77 new free schools to open
The government has approved a total of 77 new free schools. Among the new schools are: Saracens High School, a new secondary for north London, the result of a partnership between Rugby European Cup holders Saracens and another local school, Ashmole Academy; Cumbria Academy for Autism, led by local parents of autistic children; 21 primary schools in the Midlands, south and east of England run by REAch2 Academy Trust; and three new secondaries and a primary run by Harris Federation to include a specialist science school in south London. NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney was critical of the move: "Free schools were originally promoted as a parent-led initiative that would provide choice, but now we are seeing the dominance of the programme by just a few big academy brands,” while NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby added: "A quarter of open free schools are not in areas of basic need and over half are serving more advantaged communities. This is not an ideal allocation of scarce resources.”
BBC News Independent i, Page: 2 The Sun, Page: 2 Daily Mirror, Page: 16 Yorkshire Post, Page: 11
UK primary class sizes outstrip most
The average teaching group in British primary schools has 26 pupils – beaten only by China, Japan, Israel and Chile, a study by the OECD has revealed. It is higher than the European Union average of 20 and OECD average of 21. Overall, primary class sizes in the UK state sector are the fifth highest out of 33 countries. The OECD pointed out an ‘anomaly’ in the UK education system, which sees the average size of state lower secondary classes at just 20. Andreas Schleicher, of the OECD, said that in “most other countries, it would be the other way around,” adding: “You ask yourself who needs really small classes, it’s the small kids.” The OECD research also shows the gulf between class sizes in state primary and private schools in Britain is wider than in any other nation. In UK prep schools, pupils are taught in groups of just 14.
The Daily Telegraph, Page: 18 Daily Mail, Page: 45
Kent school bids to be first new grammar
A non-selective school in Kent is believed to be the first to outline plans to become a grammar school after Theresa May outlined education changes. Meopham School, run by Swale Academies Trust, has set out plans to consult parents on converting to a mixed-sex grammar by 2018. The trust has stressed the consultation plans are in their earliest stages. The school said it wanted to provide a mixed grammar school, which the area lacked.
BBC News The Daily Telegraph, Page: 18 Independent i, Page: 4 The Scotsman, Page: 2
Grammar plans lure independents to state sector
Dozens of independent schools will convert to the state sector if new grammar schools are allowed, as selection on ability and faith will appeal to those that face a precarious financial future, headteachers predict. Any selective independent schools that become state-funded free schools must change their admissions policies. This has deterred many from applying, the Times Educational Supplement reports. One headteacher in the north of England told the magazine: "I believe as many as 20% of fee-paying schools in the region would seriously consider conversion to grammars."
The Times, Page: 33
Osborne speaks against grammar policy
George Osborne has warned Theresa May not to lose focus on improving education for hundreds of thousands of pupils in non-selective schools across Britain. In his first major interview since being axed as Chancellor, he stressed he was not against new grammar schools opening in areas which wanted them. But he also told BBC radio: "Eighty per cent of the political discussion is about where 20% of the children go, when in fact we should be focusing on where 80% of the children go in a selective system.” He added: “I think the real focus of education reform remains the academy programme transforming the comprehensive schools that most people in this country send their children to."
The Guardian, Page: 8 The Independent, Page: 4 Evening Standard, Page: 4 Daily Mail, Page: 10
Schools change admissions tactics to spot tutoring
Leading independent schools are changing their admissions tactics in order to see through "over-tutored" pupils. Brighton College, Wellington College and Westminster are among those who are changing the way year-six students are examined in order to differentiate between the most naturally able and those who have received the most help. It comes after a number of head teachers have expressed concern that tutoring means children act like "performing animals" just to gain a place at a top school. The changes include a six hour interview process as opposed to the traditional hour, which head teachers believe will allow the child to relax and their real personality to shine through.
The Daily Telegraph, Page: 18
Relaxation of faith school rules ‘threatens diversity’
Following the race riots of 2001, a report by Ted Cantle concluded that the breakdown in community cohesion was partly caused by segregated schools. Fifteen years on, Professor Cantle and other experts have warned of a fresh danger to diversity and cohesion arising from Theresa May's plans to scrap the requirement for popular new faith schools to accept half of children from outside their religion. Professor Cantle, a government adviser, commented: “Substantial number of non-faith schools are already highly segregated but faith schools are segregated by design not just by residential area. Now the 50% over-subscription criterion has been torn up. I feel it's very retrograde.”
