UK Education News

A top fashion university refunds 21 students after admitting the course fell short of expectations.
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, Continue reading at the source
Thousands of schools closed on Monday - but how tough a decision was it after heavy snowfalls?
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, Continue reading at the source
There is more emphasis on 'grammatical acrobatics' than on good writing, according to a three-year study from the University of Exeter Classroom explanations of grammatical terms often only serve to confuse pupils, new research reveals. Definitions such as “a verb is a doing word”, “an adjective is a describing word”, or “a relative clause is a comma sandwich” – often hinder pupils' understanding of the underlying concepts, according to the three-year study by academics from the University of Exeter. Helen Lines, one of the study's authors, said: “Quite often, those definitions rely on a surface part of the structure, rather than addressing the grammatical idea behind the terminology.” For example, she said, the term “comma sandwich” merely indicates that a clause should be bordered by commas on either side. It does not reveal the function that a relative clause plays in a sentence. The research also found that spelling, punctuation and grammar tests encourage pupils to use grammatical structures in order to pick up extra marks, rather than for effect. Because grammar teaching tends to focus on the requirements of the curriculum, there is a tendency to talk about “deploying” grammatical structures, according to the findings. “The key stage 2 teacher assessment creates a sense that good writing is about demonstrating grammatical acrobatics and getting things in,” said Debra Myhill, who led the study. Pupils therefore find it difficult to explain the effect that a particular grammatical structure might have on their writing. They use grammatical terms for extra marks, rather than for effect. “The grammar test is not supporting the teaching of grammar which develops children's expertise as writers and readers,” Professor Myhill said. “It would be helpful to clarify what the role of grammar is in the curriculum.” The Exeter study tracked the development of grammatical understanding and writing development in two primary and two secondary schools. Uncertain and scared The study also found the following: Teachers do not always understand why they are teaching grammar “The curriculum has no clearly stated rationale for the presence of grammar in the curriculum,” the academics said. “As a consequence, teachers are uncertain whether the point of teaching grammar is to secure grammatical accuracy in writing, to enable students to be able to label and identify grammatical terms, or to enable them to become more linguistically aware readers and writers.” Teachers are often scared of grammar “The fear of being wrong with grammar is huge – the fear of being exposed,” Professor Myhill said. “You don't get that as a literature teacher, because everything is about opinion – there's no right or wrong. You can't wing it as a grammar teacher.” Pupils are able to use logic and analogy to work out what purpose grammatical structures serve However, pupils also use teachers' definitions to inform their own reasoning. When told, for example, that a verb is a doing word, they can then end up using the information to draw erroneous conclusions, the academics said. But, they added, the presence of this capacity for grammatical reasoning shows that, if teachers provide explanations that focus on the grammatical ideas behind the terminology, then pupils will be able to form an effective understanding of the terms. Using examples from published pieces of writing can help pupils to understand the difference that grammatical choice can make This “can open up awareness of the repertoires of possibility that grammatical choice can allow,” the academics said. Pupils may be able to use grammatical terms before they can name them Some pupils are able to explain exactly why they use a particular grammatical structure – and the effect that it has on their writing – before they know the structure's official name. “This raises a further important question about how much of this is developmental and how much is linked to how students are taught,” the academics said. Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and Instagram, and like Tes on Facebook
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, Continue reading at the source
Ofsted staff have more confidence in senior managers than they did last year Ofsted's leadership approval ratings by staff have risen dramatically since Amanda Spielman took over. A survey of civil servants working at the watchdog shows that the proportion of staff who believe the leadership team has a “clear vision for the future of Ofsted”, has risen by 13 percentage points to 70 per cent in the past year. Across the civil service as a whole, just 49 per cent of staff felt the same. Ms Spielman took over the role of chief inspector in January, following Sir Michael Wilshaw who spent five years in the post. The Ofsted survey, which was answered by 1,529 staff, also that scores had jumped for other aspects of leadership over the past year. It found that 70 per cent of staff had confidence in the decisions made by senior managers – up by seven percentage points from last year. More than half - 51 per cent - felt change was managed well – up by eight percentage points from last year. While a minority (45 per cent) felt that when changes were made in Ofsted they were usually for the better – this was a rise of seven percentage points from when the same question was asked last year. The survey also found that 75 per cent of workers said they were proud to tell people they worked for Ofsted, up by five percentage points from last year. But there was less satisfaction with pay, which half of people felt “adequately reflected” their performance, compared with 52 per cent last year. Ms Spielman's appointment was initially questioned by some MPs. She was education secretary Nicky Morgam's preferred candidate for the chief inspector job. But her appointment was opposed by the Commons Education Committee, with the then chair Neil Carmichael claiming she lacked the “passion and vision” for the role. However, Ms Morgan snubbed the committee's decision and recommended her approval to former prime minister David Cameron and the rest of the Privy Council. Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and Instagram, and like Tes on Facebook.
