Weekly Thursday Education News Round-Up – 25/07/2019

Around 9,000 pupils were entered for the wrong science GCSE paper last year, analysis by Ofqual has revealed.

Last summer, it emerged Ofqual had been forced to lower the pass grade for GCSE science higher tier exams amid concerns a large number of pupils would receive an “unclassified” grade. It has now emerged that this happened because around 9,000 pupils were incorrectly entered for the higher tier paper.

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Education Secretary Damian Hinds tells parents to get kids off phones and outside this summer – Exclusive: Mr Hinds has urged young people to resist the temptation to ‘binge on boxsets’ and warns of the ‘dangers’ of technology.

The Education Secretary Damian Hinds has demanded parents get children off their phones and video games and enjoy the outdoors over the long summer break. Mr Hinds has urged young people to resist the temptation to “binge on boxsets” when they break up from school, or while away their hours on social media. Instead, they should spend their time building dens, going for walks or visiting historic sites.

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Teachers ‘to get 2.75% pay rise’ – reports – The Times reports that the Treasury will unveil a £2 billion public sector pay deal – the biggest for six years – on Monday.

The newspaper also claims there will be additional funding for schools to pay for the rise. However, it is not clear whether the rise will be fully or just partially-funded. Schools are still waiting to see the report of the School Teachers’ Review Body and government response, which each year sets out the pay rises handed to teachers and leaders in England.

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Student wellbeing app shortlisted for Startup of the Year award – Emotional fitness app Fika is in the running for Natwest’s Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

Fika, an emotional fitness app for students, has been shortlisted for Startup of the Year as part of Natwest’s Great British Entrepreneur Awards. The app launched in February 2019 and specialises in helping students build emotional fitness by improving their resilience, confidence, focus, motivation, empathy and active listening skills.

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Why looked-after children need empathy most of all – The best way we can support looked-after children is by understanding the different layers they can show and bathing them in kindness, argues this Sendco.

I once taught a child so happy, so care free, so engaged in learning. And then, after the summer, he completely changed. He was unrecognisable. What had happened to the child I knew? That boy was a looked-after child, and these children come into our schools with a variety of needs. Those needs are complex and can show themselves in a variety of ways and, crucially, at different times.

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The government will hand £17 million in additional funding to academy trusts to help “strong and high-potential” chains to take on more schools – but eligibility for some trusts will depend on EBacc entries.

Damian Hinds, the education secretary, today announced the creation of a new trust capacity fund, the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at helping academy trusts to grow. Schools Week revealed in March that the government has handed out £126 million in sponsor capacity funding since 2013.

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£33.5m to help struggling schools improve – High-performing academy trusts will receive funding from September to help schools that require improvement.

A new £17 million fund to help high-performing academy trusts to support or take on more schools was announced today by education secretary Damian Hinds. And a further package of support worth an estimated £16.5 million will help 2,400 underperforming schools to improve their leadership.

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UUK launches major review of offer making – UUK chief executive says admissions should remain in the hands of universities but must ‘build greater levels of transparency, trust and public understanding’.

Universities UK (UUK) has launched a review of offer making in a potential shakeup to unconditional and contextual offers. The group will collect information on how universities make unconditional offers, a practice which was described as “unethical” by education secretary Damian Hinds in April. The panel may also suggest universities make applications after students have received their A level results.

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Education publisher Pearson has insisted there are currently “no specific plans” to phase out print textbooks in the UK, but stopped short of confirming that it may not do so in the future.

News that Pearson planned to become “digital first” caused consternation when it was reported by the BBC this week, with plans to make pupils rent physical textbooks in the hope that more will subscribe to e-textbooks. Concerns were raised about the financial impact of removing textbooks that can be easily borrowed, recycled or re-sold, as well as potential problems arising from technological issues and the lack of choice created.

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The Department for Education has confirmed plans to withdraw funding for 163 qualifications that “overlap” with A-levels – including 76 BTECs.

Ministers announced in March that they were considering withdrawing funding for “duplicate” qualifications, amid concerns some do not provide the same high-quality education as A-levels and other equivalents. Now the list of qualifications facing having funding withdrawn has been released, and the government has also confirmed it will also prevent any new qualification at the same level from getting funding approval from next year.

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Number of academies paying £150,000 salaries increases by 20 per cent, report finds – Data showed there were 146 academies paying at least one member of staff at least £150,000 in the year to 31 August 2018.

The number of academy trusts (AT) paying salaries of £150,000 or more has risen 20 per cent in two years – despite a funding crisis which has seen schools in England slash costs to manage budgets.
Data showed there were 146 academies paying at least one member of staff at least £150,000 in the year to 31 August 2018 – up from 121 on the 2015-16 academic year.

