Schools

‘Why schools are perfect places for apprenticeships’

Taking on apprentices can be a way to create exciting opportunities and intricately develop schools’ involvement in teacher training, writes one leading headteacher

There’s a lot of talk about apprenticeships at the moment, including the dreaded apprenticeship levy.

I can imagine some schools are furious that they are going to have to pay for something that right now has no meaning to them.

I believe in the apprentice programme. My school has a strong track record in supporting apprentices.

We currently employ 13 apprentices across the school, specialising in skills such as sports tuition, business administration, finance, nursery education and specialist education.

Apprentices spend one day a week at our local college to gain a qualification in their specialist area. After two years they can seek employment or higher education.

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‘Heads and governors call on chancellor to do more for schools facing “impossible choices” on funding’

Budget must deliver investment that schools ‘desperately need’, say heads and governors

Headteachers and governors have warned of the “impossible choices” they are being forced to make because of the school funding crisis.

In an open letter to the chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond ahead of his budget speech on March 8, the NAHT headteachers’ union and the National Governors’ Association call for the amount of funding per pupil to be protected.

They say school budgets are under “serious pressure” as a result of increases in costs and, while schools are doing their best to “make do”, there are “only so many financial efficiencies a school can find before reaching breaking point”.

The organisations highlight seven key areas of concern: ensuring sufficient funding, the impact of the apprenticeship levy on maintained schools, the cut to the education services grant, shortfalls in high needs funding, sufficient funding for sixth forms, funding for early years including protecting nursery schools, and automatic registration for pupil premium pupils.

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‘First teaching apprenticeship planned’

‘Win-win’ scheme aims to boost recruitment and attract people from less affluent backgrounds to the teaching profession

Headteachers are to ask the government to tackle staffing shortages by approving the first apprenticeship for teachers.

The scheme would allow A-level students to join the profession without going to university. It is being proposed by the Teaching Schools Council, which believes that a teaching apprenticeshipcould play a crucial role in attracting people from less affluent backgrounds into the profession.

Teaching Schools Council member Stephen Munday told TES that it was hoped the apprenticeship could help schools in more disadvantaged areas to recruit staff.

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‘Level three vocational route on rise as A-levels fall’

The number of 19-year-olds gaining level three through A-levels has fallen for the first time in seven years, while the figures for those achieving the same standard through vocational routes continues to rise.

The proportion for A-levels fell by 0.3 per cent last year — the first drop since 2008, according to statistics published by the Department for Education (DfE) for level 2 and 3 attainment by age 19 in 2015.

In contrast, the figures for those gaining level three through vocational qualifications by age 19 rose by 0.8 per cent in 2015, to 18.4 per cent.

This represents an increase of over 15 per cent since 2004.

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‘Scrap the national curriculum at age 14’

The national curriculum should finish at the age of 14, in order to give teenagers time to prepare for the work place, a report by the House of Lords has said.

According to the Committee on Social Mobility, young people should be able to choose before the age of 16 whether they want to pursue an academic or a vocational route beyond mainstream school, as the current system from 16-18 doesn’t recognise that “transitions to work take longer for some young people”.

The report suggested that this could help correct the historic “high drop out” rate from education post-GCSE, which according to a 2012 study from the OECD, saw the UK rank 26th out of 34 countries for participation rates at 17 (87 per cent, compared with the OECD average of 90 per cent).

It added that careers education should be present in school from the age of 11, warning that the current system for those who choose not to attend university was “complex and incoherent” leaving many young people “disengaged”.

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‘English GCSEs could be made harder for students’

The shakeup would be designed to make grades more comparable across subjects.

English GCSEs could be made harder to ensure fewer students get top marks under proposals by the exams regulator, Ofqual.

This would mean around a quarter of pupils taking these exams could fail to get the crucial “pass” grade as the shakeup would make grades more comparable across subjects.

However, the plans have been met with resistance from teachers who argue this change would be “unfair” on pupils and would have “devastating” consequences, according to a report in the Times Educational Supplement (TES).

Under the current plans, those taking subjects seen as easier, like arts and English, would find it more difficult to get high marks. This would make comparisons across subjects, say between art and physics, much easier.

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New law will end ‘outdated snobbery’ towards apprenticeships

Schools must allow access to apprenticeship providers and colleges to create a level playing field in careers guidance.

Schools must give equal airtime to the non-academic routes pupils can take post-16, under government plans to end the ‘second class’ perception of technical and professional education (TPE).

A new law would see apprenticeship providers and staff from colleges visit schools as part of careers advice from early secondary school, to talk to pupils about the opportunities open to them through apprenticeships or other TPE routes.

The move follows concerns from ministers about careers advice, with some schools currently unwilling to recommend apprenticeships or other technical and professional routes to any but the lowest-achieving pupils – effectively creating a 2-tiered system of careers advice.

This builds on the Prime Minister’s life chances speech in which he set out his ambitions to create an education system fit for the 21st century.

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Banning mobile phones at school ‘moving in the wrong direction’

Academic says rather than looking to ban technology and “demonise” it, parents should pay more attention on how their children interact.

Banning mobile phones and other technology in the classroom is “moving in the wrong direction”, an academic has said, as he warns children will keep using technology anyway.

Instead, according to Professor Paul Howard-Jones, teachers and parents should look at how pupils are interacting with the technology.

His comments came as his research suggested playing computer games could help boost pupils’ concentration levels and improve their results in the classroom.

The study found that turning learning into a game helps stop the mind from wandering, allowing students to study better.

Professor Howard-Jones, who conducted the research, said computer games have been “trivialised” in recent years, but that used properly, they can help to accelerate pupils’ learning.

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‘Teacher shortage means pupils have to travel miles for lessons’

Primary school pupils are being forced to travel six miles for their English and Maths lessons as the school finds it hard to recruit a full-time teacher.

After failing to fill the numeracy and literacy post after a teacher left last summer, Easington Primary in East Yorkshire took on a supply staff member.

But the stand in, who had been expected to stay until July, left at the end of last year.

Faced without a teacher for their year five and six pupils, the school arranged for a minibus to take pupils to nearby Patrington Primary for maths and English lessons between 9.15am and 12pm each day.

The 21 pupils eat lunch at Patrington before making the 15-minute journey back to the remote village of Easington.

Both schools are part of the same academy trust and share one headteacher.

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‘Learning times tables is unnecessary because children can look up answers on mobile phones’

Christine Blower said while some schools did carry out “rote learning”, such as singing or speaking the tables, there were other ways for children to learn their times tables.

Forcing primary school children to know their full times tables are unnecessary because they can look up the answers on mobile phones, a teachers’ leader has said.

New tests to examine multiplication skills in every 11 year old are to be trialled as part of the Government’s “war on innumeracy and illiteracy”, ministers said.

However Christine Blower, the leader of the National Union of Teachers, questioned the initiative, pointing out that many children could find the answers on their phones.

Ms Blower said while some schools did carry out “rote learning”, such as singing or speaking the tables, there were other ways for children to learn their times tables.

She told Sky News: “Looking up your times tables is very easy to do. So the other thing we have to do is to make sure that children and young people use the computing ability on their mobile phones so they can get that at their finger tips. Recall is not the only way to make sure you understand mathematical concepts.”

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