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July 4, 2022
Featured news item
The president of the UK’s most prestigious science academy called for A-levels to be replaced with a baccalaureate-style qualification to “break the stranglehold of academic snobbery” towards learning skills.

Sir Adrian Smith told a Royal Society conference on the future of education that concentrating on A-levels “forces young people to abandon a broad range of skills at the age of 16”, narrowing their perspectives and limiting their ability to change careers later in life.
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What's been in the news in the past week?
Politics & Policy
The Department for Education will spend £5 million on lawyers to help put forward its case to the public inquiry into how well the government responded to the Covid pandemic. 

All headteachers should have a SENCo qualification, because “inclusion starts from the top”, Will Quince, the children’s minister, said.

The government launched a review of school accountability and regulation it says will “future proof” the role of academy trusts and “pave the way” for the conversion of all schools. More here.
Young people’s mental health
The pandemic has had a lasting legacy on the mental health of the “Covid generation” of students, exacerbating rates of anxiety, depression and self-harm and resulting in a “significant rise” in young people struggling at university, experts said. More here.

Do you have an interest in the treatment of anxiety and depression in young people? A series of free seminars on the topic is on offer in July and August, led by a project based at Roehampton University. Some of the leading experts in the field will lead the online lectures; please click on the link for more details and to book here
 
Schools
Inspecting the inspectors: students assessed the Ofsted regime’s toll on wellbeing and proposed alternatives after showing how visits cause stress for pupils as well as teachers. More here.

Why were GCSE grades in independent schools so high during the pandemic? A new blog by FFT Education Datalab.

A primary school teacher who called a pupil a brat and dragged another out of the classroom, hitting their head on the doorframe, was banned from teaching. Corinne Culver, 34, worked at Tiger Primary in Maidstone, Kent between 2012 and March 2019.

How many pupils in mainstream schools are regularly educated off-site? A new blog by FFT Education Datalab. 
 
Further and adult education
A new “method” for external quality assurance of integrated higher and degree-level apprenticeships was launched. More here.

Ofsted raised concerns over issues of neglect, hygiene standards and a curriculum that is “uninspiring” and “unambitious” at a college for students with SEND in Wigan. My Life Learning was handed an ‘inadequate’ rating. More here.

England’s largest apprenticeship provider was set to be slammed by Ofsted for failing to deliver high quality teaching and enough off-the-job training. Lifetime Training was to be downgraded from ‘good’ to ‘requires improvement’ in a critical report.

Discussions are underway for the Association of Employment and Learning Providers to return as co-owners of the Education and Training Foundation – four years after all ties were cut.
Higher education
Concern mounted about the fate of the humanities in higher education after Sheffield Hallam University announced that it would be suspending its degree in English literature.

Graduate students said the increased cost of living had pushed stipends below the living wage, leaving some struggling to pay rent and forcing them to seek second jobs in bars and supermarkets.

Universities across the UK could be forced to cut the number of UK students, increase class sizes and axe staff, vice-chancellors warned. More here.

Universities in England launched a fightback against government attacks on their autonomy, telling ministers they “crossed a line” by pressurising them to abandon a scheme designed to improve equality on campus. 

The University of Cambridge reapplied for approval to continue providing teacher training after refusing to apply in the first round earlier this year. More here.
Teaching profession
Secondary teacher trainee numbers were found to be nearly a fifth below pre-Covid level. Latest figures showed a deteriorating picture in the number of people being placed on teacher-training courses. More here.

Government plans for an “army of supply teachers” to plug gaps if staff were on strike were said to be “not feasible” by over-stretched agencies, with some already “turning down 200 bookings a week”.

Teach First reopened its teacher training programme amid a “challenging year” for recruitment and unprecedented demand from schools. It is piloting a new autumn institute on top of its usual summer training. Further details here.

Supply teachers were said to be limiting travel to schools as fuel costs soared. Rural schools faced extra struggle to find cover as cost pressures deterred supply teachers from travelling long distances.
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