Weekly Thursday Education News Round-Up – 19/09/2019

David Earnshaw, the chair of the Outwood Grange Academies Trust, will chair a new academy trust set up to take on schools shunned by other sponsors, Schools Week can reveal.

Earlier this month, Gavin Williamson, the new education secretary, announced plans to pilot a specialist academy trust to take on those institutions often dubbed “schools no-one wants” or “orphan schools” in the north of England. Schools Week revealed last September how failing schools are being left in limbo as a result of complex legal issues, with one now waiting eight years to become an academy.

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3 myths about project-based learning – Many teachers have the wrong impression about project-based learning, says Pam Grossman. She gives you the lowdown on how to do it well.

A lot of what you think you know about project-based learning (PBL) is likely to be wrong, according to Professor Pam Grossman, dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Speaking on the latest episode of Tes Podagogy (the Tes teaching podcast – listen on the player below), she explains that this approach to teaching suffers from a wide range of misconceptions, mostly because no-one has really agreed what PBL is.

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Concordat on researchers’ employment rights divides opinion – Unions say the pledge to reduce the use of fixed and short-term contracts won’t tackle a problem it says is ‘endemic’.

A new agreement to tackle insecure employment for academics has received a mixed response. Prof Julie Buckingham, chair of the Concordat Strategy Group (CSG), said the statement will build a “healthy and supportive culture”. But union bosses described the announcement as “disappointing”. The University and College Union (UCU) said employers “should be obliged to work with trade unions to reduce the use of fixed-term contracts”.

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In spite of decades of curriculum and qualifications reform, a third of 16-year-olds in England are not awarded a ‘standard pass’ at their English Language GCSE. It’s high time the qualification was scrapped, argues Roy Blatchford, Chair of the Forgotten Third commission, and replaced with one we can all be proud of.

It is a remarkable statistic in the home of the English language, and in one of the world’s top economies, that one third of 16-year-olds, after 12 years of compulsory schooling, fail to achieve what the Department for Education describes as a ‘standard pass’ (grade 4) in GCSE English and maths.

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‘Autumn term is the NQT slayer’ – More teachers will quit in the autumn term than in the other two terms combined, with the pressure points being week three, half term and Christmas, says one teacher who’s sharing tips for NQT mental health.

“If spring term is a bitch, autumn term is the NQT slayer.” So says English teacher Julia Toppin, who herself struggled as a newly qualified teacher (NQT) 10 years ago and is now sharing her tips for NQT survival on Twitter. She says the pressure points in the autumn term are week three, half term and the Christmas holiday.

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Overhaul of university admissions could see students apply after getting A-level results – Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the time was right to look at whether “post-qualification applications” should be introduced.

University admissions could be revolutionised so students only apply after they have received their A-level results, the Education Secretary has said. In a letter sent to the universities watchdog, Gavin Williamson said the time was right to look at whether “post-qualification applications” (PQA) should be introduced. The announcement comes just a month since Labour announced it will scrap admissions based on predicted grades if it comes to power. While Scotland already uses a form of PQA for home students, England, Wales and Northern Ireland are alone in the developed world in using predicted grades to decide university offers.

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A school in north London “unlawfully” booted out sixth-formers halfway through their A-levels because they didn’t achieve high enough grades.

Three parents have told Schools Week their children were left devastated by the “horrifying” and “appalling” decision of Queens Park Community School in Brent not to allow the pupils to progress to year 13. One received an official letter confirming the decision the day before students were due to start the new term last week. Ofsted rated the 1,300-pupil school “good” at its last inspection.

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Report on reform options for private schools launched ahead of debate – The report will be formally launched at a debate later today, where those for and against private education will discuss ways to make our current education system fairer.

A non-party affiliated think tank has launched a report on reform options for Britain’s private schools. Private School Policy Reform (PSPR) is holding an event later today (19 September) in Manchester, ‘Phasing Out Private Schools: An Evening of Debate’, where it will formally launch its report detailing six options for reform of the private sector. At the event, those for and against private education will discuss ways to make our current education system fairer, including Bolton School’s girls’ division headmistress Sue Hincks, and boys’ division headmaster Philip Britton.

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Why trainees are under too much pressure to find a job – From the moment their course begins, trainee teachers are under pressure to find a job. But, says one NQT, this is a recipe for disaster.

In the early stages of my training placement, while my head was spinning with all the various pedagogies that had been presented to us, and from staying up late perfecting lesson plans, we received a visit from two local schools, who said that they were “touting for our NQT business”. At barely six weeks into our teaching-training programme, we were being asked to consider or even commit to our future as NQTs. At this stage in October, the priority for most of us was to make it to Christmas alive and sane, let alone gaining qualified teacher status the following June.

