It’s time for our regular snoop through the papers, to see what in the world of education has got people talking this month. From ‘voodoo’ punishments for pupils, to a ban on ketchup in schools, and the ever-shortening length of school uniforms, here we get behind the headlines. Join us – and have your say .
‘Voodoo in the classroom’
A teacher has been banned from the classroom after allegedly threatening to put a special educational needs pupil under a voodoo curse. The Daily Telegraph reports extensively on the case.
Thumbs up for new scheme (or is it just daft?)
If you ask a question at one school in Bridlington, then you’ll no longer see the air in front of you filled with hands. The school has put an end to ‘hands up’ and instead now asks its pupils to give a ‘thumbs up’ instead.
The school has made the move as a way to try and encourage a more relaxed classroom, by stopping the distraction caused by pupils waving their arms about.
However it’s been met by some scepticism from parents, with one quoted as viewing the idea as a bit of joke. But according to the school’s headteacher “it just works”, says the Daily Mirror.
Concerns following teachers’ Facebook comments
Concerns have been raised over the use of Facebook by those in the teaching profession. The Daily Mail has reported an alleged online conversation between four teachers – including a head – that has led to disciplinary action, despite it taking place outside school hours. Read the Mail’s write up here.
Afro-Caribbean boys worry about their masculinity
Many boys perform poorly because they fear that appearing studious undermines their masculinity, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Adolph Cameron, head of the Jamaican Teachers’ Association, made the remarks at an event in Bristol, which aimed to promote the educational achievement of black boys.
He warned that the attitude is affecting the academic achievements of Afro-Caribbean boys both in Jamaica and in Britain. As one of England’s worst performing ethnic groups in schools, last year just 40 % of Afro-Caribbean boys achieved five good GCSEs including English and maths, compared with the national average of 58.5%.
French schools’ ketchup ban
French schools have introduced a ration on the use of ketchup by school cafeterias in a bid to help children keep their cultural identity and heritage, reports Fox News.
Rules have come into force in most primary and secondary schools restricting how often the condiment can be served, and what it’s served with. Schools are now banned from serving ketchup with traditional French meals, such as beef bourguignon and roast veal with blue cheese sauce.
One in five allegations unfounded
Almost half of the serious allegations made against teachers are fabricated, according to figures from the Department for Education, says the Daily Telegraph.
The paper reports on research that has shown around 44 % of claims made by pupils and their parents are found to be “unsubstantiated, malicious or unfounded”.
In one in five cases, teachers were automatically suspended while investigations into allegations were carried out. Fewer than one in 20 allegations levelled at staff resulted in a criminal conviction. See also our recent blog and reader comments: ‘Have you been falsely accused?’.
Uniforms – the long and short of it
Pupils across the UK may be forced to wear trousers instead of skirts, as an increasing number of head teachers voice concerns that hemlines are getting shorter and may be “putting school girls at risk of attack”, says the Independent.
One school in Kent recently issued letters to parents warning that, because of “serious safeguarding issues”, pupils will be forced to wear trousers if they continue to wear skirts more than 10cm above the knee.
This issue has stirred some debate among safety groups, who are concerned the wrong message may be sent out if links are made between the risk of attack and wearing certain types of clothing.
Truancy levels soar
Truancy levels are on the rise, as official figures have shown more than 450,000 children missed the equivalent of a month of school last year, reports the Daily Telegraph. According to data from the Department for Education, absence rates are being fuelled by the number of parents taking children out of school for cheap holidays. Figures reveal almost one in ten secondary school pupils, and more than one in twenty primary school pupils, regularly missed school in the autumn and spring terms.
Education leaders warn that poor attendance can have a harmful effect on a child’s future prospects.
They came two by two…. by two, by two
A school in Chesterfield is seeing double after having a record NINE sets of twins among its Year Seven starters!
In an article in The Daily Mail, Netherthorpe School explains how it plans to cope with its high number of twins: while some of the twins have been put in different classes, some are to stay together in the same one, depending on their parents’ preferences. However the school has put no more than one set into the same class – to try and avoid too much confusion for teachers!