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for Christians working in education

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

The problems of the GCSE system.

Our GCSE system, with its comparable outcomes basis, undervalues the achievements 
of too many students. This must end, says Geoff Barton


The exams season is upon us once again and I know many readers of SecEd will be doing everything possible with their teams, in a characteristically calm and reassuring way, to ensure your students are as prepared as possible.

I also know the students you will be most concerned about are those you are trying to get on the right side of the GCSE cliff-edge of a Grade 4, particularly in English and maths. You will know, better than anyone, how high the stakes are for these young people.

At ASCL, our concern is that the current system is constructed in a way which means far too many young people fall on the wrong side of that cliff-edge. It consigns around one-third of 16-year-olds to attaining less than a “standard pass” in English and maths each year – qualifications which are seen as a passport to onward progression in education and are required for entry to many careers.

The reason this happens lies in the system of “comparable outcomes” under which, at national level, the percentage of pupils achieving the respective grades is roughly aligned with the outcomes achieved by previous cohorts of similar ability.

Read more.

Fern Britton attacks pressures of education system.

Fern Britton launched into an epic Twitter rant about protecting children from the 'gruelling' pressures of the education system.

The former This Morning star claimed more needed to be done to consider the mental health of youngsters who are living - what she described as - a 'break neck, stressful' lifestyle.

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Fern, who is mum to four children, stunned her thousands of followers on Thursday as she tweeted out a impassioned plea under the hashtag 'HelpOurKids.'

She fired: "School break times are shrinking. Hours of homework. We are teaching our young people to live a break neck stressful life. Relationships, mental health and physical health at risk. Teachers leaving. And all because of govt performance targets."

See the tweet.


Gendered language a barrier in school leadership.

As a leader in girls’ schools, I am also particularly interested in how we develop the next generation of women and prepare them not only to take their place in society but also to lead that society. I’m also interested in how language is used to support – or damage – an individual or cause. I think that much of this use of language plays into a particular bugbear of mine: the stereotype of a leader.

Here, the language used to describe behaviours can, and does, I believe, have a detrimental effect on women when they are in the process of thinking themselves into whether they could succeed in a particular role.



In this situation, mentor schemes such as that established between Brightfield Consulting and the Girls Schools Association, where I used to be president, can help a great deal, by encouraging women to think about themselves as potential leaders and role modelling leadership, not just in education but outside of it too. In addition, those of us who are leaders can help to support the next generation through informal mentoring and the tap on the shoulder to encourage someone in the right direction.

Read the full story.

Support staff pay rise unfunded.

Pay rises for support staff are crippling academy trusts that have specialist provision schools – with one trust facing almost £670,000 in additional costs.

Heads say the government is treating alternative provision (AP) and special educational needs schools as the “forgotten sector” by failing to fund salary increases for the support staff they rely on.

Wellspring Academies, which has 20 schools, including three special needs school and six AP schools, has revealed it had to find £669,000 to fund pay increases for non-teaching staff this year.

It follows the Department for Education award of an up to 3.5 per cent pay rise for classroom teachers this year and next, with schools expected to contribute the first 1 per cent with the government covering the rest.

Read more.

Consistency in behaviour for government project.

Schools that demonstrate “consistency” in behaviour management are being sought for a new £10 million government project – and there is no preferred strategy, the government’s behaviour tsar has said.

The government appointed Tom Bennett (pictured) last week to lead the three-year project to support up to 500 schools across England in developing better behaviour management policies.

We’re looking for different phases and ranges of schools that can demonstrate different types of strategy, as long as they’re very good at this core model

He and the Department for Education will recruit a network of lead schools and advisers across England to drive the project forward.

Read more.

Child sexual abuse in the family environment.


This guidance is for inspectors from Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMI Probation) when conducting a joint targeted area inspection of a local area, with a ‘deep dive’ investigation into how local services respond to child sexual abuse in the family environment. It should be read alongside the framework and guidance for these inspections.

Read the detail.

Outcomes for Looked After Children looked after by Local Authorities.

In 2018, looked after children performed slightly

better than children in need


1 at KS2. However,

attainment for both looked after children and

children in need is much lower than for nonlooked

after children.

Read the detail.

Introverted teachers 'useful'.

I don’t think I realised I was an introvert. I enjoyed teaching but I also knew that at the end of a full day of interacting with people I valued my quiet time when I got home before everybody else in my household.

I enjoy interacting with people but I also need long stretches of time alone and I tend to prefer being in small group or one-to-one interactions over socialising or working in large groups. Apparently, my preference for calm, minimally stimulating environments puts me firmly at the introverted end of the spectrum.

Read the detail.

£9.1m DfE scheme for school holidays.

Funding has more than quadrupled for a scheme offering free meals and recreational activities to disadvantaged children over the summer holidays.

Around 50,000 children are expected to benefit from the £9.1 million Department for Education scheme. 

Read more.

Free school meals cash goes to waste?

Citizens UK researched the loophole about kids effectively losing money by not using their earmarked budget after becoming aware of cases in Tyne and Wear.

It believes eligible kids in primary and secondary schools across the country are losing out on an estimated £70million worth of food.

Nearly 800,000 pupils in England can receive free school meals, each given an average allowance of £2.30 a day - about £440 a year.

But figures from the Children’s Society show one in five youngsters do not take up the benefit for a variety of reasons.

If the cash goes unused, it is lost.

Read more.


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