Weekly education news roundup: exam cheating, top schools, parents tackling social mobility and more!

30/11/17

England

State of the Nation 2017 shows parents boost their child’s education

This week the Social Mobility Commission released its report State of the Nation 2017: Social Mobility in Great Britain. It takes a geographical look at the indicators of how likely people from disadvantaged backgrounds are to make progress. In schools, this is called the ‘attainment gap’, where children of higher-income parents tend to have better academic outcomes than their worse-off peers. Much of the report is taken up with schooling and the education system, and although parental engagement can be promoted further, the Commission repeatedly acknowledge what we strongly believe to be the case – that having parents involved in their child’s education benefits everyone.

Exam system under scrutiny

Following the recent scandals at some top independent schools such as Eton College, where teachers who had helped to write exams were divulging the strictly confidential details to their students, the Education Committee chaired by Robert Halfon MP took evidence from expert witnesses this week about malpractice within the exams system in general. The Committee discussed preventative techniques, the accuracy of marking and the increasing demand for re-marks. Evidence was given on how schools and the system guards against malpractice. Assessing coursework was seen as a big challenge to integrity. See our summary.

Revised guidance on home-schooling will impact on parents

Academies Minister Lord Agnew has said that the Department for Education is to update its guidelines on home-schooling children. Parents are legally entitled to educate their child at home if they wish to, but in recent years home-schooling numbers have grown exponentially, sometimes relating to parents threatened with fines over their child’s absenteeism from school. The new guidance will define parents’ rights and responsibilities, as well as what powers local authorities have in working with parents to ensure home-schooled children are receiving a good education.

Wales

Affluent areas failing disadvantaged pupils

The State of the Nation 2017 report from the Social Mobility Commission reveals that bridging the gap between outcomes for disadvantaged children and those from higher-income households faces some fundamental challenges. Monmouthshire and Pembrokeshire, among the two richest districts, reveal the widest gulf in outcomes. The government has made narrowing the gap the core aim of its “national mission” for education. 

Kirsty Williams announces the roll out of Google for Education

The Education Secretary has announced measures to empower teachers with a greater range of digital tools as part of the Learning in Digital Wales (LiDW) programme. The new software will be available through the digital learning platform Hwb from 2018. Kirsty Williams said: "This will give our teachers a much wider range of digital tools and resources and will lead to greater collaboration and communication within the classroom."

Powys Council seeks feedback on schools plans

Parents and other education stakeholders have until 30th January 2018 to feed back to their local authority. Powys Council is consulting on draft policy with plans “to provide the best possible educational opportunities to all pupils”. After the consultation closes, a revised draft, incorporating feedback, will be considered by the council in spring 2018. You can respond to the consultation online or in writing.

Northern Ireland

13 of top 100 UK secondary schools are in Northern Ireland

The Sunday Times Parent Power survey, which covers state and independent schools, rates schools based on three indicators: exam results, absenteeism and pupil destinations. Within those measurements, 13% of the top one hundred secondary schools are in Northern Ireland, making it the best-performing region in the UK other than London and the South East of England.

Calls for industrial dispute over teachers’ pay to end

During ASCL’s annual conference at Templepatrick, President Dermot Mullan has asked employers and unions to find a solution to the long-running dispute over pay. Actions have fallen short of a strike, but have seen teachers refuse to cooperate with inspectors. Seeking a negotiated end to the dispute for the sake of everyone, especially pupils, Mullan expressed his support for an increase to wages, saying, “Any pay increases must be funded from central resources rather than taken from existing and declining school budgets.”

Computer Science GCSE coursework marks may be voided following leak

Year 11 and 12 students studying the new course may face losing their grade for the non-examined part of their qualification after confidential solutions were revealed online. The decision, taken by exams regulator Ofqual, will only affect pupils on selected exam boards, but it’s likely to account for hundreds of students. The coursework represents 20% of the overall marks. Ofqual is consulting on a solution, but it is likely that the coursework mark is simply discounted, and pupils are graded on their examination alone. The issue also affects some students in England.

References

England

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/662744/State_of_the_Nation_2017_-_Social_Mobility_in_Great_Britain.pdf

https://www.pta.org.uk/News/Has-public-confidence-in-exam-integrity-been-shaken

https://schoolsweek.co.uk/dfe-to-draft-clearer-home-education-guidance/

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/dfe-promises-crackdown-home-schooling

Wales

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-42152383

http://gov.wales/newsroom/educationandskills/2017/google-for-education-to-be-rolled-out-in-welsh-schools-next-year/?lang=en

http://www.powys.gov.uk/en/corporate/find-out-about-consultations-in-powys/developing-the-powys-schools-infrastructure/

Northern Ireland

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/survey-puts-13-northern-irish-secondary-schools-in-uk-top-100-36354733.html

http://www.irishnews.com/news/educationnews/2017/11/27/news/school-leaders-call-for-action-to-end-industrial-dispute-over-pay-1197076/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-42144886

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/northern-ireland-gcse-students-computer-coursework-binned-after-online-leak-36359770.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42138037