Robot teachers, original manuscripts from Byron and Shelley and a world-class school in North London
Alexandra Park School in North London achieved a score of 564 on the OECD’s Pisa tests, ranking it among the best schools in the world. The average score for pupils in Singapore, the highest scoring nation, was 535 points, while the UK average was 500, highlighting the significance of Alexandra Park’s achievement. Head teacher Michael Mckenzie said he was ‘absolutely thrilled’ by the results, while a student praised their ‘fantastic’ teachers. Mr. McKenzie says the school’s approach is to ‘employ high-quality staff and give them the space to do their job,’ adding “We have the full range of students here – some very privileged, some with many different needs.”
The Duchess of Roxburghe has left an extraordinary collection of books to Trinity College, Cambridge, of over 7,000 books, including originals by Wordsworth, Shelley and Byron – as well as previously unknown manuscripts by Napoleon Bonaparte, George Washington, Florence Nightingale and Charles Dickens. It has been called ‘one of the most important private collections in Britain’ by Trinity College’s librarian, Dr Nicholas Bell.
Temple Grafton CofE primary school, which achieved first place in the Telegraph’s Top 1000 UK primaries, has credited having ‘incredibly committed staff,’ a ‘strong sense of family community’ and an emphasis on the performing arts to their success. The school received a 100% pass rate in the Department for Education’s Sats for 11 year olds, with every student meeting the expected standard, while 46% met the higher standard. This is compared to the national average of just 53% of pupils reaching the regular standard, and only 5% meeting the higher level in maths, reading and writing. Head teacher Sarah Hendry was swift to praise the hard work and achievement of the children, but also highlighted the difficulties for teachers with the additional demands of the new national curriculum.
In an effort to promote diversity, Bristol will offer promising high-potential students from disadvantaged backgrounds places on the most competitive courses with as low as C grades. Students can come from the state or independent sector, and will be considered in circumstances such as being the first in their family to attend university, being on free school meals, living in care or being a young carer. The University will also offer academic and pastoral support and financial support for those whose household income is below £25,000. Figures released by Ucas this week showed that groups such as working class white boys are still far behind the average in university entry rates.
Leaps forward in Artificial Intelligence technology mean that we could be not far off from a future where robots are teaching lessons and even marking homework, according to Dr Tarek Besold, speaking at the annual OEB educational technology conference in Berlin. Georgia Tech, a US university, successfully trialled a robotic online teaching assistant last year, while Dr Bresold from Bremen University believes such robotic teachers were becoming sophisticated enough to even have advantages over more traditional human teachers.
By David Bard
David is a Minerva Pro Tutor who specialises in humanities subjects at A Level and is a trained expert in the 7 + and 11 + exams. Outside of tutoring, David writes blogs about creative writing and everything that’s trending in education.