UK news

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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Families protest outside school over early Friday closures | Education

Dozens of families have protested outside a school in Greater Manchester that is planning to close early on Fridays because it cannot afford to educate its pupils. The final straw came for parents after Vale View primary school in Reddish, Stockport, announced last week that nine staff members, including some of the most experienced teachers, were being made redundant and that the headteacher was leaving. Parents and schoolchildren held banners and wore badges reading “Save our teachers” outside the school…

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DfE to unveil new category of higher technical qualifications | Education

The education secretary, Damian Hinds, has said he wants to overcome the snobbery of middle-class parents towards studying advanced technical qualifications, as the government unveils a seal of approval designed to improve the status and visibility of such courses. The Department for Education is to announce a new category of higher technical qualifications (HTQs) as a quality assurance mark for courses such as digital engineering, to cut through the profusion of certificates, diplomas and foundation degrees on offer for school-leavers.…

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Ofsted chief: pupils’ wellbeing at risk as sport is squeezed out of schools | Education

The Ofsted chief inspector has called on the government to do more to increase sport in schools amid growing concern that physical education is being squeezed out of the curriculum as a result of funding cuts and excessive focus on exam results. Amanda Spielman told the Observer it was essential that ministers and school leaders acted to show they understood what should be obvious – that sport and exercise for young people were vital parts of a full and balanced…

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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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Fewer teachers but more pupils: the reality for secondary schools | Education

Secondary school pupils in England are experiencing more crowded classrooms and fewer teachers, according to Department for Education data which revealed teachers continuing to leave the profession in droves last year. The department’s own school workforce census, taken at the start of the academic year, showed a fall in the number of teachers in secondary schools alongside an increase in numbers of pupils. While the overall proportion of teachers leaving the profession – 42,000, or 9.8% – was lower than…

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Migration and empire ‘should be taught in English schools’ | Education

The government is being urged to make lessons on migration, belonging and empire mandatory in every secondary school in England. The Runnymede Trust, a race equality thinktank, said last year’s Windrush scandal had exposed a “shocking lack of understanding” at government level about the winding up of the empire. It wants to see a new approach to teaching on the subject in schools, which will ensure all pupils learn about migration and empire, and teachers are properly trained and equipped…

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UK universities condemned for failure to tackle racism | Education

Senior academics and politicians have condemned UK universities for failing to tackle endemic racism against students and staff after a Guardian investigation found widespread evidence of discrimination in the sector. University staff from minority backgrounds said the findings showed there was “absolute resistance” to dealing with the problem. Responses to freedom of information (FoI) requests the Guardian sent to 131 universities showed that students and staff made at least 996 formal complaints of racism over the past five years. Of…

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‘A demeaning environment’: stories of racism in UK universities | Education

“Racism in universities is widespread, widely tolerated and raising it carries considerable risk.” These are the words of a senior lecturer who is one of more than 240 staff and students who contacted the Guardian to share their experiences of racism in the UK higher education sector. Their comments combine to paint a damning picture of black and minority ethnic experiences in British universities. Complaints range from overt racism, including assaults, monkey chants, the N-word and other verbal abuse, to…

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Labour MP Jess Phillips’ son leads schools protest outside No 10 | Education

“Someone has to save our schools,” sang several hundred pupils, teachers and parents to the tune of Message in a Bottle outside Downing Street, amid warnings from campaigners that 250 schools plan to end the school day at lunchtime on the final day of the academic week from September in an effort to balance the books. Marching from Parliament Square to outside the prime minister’s residence in central London chanting “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts”, while holding banners…

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700 English schools reported over asbestos safety concerns | Education

Nearly 700 schools have been referred to the national health and safety body over concerns they are failing to safely manage asbestos in their buildings, potentially putting thousands of staff and pupils at risk, it has been revealed. It is thought that about 90% of school buildings in England contain asbestos, often around pipes and boilers, and in wall and ceiling tiles. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises that it is only a risk if it is disturbed or…

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King’s College security overstepped authority over activists during Queen’s visit – inquiry | Education

King’s College London has apologised to student activists who were barred from entering the university’s buildings during a visit by the Queen in March, after an inquiry found that security staff “overstepped their authority”. An independent report (pdf) found that security staff contacted the Metropolitan police claiming that disruption was likely at the event, and passed on the names of 13 students and a staff member, as well as picking out student groups campaigning for rent reductions and better conditions…

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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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Kate Curtis obituary | Education

My friend Kate Curtis, who has died aged 59 after a short illness, was a courageous, outspoken and committed head of Wheatley Park, a large Oxfordshire comprehensive. Kate steered the school out of special measures, setting ambitious standards in the process. Of the inspection report judging the school to have pulled through, she said: “This report is going to be a milestone for us, not just a stopping point.” In 2016 Kate spoke out against Theresa May’s plan to scrap…

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Gerry Abbott obituary | Education

My friend, former colleague and mentor Gerry Abbott, who has died aged 84, was a teacher, a British Council officer and for many years a lecturer at the University of Manchester in teaching English overseas. He was committed to international development and the role of education in it. Gerry was a proud cockney, born within the sound of Bow bells in the East End of London, the son of Isobel (nee Mudd) and Reg Abbott. When Gerry was born his…

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Geoff White obituary | Education

In 1985 the work research unit of the Department of Employment was disbanded and my father, Geoff White, stepped down after five years as director. A colleague wrote: “It is not often that one person can make a national and international contribution to such a worthy cause; the quality of working life in the UK will always be linked with the name of Geoff White.” Geoff, who has died aged 93, was an occupational psychologist, elected a fellow of the…

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