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

Is spending on poorer pupils effective.

There are many tricky questions facing education policymakers but here is a conundrum: why, if funding for poorer pupils is now outstripping money spent on those who are better off, is it proving so hard to narrow the attainment gap?

The funding figures revealed last week by the Institute for Fiscal Studies mask a complicated set of indicators. The shift in spending over the past 20 years includes more children from poorer homes staying on in higher education as well as the money committed to schools by successive governments for the worst-off pupils.

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'Hundreds of pupils spend week in school isolation booths'

"The windows, the bare walls. It was that every day. Every single day. They put me in a room on my own, I was in isolation," says Casey, 16.

More than 200 pupils spent at least five straight days in isolation booths in schools in England last year, a BBC News investigation has learned.

Casey's school disputes the length of time he spent on his own and said he was "regularly disruptive".

The teenager says he was placed on his own after he contracted fibromyalgia.

He takes the painkiller Tramadol for the chronic pain condition.

More than 5,000 children with special educational needs also attended isolation rooms at some stage.

Dozens of them had education, health and care plans (EHCPs) provided for children with complex needs.

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'Schools should have consistent policy on phones'

Pupils in schools where smartphones are banned like being free of the associated pressures, says England's Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield.

Ms Longfield said schools across England should have a consistent approach to the use of mobile phones.

She told the Commons Science and Technology Committee that every school seemed to have its own policy on whether pupils could use phones.

She said schools could help families if they took a "bold approach".

The select committee was taking evidence about the impact of social media and screen use on young people's health.

Appearing as a witness on Tuesday, Ms Longfield said research from her officehad shown that children's social media use increased dramatically when they made the transition between primary and secondary school.

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Expensive designer coats to be banned at school.

A school in Merseyside has banned pupils from wearing expensive designer coats in a bid to stop "poverty-shaming" among its students.

In a letter to parents, Woodchurch High School in Birkenhead said pupils would not be allowed to wear branded coats such as Moncler, Pyrenex and Canada Goose.

Head teacher Rebekah Phillips said pupils and parents supported the move.

However, some people on Twitter have called the ban "absolutely ridiculous".

The labels banned by the school include children's sizes which sell for between £400 and £1,000.

The ban will be introduced after the Christmas holidays.

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Will Chancellors extra money go direct to schools?

Philip Hammond, the chancellor, pledged the in-year bonus during last week’s budget, suggesting the money could be spent on computers or whiteboards. He said the extra grant would average £10,000 for each primary school and £50,000 for each secondary.

However, a document released by the government to help schools work out how the money will be handed out reveals that “in some cases the payments may go through local authorities, or multi-academy trusts”.

There’s very little to stop MATs pooling this or distributing it in a way of their choosing

Both the chancellor and the Department for Education have made it clear they expect the money to go directly to individual schools.

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The school for bullied children.

The bullying started when Hannah Letters was 11. “I struggled with the transition to secondary school and found it hard to make friends.” Her classmates made snide comments about her appearance. When her mother was diagnosed with cancer, the comments got worse. She was sent messages on social media, telling her that no one liked her. “One of the girls turned and said to me, ‘If you had looked after your mother better, she wouldn’t have got cancer.’ I had such low self-esteem by then, anything she said I believed. I started to blame myself.”

By the time she was 13, Letters was self-harming. The bullies were constantly on her mind and she would wake up screaming from nightmares. She wasn’t happy with the response she got from her school, and “each time my mother or I complained, the bullying got worse”. When the bullies physically attacked her, it was the last straw for Letters’ mother. She took her off the school roll. That meant her school was absolved of its legal responsibility to provide her with an education. She became yet another statistic: one of the 16,000 children aged 11 to 15 who, each year, “self-exclude” from school due to bullying.

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Private schools take out legal insurance.

Private schools are now taking out legal insurance for teachers, amid a rise in parents calling in top law firms when their children are in trouble.  

If a complaint to a housemaster or head of year about their child does not yield favourable results, wealthy parents are increasing turning to solicitors’ firms in an attempt to force the school’s hand.

This can be terrifying for teachers as any kind of allegation against them can damage their career even if it turns out to be false, according to John Roberts, founder of Edapt which provides legal cover for school staff.

“It is something you are more likely to see in independent schools where parents have the means to be able to do that,” Mr Roberts told The Sunday Telegraph.

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The academy trusts whose GCSE students keep disappearing

Some of England’s most influential academy chains are facing fresh questions over the number of children disappearing from their classrooms in the run-up to GCSEs, following a new statistical analysis of official figures.

The same four academy chains have the highest numbers of 15- 16-year-olds leaving their schools in both of the last two academic years. In some cases, two pupils are disappearing from the rolls for every class of 30. Some local authorities are also approaching these figures for dropouts.

Fears have been increasing that some schools are “offrolling” – getting rid of students who could do badly in their exams – in an effort to boost their league table position.

The head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, is among those voicing concern. The inspectorate has yet to find a way to differentiate offrolling from cases where schools have acted in the best interests of children, but it has started to gather its own data.

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Academies filing financial rules late.

The Department for Education has named and shamed 88 academies and multi-academy trusts that failed to file at least two financial rules on time.

Eileen Milner, the chief executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), first warned trusts last December that she intended to publish a list of those that filed late.

At the time, she wrote: “In the interest of fairness to those trusts who consistently submit returns on time, we are therefore now taking a firmer stance on non-compliance with the submission date set out.”

Today’s list includes the Academy Transformation Trust, whose governance was severely criticised by the ESFA last year.

In a statement posted on its website today, the ESFA said that submitting financial returns on time was “an essential requirement of the Academies Financial Handbook”.

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Former head of academy chain banned from teaching after receiving 'second salary'

A former head of an academy chain has been banned from teaching indefinitely after he was paid two salaries. 

Liam Nolan, whose academy trust was once praised by former prime minister David Cameron and Conservative education secretaries, was found guilty of unprofessional conduct last month.

 

Mr Nolan used to be executive headteacher, CEO and accounting officer at Perry Beeches Academy Trust in Birmingham until he resigned in 2016 during an investigation into the academy chain. 

 
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Mr Nolan - who was once described as a "superhead" - appeared before the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) in relation to £160,000 of payments he received while CEO of the trust.

 

A previous investigation found that the academy chain paid nearly £1.3m to Nexus Schools Ltd - a private company contracted to help run the school - without following proper procedures.

Nexus then paid Mr Nolan £160,000 via a company of which he was sole director. This payment was on top of his £120,000 annual payroll salary.

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