Weekly Thursday Education News Round-Up – 20/06/2019

Ofsted downgrades 84 per cent of top-rated schools – Ofsted calls for an end to inspection exemption for top-rated schools as just 16 per cent remain ‘outstanding’.

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has called for the inspection exemption on “outstanding” schools to be scrapped, as new figures show that more than 80 per cent of top-rated schools visited by inspectors this year were no longer “outstanding”. The watchdog can inspect “outstanding” schools where it has concerns over standards or safeguarding but they are otherwise exempt from routine reinspection.

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One in five pupils miss out on first-choice secondary – Pupils are less likely to get into their first-choice secondary school than last year, as numbers applying for places rise.

Almost one in five pupils missed out on their first choice of secondary school this year, new statistics from the Department for Education reveal. The statistics show that in 2019, 80.9 per cent of pupils were offered a place at their first preference school compared to 82.1 per cent in 2018. It means pupils applying in 2019 had the lowest chances of getting a first-choice place since 2010.

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International teachers struggled to settle in English schools because of poor pupil behaviour and heavy workloads, a new government report has found.

Research commissioned by the Department for Education, published today, has attempted to evaluate the success of teacher recruitment programmes for modern foreign languages (MFL) and science, technology, engineering and maths subjects (STEM). Two of the studies, which focused on programmes involving international teachers, both found international teachers had struggled with issues around poor pupil behaviour in English schools.

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An investigation has been launched after it emerged a question used in the Edexcel GCSE maths paper 3 this week was almost identical to one used in a revision textbook.

Pupils took to social media to share their frustration after they were faced with the same diagram, values and answer in Tuesday’s GCSE higher tier maths paper as one published in the textbook AQA Certificate: Further Maths. While a spokesperson for Pearson, which owns exam board Edexcel, said that the question was “typical” and “valid” for the GCSE higher tier maths paper, they added that the exam publisher is investigating further.

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Teachers don’t need more money – we need more time – If the DfE really wants to help teachers, it should free up some of their classroom time and hand it over to PPA.

I’ve been a teacher for 13 and a half years, both as a middle manager and full-time teacher. And, without any hesitation, I can say that what teachers need is not more money, but more time. By that, I mean time to plan, to assess, to monitor, to measure – and to think.

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A chunk of the new 22 free schools approved today will open in academy trusts that have expanded rapidly in recent years – despite previous government cautions over quick growth.

The Department for Education received 124 applications for the 13th wave of its free school programme, but less than 18 per cent of these were given the green light. Almost a third (seven) of the trusts opening new schools have 10 or more schools already. Schools Week analysis of the successful trusts has found many have grown rapidly since September 2017 and already have free schools in the pipeline.

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School leaders need to tackle the barriers stopping middle and senior staff from flexible working, researchers have said, as figures show that about one in six secondary school teachers would like to reduce their hours.

The National Foundation for Educational Research’s (NFER) Part-time Teaching and Flexible Working in Secondary Schools report, released today, found that around one in 12 teachers would like to reduce their hours by more than one day a week.One-fifth of full-time secondary teachers who leave the profession take up part-time work.

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Majority of students think HEIs should contact parents with mental health concerns – HEPI and Advance HE report reports a mere 14% ‘life satisfaction’ among survey of 14,000 UK students, despite improved value and teaching.

Universities should be able to contact parents if they are deeply worried about a student’s mental state, according to 66% of students. The Student Academic Experience Survey 2019 is carried out by the Higher Education Policy Institute and Advance HE. Described by the latter’s chief executive Alison Johns as an “MOT for the sector”, the report deals with student perceptions.

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The Department for Education (DfE) has been accused of having a “lack of understanding” of the financial pressures schools are facing after lambasting heads for shortening school weeks.

The DfE said last week that it was “unacceptable” for schools to reduce their weeks after Fulbourn Primary School, in Cambridgeshire, announced the move to make “significant savings in a tough financial climate”. The department’s response suggests ministers are now taking a much tougher tone on schools that are looking to close early.

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Universities UK issues wish list to next PM – As the Conservative party leadership race gets underway, UUK has five demands for its victor.

Universities UK has publicly called for the incoming prime minister to support higher education. As the Tory leadership contenders duke it out for government’s top job, the membership organisation set out five areas on which it feels the successful candidate should concentrate.

