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.

Boy missing from school starved to death.

Schools have been told to hold more than one emergency contact number for children following the death of a four-year-old London boy who was missing from classes for two weeks.

Guidance from the Department for Education says schools should keep more than one phone number for pupils “where reasonably possible”, after a consultation showed 87 per cent of people supported the move.

 

The change was prompted by the 2016 death of Chadrack Mbala-Mulo, who was found starved to death at home in Hackney after his mother died suddenly. He had been away from school for two weeks.

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London pupils taught in air pollution.

Some pupils in London are being taught in classrooms where air is so polluted it breaches World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, a study has found.

In some cases, the report found that pollution levels inside the schools were higher than outside.

The findings come as 50 schools in London are set to benefit from a share of £1m from City Hall to protect children from pollution.

Sadiq Khan wants the funds to allow schools to make "immediate changes".

A review of existing studies concluded that "children living or attending schools near high traffic density roads were exposed to higher levels of motor vehicle exhaust gases, and had higher incidence and prevalence of childhood asthma and wheeze".

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Diverse racial mix better for pupils.

Pupils in secondary schools with a more diverse racial mix are much more positive about people of different ethnicities, say researchers.

The more mixed the school, the warmer feelings pupils are likely to have towards other races and ethnicities.

The study - from the London School of Economics and the University of Bristol - looked at the attitudes of 4,000 teenagers in English state schools.

Prof Simon Burgess said it showed how schools could change social attitudes.

The study examined young people's attitudes towards people of other ethnicities - such as whether they had friends from other racial groups.

    

It follows warnings about a lack of social cohesion in some communities and whether different ethnic groups were living parallel lives.

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"Sharenting"

"Sharenting" - where parents share personal information about their children on social media - is the "weakest link" in risking online fraud and identity theft, warns Barclays.

The bank says parents are compromising their children's future financial security with so much online sharing.

Barclays forecasts by 2030 it could cost almost £670m in online fraud.

The bank's security specialists say social media means identity fraud has "never been easier".

Barclays is warning that parents might be "lulled into a false sense of security" and fail to realise they are making their children "fraud targets" in the future, by publishing so much personal information which will remain online.

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Disabled boy sues theme park.

A severely disabled boy is suing a theme park for failing to provide a suitable "changing places" lavatory.

Adam George, 11, claims Flambards Theme Park, in Cornwall, discriminated and failed to make reasonable adjustments for him under the Equality Act.

Changing places toilets are required by an estimated 250,000 people in the UK who need extra specialist equipment.

Flambards says it takes inclusion of all visitors seriously and has made adjustments to its toilets.

The company says a permanent changing places toilet would cost over £40,000 - an expense that could affect jobs.

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Schoolgirl does homework in lay-by.

A 12-year-old schoolgirl does her homework in a lay-by due to poor broadband and mobile connections.

Grug Williams has to be driven a mile away from her Conwy Valley home to find a signal to download schoolwork.

A local councillor said "digital inequality" was a real problem for young people in the area.

Openreach said it was extending fibre broadband as quickly as possible but understood the frustration in places which could not yet access it.

The Williams family live on a farm on the outskirts of Gwytherin, which has been the winner of a "best kept village" award on four occasions.

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Head Teachers turn to charities.

It was a sight Lorna Jackson, a London headteacher, had never expected to see: two pupils at her primary school sleeping behind bins at the station with their parents. “Mum, dad and the two little children were all sleeping on a mattress they’d found. The family had been evicted and the children had very little to eat.”

Jackson’s school, Maryland primary in Stratford, is in a deprived area of east London. As well as suffering homelessness, her pupils are regularly victims of domestic violence. “I realised that my role had changed. Unless I addressed our children’s wellbeing, their education was not going to have impact at all.”

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Holiday fines who should benefit?

I am sad to say that I have had to speak to several irate parents this week who took their children out of school during term time and were fined £60 per child.

Over the past few years, my local authority (LA) has not been on top of the fining game, and many parents have slipped through the net. But with LAs as well as schools feeling financial pressure, fines are now being issued on a far more consistent basis.

My issue is the time I have to spend calming parents down. The holiday-request letter clearly states that approval of any “exceptional circumstances”, allowing parents to holiday fine-free, is at the headteacher’s discretion. Parents therefore blame me for their fines.

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University racism complacency.

Universities are being accused of "complacency" over a lack of senior black academics and lower achievement among ethnic minority students.

Baroness Amos, the UK's first black woman university head, says there are "deep-seated prejudices and stereotypes which need to be overcome".

"Not even 1% of UK professors are black," she will tell a conference on university leadership.

The Office for Students says tackling such "gaps" should be a priority.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Baroness Amos, director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas), in London, said universities liked to see themselves as "inclusive and internationalist".


Looked after youngsters sent 200 miles

Looked-after youngsters are being sent up to 200 miles from Cardiff to Liverpool for care, a council has said.

An inquiry into out-of-county placements showed 244 of 800 cared-for children are based outside of the city.

As a result a Cardiff Council scrutiny committee has suggested building new children's homes.

A council spokesman said 80% are within a 20-mile radius, with parents addresses and foster families accounting for those further afield.

The committee's chairman Lee Bridgeman said some youngsters are being sent to Liverpool, the north of England and north Wales.

 

"There are young people we understand need to go out of county, for example in cases of sexual exploitation," he said.

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