Education Update – November 2012 to January 2013

Selected items from the National scene as reported by TES

2nd November 2012

Maharishi School Trust

The Trust runs the only state-funded Maharishi school in the country.  It plans to open a series of free schools in deprived urban areas.  It emphasises transcendental meditation and was highly praised by Ofsted.

9th November 2012

Draft proposals for Secondary curriculum

These include:

In English pupils should be able to:

  • Recognise particular forms of poetry
  • Write personal and business letters correctly

In Maths:

  • Statistics and probability
  • Set theory
  • Vectors and matrices

In Science:

  • Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells
  • The position of elements in relation to atomic value in the periodic table
  • The origins of the universe and how stars evolve

Changes in collective worship

After lobbying by other religious education groups, the DfE have decided that teachers no longer have to “accord special status to Jesus Christ” in acts of collective worship.

Big overhaul of SEN provision

Government plans will cause the scrapping of statements for children with the most severe SEN.  These will be replaced by new combined education, health and care plans.  Families will receive personal budgets to fund services for their children.  The current 3 categories of SEN will be replaced with just one.

SEN statistics

1.62 million pupils with SEN in 2011-2012.
226,000 have SEN statements.

16th November 2012

Deficiency of newly trained teachers

An Ofsted survey found that over 50% of new teachers start the job without good skills in the teaching of reading.  The report: From Training to Teaching Early Language and Literacy.


One in ten adult learners in colleges experience harassment because of their religion.  The Skills Funding Agency found that out of 1100 respondents, more than 80% were either Christian or Muslim.  10% said there was no one to turn to in colleges.

23rd November 2012


Ofsted Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, stated that Ofsted does not have any “preferred style” of teaching.  Judgements are about the quality of learning and the progress of students.

Exclusive Brethren

15 private schools run by the Exclusive Brethren have made bids to gain free school status.  All have been refused.  The Focus Learning Trust acts on behalf of a total of 40 schools run by the Exclusive Brethren.

New school-based teacher training courses

So far 12,000 people have registered to apply for the School Direct training scheme which replaces the Graduate Teacher Programme next year.  The new initiative encourages schools to take responsibility for training teachers in partnership with universities.  More than 7 in 10 new trainee teachers have a high-quality degree.

30th November 2012

Free schools and creationism

A new clause included in funding agreements must be signed by all free schools which prevents them from teaching Creationism as scientific fact.  The clause states that they will “make provision for the teaching of Evolution as a comprehensive coherent and extensively evidenced theory”.  The best scientific education must include the teaching of Evolution according to Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal society.

UK education ranks 6th best in the world and 2nd best in Europe according to the report “The Learning Curve”.

The teaching of Christianity in RE

A YouGov survey by the University of Oxford showed that 44% of English adults think more attention should be given to the teaching of Christianity in schools.  64% agreed that children need to learn about Christianity in order to understand English history.  57% agreed that knowledge of Christianity is needed to understand the English culture and way of life.  26% of “non-religious” respondents said more attention should be given to the teaching of Christianity in RE.  Research showed that many teachers (especially Christians) are afraid of examining the big questions of life through fear of being seen as evangelising.

7th December 2012

EBac marginalises art

This was the criticism of the winner of this year’s Turner Prize, Elizabeth Price.

England’s rankings in the last Timss survey (held in 2007)

England came:
7th out of 36 nations in Primary Maths
7th out of 49 in the Maths test for 14 year olds
7th out of 36 in Primary Science
5th out of 49 in the Science test for 14 year olds

14th December 2012

All-party parliamentary group concern about RE

A panel of MPs and peers has warned that RE classes if taught by non-specialist teachers could be detrimental to the subject.  Non-specialist teaching, experts explained, often correlates with poorer GCSE performance.  The inquiry would like to hear from teachers with current experience of RE in primary and secondary schools.  Contact

International ranking of England’s schools


In Maths England’s performance has dropped slightly. The Trends in International Maths and Science Study (Timss) states that in Maths England’s 10yr olds were ranked 9th in the world out of 50 compared with 7th out of 36 in 2007.  England’s 14yr olds came 10th out of 42 this year compared with 7th out of 45 in 2007.  Only 18% of English primary children reach advance level compared with 43% in Singapore.  Only 8% of English 14yr old pupils are working at advanced level compared with nearly 50% in several East Asian countries.


Primary Science – England – 15th out of 50 (7th of 36 in 2007)
Secondary Science – England – 9th of 42 (5th of 45 in 2007)

Reading Literacy

England- 11th of 45 (19th in 2006)


55% of 10yr olds are bullied at least once a month – worse than the international average.


England is the 8th worst of 45 countries.  63% of 10yr olds are limited by lack of sleep.


26% liked reading (international average 28%).  England has 65% of pupils motivated to read – the 6th lowest proportion.

New TechBac offered through City and Guilds as the awarding body

Lord Baker’s plans would combine technical qualification, an extended project and thinking and employability skills with English, Maths and ICT at levels 2 and 3.  The pilot form could be offered as early as next September.

21st/28th December 2012

Improved standards of primary schools in English and Maths

476 schools are now below the expected level compared with 1310 schools in 2011.

4th January 2013

NUT survey of 804 teachers

55% say their morale is low or very low.
71% feel rarely or never trusted by the government.
77% do not believe Michael Gove’s programmes for academies and pre-schools are taking education in England in the right direction.

18th January 2013

Academy statistics

Out of a total of 2619 in January 2013, 974 are primary, 1584 are secondary, 59 are special schools, 1 is a 16-19 and 1 is a PRU.

Ofsted plans overhaul of inspections for private schools

Amid concerns that teaching in many private schools is “seldom inspiring” Ofsted plans to overhaul inspections for more than 1000 private schools.  The emphasis of inspectors will be greater on a school’s leadership and the quality of teaching.  Private schools will now only have half a day’s notice instead of 2 days.

Bitter debate over gay pupils and same-sex marriage

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has expressed his concern to peers that teachers could face disciplinary hearings if they refuse to teach that same-sex marriage is equal to heterosexual marriage.  He said that legal advice suggests that any laws protecting religious organisations would be challenged in the European Court of Human Rights.  Meanwhile the Rev. Steve Chalke, leader of Oasis Community Learning, urged schools to become “safe havens” for gay pupils.  He believed that teachers who say that homosexual acts are wrong need to think about the “pastoral implications”.