Ofsted boss hits out at schools for continuing to ‘game’ league tables | Education

The head of Ofsted has issued a sharp rebuke to schools in England that continue to “off-roll” vulnerable pupils and force others to take “sham qualifications” in order to maximise results and improve league table positions. The schools watchdog introduced a new inspection framework last year aimed at encouraging schools to move away from a purely results-driven culture and focus instead on a broad, rich curriculum. However, according to the chief inspector of schools, Amanda Spielman, a minority of schools…

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Flawed thinking behind school isolation booths | Letters | Education

There would be an argument in favour of the use of isolation rooms or cubicles for troublesome young people in school if there was any evidence that they worked (Alarm as more schools use ‘degrading’ isolation booths, 18 January). In fact there appears to be no such evidence. The evidence that we do have is that teachers who use praised-based strategies to improve pupils’ behaviour in class experience far fewer disruptive incidents and hence less need to be punitive. Yes,…

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Schools ‘converting toilet blocks into isolation booths’ | Education

Schools are converting toilet blocks and classrooms to build isolation booths to accommodate “disruptive” children, the children’s commissioner has said, as campaigners warn that excessive use of the practice could be putting young people’s mental health at risk. Anne Longfield said she had heard “horror stories” about children’s experiences in isolation booths – spaces in which pupils sit in silence for hours as punishment for breaking school rules and disruptive behaviour. Some pupils told her they had been put in…

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Free period products to be available in schools and colleges in England | Education

Tampons, sanitary pads and other period products will be made freely available to all state schools and colleges in England starting next week, with the launch of a scheme funded by the Department for Education. The scheme follows the government’s commitment last year to pay for sanitary products for primary and secondary schools, in an effort to tackle “period poverty”, which can cause girls from low-income families to missschool. “We know that it is not easy for everyone to access…

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Sally Thomas obituary | Society

My friend Sally Thomas, who has died of cancer aged 60, was a pioneering lecturer in early childhood studies. I met her more than 20 years ago when she joined my MA programme at Trinity College, Carmarthen (now the University of Wales Trinity Saint David). She was a lively student, passionate about children and play. In 2000 Sally joined the staff, teaching on the new early childhood studies programmes. She was born in Sutton Coldfield (then in Warwickshire and now…

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Mother sues over daughter’s suicide attempt in school isolation booth | Education

A woman whose daughter tried to kill herself while in an isolation booth at an academy school is to take legal action against the government. The child, who cannot be named, has autistic spectrum disorder and mental health problems, but was put in an isolation booth by her school in Kent for more than a month. Prior to the intervention of lawyers in mid-March, she had spent every day since mid-January in isolation, meaning she had to remain silent throughout…

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Teacher who confessed to abusing boys in US found working in Essex school | Education

A teacher who has faced multiple allegations of child sexual abuse in the US and confessed to molesting schoolboys has been uncovered working in a secondary school in Essex, the Guardian can reveal. Stephen Jackson, 72, taught English to 11- to 13-year-olds at Tendring technology college this term despite previously confessing to police in California that he engaged in sexual acts with children. It has also emerged that he previously worked for two years at a school in south London…

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A delightful day with David Bellamy | Letter | Education

I have very happy memories of David Bellamy (Obituary, 13 December) visiting our first school (for children aged four to eight) in Binley Woods, Warwickshire, in 1983. A letter from the children asked him to visit their small copse in the grounds they cared for and a pond they had created. He came for two, but stayed for three hours, talking to all 150 children and sharing their enthusiasm for natural history. He lay on the floor with the reception…

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Headteacher Judy Shaw: ‘My staff are fantastic but they can’t fight poverty’ | Education

On Judy Shaw’s first day as a headteacher, a man came to show her one of the school’s vast brick walls. She recalls: “He said, ‘Is that pointing all right for you then?’ and I stood there and I thought, this job is not what I thought it was going to be.” But 14 years later Shaw is still headteacher of Tuel Lane infant school in Sowerby Bridge, a town nestled along the River Calder in West Yorkshire. In that…

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‘Many of our children don’t get presents’: schools open over Christmas for families with nothing | Education

Sammy will wake up on Christmas morning with little hope of a visit from Santa. He didn’t get a present last Christmas and it is unlikely he will get one this year, because his mother struggles just to put food on the table. But it is not all gloom for the lively eight-year-old. Next Monday, 23 December, his school will reopen and the teachers and support staff will return, unpaid, to organise a huge “Christmas Eve Eve” party for the…

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Take our Sats maths quiz to see if you’re smarter than an 11-year-old | Education

On Wednesday and Thursday year 6 children in England’s primary schools will take their Sats maths test. If you haven’t had children in the English education system for a while, or even at all, you might be curious about what 11-year-olds are expected to know about maths. So below is a sample of the types of questions they will face. Pupils will take 110 minutes of tests, divided into three papers over two days and containing a total of 83…

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British schoolchildren among least satisfied, says OECD report | Education

Schoolchildren in Britain are more likely to be miserable and less likely to think that their lives have meaning compared with children in other countries, according to an influential OECD survey that shows a slight improvement in the UK’s international education performance. The OECD’s programme for international student assessment (Pisa), which quizzes 15-year-olds on reading, maths, science and a range of attitudes, found that those in the UK had the biggest declines in life satisfaction since its last survey in…

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Donald Trump: is there anything sadder than a chump who thinks he’s a champ? | Barbara Ellen | Opinion

Oh dear. Was President Trump’s tweet of his head digitally added on to the body of Rocky Balboa/Sylvester Stallone rather too psychologically revealing? The image seemed to say everything you needed to know about Trump’s delusional self-image. Well, I say “needed”. How much does anyone need to know about any man – world leader or regular Joe – who mistakes male heft and musculature for true power? Before we begin, a minor quibble: the tan of Rocky’s body isn’t an…

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Is misused neuroscience defining early years and child protection policy? | Education

“Neuroscience can now explain why early conditions are so crucial,” wrote Graham Allen and Iain Duncan Smith in their 2010 collaboration, Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens. “The more positive stimuli a baby is given, the more brain cells and synapses it will be able to develop.”  Neuroscience is huge in early years policy. This week, in what’s been characterised as the largest shake-up of family law in a generation, the 26-week time limit for adoption proceedings has…

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Welsh schools to offer cheaper uniforms with gender-neutral options | Education

School in Wales will be made to offer cheaper, gender-neutral uniform options from September, as the Welsh government seeks to tackle the rising costs of school clothing for families. The statutory guidance issued by the Department for Education means Welsh state schools that are revising their uniform codes will need to avoid exclusive deals that force parents to buy from a single supplier, and must ensure that uniform items are widely available, avoiding expensive logos and designs. The new rules…

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Children should learn mainly through play until age of eight, says Lego | Education

Parents are squeezing the role of play out of their children’s lives in favour of the three ‘R’s as they try to prepare their offspring for a competitive world, according to the head of Lego’s education charity arm. A lack of understanding of the value of play is prompting parents and schools alike to reduce it as a priority, says Hanne Rasmussen, head of the Lego Foundation. If parents and governments push children towards numeracy and literacy earlier and earlier,…

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