Archive | December, 2019

The Department for Education issues new security guidance for schools, academies and colleges

31 Dec

On 5 November 2019, the Department for Education (DfE) published new security guidance for schools, academies and colleges.  Institutions should follow the guidance alongside safeguarding responsibilities and obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR).

The government is keen for schools and academies to take the matter of security even more seriously than they did before.  When criticised that it had not been more prescriptive on this subject, the government spokesperson said that schools and academy leaders were best-placed to make decisions on their own security policies.  The guidance encourages schools and academies to form partnerships with the police and local authorities when taking measures to tighten up on security, so that they can share information.

According to the British Educational Suppliers’ Association (BESA), there were 24,323 schools and academies in England in 2019. This included 391 at nursery, 16,769 at primary and 3,448 at secondary level.  There were also 1,044 special schools and academies and 352 Pupil Referral Units (PRUs). However, over the consultation period about security, only 26 schools and academies responded to the DfE.  The DfE said that 51% of respondents did not think that the guidance was enough and only 41% said that it was.

The DfE spokesperson said: “Our assessment is that these responses show that there is no consensus about whether the guidance should be more prescriptive than the consultation draft, or that an enabling document that directs schools and colleges to expert advice is a preferable approach.”

The DfE said it had rewritten the guidance to make it flow better and strengthened advice on the curriculum, police-school partnership arrangements, the value of developing relationships more widely, and testing recovery and business continuity.  The guidance stresses that schools and academies should “regularly test policies and handling plans”.

“Practice drills will identify where improvements can be made and enable you to assess what the wider residual effects of an incident are likely to be. You should consider involving neighbouring schools or colleges, local police, local authorities, academy trusts or other outside agencies in helping evaluate practice drills.”

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Problem of teacher shortages grows exponentially

31 Dec

In the autumn of 2019, Education Business, a monthly magazine of Leeds Trinity University reported that there was a teacher shortage which was not going to be resolved any time soon.

There are at least five reasons for this.

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The UK moves up the PISA League Tables in the 2018 results

31 Dec

I        The results

On 2 December 2019, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published its triennial Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results.  These are tests that 15-year-old students from 79 countries[1] last sat in 2018.    PISA measures (from each of the countries that participates) a sample of 15-year-old students’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges.  According to the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) analysis, the results of UK students in mathematics improved significantly on three years ago.

  • In reading, the UK was 14th, up from 22nd in the previous tests three years ago.
  • In science, the UK was 14th, up from 15th.
  • In maths, the UK was 18th, up from 27th.

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Young People Say the Funniest Things

31 Dec

Teachers regularly have unusual exchanges and encounters with their pupils, a key reason why they become who and what they are professionally.  Below are some pithy descriptions of these encounters. 

(1)        Teacher: Why can’t freshwater fish live in salt water?  Student: The salt would give them high blood pressure.

(2)        Teacher: Mira went to the library at 5:15 and left at 6:45. How long was Mira at the library? Student: Not long.

(3)        Teacher: What do we call a group of stars that makes an imaginary picture in the sky? Student: A consternation.

(4)        The headteacher was walking through the hallways at his middle school, when he saw a new substitute teacher standing outside his classroom with his forehead against a locker. He heard him mutter, “How did you get yourself into this?”

Knowing he was assigned to a difficult class, the headteacher tried to offer moral support. “Are you okay?” he asked. “Can I help?”

He lifted his head and replied, “I’ll be fine as soon as I get this kid out of his locker.”

(5)        Student: I don’t understand why my grade was so low. How did I do on my research paper?  Teacher: Actually, you didn’t turn in a research paper. You turned in a random assemblage of sentences. In fact, the sentences you apparently kidnapped in the dead of night and forced into this violent and arbitrary plan of yours clearly seemed to be placed on the pages against their will. Reading your paper was like watching unfamiliar, uncomfortable people interacting at a cocktail party that no one wanted to attend in the first place. You didn’t submit a research paper. You submitted a hostage situation.

(6)        In an exam, a student once wrote: “Drake circumcised the globe.”

(7)        Teacher:         What is the capital of England

Pupil:               E