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, Continue reading at the source
Pledges to create more flexible working opportunities in schools have flooded in following the government's first Flexible Working in Schools Summit, which took place in October. More than 60 pledges have been made by businesses, schools and education organisations since the summit. They include the Times Education Supplement creating an award to recognise the schools with the most progressive working practices, the Teacher Development Trust providing guidance for schools on part-time staff and Barclays hosting an event for school governors and staff to show how flexible working can be implemented in practice. The pledges made at the Summit – which was co-chaired by General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders Geoff Barton – are part of the government's commitment to recruiting and retaining great teachers, as well as tackling the gender pay gap by encouraging employers to support alternative ways of working. Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Justine Greening said: Flexible working opportunities will help us to make the best of all of the talent and dedication already in the profession. Great teachers are at the heart of our plans to offer every child a world class education and it's really encouraging that so many organisations have already started to take action. Flexible working is already happening in many other sectors – it's vital we ensure it is happening in our schools too so we continue to attract the best and brightest into teaching. And, given this disproportionality affects women, it's a smart way to help close the gender pay gap. The October summit brought together teaching unions, school leaders and business professionals and asked for each organisation to offer at least one pledge of action. Since then, 67 pledges have been made to raise the profile of flexible and part-time working and to ensure opportunities to work flexibly are available across the profession. The pledges include: Microsoft will extend its partnership with WomenED to share best practice on flexible working online and at events; The Times Educational Supplement will ensure that all job adverts on its website clearly display whether the school will accept job-share or flexible working solutions; The Chartered College of Teaching has set out plans to create a model of how flexible working can be implemented for all members of staff, to help educate school leaders; The National Education Union will promote the advantages of flexible working in schools and encourage them to extend its availability – using social media to gather and promote case studies; The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) will work to endorse and encourage flexible working options to its members; The Teaching Schools Council will work with teaching networks to bring about cultural change in the profession by addressing barriers to flexible working; Barclays will host an event for school governors, senior school staff and members of the Department for Education to showcase its Dynamic Working Campaign; Teach First will use its ‘Innovation Series', which generates innovative ideas to tackle educational inequality, to explore ways to introduce more flexible working in schools; and WomenEd will work with the Association of School and College Leaders and the Chartered College of Teaching to develop cases studies of successful working practices that they will share with the sector. Individual schools and academies are also taking action to prove that leaders across the country have the power to make a real impact at a local level too. This includes: Southwark Teaching Schools Alliance, and Reach2 have committed to identifying and sharing best practice around flexible working Matrix Academy Trust has committed to a review of its recruitment strategy by August 2018, to ensure teachers working there are supported to work in a flexible way; and Marsh Green Primary School, Kings School Winchester and The Laurus Trust have committed to ensuring that job adverts and promotional material explicitly state that posts are open to flexible or part time working. The pledges announced build on the commitments made by the government at the summit, including: Updated guidance on ‘Flexible working in schools' to include information dispelling common myths about flexible working and case studies from schools who are putting the policy into practice; Promoting flexible working opportunities when developing the new Teacher Vacancy Service; A one-year pilot of a revised model of the Leadership Coaching Pledge for women teachers including extra support for part-time workers and people returning to teaching after a break. The government is tackling the issue of flexible working as part of its wider plan to ensure schools can recruit and retain the teachers they need. Flexible working can particularly support female employees in the workplace and help to tackle the gender pay gap, which is 18.4 per cent nationally and stands at 4.8 per cent for secondary school staff and 1.9 per cent for primary school and nursery staff. As well as requiring all employers with 250 or more staff to report their gender pay gap and bonus gap, the government has introduced 30 hours free childcare, shared parental leave and support for returners to help tackle the gap. Hilary Spencer, Director, Government Equalities Office, said: Lots of sectors are grappling with how they can make flexible working really work for them and their employees. We think that it has huge potential in education to unlock talent for both female and male teachers, helping them to balance their careers and their family life. So we welcome the pledges made and hope that it will encourage other schools to think about how they might offer more flexible working opportunities. Wendy Papworth, Director of Global Diversity and Inclusion at Barclays, said: Barclays are keen to support other employers in creating more flexible working practices which are good for individuals, the people they serve and the organisation as a whole. Dr Kate Chhatwal, Executive Director of Southwark Teaching School Alliance and Co-founder of the Leading Women's Alliance said: Too many talented teachers and leaders are lost from the school workforce because they don't feel their job is compatible with family life. A 2015 survey of school leaders, conducted by one of our partners, revealed that women were delaying or sacrificing having children because they didn't feel they could be a good mother and a good leader. Others choose to leave the profession. We need to be better in schools at creating the cultures and practices that enable flexible working. That takes determined leadership, which values the impact staff make over the hours they work – without compromising on pupil outcomes. In Southwark, we have several high-performing schools led by co-headteachers and more finding innovative ways to support flexible working. These examples and others shared at the Flexible Working Summit show what is possible. The next step is for this successful practice to be shared and implemented more