Education News Round-up

From concerns the ‘three Rs’ are being neglected to a school that gives pupils different coloured uniforms based on their academic abilities – see what’s got people talking this month in our offbeat look at education news in the media. Join us, and have your say.

Carol Vorderman campaigns for maths

Celebrity numbers whizz Carol Vorderman has authored a report calling for a radical change to be made to the teaching of maths, and for the subject to be taught up to the age of 18, according to a BBC News article.

Apparently almost half of 16-year-olds are failing to achieve grade C at GCSE, and just 15% are studying maths beyond that level.

In her report, which was commissioned by Education Secretary Michael Gove and Prime Minister David Cameron, the former Countdown star claims more than 300,000 16-year-olds complete their education each year without enough understanding of maths to function properly in their work or private lives.

Violence in schools falling

The number of pupils being suspended or excluded for violent behaviour in English schools has fallen for a sixth consecutive year; there is now a daily average of 878 children taken out of class for abuse or assault on fellow pupils or teachers, and 13 students who are permanently excluded, says The Guardian.

Education groups have raised concerns that the level of violence may be part of a continuing failure to recognise special educational needs (SEN) among persistent offenders. They are calling for better screening. The Advisory Centre for Education, which handles many appeals, says there is evidence that alternatives to exclusion are helping to bringing the figures down.

As a further strain on schools, the Department for Education estimates there will be an extra half million pupils in English state primary schools and nurseries by 2018, putting further pressure on buildings, staff and pupils. Highest rises are expected in inner-city catchments.

New colour scheme causes debate

A journalist in the Guardian debates whether a secondary school’s decision to split pupils into different groups based on ability, complete with a different uniform, is innovative or worrying segregation.

At Crown Woods College in Greenwich, south London, the pupils are taught in separate colour-coordinated buildings, play in fenced-off areas and eat lunch at separate times. The school is split into three – Delamere with purple badges, Ashwood, which wears blue and Sherwood, which wears red. Ashwood and Sherwood are also streamed into three tiers.  Student comments reveal a mixed reaction to the initiative, with both negative and positive views expressed.

Pupils test debating skills

Hundreds of school pupils from around the globe recently headed to Dundee to put their persuasive language skills to good use as they took part in the World Schools Debating Championship. Forty-eight teams, with pupils aged between 14 and 19 years old, competed in the championships, which were held over the course of 10 days – reports BBC News

Countries were able to submit a squad of three to five students to debate in English on social, moral and political issues. The tournament was first held in Australia in 1988.

Half of maths teachers have low degrees

The Good Teaching Training Guide has revealed that only half of teachers for subjects such as maths and science have a ‘good degree’, reports the Daily Mail.

Those teaching foreign languages are even less likely to hold a 2:1 or above, with more than a third holding a 2:2 or lower. However, English and history teachers fair much better.

Ministers have announced plans to scrap public funding for teacher trainees who do not hold at least a 2:2 degree.

‘Three Rs’ being missed

Concerns have been raised over the ‘three Rs’ as figures show that more than 30,000 children are leaving primary school with a reading age of seven or below. Results from National Curriculum tests for 11-year-olds have revealed one in three are struggling to master the basics of reading, writing and maths. The percentage reaching the pass mark in all three tests is 67 per cent, reports The Independent.

A lesson for rioters

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, has spoken about the recent riots in the UK and suggested hard questions need to be asked of parents and families, in an article on BBC News.

He also suggests that the riots may have far-reaching implications for the curriculum, which he says needs to emphasise a sense of responsibility and morality. For more media coverage of the riots and education on Eteach, click here.

And finally….

Teachers may be of a different view, but for parents the end of the summer break may be a very welcome event, as a survey reveals the true cost of the school holidays.

Insurer LV= has revealed parents in the UK may have spent a massive £8.6bn on childcare and entertainment for their children this summer, with the school break being an expensive and stressful time for many.

The report shows that parents will spend an average of £660 per child over the holidays, including £246 on childcare and £414 on entertainment, according to The Guardian.

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