Church Of England Aims For 200 New Anglican Schools Over Five Years

Church of England aims for 200 new Anglican schools over five years

The Guardian World News |by Jessica Shepherd

Church of England aims for 200 new Anglican schools over five years

Lady Warsi last month warned of what she called the ‘militant secularisation’ of society. A review into the Church’s role in education now argues Christian culture in schools should be protected against ‘aggressive secularism’. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

At least 200 Anglican primary and secondary schools could be established over the next five years as the Church expands its role in education.

The Church plans to take advantage of the coalition’s academies and free schools reforms, which take schools out of local authority control and places them with parents, firms, charities and faith groups.

A review led by the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, who is also chairman of the Church’s board of education, said the number of Anglican schools – currently 4,800 – could rise to 5,000.

Free school groups and other state schools have already started to approach dioceses because they feel their ethos is similar to that of Anglican schools, the review – The Church School of the Future – states.

The report recommends that in future, dioceses could offer services to schools to replace those previously provided by local authorities until their budgets were cut and their role reduced.

Pritchard also called for the Christian culture and ethos in Anglican schools to be protected “against a rising tide of strident opposition” and the “onset of so-called ‘aggressive secularism’.”

Dr Priscilla Chadwick, a former headteacher who chaired a six-month review that led to the report, added that the public’s“default understanding of Christianity was disappearing”. Last month, the Tory party chairman, Lady Warsi, warned of what she called the “militant secularisation” of society and proposed that Christianity was given a central role in public life.

The Church’s review also warns that ministers are sidelining religious education from the curriculum.

The subject faces “multiple challenges” and the government has“no will” to address them, it argues. The English Baccalaureate, introduced in school league tables last year, recognises pupils who have achieved a grade C or better in English, maths, history or geography, sciences and a language. RE’s absence from the Ebacc is disappointing, and has led to fewer pupils taking the subject, the Church said.

“While the Church of England has received some encouragement to work together with other partners to address some of the issues related to religious education, the responses of the government to these concerns have been disappointing,” its report states.

The Department of Education said pupils still had to study RE up to the age of 18. “It is rightly down to schools themselves to make sure pupils take the exams right for them and decide how much teaching time to devote to RE – not politicians in Whitehall.”

Local Pay Rates Would Create ‘Real Teacher Shortages’, Says Union

Local pay rates would create ‘real teacher shortages’, says union

The Guardian World News |by Hélène Mulholland

Christine Blower

Christine Blower said teachers, trained in the same way and doing the same job, should be paid ‘the rate for the job’. Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian

One of the country’s largest teaching unions has warned that plans to introduce local pay bargaining in education will lead to “real teacher shortages” in areas where pay is dragged down.

George Osborne, the chancellor, confirmed in his budget statement on Wednesday that he wants to see public sector pay “more responsive to local pay rates” to help the private sector to fill jobs and expand.

But the National Union of Teachers (NUT) warned that any move away nationally set rates for the job would lead to a major shortfall in teachers prepared to work in some parts of the country.

The view is echoed by TUC union umbrella group, which says that moving towards local pay risks complex, costly and inefficient pay-setting for public sector employers as well as regional skills shortages as public servants opt to work in areas where pay rates are higher.

Christine Blower, the NUT general secretary, said the issue will be part of a priority motion being drawn up for the union’s annual conference over Easter, which will bundle together a number of grievances over pay.

Blower said teachers, trained in the same way and doing the same job, should be paid “the rate for the job” and adding that most high performing education systems have national pay scales and there was no evidence that “messing with pay” would improve the system.

The NUT says that national pay scales in teaching serve as a benchmark widely used by independent schools.

Her deputy, Kevin Courtney, said: “Private sector employers don’t use regional pay or local pay by and large – all the research shows that. So the idea that we are now going to impose it on the public sector we think will lead to real teacher shortages in some areas of the country if it actually is implemented.”

The chancellor sent evidence to pay review bodies on Wednesday to make the case for moving to local pay rates. The document suggests a pay “premium” of around 8% exists for those working in the public sector compared with similar jobs in the private sector, and that the public sector “pays more than is necessary” to recruit, retain and motivate staff.

