Education news roundup – May 2011

What’s making the headlines in the world of education? Here we take our monthly snoop around the papers to find out what’s got people talking. From exceedingly good cakes from Rudyard Kipling, to playground games getting the boot and bad pupil behaviour that’s blamed on the weather, join us and have your say.

Playground favourites expelled

A survey of school staff by the Association of Teachers & Lecturers (ATL) has found playground games such as British bulldog, conkers and leapfrog are increasingly facing the axe due to safety concerns and schools becoming more risk averse.

Research was published at the ATL teaching union’s annual conference in Liverpool. Of the 653 school staff they surveyed, more than a quarter said British bulldog has been banned, playing conkers has been banned for 14% and leapfrog for 9%.

Bad behaviour blamed on the weather

Governors say adverse weather conditions – wind and rain – are partly to blame for the aggressive behaviour of some pupils at a school in Lancashire.

Seventy of the 80 staff at Darwen Vale high school in Blackburn say students are out of control, pushing them, challenging them to fights and threatening to film their lessons and post them online. Staff have criticised school management, saying they feel unsupported by governors and the head teacher, leading them to stage a walk-out.

However, a senior governor has defended management, saying the violent and abusive behaviour of pupils is in some part due to the bad weather.

See also our earlier blog: Discipline: do teachers get enough support?

Parents don’t have money to feed children

In a separate survey by the ATL, teachers have revealed that pupils are turning up to school hungry and in worn out clothes because their parents do not have enough money to feed and clothe them. Four out of five teachers said poverty is affecting their students and many fear the situation will worsen.

Teachers ‘should have a good degree’

Most teachers believe students should be required to have a good level of degree to work in the classroom, according to research published in the Daily Telegraph.

Some 62% said trainees should have at least a 2:2 to work in secondary schools and 58% said students should have a decent degree to work in further education colleges. However, many insisted that degree classification alone was not enough to guarantee a good teacher.

Female stereotypes in schools

Ofsted has criticised mixed sex schools, saying they are not doing enough to promote girls’ confidence and ambitions. A survey from the School’s Inspector has found work placements for female students are almost all in ‘stereotypically female’ occupations. Out of more than 1,700 examples of work placements, less than a tenth were ‘unconventional’, while the vast majority were in education, hair and beauty, offices and shops.

Girls in single sex schools exhibited the most positive attitudes, with pupils saying they would definitely consider doing jobs stereotypically done by men.

Exceedingly good cakes from Rudyard Kipling?

More than one in three children in the UK think Rudyard Kipling makes cakes, says an article in the Daily Mail.

The research was carried out to support an initiative to print extracts from children’s books and poems to breakfast cereal boxes.

And finally…

Time travel concerns for parents

Parents in China are worried that their children are seriously thinking about how to time travel, says an article on Chinese website Xin Hua News.

Parents’ concerns have grown since pupils started writing about time travel in school essays and exams. One teacher quoted puts the popularity of time travel fantasies down to pupils needing an escape from school pressures and as a response to a lack of available quality reading material.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, China’s film and television watchdog, has reportedly issued a circular to discourage the broadcast of time travel related shows.

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