Conservatives

It is reckless to reopen schools before it is safe | Letters | Education

The government’s decision to push ahead with reopening schools on 1 June is reckless and dangerous. Britain still has the highest death toll in Europe. The National Education Union, whose members are being asked to work in schools, has rightly raised the question of five tests before schools reopen. These should be met before any return to schools – and other workplaces – is considered. Some local councils have said that schools will not be ready to open on 1…

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Smaller class sizes should become the new normal in state schools | Schools

L ooking beyond the present closure of schools to a “new normal”, and addressing the issue of disadvantage (Letters, 18 May), the obvious answer is to give those children who have fallen further behind during this crisis the advantage that has benefited so many in private education: smaller class sizes. The current government guidance of class sizes of 15, if extended beyond the lockdown, as opposed to the state-school norm of up to 30 children, would hugely benefit all pupils.…

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Universities brace for government scrutiny after Policy Exchange report | Education

Universities in England, still reeling from Brexit, are bracing themselves for unprecedented scrutiny as the government turns its attention to how the sector can deliver on the prime minister’s so-called “levelling up” agenda. After No 10’s recent assault on the BBC and criticism of the civil service, there are fears that universities, which overwhelmingly supported the campaign to remain in the EU, could find themselves next in the line of fire. A recent report by the rightwing Policy Exchange thinktank,…

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Seeing red over yellow belly usage | Letter | Education

Writing about spineless cabinet ministers, Polly Toynbee calls them yellow bellies (This revenge reshuffle shows absolute power resides in No 10, Journal, 14 February), thereby risking offence to all the countless Guardian readers from Lincolnshire. Perhaps she doesn’t realise that “yellowbelly” is a title that some Lincolnshire people wear with pride, deriving, so it is claimed, either from the yellow waistcoats of a Lincolnshire regiment or from the underparts of the frogs that were native to the Lincolnshire Fens. It…

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Two-thirds of Boris Johnson’s cabinet went to private schools | Politics

Nearly two-thirds of prime minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet were privately educated, according to research. The proportion of ministers who went to independent schools is twice as high as Theresa May’s 2016 cabinet, at 64% compared to 30% according to the social mobility charity Sutton Trust. In David Cameron’s 2015 cabinet, the rate was 50%. The figures mean that ministers in the prime minister’s cabinet are nine times more likely to have attended a fee-paying school for all or part of…

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Humanities are not the right courses to cut | Letters | Education

Catherine Fletcher is completely correct to warn about the damage that current policies – not only in universities but also in schools – are doing to the humanities (We’re in a mess and we need the humanities more than ever, Journal, 5 February). But her warning comes much too late. As I and other scholars have shown, the rot started with the 1985 government green paper which declared that the fundamental purpose of higher education was to serve the economy.…

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Skills must be central to budget if the country is to be ‘levelled up’ | Letters | Education

If the chancellor really wants to improve training for skills (Javid to back skills as key to ‘levelling up’ plan, 31 January), he inherits from a long line of politicians who tried to change Britain’s stubborn failure in this area. And it’s not just the disparities between regions in the UK; we are also persistently behind other advanced industrial nations. Even the 1964 Industrial Training Act, which was probably the most ambitious attempt, has been seen as a failure. The…

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Jo Johnson warns against cutting university tuition fees | Education

The prime minister’s brother, Jo Johnson, has warned against a proposal to cut university tuition fees. The younger, Remain-supporting Johnson – who was universities minister until September when he resigned from government citing an “unresolvable tension” between his family loyalty and the national interest – argued that lowering student fees would do “grave damage” to higher education finances. The former Tory MP, who stepped down at the election and is now chairman of the group that owns the Times Educational…

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Which party is tackling the injustice of grammar schools? None has the guts | Fiona Millar | Education

Whatever the outcome of the general election, one group of heads will have every reason to be content. The leaders of England’s 163 grammar schools have made it through another campaign with barely a word uttered about the bastions of privilege over which they preside. How different from 2017, when Theresa May’s retro idea to create new grammar schools ensured that the arguments for selection (slim) and against (substantial) were rehearsed frequently and loudly. In the end, the hung parliament…

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T-level courses may not be ready by 2020, warns education union | Education

An education union has called for a delay in the introduction of the Conservatives’ new vocational qualifications amid concerns about student recruitment and the tight timescale. T-levels, which are intended to provide a vocational alternative to A-levels, are due to be taught for the first time in September 2020, but a report says the programme faces serious challenges because of the large-scale changes involved and a lack of awareness among pupils and their parents. There is also concern about progression…

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New teachers caught in an ideological trap | Letter | Education

A mandatory “content framework” for all trainee teachers in England was rushed out by the Conservative government in the final hours before purdah. This framework represents the most profound shift in what the state expects prospective schoolteachers to be taught in over two decades. It is remarkable both for its heavy emphasis on memorisation and for its selective and reductive use of the evidence. World-leading education systems prepare their teachers thoroughly, giving them a solid grounding in theories of learning…

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Leaked documents reveal Tories’ dramatic plans for schools | Politics

A raft of dramatic and controversial education measures including billions of pounds in new funding, a crackdown on student behaviour and a further wave of free schools are to be announced by the government within days, according to a confidential briefing paper seen by the Guardian. The briefing document, dated 22 August and marked “Official-Sensitive”, details policy proposals for schools in England designed to be rolled out over the coming weeks in an attempt to seize the initiative on education…

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Teaching unions criticise Tory plan for snap Ofsted visits | Education

School leaders and teaching unions have reacted with dismay to the Conservative party’s plans for longer and more disruptive Ofsted inspections, with one warning the changes would “do more harm than good” if implemented. Boris Johnson denied that the changes – lengthening a standard secondary school inspection from two to three days and carried out at no notice – were “draconian”. But representatives of headteachers argued that the proposals were potentially damaging, forcing schools in England to divert energy into…

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Conservatives pledge to boost Ofsted’s power to inspect schools | Education

The Conservatives plan to increase Ofsted’s powers to inspect schools in England with longer, more detailed inspection visits and increased fundingin stark contrast with Labour and Liberal Democrat manifesto proposals to abolish the watchdog in its current form. Arguing that Ofsted is widely supported by parents and a key driver of rising standards, the Conservatives say they will increase the duration of the standard inspection, known as section 5, for secondary schools and large primaries from two to three days,…

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‘It hasn’t been easy being a Tory in education’: meet the teachers standing for election | Education

Mark Lehain, 41 Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for Newcastle-upon-Tyne North (Labour majority 10,349) “It’s not been easy being a Tory in education over the last few years,” says Lehain, a former maths teacher, with a sigh. A torchbearer for the Conservatives’ academy and free school policy, he founded and led one of the first free secondary schools – the Bedford free school – then left to head up PTE, the Parents and Teachers for Excellence group, which campaigns for…

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Even last week Labour was still asking for education policy ideas. Well, here are a few | Fiona Millar | Education

This could be my last general election writing about education policy. If any party gets a big enough majority to last five years, I suspect I might be doing something else by the time it is over. It is not because I don’t find the subject endlessly fascinating but, after more than 15 years writing about schools, over 40 years actively involved in local and national politics and three decades as a school governor, I know most general elections don’t…

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