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.

Teachers to be trained to spot mental health issues early.

Theresa May is to announce that all teachers in England and Wales will be trained to spot the early signs of mental health issues in children as part of a package of measures aimed at prioritising prevention.

With her premiership entering its final weeks, May is keen to salvage a domestic legacy from her three Brexit-dominated years in power.

She will visit a school in south-west London to highlight the importance of identifying mental health problems early, and make a series of promises, including the provision of new teaching materials to be used in classrooms and updated statutory guidance on schools’ responsibilities.

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Refugees let down.

Funding for English lessons for refugees and other migrants has been slashed by over 60% within the past decade, according to new figures. Austerity measures mean the most vulnerable people in society are at increased risk of isolation because of government cuts. In the UK, there are around 800,000 people who are not able to speak English. Despite Tory rhetoric on supporting everyone across the nation, more than £100 million has been slashed from the Adult Education Budget. Figures by the charity Refugee Action showed that in 2008, around £212.3 million was spent on ESOL classes (English for Speakers of Other Languages.) By last year, that figure had plummeted to just £105 million.

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No places for special needs children.

More than 1,500 children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) are without a school place in England, with some waiting up to two years for provision.

The figures, collated by Newsnight, cover 46 English councils (25%), which suggests the real figure may be higher.

One mother told the programme her son had been "squeezed out" of school as a "quick cost-cutting solution".

The government said responsibility lay with local authorities.

Local authorities do not routinely publish data but a series of Freedom of Information requests made over the past six months show 1,580 children with education and health care plans (EHCPs), which used to be called statements of special educational needs, have no education provision.

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Sportswear uniform creates controversy.

A school has replaced a traditional uniform with sportswear and trainers, prompting mixed opinions from parents.

Objections were originally raised by nearly 40% of families - about 135 parents - to the plans at Telford Junior School in Leamington Spa.

The head teacher said the new uniform, which many pupils have started wearing, would serve a more "active" curriculum.

Some parents said they were concerned about extra cost but others said it was "smart" and children liked it.

The story made headlines in October when the school community was asked for views on a new uniform for the 350 pupils, aged from seven to 11.

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Bullying online.

Head teachers in England are more likely to face problems with pupils bullying online and misusing social media than in any other developed country, an international study says.

A report from the OECD think tank reported the experiences of more than 250,000 teachers in 48 industrialised countries and regions.

It showed particular problems with cyber-bullying in England's schools.

"It's the dark side of the modern age," said the OECD's Andreas Schleicher.

The OECD's education director called for more regulation of social media, rather than leaving individual heads to try to cope.

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School seeks charity funding to support disadvantaged pupils.

A cash-strapped school has turned to BBC Children in Need for funding to support disadvantaged pupils.

Downshall primary school in Ilford, east London, which has a large proportion of children from disadvantaged backgrounds – 89% of whom have English as a second language – has applied to the charity for funding to pay for pastoral care for three years.

The school has been forced to drop its team of two pastoral support workers because of budget constraints. It is also having to cut back on reading support assistants and specialist PE staff.

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New school food standards for Scotland.

  • First new school food regulations in a decade set to come in next year
  • Plans will ensure pupils get at least two portions of veg and another of fruit with lunch

Scottish schools are set to become the first in the UK to impose strict limits on the amount of red processed meat such as bacon, sausages and ham served to pupils, as part of plans to improve health and cut obesity levels.

Under the first new school food and drink regulations for more than a decade, smoothies and fruit juices will also be banned from both primaries and secondaries due to their high sugar content.

“One small carton of fruit juice or smoothie contains more than the entire recommended sugar intake for a primary pupil’s lunch”

John Swinney

Schools will also have to serve a minimum of two portions of vegetables and a portion of fruit with lunches

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Outdoor time for children.

Despite all the research that tells parents how good it is for their children to spend time playing outside, they are spending more time indoors than ever before. It seems that concerns about the dangers of climbing trees or getting lost means that many parents are nervous about allowing their children to engage in risky play.

But research suggests that this element of outdoor play has significant benefits for children and can help to develop their emotional resilience.

Over the last decade and a half, schools have started to recognise the importance of outdoor time for children – resulting in the development of programmes that take learning outside the classroom. One of these programmes which has increased in popularity over recent years, is Forest School.

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Prom gowns donated.

Three years ago Maesteg Comprehensive School held its first "prom" party for its year 11 students to celebrate finishing their GCSEs.

Head teacher Helen Jones thought the new tradition imported from America was "fantastic" - but it also created a problem when they realised a pupil was not going to attend because of the cost of the outfit.

"It becomes an overwhelming experience for a lot of our children, particularly girls, with the pressure to look their very best," she said.

"It can run into hundreds [of pounds], if not thousands, and that's something that I never wanted to encourage."

So two of the school's PE teachers, Emily Scudamore and Annemarie Scarr, put out an appeal on social media for donations of prom gowns for pupils to use for free.

    

They have now received about 200 gowns, plus shoes and accessories, from ex-pupils, local people and businesses, including 30 brand new dresses from a wedding shop in nearby Pyle.

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Students want parents told if in mental health crisis.

Two-thirds of students support universities being able to warn parents if students have a mental health crisis, an annual survey suggests.

There have been concerns about student suicides and the survey indicated worsening levels of anxiety on campus.

Only 14% reported "life satisfaction", in this study of 14,000 UK students.

And most thought even though students were independent adults, universities should in an emergency be allowed to disclose information to parents.

Published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) and Advance HE, this is one of the biggest annual reports into the views of those currently studying in the UK's universities.

    

'Under pressure'

The 2019 survey showed continuing concerns about students' well-being - with just 18% saying they were happy, 17% saying their life was "worthwhile" and only 16% having low levels of anxiety, with all these student figures being considerably worse than for the rest of their age group.

 

Read more.


 

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