What’s been happening in the news?
- According to Virginia Crompton, chief executive of the Big Ideas Company, history lessons are too focussed on men fighting on the battlefields while women are “pushed to the side”.
- The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee says Learndirect Ltd has failed to tackle its poor performance, letting thousands of learners down.
- World Book Day has been and gone although plenty of children missed it because of the snow. For those schools that managed to open some encouraged children NOT to dress up and focus on books instead. Many schools realise the financial burden of forking out for costumes and putting families under pressure.
- Talking of snow, in Bournemouth more than 1,500 uneaten school dinners were given to charities when schools closed.
- Probably not a surprise but the Sutton Trust report that disadvantaged students are more than three times as likely to live at home while attending university than their wealthier peers. See their Home and Away report for further details. They found,
British Pakistani and British Bangladeshi students are over six times more likely than White students to stay living at home and study locally – with the chances increasing substantially since the increase in fees to £9,000. Whilst cultural differences might explain some of this disparity, it also underscores the fact that many universities remain white-dominated spaces, limiting university choices for BAME students who may feel more comfortable in a more diverse university.
- A group of doctors and fertility experts has said girls should be taught the best way to get pregnant in compulsory sex education classes which now include lessons on when and how to conceive. The Fertility Education Initiative (FEI) told The Times that it was calling for a more balanced approach to sex education advocating a move away from the current focus on contraception and pregnancy.
- Teachers often say the ‘learning is messy’ – so is assessment. Assessment changes place enormous strain on teachers, narrow tests result in a narrowing of the curricula and the ‘do or die’ nature of tests puts stress on the whole school population. ASCL launched its Sense and Accountability report, which examines how primary schools are held to account and how this can be done better and recommend. They say “the principles of an effective and fair accountability system should include the following:
- start from a shared understanding of what outcomes we, as a society, want for our children and young people.
- be based around a set of measures which incentivise schools to deliver on these outcomes, seeking ways to recognise and reward aspects which are important but difficult to measure, as well as those which are more easily quantifiable.
- drive positive behaviour.
- be based on information which is as accurate as possible, and not try to read too much into a small, unrepresentative amount of data.
- be fair to schools in different circumstances and contexts, while recognising the importance of enabling every child to reach their potential.
- lead to fair, proportionate, transparent and constructive consequences for schools which fall short of its desired outcomes, aligned with the best current evidence of what is most likely to lead to improvements.
- be relentlessly self-critical, regularly evaluating impact and modifying as necessary.