Education News Weekly – 9th April, 2017

April 9, 2017 by Minerva Tutors,

Term-time holidays, a lack of female headteachers and why it’s time to scrap 9 a.m. lectures.



Female headteachers under-represented in secondary schools – Independent

According to new research from Nottingham University, just over a third of secondary school headteachers are female, while currently women make up around 64% of secondary classroom teachers. The paper, encompassing every secondary school in England, says it will take almost a quarter of a century for women to be properly represented at this level. However, the proportion of women holding secondary headships has increased by 13 percentage points in 14 years, from 25% in 2001 to 38% in 2015. Dr Kay Fuller, author of the paper, said there are many reasons why there are not more women in headteacher roles, including personal, organisational and societal. Dr Fuller added: “This is a matter of social justice; of enabling women to negotiate complex and interacting factors that create barriers to their career advancement. Women’s careers are interrupted and disrupted disproportionately to men’s.”


Parents paying huge premium for houses in outstanding school catchment areas – Telegraph

Parents are paying up to £50,000 extra for properties in the catchment areas of outstanding schools, raising fears the country’s top state schools are becoming selective according to family wealth and opportunity. Education leaders have expressed fears that the property market is exacerbating the attainment gap between social mobility of less advantaged students, in response to the research published by Rightmove. The average house in an outstanding school catchment area costs £52,000 more on average than those near schools which require improvement, with that figure rising upwards of £80,000 in London, where competition for good/outstanding school places is fiercest nationally.


‘Hundreds’ of pupils likely to get straights 9s in new GCSEs – TES

An exam board has said they expect hundreds of pupils to achieve straight 9s in the new numerical GCSE grading system, contradicting last week’s inflammatory tweet by education advisor Tim Leunig, who suggested that only two students would get straight 9s. Tom Benton, a Cambridge Assessment researcher, said:  “In the long-term, when everything has gone over to the new scale, I would expect hundreds of people to get straight grade 9s.” Mr Benton predicts there will be thousands of 9s in every subject, with exams regulator Ofqual saying that 20% of all grades over 7 (the current grade A or higher) will achieve a 9.  However, Ofqual added: “We have not done any modelling regarding these numbers and make no prediction of figures like these in advance of a future awarding process.”


Research suggests scrapping damaging 9 a.m. lectures – Independent

Researchers at The Open University working with experts at the University of Nevada have said 9 a.m. lectures should be scrapped, and students allowed to start their day later. The study, examining the patterns of 200 students, found academic performance was at its best between 11am and 9.30pm, and follows new research suggesting that early mornings interfere with young adults’ body clocks and circadian rhythm. Paul Kelley, of The Open University, highlighted the importance of students aligning work time with their personal rhythm, and even connected early mornings to the rise in student mental health problems.  

In 2009, Monkseaton High School in North Tyneside partook in an experiment by delaying the school’s start times from 08:50am to 10:00am. This led to an increase in the percentage of pupils getting five good GCSEs from around 34% to about 50%, with the effect particularly pronounced in disadvantaged pupils.


Supreme Court rules against term-time holiday dad – Independent

Parents could face a fine or prosecution if they decide to take their child out of school for even half a day without permission, following a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court on term-time absences. A panel of judges ruled unanimously against Jon Platt, a father from the Isle of Wight who took his daughter on holiday to Disney World during school time in April 2015. The decision was welcomed by school and college leaders, although the case divided opinion, prompting calls for stricter policies on school attendance as well as fairer peak-season pricing from holiday companies. The government also supported the decision, however the Green Party education spokesperson criticised the move, saying fines and prosecutions are counterproductive, instead claiming the government should legislate against travel companies ramping up prices during school holidays.


Half of teenagers have never been to the theatre – BBC

According to a study by the Social Mobility Commission, almost half of the 150,000 teenagers attending free Shakespeare shows at the Globe through the Playing Shakespeare project over the past decade have never been inside a theatre before. An audience survey this year revealed a gulf in cultural experience: for many students it was nothing unusual, but 44% said this was their only experience of seeing a play live. The Social Mobility Commission has investigated differences in access to cultural activities – seen as helping young people get into university or raise aspirations for jobs. It found that trips to the theatre, galleries, the cinema or the zoo were all more likely for wealthier families – with the likelihood of such visits rising and falling in a way directly linked to family income.


And finally…

Fraudulent headteacher uncovered by student journalists – Independent

A high school head teacher in Kansas has been forced to resign after an investigation from student journalists revealed inconsistencies in her experience, qualifications, and credentials for the job. The students’ endeavour caught national attention, bringing praise from The Washington Post and The Boston Globe.



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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