Weekly Thursday Education News Round-Up – 08/08/2019

Space travel should be STEAM-powered – ACS International Schools says that, if space travel is to continue, it is vital that schoolchildren are students of the STEAM approach to learning

To ensure the longevity of space travel, says ACS International Schools, it is vital that schoolchildren are students of the STEAM approach to learning (science, technology, engineering, maths, plus the arts). Only then, it argues, can students develop the complete set of complex problem-solving skills and ability to take risks that could see them landing on the Moon.

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The National Citizen Service has announced it will ditch its largest provider of summer school programmes from next year, after a dispute over shared IT systems and following an incident which saw 4,000 pupils miss out on places.

The NCS, a flagship government scheme which organises outward-bound trips and community work for 15 to 17-year-olds in school holidays, will no longer work with The Challenge, one of its founding partners, from 2020. The NCS insists the move will not affect its ability to offer places this year or next. However, The Challenge, which was founded by Jon Yates, until recently an adviser to former education secretary Damian Hinds, said it was “surprised” by the announcement, as it believed it was still in negotiations with the NCS over its contract.

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Ofsted ‘praises the wrong schools’, says academy boss – Former Ofsted director warns that schools in deprived areas are not getting the recognition they deserve

The head of a major multi-academy trust has warned that Ofsted is praising the “wrong schools” as being good and not rewarding leaders for being inclusive. Frank Norris, the outgoing director of Co-op Academies Trust, also believes the accountability system is failing because of Ofsted’s “inability to judge schools in deprived areas” and flawed Progress 8 measures.

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Stimulate the senses for a brighter future – Dr Margot Sunderland on how and why a sensory-rich school environment can support mental health and optimise learning.

Recent scientific research shows that children learn best in sensory-rich classrooms. Key Stage 1 and early years environments are sensory-rich: full of colour, texture and sensory stimuli. However as children ascend through primary and secondary school, there tends to be a significant scarcity of colour-rich walls, plants, fabric, sculpture; instead, they become replaced by desks in rows with bare walls and harsh lighting. In short: a move from sensory-rich to sensory-poor.

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Pension and SEND costs could cut schools’ extra £4.6bn – Exclusive: DfE won’t rule out possibility and heads say uncertainty over PM’s funding pledge is driving schools to make cuts.

The Department for Education will not rule out the extra money Boris Johnson has promised for schools being used to cover increased pension costs and extra resources for high needs SEND, Tes can reveal. The prime minister has pledged to increase school funding by £4.6 billion a year by 2022-23 to reverse real-terms funding cuts since 2015. However, although Mr Johnson repeated his pledge in the House of Commons last week, schools have not been told when they will receive the funding, or what it will cover.

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Children in care should only attend ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools, the children’s commissioner warned local authorities this week.

Anne Longfield, children’s commissioner for England, said in her latest Stability Index report that she will be writing to councils where a “significantly lower proportion of children in care are in these schools”. Longfield said she will be seeking an explanation and a commitment from local authorities to secure better places for children in care.

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What is grade inflation? – How does grade inflation happen at GCSE and A level ? And what steps are put in place to prevent it?

What is grade inflation? Grade inflation refers to an upward trend in the average grades awarded to students for a particular academic qualification. Over the years, there has been much debate about student performance and the possibility of awarding progressively higher grades for work that would have received less credit in the past.

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When is A-Level results day 2019? Date, what time grade boundaries are released and how it all works on the day – Here’s when you can find out how well you did in your exams.

Hopeful students looking to grab a place at their university of choice will be eagerly anticipating A-Level results day. It’s the moment many will find out if they’ve made their first choice, and so it can be loaded with anxiety and stress. But it needn’t be.

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Special educational needs coordinators requesting permission to use readers for pupils will no longer have to provide evidence the extra help is needed, exam boards have announced.

The Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents the four GCSE and A-level exam boards, has announced that from next year, SENCos will no longer have to complete a form which previously required schools to prove that pupils need help from a human or computer reader. The document, known as “form 8” was seen as an onerous requirement which contributed to unnecessary workload in schools.

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‘Exam results won’t matter at all a decade from now’ – With SQA results day approaching, one 16-year-old student offers a reminder that exam grades ‘don’t define us as people’.

Summer is here, exams are over for the year, and it’s almost time for the moment I’ve been waiting for since May – my birthday. I turn 17 on Monday, the day before my exam results, which means I will either have a lovely belated birthday present, or my celebrations will end rather abruptly.

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Charitable initiatives can make a big difference to your school – But only when the key focus is impact on pupils, not financial gain, says Bournemouth Collegiate School head, Russell Slatford.

