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.

Ofsted equality objectives published again.

Ofsted’s aim is to be a force for improvement through intelligent, responsible and focused inspection and regulation. We are committed to supporting the development of a highly educated, productive and safer society in which children and young people can succeed, whatever their background.

As a result, promoting equality is at the heart of all we do. Our equality objectives cover how we consider equality when we inspect and regulate and how we will ensure that our own staff and those we contract with have equality of opportunity.

We published our equality objectives 2016–20 on 28 April 2016 and committed to keeping them up-to-date. At the time, we had three overarching objectives

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Selective School Expansion Fund.

Improved access to thousands more world class school places  

    More disadvantaged children will have access to an Outstanding school place as the government launches the second round of the Selective Schools Expansion Fund.  

Two children doing school work

          Two children in a classroom        

Disadvantaged pupils will have access to even more good or outstanding school places as the Government invests another £50 million to make sure as many children as possible benefit from world class education.

Launching the second round of the Selective Schools Expansion Fund today (11 February), the Department for Education will be making money available for grammar schools to create additional places, but only if they demonstrate how they will attract more disadvantaged pupils and work with other schools in their area to raise standards locally.

Today’s launch marks the second round of funding available for this programme, following the announcement of the 16 schools that were successful in bidding for the first round. All those schools committed to a range of measures to improve access for disadvantaged pupils, and the Department for Education has also today published details of those commitments.

All schools successful in the first round of the fund were rated as Outstanding, with 98% of grammar schools rated either Good or Outstanding overall. Grammar schools are also popular with parents, with around 15 pupils choosing a selective school as their first preference for every 10 selective places offered. Today’s announcement builds on the 825,000 new school places created since 2010 and the one million this Government is on course to create by 2020.

School Standards Minister, Nick Gibb, said:

Selective schools are some of the highest performing schools in the country and so it’s right that more pupils should have the opportunity to benefit from the world class education they provide. It’s also right that access to those places should be fair to pupils from all backgrounds, which is why selective schools must demonstrate how they are going to admit more pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, if they are going to expand.

It is also a requirement that selective schools work with other schools in their area. Whether through a multi academy trust or an informal partnership, we want to see more selective schools using their expertise to improve opportunities for a wider group of young people.

All schools that bid to expand must submit a Fair Access and Partnership Plan, setting out how they will improve access for disadvantaged pupils. Today, the department is publishing the plans of those schools that were successful in round one, making clear the extent of the work that will be undertaken to make sure as many young people as possible, regardless of their background, can benefit from a place at an Outstanding school.

The nature of this work is wide ranging, for example Chelmsford County High School will set up help desks in partner primary schools to assist parents registering children for the entrance test, while sixth form students at Queen Mary’s High School – along with a number of others – will tutor pupil premium children in literacy and numeracy to support them ahead of the entrance test.

Chief Executive of the Grammar School Heads Association Jim Skinner said:

We are delighted that further selective schools are being given the opportunity to expand. The number of pupils reaching secondary age means that it makes absolute sense that, just like other good and outstanding schools, they are able to expand.

The work we are doing with the Department for Education through our Memorandum of Understanding, is proving most valuable in extending the initiatives that member schools have undertaken in recent years, to increase access for disadvantaged pupils and support other schools in raising standards for all children. Along with the Selective School Expansion Fund, this work is making an important contribution to ensuring more children receive the high quality education that is right for them.

The window for applications to the second round of the Selective Schools Expansion Fund will be open for ten weeks until 23 April.


Building firm for Free School gets bonus?

The boss of a secretive property company set up by the Department for Education to secure free-school sites received a five-figure bonus last year, even though the organisation missed one of its key targets.

The Department for Education declined to tell Tes why Lara Newman, the chief executive of LocatED, received the bonus – a decision which the chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has branded “unacceptable”.  

LocatED calls itself “Britain’s biggest property start-up”, and was set up to operate at arm’s length from the DfE with a remit to find and buy hundreds of free-school sites.

Read more.

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Its accounts up to 31 March 2018 – published last month – reveal that Ms Newman received a salary of £185,000-£190,000 in 2017-18, plus bonus payments of £20,000-£35,000 and £11,000 in pension benefits, giving her a total remuneration of £225,000-£230,000.


Dating apps must explain how they protect children.

Dating apps Grindr and Tinder are to be asked to explain to the government how they protect children, after an investigation claimed minors are put at risk of sexual exploitation.

More than 30 cases of child rape have been investigated by police since 2015 after victims evaded age checks on such apps, the Sunday Times found.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright described it as "truly shocking".

Grindr and Tinder both said they have measures to prevent minors using them.

A Freedom of Information request by the Sunday Times also showed 60 further instances of child sex offences - including grooming, kidnapping and violent assault - through online dating services.

Read more.


Pupils say why they need more sleep.

As MPs prepare to debate a petition for schools to start at 10:00, teenagers tell the BBC about their own experiences with early school starts.

