Education News Weekly – 20th January, 2017

January 23, 2017 by Minerva Tutors,

League Tables, the key to school success and the search of a new generation of ‘Jane Bonds’


League Tables Reveal 282 Failing Secondary Schools – BBC

After the government’s introduction of new, tougher assessment criteria for schools (known as Progress 8 and Attainment 8), the first new league table reveals 282 schools failed to meet the new national criteria. However, this is an improvement on the last results form the old system, when 312 schools were deemed to be failing.

The results revealed significant regional differences. In the North West of England, one in six secondary schools is under-performing, while at the other end of the scale, London has the lowest proportion of under-performing schools. In total, 3.1% of the capital’s secondary schools fall below the new threshold, while just 2.2% of its secondary-age pupils are at a school that failed to make the target. Oldham, Darlington and Knowsley on Merseyside – where every school failed to meet the required standard – are among the worst performing districts. Unsurprisingly, girls made greater progress than boys across the board, while disadvantaged pupils were less likely to measure significant improvement than their more advantaged peers.


Government’s new National Funding Formula ‘Unfair’ and ‘Inconsistent’ – BBC

Teachers’ unions have been quick to criticise the government’s new education initiative, with one analysis claiming the National Funding Formula could result in a real terms per-pupile funding cut for 98% of schools. Even schools in underperforming areas that the formula is designed to help, such as Trafford and Cheshire East, both among the worst performing areas in the country, are set to have funding cut. Malcolm Trobe, Interim General Secretary of The Association of School and College Leaders, called for an immediate increase in school funding to address problems caused by rising costs and frozen budgets. To pinpoint the problem with redistributing funds from better funded to worse funded areas, Trobe said:

“The government is trying to slice up a cake which is too small… It needs to put more money into the system and make education a political priority.”

A group of six unions released a table identifying that schools in every single one of the country’s 533 constituencies will lose money under the new formula. They highlighted:

  • £655 per pupil in Education Secretary Justine Greening’s Putney constituency, with the worst-hit school losing £834 per pupil
  • and £377 per pupil in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency, with the worst hit school losing £872 per pupil.

A separate TES report details at least 1,100 small rural schools could face funding cuts in the new proposed formula, despite assurances from ministers that they would be protected


Grammar Schools Lose Out in New Government Assessment – Guardian

Another upshot of the government’s new, more improvement-focused Progress 8 assessment criteria is that it rewards schools that do better than expected. This means that academies and faith schools have overtaken grammar schools, which tend to have fewer disadvantaged pupils, and more who are expecting to do well. The new measure of progress is calculated using a pupil’s best eight exam scores at GCSE — with extra emphasis on maths and English — and then comparing the final results with a pupil’s expected scores based on previous performance. Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School and Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School were first and second nationally, with Harris Academy Battersea a close third. Students at all three schools, alongside three others, achieved on average more than a whole grade better per subject than expected.

Independent schools dominate the A Level tables, with St. Paul’s Girls’ School top, closely followed by Magdalen College School, Oxford, North London Collegiate, Westminster, and St. Paul’s Boys.


Chinese Billionaire Offering Largest Education Prize Globally – BBC

The Yidan Prize – offered by Chinese tech billionaire Charles Chen Yidan – will award nearly $8m (£6.64m) every year to two research projects that have the potential to ‘transform’ global education. Mr Chen wants to use the prize to scale up innovative education research projects and replicate them across the world.

Leading institutions such as Harvard and MIT have already submitted several proposals, but the prize could be won by a much smaller local project. Mr Chen emphasises that the winner must prove effective, and be “replicable in other regions” to be eligible for the award.


Friends and Parents Key to School Success – BBC

Research from Arizona State University reveals that positive parental and friendship group influences are key to cutting school drop-out rates. The research, focusing on 125 15-18 vulnerable year old pupils from Chicago high school, found that direct parents involvement had more effect on a child’s academic prospects ‘than any other factor.’ They were asked about parental involvement and peer influences, including numbers of friends who had dropped out and these friends’ attitudes to school. However, the effect of positive reinforcement and support from parents was negligible among vulnerable students who spent lots of time with their peers who take a negative view of education.

According to the research, 3 million Americans dropped out of high school in 2012, amounting to 17,000 daily, with the effects concentrated among lower income groups. One solution the research suggested was for schools with high dropout rates was to encourage higher achieving and more vulnerable students to mix outside thier normal groups, while fostering greater parental involvement.


And finally…

GCHQ Looking for new ‘Jane Bond’ – Telegraph

Social media-savvy teenage girls are being targeted by intelligence services to challenge their ‘male, plae and stale’ image, and recruit more female spies. The CyberFirst Girls Competition allows girls in teams to of four to attempt online cyber security texts, with the top 10 teams nationally getting invited to finals in London. This is part of the government’s National Cyber Security Strategy, allocated £1.9 billion in November 2016, part of which is going towards outreach and recruitment.



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 everything that’s trending in education.

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