Rayat London College In Uni Of Wales Probe Liquidated

Rayat London College in Uni of Wales probe liquidated

BBC  |March 8, 2012

A London college which was one featured in an expose of visa fraud involving foreign students on University of Wales courses has gone into liquidation.

Rayat London College suspended three members of staff following the BBC Wales probe and the college was banned from enrolling new overseas students.

Week In Week Out looked into claims students were offered help to cheat their way to UoW degrees.

The University of Wales (UoW) has lodged an application with liquidators.

The college, in Heston, west London, was raided by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in October last year after the programme broadcast a number of allegations.

The UKBA said the college would not be allowed to recruit students from overseas while its investigations continued.

Alternative centres

At the time, Rayat London College denied any wrongdoing, saying it had suspended those of its staff allegedly involved and had referred the matter to the police.

Two hundred students were studying for a University of Wales-validated degree at the college.

It says about 80 will need to transfer to alternative centres who provide equivalent University of Wales degrees, and is helping them to do so.

The announcement of the liquidators going in was published in the London Gazette.

The liquidators were called in to the college last month.

‘Poor Safety At Nurseries Puts Toddlers At Risk’

‘Poor safety at nurseries puts toddlers at risk’

Nursery
Poor safety at about 1,000 nurseries and childminders in England may put children at risk, figures suggest.

A further 14,600 providers of care to the under-fives were judged only ‘satisfactory’ for safety at their most recent Ofsted inspection.

Ofsted said safety issues ranged from relatively minor to serious failures to vet staff or keep premises secure.

A government spokeswoman said local authorities had a duty to provide advice and training to poor providers.

“We welcome the fact that nearly three-quarters of early years settings inspected by Ofsted have been judged good or outstanding.

“But over a quarter are not meeting the needs of the children in their care as well as they should be,” said the spokeswoman from the Department for Education.

Central question

Ofsted inspections of childminders and of early years providers such as preschools and nurseries take place with little or no notice and last half a day.

They are generally carried out by a single inspector who looks at how well the children are looked after and helped to learn and develop and how well the setting is led and managed.

Ofsted says that the central question inspectors ask is ‘What is it like for a child here?’

A key element of each inspection is to look at how well the legal requirements for early years childcare are met – this includes regulations about the vetting of staff and the safety of premises and equipment.

In the case of minor failures to meet welfare requirements, inspectors can make recommendations for improvements.

More serious failures to meet the regulations can result in a notice to improve or enforcement measures.

Where children are at risk of harm Ofsted also has the power to suspend a childcare providers’ registration.

The figures also suggest that some childminders and nurseries judged inadequate take a decision to close down.

Almost one in 10 of the registered early years providers who were no longer operating at the end of 2011 had been judged inadequate at their last inspection.

Benefits Cap Is Forcing My Pupils To Quit Heart Of London, Says Head

Benefits cap is forcing my pupils to quit heart of London, says head

The Guardian World News |by Daniel Boffey

St. Cuthbert with St. Matthias CE Primary School

St Cuthbert with St Matthias primary school, which faces losing up to 100 pupils as the new benefits cap is applied. Photograph: Antonio Olmos for the Observer

A primary school in the country’s most affluent borough is making plans to cope with losing up to half its children in the wake of the benefits cap, which critics fear will make London unaffordable for thousands of families.

In the latest sign of the impact of the government’s benefits reforms, Stephen Boatright, the headteacher at St Cuthbert with St Matthias Church of England school in Kensington and Chelsea, said he was making “strategic plans” to deal with an exodus. The loss of up to 100 pupils from the poorest families would force him to cut staff numbers and deal with a huge change in culture, he said.

The school currently has children of 55 nationalities and dozens of different languages, but Boatright said St Cuthbert could be unrecognisable as wealthier children replaced the poorest.

The £500-a-week benefits cap, which is due to be implemented in 2013, is expected to leave around 130,000 families across the capital unable to pay their rent. The royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea will be particularly hit by the changes because of its high rents and lack of social housing.

Boatright said that children from six families had already moved to live as far away as Nottingham and Hull. He said schools in Enfield, north London, where the costs of private accommodation were lower, were already taking in huge numbers of children.

“In terms of a policy, it seems to us to be a slight bit of social engineering,” Boatright said. “It is removing children from the very heart of the city and they are going to be replaced by wealthier families and children. That makes our mix that much weaker. We don’t know how many families will be affected because we don’t know how many are in privately rented accommodation.

“But we do know that half of our children have free school meals. We know that social housing in the area is very limited, so we are making the assumption that some of our children whose parents don’t work will have to move, and some of our parents who do work will have to move because the rents in this area are outrageous.”

Kensington and Chelsea council has written to people in private accommodation whom it believes will be hit. More children from poorer families are expected to leave schools such as St Cuthbert in the coming months.

Boatright said: “It is a destruction of community because there is a strong Arabic-speaking community in this area, really good, fantastic parents, and the reason they moved to this area is so they could have community support. They will have to move to areas where that community support will not be available.”

St Cuthbert, which received a satisfactory rating in its latest Ofsted inspection last year, has its funding judged by the number of pupils it has in January. Boatright said he believed the impact would be felt in 2014.

Sam Royston of the Children’s Society said he expected the experience of St Cuthbert to be replicated across central London.“This demonstrates the reality of how children’s lives are going to be affected by a policy that will inevitably leave them as the victims. It is of great concern that some schools are already faced with having to plan for an exodus of children. The government’s own impact assessment indicates that approaching a quarter of a million children will be in families affected.”

London Councils, an umbrella organisation for the 33 London boroughs, commissioned independent research to examine how plans to reform housing benefit will affect the capital. Researchers looked at the impact of the universal credit cap (which will limit the total amount families can claim in benefits to £500 a week), as well as the changes to local housing allowance, which will reduce the amount of housing benefit available to private sector tenants.