The Times, Page: 33
Fair Workload Charter – testing teaching workload reduction
To battle teachers’ workload, Nottingham’s Education Improvement Board has launched a Fair Workload Charter for schools. It includes: no more than two hours on top of directed time each day for teachers; clear policies about what student work should – and shouldn’t – be marked; and annual review of workload policies and their effectiveness. The final point here is key, explains David Anstead, EIB board member: “If leaders want more emphasis on marking, for example, they will have to have less on planning.” The scheme, which also highlights the importance of “attractive pay” and “high-quality training”, has been created with representatives from Unison, the NUT, the NAHT, the NASUWT, and the ATL.
First years of secondary turn pupils off
The proportion who "feel good about school" falls 10 percentage points to 84% between ages seven and 14, suggests a GL Assessment poll of 32,000 pupils. "While a whole host of factors come into play at this point in a child's development - hormones, friendships, growing up, taking control - the transition to secondary school marks a significant change for students and it is at this point that we begin to see a change in their attitudes," say the authors. The new report suggests pupils' difficulties in coping with a larger school, up to 10 different subject teachers and a more complex curriculum, can last well into Year Nine. However, by contrast, the figures also revealed that children responded well to the more demanding secondary curriculum and also felt more confident about their abilities to tackle new work.
Teachers crowned Good Food Champions
A group of teachers from Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are the first to gain new qualifications for food-related teaching in schools. The Good Food Champions scheme, which carries professional recognition from The General Teaching Council for Scotland and is in its first year, took teachers on a "soil to plate" journey to equip them with all they need to teach children about food and farming. The programme will now be offered to teachers in Glasgow and Lanarkshire.
Aberdeen Press & Journal, Page: 12-13
Council issues guidelines on relaxing uniform rules
Glasgow City Council has issued teachers with new guidelines, which relax rules on uniforms, encouraging schools to go easier on those from low income families who fail to follow clothing rules. The rules come in response to an investigation into the cost of a state education in Glasgow - where up to 50% of children live in poverty. The guidelines include: “Families should be given an appropriate amount of time to purchase replacement items… If pupils do not wear correct uniform then income related issues should be considered when approaching the issue with pupils." It adds: "Schools should design their uniform policies with very minimum costs at the forefront of their minds."
Sinitta: Teach children about alternative families
Eighties’ singer Sinitta has called for information on fostering and adoption to be introduced into the school curriculum. Sinitta – who adopted her children Magdalena and Zac in 2007 – said children should be made aware of the processes in order to banish the myths surrounding them. She said: “It would help if other children had a notion of this being normal, that alternative families are normal, that some people have same sex parents and some children are adopted.”
Yoga on the curriculum
The Guardian features Anjna Pindoria, chemistry teacher at the Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Elstree, who for the past six years has been offering lower sixth students yoga lessons. "I definitely think it should be part of the curriculum. I'm so lucky to be in a school that has recognised the benefits of yoga, not only with helping with the academic demands, but social pressures as well," she says.
The Daily Telegraph, Page: 15
Prestigious golf school in legal battle
The Lee Westwood Golf School is thought to have received hundreds of thousands of pounds in public funding in the past five years for providing a Btec qualification, despite parents of students believing they were paying for a private education, and while not being subject to oversight by either Ofsted of the DfE. Two families have been taken to court for withdrawing their children, but they have counter-claimed, alleging breach of contract and have outlined a number of grievances, including declining quality and the Btec provision issue.
The Times, Page: 13
William and Kate promote mental health awareness
The Duke of Cambridge has spoken out about the pressures facing young children as he visited Stewards Academy in Harlow with Catherine to learn how pupils are coping with big challenges in their lives. After listening to the children talk about issues including divorce, bullying and lack of confidence, the Prince talked about how mental health should not be a taboo subject. In a blog post on the subject, he also highlighted the couple’s strong wish to ensure their children would benefit from an emotionally happy school environment.
The Times, Page: 6 Evening Standard, Page: 9 Daily Express, Page: 2-3 Daily Star, Page: 9 Yorkshire Post, Page: 7
Back to school for Bank of England boss
Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, let his guard down as he was quizzed pupils aged 11 to 18 at Whitley Academy in Coventry, as part of the BBC school report. While he confessed that if he had all the money in the UK he would spend it all on chocolate and music, he was also asked more serious questions about working with David Cameron and Theresa May, and about the result of the Brexit vote.
The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 37 The Guardian, Page: 36 The Independent BBC News