Education News Weekly – 19th June, 2017
The Grenfell Tower fire, Britain’s strictest school and children’s ‘Trumpy’ creative writing.
Michaela Community School – a controversial north-west London free school renowned for its “no excuses” behaviour policy – has been judged outstanding in all categories by Ofsted. The school prides itself on its strict disciplinary approach, with pupils given demerits or detention for forgetting to bring a pencil or pen, for grimacing at teachers or for talking in corridors when moving between lessons (this last one seems harsh to us).
However, Ofsted inspectors were impressed with the progress they saw among the pupils at all levels, praising student behaviour and attitudes to learning. More than a third of the school’s pupils are eligible for free school meals, and the large majority of them are from ethnic minorities. The school also has a higher than average proportion of pupils with special educational needs.
Analysis by the Oxford University Press has concluded that ‘Trump’ is “word of the year” on the playground, after the name turned up more than any other in 500 Words, BBC Radio 2’s annual children’s story-writing competition.
Depressing at this is in some ways, variants on the Trump theme included Boggle Trump, Snozzle Trump and Trumplestiltskin, and promises to ‘make the moon great again’ in a space-travel story (but no mention of the infamous Covfefe incident). References to fake news, Brexit and politics in general have also increased, and KA-POW! – Superhero stories remain popular.
A university has mistakenly emailed hundreds of students intimate and sensitive personal information about of fellow undergraduates. Details of health problems, family bereavements and personal issues were sent by the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich to 298 American studies students. The email contained a spreadsheet listing 172 names and details extenuating circumstances in which extensions and other academic concessions were granted to 42 students.
The UEA apologised “unreservedly” and said an inquiry had begun, while students say they felt “sick” and that it was “a real slap in the face to students who have sought [mental health] support.”
A teenager turned up for a GCSE exam in her pyjamas, hours after she escaped from the Grenfell Tower fire clutching her revision notes, and saying ‘If I’m not sleeping, I may as well be studying’. Ines Alves, 16, fled her 13th floor flat along with family in the early hours of Wednesday morning, as the deadly inferno spread through the North Kensington tower block. Her father is thought to have saved more than a dozen lives by banging on his neighbours doors to wake them up, said he was “very proud” of his daughter.
After taking refuge at a friend’s house overnight, she took the exam at Sacred Heart School in Hammersmith on Wednesday morning – at 9am no less, wearing the same clothes she fled her home in.
As many as one in six pupils (16.6%) did not receive their first choice of secondary school this year – equivalent to almost 93,000 children, and a rise of 0.6 per cent on last year – the highest proportion since 2010. Figures from the Department for Education also show one in 10 primary school age children were not offered their first choice this year. Applications to secondary schools have been rising steadily in recent years, prompted by a spike in births in the previous decade.
The figures come amid on-going discussions as to how the Government plans to provide more school places for the growing population. Responding to the figures, the DfE claimed the school system was “rising to the challenge”.
There were significant variations across different regions, however, with North-east England seeing the highest proportion of first-choice offers for secondary schools – at 90.9 per cent – just ahead of south-west England (90.8 per cent). London families were the least likely to win a place at their child’s first choice of school – 68.2 per cent – although the figure was slightly higher in outer boroughs (69.8%) than inner city authorities (64.9%). Northumberland, Cornwall and Bedford were the top three, all scoring beyond 95%.
Student loan debt in the UK has risen to more than £100bn for the first time, underlining the rising costs young people face in order to get a university education, with an expert claiming that student debt was rising at a faster pace than any other form of debt,
Outstanding debt on loans jumped by 16.6% to £100.5bn at the end of March, up from £86.2bn a year earlier, according to the Student Loans Company. England accounted for £89.3bn of the total. In England, the average amount of debt for each graduate is £32,220, and the overall debt could reach £200 billion in six years.
Exams are hard enough for students, but spare a thought for the poor exam boards, having to set new, legitimate questions every damn year. OCR and AQA have been forced to apologise numerous times lately for producing misleading or inaccurate questions, or failing to provide the relevant formulae as promised, with Biology, Chemistry and English papers all affected, leaving students fuming. Both exam boards said the marking process would take the erroneous questions into account.
By David Bard
David is a Minerva Pro Tutor who specialises in humanities subjects at A Level and is a trained expert in the 7 + and 11 + exams. Outside of tutoring, David writes blogs about everything that’s trending in education.