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Schools have been told they should teach pupils how to examine X-rated movies, get a good night’s sleep and edit Wikipedia.

The weird and wonderful suggestions are some of the 111 calls from campaigners this year alone about what should be taught in schools – equating to nearly four new suggestions each week. Others calls include for teachers to make oral sex and mutual masturbation sound “appealing, glamorous and sexy” as a way to cut teen pregnancy, and to put gardening on the national curriculum.

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Universities to look at post-qualification applications – Universities UK review will also look at contextual admissions and unconditional offers.

Universities are to look at whether the admissions system should be changed so that students apply to them after receiving their A-level results. Universities UK, which represents 136 institutions across the country, has launched a “fair admissions review” which will consider a range of issues.

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An academy trust that provided more than five years of improvement services to a failing maintained school while negotiations dragged on over its conversion has abruptly had its contract scrapped – and must pull out of the school next month.

Swale Academies Trust has been supporting The North School, in Kent, under a school improvement contract since March 2014. It was placed in special measures and handed an academy order in December 2014, but its academy conversion has been in limbo as private finance initiative negotiations between the council and government stall.

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Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London and foreign secretary, has been named as the new leader of the Conservative Party and will become prime minister tomorrow.

A big cash injection for schools is now all but inevitable. Johnson’s predecessor may not have been able to get one past the Treasury in her final weeks in office, but a Johnson is reported to be preparing an early announcement on the subject to prove he’s not just all about Brexit.

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Is UK edtech 2070-ready? – The Open University’s Future of Learning 2070 report predicts a fantastical world of technology-assisted education, but is this the direction the sector should take?.

Harold Wilson’s “University of the Air” was the brainchild of sociologist Michael Young, the man who coined the term ‘meritocracy’. In the early days, the OU was rebuffed by many – minister of state Jennie Lee fought hard against her superiors in the Department for Education to get the project off the ground. Her contribution is recognised at the OU’s headquarters in Milton Keynes where a staggering £17m high-technology building bears her name. But the OU was not the result of a fascination with new technology for its own sake – it was the opportunities tech offered for social transformation that galvanised support.

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‘Let’s salute our schools’ parent-volunteer army’ – Parents don’t have to give their time to run the school fete or disco. Where would we be without them.

With the academic year over in all but the more unusual authorities, presumably everyone’s had their summer fair and final discos for the year by now. With school budgets rapidly diminishing, and resources harder to come by, fundraising activities have become something of a core occupation of school leaders, as we try to find every possible way of paying for the essentials, while still affording a few of the desirables to make our pupils’ education better.

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University grade inflation: number of first-class degrees doubles – New OfS figures reveal that 29% of graduates last year received a first-class honours degree.

The number of graduates receiving a first-class degree has doubled since 2010/11, new figures from the Office for Students (OfS) reveal. Last year, one in three students graduating an English university received a first-class degree. The proportion of students graduating with a first-class degree has nearly doubled from 16% in 2010/11 to 29% in 2017/18. The OfS says its statistical modelling, which takes into account entrance qualifications and student characteristics, does not account for the rise.

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Can skills honed on the battlefield transfer to the classroom? – Very much so, says William Mackenzie-Green, soon to be head of history at King’s Hall School, and formerly a Royal Marines Commando

The Government’s announcement that it will offer £40,000 bursaries to armed forces personnel to train to become teachers is welcome news. Former defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, said: “Through leadership, teamwork and problem solving, veterans are ideally suited for a career in teaching.” For the uninitiated, a soldier-turned-teacher conjures an image of an authoritarian figure barking orders at petrified pupils. The reality is somewhat different.

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More trusts in deficit, plus 4 more academy sector accounts findings – The DfE has published its annual accounts for spending in the academies sector during the 2017-18 year.

Despite academies minister Lord Agnew’s heavily-publicised crackdown on executive pay, a higher proportion of trusts now pay staff over £150,000. A total of 146 trusts (4.8 per cent) had staff on over the £150,000 threshold, up from 125 (4 per cent) in 2016-17. Trusts with staff paid between £100,000 to £150,000 has also risen slightly, up from 941 last year (30.1 per cent) to 988 in 2017-18 (32.4 per cent). But the accounts state any change in pay because of the crackdown will “take some time to be reflected…and the full impact will be realised in future years”. The number of trustees now paid over £200k in the sector is up to 18, from 16 in 2016-17.

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Posted in Education News, Weekly Blog.