Weekly education news roundup 24/11/17



New research confirms parental engagement in education boosts a child's progress

The Sutton Trust has released findings from their Engaging Parents Effectively project, run by the Parental Engagement Network in Manchester. The initiative saw teachers in the trial schools trained to work closely with parents (prioritising those from disadvantaged backgrounds), equipping them to help their children learn at home. Researchers from Oxford University concluded that the project had an overwhelmingly positive impact, with improvements to children's home learning environment as well as teachers observing academic progress in the pupils whose parents took part. 94% of the teachers involved said they had gained confidence and skills in working with parents, which will have a long-term beneficial effect on home-school relations. 

Chancellor announces Autumn Budget

Chancellor Philip Hammond gave his budget speech to the Commons this week. While education professionals have called for more funding allocation in recent times, there was disappointment, with housing, Brexit and the NHS the big winners for increased financial resources. So what of schools? There were new small measures such as financial incentives for schools to increase the uptake of maths by A-level students, as well as £84 million to upskill 8,000 computer science teachers and the formation of a new £100 million National Centre for Computing. See our full summary.

The Academies Show 2017 takes place at Birmingham’s NEC

The movers and shakers in the education world met in the Midlands for a full day of seminars and events given by a range of voices in education. Between presentations and panel discussions were a range of exhibitors with commercial solutions for schools, covering everything from furniture and toys to tech. Some themes for the day were assessment and accountability, and what we should look for in successful schools and purposeful inspections. PTA UK were in attendance.

Most schools will be academies by 2022

The latest figures show that 71% of secondaries and 26% of primaries are now academies, with a survey by the Academies Show finding half of leaders at non-academies saying they plan to for their school to convert soon. Many school leaders who have academised say that the change was positive for them.


Schools to benefit from £2.5 million funding

The fund is available to support rural and small schools, and many Local Authorities are applying for it. Education Secretary Kirsty Williams, who announced the measure, said, "We are taking action and providing new funding to help small and rural schools deal with the unique challenges they face, such as small pupil numbers and issues in recruiting head teachers and staff. This financial support will benefit pupils, teachers, and the wider community. I want to see rural schools working more formally together and across the country, forming federations and looking into the possibility of sharing buildings with other services to ensure school buildings remain viable."

Concern over home-schooling link to autism

A disproportionate number of home-schooled pupils has autism, suggesting the sharp rise over the last four years in numbers of those home-schooled may be related to difficulties in providing inclusive teaching environments in the classrooms for SEND pupils. The Children's Commissioner for Wales, Sally Holland, has expressed concern that moving autistic children out of the mainstream school system may be in the best interests of the school, who might be motivated by wanting to improve results or league table positions, rather than in the best interests of the child. The National Autistic Society Cymru is asking government to consider mandatory teacher training on autism awareness in schools.

Northern Ireland

Parents making up for shortfall in school funding

Paul McClenaghan of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the principal of the country's largest primary school has spoken about the scale of the school funding issue during a meeting of head teachers in Derry/Londonderry. He confirmed, as our annual Parent Survey showed, that schools are regularly asking parents for donations. Speaking of his own school, he told the BBC, "The Parents-Teacher Association have to make up the gap between the funding because we cannot give children the books they need, the material they need to do their education."

Alarming increase in the number of pupils suspended for attacks on staff

Figures have more than trebled in the space of a year, with teachers the target of physical violence within the school setting. The Department of Education's latest figures for the previous academic year shows incidents of this nature up to 646 suspensions for assault, accounting for almost 10% of all suspensions. The previous year's total was 213, with an upwards trend since 2011. Justin McCamphill from teaching union NASUWT discussed the issue on the BBC's Stephen Nolan Show. He said that budget cuts account for the rise, with schools cutting specialist support best-qualified to help vulnerable young people, leaving many teachers ill-equipped to handle hostility.

Extra £10 million for education budget unlikely to impact classrooms, principals warn

Schools are being forced to make savings and debts are increasing, despite the increase in education spending of 1.5%. Principals believe that the increase in funding is unlikely to prevent the cuts schools are being forced to make, and there is scepticism that the further £10 million, reallocated from other departments, is enough to offer improvement.












Northern Ireland






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