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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2010): Education - UK - schools

2,000 new primary schools needed to meet demand

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 19th 2010, p.1

Figures suggest that the equivalent of more than 2,000 new primary schools will be needed within the next eight years to cope with an increase in pupil numbers fuelled by a sharp rise in birth rates and an influx of immigrants in some areas.

AS-levels still too soft, says watchdog

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 5th 2010, p.2

Ofqual reports that new AS-level examinations taken in the first year of sixth form often lack rigour and provide limited opportunities for bright pupils to display 'higher order skills'. The examinations were reformed in 2008 to make them more demanding. In this study, Ofqual scrutinised a sample of examination papers set by major boards in England in English literature, geography, history, Spanish, physics and design and technology. It found that the papers represented suitable progression from standards currently tested at GCSE level and suggested that most questions were well-structured. However, it raised questions over the difficulty of some papers.

Bonuses for colleges that send top teachers to tough schools

P. Curtis

The Guardian, Mar. 1st 2010, p. 9

Teacher training colleges are being paid 1,000 bonuses for each of the best qualified graduates they place in the toughest state schools under a new drive to break the monopoly well-to-do schools have over top trainees. Since the scheme was launched in the autumn, several universities have filled their maximum quota of 25 bonuses.

Boys read as much as girls, but prefer the simpler books

R. Garner

The Independent, Mar. 1st 2010, p. 9

According to the findings of a major study, 100,000 children's reading habits coincide with national curriculum test results which show that, at all ages, girls score more highly on reading tests. The study shows that although boys are reading nearly as much as girls, they tend to read easier books. The report, commissioned by Renaissance Learning and conducted by the University of Dundee's school of education, recommends that teachers should closely monitor the reading habits of their pupils and also proposes an expansion of the school library service.

Businesses will bid to run hundreds of state schools

G. Hurst

The Times, Mar. 31st 2010, p. 6-7

Despite both the Government and the Tories saying that organisations driven by profit should not be able to run state schools, both have created a path for them to enter the sector. School governing bodies will be able to appoint private contractors to run the school on their behalf.

Children, their world, their education: final report and recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review

R. Alexander (editor)

London: Routledge, 2010

This book presents the findings and recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review launched in 2006, and is divided into five parts: part 1 gives the background to the Review and an overview of primary education policy since the 1960s; part 2 examines children's development and learning, and their upbringing, as well as their needs and aspirations; part 3 explores what goes on in schools, from the early years in relation to curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, standards and school organisation; part 4 examines the system itself including teachers, training, leadership and workforce reform, funding, governance and policy; and part 5 puts forward formal conclusions and recommendations for policy and practice.

Conservatives plan 1950s-style overhaul of A-level exams

R. Garner

The Independent, Mar. 24th 2010, p. 2

The Conservative Party has released proposals aimed at overhauling A-levels to return them to the days when they were seen as the 'gold standard' of the education system. The proposals were initially contained in a review led by Sir Richard Sykes, the former vice-chancellor of Imperial College London, and included a recommendation to scrap the universal practice of pupils being tested on four A-level units for each subject during their course, with examination boards being allowed to return to the old system in which students were graded according to their performance in the final exam.

Follow-up report to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families on fraudulent or misleading applications for admission to schools

Schools Adjudicator

2010

This report on school admissions fraud in England recommends that:

  • Councils should randomly check a minimum of 10% of applications for school places. Any families moving home within a year of accepting a place should be re-examined automatically
  • Councils should set up helplines to encourage parents to inform on others suspected of lying to secure a place at the better schools
  • Parents caught cheating should not face criminal prosecution.

Generation Y children are 'harder to teach'

R. Garner

The Independent, Mar. 8th 2010, p. 9

John Dunford , the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, which represents secondary school heads, has told the annual conference that a culture of 'instant gratification' is making today's schoolchildren harder to teach. Dr Dunford cited research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showing children spent a daily average of 1.7 hours online, 1.5 hours on computer gaming and 2.7 hours watching television. He concluded that 'to engage the impatient young people of Generation Y, something more is needed'.

