Weekly Thursday Education News Round-Up – 23/05/2019

Government to look at IGCSE university entrance ‘loophole’ – Universities minister Chris Skidmore says government has the power to look at higher education admissions criteria.

A Department for Education minister has said he is going to look at whether IGCSEs are being used by private schools as an unfair “loophole” to get their pupils university places. Chris Skidmore, the universities minister, said the DfE had the power to review the admissions criteria used by universities.

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UK economy risks losing £3.3bn without FE funding boost; – Colleges will not be able to deliver the government;s new flagship policies at current funding levels, warns AoC report.

The government risks losing out on £3.3 billion in economic output if it fails to adequately support the college sector, according to a new report. Of that amount, £1.7 billion relates to the Stem-relevant T-level routes of engineering and manufacturing, digital, health and science, says the report, entitled “Skills Shortages and Funding Gaps: An analysis of the costs of under-investment in skills” and published by the Association of Colleges today.

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Three colleges served financial health notices – Colleges at risk of FE commissioner intervention after being assessed as having ‘inadequate’ financial health by ESFA.

The colleges in the Hadlow Group and Hartlepool College have been served with financial health notices to improve by the Education and Skills Funding Agency. West Kent and Ashford College, part of the Hadlow Group, was found to have inadequate financial health in 2017-18 based on the three-year financial plan submitted in January 2019, and in 2018-19 due to the requirement for exceptional financial support, according to the letters from the ESFA, published today.

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Thousands of schools to pilot new reception class check-up – Almost 10,000 schools sign up to pilot the Reception Baseline Assessment – the 20-minute check that will mean Key Stage 1 tests are removed.

Over 9,600 primary schools have registered to take part in the pilot of the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA), the new 20-minute check that will provide a snapshot of pupils’ development when they start school.

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NGA campaign calls on teachers to become governors of other schools – Teachers and leaders should become governors of other schools to enrich their professional development, the National Governance Association has said.

A campaign by the NGA and Inspiring Governance seeks to encourage education professionals to join the governing boards of other schools or academy trusts.

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Investigation: Number of pupils in private alternative provision soars – Spend on private alternative provision (AP) has rocketed by almost £7 million in the past three years, with councils sending more vulnerable pupils to settings that are not inspected by Ofsted or registered with the government.

A Schools Week investigation has found 26 cash-strapped councils are now spending at least £23.8 million sending pupils to private AP, with the numbers of youngsters sent to such settings nearly doubling.

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Ofsted’s new MAT check would take 80 years to assess all trusts – Ofsted admits that, under its MAT summary evaluation system, it only has the funding to assess 12 academy trusts a year.

It would take Ofsted more than 80 years to assess all the country’s multi-academy trusts under the current rate using its new system for checking on the academy chains. Tes can reveal that the inspectorate will check on the performance of just a dozen MATs this year under its new summary evaluations.

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Turning educator memories into education technology – Promethean has launched its Classroom Story competition, where schools could win a technology package.

Stories about workload, wellbeing and record numbers of teachers leaving the profession are dominating the headlines in the UK, in what some are calling a ‘crisis in education’. Whilst the challenges educators are facing urgently need addressing, it is also important to recognise some of the amazing work teachers are doing and the impact they are making to the lives of their students.

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Schools have achieved high EBacc entry rates by using “more creative ways” to teach non-EBacc subjects, such as after-school sessions, in tutor time, or cramming them into “intensive” days.

Research commissioned by the Department for Education found schools entering more than 80 per cent of pupils into the EBacc had mostly done so by making it compulsory, or “strongly encouraging” pupils to take those subjects.

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Academy trusts should avoid a “one-size-fits-all” policy for improving retention across their schools, new research suggests, after finding staff satisfaction varied more widely between individual schools than trusts.

Forty per cent of 10,530 staff who took the Edurio Staff Wellbeing and Working Conditions Survey, published today, are at risk of resigning – with the quality of leadership the key factor. The research found staff satisfaction levels with working conditions varied considerably between the 322 schools surveyed, including among schools belonging to the same trust.

