100 Word Challenge – by Amy Ogg

I was sat in class, upset, not knowing what to do, and my teacher Mr Renny came to me and asked, ” How can I help you?”

I replied with desperation, “I am really stuck on my literacy because I don’t know how to start my story!”

“Please may you help me?” I exclaimed.

So Mr Renny sat down next to me and told me many different ways that I could start my story (but it was very hard just to pick one of the beginning sentences). I managed to pick one of the fantastic, delightful, descriptive sentences to begin my story…

5 Sentence Challenge – by Abi Hazell

One day there were two girls called Susie and Teigan. They were fishing in the river. Then Teigan caught a big fish. Susie said “wow, that’s big!” The people were watching the children fish.

5 Sentence Challenge – by Joshua Ogg

Lucy and Amy went fishing and Amy caught a big fish. It was bigger than Lucy. Some people were going to the church to pray to God. It was in the afternoon, and Lucy and Amy’s mum came to get them for their dinner. They said “can we go back out after dinner?” and Amy and Lucy’s mum said yes.

All Children Should Learn Foreign Languages, Say Peers

All children should learn foreign languages, say peers

BBC |March 22, 2012

By Angela Harrison Education correspondent, BBC News
All children should learn a foreign language at primary and secondary school, a House of Lords committee has said.The UK’s attitude to languages has prevented its students from studying in Europe, according to the House of Lords’ EU committee.

It says the UK has been popular with EU students keen to improve their English, but it is now facing competition.

Education Secretary Michael Gove also favours language learning from five.

A new league table measure for England is expected to lead to more teenagers studying languages.

Known as the English Baccalaureate, it is given to pupils who get good GCSEs in five key subjects including a language.

Languages are not compulsory in English and Welsh secondary schools beyond the age of 14, although a review of the curriculum is under way in England.

Tougher competition

The Lords’ committee says too few British students are taking part in schemes designed to encourage movement among students in the EU and blames “monoglot” (speaking just one language) attitudes.

Students in France, Germany and Spain were three times as likely as those in Britain to take part in an EU programme called Erasmus, where students can study or work abroad as part of their degree, the committee said.

Its inquiry follows a report from the European Commission last September which said that European universities had“under-exploited potential” to contribute to Europe’s prosperity and society.

The Lords call on the EU to allocate more funds to research and education to help in the region’s long-term economic recovery.

Committee chairman Baroness Young of Hornsey said: “The government must place higher education at the heart of their growth agenda in order to maintain and contribute to the economic and social wealth of the UK and Europe as a whole.

“In the immediate few months, this will require the government to negotiate ambitiously to allocate a greater proportion of the long-term EU budget to research, innovation and education.”

The committee reject a call from the European Commission to bring in a new ranking system for universities.

Overseas students

And they call on the government to “remain vigilant” about attracting students from overseas, particularly following the increase in tuition fees.

From the autumn, fees at England’s universities will be allowed to rise up to a maximum of £9,000 a year, although they are covered by student loans which do not have to be paid back until graduates are earning £21,000 a year.

Fees are also rising in other parts of the UK, although students from Northern Ireland who stay there to study will not be affected and those from Wales will be subsidised wherever they study in the UK. Students in Scotland will continue to pay no fees.

The UK is facing tougher competition for students from the EU and further afield the report says, particularly as some universities in mainland Europe are teaching courses in English and have lower fees.

EU students who go to Scottish universities do not have to pay fees.

Budget: £100m University Research Pledge For UK

Budget: £100m university research pledge for UK

BBC |March 21, 2012

By Angela Harrison Education correspondent, BBC News

Chancellor George Osborne has announced a £100m fund to boost university research in the UK through private sector involvement.

The government was committing the cash for “investment in major new university research facilities”, he said in his Budget speech.

Few details have been released, but the funding is intended to attract outside investment for universities.

Universities and campaign groups say it will help offset cuts to the sector.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills said the funds would go to “large capital projects” which bring in “significant private investment”, for example joint research facilities.

A spokeswoman said details would be announced soon.

‘Step in right direction’Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: “Industry and universities have a vital role to play in collaborating to achieve sustained growth in our economy.

“We know from experience that targeted funding can be successful in attracting significant business investment to our university research base. As part of our drive in bringing together the business, charity and university sectors, this new £100m investment could bring in upwards of £200m additional private funding to help stimulate innovation and secure our high-tech future.”

Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, said the investment was helpful – but not enough.

“These things are very welcome but on their own they are only green shoots,” he said.

