It’s been a busy month, and with the media bursting with education news, we take our regular look at stories making the headlines around the world. From moves to increase the length of the school day, high-tech ways to stop smart phone exam cheats and a teacher who found he was a billionaire, see what’s got people talking. Join in and share your views.
Complaints over cougar mascots
Corner Canyon High School in Utah, USA, has ditched its ‘Cougar’ mascot name after receiving complaints from parents, says CNN. A vote by pupils had given the school mascot the name of Corner Canyon Cougars, but some parents thought this was ‘derogatory’ as the word is now used to refer to older women who date younger men.
Massage start to the day causes controversy
A school in Sheffield has caused outrage among some parents after introducing massage sessions before lessons, says the Daily Mail. The children at Hartley Brook Primary School give each other a 10-minute massage, as a way to calm them down after the lunch break. According to head teacher Mrs Chris Hobson the sessions have been a big hit, but some parents disagree and have withdrawn their children from the programme claiming it to be ‘inappropriate’.
School creates internet hit
As we reported last week, a County Antrim school has become a YouTube sensation after a video with ‘Glee’ appeal found fans around the world, reports BBC News. The video, filmed in the school and featuring 1000 pupils and teachers, shows a new student arriving for their first day and being met by a musical welcome when she heads through the door. Made in just 90 minutes using a digital camera, tripod and a MacBook, the school has been delighted by the reaction. At last count views of the video had reached over 296,000.
The long and short of the school day
Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg has suggested the school day should be lengthened to help prepare pupils for work, according to an article on BBC News. Speaking at the North of England Education Conference, Mr Twigg said the change would help give children a better perspective, stop teenagers joining gangs and create “a haven from chaotic homes”, while addressing employers’ concerns that school leavers are poorly prepared for work.
A quick exit for ‘bad’ teachers
New rules making it easier to sack poorly performing teachers have been introduced, reports the Daily Mail. In a move apparently aimed to help drive up standards in the classroom, schools will now be able to remove teachers who are not up to scratch in as little as nine weeks. Education Secretary Michael Gove has also asked parents to take more of a role in the process by highlighting any issues of poor teaching. The paper reports that Mr Gove is to scrap the existing 50 pages of ‘unnecessary’ guidance, instead introducing a requirement for teachers to be assessed every year against ‘simpler, sharper standards”. But the NASUWT accused the government of being ‘seemingly intent on destroying the teaching profession and state education’.
New rules aim to reboot ITC curriculum
Speaking at BETT, the leading show for educational technology, Education secretary Michael Gove announced radical plans to tackle what he describes as “dull” IT lessons, reports BBC News. However the General Secretary of the NASUWT union has said the announcement was like a ‘slap in the face’ for IT teachers. Read our feature on this issue, as well as comments from Eteach readers, here.
Success at Oprah’s SA school
A class of 72 girls from disadvantaged backgrounds has become the first to graduate from Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Founded by the talk show host and costing $40 million, the school in South Africa was opened in 2007, says an article on the Reuters website.
Clear signal for exam cheats
Meanwhile, an Austrian high school teacher has received a formal warning after using a high tech mobile signal-jamming device to deter exam cheats, reports 3 News. Gerhard Klampfer set up the signal jammer to prevent students from using their smart phones during their final exams. But he fell foul of Austrian law, which specifies that only select groups, such as the police and the military, can jam signals.
An out-of-this-world lesson!
Thrilled pupils from Morley Academy, in West Yorkshire, are to get the chance to do some ‘star’ gazing of a different kind, after winning a lesson with BBC science presenter Professor Brian Cox. The 30 pupils took part in The Big Bang Young Scientists and Engineers Fair, beating thousands of other schools across the country to take the prize, reports the Morley Observer. They will meet the TV star for a tour of an observatory.
Role reversal as Oxford gets rejection letter from student
A student from Hampshire has written a formal rejection letter to prestigious Magdalene College Oxford, after attending an interview to join the institution to read law, reports the Telegraph. In her letter, 19-year-old Elly Nowell criticises the college for intimidating state school pupils and also suggests they provide interviewees with a glass of water, rather than ‘torturing’ them.
Payday shocker for one teacher
A teacher in India couldn’t believe his eyes when he checked his bank balance only to find that instead of the $200 he was expecting there was actually the equivalent of $9.8 BILLION in his account – close to India’s entire annual education budget! Mr Saha quickly alerted officials to the error. Bank officials have refused to comment on the incident, reports BBC News.