widely. Both Southwark Teaching School Alliance and the Leading Women's Alliance are committed to playing their part in making that happen. Vivienne Porritt, National Leader of WomenEd, said: WomenEd supports fully the DfE drive to increase flexible working in our schools for all staff. On behalf of our network of women leaders, we have pledged to develop case studies that show how flexible opportunities support better retention of leaders and improve outcome for pupils. Rob Grimshaw, chief executive of Time Educational Supplement, said: We fully endorse the Department for Education's drive to promote flexible working and welcome the Secretary of State's personal commitment to an initiative that promises to make a real difference to teachers. We recognise the crucial role flexible and progressive working practices must play if we are to meet the surge in demand for secondary school teachers in the next decade. Tes education sector data show that a growing number of schools are offering flexible roles but compared to other sectors, we still underperform. Schools that lead the way in offering flexible, part-time and job-sharing roles can be attractive to teachers who may otherwise consider leaving the profession or to those who have left and would consider returning. Claire Walker and Hannah Essex, Directors of Communications for Teach First: It's great to see so many organisations taking flexible working seriously and momentum building across the education sector. The more schools can do to support flexible working, the easier it will be to attract and retain a wide range of talent. People from all backgrounds and circumstances have qualified as teachers through the Teach First programme. But the education sector can still do more to make sure schools attract a whole range of great people and keep them in the profession, helping to ensure a brilliant future for every child. This is why this initiative from the Department for Education is such an important first step Cassie Buchanan, headteacher at Charles Dickens Primary School, London, said: It is brilliant that the Department for Education and Justine Greening are leading the way and promoting the importance of flexible working. We really value the opportunity to hear about the range of options open to schools – and what is achievable. For us, flexible working is allowing our staff team to lead full lives and work for us. I want to be able to retain good, ambitious teachers, to support staff pursuing postgraduate degrees or other interests, and to acknowledge that the impact of each employee is not based on how many hours they are in the building but on how effective they are and how well our children are doing. We could all do more and, for Charles Dickens Primary, our pledge centres on communicating the importance of flexible working to our parent community. Parents of pupils need reassurance that a great job share team can often bring an even richer learning experience and faster progress for their child benefits from the best and often complementary qualities of two teachers instead of one.
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, Continue reading at the source
The celebration event took place today (Wednesday 6 December) and is part of the China and UK People to People event. Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, and the programme delivered through secondary schools will equip young people with the knowledge and skills to compete in a global jobs market. The Mandarin Excellence Programme, delivered by the UCL Institute of Education in partnership with the British Council, is on track to have 5,000 young people fluent in Mandarin by 2020 - helping to ensure Britain has the skills fit for the future. The programme was introduced in September 2016 and the results from the first year show that more than 380 out of 400 pupils achieved over 80 percent in reading, writing, listening and speaking tests, which shows their quick progress and the advanced understanding of the language. School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, so this programme plays a crucial role in helping these pupils achieve the fluency they need to succeed in an increasingly global economy. The level of fluency in Mandarin achieved by these dedicated pupils after the first year demonstrates the commitment of the pupils and teachers involved in the programme. Young people fluent in Mandarin will be at a significant advantage when competing for jobs with their peers from around the world, and will help us to build a Britain that is fit for the future and ready to compete. Pupils on the programme spend an average of eight hours per week studying the language, including four hours of classroom taught lessons. In addition to improving students' fluency in the language, the UCL Institute of Education, aims to have trained at least 100 new qualified Chinese teachers by the end of the programme. Katharine Carruthers, Director of the UCL Institute Of Education (IOE), said: The pupils who took part in the programme of events at the Foreign Office today had the opportunity to participate in what must surely have been the country's largest ever Chinese lesson. They met government ministers from both the UK and China and talked enthusiastically about their progress in the language, their enjoyment of lessons and the forthcoming visit to China in July 2018. They all felt this was a great opportunity to see the Foreign Office, to meet pupils from other schools and to realise that they are participating in a prestigious national DfE programme which is considered of significant importance to both the UK and China. Mark Herbert, Head of Schools Programmes at the British Council said: Mandarin Chinese is one of the languages that matters most to the UK's future – and its importance is only likely to increase as the country repositions itself on the world stage. Not only is learning Mandarin a fascinating process which creates a connection to the rich and varied Chinese culture but is also a language spoken by over a billion people worldwide. If the UK is to remain globally competitive in the years ahead, we need many more young people being given the chance to master Mandarin. The celebration event, which took place today, was held at the Foreign Office and was attended by over 140 pupils from 14 schools who are part of the scheme. The event formed part of the People to People week to celebrate the cultural, educational and social links with China. The pupils took part in a number of activities today that were designed to showcase their skills and help them continue their learning. This included a game of Chinese whispers, where the pupils were split into groups and had to communicate a message in Mandarin to help them practise their Mandarin speaking. The pupils were also invited to contribute to scrolls which included the words and characters they had learnt through their time on the programme. This programme and associated funding is available to state-funded secondary schools with good or outstanding Ofsted ratings.
Thu, Dec 07, 2017, Continue reading at the source
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