Government diplomas are too easy for the brightest children

R. Garner

The Independent, Mar. 5th 2010, p. 8

The independent exams watchdog, Ofqual, has ruled that the Government's new flagship diplomas are failing to stretch the brightest pupils and has warned that the standards shown by those taking diplomas are lower than those sitting other types of exams. The report is the first to emerge from an in-depth study of how the new diplomas are being assessed and comes at a time when the future of the new qualification is in doubt.

I'll scrap inspections for top schools, says Gove

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Mar. 2nd 2010, p. 6

The shadow education secretary, Michael Gove, has announced that under a Tory government schools already judged to be outstanding would be exempt from further Ofsted inspections unless results fell dramatically, large numbers of teachers left, or there were many complaints from parents. Instead the government would monitor outstanding schools. However, teaching unions have warned that these changes would lead to academies having no accountability and parents having too little say.

Independence for schools within months of a Tory win

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 1st 2010, p. 1

The Conservatives have pledged that, if they win the 2010 general election, they will enable the best state secondary schools to break free of local authority control and convert themselves into academies within months. The Conservatives are also proposing that parents and teachers dissatisfied with poor state education should be enabled to set up their own schools to address local demand.

Join the state, Tories urge private schools

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Mar. 8th 2010, p. 12

The shadow schools secretary, Michael Gove, has announced that under a Conservative government, private schools would be encouraged to transform themselves into academies or Swedish-inspired 'free schools'.

Let universities set A-levels, says Gove

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 3rd 2010, p. 1 + 2

In order to stop examinations from being manipulated by politicians, the Conservatives are proposing that A-Level syllabuses and test papers should be written by panels made up of academics and representatives of learned societies and examination boards.

Management of school attendance in the UK: a strategic analysis

K. Reid

Educational Management, Administration and Leadership, vol. 38, 2010, p. 88-106

Prior to 1997, managing school attendance in the UK was the sole responsibility of the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). Since devolution, this responsibility has resided with each of the four UK-wide administrations, each of which has begun to develop different policy directions. The focus of this article is on describing these four different approaches and attempting to compare, contrast and evaluate some of the potential outcomes of these strategies.

Number of 'inadequate' schools doubles after rule change

R. Williams

The Guardian, Mar. 9th 2010, p. 9

One in seven primary schools inspected last term was judged inadequate, Ofsted has revealed, and only half of the 2140 schools were better than satisfactory.

Oliver's menu is recipe for academic success

R. Garner

The Independent, Mar. 30th 2010, p. 19

Research has found that Jamie Oliver's healthy school dinners have produced a marked improvement in national curriculum tests results. A study by the Royal Economic Society shows children reared on the healthier dinners did far better in tests for 11-year-olds with a three to six percentage point improvement in the number of pupils reaching the required standard in English tests in the schools surveyed and a three to eight percentage point improvement in the numbers attaining a higher level science pass.

(See also The Guardian, Mar. 30th 2010, p. 3)

Parties split on how to teach failing schools a hard lesson

T. Baldwin & G. Hurst

The Times, Mar. 11th 2010, p. 6 -7

The Labour Party and the Conservative Party are both considering different tactics to deal with primary and secondary schools which have been in special measures for over a year. Ofsted has said that 75 schools - including 55 primary schools - have been in special measures for over a year, but that this number has reduced from the previous year. Michael Gove - the Tory education spokesman - has proposed removing those running 'failing' schools within 100 days of a Tory government being elected, with the aim of reopening them as academies. Ed Balls, has rejected the academy model for primary schools.

Quality of school books hit by changes

R. Garner

The Independent, Mar. 29th 2010, p. 17

A major international study of maths performance by academics at King's College London has found that constant changes to the national curriculum have left school books floundering in their wake. The authors of the report single out deterioration in the quality of textbooks as the key factor for England lagging behind the top performers in international league tables. They report that countries that perform consistently well in maths use carefully constructed textbooks as the primary means of teaching.

