2011: A Year in Headlines

As we bid a fond farewell to 2011, what better time to take a look back over the serious, and not so serious education stories which hit the headlines during the last year. Here we pick out some of our favourites, along with those issues which really got people talking.


The month when… teachers voiced concerns over new search powers saying they may damage their relationships with pupils, and a school in Petersfield was made to apologise after mistakenly saying a pupil was ten years older than the 14 years he claimed to be.


The month when…education secretary Michael Gove landed in hot water with a High Court judge after failing to consult local authorities in his decision to scrap the school’s building programme; the National Association of Head Teachers called for every school in the UK to have rules about how teachers use Facebook; and the largest class in the country was revealed to have a whopping 71 pupils!


The month when…Ofsted revealed plans for a new website to encourage parents to rate the performance of their child’s school, and some Bristol schools were found to have as many as 16 CCTV cameras in place – reaching a ratio of one camera for every 14 pupils in some instances.


The month when…teachers reported pupils were turning up to school hungry and in worn out clothes because their parents do not have enough money to feed and clothe them; playground games such as British bulldog, conkers and leapfrog faced the axe over safety concerns; and it was revealed that more than one in three children in the UK think Rudyard Kipling makes cakes.


The month when…the government announced new plans to tackle the number of pupils leaving school without a basic grasp of English or maths; a study revealed teachers may be avoiding using longer texts as they believe boys ‘switch off’; and the parents of pupils at 11 Middlesbrough primary schools were asked to improve their ‘decency and respect’ by ensuring they come to the school gates properly dressed. And that meant no more collecting pupils or attending school meetings dressed in pyjamas!


The month when…a top government adviser called for algebra to be taught from a younger age and suggested climate change should not be included in the national curriculum. Plus one Liss Infant School claimed that a short singsong and dance session each morning before lessons is the best way to start the school day.


The month when…top achieving graduates were tempted into taking up teaching in key shortage subjects such as science and maths with the prospect of receiving a substantial bursary; it was found more than half of primary pupils and around two-thirds of secondary school youngsters were rejecting healthy school dinners; and pupils at Longfield Academy in Kent become the first in the country to be provided with an iPads.


The month when…figures showed that more than 30,000 children are leaving primary school with a reading age of seven or below; celeb Carol Vorderman authored a report calling for maths to be taught up to the age of 18; and The National Association of Head Teachers’ General Secretary warned that social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are a greater threat to schools than Ofsted.


The month when…Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced a £50m project to provide summer schools in basic skills for 100,000 disadvantaged pupils in England; British children slipped to joint bottom of a table listing the number of languages learned in each country; and 30 scientists and campaign groups joined forces to call for creationism to be banned from the school science curriculum.


The month when…truancy levels were shown to be on the rise with official figures revealing more than 450,000 children missed the equivalent of a month of school; French schools introduced a ration on the use of ketchup by school cafeterias in a bid to help children keep their cultural identity; and one school in Chesterfield opened its doors to a record nine sets of twins within its Year Seven starters.


The month when…we were told that many youngsters are living on a daily diet of junk food; the annual Teaching Awards named their ‘teaching stars’ for 2011; and teachers were officially named and shamed as the worst dressed profession – in an astonishing revelation, one in five teachers even admitted wearing the same shirt for three days in a row!


The month when…£1.4bn in funding is announced for the first wave of Wales’ biggest ever school building programme; an inquiry is launched into the way exam boards may be advising schools on preparing pupils for upcoming tests; and GamCare, the support body for gambling addicts, recommends that children as young as 12 should be taught ‘responsible betting’ in schools.

Join us again in 2012, for more coverage of serious, and not so serious, education news stories. Happy New Year!

Which was your favourite story of the year? Why not share, below.



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