It takes 100,000 signatures to trigger a Parliamentary debate and this one, saying early school starts make pupils "so tired", has gained 180,000.

"I remember how miserable I was from waking up early," says sixth form student Leah.

Her college is experimenting with a later start for classes.

But Leah recalls the early starts at her old school with horror.

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Musical on evolution axed.

A school has axed a musical on evolution over its suggestive lyrics and portrayal of Christian views.

Darwin Rocks, about the scientist Charles Darwin, was due to be performed by about 90 pupils at Hartford Manor Primary School, Cheshire, next month.

The move follows six "expressions of concern" from parents, the school said.

The musical's publishers Musicline said it was written by a Christian, adding "we can't ever recall having courted controversy before".

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Free School Meals eligibility delayed by Home Office?

A report by David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, into data-sharing between government departments found communications problems between the Department for Education and Home Office led to “delays and uncertainty” in the free school meals eligibility checking process.

We have a government that would rather query if hungry children have the right papers than feed them

The review sheds more light on the involvement of the DfE in attempts to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants, and comes after campaigners successfully challenged the department over its divisive collection of pupil nationality and country of birth data by schools.

Bolt’s report reveals that although the Home Office was “ready to invest in making the relationship work” when it was the main beneficiary of data-sharing deals, collaboration between the two departments did not work “as effectively” when it was schools that stood to benefit.

Read more.


Find the schools with the best academic results.

Thousands of schools across the country have their A-level results figures published by the Department for Education on an annual basis. 

This year's results are for last year's academic year, which ended in the summer of 2018. Each school has been ranked in our searchable league table according to the average points per academic entry and then on the percentage of students achieving AAB or better with two facilitating subjects.

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Universities allowing free speech to be curtailed.

Universities are allowing free speech to be curtailed on campuses in favour of “rule of the mob”, the former equalities chief has warned, as he says vice-Chancellors must stop behaving like “frightened children” and take a stand.

Trevor Phillips, who wrote the National Union of Students’ (NUS) original “no platforming” policy in the 1970s, said that it is now being used in an “ugly” and “authoritarian” way.

He said that the policy was designed to counter the rise of the far-Right on campuses and ensure that National Front speakers were barred from addressing students.

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Russell Group outreach programme 'flounders'.

ussell Group university outreach programmes appear to have floundered as half admitted fewer state school students than the previous year.

Durham, Exeter, Edinburgh, Warwick and Birmingham universities are among those where the proportion of state educated pupils has fallen, according to data published by Higher Education Statistical Agency (Hesa).

Last year Russell Group universities spent £254 million on “outreach” activities, aimed at encouraging more students from disadvantaged background to apply, with a further £270 million due to be spent in the year ahead.

Initiatives include bursaries, extra tutoring and support, and giving lower offers to those coming from state schools. Professor John Jerrim, an expert in social statistics at University College London’s Institute of Education, said the figures show that “very little progress is actually being made” despite millions being invested by Russell Group universities into outreach schemes.

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“Universities are spending a lot of money on outreach,” he said. “But a lot of it isn’t evaluated so they don’t know if it’s working or not. They might be spending a lot of money on stuff that isn’t working.”

For the second year running, Oxford admitted the lowest proportion of state school students 

Prof Jerrim said that some of the top universities can “hide” from the issue by saying: “We are just taking the best people with the strongest qualifications”.

 

He added: “The key thing is for them to start evaluating – to actually work out the stuff they are running and see if it’s working. At the moment frankly they don’t have a clue.”

For the second year running, Oxford admitted the lowest proportion of state school students out of all non-specialist universities.

Last year 58.2 per cent of its intake were state educated, which was up from 57.7 per cent the year before. Meanwhile Cambridge admitted more state school students last year (63.4 per cent) compared to the year before (63.5 per cent).

Chris Millward, director for fair access and participation at the Office for Students, said the data shows the “incremental progress” that is being made. He said that the OfS will put pressure on universities to “enhance” their plans on how to admit more students from disadvantaged backgrounds.  

“We want universities to understand how they are performing using sophisticated measures, looking across different characteristics to understand disadvantage in their own context and targeting their activity and investment so that it really works,” he said.

The proportion of state school students admitted to all British universities dropped slightly from 90 per cent in 2016/17 to 89.8 per cent in 2017/18, the data showed.

In 1998/99, the first year that Hesa started collecting the data, 85 per cent of university students were from state schools.

Sarah Stevens, head of policy at the Russell Group, said that where individual universities have seen dips in the number of state school students “they will of course take it seriously and we all want to see further progress”.

She added: “Overall the proportion of state school pupils entering Russell Group universities has remained steady, accounting for around four out of every five students.

“A great deal of effort and investment is going into making our universities more inclusive, including vital outreach work with schools. We’re doing more and more evaluation, to better understand and prioritise the interventions which work best.”


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