What’s in the news this week?

  • New analysis by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) and Professors John Jerrim and Toby Greany at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) examines how disadvantaged pupils in England compare with those in other countries. In maths, one of the key findings was

England’s disadvantaged pupils lag behind several other Western nations including Estonia, Canada, the Netherlands and Ireland – achieving around a third of a grade lower (on average). Disadvantaged pupils in Asian nations of Macao, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan are even further ahead – with England performing around half a grade lower in maths.

Read ‘Educational disadvantage: how does England compare’ here.

  • Relatively few students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, continue to study chemistry and other science subjects after compulsory education. According to research in the International Journal of Science Education pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds would benefit from support and encouragement to continue with science and having access to science-related extracurricular activities.
  • The Annual Parents Survey 2017 was published by the Department for Education to ‘to provide Ofsted with robust and timely evidence from parents to inform the development of the organisation’s strategy and priorities.’ It found that 61 per cent of parents agree that schools shouldn’t be given any notice of inspection. Unsurprisingly, the quality of teaching is the factor most commonly ranked as the most important aspect parents consider when their child is attending a childcare provider, school or college.
  • The majority of parents support the idea of unannounced school inspections and this is something Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman is now considering again.
  • Charles Wicksteed is credited with inventing swings and slides and according to his grandson Oliver, he would have disapproved of the current preoccupation with health and safety guidelines claiming that modern playgrounds have become sanitised by “nanny state” and “snowflake” parents.
  • Giving evidence to the  education select committee inquiry into alternative provision, Jules Daulby, director of education at The Driver Youth Trust, said that schools need more incentives to avoid exclusions.
  • Do you use emoji? Research says that because many young people rely on them to communicate, they are ruining their grasp of English.
  • The House of Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement’s report, The Ties that Bind: Citizenship and Civic Engagement in the 21st Century, has been published. It says,

The Government has allowed citizenship education in England to degrade to a parlous state. The decline of the subject must be addressed in its totality as a matter of urgency.

The committee calls for:

* A government target to have enough trained citizenship teachers to have a citizenship specialist in every secondary school.

* Government bursaries for people applying to train to teach citizenship.

* The National College for Teaching and Leadership (which was absorbed into the DfE this month) to allow citizenship teachers to apply to be specialist leaders of education.

* Ofsted should “undertake a review of the current provision and quality of citizenship education in schools and highlight best practice”.

* The government should review the citizenship curriculum and “formulate a new curriculum that includes the shared values of British citizenship, the National Citizen Service and active citizenship projects”.

The report also says,

The Government should stop using the term Fundamental British Values and instead use the term Shared Values of British Citizenship. It should recognise that the values are both shared with people from other countries and are essentially British.

  • ITV News report, “Pressure is growing on the Government to do more to remove asbestos from all schools. The daughter of a Norfolk Headteacher who died from an asbestos related cancer told ITV News Anglia ‘It’s a ticking time bomb’.”

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