Weekly Thursday Education News Round-Up – 14/11/2019

How to get an ‘outstanding’ grade in new Ofsted regime – Castleford Academy near Wakefield says it is the first secondary school to be awarded an ‘outstanding’ rating by Ofsted under the inspectorate’s new framework. How did it do it?

An academy with a “demanding” curriculum that has taken practical steps to reduce staff workload has been awarded an “outstanding” rating under Ofsted’s new inspection framework. The framework came into effect at the start of this academic year and includes a new quality-of-education grade, which requires inspectors to place more focus on the curriculum.

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A bottleneck caused by a lack of sponsors means nearly two-thirds of ‘inadequate’ academies have failed to be transferred to a new trust.

Figures obtained by Schools Week show just 181 of the 476 academies rated ‘inadequate’ in the past five years (38 per cent) have been rebrokered. The government claims its academy programme allows rapid intervention into failing schools, unlike the former local authority-maintained system that often left schools “languishing in special measures”.

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Counsellor in every secondary school pledged by Labour – Party’s plans to boost mental health support include counsellors in secondaries and qualified staff visiting primaries.

A qualified counsellor would be employed at every secondary school in England under Labour proposals to help young people live happier, healthier lives. The party said the number of children experiencing mental health problems was increasing as it announced an additional £845 million per year for its Healthy Young Minds plan. Labour has pledged to recruit just under 3,500 on-site secondary school counsellors, and said it would ensure every primary school received a visit from a qualified counsellor at least once a week.

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How can we stop segregating children with SEND? – Support staff perform a vital role but can be a barrier to vulnerable young people forming friendships

Picture yourself at 11 years old, walking into class for morning registration. There are two seats available: one next to a friend, the other one next to a kid who you know to be equally kind and funny. The only issue is, the second child isn’t alone. Ever. They have a learning support assistant (LSA), who is inadvertently blocking the possibility of social interaction. I have often been a witness to this during my time as a carer; children with LSAs frequently end up spending lunchtime with them, rather than being sociable with other children.

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Conservatives announce £1.8bn for college buildings – General election: Boris Johnson announces Tories’ ‘huge further education college rebuilding programme’ over 5 years.

The Conservative Party plans to invest £1.8 billion in a further education college rebuilding programme. Prime minister Boris Johnson said the money would, over a five-year period, be used make sure the entire FE college estate was in “good” – or category B – condition by refurbishing and redeveloping existing facilities and purchasing industry-standard equipment. This would be matched with “21 per cent more from providers themselves”. A Conservative statement said: “FE colleges will have to work up robust plans to make sure the money is spent wisely.”

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Almost three-quarters of school teachers say they are stressed out, while more than half considered leaving the sector because of mental health and wellbeing pressures.

The annual Teacher Wellbeing Index found that over a third of education professionals (34 per cent) experienced a mental health issue in the last academic year, up from 31 per cent the year before. Meanwhile 78 per cent experienced behavioural, psychological or physical symptoms due to their work, up from 76 per cent in 2018, the study found. Seventy-three per cent of school teachers reported being stressed this year, up from 64 per cent last year and 67 per cent in 2017. Senior leaders reporting the highest levels of stress, up to 84 per cent compared to 80 per cent in 2018 and 75 per cent in 2017.

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Politics to blame for edtech’s failures, report finds – The report was authored by 26 former education ministers and heads of government.

Edtech does not deliver for teachers and students because of poor political policies, a report from 26 former education ministers and heads of government has said. The report, System failure: Why edtech policy needs a critical update, from the Varkey Foundation’s Atlantis Group has said edtech fails to fulfil its promise in classrooms around the world and bad policy is to blame. The authors, who include former education secretary Justine Greening, concluded: “The political narrative about technology in education is worryingly similar to that of 50 years ago. Real change, we are told, is always just 10 years away.”

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Bidding war over schools’ extra billions – Labour locked in negotiations about how much extra they can afford to give schools, with the Lib Dems poised to beat the Tories by £5 billion.

Labour is locked in last-minute negotiations as the shadow education team seeks to ensure that the party’s forthcoming manifesto offers more extra money to schools than the Conservatives, Tes can reveal. And the pressure on the official opposition is being ramped up with rumours circulating that the Liberal Democrats are about to pledge another £5 billion on top of the Conservatives’ £7.1 billon extra for schools.

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Horizon: UK should not spend ‘sizeable’ funds replicating EU research programme, report says – The independent government report suggested a domestic alternative to the European Research Council and said two-year stabilising funds would be needed.

The UK should not attempt to replicate research programmes “line by line” if the country does not maintain membership of Horizon Europe, an independent government report has said. In the report commissioned by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Sir Adrian Smith, former vice-chancellor of the University of London, and Graeme Reid, chair of science and research policy at University College London, considered options for the UK if it does not participate in the seven-year EU scientific research initiative after Brexit. The existing programme, of which the UK has been a part, will run until 2020.

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Education is a hot election issue, about to get hotter – Ofsted, primary testing, adult education and private schools will all ensure that education is central to the election.

Sky News found itself with a bit of social-media bother last month, when its editors decided to bill December’s national poll as the “Brexit election”. Online critics suggested that Sky News was taking a reductionist approach to the election – that there was a lot more at stake than just leaving the EU – and that, as such, it favoured the Conservative Party, because of its plan to focus voters’ minds on “getting Brexit done”. These angry voices were not loud enough or sustained enough to force a climbdown from Sky bosses, but this doesn’t mean that they were wrong.

