Education Update – October - November 2013

Selected items from the National scene as reported by TES

4th October 2013

Victims of Cyber bullying

A study, commissioned by Ditch, the UK anti-bullying charity, shows from international research involving 10,000 plus young people aged 13-22 years, that approx. 7 in 10 have been victims of cyber bullying.  Facebook, Twitter and were the most common networks used for bullying.  For TES comment resources on cyber bullying follow:  (See also: ‘E-safety for the i-Generation’ by Nikki Giant.)

11th October 2013

Primary Schools need more funding

A ‘Save the Children’ report “Too Young to Fail” shows that the future of poor children in England is largely determined by the age of 7; only 1 in 6 children from low income families will catch up by the age of 16 if they have fallen behind.  The report calls for an increase to the funding for Primary school children and the equalising of per-student funding between Primary and Secondary pupils.

18th October 2013

Changes to League Tables

Ministers announced new plans to change the way schools are held accountable for students’ educational performance.  One main change is that schools will no longer be judged on the number of pupils gaining 5 A*- C GCSE grades.  From 2016 league tables will focus on performance in eight subjects including Maths and English.

Educating parents boosts pupil attainment

A Niace report on family learning in England and Wales, calls for whole family learning to be part of Early Years’ provision in all schools.  It is believed this will develop positive attitudes to learning.  The UK ranked in the bottom four in both literacy and number for 16-24 year olds in international rankings recently published by OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development).

Peer to Peer learning encouraged

TES Connect has produced online modules of resources, including research, videos, articles and teaching materials to get the best from peer-to-peer learning which a number of studies have shown is effective in improving students’ results.

2th October 2013

RE from aged 4?

A review report by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales sets out guidelines for a new RE curriculum and recommends RE to be taught from the age of 4.

Link of exercise and success in exams

Academics from Dundee and Strathclyde universities in Scotland have analysed results from 5,000 children’s exercise levels at 11 years and compared them to exam scores at age 11, 13 and 15 or 16.  Better results were gained when more exercise was undertaken.

Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956) updated

Michael Gershon has updated Dr Benjamin Bloom’s 6 categories for learning in his book: ‘How to use Bloom’s Taxonomy in the Classroom’.  Dr Bloom influenced education worldwide with his structure of learning levels which was published in 1956.

1st November 2013

New rules for Term-time holidays resisted

Government regulations do not allow school leaders in England to grant any leave in term-time (apart from “exceptional circumstances”).  126,000 people have signed a petition for this rule to be overturned.

8th November 2013

ADHD – over diagnosis?

A report published in the medical journal BMJ suggests children are being over-diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  There is a corresponding increase I drugs to treat this.  Criteria for ADHD are defined in “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental Disorders” (American Psychiatric Association).  This is used worldwide.  However, the report in BMJ points out that definitions have been broadened and can confuse normal development in puberty; it recommends a more conservative approach with several stages of care before an ADHD diagnosis is made.

New film to help young people identify abusive relationships

The 18 minute film is issued by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).  To see the film go to

15th November 2013

‘Parenting academies’ scheme

Parents are being encouraged by payment to attend parent academies where they will learn how to help their children with reading, writing, maths and science.  A total of £600 may be granted to parents who attend all 18 academy sessions. The scheme is funded by the Education Endowment foundation (EEF) which supports projects to help disadvantaged children.  The scheme is being set up by local authorities involving 14 primary schools in Middlesbrough, NE England and Camden in London and will select parents and carers from 1,500 families.

Continuing concerns about PISA

Questions about the credibility of Programme for International Student Assessment continue to be raised by researchers.  Presently, concerns focus upon identical information submitted by different schools.  New research only found 16 countries out of 71 where data appeared to be of a high quality.  Countries with ‘questionable’ data include UK and US.

Increase in violence between teenaged couples

The children’s charity NSPCC Childline Service recorded a 68% increase in calls for help over abusive relationships in 2012-13.  A survey of 1,400 teachers and students has been undertaken by the charity and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).  It revealed that around 40% of girls 11-18 have suffered abuse in a relationship.

22nd November 2013

Foreign Languages

A Report from the British Council shows that 75% of adults in the UK are unable to hold a conversation in any of the 10 most important languages for Britain’s future prosperity.

The top 10 languages according to “Languages for the Future” (2013; British Council):

  1. Spanish
  2. Arabic
  3. French
  4. Mandarin
  5. German
  6. Portuguese
  7. Italian
  8. Russian
  9. Turkish
  10. Japanese

The Report calls on policymakers to give languages the prominence of Science and Maths and to introduce a broader range of languages to children’s education.

UK Leadership Scheme

‘The Middle Leaders’ programme – a British scheme led by Chief Executive, James Toop – focuses on middle managers, regarding them as having greater knowledge of individuals in their departments than those leaders at the top.  The scheme is attracting international attention.  The scheme aims to focus intensive training on these middle managers because heads responsible for large numbers of staff cannot be expected to line-manage them.


29th November 2013

British Universities urged to emulate USA

Bahram Bekhradnia, director of the UK’s Higher Education Policy Institute, warned that the most prestigious universities are not doing enough to attract poorer students.  He claims the proportion of young people from poorer backgrounds attending the most selective universities has not changed in 15 years.  The top universities in the USA engage in ‘Social engineering’ to be more representative.

6th December 2013

Shanghai at the top of PISA list 2013

PISA results show the Chinese city of Shanghai has higher results in all 3 tested areas of Maths, Science and Reading than all the other 64 participants.  The UK was ranked 26th in Maths, 23rd in Reading and 21st in Science.  The top 7 regions with the highest mean scores were all in Eastern Asia.  The top 3 in Europe were Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Netherlands.

13th December 2013

Ofsted: England is falling behind international competitors

Ofsted claims that, although standards of education in England are improving, the country is falling behind the international competitors.  ‘Weak Leadership’ and ‘Mediocre Teaching’ in too many schools are the main causes.  Ofsted calculates that almost a quarter of a million students attend schools rated as inadequate by the inspectors.

More homework

Good PISA results echo the amount of homework set.  Shanghai, at the top of PISA ranking in 2013, gives an average of 13.8 hours a week.  The UK sets an average of 4.2 hours and came 26th in PISA ranking.  It is also reckoned that one reason for successful PISA results is how well countries succeed with disadvantaged 15 year old students.

20th/27th December 2013

Attending church to get a school place

1 in 10 parents in England with professional jobs admit they attended church services solely to get their child admitted to a church school.  The data was released by The Sutton Trust.  The Report also showed a third of professional parents moved house to an area with better schools.

Careers Guidance from age 11?

European Union director of the EU’s vocational training, James Calleja, says children should be preparing for the world of work from the age of 11 with careers guidance, work experience and job observation.