Archive | January, 2015

Well-heeled parents accused of “affluent neglect”

3 Jan

Public opinion is suffused with commentaries from pundits of how parents from the lower strata of society let down their children big time by not giving them the love, kindness and attention they deserve.   In November 2014, Ms Clarissa Farr, the Headteacher of St Paul’s Girls’ School in West London, one of the most prestigious not only in this country but the world and where fees are £21,000 (circa) annually, told The Times, that many of her charges were falling victims of “affluent neglect”.

While rich parents have come to realise that youngsters would much prefer to be brought up at home than wheeled (or flown) off to boarding school from the age of 4 – they have been overtaken by a disease so elegantly defined by Ms Farr.  Children of the rich and the ultra-rich may not be confined to dormitories; rather they are put in the care of nannies – generally from Eastern Europe or the Orient – receive extra dollops of tutoring after school and coached by sports women and men – but are left bereft of the breakfast and dinner time family conversations because both, their mums and dads, are at work in this country or abroad.  Parenting is, effectively, outsourced.

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NSPCC and TES create digital child-protection toolkit

3 Jan

In partnership with Times Educational Supplement (TES), the NSPCC has created a digital resource to assist schools in reviewing their safeguarding arrangements.

Given that local authorities’ capacity to take measures in response to schools’ concern about neglected and abused children are shrinking owing to the severely diminished resources they have available, schools have to rely on their own initiatives. This tool helps schools to be thorough in their approaches.  It is the first of its kind and aims to reassure schools that they have the correct safeguarding procedures in place.   Where they may be guilty of sins of omissions and commission, they are advised to take remedial measures.

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The Pupil Premium – a financial lifeline for schools in deprived areas

3 Jan

The Pupil Premium is an invaluable resource which has lifted the progress and achievements of some of the most deprived in our country.  The government has informed schools what they will receive in the next financial year, i.e. 2015/16, under this heading, when the total allocation will be £2.545 billion.  The breakdown is as follows.

  1. £1,320 per (eligible) pupil of primary-school age (rising from £1,300 this financial year)
  2. £935 per (eligible) pupil of secondary-school age
  3. £1,900 for every pupil who has been looked after for one day or more or has been adopted from care or has left care under a special guardianship order, a residence order or a child arrangement order

For the first time, pupils in nursery schools and classes will also attract this funding if they and their families qualify under at least one of the following criteria.

  1. Income Support
  2. income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  1. support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  2. the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  3. Child Tax Credit(provided they’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  1. Where a child has been looked after for one day or more
  2. Where a child has been adopted from care
  3. Where a child has left care under a special guardianship order or residence order
  • A child must be eligible for free early education in order to attract Early Years’ Pupil Premium  (EYPP) funding. Children become eligible at different points in the year depending on when they turn three. Details of the dates when children become eligibleare available.

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Careers Guidance – Cinderella of Education

3 Jan

I           Schools falling short on careers guidance

On 15 October 2014 the Sutton Trust published a report commissioned from Derby University, called Advancing Ambitions which looks into the role of career guidance and its relationship to social mobility. The report suggests that young people are being subjected to a “postcode lottery” with quality career support available to some but not others.

In his Foreword, Deputy Chair of the Sutton Trust, David Hall, rues the decline in good careers guidance in secondary schools, which is impairing the futures of young people, especially those who come from the lower echelons of our society. This is mainly due to the poor quality career advice they are receiving at schools and academies.  As a consequence, their chances of becoming upwardly mobile are severely diminished.

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Assessment – Performance Descriptors to replace Levels

3 Jan

Michael Gove, former Secretary of State for Education, abolished levelling – the tool schools have been using to determine the standards of pupils and the progress they make.  This was because it was supposed to be too complex and confusing.  Schools now have to decide how best to measure the advancements of their pupils.   On 23 October 2014, the DfE started a consultation on performance descriptors, which its experts aver will be a more effective method for making judgements on pupils’ abilities at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2. The deadline for responses was 18 December 2014.

Should these descriptors be adopted by the government, they will come into effect in 2016.  For the end of each key stage, the government will set the expected standards in reading, writing, mathematics and science.   During the in-between years, schools will be expected to make their own assessment arrangements. Performance descriptors for pupils at the end of Key Stage 1 will be in reading, writing and mathematics.  The government will provide one descriptor for the expected standard in science.   It will set a number of descriptors for English at the end of Key Stage 2 and a single descriptor at this stage for each of the subjects – reading, mathematics and science.   Key Stages 1 and 2 test results will be reported against scaled scores rather than levels.

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Choosing a school from a lay perspective

3 Jan

I           A Parental Dilemma

In autumn 2013, an employee at my newsagent, who is of Sri Lankan origin, was fretting about the choice of primary school for his child who was three-years old.   He had gathered that Ofsted had judged his neighbourhood state (community) school as “requiring improvement”.  Unsurprisingly, he was keen to find another further afield, but every one of them appeared to be over-subscribed.  It was unlikely that the local authority would offer his son a place at a school other than the one which he did not want.  He asked my opinion.

I happened to know the school rather well as I worked with the governors.  However, I advised him to go with his wife and visit the school to see what it was offering the children.  As he was shy, retiring and from another country with an educational system a world away from ours, he felt lost.  He did visit but placed much more weight on what I said.

Not wanting to mince my words, I said that how good a school is will be unique to every child.  What may be good for one child may not suit another.  Further, a pupil may have a fantastic experience and progress leaps and bounds one year with a class teacher and do diabolically the next, because of the unfortunate quality of learning he experiences at the hands of the next class teacher.   The leadership does its best to promote high standards of education across the school but occasionally, it’s a game of roulette.

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