It goes on to say: “The evidence suggests that the quality of public services would directly benefit if public sector pay became more responsive to local labour markets. In places where private sector firms have to compete for workers with public sector employers offering a large pay premium, the introduction of more local, market-facing pay could help private businesses, particularly in some sectors become more competitive and expand.”

But the TUC warns in its own submission to the consultation on local pay that a combination of pay freezes, pay caps and pension contribution increases will already have resulted in public sector workers taking an average 16% real-terms wage cut by 2015, and holding back pay even more will place a real strain on family finances and force them to spend less money in local shops and businesses, hitting the private sector hard.

“Reducing public sector wages by 1% would hit local economies by at least £1.7bn a year,” the TUC submission warns. “This would take nearly £200m out of the north-west economy, for example. Reducing public sector wages year on year would hit local businesses and lead to more business failures and job losses.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “Independent evidence shows that existing differences in local living costs lead to more vacancies for teachers and nurses in some areas. The introduction of more local, market-facing pay could address this while also supporting the expansion of private sector businesses in some areas. We await the proposals from the pay review bodies, which we will consider carefully.”

The latest flashpoint with the government over pay comes as the NUT prepares to debate the prospect of further action over pension changes at its annual conference.

The union took part in last year’s mass walkout on 30 November, and its London members are due to stage a one-day strike next Wednesday as part of the NUT’s continued campaign against the government’s pension plans.

Headteacher Sackings Reach Record High

Headteacher sackings reach record high

The Guardian World News |by Jessica Shepherd

School maths class

More than 270 school leaders were sacked last year for failing to raise pupils’ results, a survey has found. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A record number of headteachers and deputies were sacked last year, a union has warned, drawing comparisons with the hiring and firing of football managers.

An annual survey by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) shows that at least 272 school leaders were forced out of their jobs last year for failing to raise pupils’results.

The number has almost trebled in the past five years, from 93 in 2007. It was 163 last year.

ASCL, which represents 80% of secondary headteachers and deputies in England, said school leaders now faced the sack if their school “had a bad season” or didn’t “go up for promotion in the league tables fast enough”.

“It’s all about this season’s results, rather than a long-term view of building up the ‘club’ and developing new talent,” Brian Lightman, general secretary of the union said. Many of the sackings were in academy schools, he added.

“We are not talking about incompetent heads or those fired for misconduct,” Lightman said. “These are overwhelmingly good school leaders who find themselves in difficult schools facing near impossible demands and timescales for improvement. It is perfectly possible to turn around under-performing schools but this does not happen overnight and too often the powers that be have unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved in a short space of time.”

John Howson, director of Data for Education, which analyses teacher recruitment patterns, said the number of assistant headteacher posts in secondary schools had dropped by 20% in the past three years. This would mean fewer teachers would be aiming for headteacher posts in the next few years.

A poll of 1,800 senior teachers has found that half of headteachers would not recommend headship to a colleague and three-quarters of deputy and assistant heads are less likely to want to be promoted than a year ago.

More than half the teachers questioned for the Times Educational Supplement/ASCL survey said they were considering leaving the profession because the government’s education reforms were having a detrimental effect on it.

A separate report by the qualifications regulator has found pupils do better in some subjects if they take their exams at the end of their courses, rather than throughout them.

Ofqual said there was a “noticeable difference” between the grades pupils achieved when they sat English literature, ICT and religious education GCSE exams at the end of the course. High-performing pupils were also more likely to excel in geography GCSE if they took the exam at the end, while the opposite was the case for maths.

Strike Pledge Over School Summer Holiday And Term Changes

Strike pledge over school summer holiday and term changes

BBC |March 22, 2012

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By Angela Harrison Education correspondent, BBC News

Attempts to shorten school summer holidays and change terms in England could lead to more regional strike action.

National Union of Teachers members in Nottingham City plan to strike over the issue next Thursday and have asked NUT conference delegates to back them.

Nottingham City Council is planning to move schools to a five-term year with shorter summer holidays.

Meanwhile London teachers are to strike on Wednesday over pension changes.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the London action was the “next step” in the pensions campaign – but the Department for Education has called the action “irresponsible”.

