ACT - The Association of Christian Teachers

for Christians working in education

The week
News items from the week’s daily and education press, covering the major education news stories of the week.

Consultation on financial transparancy of LA schools.

This consultation outlines the current financial transparency arrangements for academy trusts and local authority maintained schools and considers possible changes.

Both types of school are currently funded through specific grants:

  • the dedicated schools grant for maintained schools
  • the general annual grant for academy trusts

Current financial transparency arrangements are different and provide different levels of assurance.

The Department for Education is exploring ways to improve transparency in the financial health of local authority maintained schools. For example, measures currently used in the academy trust sector could be adapted for local authority maintained schools.

Read more.

PTAs raising millions of pounds.

The UK’s most successful state school parent-teacher associations are raising millions of pounds a year, research shows.

The top 30 PTAs in England raised £3.6million for their schools in a year, with half in London and a further nine elsewhere in the South East.

The Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s school in Barnet, north London, was the best performing PTA, raising £894,000, the researchers from The Observer found. Almost £700,000 was from donations and legacies rather than fundraising.

Queen Elizabeth’s, founded in 1573, is a grammar school where 97 per cent of children achieve A*-B grades at A-level. Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, a Catholic boys’ comprehensive in Holland Park, west London, raised £631,770 in donations from parents and other benefactors.

Read more.

Home schooling.

The government has been accused by councils of watering down plans to improve oversight of the growing number of school-aged children who are educated at home in England, leaving some of them at risk of a second-rate education or worse.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales, says government proposals to introduce a compulsory register for home-schooled children are welcome but do not go far enough to protect children and ensure they get a high-quality education.

Read more.

Panorama broadcasts on LGBT issues in primary schools.

The government was "too slow to respond" to "mob" protests over LGBT teaching outside Birmingham schools, according to the woman tasked with challenging extremism.

Sara Khan told the BBC's Panorama more support should have been given to head teachers dealing with demonstrations.

Ms Khan was appointed by the home secretary to lead the Commission for Countering Extremism.

She said the Department for Education "could have done so much more".

"I think they were too slow to respond," said Ms Khan.


"There's a lot of confusion about what's actually being taught and I think the DfE could have played a very important role in clarifying to parents this is what's actually being taught, not the misinformation that we're seeing out there."

Read more.

Paper textbooks to vanish.

The world's largest education publisher has taken the first step towards phasing out print books by making all its learning resources "digital first".

Pearson said students would only be able to rent physical textbooks from now on, and they would be updated much less frequently.

The British firm hopes the move will make more students buy its e-textbooks which are updated continually.

"We are now over the digital tipping point," boss John Fallon told the BBC.

"Over half our annual revenues come from digital sales, so we've decided a little bit like in other industries like newspapers or music or in broadcast that it is time to flick the switch in how we primarily make and create our products."

Read more.

Healthy schools rating scheme published.

The government has finally published details of its “healthy schools” rating scheme – almost two years late.

Schools are being encouraged to take part in the voluntary scheme by completing a survey that covers four areas: food education, school food standards, time spent on physical education and active travel.

Schools will then receive a report based on their answers, with the highest-scorers getting a gold, silver or bronze award.

However, the ratings will not be shared publicly.

The “healthy schools” plan was first proposed as part of the government’s child obesity action plan in 2016, and was supposed to be up and running by September 2017.

Read more.

Results show primary pupils are ready for secondary school

Almost two-thirds of pupils left primary school this year having mastered demanding standards of reading writing and maths – meaning they are going into secondary school equipped to thrive.

Statistics released today (9 July, 2019) show:

  • 65% of pupils met the expected standard in reading, writing and maths combined compared to 64% in 2018 and 53% in 2016 when the more rigorous KS2 tests were brought in, although changes to the writing teacher assessment since 2016 mean results from 2016 to 2018 are not directly comparable.
  • 78% of pupils met the expected standard in the grammar, spelling and punctuation and punctuation test – unchanged from 2018
  • 79% of pupils met the expected standard in maths – up from 75% in 2018
  • 73% of pupils met the expected standard in reading –down from 75% in 2018 but up from 66% in 2016
  • 78% of pupils met the expected standard in writing – unchanged from last year

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

These results show the majority of pupils are leaving primary school ready to deal with the challenges of secondary school. The pupils who performed well in these tests will have demonstrated sophisticated grammatical skills like using the subjunctive, the ability to divide fractions and mastery of complex spellings.

We reformed these tests in 2016 to make sure they assessed schools’ performance in equipping pupils to understand the new, improved primary curriculum. These skills will give them the chance to make the most of their potential – this is at the heart of the reforms we’ve introduced across the education system since 2010.

It’s testament to the hard work and dedication of teachers that we have seen results rising over time despite the bar of expectation having been raised.

This year’s results are the fourth to be released following the introduction of more rigorous assessments in summer 2016, bringing primary education in line with the best in the world.

The attainment gap between disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers has fallen between 2011 and 2018. And in 2016 England achieved its highest ever score in the international PIRLs literacy study. This follows a greater focus on reading in the primary curriculum, and a particular focus on phonics.

National Curriculum Assessments – better known as SATs – are intended as a measure of school standards, as opposed to individual pupils. They enable government to hold primary schools to account for their performance and also highlight where pupils may need additional support when they arrive in secondary school

HPV vaccine to be offered to boys.

Teenage boys entering Year 8 this September will be offered the free human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for the first time ever.

It’s estimated that the HPV vaccine programme – which currently vaccinates teenage girls but not boys – will lead to the prevention of over 64,000 cervical cancers and nearly 50,000 non-cervical cancers by 2058, according to the University of Warwick.

Cervical cancer is currently the most common cancer in women under 35, killing around 850 women each year. HPV is thought to be responsible for over 99% of cervical cancers, as well as 90% of anal cancers, about 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers and more than 60% of penile cancers. It’s also been linked to head and neck cancer.

Read more.

Eton College will offer 12 free sixth form places.

Eton College will offer 12 free sixth form places to boys "with tremendous potential but limited opportunity".

The Orwell Award will be open to those who do not have the highest grades, recognising that their potential may have been limited by circumstances.

The places will be offered to Year 11 pupils at non-selective state schools and will cover full boarding fees.

Former prime minister David Cameron and Tory leadership hopeful Boris Johnson are among Eton's alumni.

Both the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex were also pupils at the Berkshire school, which charges fees of more than £40,000 a year.


Headmaster Simon Henderson said the school had a tradition of offering free places "to deserving pupils" since it was founded in 1440, adding that there were more than 80 pupils currently in the school "who pay no fees"

"The Orwell Award will ensure that we continue this tradition by helping boys with tremendous potential but limited opportunity," said Mr Henderson.

Read more.

Autistic child suspended.

Paul McDonald's autistic son, Jim, has been suspended from his mainstream primary school for 30 days in the past three months.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Paul estimates that Jim, aged eight, has been suspended for 135 days of his first four years at school.

He is among a group of parents set to meet the Department of Education (DE) to highlight the similar problems their autistic children are facing.

The proportion of children with autism in Northern Irish schools has almost trebled in a decade, according to the Department of Health.


And some parents, like Paul, say that means they have to battle to get appropriate support in school for their children.

Read more.


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