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The government will consider whether pupils should apply to university after receiving their A-level results, after the education secretary backed a review of university admissions.

Gavin Williamson has today expressed his support for a review by the Office for Students, which seeks to clamp down on hard-sell tactics used by some institutions, as well as the use of unconditional offers. It will examine whether the admissions process should be moved to take place after pupils know their A-level grades amid concerns about the current system, which is based on predicted grades.

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They’re time-consuming, expensive to get to and, some say, don’t tell the whole story. So, is there a case for skipping them.

Open days are an integral part of the university application process–a chance to tour universities, talk to staff and students, and get a sense of what it’s like to live and study there. Prospective students often contact The Student Room, the largest online student community in the UK, to ask if they need to bother with open days, reckoning you can research everything you need to know online.

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Spend on SEND and mental health, parents tell schools – Survey shows parents also have increasing concerns around the price of uniforms and school dinners.

Many parents want extra school funding to be spent on child mental health services and support for youngsters with special educational needs and disability (SEND), according to a poll. Alongside funding for textbooks, laboratory equipment and technology, parents also prioritise investing in children’s happiness and wellbeing, the annual Parentkind survey suggests.

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Employers want practical data skills over data science degrees – A survey from the Data Literacy Project has revealed that global business leaders prefer practical data experience over academic qualifications.

The Data Literacy Project has released results of a survey* this week highlighting the preference for practical skills over academic qualifications in data. The survey was commissioned by data and analytics firm Qlik, a key partner in the Data Literacy Project, and covers attitudes from global business decision-makers. Almost two-thirds (59%) of global enterprises surveyed identified prior job experience or case study interview – where a candidate is presented with a business problem they must solve – as the top indicator of the candidate’s data literacy.Only 18% viewed a bachelor’s or even master’s or doctorate as a primary consideration when hiring.

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The government’s latest free school wave does not allow applications for new alternative provision, despite a major pledge from ministers to encourage and prioritise them.

Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, told The Times earlier this month that opening new schools for excluded pupils would be prioritised. And when the Department for Education this week launched the new wave it said it “particularly encourages” applications for new AP schools. But the government has now admitted that only bids for mainstream free schools will be considered.

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Why won’t the unions defend private-school jobs? – Labour is planning a £1.6 bn tax raid on independent schools. Who’s speaking up for their teachers.

Would you support a party that wanted to close down your place of work and put you out of a job? I’m guessing probably not. Might you be tempted to vote for an MP who, despite your support for many of the policies they have campaigned for, has never stopped attacking the sector you work in? You might pause before making your mark on the ballot sheet with that stubby pencil.

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A quarter of teachers work more than 60 hours per week, according to a new study, which warns government attempts to reduce working hours have failed.

But the paper, published by the Nuffield Foundation and UCL Institute of Education, also found high working hours have been relatively unchanged for 20 years – making it unlikely that workload is to blame for the teacher retention crisis. Policymakers have now been urged to consider “more radical action” to tackle the workload issue.

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University students think their lives ‘will be harder than their parents’ – Survey finds that students prize financial stability over wealth and fame.

Students believe their lives will be harder than their parents and prize financial security over wealth, a survey has found. Sixty-eight per cent of university students think they will face more challenges than their parents when it comes to being successful in life, according to a poll by the Higher Education Policy Institute and the accommodation provider Unite Students.

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Rigg offers bespoke furniture service to schools – Rigg details some of its latest school furniture projects – which have resulted in environments young people love to learn and relax in.

Rigg is a UK manufacturer of high-quality, contemporary furniture with clients from the education, office and hospitality sectors. Director Kevin White said: “Having a broad customer base allows the company to share experience from commercial clients with schools and colleges. The result is durable and attractive products which contrast to many items found in educational catalogues.”

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Analytics and UX most desired tech skills – Infosys’ Talent Radar report reveals that data analytics and user experience skills are the top of the list for tech employers in 2019.

Infosys Knowledge Institute has released research revealing the top tech and soft skills desired by global enterprises. The Talent Radar report is based on over 1,000 responses from senior members of companies with revenue greater than $1bn. Multiple industries were represented, including.

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Students taking on extra debt with foundation year courses in hope of ‘trading up’ to better universities – Exclusive: Growing number of students playing ‘risky’ game of trying to ‘trade up’ to better universities via foundation year courses.

Students are piling up extra debt by enrolling on one-year university courses in the hope they can then “trade up” to a better university, i can reveal. But students have been warned they are playing a “risky” game and might have been given false hope, because not all universities accept such transfers. There has been an explosion in the number of ‘foundation year’ courses offered by universities in recent years. The one-year courses are usually attached to an undergraduate degree. They were invented for students who do not meet the normal entry requirements, to bring them up to speed so they can progress to a full degree.

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Posted in Education News, Weekly Blog.