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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2009): Education - UK - schools

Creationism to be part of science class

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 10th 2009, p. 12

Hampshire Council's advisory panel on religious education has sent guidance to 70 secondary schools on the use of the Biblical story of creation in classes for 11- to 14-year-olds to stimulate debate on the origins of life. The module is designed to contrast Charles Darwin's theory of evolution with creationism.

Cyber bullies target one in seven teachers

N. Allen

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 3rd 2009, p. 8

Reports claims that 15% of teachers have been victims of cyber bullying by pupils, with 74% saying it was not properly dealt with by the websites involved. Cyber bullying includes sending abusive text messages, making rude phone calls and posting offensive comments in online chat rooms. Teachers were also filmed in lessons and images posted on sites such as YouTube.

A fifth of pupils get tutors in race for grammar school places

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Feb. 27th 2009, p. 6

A survey by BMRB commissioned by the government found 11% of parents with children at state schools in England paid for private tutors. The rate increased to 12% among parents of primary school children. Interviews with 1500 parents found that 9% of children aged 5-7 used tutors, increasing to 21% among families in the top social bracket.

Fingers on the scanners

M. Little

Children and Young People Now, Mar. 12th-18th 2009, p. 20-21

Nurseries and schools are increasingly using fingerprint technology. In nursery settings, fingerprint recognition systems are used to admit parents to the building to drop off or pick up their child without staff having to open the door. In schools, the technology is largely used to simplify payment for school meals or in place of library cards. However, there are ongoing concerns about possible identity theft.

GCSEs could count towards A-level marks

N. Woolcock

The Times, Mar. 31st 2009, p. 15

Ofqual, the body which regulates A level exams, has recommended that the grading of the first AS exams under the newly implemented system take account of the effect of the changes on candidates. They have suggested that examiners should be able to draw on a range of evidence - including GCSE results - to make judgements about exams during this year of transition to the updated system.

Girls do better without boys, study finds

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Mar. 18th 2009, p.1

Research conducted on behalf of the Good Schools Guide has analysed the GCSE results of more than 700,000 girls taught in state secondary schools to conclude that those taught at girls schools consistently made more progress than those at co-eds. Girls at all girls schools made more progress at secondary school than predicted from their Sats results whereas girls from co-eds did 20% worse than predicted.

(See also The Times, Mar.18th 2009, p.22)

Grammar school in disgrace with Ofsted

N. Woolcock

The Times, Mar. 24th 2009, p. 5

Stretford Grammar School near Manchester has become the first Grammar school to be subjected to 'special measures' following an Ofsted report. Although 95 per cent of the school's pupils achieved at least five GCSEs at A* to C grade, Ofsted inspectors found that many female students and bright students were being failed. The head teacher, Peter Cookson, resigned around the time of the Ofsted inspection in which he and the board of governors were severely criticised.

Learning behaviour: the report of the practitioners' group on school behaviour and discipline

A. Steer (chair)

Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2009

Forty-eight adults were interviewed to gauge their perception of behaviour among young people. Their views on reasons behind the decline in school discipline included increasing demands on teachers, unsuitability of some teachers for the profession, and banning corporal punishment.

Ministers loosen grip on academies

L. Higgs

Children and Young People Now, Feb. 26th-Mar. 4th 2009, p. 11

The Apprenticeships, Schools, Children and Learning Bill currently before Parliament would transfer responsibility for overseeing academies from the Department for Children, Schools and Families to a new Young People's Learning Agency. This article reports comment on the plan by experts in the field.

Mistakes in Sats tests mean half of pupils may have got wrong marks

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar.19th 2009, p.16

Reports indicate that almost half of pupils have been given the wrong marks in standard assessment tests (SATS) over a number of years. English tests were the worst affected, with examiners routinely giving pupils wrong results between 2006 and 2008. The findings will increase pressure on government to radically reform the examination system in England.

Module retakes will improve GCSE grades, says board chief

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Mar. 20th 2009, p.8

Mike Cresswell, the head of the exam board AQA, has warned that the introduction of modular GCSEs in September is likely to mean that more pupils will achieve higher grades as they will be able to retake exams. The overhaul to the GCSE system in September will be the largest since their introduction in 1988. It is planned that the coursework element of GCSEs will be removed and replaced with a modular exam component.

New A-levels may be easier to pass

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 31st 2009, p. 2

Government has decided to reform A-levels in 2009 so that pupils will have to answer longer essay-style questions, modules will be studied in more depth, and the brightest candidates will be awarded A* grades. However, in what critics say is a mockery of the reforms, the regulator Ofqual has stepped in to ensure that grades do not plummet under the new regime.

