Weekly Thursday Education News Round-Up – 31/10/2019

School toilet policies ‘could cause pupil incontinence’ – School policies that stop children from going to the toilet whenever they want pose a health risk, charity warns.

Inappropriate school toilet policies could lead to pupils developing health problems, a children’s charity has warned. Alina Lynden, from ERIC, a children’s bowel and bladder charity, said that school policies that do not allow pupils free access to the toilet can lead to continence issues in young people.

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Beyond bricks and mortar – Julie Ferry takes a look at how some older HE buildings are being transformed with innovative refurbishments.

Quietly on campus and cities around the UK a change is happening. While skylines around the country have been characterised by imposing cranes, as universities have engaged in a building boom resulting in world-class facilities to attract and retain the best and brightest students and staff, there has also been a recent shift in the management of their estates. Increasingly, as uncertainty grows around funding, universities are looking towards the refurbishment of existing buildings with some innovative and inspiring solutions.

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Relying on research is ‘dangerous’, teachers warned – Schools should be wary of believing there are ‘simple, off-the-shelf solutions for complex problems’ cautions leading educationalist.

Too much reliance on “off-the-shelf” ideas drawn from research in the classroom is “dangerous” and can undermine teacher expertise, a leading education academic and former government schools tsar has warned. According to Professor Mel Ainscow, the current focus on basing classroom pedagogy on research could become problematic. “There are dangerous side products” of this approach, he told Tes. “It gives the idea that there are simple, off-the-shelf solutions for complex problems.” “It also disregards the expertise of the teachers,” the academic, whom ministers appointed to lead the Greater Manchester Challenge school improvement programme, added. “You have to start from what’s there.”

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The Department for Education has updated headline results for last year’s phonics screening check and key stage 1 SATs after mistakes in its original data release were identified.

The department confirmed today that a number of changes had been made to a data release entitled phonics screening check and key stage 1 assessments in England, 2018, which was published last September. The mistakes relate to how some headline data was reported, and not the individual scores of pupils or schools, the DfE confirmed. In the updated document, the mean phonics score achieved by pupils last year has been corrected from 33 to 34. The mistake in the original document was the result of a rounding error, the DfE said.

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Here’s how your pupils are really revising for GCSEs – Most pupils are not studying for their GCSEs effectively, explains Marc Smith, despite there being plenty of evidence about what works.

We are now pretty clear on what study habits make a difference when exam time rolls around. Back in 2013, a group of cognitive psychologists published a paper looking at the effectiveness of a range of common study strategies. The researchers – including John Dunlosky, professor of psychology at Kent State University in the US – concluded that many of the most common study techniques weren’t very effective, while some of the most effective were rarely used.

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Children as young as 14 months have sense of counting before they understand numbers, study suggests – Researchers have found that children can recognise counting ‘years earlier than previously believed’.

Children as young as 14 months have been found to have a sense of counting even before they can say “one”, “two” and “three”, scientists have said. Researchers in the US found toddlers who hear objects being counted can link the number words with the corresponding quantities, even though they will not understand the full meaning of these words until they are about four.

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Millennium Point Charitable Trust offers full university scholarship – The trust will fund an undergraduate degree at Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment.

The Millennium Point Charitable Trust is offering a full university scholarship to one student from the West Midlands. Entries are particularly encouraged from underrepresented groups such as LGBTQ+ and BAME, as well as those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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Depth of school funding crisis revealed – Dozens of councils told the DfE that balancing their schools budgets was impossible within three years.

The depth of the school funding crisis has been laid bare in documents seen by Tes detailing the gaping holes in education budgets across the country. The freedom of information responses reveal the substantial deficits in many councils’ schools budgets and suggest that dozens of areas will stay in the red for years to come.

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Schools and Academies Show: Empowering the education sector – The Schools and Academies Show returns to Birmingham’s NEC from 13–14 November.

The education sector remains under pressure and faces both new and long-standing challenges. Funding remains tight, inspection frameworks are changing, rates of disadvantage and high needs are increasing, all of which places more work on teachers and school staff. But there is opportunity, too, with more solutions, providers, talent and expertise within the sector than ever before. There is also a new secretary of state for education, with a background as a governor and a TA as a wife, promising extra money and support in the coming months.

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Telling pupils they can fly will lead to crash landings – Urged to set their sights high, pupils feel the need to achieve excellent grades. No wonder they feel stressed.

More than 80 per cent of teachers reckon that focus on exams has become so “disproportionate” that exams are now valued more than wellbeing. Meanwhile, 80 per cent of pupils claim that exam pressure is adversely impacting on their mental health. Two major findings from research by the Health Foundation link concentration on academic outcomes to inadequate mental health support for pupils in schools.

