Weekly Thursday Education News Round-Up – 10/10/2019

Call for all schools to be in academy trusts by 2030 – Confederation of School Trusts wants maintained school status to end – but not through forced academisation.

The education system should work towards all schools being run by trusts by 2030, an academies leader has said. However, Leora Cruddas, the chief executive of the Confederation of School Trusts (CST), has said this should not be achieved through forced academisation. The target for moving toward a single status in the school system is part of the CST’s new “white paper” on the future of schools.

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Goodbye hockey, hello raving yoga: how schools are exploring new ways of keeping children active.

For a nation that this summer won the cricket world cup, bronze in the netball world cup and six medals at the world rowing championships, we still have some of the most inactive and overweight children in the world. Perhaps the development of so many Lottery-backed junior sports coaching programmes and pathways cuts both ways, causing unwitting polarisation. Children with natural ability are quickly swept up into into them, intimidating the less enthusiastic who often end up taking their games on-screen.

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Living it up – How are accommodation providers adapting their offerings to suit the changing priorities of students?

It may be a politically and economically unstable time for the UK but one industry that won’t be at the mercy of Brexit and its ramifications is purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA). The sector was recently valued at £53bn with the large rise in full-time student numbers over the past decade driving demand and a swathe of private investors moving into the market. Despite this boom, providers are not resting on their laurels and are very much aware of the needs of their clientele. With different students and a mix of housing stock causing variations across the country, they are continually adjusting their offering to suit local conditions.

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Councils have been warned to carry out the proper checks on school placements for vulnerable youngsters after it emerged some had spent thousands of pounds sending pupils to an “unsafe” illegal school.

Three people have been convicted of running an illegal school at Freiston Hall, in Lincolnshire – an unregistered school for looked after children with highly complex physical and mental health needs. In a press release published today, Ofsted said that six councils were “misled into paying hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money for children to be educated” at the illegal school.

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Universities will not be able to fill courses if Labour caps private school admissions, headteachers claim – The headmaster of Whitfgift School said Labour’s plans to cap private school places to 7 per cent would cause some departments to ‘shrink’.

Universities will not be able to fill their courses if Labour goes through with plans to cap the students they can accept from private schools, heads have claimed. The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) – an association of private school heads – said universities could be forced to “shrink” departments such as modern languages as a result, while university admissions officials also lined up to criticise the plans.

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An independent regulator should be set up to combine the functions of the regional school commissioners (RSCs) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), an organisation representing school trusts has said.

The “divisive language of MATs and SATs” should also be ditched and financial incentives should be offered to entice schools to form or join school trusts, the Confederation of School Trusts has said. A paper outlining recommendations for the future of England’s education system has been launched ahead of a conference for trust leaders in Lancashire and West Yorkshire. (You can read our round-up of all the proposals here).

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What’s the future of chatbots in HE? – James Higgins looks at how universities are revolutionising chatbots and creating new, personalised tools for student engagement.

Chatbots were – and perhaps still are – a frustration for anyone desperately trying to contact an insurance company or rearrange a delivery slot. The chatbots’ inability to ‘chat’ has led to an unpopular opinion of them. While a bot can only understand what a user says, a capable chatbot (or ‘chatterbot’ as they are also known) can engage and help its user communicate commands more effectively.

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Don’t let story time get squeezed off the timetable – You can’t measure the impact on your spreadsheet, but Jo Brighouse struggles to think of a better use of classroom time than reading a story out loud.

I’ve just finished reading my youngest a bedtime story. “Oh look,” I said. “Did you see these two words to describe her dress are adjectives? You’ve been learning about adjectives in school, haven’t you?” He gave me a pained look. “Mummy, I know they’re adjectives, but I don’t want to talk about them. Can you just read the story, please?”

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What does it feel like to be Right-wing on a Left-wing campus?

In a large marquee within the grounds of Goldsmiths, University of London, this year’s freshers’ fair is in full swing. Amid a good-natured hubbub, each student society sets out its stall and attempts to sign up new arrivals. There’s an anti-racist action group, an Amnesty International Society, a Wildlife and Eco Haven Society and something called Diversity on the Decks – “a womxn, non-binary and LGBTQI+-centred DJ collective”.

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The Report: Does social media have a place in formal education? – From its early days as a contact board for university students to its global takeover, is social media’s ever-expanding influence to include formal education welcome?

The University of Birmingham has created a free course to help teachers understand how young people use social media. The course – Optimising Social Media for Youth Health and Wellbeing – will focus on the impact of social media on mental health and wellbeing, but will also help teachers use social media as a learning resource and design a social media curriculum. The curriculum will then be published in a book at the end of the year-long course.