Recession puts squeeze on places at top state schools

R. Garner

The Independent, Mar. 2nd 2010, p. 13

As many as one in three families in urban areas have failed to get their children into their first choice school. The figures also showed a sharp divide between urban and rural areas. Officials put the drop in the success rate down to more parents applying to state schools this year, largely as a result of abandoning the private sector due to the recession. Oversubscribed schools are now bracing themselves to deal with a large number of appeals.

(See also The Guardian, Mar. 2nd 2010, p. 13)

School fitness tests to fight killer diseases

K. Devlin

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 16th 2010, p. 6

The Chief Medical Officer has proposed that all secondary school pupils should undergo regular fitness tests with results sent to parents. It is argued that monitoring children's fitness levels could dramatically improve the health of the nation, and could cut deaths from heart disease, cancer, etc.

Schoolchildren 'routinely monitored' by CCTV

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 16th 2010, p.2

Report on research showing that schools in the UK are becoming hotbeds of surveillance as children are subjected to identity checks for mundane reasons such as paying for lunch. As many as 85% of teachers surveyed said that CCTV was in use in their schools, with one in ten reporting that cameras had been placed in toilets. It is suggested that many schools are collecting CCTV images illegally by failing to inform pupils and visitors that they are being monitored. Some schools are also using other techniques such as fingerprinting, metal detectors, electronic identity cards, eye scanners and facial recognition systems.

(See also The Guardian, Mar. 16th 2010, p. 4)

Six million schooldays lost on cheap family holidays

J. Sugden

The Times, Mar. 26th 2010, p.8

Figures released by the Department for Children, Schools and Families have revealed that six million schooldays were lost last year to allow children to go away when travel costs were lower. Overall, 67,000 pupils of all ages missed school on a typical day during the last academic year: after sickness, the most common reason for absence was family holiday.

(See also The Guardian, Mar. 26th 2010, p. 7; The Independent, Mar. 26th 2010, p. 20)

Super-size classes for thousands at primary school

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 8th 2010, p. 8

Official figures show that around one primary school child in eight in England was in a class of more than 30 in 2009, despite fears that pupils struggle for attention in big groups. Some 10,070 pupils were in classes of at least 41. Opposition MPs are pointing out that the Labour government has failed to keep a promise to reduce class sizes made in 1997.

Thousands miss out on first choice schools

G. Paton and A. Hough

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 2nd 2010, p. 1 + 2

Half of children in some areas have been rejected by their preferred secondary school amid fierce competition for places at the most sought-after schools. Competition was especially stiff in large cities such as London and Birmingham where parents can choose between several accessible schools. In some areas of the South East, a rise in the number of parents priced out of private education has put more pressure on state schools.

Tories plan Saturday school for poorer pupils

R. Garner

The Independent, Mar. 31st 2010, p. 2

The shadow Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has announced that he plans to introduce Saturday morning classes for children from disadvantaged backgrounds if the Conservatives win the general election as part of a strategy to close the achievement gap between poorer pupils and those who are better off.

(See also The Guardian, Mar. 31st 2010, p. 9)

Tories to bring back traditional A-levels

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 24th 2010, p. 4

The Conservatives could, if elected in 2010, reverse the Labour government's reforms that broke up A-levels into 'bite-sized' modules by reintroducing end-of-course examinations in some subjects. They might also bring in US-style university entrance tests to allow institutions to select the best candidates. The main proposal is that universities should be given a key role in writing A-level syllabuses and examination papers.

Two-thirds of pupils at top schools get A-level 'supergrade'

R. Savill

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 22nd 2010, p. 10

On average, 65% of pupils who have completed maths A-levels at 24 elite independent schools have gained A*s. These early figures suggest that the new 'supergrade' may not achieve its aim of identifying the most talented applicants for university places.

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