“In the UK, the government and industry still invest a smaller percentage of our Gross Domestic Product in research and development than our competitor economies and while that remains the case we will not fulfil the Chancellor’s goal of making the UK into Europe’s technology centre.”

Imran Khan, the director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, said: “Today’s announcement is the latest in a string of pledges of extra cash for science and engineering, and shows that the government does understand that we cannot have a rebalanced economy without investment in research.

“I suspect the government realises that the multi-billion pound, 50% cut made to research capital in 2010 simply isn’t sustainable. Despite difficult times they are trying to put it right.

“However, simply reversing cuts isn’t going to be a game-changer for the UK. We need to be far more ambitious if we’re serious about having a high-tech future.”

‘Right direction’ In autumn 2010, the chancellor said he was freezing the annual science budget for four years at £4.6bn per year, although when inflation was taken in to account, this amounted to a 10% cut in real terms.

Later, a 40% cut to the sector’s capital expenditure was announced – money spent on building, maintenance or equipment.

The director general of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, Wendy Piatt, said: “The research which takes place in our world-class universities drives long-term and sustainable economic growth. But the first-rate infrastructure needed to facilitate the very best research and teaching cannot be bought on the cheap.

“Today’s Budget announcement … is a step in the right direction, especially following recent cuts to capital spending.

“Let’s not forget that our competitors are injecting vast amounts of cash into their universities, and our leading universities are already under-resourced in comparison with our international competitors.”

One In Seven Pupils Miss Out On First Choice Secondary School

One in seven pupils miss out on first choice secondary school

The Guardian World News |by Jessica Shepherd

Schoolchildren in classroom

About 74,000 children who applied to start secondary school in September did not get a place at their first choice school. Photograph: Rex Features

Around one in seven children in England missed out on a place at their first preference secondary school this year, official figures show.

Statistics published by the Department for Education reveal that 14.7% of the nearly 504,000 11-year-olds who applied to start secondary school this September did not get into the schools their parents wanted.

This is the equivalent of about 74,000 11-year-olds –5,000 fewer than last year. The slight improvement is in part due to 1.7% fewer applications, although the number of places has remained the same.

Inner London had the lowest proportion of pupils getting their first choice school – 65.8% – while outer London was marginally higher at 68.4%. The north-east of England had the highest proportion of first preference offers at 95.1%.

In some parts of London, competition was particularly tough. Just 53.5% of 11-year-olds in Wandsworth, south London, got their first preference. In Hammersmith and Fulham, in west London, and Southwark, in central London, the figures were 54.4% and 55.9% respectively.

Families were told at the start of this month whether their child had a place. Across the country, 95.9% were offered a place at one of the three schools they listed as their preferred choices. This is a rise of 0.3 percentage points on last year and continues a rising trend.

The number of secondary school pupils under 16 has been in decline since 2004 and is expected to decrease further until 2016.

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said parents faced an extremely competitive and stressful process for securing a place for their children. “We want to ease this pressure by creating more good school places, which is the driver behind all our reforms to the education system.”

Gibb said the government was allowing the best schools to expand and the growth of academies and free schools meant parents had a wider choice of good schools.

How Do I Get My Child Into Grammar School?

Is A Grammar School The Best School For My Child?

How Do I Get My Child Into Grammar School?

In an uncertain world with intense competition for well paid jobs parents are striving harder than ever to give their children the best educational opportunities in life. This has translated into a growing demand for Grammar School places, a highly understandable aspiration as Grammar Schools have a proven track record when it comes to their A’ Level students being offered places in higher education. A greater percentage of students from Grammar Schools are accepted for both universities in general and the selective universities, which include Oxford and Cambridge, than other sixth form education providers. Figures we uncovered for 2007/09 which would affect the life chances of students living in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire help to highlight the differences. There are now two schools in the town, Queen Elizabeth High School (QEHS), which along with other local Grammar Schools is among the top 100 UK state schools for sending students to selective universtities, and Trent Valley Academy (TVA). TVA does not provide sixth-form education and students wishing to do A’ Levels will attend either Lincoln College of Further Education or John Leggott Sixth Form College in Scunthorpe.

As we can see from the chart above there is a great disparity between the numbers of students entering the top universities from the different establishments with QEHS’ entry rate being 13 times that of students from Lincoln College. As parents and students are beginning to recognise this trend we have experienced a year on year increase in demand for 11 Plus preparation. Some parents realise that the Comprehensive and Secondary Schools are unable to successfully cater for higher ability students because expectations are focussed on gaining ‘C’ grades at GCSE and students who are capable of more are not always encouraged to aim higher or even given the opportunity to do so.