The Nottingham City members hope support will be given to them at the Easter gathering.

With holiday prices rising dramatically in the summer and at other peak times, some argue that changes to terms could help families get away.

Most state schools in England have three long terms with holidays at Christmas, Easter and in the summer, as well as half-term breaks. The summer break is typically five or six weeks long.

Nottingham City Council says moving to a five-term year will be better for children academically, partly because the summer break will be shorter.

It says pupils can forget some of what they have learned during the summer holidays.

And it says the change would allow parents to book family holidays outside the peak season.

The plan is that from 2013, children would return to school in late August after a month-long break and then have a two-week break in the autumn, at Christmas, in spring and in late May.

There would be a long weekend break at Easter when this fell outside of the fixed spring break.

However, Nottinghamshire County Council is against making a similar change, meaning families in the area might have children with different holidays. It is consulting on the issue.

Longer hours fearUnder Labour, there was much discussion about schools changing their terms to this model.

And now, under the coalition’s academy programme, where schools take on greater independence, schools or groups of schools will have more freedom to vary their days and terms.

This makes the issue more pressing for teaching unions, who want to protect their members’ pay and conditions.

At its annual conference this Easter, NUT delegates will be asked to back a motion which calls for“appropriate industrial action up to and including strike action”where “negotiations to resist imposed changes have failed”.

The motion says the union is concerned that if the school day and year are extended, teachers may be expected to work longer hours for no additional pay.

It says the government wants to lengthen the school year and the school day, and adds that teachers need a long summer break to recharge their batteries.

“Conference is well aware of the long hours already worked by teachers and the essential need for a period of genuine rest and recuperation only found by many in the long summer break,” it says.

But any action would only take place where there were plans to make such changes.

At a media conference on Thursday, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers Christine Blower said: “Teachers and pupils in England and Wales already spend longer in the classroom than others.

“We are not saying we want to decrease the time for teaching.

“One of the things UNICEF finds is that children in the UK are the most unhappy children in the world. That isn’t because they want to be in the classroom for longer.”

She added that she did not think holiday companies would cut the price of summer holidays if terms changed.

“I have no confidence that the travel industry would respond in a philanthropic way,” she said.

The government wants schools to have freedom over when they are open. Some of the new academies and free schools are running classes on Saturdays and have made changes to the school day – such as beginning lessons earlier or finishing later.

Ministers are also concerned about parents taking their children out of school during term-time, saying this can damage a child’s education and leave them struggling to catch up.

A DfE spokesperson said it was down to schools and local authorities to decide their own term dates and holidays – not government.

“The education profession and academics have been debating this issue for years. There is an age-old problem of pupils falling back over the holidays because we’ve got a school year designed for children in the 1900s.

“It’s right that schools draw up term times in the best interests of their pupils. Creating four, five or six term school years is not easy. Heads need to make sure it doesn’t penalise families with children in different schools and get teachers on board.”

Students’ Emails Wrongly Shared In Administrative Error

Students’ emails wrongly shared in administrative error

BBC |March 21, 2012

A government quango has apologised after thousands of students’ email addresses were sent to other customers.

Student Finance England accidentally released the emails of about 8,000 students in what it said was an “administrative error”.

The firm said it had been in touch with all the students involved.

Student Finance England is part of the Student Loans Company, a government-owned organisation set up to provide grants and loans to UK students.

On Monday, the firm sent out an email to about 8,000 students who are due to start university courses this autumn, reminding them to fill in grant application forms.

But the email included the email addresses of all those on the distribution list.

One student affected contacted the BBC News website and said:“This is such a disgusting error in the security of students’ data. They can’t get away with it.”

In a statement, the firm said: “We are sorry that a number of student email addresses have been included in an email which has been sent to other customers.

“The information was sent in error and only included email addresses, no other personal student data was shared.

“We have contacted all customers affected to let them know about this issue.

“The integrity and security of student accounts and the protection of personal information is vital to us, and we apologise to all of the students involved.”

In 2009, the Student Loans Company came under fire after thousands of students did not receive their loans in time.

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