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.

Absence figures rise.


The overall absence rate has increased from 4.6 per cent in 2015/16 to 4.7 per cent in 2016/17. The authorised absence rate stayed the same at 3.4 per cent and the unauthorised absence rate increased from 1.1 per cent in 2015/16 to 1.3 per cent in 2016/17.

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Ministers being urged to think again on Free School Meals cuts.

Ministers are being urged to re-think plans to cut free school meals in England after a defeat in the House of Lords. 

Peers backed a motion tabled by Labour’s Steve Bassam on Tuesday evening, which calls on the government to delay implementing changes to its free school meals policy until a full impact assessment is carried out. 

Charities and other campaigners claim that the welfare reforms tied to universal credit would see up to a million children denied eligibility for free lunches if the changes are rolled out nationwide. 

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Private tutors help gain grammar places.

Wealthy families who use private tutors to help secure grammar school places should be taxed to help pay for poorer children to access the same help, it has been suggested.

The authors of a new study argue that a levy should be imposed on high-income families to help level the playing field in access to selective schools.

The paper, by academics at the UCL Institute of Education, examined the backgrounds of more than 1,800 children living in areas of England and Northern Ireland that have grammar schools.

It found that in England, poorer children – those from families in the bottom quarter of household incomes – had less than a 10 per cent chance of attending a grammar school, compared with a 40 per cent chance among those youngsters from families in the top quarter of household incomes.

Just under three-quarters of those children in England who were tutored gained a grammar school place, compared with 14 per cent of those that were not tutored, the report concludes.

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Global Prize teacher returns to classroom.

A teacher has returned to her school for the first time since winning the $1 million Global Teacher Prize.

Andria Zafirakou was greeted by hundreds of pupils as she returned to Alperton Community School in Brent, London, on Wednesday.

The pupils, holding artwork and waving Union flags cheered as she walked in, holding the prize.

The art and textiles teacher beat 30,000 people from 170 countries to be named the most inspirational teacher in the world at a ceremony in Dubai.

She is the first teacher from the UK to win the prize.

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More term time holidays.

More pupils in England were taken out of school to go on holiday in the last academic year, government figures show.

Around one in six youngsters (16.9%) missed at least a half day of lessons during 2016-17, compared with 14.7% in the previous 12 months.

The figures also show that the proportion of parents being fined for taking their children out of lessons without permission has fallen.

The data covers the time of a father's court case over a term-time break.

Jon Platt, from the Isle of Wight, won a high-profile High Court case in May 2016 over taking his daughter out of school for a holiday to Disney World, Florida, without the school's permission.

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Why is ADHD more common in boys?

About one in 20 children are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at some point during their school life. Interestingly, for every girl diagnosed, there are between three and seven boys who receive an ADHD diagnosis.

Children and adolescents who are affected by ADHD have difficulty with things like sitting still, organisation and concentrating on work. These and other symptoms often make the school environment hard to cope with, and have a negative impact on academic achievement, relationships, and future employment opportunities. Some children do grow out of their ADHD symptoms, but many continue to experience problems as adults.

Though medication has been developed to relieve the symptoms, little is known about ADHD’s exact causes. Our biggest clue has come from family studies – particularly those comparing ADHD symptoms in identical and fraternal twins – which have long indicated that ADHD is largely genetic. And recently, groundbreaking research has begun to identify the specific genetic risk factors related to ADHD, and to reveal the complexity of the condition. We now know that thousands of different genetic risk factors – including common variants in genes known to affect healthy brain development – collectively contribute to increase the risk of ADHD. But it is still not yet clear why there is a gender difference in prevalence.

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Parents fined £24m for pupil absence.

Parents across England and Wales have been fined about £24m for failing to send their children to school during the past three years, it has emerged.

A BBC investigation also shows some councils are issuing penalties at rates five times higher than the average.

Some parents say they now actively budget for the cost of fines when planning holidays.

While some councils admit they have become "stricter", they say they are protecting the education of children.

Between them, 155 local authorities in England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland do not issue fines) issued about 400,000 penalties over three years. A further 19 did not supply data.

On average, 12 penalties were issued per 1,000 children - whether for truancy or for parents taking children away on holiday during term time - during 2016-17.

Read the detail.

Adults lack financial skills.

A quarter of adults struggle to work out how much change they should get in a shop and half cannot read a simple financial line graph, a study suggests.

The study, from Cambridge University and University College London, found "striking weaknesses" in adults' financial skills across 31 countries.

It says financial literacy is essential if consumers are to avoid getting into debt or being misled on money matters.

The report says the findings point to a need for "urgent policy intervention".

The researchers analysed more than 100,000 results from 16- to 65-year-olds from 31 countries (listed below) who had completed the Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies test in 2011.

As part of this test, adults were asked four questions that assessed their ability to apply numerical skills to everyday financial tasks.

The researchers' analysis of these results said: "A substantial number of people lack the basic skills that are needed to solve everyday financial tasks."

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Extra 300,000 university places needed by 2030.

About 300,000 new places will be needed at universities over the next 12 years, experts predict, making the higher education funding model unsustainable.

A rise in the number of 18-year-olds by 2030 will push demand up by 50,000, the Higher Education Policy Institute says.

A further 350,000 places will be needed to keep pace with the existing growing participation rate, it adds, but other factors may reduce that by 50,000.

The government has set up a review of university fees and funding.

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Gender pay gap starts from graduation.

Women are more likely to be in work or studying after graduation than men, but earn less from the very start of their careers, official data indicates.

Statistics show female graduates take home about £1,600 less than their male peers a year after graduation.

Department for Education (DfE) statisticians said this gender gap continued and widened over time.

By April, UK companies with 250 or more staff will have to publish their gender pay gap data on a government website.

The latest DfE figures, which cover the financial year 2015-16, are based on data collected on a number of groups of students at different points after graduation.

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