The report, Does the Cap Fit?, by Navigant Consulting, estimated in November that more than 130,000 London households may be unable to pay their rent.

A spokeswoman for London Councils said: “London is facing a housing crisis, with an acute shortage of affordable accommodation for low-income households. The latest figures show that there are already 1,680 households in bed-and-breakfast accommodation across London, and we expect this figure to rise.”

A spokesman for Kensington and Chelsea council said: “Private rented accommodation in the borough is among the most expensive in the country, so it is inevitable that changes to local housing allowance will have a greater impact in this borough than many other areas.”

Should The Homework Guidelines Be Scrapped?

Should The Homework Guidelines Be Scrapped?

Michael Gove Scraps Government Homework Guidelines

On 4th March 2012 the DfE announced that the guidelines for schools on setting homework that were introduced by the last Labour administration in 1998 are going to be scrapped.  As a result school heads will be given much greater discretion in the amounts of homework that they set. Education officials believe that head teachers should be able to make decisions free from |“unnecessary bureaucratic guidance”.  Labour’s guidelines are based on the length of time that children should spend doing homework each week. The recommended levels of homework increase as the student gets older and rise from one  hour each week for 5 to 7 year olds to 2.5 hours per night for 16 year olds.

Responses to the announcement have been mixed. According to the Telegraph opposition to the guidelines has been growing for some time and has been |“fuelled by an anti-homework movement in the United States and research questioning the efficacy of such assignments, particularly in primary schools”.  The campaign in this country has been spearheaded by television presenter Kirsty Allsop who welcomed the news by saying |“Getting rid of the guidelines might free up teachers to think a bit more creatively about it”.  Frittenden Church of England Primary, in Kent, has replaced homework with an optional weekly 45-minute homework club. Head teacher Elizabeth Bradshaw said: |“We had feedback from parents, or notes to the teachers, saying ‘my child is very worried that they haven’t completed it on time’, or the child would come in to the classroom in tears because they had left it in the car. We simply wanted to remove that stress and focus on the learning for that week in a homework club where it is done, marked, and informs the learning of the next week.”

Among those expressing concern at the announcement are Chris McGovern who is a former head teacher and chairman of the Campaign for Real Education who warns that the DfE’s decision is sending the |“wrong message” to schools. He went on to say |“The danger is that schools will use this as an excuse to dilute the amount of homework. Middle-class children will do their homework anyway. Guidance for children who are coming from more deprived backgrounds is probably more important.”

Should The Guidelines Be Scrapped?

In our experience both sides have valid arguments to a certain extent. As things currently stand there is a wide disparity between schools in the quantities and quality of homework being set. Some schools are expecting students to carry out tasks that are either of low quality or simply way above the child’s ability levels. For example, we know of one High School student whose sole homework for the week was set by her English teacher and required her to count the number of adverts shown during children’s television. Another of our students, a Primary School child who could barely read, was expected to independently carry out research on the Internet. Conversely, we have spoken to one parent whose daughter was being set homework that was too easy for her. Yet another student spent a great deal of time and effort on a creative writing task only for the teacher to give it nothing more than a cursory glance thus discouraging him from putting a similar level of effort into future pieces of work.  We are also aware that a number of schools who set homework policies in line with the guidelines fail to abide by their own policies.

It is understandable therefore, that some responsible parents who do try and support their children in their efforts to complete homework on time believe that homework in general and for Primary School students in particular, is a waste of time. We can also understand why it is causing friction within the home. It is our opinion however, that scrapping the guidelines completely and giving schools full autonomy will do nothing to rectify the currrent problems with regard to homework. Those schools that are already providing homework which is both age and ability appropriate will continue to do so. They will set good quality tasks whenever necessary and mark them fully as well as use them effectively as part of the overall learning process. Those schools that have a poor track record with regard to homework will see no reason to change and there will be no incentive for them to improve homework standards.

What Is The Answer?

The first thing to consider is that if the standards of homework in America are similar to those in England then any studies that throw doubts on its efficacies will be flawed. Secondly, good quality homework that is set for the right reasons ie; in order to further the student’s education can be an effective learning tool. This will be particularly true if targeted appropriately according to age and ability and marked properly. Finally, setting small amounts of homework from an early age will help to encourage positive study habits in preparation for the various exams a student will encounter during their school career. Our recommendations are as follows:

  1. All homework must be ability and/or age appropriate. School lessons are differentiated according to ability levels within the class and it is only logical that similar considerations should be made when setting homework.
  2. Attendance of homework clubs should be compulsory for all students who are inconsistent in their completion of homework. This may apply to students from deprived backgrounds whose chaotic home-life can hinder their ability to complete homework effectively or whose parents lack the skills to support them in their studies. It may equally apply to split parent families where the child divides their time between both parents’ homes during the week which makes a homework routine difficult to manage. It should also be made possible for parents who are experiencing problems to approach the school and enrol their child in the homework club voluntarily.
  3. Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment at Buckingham University, said: |“I’m all in favour of trusting schools but I hope that Ofsted will check that appropriate amounts of homework are being set.  We agree with his viewpoint to a limited degree. We believe that homework should be overseen by Ofsted as part of the school inspection process and be used to assess the overall standard of schools. However, homework guidelines, as we have already highlighted, should not be based upon the time taken to complete it.  For instance, if the same piece of work is given to two different children at opposite ends of the ability spectrum then the length of time taken will vary drastically.

By putting these measures in place we feel that all the issues raised by parents and those in authority can be addressed effectively. In addition, homework quality will be standardised in order to maximise its effectiveness as an educational tool whilst providing indiviual schools with the freedom to be creative in meeting the needs of their own students.

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