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Peak drop-out time at UK universities — but deciding to leave can be tough – One in 16 students now leave their undergraduate course before the end of year one for a variety of reasons.

For most students starting out at university, the first term is a time for embracing independence and making the most of exciting new opportunities away from home. For others, the experience can be scary and stressful, or simply doesn’t live up to the hype – prompting questions about value for money. One in 16 students do not make it through to the second year of their course, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

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The first wave of EdTech Innovation funding has been dished out – but just 3 per cent of the cash will go towards resolving flexible working timetabling issues.

Thirteen edtech firms from across the UK (full list below) will share £1.2 million of funding to develop products aimed at revolutionising education through the use of technology. It’s the first round of funding under the £4.6m partnership between Nesta and the Department for Education, launched in April, to find solutions in schools for four “challenge areas”: assessment, essay marking, parental engagement and timetabling.

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The benefits of outdoor activities – Research has proved that pupils who spend time outdoors – both for learning and for playing – are happier and healthier all round. Val Proctor looks at some of the benefits of outdoor learning and play, and speaks to the independent schools embracing this way of teaching

There is a large and rapidly growing body of evidence about the benefits of outdoor learning and play, including improved language and communication skills, motivation, independence, confidence and self-esteem, concentration, self-evaluation, creativity and openness to new perspectives. Education Endowment Trust research suggests that, on average, pupils who regularly participate in outdoor learning appear to make approximately four months’ additional academic progress as a result of these benefits. In a recent four-year research study involving children in 125 schools in the south of England, Natural England found that 92% of pupils enjoyed their lessons more when outdoors, with 90% feeling happier and healthier as a result.

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Inspiration Trust has admitted the number of pupils moving to home education from one of its schools was “too high” after an Ofsted investigation into potential off-rolling found their response was “flimsy”.

Inspectors visited East Point Academy in Lowesoft, Suffolk, last month after issues were raised with Ofsted about high levels of pupil movement at the school, rated ‘good’ in October 2016. The monitoring report, published today, noted a “significant proportion of pupils join and/or leave the school”, while the proportion of parents opting for elective home education (EHE) in 2017-18 “rose steeply”.

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Record number of people apply to study medicine in September 2020 – 23,710 people, an increase of 6%, have applied to study medicine next year.

Applications for 2020 medicine courses had to be submitted to UCAS by 18:00 on Tuesday 15 October. Dentistry and veterinary science/medicine courses, as well as all courses at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, also use this deadline. There are increases in medicine applicants from all four countries of the UK (collectively up 5% to 18,500), and from international students, with EU applicants up 1% to 1,680, and non-EU applicants increasing by 10%, to 3,530. The growth in applications coincides with an expansion of medical school places available at English universities for the third year in a row.

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Association of Colleges launches election ‘manifesto’ – The AoC calls on new government to double the adult education budget by 2025 and to protect college title

The next government should protect the college title and place the institute at the heart of the national infrastructure, the Association of Colleges (AoC) has said. In its general election “manifesto”, published today, the AoC is calling on the political parties and prospective candidates to back colleges as vital institutions in an education system that works for everyone. The AoC says the pace of technological, demographic, labour market and social change requires a re-think on how the UK invests in people throughout their adult lives.

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Funding for colleges and sixth forms will go to ‘high value’ subjects like science, Government says – The news may raise concern that the Government is ignoring courses in areas like the arts.

Funding for colleges and sixth forms will be targeted at subjects which get students higher wages, the Government has said. The Department for Education said a portion of money from a funding package announced this summer will pay for “high value” courses such as science. But the news may raise concern that the Government is ignoring courses in areas like the arts. In August, the Chancellor Sajid Javid pledged £400m for further education (FE) in England in 2020-21.

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Bett and The Education Show pair up for ‘world’s biggest education event’ – The four-day event will open on 22 January 2020 at London’s ExCeL.

Bett and The Education Show will pair up for the first time to host the world’s biggest education event, organisers said. The event will welcome 800 companies, over 100 start-ups and an estimated 34,000 attendees when it opens on 22 January 2020 at London’s ExCeL. Featuring Bett edtech experts and school equipment suppliers from The Education Show, the 2020 event will display one of the largest arrays of education products under one roof. The programme for the four-day event features special events focusing on wellbeing, inclusion, social mobility and SEND.

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Schools will receive money from a new £150 billion “social transformation fund” under a Labour government, John McDonnell will announce today.

However, Labour is yet to say how much of the fund will be specifically for schools. The money will also pay for improvements to hospitals, care homes and council houses. The shadow chancellor will unveil the fund, part of which is to be used to “replace, upgrade and expand” schools, in his first major speech of the election campaign.

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New climate commission for higher education launches – The Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education Leaders brings together representatives from four sector bodies.

A new climate change commission for universities and colleges has been launched by four sector bodies. The Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education Leaders used its launch to call on vice-chancellors to take action on climate change. The brand-new body comprises representatives from the Association of Colleges (AoC), the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education (EAUC), Universities UK (UUK) and GuildHE and will be formally unveiled on November 13 at Ravensbourne University London. Over the next 12 months, the new cross-sector body will unveil a strategic framework, set ambitious targets and propose methods to ensure institutions make progress.

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Posted in Education News, Weekly Blog.