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Friday, 10 June 2011

Esther's TES (03/06/11) Round Up

You see I told you I was always behind. This is the round up for last Friday's TES edition. Anyhow here goes. Esther's TES Round Up number 1:

League Tables:

Future Government league tables will no longer take account of the CVA measure (contextual value added) when comparing school exam and test results... // CVA uses nine contextual factors including gender, first language, post code, ethnicity, deprivation and whether or not pupils are in a local authority care. // Unions warn that abolishing the CVA measure without a replacement will further stack the odds against heads and teachers who choose to work in the most deprived areas. // Performance tables will continue to show how much progress pupils make compared to their prior levels of attainement plus number of SEN students. // The white paper: "It is morally wrong to have an attainment measure which entrenches low aspirations for children because of their background". // Ben Slade, head of The Manor, Cambridge, which as above average CVA said: "It is divisive to remove CVA because it will camouflage coasting schools whether they are oustanding, good or satisfactory.

Academies and finance:

Most contracts with Capita (school admin system) have previously been with local authorities rather than individual schools, but when a school opts out of local authroity control they are forced to pay for an individual licence. // The DfE provides £25k to a school converting to academy status, but many heads say almost all of this is being used up to pay the re-licencing fee for their Sims (school information management system). // When still part of a local authority, secondary schools can expect to pay the council about £3k to £4k for their Sims. // Millions will be going out of the education budgets of schools with no change to the service other than a transfer of the licence. // Dr Bousted, general secretary of the ATL: "This is one of the hidden costs of becoming an academy". // Capita spokes person: "Due to Capita Children's Services' strong standing in the school marketplace it would be seen as using its position unfairly against its competitors if it did not pass these costs onto its customers."

National Curriculum Review 1:

Finland's schools system, a holy grail for educationalists worldwide, is actually a "red herring" that cannot be replicated in England, according to the leader of the Government's national curriculum review. // Finland is a devolved system but it achieved its success on the back of a heavily top-down education policy 30 years ago. // Ministers in England and their Labour predecessors have claimed that they are moving from rigid, centralised command and control and now emphasise school autonomy. // However, Mr Oates says we shouldn't compare ourselves with Finland: "It is dark half the year, so they read and talk to each other a lot more during the dark months of the year"

National Curriculum Review 2:

English teachers are concerned that the committee overseeing the national curriculum review could be biased in favour of synthetic phonics and includes a member (Ruth Miskin)with a business interest in promoting the reading method.

Controlled Assessments:

The end of GCSE coursework has "fundamentally" changed English teaching and means pupils no longer learn essential drafting skills, according to an influential academic. // Drafting is an important skill which is used in universities and by professional writers. Pupils were able to assess each others' drafts and suggest improvements. // Controlled assessments, the replacement for coursework, allows pupils to prepare in advance for a piece of work which they actually write in the classroom under controlled conditions. // Dr Marshall writes: "We do not want the first attempts of a student at writing an essay. We want their considered and well thought through opinions".


The EBac requires GCSEs or IGCSEs of at least a grade C in English, maths, a humanity, a langauge and two sciences. - Where the Ibac encourages 8 subject areas, the Ebac favours only five (and is heavily prescriptive within those: no Religious Education in the humanities, no IT in the sciences). // Matt Grists, senior researcher at Demos: "it is only likely to be achieved by a minority of pupils." // Sir Michael Wilshaw (Mossbourne Academy), one of the Government's favourite heads asked the Government to include a "technical and craft-based curriculum option" in its national curriculum review.

Specialist Leaders in Education:

SLEs will be tasked with improving the middle management of schools - classroom teachers are already able to call upon Advanced Skills Teachers and heads can use national leaders of education. // The National College is now consulting on the role, and says the next 12 months will be spent "developing" it. // The specialist areas of expertise will be based on the new key areas of focus for Ofsted.

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