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.

Christian group forced out of Church of England school.

A Church of England headteacher has hit out at parents who forced an "extremist" Christian group out of the primary school. 

Dan Turvey, headmaster of St John's Church of England Primary School inTunbridge Wells, told parents he had listened to their concerns and CrossTeach would no longer lead assemblies or take lessons. 

A number of St John’s Church workers will also no longer “be invited into school”, Mr Turvey explained in a letter to parents. 

The move comes after some parents complained that representatives of CrossTeach had been upsetting children by teaching them about sin.  

Read more.

Latest pupil absence figures in detail.

Pupil absence in schools in England: autumn 2016 and spring 2017 SFR 55/2017, 19 October 2017 The overall absence rate has increased since last year It should be noted that the absence information in this release is for autumn 2016 and spring 2017 terms only. Due to differing term lengths in-year findings can be volatile and therefore figures and trends in this release should be treated as indicative only.

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The importance of knowledge based education.

A change of government in 2010 prevented the Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum recommendations being brought in. This review argued that the primary national curriculum should place less emphasis on subject areas and a greater emphasis on so-called areas of learning and development:

personal, social and emotional development communication,

language and literacy problem solving,

reasoning and numeracy

knowledge and understanding of the world

physical development

creative development

This review of the primary curriculum drew on the example of Finland – still the doyenne of the international education circuit – which had moved away from emphasising knowledge just at the time it reached the summit of the international education league tables. The review described the Finnish position as follows:

Read more.

Tuition fee rise in Wales scrapped.

Plans to raise the maximum level for tuition fees from £9,000 to £9,295 in Wales have been scrapped, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has said.

The income at which graduates will have to repay student loans will be raised from £21,000 to £25,000, she added.

It comes after the UK government pledged to freeze the maximum fees in England at £9,250.

Ms Williams told AMs the announcement had caused "turmoil" in England, but one Tory AM accused her of a U-turn.

If the Welsh Government's tuition fee rise had gone ahead, the maximum level would have been higher than the top rate in England, but a freeze in fees could leave universities with less money than they would have expected.

Read more.

Universities must commit to free speech.

Universities that use "no platforming" and "safe spaces" to shut down free speech could face action from the new higher education regulator, the Government has announced.

Jo Johnson, the universities minister, said young people and students need to "accept the legitimacy of healthy vigorous debate" as he outlined plans for the Office for Students (OfS).

According to the Times, this could include powers to fine, suspend or deregister universities if they do not meet a statutory duty to commit to free speech in their governance documents.

Read more.

Amgela Rayner supports striking UNI lecturers.

Ashton-under-Lyne MP and shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has told the University of Manchester to "get its house in order" and "give workers the respect they deserve", as a dispute over job cuts escalates.

UCU members will walk out on Monday and Tuesday in a row over up to 140 job losses at the university. They will then begin working to rule on Wednesday.

In her message of support to the union*, Rayner also said she was not convinced by the university's argument that it needed to cut costs by axing jobs, and that the dispute was a "concerning case, given the fact that UCU members feel as if management have not been clear, or provided any convincing rationale for job losses."

Staff will form picket lines at entrances to university buildings along Oxford Road from 7.30am on both Monday and Tuesday. There will be a rally at 11:30am on Monday at the University of Manchester Students' Union building on Oxford Road, where speakers will include UCU President, Joanna de Groot.

Read more.

Welsh schools running short of reserves.

Cash reserves held by schools in Wales have dropped by 28% since last year which "should ring alarm bells", a teaching union has warned.

new report showed schools have total reserves of £46m, equivalent to £102 per pupil - down from £64m in 2016.

The National Association of Head Teachers Cymru said schools are using reserves to "plug" funding shortfalls.

The Welsh Government said it has "challenged" councils to ensure schools are making good use of their funding.

Last year, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said she was "shocked" by how high some schools' financial reserves were.

She had told schools who might have been "hanging on to that money for a rainy day" that: "It's raining".

Read more.

Oxford and Cambridge not diverse in intake.

The sheer dominance by the top two social classes of Oxford and Cambridge University admissions has been revealed in newly released data.

Four-fifths of students accepted at Oxbridge between 2010 and 2015 had parents with top professional and managerial jobs, and the numbers have been edging upwards.

The data, obtained by David Lammy MP, also shows a "shocking" regional bias, with more offers made to Home Counties pupils than the whole of northern England.

Mr Lammy said he was "appalled to discover" Oxbridge is actually moving backwards in terms of elitism.

Read more.

White poppy scheme "indoctrination"?

Peace campaigners have been accused of “indoctrinating” children, after Britain’s largest teaching union promoted a scheme to sell white poppies ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), a pacifist organisation, will this week formally launch a new campaign for schools across the country to endorse white poppies.

It comes after the PPU exhibited for the first time at this year’s National Union of Teachers (NUT) conference, where it signed up over 100 teachers to its inaugural teacher network.

Read more.

Segregating noys and girls in faith school is sex discrimination.

An Islamic faith school's policy of segregating boys and girls is unlawful sex discrimination, a court has ruled.

The case was heard at the Court of Appeal as Ofsted challenged a High Court ruling clearing the Al-Hijrah school in Birmingham of discrimination.

Ofsted's lawyers argued the segregation left girls "unprepared for life in modern Britain".

Appeal judges ruled the school was discriminating against its pupils contrary to the Equality Act.

However, the court did not accept the argument the school's policy had disadvantaged girls more than boys.

Read more.


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