Primary schools

Primary school teachers want to see Sats scrapped | Education

A resounding 97% of primary school teachers would like to see high-stakes Sats tests scrapped, according to the largest poll undertaken on the subject. More than 54,000 primary members of the National Education Union (NEU) took part in an indicative ballot last month. The vast majority said they supported their leaders’ campaign for “a sensible alternative” to the national standard attainment tests, which they say are damaging children and narrowing the curriculum. The NEU said the result sent a clear…

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Should pets ever be kept in classrooms? | Education

Watching duck eggs hatch in a classroom was a “wow” experience that brought the topic to life, says Sarah Holmes, teacher in Derby High School’s primary department. “It was a fantastic opportunity for the children to learn about the life cycle, see the ducklings grow and learn to swim. They also learned to take responsibility for looking after them.” Classrooms across the UK house a wide range of school pets: hamsters, fish, guinea pigs and even tortoises. But though they…

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Forest schools: is yours more a marketing gimmick than an outdoors education? | Education

Ash trees rustle in the breeze while beneath them muddy children run free, collecting leaves and searching for bugs in the shadows. This must be a forest school. Or is it? According to academics in a book, Critical Issues in Forest Schools, to be published next month, there is a high probability that it is not a forest school as, it says, large numbers of nurseries, primaries and secondaries are falsely claiming claim to be one. The forest school movement,…

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Teachers strike over pupils ‘carrying knives and brawling’ | UK news

Teachers have gone on strike at a school in Birmingham rated outstanding by Ofsted where they say “feral” students are carrying knives, threatening staff and brawling in classrooms. Staff at Starbank school, whose pupils’ ages range from three to 16, have been given panic buttons and are “scared to come out of their classrooms” between lessons, according to a teaching union. The NASUWT, whose members began a two-day strike at the school on Thursday, said it took urgent action when…

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Some English schools ‘can’t afford to teach five days a week’ | Education

More than 200 schools in England are cutting short the school week, or are actively consulting on it, because they cannot afford to educate their pupils for a full five days, according to campaigners. The figure was revealed on the eve of a demonstration in Westminster by parents and pupils protesting about a crisis in education funding, which means a growing number of children are being sent home at lunchtime every Friday so schools can save money. Organised by Labour…

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Teachers strike again over pupil violence in Birmingham | Education

Teachers have gone on strike for a second time at a school rated outstanding by Ofsted, where they say pupils carry knives, threaten staff and fight in the corridors. Staff at Starbank school in Birmingham, which has more than 2,000 students, said they did not feel safe after receiving physical and verbal threats. The second day of strike action follows a walkout last week, with union members saying the school has not done enough to help teachers deal with poor…

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Public anger over private schools | Letters | Education

The headmaster of Colfe’s School says he would welcome a debate about the role of independent schools within our education system (Letters, 18 June). The debate is simple. As long as rightwing governments continue to close state school playing fields, cut the education budget to below first-world standards and generally make life difficult for state schools, they will flounder. By contrast, the well-funded private schools will provide even more state-of-the-art facilities and more middle-class parents will bankrupt themselves in order…

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Teachers to strike at Essex school facing conversion to academy | Education

Teachers at a school which has been at the centre of a parent-led campaign against plans to hand it to an academy trust are to hold four days of strikes beginning next week. Industrial action at Waltham Holy Cross primary in Waltham Abbey, Essex, was announced as it emerged that the incoming trust, NET Academies, had been referred to the government’s Standards and Testing Agency (STA) over concerns about the administration of recent Sats testing of six- and seven-year-olds at…

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‘It’s just ridiculous’: why a London school is seeking charity help | Education

Ian Bennett has been headteacher of Downshall primary school in Ilford, east London, for 16 years. In that time he has seen council support and funding ebb away, as poverty and deprivation among the families his school serves has grown. The result is that the needs of his pupils have become greater, but he worries that as cuts bite he will be able to help them less. Downshall (motto Dream, Persevere, Succeed) is a large, popular primary school serving a…

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School asks BBC Children in Need to cover funding gap | Education

A cash-strapped school has turned to BBC Children in Need for funding to support disadvantaged pupils. Downshall primary school in Ilford, east London, which has a large proportion of children from disadvantaged backgrounds – 89% of whom have English as a second language – has put in a bid to the charity for funding to pay for pastoral care for three years. The school has been forced to axe its team of two pastoral support workers because of budget constraints.…

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Birmingham anti-LGBT protesters banned from school by injunction | UK news

Protests against the teaching of LGBT equality at a Birmingham school have been halted temporarily following a high court injunction. Birmingham city council secured the injunction to protect Anderton Park primary school. The temporary order, which came into force immediately, bans protesters from an exclusion zone in the streets surrounding the school in the Moseley area of Birmingham. The headteacher, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, said she was delighted with the ruling, issued by Mr Justice Warby QC, sitting at Birmingham civil court.…

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Special needs pupils ‘less likely to go from school nursery into its reception’ | Education

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) are significantly less likely to progress from a school’s nursery into its reception than their classmates who have no special needs, according to research. A study by the London School of Economics and Political Science found more than a quarter (26%) of children with a statement of Send move from the school where they attended nursery to another school for reception, compared with 18% of children with no recorded Send. The findings…

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Labour colleagues outraged after MP Roger Godsiff backs anti-LGBT protest | Education

The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said she had reported fellow Labour MP Roger Godsiff to the party’s chief whip over comments about LGBT teaching in schools, as other party colleagues criticised him for saying “you’re right” to protesters against such teaching at a Birmingham primary school. “This might be the personal views of Mr Roger Godsiff but they do not represent the Labour Party & are discriminatory & irresponsible,” Rayner wrote on Twitter. Godsiff, the MP for the Birmingham…

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‘Parents know best’: Esther McVey faces Tory backlash over LGBT lessons | Politics

Tory leadership hopeful Esther McVey has come under fire from within her own party after she said it should be up to parents if they want to withdraw their primary-age children from lessons on same-sex relationships. The remarks by McVey, a former work and pensions secretary, sparked a backlash from equality campaigners and one of her own colleagues, Justine Greening, who was the first openly gay female cabinet minister. McVey told Sky News: “I believe parents know best for their…

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Fear of LGBT-inclusive lessons harks back to 80s, says Peter Tatchell | Education

Peter Tatchell knows exactly who is responsible for the recent protests about relationships and sex education outside primary school gates: it’s the government’s fault, he says. “To its credit, the government has spoken out in defence of LGBT+ inclusive lessons – but it hasn’t backed this up with explicit, concrete guidance to schools about what they can and should do,” says the veteran gay rights campaigner. With religious extremists trying to “hijack the issue”, a culture of fear around mentioning…

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Michael Gove’s legacy and his No 10 destiny | Brief letters | Education

Last week we witnessed one of the saddest responses from a primary school child (aged seven) that we’ve ever heard. The class was involved in a philosophy for children session when they were asked: “What is a feeling?” A hand shot up and immediately came the answer: “It’s an abstract noun!” All around nodded in agreement. Gove’s legacy?David NattrassKings Meaburn, Cumbria • Visitors to Mulhouse (Letters, 27 May) should not miss the Musée du Papier Peint (Wallpaper History Museum) in…

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