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More students turning to sex work to pay bills, survey reveals – The number of students turning to sex work doubles since 2017.

One in 25 students are now involved in ‘adult’ work to make ends meet, money advice site Save the Student has revealed. Examples of adult work cited by the study include sugar dating, selling used underwear and having sex for money. The figure has doubled since 2017 and, when considered alongside Hesa data, suggests around 70,000 undergraduates may be involved in exchanging sexual activity for money. The increase corresponds to rising living costs and feelings of helplessness about money among students, Save the Student said.

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Academies that can’t demonstrate good governance and show “restraint” in their chief executive pay face being denied access to maintenance funding.

Ministers have attached the new rule to criteria for next year’s condition improvement fund, an annual grant pot of more than £400 million which funds improvements and upgrades to school buildings. Schools Week revealed earlier this year how the government demanded schools that won condition improvement funding this year would have to first agree to receive a visit from cost-cutting consultant, with schools “expected” to implement their money-saving recommendations.

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UTCs: Half full, closing down and underperforming – National Audit Office investigation highlights concerns about viability and standards in government’s flagship technical schools.

The government has spent hundreds of millions of pounds creating a new wave of technical schools but more than one in six has already closed, they are less than half full and are underperforming compared with other secondaries, a spending watchdog has revealed. A new National Audit Office report highlights concerns about both the standards and financial viability of University Technical Colleges, which the Department for Education has spent £792 million on since the programme first launched.

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Faith and grammar schools plummet in ‘fairer’ tables – New report warns Progress 8 tables punish schools for having pupils from underperforming groups.

The league table performance of grammar and faith schools drops substantially once “fairer” measures of pupil background are added to progress measures, a new study demonstrates. The report published today claims that the Department for Education’s current performance tables, based on Progress 8 scores, “punish and reward the wrong schools”. Researchers have instead created a new Fair Secondary School Index which factors in pupils’ ethnicity, deprivation and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to give each school an adjusted progress score.

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Our sector’s wake-up call – Gareth Doodes, headmaster of Dover College, responds to Labour’s plans to integrate independent schools into the state sector.

I think that every leader of an independent school felt deep concern hearing of Labour’s policy to integrate independent schools into the maintained sector. It was a shocking attack following mounting pressure over a number of years. Many will say that the move is about equality. Others will say it is Momentum launching its long-awaited class war against what it sees as the elite. A few in the sector will blame the sector itself for not adapting to the economic climate, or undertaking an inter-school arms race by building facilities that are the envy of the world, but which others view as denying financial aid to those who need it most.

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Ministers are aiming to introduce a British sign language GCSE “as soon as possible” – and have pledged to consult on draft content next year.

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, has confirmed Department for Education officials are now “working with subject experts to develop draft subject content” for the GCSE. The government relaxed its position on the creation of a BSL GCSE in 2018 following threats of a legal challenge by the family of a 12-year-old deaf pupil.

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Does homework help primary school children or is it unnecessary stress?

It’s Sunday night and it’s chaos. Your youngest forgot to mention their spelling test on Tuesday. Your eldest hasn’t finished their report on the Second World War — and it’s due tomorrow. As you enter a screaming match and then attempt to scramble something together, you can’t help but wonder: is homework really worth it?

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Geared Up for STEM programme renewed for 2019/20 – The Welsh programme has been renewed for another year, encouraging school pupils to pursue STEM

Newport teenagers competed in an engineering challenge as the Geared Up for STEM programme was confirmed for another year. The competition was the culmination of the 2018/29 programme, in which ten schools across Newport came together for a car construction and programming challenge.

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TAs are the lifeblood of schools – but we overlook them – Teaching assistants’ wellbeing is compromised daily by the difficulty of the role.

The wellbeing of teachers is a constant consideration for any school manager. And yet the humble teaching assistant seldom gets the same amount of thought. If we consider the effects of austerity over the past 10 years in our schools, TAs have certainly taken the brunt of all the government can chuck at them. Jobs have gone in scores, and those still in the profession are doing far more than 10 years ago, without the remuneration to go with it.

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Apprenticeship funding: 4 options to fix the system – The apprenticeship levy is running dry. There are no easy options left – but urgent action is needed.

A problem shared is a problem halved. As in life, so in government policy. It’s usually better to be open and honest about how things are working in practice and the trade-offs that limited resources mean. Yet that’s not been the case with the apprenticeship levy, as a new Learning and Work Institute report shows.

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Posted in Education News, Weekly Blog.