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Up to 250 state school pupils will be offered “transformative paths” to study at the University of Oxford, as the elite institution seeks to ensure a quarter of its students come from the most under-represented backgrounds.

But a leading social mobility charity said it was “crucial” that the university works with schools to make ensure the right pupils are targeted. Two new access schemes, Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford, will seek to boost the proportion of students at the university from the most deprived backgrounds from 15 per cent to 25 per cent within four years.

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A since-closed free school was given the funding green light just nine working days before it was due to open, with civil servants issuing “dire warnings of impending closure” from day one, it has been claimed.

In a damning report revealing the chaotic behind-the-scenes process of opening a free school, former trustees and staff at the 14 to 19 Robert Owen academy, in Herefordshire, blamed a “veritable montage of ever-changing faces” from government departments, regional schools commissioners and Ofsted for the school’s demise.

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Supercomputer transforms archaeology at University of Bradford – The university’s first supercomputer is revolutionising approaches to archaeological research.

Leading archaeologists at the University of Bradford are utilising a supercomputer to create accurate 3D models of endangered and destroyed ancient monuments and sites. The high-performance computing (HPC) system, designed by HPC developer OCF, is helping to support sustainable heritage initiatives, such as the Curious Travellers project, led by the University of Bradford.

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Fostering creativity and concentration at Huddersfield University – Libraries are set to see an influx of students busily revising for exams. The last thing they need is added stress from working in an unwelcome, uncomfortable environment.

With the end of the academic year fast approaching, university libraries are set to see an influx of students busily revising for exams, finishing assignments and dissertations. The last thing they need is added stress from working in an unwelcome, uncomfortable environment such as a cold and uninviting library. This was front of mind when we came to refurbishing the library at my alma mater, the University of Huddersfield.

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Surge in demand for cricket sparks new initiative – A former England cricketer has taken action after curriculum changes led to more interest in cricket in schools.

Former England cricketer Lydia Greenway has developed a coaching initiative to help PE teachers deliver cricket lessons in schools. Recent changes to the GCSE curriculum meant rounders, the original sport used to assess female pupils, was axed in favour of cricket.

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We must do more to end confusion of SEND system, admits minister – DfE accepts there is an ‘awful lot of confusion out there’ over how support for special needs should be commissioned

A minister has admitted that there is confusion about the way support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is commissioned. Children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi told MPs that the government needed to do more to ensure that there was “the least possible confusion” in the delivery of support to children and their families, during questioning from MPs today.

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Eight universities ignore Hinds’ plea to ditch strings-attached offers – Eight universities have seemingly refused to stop issuing strings-attached unconditional offers despite a plea from the education secretary.

Last month, Damian Hinds wrote to 23 universities known to make so-called “conditional unconditional” offers, whereby an institution initially requires pupils to meet certain entry criteria to gain a place, but drops those conditions once a pupil names the university as their first choice.

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Apprenticeships are falling despite introduction of new levy, Public Accounts Committee finds – In the 2017/18 academic year there were 375,800 apprenticeship starts.

Apprenticeships are falling despite the Government’s introduction of a new levy, the Public Accounts Committee has found. The number of apprenticeship starts dropped by 26 per cent after the apprenticeship levy was introduced, the report said.

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EngineeringUK releases free guide to engineering careers – ‘Getting the message across’ is a guide for engineering outreach in schools.

EngineeringUK has released a free guide for schools, helping to deliver outreach programmes to inform young people about the possibilities of an engineering career. The guide, entitled ‘Getting the message across’, encourages STEM professionals and ambassadors to plan inspiring and impactful activities by providing real-world examples of engineering.

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Meet the man defining the college of the future – Sir Ian Diamond hopes the Commission for the College of the Future will raise the profile of education’s ‘hidden gems’

There’s not much about the education system that Sir Ian Diamond doesn’t know. He’s spent the best part of the past decade running a university, and even chaired a government review. Yet, he says his first role in further education, as chair of Edinburgh College, has left him staggered. “It has been absolutely brilliant,” he states. “There have been surprises, but let me be very clear: they have all been good ones. I had no idea, I will be honest, of the breadth of what Edinburgh College does.”

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Posted in Education News, Weekly Blog.