of participation by union members.
» 40% of those eligible to vote must support the action for strikes in core public services (Health, Education, Transport & Fire Services). Ballots currently only require a simple majority to back action.
» Removal of restrictions on using temporary workers to cover for striking staff. This ban has been in place since 1973 and is frequently the most difficult of obstacles for employers to mitigate against in dealing with strike action.
» Tightening rules on ballot mandates. This would prevent unions undertaking action based on historic strike ballots.
» Tackling the intimidation of non-striking workers

Unsurprisingly the TUC has claimed that the proposals will make strike action “almost impossible”. It is interesting to note that none of the major strikes during the last government would have met the new requirements which the government plan to put in place.

Ministers will be required to report annually on job creation and apprenticeships. This goes towards the Conservatives goal of creating 3 million apprenticeships in the next three years.

Those working 30 hours a week on minimum wage will not be required to pay any tax.

  • The two most common characteristics of professional leaders around the world are a degree in social sciences and international study or work experience, according to a recent study.
  • Leading employers value work experience among graduates more than the grades or the university they have been to, according to new research
  • The first national reference tests in English and maths will take place in March 2017, with a view to guiding the award of GCSEs. The tests’ purpose is to provide evidence on changes in performance standards over time in English language and maths in England at the end of year 11. Each year, a random sample of 30 students from around 300 schools will be asked to take a test booklet in maths or English. The students will be in year 11 and will take the test in early March, before they take their GCSEs (in late May and early June). The results will be analysed only at the national level; there will be no results for individual schools or students. In March 2016there will be a preliminary reference test, to confirm that the ‘operational arrangements’ are working well.
  • The Inspiring Women campaign, launched 18 months ago, now has over 15,000 inspirational women ready to talk with girls in state schools about their jobs, career paths and how they got to where they are.
  • Free online programmes, aimed at helping sixth-formers bridge the gap between school and university, are launching this month. The university-led ‘massive open online courses’ (MOOCs) will be available through the Future Learn website.
  • The DfE has been working with teachers and publishers to increase the use of textbooks in schools, arguing that, “Good textbooks provide a structured, well-honed progression through a subject’s content” “They also ease workload for teachers, who no longer need to spend whole evenings and weekends preparing ad-hoc resources.”
  • The country’s largest provider of new teachers is warning that schools are facing the worst recruitment crisis this century. Teach First says that demand from schools for its teachers is “more than double” what it was this time last year, suggesting that school leaders are struggling to fill vacancies.
  • Poor children are less likely to be considered bright by their teachers, according to new research. Even when youngsters from lower income families perform as well as their classmates on independent tests, they are still less likely to be judged as “above average”, it suggests. The study concluded that teachers can have unconscious biases that influence how they see the abilities of children in their class. Teachers do not just under-rate the abilities of disadvantaged children, it found, they are also more likely to judge boys as good at maths and girls as good at reading.
  • Teachers’ on-the-job training courses need to last for at least two terms – or even a year – in order to be effective. An international research review reveals that schools need to move away from single-day, one-off continuing professional development (CPD) sessions and instead offer longer-term programmes. The academics found that schools wanting to offer effective CPD should move away from a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, they should create tailored content for teachers, which builds on their day-to-day experiences with pupils, along with their professional aspirations.
  • A major overhaul of the school funding system, which could redistribute money from inner-London schools to those outside the capital, is a priority for the government. The first steps towards the introduction of a fair funding formula, which would radically alter the way the national education budget is allocated, are expected to be taken this year. A source close to the DfE said that they expected the formula to be introduced over a three-to-five-year period, with “floors and ceilings” built in to ensure that no school gained or lost more than a fixed percentage of its budget.
  • Scores of small school sixth forms face closure as a result of the government decision to lower the rate of funding for post-16 education, experts claim.
  • Government cutbacks are forcing some councils to reduce their provision of free and subsidised transport for pupils to the legal minimum.
  • Three professional associations representing head teachers, school and college leaders, and governors have drawn up proposals to create a new organisation called the Foundation for Leadership in Education. The foundation would seek to develop new leadership qualifications and set standards. The plan has been agreed by the Association of School and College Leaders, the National Association of Head Teachers and the National Governors’ Association. The three associations would work with the Teaching Schools Council, employers and leading universities to create the foundation. The Foundation would design and develop models for new leadership courses and qualifications, work with organisations providing courses to ensure the highest possible standards and oversee the assessment of candidates.
  • Schools have been warned about their responsibilities for vetting contractors after a private school operator had to pay out more than £100,000 when a worker was injured cutting down a tree. Advice is:  “When it comes to working with contractors and self-employed individuals, school employers are advised to carry out sufficient competency checks – on qualifications and recent health and safety records, for example – and to ask for evidence of appropriate insurance cover, before agreeing to any work”
  • Between April 2014 and March 2015, Ofsted received 439 formal complaints about school inspections, affecting 5 per cent of them overall and 35 per cent were upheld. Eighty-one school complainants asked for an internal review, and 13 cases were taken to the Independent Complaints Adjudication Service.
  • Schools should make sure children play outside in natural light as much as possible to combat the growing number of people who are becoming short-sighted, according to new research
  • Academies are switching sponsors at an increasing rate – with at least 54 schools changing hands since 2012
  • There is now new software allowing teachers to spy on pupils browsing extremist websites or searching for terrorism-related terms while at school. The first keyword glossary for teachers aims to prevent the radicalisation of pupils online. The software alerts teachers when any terms from a “radicalisation library” are used. The software is an update to Impero’s Education Pro network monitoring software, which is used by 40 per cent of secondary schools to detect safeguarding concerns such as sexting, grooming and suicide.
  • More than 100,000 infants are being taught in primary school classes larger than the statutory maximum, as state schools take advantage of rules allowing them to get around the cap. More than one in 20 infant school classes are above the ceiling, according to new figures, with most able to bust the legal limit because of exemptions to the maximum of 30 children. The 2015 school census reveals that the number of primary school pupils has risen by 2% in England, with the extra 94,000 pupils equivalent to a rise of six pupils in each of the 16,800 state primary schools.
  • Four in ten would-be nursery staff will be blocked from entry under new government rules as providers warn of a looming crisis for places. Recent government changes stipulate new apprentices and highly-skilled childcare students must have at least a grade C in GSCE English and maths to take up employment at level 3, which is the better standard of early education children receive. However, a new survey by the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) has revealed 43 per cent of nurseries are unable to find apprentices as a result.
  • The wages gap between those with and without a degree is narrowing, as graduates are typically earning over £1,000 less now than they were five years ago, official figures show. The new statistics do show that graduates are still likely to be earning almost £10,000 more than those who have not been to university.
  • Cheltenham Ladies’ College is considering getting rid of homework amid fears about growing levels of stress among its pupils

Tony Stephens

 

 

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