Weekly Thursday Education News Round-Up – 24/10/2019

The government has been warned its repeated claim that school budgets are being boosted by £14 billion “could mislead” – while a teaching union has deleted an incorrect funding claim from its website.

The disclosures come amid the latest intervention from the statistics watchdog which has already previously slapped down both the Department for Education and the National Education Union over their use of statistics. The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR), the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority, said today it is “vital that data and information on school funding published by the DfE are presented clearly and not open to misinterpretation”.

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Eton and Harrow use their contacts to help state pupils with careers advice – More than 60 private school heads have pledged to ask alumni, parents, staff and other contacts to give careers talks to state school.

Elite private schools including Eton and Harrow have pledged to open their contact books to help state school pupils get ahead in the world of work. More than 60 head teachers affiliated with the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), an association of independent schools, have pledged to ask alumni, parents, staff and other contacts to give careers talks to pupils from state schools.

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New service aims to help universities take a digital leap – Coursera for Campus offers more than 3,600 courses to help learners prepare for a world of AI and automation.

A new online service has been launched with the aim of helping higher education institutions across the globe confront the challenges presented by the fourth industrial revolution. Coursera for Campus offers more than 3,600 courses to help learners prepare for a world of AI and automation. The move follows publication of Coursera’s 2019 Global Skills Index, which claimed that two-thirds of the world’s population is falling behind in critical skills.

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The contradiction in the school uniform debate – Schoolblazer sheds light on the unethical practices happening around the world in the manufacture of school uniforms, and how it is promoting respect for workers’ rights.

There’s an interesting contradiction inherent in the ethics and environment debates currently taking place. On the one hand, retailers need to reduce single-use plastics, their carbon footprint and their reliance on non-sustainable materials. On the other, they are under increasing pressure from all sides to reduce their prices to meet the demand for quality garments at bargain-basement prices. Back-to-school has become a flashpoint, with parents opting for basic uniform sets from popular retailers that sell for as little as £3.75.

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Home education is often the “last resort” of parents of secondary school children with complex needs after their relationship with school has broken down, Ofsted has warned.

The inspectorate’s new research has called for changes to legislation to ensure that agencies including schools and local authorities provide more support to home educated children and their parents. The watchdog has warned it may be evidence of off-rolling if a school writes a letter to remove a child to home education on behalf of a parent.

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EBacc entry at new 40% high but DfE target out of sight – New GCSE data shows the highest ever entry levels for the English Baccalaureate, while attainment per pupil remains broadly stable.

Entries to the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) have increased by 1.6 percentage points since 2018 to 40 per cent, the highest entry rate since the introduction of the measure in 2010, according to new provisional data. However, the proportion of pupils studying the academic subjects that make up the performance measure is way below the 75 per cent target the Department for Education set itself to achieve by 2022.

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Clean energy: 20 universities strike ‘landmark’ £50m deal – The deal secures electricity at a competitive market rate for the next 10 years.

Twenty universities have struck a ‘landmark’ renewable energy deal worth £50m. The deal – which includes the universities of Newcastle, Anglia Ruskin, Exeter and Aberystwyth – fixes electricity prices at a competitive rate for the next decade. The ‘power purchase agreement’ (PPA) marks the first time universities have come together to buy clean electricity.

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Universities are using the latest technology to understand why so many students are dropping out – With more students failing to stay the course, universities are using algorithms to understand undergraduate behaviour.

“I didn’t like the excess – drinking until you’re throwing up in the street,” says Matt Willis about dropping out of university. He remembers the astonished reaction of an Italian student to the “boozy culture”.

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OfS announces £13m for postgrad STEM conversion courses – The government’s digital strategy predicts that 90% of jobs will require digital skills by 2040.

The Office for Students will spend £13m on postgraduate STEM conversion courses. The courses will “quickly upskill” arts students for digital careers, the university watchdog said. The postgraduate courses are designed to boost the number of graduates with skills in artificial intelligence and data science. The Office for Students (OfS) is launching a competition to invite university partners to develop and implement the postgraduate schemes, which it hopes will attract as many as 2,500 graduates by 2023.

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The financial benefit of going to university has slumped over 20 years – Graduates born in 1970 earned 19 per cent more than non-graduates, but those born in 1990 only earned 11 per cent more.

Graduates born in 1970 enjoyed a much larger “graduate premium” from going to university than those born two decades later, a study has found. Research by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and the Department of Economics at Warwick University found that graduates born in 1970 earned 19 per cent more per hour than non-graduates at age 26.

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Students encouraged to become leaders of tomorrow – Year 11 and lower sixth students from South West state and independent schools have joined together for the inaugural Inter-School Leadership Symposium.