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Trainee teachers in physics, chemistry and modern foreign languages will get new retention payments of up to £9,000 staggered across the first four years of their teaching career – on top of their £26,000 bursary payment.

The new phased bursaries, first set out in the government’s teacher recruitment and retention strategy in January, will come into force next year. Trainee maths teachers will continue to get the extra early-career payments. Currently, they receive a £20,000 bursary in their training year and then £5,000 of retention payments in both their third and fifth year, rising to £7,500 in the most challenging schools.

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T levels: how will they be graded? – T-level grades will be based on performance in the technical qualification: the core component and the occupational specialism.

This time next year, T levels will be well underway in 50 further education providers across the country. To begin with, just three T levels will be taught: digital, construction and education and childcare. But by 2023, 25 T levels will be available to study. They’re to be the gold-standard of vocational education, and on a par with A levels. The Department for Education announced in August that a distinction would be given the same Ucas points as 3As at A level (144). But how will they be graded?
She was speaking at a Tes fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference yesterday.

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A-levels should be scrapped – they don’t suit 21st century innovation.

Images of delighted A-level students taking an artfully choreographed jump for joy are a familiar sight on news pages every August. But teens who have sat the International Baccalaureate (IB) have a right to feel a little miffed – their results in early July pass largely uncelebrated, because few people really understand what the qualification means.

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A human rights charity has warned of a potential breakdown in trust between teachers and pupils after details emerged of a “secret” police database containing information gathered by school staff.

Freedom of information requests by Liberty revealed the existence of the National Police Prevent Case Management database, which it claims is used to collate “sensitive personal information” submitted under the Prevent duty, the government’s anti-extremism programme. The charity fears the database, which is managed by counter-terrorism police, could be used to “monitor and control” communities. But police say it is good practice to maintain “professional records”.

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Graduate employers embrace diversity over grades – Graduate employers are lowering entry requirements to address diversity.

Graduate employers setting no minimum entry grades have more than doubled in five years as they search for more diverse recruits, reports the Institute of Student Employers (ISE). In 2014, 7% of ISE members set no minimum entry requirements for their graduate recruits, but this year that has increased to 22%.

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Ability grouping: To stream or not to stream? – Ability grouping is an evergreen topic for fierce debate, with research offering a mixed picture in terms of conclusions. Peter Mattock braves the minefield to explore.

The debate about how to group pupils is probably as old as compulsory education itself. Should we strive to make sure that each class has as diverse a mix of prior attainment and ability as possible? Or should we form classes based on similar prior attainment and ability?

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Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are being failed by a “system in crisis” as the number of complaints to the local government ombudsmen soars, a new report has found.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has warned that councils are putting up barriers to services in an effort to ration scarce resources. The ombudsman revealed in its latest report Not going to plan? that it is upholding 87 per cent of SEND cases it investigates – significantly higher than the uphold rate of 57 per cent across all other cases. Ombudsman Michael King said the rate at which complaints are being upheld is “exceptional and unprecedented in our work”. Families in need of an education, health and care (EHC) plan face severe delays of up to more than a year, the report found.

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YouGov research reveals students’ desire for digital consistency – The research, conducted on behalf of TechnologyOne, shoes that university students are most concerned with a trustworthy and consistent digital flow of information.

YouGov and TechnologyOne have released a report revealing that university students are particularly interested in digital consistency from their institutions. You might also like: Future of the Classroom: Eight top education trends revealed by Google. The survey shows that over 90% of university students cite reliable online access to course materials, exam results, administrative and admissions information, and timetables as high priority. However, despite this keenness for digital access, only 44% of students would be likely to choose one university over another if it had better levels of technology and innovation.

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Why authenticity is key to great school leadership – The Education for the Soul Conference will allow headteachers to explore how they can lead with greater authenticity.

There’s plenty of advice out there about what makes a great school leader, from textbooks to certifications and seminars. Often the advice focuses around what leaders should do, how they should behave and highlights what are deemed to be outstanding leadership examples. However, the more I’ve worked with school leaders the more it has become apparent that there is no one-size-fits-all model of leadership. What’s more, I’ve since learned that great leadership cannot be reduced to a matter of technique or style. Rather, it comes from the very identity and integrity of every individual who has chosen to take on the mantle of school leadership.

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Duolingo launching literacy app to teach children to read ‘without any human help’ – The new app could raise concerns about children being exposed to excessive ‘screen time’, or adults outsourcing their parenting duties.

A technology company is promising to be able to teach children how to read using a smartphone or tablet and no other human involvement. However, the new app from Duolingo comes in the wake of growing concern about children being exposed to excessive ‘screen time’, and may raise fears that adults will seek to outsource their parenting duties to their phones.

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Posted in Education News, Weekly Blog.