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.

Apply now for 30 hours free childcare places.

Parents with a child under five years old can now apply for a 30 hours free childcare place for September 2017.

The new 30 hours free childcare offer for working parents of three and four-year-olds in England doubles the current 15 hours of free childcare currently available to all parents, offering a total saving for eligible working families of up to £5,000 a year.

For parents across the UK, Tax-Free Childcare will cut childcare costs by up to £2,000 per year for each child under 12 years old, or £4,000 per year for disabled children under 17 years old. Parents with a child born on or after 1 April 2013 can now apply for Tax-Free Childcare. All eligible parents will be able to apply for Tax-Free Childcare by the end of 2017.

The government’s total childcare offer is backed by a record investment of more than £6 billion per year by 2020, supporting working families and those on low incomes.

Read more.

Apprenticeship Reform Programme.

What is the Programme doing to achieve all the measures associated with this objective?
• Our full approach is set out in English Apprenticeships: our 2020 Vision.
• Changes to funding policy and the development of the Apprenticeship Service will give employers more control of their funding and access to more information, enabling them to become more informed purchasers of provision.
• The implementation of the levy will ensure funding is placed on a sustainable footing to deliver this growth.
• The Programme is undertaking a comprehensive range of activity to promote apprenticeships to all employers, and to individuals, including young people. For the latter group we will develop support for schools and intermediaries to provide appropriate advice and guidance.
• Where appropriate, employers will be encouraged to develop standards if their sector requirements are not met by the current portfolio of frameworks or standards, putting the apprenticeships offer on a high quality footing that will meet employers’ skills needs.
• By raising the profile and visibility of high quality apprenticeships success, we will support apprenticeships to be increasingly recognised as a respected route to a successful career and increase employer understanding of the opportunities that apprenticeships present to their businesses.
• The Programme will increase the supply of candidates that are a good fit by ensuring appropriate information is available and that support and advice supports preparation for apprenticeships, including referrals to work readiness programmes such as Traineeships where appropriate.

Read more.

Royal Park to be used for students playground.

A private school for oligarchs is opening in Mayfair and Chelsea in September, it was revealed yesterday, as the new head claims that a Royal Park will be used as the students’ “playground”.

Charging fees of £22,500 a year, the Eaton Square upper school is the first co-educational private school to be open in London for decades, and aims to cater for the bankers, aristocrats and oligarchs of London’s wealthiest borough.

According to headmaster Sebastian Hepher, the school--which is located at 106 Piccadilly, a Grade I-listed townhouse--will provide a luxurious setting for children of super-rich Europeans and Russians, who aren’t at the “point academically” to be accepted into “St Paul’s or a Westminster School.”

Read more.

Should one ethnicity be able to take over a school?

Legislation is needed to stop one ethnicity taking over schools, a Bradford superhead has said.

Sir Nick Weller, the executive principal at Dixons Academies which runs a chain of schools in the west Yorkshire city, said that introducing a new law is the “only answer” to prevent children being segregated along ethnic lines. 

He said that it is “unhealthy” for a city like Bradford to have two communities living “separate lives” and for the children to be educated at different schools.

“I think it’s unhealthy in a city like Bradford for two communities to live separate lives, which by and large they do,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Read more.

Schools will not be judged on writing assessments alone in primary schools this year.

Education secretary confirms that schools will not be judged on writing alone in 2017 but results will still be published

Justine Greening has confirmed that no primary schools will be told that they are failing this year based on their key stage 2 writing scores, amid concerns about inconsistent teacher assessments.

Writing is assessed by Year 6 teachers, who must judge whether their pupils are at, above or below the expected standard for the end of Year 6 against a set of statutory criteria.

But the assessments have been particularly controversial this year after it was revealed that two-thirds of moderators – who go into schools to check the criteria are being interpreted in the same way in every school – had incorrectly assessed pupils’ work.

In a letter to the NAHT headteachers' union, seen by Tes, Ms Greening confirms that "in 2017, no intervention will be made on the basis of writing data alone", which continues the precedent set last year. The move has been welcomed by headteachers.

Read more.

Temporary school for Grenfell pupils.

A temporary secondary school complete with dance studio, art rooms and science labs is being built to house pupils whose academy at the base of Grenfell Tower has been closed since fire raged through the block.

The Kensington Aldridge academy (KAA) is relocating to a new site for the start of the academic year while police continue a forensic examination of the scene. Construction of the temporary school, just over one mile from the current site, is under way.

KAA has been closed since the fire at the 24-storey block of flats on 14 June. Two other nearby schools, the Burlington Danes academy and Latymer Upper school, took in hundreds of pupils for the last few weeks of term.

Read more.

University first class degrees soaring.

The proportion of top degree grades being awarded by UK universities has soared - with some universities giving first-class degrees to more than a third of their students.

The University of Surrey awarded a first-class degree to 41% of students last year, more than doubling the proportion five years ago.

And firsts awarded at the University of East Anglia have almost trebled to 37%.

Professor of education Alan Smithers called it "chronic grade inflation".

Among the prestigious Russell Group of universities more than a quarter of students received a first-class degree.

Read more.

Students promised formal contracts with Unis.

Students will have formal contracts with universities, so they can challenge them over too few teaching hours or if facilities are inadequate, says Universities Minister Jo Johnson.

Mr Johnson highlighted growing concerns among students about not getting good value for money.

He also warned universities to stop "excessive" pay for vice-chancellors.

But Mr Johnson rejected calls to scrap tuition fees - saying it would be a "disaster of historic proportions".

The Russell Group of leading universities was lukewarm in its response to the idea of a binding contract - warning of "unintended consequences" and saying that "no one would want to see standards undermined by the risk of legal action".

Read more.

Sex and drug exclusions up.

A record number of school exclusions were issued to pupils last year for drug and alcohol related issues, new statistics reveal.

Figures show 9,250 permanent and fixed period exclusions for drugs and alcohol were handed out by schools in 2015-16.

A further 2,140 exclusions were issued to pupils for sexual misconduct.

The government says every child should "have access to a good school place where they can learn without disruption and feel safe".

The figures published by the Department for Education, and analysed by BBC News show an increase over the past decade in the number of exclusions being issued for drugs and alcohol in state-funded schools.

Read more.

Newcastle prospective students hit by cyber scam.

Newcastle University is warning prospective students not to give out personal details on a fraudulent website taking payments for courses.

The fake site uses pictures of Newcastle University buildings and takes payments for a non-existent "Newcastle International University".

It is "in no way associated with the university", warns the university's official Twitter feed.

Students should avoid accessing the site, the university advises.

The site has been described as unusually realistic, but Newcastle International University does not appear on the government's official lists of degree providers in the UK. 

Read more.


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