ACT - The Association of Christian Teachers

for Christians working in education

The life
A Christian perspective on society and the education industry for the Christian professional in education.

Subsidised housing for teachers?

Teachers should be offered subsidised housing as a reward for working in deprived areas in order to tackle geographical disparities between England’s schools, a cross-party commission has recommended. The Social Market Foundation’s commission on inequality in education, headed by former deputy prime minister and MP Nick Clegg, said the government should experiment with subsidised housing to raise the quality of teaching in worse-off areas.

The group, which also includes the Conservative MP Suella Fernandes and Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, also recommended that aspiring headteachers be required to spend time in senior positions in struggling schools before they qualify for promotion.

The commission’s analysis found that schools in deprived areas were much less likely to have specialist teachers and were more likely to employ less experienced staff.

“Despite all the changes in education policy over the years – under governments of all persuasions – inequality in our school system has sadly remained a constant,” Clegg said before the report’s launch. “It is simply unacceptable that poorer children are generally taught by less experienced teachers and that their life chances are shaped by the postcode in which they live.

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Poverty effect on the brain.

With its bright colours, anthropomorphic animal motif and nautical-themed puzzle play mat, Dr Kimberly Noble’s laboratory at Columbia University in New York looks like your typical day-care centre – save for the team of cognitive neuroscientists observing kids from behind a large two-way mirror.

The Neurocognition, Early Experience and Development Lab is home to cutting-edge research on how poverty affects young brains, and I’ve come here to learn how Noble and her colleagues could soon definitively prove that growing up poor can keep a child’s brain from developing.

Noble, a 40-year-old from outside of Philadelphia who discusses her work with a mix of enthusiasm and clinical restraint, is among the handful of neuroscientists and pediatricians who’ve seen increasing evidence that poverty itself – and not factors like nutrition, language exposure, family stability, or prenatal issues, as previously thought – may diminish the growth of a child’s brain. Now she’s in the middle of planning a five-year, nationwide study that could establish a causal link between poverty and brain development – and, in the process, suggest a path forward for helping our poorest children.

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Middle class children groomed to sell drugs.

Middle class children are being groomed to sell drugs by criminal gangs branching out from cities into rural towns, a report has warned.

Children as young as eight from "stable and economically better-off" backgrounds are at risk of being exploited by gangs using “county lines” tactics, which facilitate the supply of class A drugs from urban areas to county or coastal towns, it found.

The report, by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Runaway and Missing Children and Adults said the drug distribution model had spread from London to the rest of the country, including Manchester and Liverpool.

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Suicides in young people peak in exam season.

Suicides among children and young adults peak at the beginning of exam season, it has emerged, adding to fears that pressure to get good results is harming their mental health.

Exams are sometimes the final straw that lead to someone under 25 taking their own life, according to a major inquiry. While experts pointed out that the causes of suicide are always complex, they said academic problems could play a significant role.

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Secondary pupil numbers due to rise by a fifth in a decade.

The number of pupils in England's secondary schools is set to rise by almost a fifth within the next decade.

Government figures show there are expected to be around half a million more secondary age children by 2026.

The increase is being fuelled by the baby boom of the early 2000s, which means growing numbers of pupils moving through the school system

Overall pupil numbers are expected to increase by 654,000 (or 8.7%) to around 8.1m by 2026.

In secondary schools alone, the overall population is projected to reach around 3.3m in 2026, a 19.1% increase or around 534,000 more pupils.

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Young people not prepared for Uni.

Young people heading for university need much better preparation for what they can expect, say researchers.

After all the effort of getting a university place, the Higher Education Policy Institute study suggests, there can be unrealistic expectations.

Most young people expect to have more teaching hours in university than in school, when the opposite is the case.

The study also found that young people with a mental health problem were unlikely to have told their university.

There have been many surveys of student attitudes - but this is unusual in looking at the expectations of young people about to become students.

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Wellbeing for children.

Picking up on changes in our pupils can help teachers and school staff to spot emerging mental health or wellbeing issues. Dr Pooky Knightsmith advises


How can we tell when a pupil needs our support? It’s a simple question and the most obvious answer is if they ask for our help. However, often the voice which most needs to be heard is the quietest. 

These are the children who keep me awake at night, these are the children who slide through life so quietly that we might not pick up on their needs. 

At worst, they are the children who make headlines when they take their lives for no apparent reason; at best they are children who continue to just about manage and find a way to safely navigate their issues or a means of accessing support eventually. 

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Moderate level of stress good for pupils.

Moderate levels of anxiety may be linked to greater academic success at school, according to a study.

Research among almost 5,000 secondary school students in Canada found that pupils reporting moderate anxiety were more likely to leave school with a qualification.

In contrast, those with either high or low levels of anxiety were more likely to leave without qualifications, indicating that a moderate degree of stress may help academic attainment, but too much or too little do not.

The findings were made in a study looking at possible links between depressive and anxious symptoms among young people and the risk of dropping out of secondary school without any qualifications.

Lead researcher Frédéric N Brière, of the University of Montreal, said: “A troubling proportion (6-22%) of adolescents do not complete secondary school in the UK and North America. These adolescents are at high risk of experiencing a wide range of psychosocial, physical and mental health difficulties as adults.

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NI uniform grants cut.

Money given to low income families to help pay for school uniforms could be cut substantially by the Department of Education to save money.

The Education Authority (EA) said the department had instructed them to cut the amount spent on school uniform grants by £3m.

That would mean £1.9m is available in 2017/18, compared to £4.9m in 2016/17.

The department said that it faced "major financial pressures in 2017-18 if it is to operate within its budget".

"Consequently options to reduce spending across all programme areas are being explored, including the clothing allowance (uniform grants), extended schools and the entitlement framework," it said. 

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Student debt.

Students in England are going to graduate with average debts of £50,800, after interest rates are raised on student loans to 6.1%, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Those from the poorest backgrounds, with more loans available to support them, will graduate with debts of over £57,000 says the think tank.

Interest charges are levied as soon as courses begin and the IFS says students on average will have accrued £5,800 in interest charges by the time they have graduated from university.

Report author Chris Belfield describes the interest as "very high", but the Department for Education declined to comment on the increase in charges.

Read more.


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