One in five children is failing to get a place at school of choice

A. Frean

The Times, Mar. 2nd 2009, p. 5

The Government is to review the use of lotteries as a means of allocating school places after it has emerged that twenty per cent of pupils are failing to get a place at their preferred school. The Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, will set up an inquiry into the use of lotteries which are currently being tried by a small number of oversubscribed schools in approximately twenty-five local authorities. The lottery system has proven particularly unpopular with middle-class parents.

(See also The Guardian, Mar. 2nd 2009, p. 7, The Times, Mar. 3rd 2009, p.3, The Guardian, Mar. 3rd 2009, p. 8, The Times, Mar. 4th 2009, p. 22, Daily Telegraph, Mar. 2nd 2009, p. 1)

Parents told to appeal if children fail to enter favoured schools

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Mar. 4th 2009, p. 7.

Ian Craig, the new chief adjudicator for schools, has said that parents who are unhappy about the school allocated to their child should appeal. But he also urged parents to consider the alternative they have been offered.

Physical education in schools 2005/08: working towards 2012 and beyond



The report found a positive picture for PE and school sport, with pupils taking part in a wider range of activities than previously associated with the subject. Creative approaches to PE not only encouraged pupils not keen on traditional team activities, but also reduced disaffection and improved engagement. Pupils' achievement was good or outstanding in two thirds of the primary and over three quarters of the secondary schools visited. Inspectors found most young people they spoke to enjoyed PE, their engagement in lessons was positive and participation rates in extra-curricular activities were high. Government funding from 2003 has enabled a greater, more sustained focus on PE. Teachers, particularly in primary schools, have benefited from increased opportunities for professional development and these have led to improvements in subject leadership, teaching and standards.

Primary teachers' boycott aims to force scrapping of Key Stage tests


The Times, Mar. 26th 2009, p.23

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) will ballot members next month at their annual conferences about joint action to prevent the continuation of Key Stage 1 and 2 exams. There has been growing discontent amongst teachers about the use of the exams supported by academic evidence which suggests that the tests are disruptive to children's learning and development.

Science GCSEs dumbed down, says watchdog

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 27th 2009, p. 14

Ofqual has expressed serious concerns that GCSE and A-level standards are slipping in some areas. English literature, maths and science examination papers often fail to stretch the brightest students. In science, the regulator reported 'a reduction in the demand' of examinations, a rise in the use of multiple choice papers, and an increase in structured questions which deny candidates the chance to show flair.

Scrap Sats exams, say maths advisors

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 10th 2009, p. 6

The Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education has recommended, in its response to a government review of Standard Assessment Tests, that these should be scrapped for 11-year-olds because they impoverish the curriculum. Maths lessons are being reduced to a simple exercise in memorising facts instead of focusing on understanding and applying equations.

Secondary school admissions in England: policy and practice

A. West, E. Barham and A. Hind

Research and Information on State Education, 2009

Report claims that hundreds of schools across England are flouting the school admissions code by asking parents for personal information, including marital status and occupation, in order to pick the best applicants. They are also abusing reforms allowing secondary schools to select pupils on grounds of aptitude for a subject. The report calls for schools to be stripped of their power to control admissions in order to prevent discrimination against children from poor backgrounds.

SENding a message on school funding

P. Cook

Community Care, Mar. 5th 2009, p. 18-19

Legally, every local education authority (LEA) must meet the needs of all children with a statement of special educational needs (SEN), regardless of the cost or their budget position, from its share of the 30bn Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). The government is reviewing the DSG, which offers an opportunity to bring together the many strands of SEN funding into a simpler arrangement. The author suggests creating a national-level pool of funding to cover the very high costs of educating children with complex needs.

Teachers becoming the worst cheaters in school exams

R. Garner

The Independent, Mar. 19th 2009, p. 12

A report by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has found that teachers are giving too much help to their 11-year old pupils during school exams in English, maths and science subjects.

Twitter is put on the primary curriculum

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 26th 2009, p. 6

Draft copies of a new primary school curriculum developed by Sir Jim Rose propose changing traditional subjects into six broad areas of learning. Teachers will get more power to shape lessons and modern technology will form the backbone of the entire curriculum. Children will be taught keyboard skills, and how to use Internet sites such as Wikipedia and social networking sites such as Twitter. In mathematics, children will use spreadsheets to prepare budgets. In new well-being lessons, teachers will raise awareness of bullying on the Internet, staying safe online and using computer security settings.

(See also the Guardian, Mar. 25th, p. 1)

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