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.

Wales to ban smoking outside schools.

Wales is to become the first country in the UK to ban smoking in outdoor school spaces, playgrounds and hospital grounds.

The Labour-led government said on Friday it would bring in the restriction by summer 2019, arguing it would protect people from secondhand smoke and “de-normalise” smoking for children and young people.

While most hospitals already have no-smoking policies in their grounds, it is difficult for staff to enforce this. The government said people who flouted the ban could face fines.

Read more.

Does Oxford University let down black students.

Attention has turned to the lack of diversity at the UK's top universities once again, as the University of Oxford publishes its admissions figures.

While Oxford says that the proportion of its undergraduate students from the UK who identify as black and minority ethnic rose from 14% to 18% between 2013 and 2017, Tottenham MP David Lammy says students are twice as likely to get in if they are white compared with their black counterparts

Read more.

Does the UN mean anything to the young.

The United Nations wants to gain a much better idea of what young people are thinking - and to stop feeling "paternalistic" and out of touch.

Senior UN officials are going to launch a global, information-gathering poll four times a year, to take the temperature of the opinions of the young on issues such as education, family life and the internet.

Michael Moller, director-general of the United Nations Office in Geneva, said governments and institutions like the UN have not listened enough to young people.

"I am 65 and there are very fundamental differences in how people see themselves when they are 15 and when they are 65 - my generation cannot assume what the younger generation wants," said Mr Moller.

Read more.

German airport tracks children travelling ahead of holidays.

Police carrying out checks at an airport in southern Germany discovered several school-aged children travelling ahead of the holidays.

Reports concerning 10 families have now been sent to education officials in Bavaria, German media report.

It is believed the families caught at Memmingen Airport were trying to avoid travelling at the peak holiday time, which can be a lot more expensive.

In Germany parents are legally obliged to send their children to school.

The Memmingen families were allowed to fly off on holiday despite the questioning, a German police spokesman told the BBC. "It would have been disproportionate to take the children back to school, as the families had paid for their holidays," he said.


The Spiegel news website reports that the parents now have two weeks to explain why they took their children out of school. If the reason is not good enough each family can be fined up to €1,000 (£876; $1,177).

Read more.

Relax medic academic entry requirements for some students?

Academic entry requirements for medical degrees should be relaxed for students applying from the worst UK secondary schools, researchers say.

A study from the University of York says these students should be able to drop one or two A-level grades.

The study finds those on medicine courses with lower A-level grades do at least as well as their peers.

The Medical Schools Council said the research added "important data" to the entry requirement debate.

Competition for a place to study medicine in the UK is fierce, with about 11 or 12 applications made for each place on offer and entry grade requirements are high - at least AAA at A-level.

Read more.

Oxford University apologises to David Lammy.

Oxford University has apologised to David Lammy after retweeting a post labelling his criticism "bitter".

The original tweet, sent by a student, was in response to the Labour MP saying Oxford was "a bastion of white, middle class, southern privilege".

Mr Lammy asked if the tweet represented the university's official position - at which point a senior staff member apologised and took responsibility.

The row follows the university's report into its student population.

Oxford's director of public affairs, Ceri Thomas, said Mr Lammy's comments showed "no sign of bitterness" and there was "work to do" to improve diversity among students.

Read more.

More than 20,000 lose school transport.

More than 20,000 children in rural England have lost access to free school transport, say local authorities.

The County Councils Network says budget shortages mean rural school transport is being cut to a "bare minimum".

They say school transport costs are on average almost 10 times higher for councils in rural areas than for those in cities.

"We have had little choice but to cut back on free transport services," said the leader of Oxfordshire council.

The County Councils Network says that data from 20 rural authorities shows that in 2017 there were 22,000 fewer pupils getting free school transport, such as buses and taxis, compared with three years before.

Read more.

Pray for Schools fortnight 10th -24th May

Pray for Schools fortnight 10th - 24th May.

Pray for Schools Fortnight

10th-24th May 2018

Thy Kingdom Come

 Colossians 4 v 2-3


Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…’


The vision of Pray for Schools fortnight is to bring together people from local churches and others involved in education – parents, students, teachers, governors, staff and volunteers – to pray strategically for schools in their area and those involved in them.

This year we are working with Thy Kingdom Come

‘One day some parents brought their children to Jesus, so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left’ Matthew 19;13-15 NLT

See our new resources for 2018 –  PFS Resources Thy Kingdom Come

Over the last few years Pray for Schools fortnight has become widely known with other organisations with a heart for young people choosing to pray with us.  We have produced a Resource Pack to help you find out more: 

PFS Fortnight Resource Pack 2018


Mental Health Awareness week.

Young people and parents are set to benefit from extended mental health services in Hastings, backed by a £600,000 annual investment from the government’s Opportunity Area programme.

The funding will develop the advice and support services available for young people in Hastings to improve their emotional wellbeing at home, school or further education, the Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced during a visit to Sussex Coast College in Hastings yesterday (17 May) to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.

Hastings is one of 12 Opportunity Areas identified as social mobility ‘coldspots’ which are receiving a share of £72million to raise aspirations and opportunities for the young people who live there.

Read more.

Is Academy dream beginning to die?

Was this the week that the academies dream died?

Between Damian Hinds’ accountability announcements 10 days ago at NAHT conference and then Friday’s DfE response to the Green Paper consultation on faith and grammar schools, I’m beginning to think so.

Why? Well it’s been a very significant few days of education policy.

Firstly, last week’s accountability regime proposal explicitly downgraded the likelihood forced conversion. The only circumstance where that will happen is when a school is put in special measures by Ofsted. Falling below the floor standard, whatever that looks like, will no longer play a big part as a trigger. That was hugely significant.

Read more.


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