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Items relating to the work of schools and colleges, including resources and training opportunities.

Maths premium for GCSE maths announced.

Colleges and other post-16 providers could be in line for an extra £500 per student to help them achieve a grade 4 or above in GCSE maths.

The Department for Education has announced a trial of a basic maths premium to see if extra up-front funding, or the incentive of extra funding based on achievement, improves outcomes.

To be eligible for the trial, providers must be in a geographical area where current educational performance is defined as weak by the DfE and have students enrolled on a 16-19 programme who have yet to achieve a GCSE grade 4 or above in GCSE maths.

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The new GCSE and mental health.

On Monday morning, what may be the most dreaded and feared set of public exams England’s teenagers have ever sat began in school assembly halls up and down the country.

It is 30 years since GCSEs (General Certificate for Secondary Education) were first introduced under Margaret Thatcher, replacing O-levels and CSEs. The new exam was designed to cover a broad spectrum of ability rather than dividing pupils between high achievers, who sat O-levels, and lower-ability students, who took CSEs. Now, three decades later, following claims of grade inflation and dumbing down, GCSEs have been revised and re-formed and a brand new set of exams is being rolled out.

Gone are the old-style assessments with their forgiving modules, repeat exams and coursework. In their place are Michael Gove’s super-tough, “gold-standard”, highly academic qualifications. Gove, secretary of state for education between 2010 and 2014, believed the old GCSEs’ reliance on coursework assessment was open to abuse. He argued that the content of the revised examinations should be pitched at a more sophisticated level, claiming: “By making GCSEs more demanding, more fulfilling, and more stretching we can give our young people the broad, deep and balanced education which will equip them to win in the global race.”

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Breastfeeding on the curriculum.

The idea of introducing breastfeeding to the UK school curriculum has once again hit the news and is, of course, receiving a varied reception. But should the idea be taken seriously? The answer is, of course, yes. Just like children learn about any other aspect of biology, child development and social science, they should be taught how babies are fed and the impact this can have.

In a tightly packed curriculum, it can be hard to justify any addition, but the fact is that we urgently need to change public attitudes to and understanding of breastfeeding and human milk. They contribute to the UK having some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, and changing the next generation’s knowledge and attitudes is critical to improving this. 

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Music education being lost.

Wolf Alice say they wouldn't be a band now if they hadn't had access to music education at school.

"We're losing it. I don't know where I would be without those kind of advantages," singer Ellie Rowsell says.

"I did music for GCSE but I also reaped the benefits of extra-curricular things which were provided in my local community for free."

There's been warnings that the success of British music is at risk because the subject was being neglected.

Last year, the head of UK music, Michael Dugher, said future talent could be going to waste because of a drop in the number of GCSE places being offered in England.

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Cuts to services for deaf children.

Tom Bishop is 11 and deaf. The specialist teacher he had was a "life-line", say his family.

But two years ago her post was cut, leaving his family "lost and worried," about their son's future

His mother Emma described impact of the cut as "appalling".

Thomas's story is not unusual, says The National Deaf Children's Society, with one in 10 teachers of the deaf having their jobs axed in the past four years.

And figures obtained by the charity under Freedom of Information laws suggests the cuts are about to get worse.


One in three councils in England are planning to cut deaf children's support services this year saving £4m. 

Read more.

Watches banned in exams.

Pupils are being told to remove watches from their wrists before taking GCSE and A-level exams, to combat cheating.

In most cases, students are being told to place the timepieces on their desks, but invigilators can demand they are left outside the exam hall.

The new rule was introduced to prevent pupils trying to pass off smartwatches - which have long been banned - as normal ones.

Some universities have already imposed similar requirements.

The regulation was announced by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) in an online guide published last July but was first reported this week by the Gloucestershire Live news site.


The rule is also intended to prevent examinees trying to smuggle in notes folded up and placed under normal watch faces.

 Read more.

Sats a test of the child or the school?

Children in their final year of primary school in England sit their national curriculum tests, often known as Sats, this week - but who is really being tested?

Are Sats a test of the school or the child?

The tests measure children's progress, but the results are used to compare schools.

They started on Monday with tests for 11-year-olds in English grammar, punctuation and spelling and end on Thursday with maths.

Similar tests for seven-year-olds also get under way this month, but there is no set timetable and these tests are due to be scrapped altogether by 2023

Read more.

Children using spellchecker in test.

Schools are to be given advice on how to disable a glitch that allows pupils sitting online spelling tests to right-click their mouse and find the answer.

It follows the discovery by teachers that children familiar with traditional computer spellcheckers were simply applying it to the tests.

The Scottish National Standardised Assessments were introduced to assess progress in four different age groups.

The government said the issue had only affected a "small number" of questions.

A spokesman said the issue was not with the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA) but with browser or device settings on some machines.


Former head teacher George Gilchrist tweeted about the issue after it emerged primary seven pupils were using the online spellchecker on the test

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9-1 GCSE Grades

What are the new grades?

The new grading scheme is designed to reflect the fact that the new GCSE content in England is more challenging and rigorous.

A 9 is the highest grade, while 1 is the lowest, not including a U (ungraded).

Three number grades, 9, 8 and 7, correspond to the old-style top grades of A* and A - this is designed to give more differentiation at the top end.

The exams watchdog, Ofqual, says fewer grade 9s will be awarded than A*s and that anyone who gets a 9 will have "performed exceptionally".

Read the detail.

Late students on crosses and whipped.

Three people have been arrested in Nigeria for allegedly tying late students to crosses and flogging them with horsewhips on a Nigerian roadside.

The three - including the headteacher - were taken into custody after a police officer stumbled across the incident in south-western Ogun State.

Pictures show at least two young people - one boy and one girl - tied to a makeshift crucifix with green string.

A police spokesman described the punishment as "a barbaric act".

Local reports say they were being punished for being late.

Read more.


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