Education News Roundup – March 2011

From the largest school class in Britain to a court ruling in favour of local authorities affecting Michael Gove’s decision to scrap the Building Schools for the Future programme, and a new ‘Dream School’ where the corridors are lined with some very famous faces, we head under the media covers to see what lessons are being learnt in the world of education. Join us and have your say.

Gove told to think again over schools’ building programme

Education secretary Michael Gove has been told by a high court judge that he acted unlawfully in failing to consult local authorities over his decision to scrap the schools’ building programme, reports The Guardian.

Every secondary school in England was to be either rebuilt or refurbished under the scheme, and the move to scrap it in July has seen more than 700 schools’ building projects cancelled. Following the ruling, the government may now be forced to pay compensation to the six councils which took the case to the high court.

Pupils’ polar trek

Pupils from a Wiltshire school are to join a host of top athletes to undertake a 60-mile trek across the Arctic in aid of DORE, the charity for Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and ADHD.

The group will face temperatures as low as -40C, and are to be filmed by the BBC for a special documentary charting their experiences, reports the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald Segregation fears over ‘free schools’

The government’s ‘free schools’ policy was discussed by Warwick Mansell in The Guardian, who focused on the 10 schools proposing to establish themselves in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Seven of these intend to focus on a particular faith.

This has raised concerns about a fragmentation of education within the borough according to the faiths of the children – at a time when it’s been suggested that it’s multiculturalism that has encouraged the development of segregated communities.

The fear that free schools could “overwhelm” existing provision is also discussed in the piece.

Jamie Oliver to tackle schooling

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is turning his attention away from school dinners and instead looking at the wider school experience as he begins a new television show ‘Dream School’, reports The Observer.

Airing on Channel 4, the show will track 20 pupils, who each left school at the age of 16 with fewer than five GCSEs at grade A to C. They will be filmed entering the new school run by Jamie, which has teaching staff made of a number of famous faces, who hope to motivate the pupils to continue in education. Lessons include politics with Alastair Campbell, art with Rolf Harris, PE with Daley Thompson and history with David Starkey.

A lesson in social networking

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has called for every school in the UK to have rules about how teachers use Facebook says the BBC

The teaching union says new teachers are having problems because of their use of social networking sites such as Facebook, where pupils can view and access personal information about them. The NAHT wants schools to set out clearly what is and is not allowed.
• See also our previous blog ‘Cyber-bullying – a hard lesson to learn’ for more about social networking and teachers Cyber-bullying – a hard lesson to learn

And finally….

The Class of 71

Bure Valley Junior School in Aylsham is thought to have the largest class in the country, with a Year Three class of seven and eight-year olds reaching a staggering 71 pupils, says the Daily Telegraph.

Despite doubts when head teacher John Starling first suggested the idea to governors, parents, teachers and the council that classes could be merged, the results have been positive and pupils are reported to have made double the usual progress. It is commented in the article that the school may now act as a living, breathing laboratory for research into optimum class size.

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