Pupils taking part in school charitable events has always been something to be applauded. Yet, whilst I recognise that lying in a bath of baked beans and raising money for, say, Comic Relief, is important, I’m not quite sure it gets to the heart of why schools should embrace charitable activities. In my opinion, one central and key area of education – but perhaps a hard one to achieve – is to help young people develop a sense of empathy, a genuine feeling of support and understanding.

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T levels: What are they and how will they work? – The new qualification is set to be introduced next year and has been heralded as the ‘gold standard’ of vocational education.

T levels are a new set of qualifications beginning in September 2020. They will follow GCSEs, and one course will be the equivalent to three A levels. They have been heralded as the “gold standard” of vocational education, and will offer students a mixture of classroom-based learning and on-the-job experience.

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Is your current university IT system fit for purpose? – Understand how to constantly tap into the needs of every demographic by downloading Crimson’s free Student Engagement Report.

With university dropout rates running at an all-time high and a decreasing pool of new student recruits, with 11,000 fewer students registering for university in 2018 (see Student Engagement Report), it’s vitally important that universities embrace digital transformation to remain competitive. Today’s students are digital natives and exceptionally tech-savvy and they expect every university faculty they deal with on their student journey – from pre-registration to alumni relationships – to be the same.

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Does school uniform still perform any useful function? – They’re expensive and have no measurable effect on outcomes. So why persist with school uniforms.

Remember those old “Back to School” displays once common in BHS and M&S windows? While they featured small mannequins in painfully smart uniforms, WH Smith pushed pens, rulers and protractors. These promotions would appear, irritatingly, just when teachers, having caught up on sleep, were getting stuck into some serious holidaying. Everything has its season. The time for children being suspended from school for having dyed hair, excessively tight or short skirts or trainers instead of proper shoes should be early September, the start of the new school year. This year, by contrast, uniform-based skirmishes have started early.

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‘Accountability is driving teachers away’ – Burnt out and worn out, this secondary teacher still wasn’t producing the grades – and his mental health suffered as a result.

Like many graduates, fresh-faced, gleeful and wanting to change the world, I became a teacher. After completing an immense NQT year, I was told in the last weeks of the summer term that I would be moving across to the academy chain’s main school. Well, either that or redundancy. Loyalty was the mantra, so I moved. That’s when I felt the full force of modern-day teaching.

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Colleges to get share of £10m construction investment – The 11 FE institutions will be involved in establishing pathways for under-represented groups to enter the construction industry.

Eleven colleges, including one in Scotland, will be among the institutions sharing a £10 million fund to attract people from a more diverse range of backgrounds into the construction industry. CITB’s Pathways Into Construction project will aim to attract people from under-represented groups into construction over the next three years by establishing recruitment pathways. In total, more than 11,800 people will be targeted and 270 education institutions, construction employers, federations, councils and other organisations across the UK are to be involved.

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Seven ways we respond to music – Michelle James, CEO of Sing Up, explores seven ways music has a great effect on us, and why we need to continue to use it when we teach.

Music is ubiquitous across all cultures and periods of human history. But, what exactly happens to our mind and body while we listen to music and how can we explain the transformative impact that it has on us? In an educational setting when things can get hectic, it can be tricky to find the time to think about the benefits of the daily use of music. But as you sit back, (hopefully) relax for the summer holidays, listening to your favourite songs, let’s take a closer look at how music affects us.

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The government is facing calls to allow pupils more time to sit key stage 2 reading tests after the the word count of the paper was upped by 45 per cent this year.

The combined word count of the three texts in the test sat by pupils in May was 2,168, the longest it has been since the new primary curriculum was introduced in 2014, and just 132 words short of the maximum word count set by the government. According to analysis by teacher Tim Roach, the test was just 1,488 words long in 2018, although that represented a 23 per cent decrease on the word count of 1,937 used in 2017.

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Jisc to create guidelines on using data to improve student wellbeing – The edtech company has been selected by the Information Commissioner’s Office as one of 10 projects for its new programme, Sandbox.

Jisc is developing a code of practice to help universities use student data to improve student support services. Jisc has a learning analytics code of practice, which provides an ethical approach to using student data to improve learning. This new programme aims to extend this to student support and wellbeing. The edtech company was selected by the Information Commissioner’s Office as a contributor to Sandbox, 10 new projects that will aim to develop new best practice for data protection.

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Number of specialist colleges on the rise – The Education and Skills Funding Agency has tightened its rules for registering new specialist providers.

The number of specialist colleges is continuing to rise, it has been revealed. According to Natspec, the number of institutions approved to receive funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency will be 108 in 2019-20 – up from 101 in 2018-19. That means seven new institutions have been approved for delivery from September.

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Posted in Education News, Weekly Blog.