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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.

Schools shortening school week in trouble with government.

The Department for Education (DfE) has been accused of having a “lack of understanding” of the financial pressures schools are facing after lambasting heads for shortening school weeks.

The DfE said last week that it was “unacceptable” for schools to reduce their weeks after Fulbourn Primary School, in Cambridgeshire, announced the move to make “significant savings in a tough financial climate”.

The department’s response suggests ministers are now taking a much tougher tone on schools that are looking to close early.

Analysis from Schools Week in March found that at least 26 schools, most of them in Birmingham, have made, or are considering, changes to their timetable in order to cut costs.

At the time, the department said any changes to the school day need to be “reasonable”, with parents “adequately consulted”.

Read more.


22 new Free Schools to be set up.

Thousands more pupils will have the opportunity to study in new free schools, as the Education Secretary approves applications across the country.

Damian Hinds will today confirm that 22 applications to create a new free school have been successful – creating an extra 19,000 places in the areas that need them most and taking the government a step closer to delivering on its pledge to create one million new school places by 2020, the fastest growth for two generations.

There are more than 440 free schools nationwide, with 285 more set to open in the coming years. Of those inspected by Ofsted, 84% have been rated good or outstanding, with 30% rated outstanding – and in 2018, four of the top 10 Progress 8 scores for state- funded schools in England were achieved by free schools.

The latest approvals are targeted in areas of the country most in need – with 18 of the new schools set to open in local authorities identified by the Department for Education as having the lowest educational performance and insufficient capacity to improve – and areas that have not yet benefitted from the free schools programme.

Read more.


Students to apply for Uni places after A'Level results in.

The university entrance system could be overhauled so students only apply after they have their A-level grades.

The higher education watchdog, The Office for Students (OfS), is to launch a major review later this year into the university admissions system.

It follows concern from ministers that universities have been engaging in “unethical” practises such as “pressure selling” unconditional offers to students.

While the OfS cannot dictate how individual universities make their offers, they are able to change the structures that govern the admissions system.

A review is likely to consider whether a post-qualifications admission system should be set up, where students only apply to university after receiving their A-levels.

Read more.


Pupils miss out on first choice secondary.

Almost one in five pupils missed out on their first choice of secondary school this year, new statistics from the Department for Education reveal.

The statistics show that in 2019, 80.9 per cent of pupils were offered a place at their first preference school compared to 82.1 per cent in 2018.

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It means pupils applying in 2019 had the lowest chances of getting a first-choice place since 2010.

Read more.


Plams for new secondary school in Reading.

Plans have been put forward to build a new secondary school in Reading to cover a shortfall in available places.

Land at Richfield Avenue has been earmarked by Reading Borough Council to construct a 900-place free school which would open in September 2021.

The council said it had a "duty"  to "meet the demand for school places", which are expected to rise.

The BBC reported one in eight pupils were not offered any of their preferred school options in Reading in March.

The school would be built at a former golf driving range which had been earmarked for a new outdoor activity centre.

    

The council said the "need for a new secondary school" meant plans for a gypsy and traveller site will not go ahead.

Read more.


New T'Level branding launched.

With the introduction of T Levels just around the corner, the new branding has now been unveiled to stakeholders and providers ahead of the official launch of T Levels in 2020.

The launch will be the first step towards raising awareness of T Levels in schools and colleges ahead of the 2020-2021 academic year.

The ‘NexT Level’ brand logo, which has been designed in consultation with employer panel members, FE providers, young people and parents, will enable 2020 providers to promote the benefits of T Levels to young people in the process of deciding their route into post-16 education.

Read more.


Judge to consider ban on protests against LGBT+ lessons next week.

The ban on protests against LGBT+ lessons at a Birmingham primary school could be overturned as early as next week.

Birmingham City Council won an interim injunction at the High Court on Friday after claiming the demonstrators intimidated staff, parents and local residents.

 

The order blocks protesters from gathering outside or near Anderton Park Primary School, from distributing leaflets and from making offensive comments about staff on social media.

Read more.


School reopens after safety fears.

The final phase of a programme to fully reopen a £28m school campus which was closed on safety grounds in September has been completed.

The North West Community Campus in Dumfries was shut just weeks after it opened in August last year.

It followed incidents in which staff and pupils were hurt - including a child being hit by a whiteboard.

Primary, nursery and special school children have already returned and now secondary students have joined them.

Jeff Leaver, who chairs Dumfries and Galloway Council's children, young people and lifelong learning committee, said a report into what had gone wrong would be published soon.

Read more.


Graduate sues her university.

A graduate who sued her university over her "Mickey Mouse" degree has received a £60,000 out-of-court settlement.

Pok Wong graduated with a first in international business strategy from Anglia Ruskin University in 2013.

But she claimed the university "exaggerated the prospects of a career" and sued them for false advertising.

A spokesperson for Anglia Ruskin University said the settlement was agreed with their insurer's solicitors, and they did not support it.

Read more.


Sure Start centres face closure.

Sure Start centres, aimed at improving early years health and education in England, brought "big benefits for children's health", researchers say.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found a positive impact from the scheme, launched 20 years ago as a flagship of Tony Blair's Labour Party.

But the think tank warns that funding has been cut and 500 sites have closed.

The Local Government Association says councils have "done all they can within ever tightening budgets".

The report examines the effect of Sure Start, an early intervention policy designed to support the wellbeing of children before they started school.

Read more.


 

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