These are some of the education stories we found interesting between the 19th and 26th April 2013.
The University of East Anglia has this week been named as the best place in the UK to be a student beating top universities such as Oxford and Cambridge.
A survey for Times Higher Education asked more than 12,000 undergraduate students to rate their universities according to 21 different measures, including the quality of teaching to social life and student accommodation. Oxford university came second and Cambridge and Sheffield university shared the third place.
Number of pupils in private schools drops amid rising fees (The Telegraph)
Figures released this week show that fewer school pupils are being educated in private schools. According to the Independent Schools Council, figures show that the number of children enrolled in fee-paying schools fell by 0.3 per cent to over 500,000. Fees for private schools increased by 3.9 per cent in 2012/13 to £14,295 per year.
A report published by the Children’s commissioner for England says that schools should be fined thousands of pounds for illegally excluding pupils. Dr Maggie Atkinson conducted a two-year inquiry looking into illegal exclusions at schools across the country. In her report published this week, she said that schools who illegally excluded a pupil for a month should be stripped of the funds they received for that particular student which would equate to at least £4,000.
However, headteachers say fines would only penalise the pupils remaining at the school. Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said falsifying registers was “already illegal and heads risked losing jobs for it or even ending up in prisons.” In some cases, schools illegally excluded a pupil to ensure they do not disrupt behaviour during an Ofsted inspection and were unaware of the law surrounding excluding pupils.
Calls to home-school unruly pupils (Herald Scotland)
Parents of pupils who are excluded more than three times from schools in Scotland should be forced to teach them at home a new motion has suggested. The motion will be discussed at the annual general meeting of the NAS/UWT teaching union next month. The proposals raise concerns from teachers who believe that councils are keeping disruptive pupils in the classroom to help reduce the number of exclusions in schools.
Parents’ anger at ‘bullying’ to turn their school into an academy (The Independent)
Parents at a primary school in South London claim that the school is using bullying tactics aimed at forcing their school to become an academy. Parents and governors at Roke primary school in Croydon say they face a “hostile” takeover’ of a consistently successful school after just one unsatisfactory Ofsted report.
They say that the failings highlighted by Ofsted were rectified within months but there had been no re-inspection to check this. Instead, the school was told by the Department for Education that it would be put in the hands of the Harris Federation of academies or face being dismissed. The education secretary Michael Gove has the power to change poor performing primary schools to become academies where a school has been underperforming for some time. Parents are now calling for the Parliamentary Ombudsman to intervene and conduct an inquiry into the way the affair has been handled.
A poll of parents revealed 83 per cent opposed to the change which would see Harris Federation take over the school. The Department for Education said the consultation period had ended and all views were being considered.
GCSE English plan leaves speaking test out of final grade (BBC Education News)
New proposals announced by England’s exam regulator Ofqual have revealed changes to the way GCSE English is examined. It said that qualifications in the subject would contain less “controlled assessment” such as coursework following concerns that the system was open to abuse by teachers. The document said that the speaking and listening part of GCSE English will be no longer part of the overall grade for the subject. Under the new proposals the marks from the speaking and listening exams will still be recorded on the GCSE certificate but will remain separate from the main grade.
The changes follow last year’s GCSE English debacle where thousands of students failed to achieve the grades they expected after grade boundaries were raised.
They are planned to take place from summer 2014 and will affect students who are currently in the first year of their GCSE studies.
School inspectors for Ofsted have attacked companies for setting a poor example to students by having names that “subvert” and “disregard” spelling and grammar rules. In a report on literacy in secondary schools, without naming any companies, Ofsted warns that by using these names, businesses give the impression that spelling, grammar and publication does not matter. This follows an earlier report published by Ofsted which called on secondary schools to urgently improve students’ literacy.