Education Update – April – May 2014

Selected items from the national scene as reported by TES

7th April 2014

Do we matter? ask students

The largest survey of young people ever undertaken (56,877 11-18 yr olds) says students want to feel a) they matter as an individual b) that they matter as a group and c) that their teachers care.  Only 57% said their teachers cared about their feelings.

Science and religion in Muslim schools

Whilst theology in Science is a contentious issue in British and American schools, Muslim schools seem to find no problem with the issue.   The view of Evangelical Christians is that evolution is incompatible with a biblical view of creation.  However, Muslims in several countries teach that evolution is consistent with their religious view of the world.  Academics from McGill University in Canada and from Hampshire College in Massachusetts say that the distinction between science and theology is fluid in these countries because Islam is a complete code of life.  (Yet the Koran reinforces a creation story. ed)

14th April 2014

Knives confiscated In the UK

Over the last 3 years, 900+ knives, guns and other weapons have been taken into UK schools according to police data.  981 children (including 80 Primary pupils) have had weapons confiscated on school premises.

9th May 2014

Tablet computers for pupils now could be a disaster

Andrew Harrison, the boss of one of the world’s largest chains of mobile device retailers, warns that it would be premature if Mr. Gove made tablets available to every student.  “It would be a disaster.  We still have to put in the groundwork and put together a proper blueprint.  If we did it now, we would have kids distracted, teachers confused and the computers wouldn’t be used properly.”  Recent events in USA have proved him right where problems abounded in similar school initiatives.  The DfE responded to Mr. Harrison’s warning by emphasising it was up to individual schools to decide whether to introduce tablets “based on their pupils needs.”

Ofqual’s proposed new test: The National Reference Test

The NRT is to be taken by students from 2017.  It is meant to provide boards with an independent measure of the ability of a year group, thus preventing repeats of grading controversies and answering accusations of ‘dumbing down’ standards.  However, students would face the stress of taking another test (the individual results of which would not be published).  The test has to be close enough to the timing of GCSE so that results are accurate.