For many of our 11 Plus students the Grammar School is a way to ensure they have access to the higher grades, the traditional subjects and an opportunity to network with children of a similar ability and temperament.

We are seeing 11 Plus preparation requests from parents of children who are in the high average band even though they are not naturally academic. These students have to work harder to pass the exam and study harder to maintain their grades. In many cases they achieve success and this is highly commendable. Parents are now looking at both the academic and social advantages of the Grammar Schools. They also recognise that in some Comprehensive Schools or Academies behaviour management is an issue and this hinders learning. In addition, the current financial climate has resulted in families who may have previously considered private schooling looking for Grammar School entry instead. This enables their children to access a similar quality of education at the cost of the tax payer, thereby further increasing competition for already limited places.

Is The Grammar School System Fair?

I believe that access to education should be fair to all students. 11 is a very early age to make such an assessment of a child’s academic potential as some students develop later than others. My own personal experience, through attending the local Secondary Modern School, was that some subjects were unavailable at GCSE Level. And, of the subjects that I did take, I was unable to gain higher than a C grade in some due to the syllabus not being covered. This then restricted my A-Level choices. We have tutored a student through our Centre who needed an A grade in Maths but their school did not have time to teach the syllabus because he was only in Set 2. He did gain his A grade but only because he came to us for extra tuition. In areas where the Grammar School system exists the self esteem of students can be affected detrimentally because those who do not ‘pass’ their 11 Plus exam see themselves as having already failed.

For those students with a high ability and a high level of motivation the Grammar School can provide an environment for them to succeed. We have seen many students who have benefitted from this system. However, I do not believe that if a child is unable to secure a Grammar School place they should have less choices in subjects and limited access to higher education because they attend a Comprehensive School, Secondary School or an Academy. They should be able to achieve the same high grades in the same subjects no matter what educational institution they attend.

I say this because we have seen students who have scored highly on an 11 Plus exam but been unable to secure a Grammar School place. This is due to each Grammar School having its own priority of criteria for admissions and they are not always based on the marks achieved. For example;

Queen Elizabeth High School:

  1. Candidates with siblings already attending
  2. A moveable catchment area. Places are offered on the basis of the distance of the candidates’ homes from the school with places being offered to those living closest to the school first until all the places have been allocated

Caistor Grammar School:

  1. Candidates who live within a set catchment area
  2. Candidates who live outside the catchment area, prioritising those who scored the highest marks until all the places have been allocated

We are aware of at least one school where students need to achieve 97% or higher to secure a place. We also know of families who have moved home in order to secure Grammar School places. All these factors mean that even high achieving students are not always successful in attaining a Grammar School place.

What Is The Result Of This?

There is more pressure today on children to score highly on 11 Plus papers to secure a Grammar School place and parents are investing in tuition to give their child the best possible chance. We have also seen an increase in students retaking Grammar School entrance exams for entry into Years 8 or 10.

How Do I Know If My Child Should Sit The 11 Plus Exam?

1) Talk to your child’s teacher to see if they feel a Grammar School would be the right environment for them.

2) Check that your child is on track to achieve Level 5s in English, Maths and Science by the end of Year 6

3) Ensure your child has access to 11 plus exercises and practice papers. These can be purchased online or from High Street bookstores

4) If you feel that you need to access some professional tuition don’t leave it too late. We recommend a minimum of two terms to ensure that skills are mastered in as natural a way as possible.

5) Check with your local school/online to find out what tests are required (Verbal Reasoning, Non Verbal Reasoning, Maths and English) as these vary from school to school

6) Check with the school to ascertain what their catchment area is and how places are allocated to students out of catchment

7) You know your child. Is a Grammar School with a high work load and a high focus on exams an environment that your child will flourish in?

Grammar Schools are suitable for some high achieving students but not all. I personally know some students who have flourished and thrived in the Grammar School system and have gone on to be doctors. I also know students who found that the Grammar School wasn’t suitable for their needs and despite gaining a place ended up transferring to the local Comprehensive or Secondary school. Some of these students still completed a university education, where others did not. Whilst environment and expectations play a role in educational achievements motivation and hard work are also keys which are necessary to succeed. Students who are highly motivated can achieve outside of a Grammar school education, while conversely, students in a Grammar school can fail to achieve their potential due to a lack of motivation and hard work.

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