Students from a range of Somerset state and independent schools joined Millfield students for a day of training sessions that aimed to build their confidence and encourage them to become the leaders of tomorrow. Participants came from Strode College, Sexey’s School, Bridgwater and Taunton College, Richard Huish College in Taunton, St Dunstan’s School in Glastonbury, and Cheltenham schools Balcarras Academy and Cheltenham Ladies’ College.

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Nesta and DfE launch edtech trial system for schools and colleges – The Department for Education and Nesta have launched the Edtech Innovation Testbed, matching schools and colleges to edtech products.

Nesta and the DfE have today launched the Edtech Innovation Testbed, a programme allowing schools and colleges across England to trial edtech products for free. The testbed will help to match schools and colleges with edtech products that are suited to their needs, and independent experts will be on hand to help evaluate the approach and feed back to edtech companies.

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Value of degrees: sector body announces plans to protect standards – After releasing a statement in May 2019, a sector advisory body has released new guidance on degree classifications.

New guidance on degrees classifications has been published for universities in an effort to protect the value of undergraduate qualifications. The UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment (UKSCQA) released its common degree classification descriptions that set out a general criteria for awarding bodies to follow. After an 18-month programme involving Universities UK, Guild HE and the Quality Assurance Agency, the new guidance follows a sector-wide statement in May 2019 which pledged to tackle grade inflation.

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Call for teachers to cover online gaming dangers – Report from children’s commissioner calls for teachers to guide pupils on how to behave when gaming online rather than ‘exclusively’ focusing on social media dangers.

Teachers should guide pupils on how to behave when gaming online as part of citizenship lessons, rather than exclusively focusing on the dangers posed by social media, according to a report published today. The report – Gaming the System – published by children’s commissioner Anne Longfield, calls for teachers to cover how pupils should behave when they are gaming online with friends, as well as prepared for how they should interact with strangers online. The research focused on several games that covered a range of associated risks: Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft, as well as the Fifa and Call of Duty franchises.

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In2ScienceUK launches pilot to improve social mobility in STEM – The non-profit is partnering with the Royal Society to provide STEM work placements for underrepresented groups.

STEM charity In2ScienceUK is partnering with the Royal Society to pilot a work placement scheme for disadvantaged and underrepresented groups. The programme will start in January 2020 and will place students with research fellows from the Royal Society, allowing them first-hand experience of STEM careers.

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How can we build better connections between school and home? – We have never been able to respond, react and converse faster than we can now, but that doesn’t always mean we do it better, says headmistress of St Margaret’s School.

The general pace of life for families nowadays is so fast-moving that it is becoming even more challenging for schools to build meaningful connections between school life and home. From the way we communicate in our ever-evolving digital world, to the plethora of extracurricular activities and family occasions taking place outside of school, communication between home and school can become disjointed and confusing, which is unhelpful to all parties.

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Teachers are giving up running extra-curricular activities and leaving the profession after being denied pay progression because of issues outside their control..

A union boss this week also warned of an “increasing groundswell of opinion” against performance-related pay (PRP), as teachers spoke of how being passed over for pay rises demoralised them and their colleagues. Introduced in 2014, PRP allows schools to give rises to staff if they meet certain targets or benchmarks.

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School chain launches ‘community fridges’ with leftover food to help hungry families and cut waste – The fridges are available to families for free and are discreetly placed on the school site to avoid stigma

A group of primary schools has started offering “community fridges” to help get food to struggling families and cut waste. Reach2, which is the biggest primary school academy chain in England, has said it will leave food from its catering department at the end of service in fridges around its schools in a bid to combat childhood hunger.

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Schools in England have lost more than £2.8 million in funding this year after failing to enrol thousands of sixth formers in additional English and maths classes.

Analysis of funding allocation data by Schools Week’s sister paper FE Week shows the government reduced funding for 139 academies, 42 school sixth forms and 24 university technical colleges and studio schools this year because of a controversial condition of funding relating to retakes. Since September 2014 it has been compulsory for pupils who did not achieve at least a grade C or 4 in English and maths to continue to study the subjects during their post-16 education.

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Council asks judge to extend ban on anti-LGBT protesters near Birmingham primary school – The city council has asked a judge to extend the exclusion zone.

Anti-LGBT protesters in Birmingham could face a widened exclusion zone, after the city council asked a judge to extend a pre-existing ban. Anderton Park Primary School has become the focal point of a long running battle over equality lessons taught within the city, which originally sparked protests at a different school back in February.

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Posted in Education News, Weekly Blog.