ACT - The Association of Christian Teachers

for Christians working in education

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

Teachers still set exams in own subjects.

Authorities have resisted pressure to stop teachers setting exams in their own subjects in spite of a scandal that saw staff at some of Britain’s most expensive private schools leak questions to pupils.

Serving teachers will still be allowed to set exam papers despite the concerns about malpractice in schools, exams regulator Ofqual has announced. 

But the watchdog has called on exam boards to maintain up-to-date records of all conflicts of interests for teachers who have accessed confidential assessment materials.

Teachers who have written exam papers could have their work sampled to detect malpractice, Ofqual says, and they could be kept in the dark about whether the exams they write will be used. 

Read more.

Celibacy and abstinence - "positive life choices".

Schools should promote celibacy and abstinence as "positive life choices", the Church of England says.

The act of refraining from sexual activity is part of the Church's advice for sex education lessons.

In a blog post, it also says pupils should be taught the importance of "trust, loyalty and fidelity" in relationships.

Sex and relationships education was made compulsory in secondary schools in England last year.

The Church of England believes marriage is "the perfect context" for any form of sexual expression.

The blog, written by the Church's chief education officer, the Rev Nigel Genders, follows the Church's response to a government consultation on relationships and sex education.

He said its guidelines stem from an understanding that healthy relationships and sex are "good gifts from God and should bring joy".

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Marginal progress in attainment gap in Scotland.

PUPILS from the poorest backgrounds in Scotland have improved their exam results, but progress is marginal, new figures show.

Data from the 2017 exam diet indicates that the most disadvantaged pupils have seen a two per cent increase in their attainment compared to the most affluent communities where achievement has remained the same.

However, the scale of the gap remains significant with disadvantaged pupils achieving around half of the qualifications secured by the most affluent.

The figures, published on the website of school support and inspection body Education Scotland, also highlight the individual performance of schools.

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Lessons about risk of gambling piloted in schools.

Lessons about the risks of gambling have been trialled in secondary schools in an attempt to address high levels of gambling among school-age children. Around 25,000 children in the UK are currently classed as problem gamblers, with one recent survey finding that one in six 11-to-15-year-olds admitted to gambling in the last week.

Yet according to the cross-party thinktank Demos, gambling is rarely included in the school curriculum, which routinely teaches about the dangers of other risky behaviours including alcohol, drugs and sex.

In an attempt to fill the gap, Demos has piloted lessons to teach children about the risks of gambling and where to go for help and support. The aim is to encourage pupils to weigh up risk, identify manipulative behaviour by gambling companies, learn about managing impulses, and help others who are experiencing gambling problems.

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Uni examiners asked to join strike.

Tens of thousands of university students face having their end of year exams seriously disrupted after external examiners were asked to join strike action as part of the bitter pensions dispute. In a bid to cause maximum turmoil at dozens of institutions, union leaders are calling on examiners to resign from their examining roles until the row is resolved. The move marks a significant ratcheting up of pressure and comes just days after the University and College Union rejected a proposed deal to bring the pensions stand off to an end.

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Non-British academics can be deinied right to strike.

A few weeks ago – back when we used to teach and research rather than stand at picket-lines challenging the marketisation of the university – we discovered that we share something in common. As international staff our right to strike and participate in peaceful, collective action is limited by the Home Office.

Days before the UK-wide universities strike we were anonymously slipped the following information under our door, printed off and photocopied from the University and College Union (UCU) website:

For staff employed under a Tier 2 visa, you should be aware that your sponsor is required to report unauthorised absence (such as strike action) if it continues for more than ten consecutive days … your sponsor is required to report unauthorised absences to the Home Office.

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Are Uni pensions in huge deficit?

At the heart of the pensions dispute between university staff and their employers is a disagreement over how much the pension pot is in deficit.

The universities want to change the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) from a defined-benefit scheme, which gives a guaranteed retirement income, to a defined-contribution scheme, where their pensions would be subject to changes in the stock market.

Most defined-benefit pension schemes like this one have already closed.

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Uni lecturers plan for long haul strike.

"This was the first time I had ever voted for strike action... I was so furious."

Dr Teresa Grant, associate professor of Renaissance theatre and a former deputy head of Warwick University's English department, says she almost always votes against strike action - but this time it was different.

"If the reforms went through, I would lose £6,500 a year.

"People have worked out you would have to be on strike for 11 years in order to lose the amount you would be losing from your pension.

"So I'm quite prepared to strike for at least five years if that's what it takes. I'll still be quids in."

Dr Jon Rourke, admissions tutor in Warwick's chemistry department, is equally resolved.

"The money aspect isn't a surprise. I think it was clear once we started, you're committed for the long term.

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How much homework is enough?

How much homework is too much homework?

It's a big question for pupils, teachers and parents alike.

Reality Check went to Sutton Community Academy in Nottinghamshire to try to find some answers, working with a group of School Reporters from Years 7 to 9.

First of all, they interviewed each other to get some basic research.

Read more.

Muslim state schools doing well.

Where is the best secondary school in England?

Blackburn - and, defying all stereotypes, the school that came third in this year's national GCSE rankings is also in the Lancashire town.

So why haven't more people heard that this is the country's educational powerhouse?

Is it because both are Muslim state schools? Or because they're in a northern former mill town, rather than a north London suburb?

"People sometimes don't see past the name," says one of the pupils at Tauheedul Islam Girls' High School, in first place in the secondary school league tables, now based on how much progress is made by pupils.

Read more.


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