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Don’t deny breaks to punish pupils, say psychologists – Play is ‘crucial’ for child development and should not be taken away for misbehaviour or to finish work.

Psychologists have warned schools that they should “never” punish pupils by taking away their break or lunch times. Research published last month shows that now, at key stage 1, children have 45 minutes less break time a week than those of the same age did in 1995, while the time for children aged 11 to 16 had fallen by 65 minutes a week over the same period.

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The government will amend the school admissions code to “accelerate” the process of moving vulnerable children between schools, Damian Hinds has announced today..

The education secretary told an event organised by the Reform think tank today that it was “very, very important” for so-called children in need to be in school to help them avoid falling prey to criminal or sexual exploitation. Children in need are those who are not in care but still require the services of a social worker. Government data suggests 1.6 million children needed a social worker between 2012-13 and 2017-18. This is equivalent to one in 10 of all children in 2018 needing a social worker at some point in the past six years.

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Edexcel investigating A-level maths exam leak – Exam board says it is investigating after two questions appeared online ahead of today’s A-level maths exam.

Edexcel is probing a leak relating to an A-level maths exam which was sat by pupils today. Pearson, the firm which operates the board, said it was “investigating” after blacked out images of two exam questions from Edexcel’s maths paper 3 appeared on Twitter last night.

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The Department for Education has published its response to the children in need review today. Here are the key things schools need to know.

There’s a pledge to improve the “clarity, timeliness and transparency” of in-year admissions processes, and strengthen fair access protocols “ensuring this can be used to admit children who currently need a social worker”. Protocols are to make sure that, outside of the normal admissions rounds, unplaced children – particularly the most vulnerable – are offered a place at a suitable school as quickly as possible.

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Schools should develop a bereavement plan “as a matter of urgency”, campaigners have urged, after research found that more than 41,000 children lose a parent in the UK every year.

Winston’s Wish, a child bereavement charity, called for Ofsted to ensure that the revised inspection framework takes into account the impact of bereavement on children and young people’s lives. The charity also proposed that all trainee teachers receive bereavement training.

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Schools ‘letting down’ bereaved pupils – Study warns of ‘patchy provision’ for bereaved children and calls on schools to develop coherent plans.

Bereaved pupils are being let down by “patchy” or non-existent provision for them in schools, according to a new study by the University of Cambridge’s faculty of education. The review found a “somewhat random approach” to supporting bereaved children in schools. Some teachers reported avoiding trying to help all together, as they feared doing more harm than good.

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An A-level paper due to be sat by thousands of pupils this Thursday is to be replaced amid concerns over cheating, the exam board Edexcel has said..

An investigation by Pearson, Edexcel’s parent company, has found that a packet containing copies of its further maths A-level paper was opened at a school. The breach was identified after a probe into the same school, which has not been named, was launched after sections of the A-level maths paper 3 exam were shared on social media last week. Police are investigating the latter alleged leak.

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Enhancing the campus experience using integrated building management systems – With the right connectivity in place, based in large part on IoT infrastructure, educational institutions can not only maintain effective learning environments, they can also put their buildings to work.

Increasingly sophisticated levels of connectivity are transforming buildings from largely static structures into reactive, responsive environments. Burgeoning technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), are accelerating this process across a wide variety of sectors, including higher education.

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UEL announces £2m mental health project – University of East London is using data mining and analytics to identify students struggling with mental health.

University of East London is pioneering a big data project to improve student mental health support. The £2m initiative, supported by the Office for Students (OfS), will use data analytics, student relationship management tools and student support models to find new ways to support students experiencing mental health problems. The data mining, analytics and customer service information will identify at-risk students and be an ‘early alert’ tool for staff.

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The important role of ESOL in international boarding schools – Sue Ryall, head of ESOL at Kilgraston School, looks at how learning English as a non-native speaker delivers many opportunities for both pupil and teacher.

In boarding schools throughout the UK, young people from all over the world live, learn and laugh together as naturally as if they had all grown up on the same street, sharing a common language: English. Some of these pupils have come for an intensive, one-year UK school experience, others to complete their schooling before going directly onto a British university.

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Posted in Education News, Weekly Blog.