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In the News

Examiner awards scheme launched to lure teachers amid growing demand

An awards scheme that will recognise “exceptional commitment” from exam markers is being set up by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) to entice more teachers to take on the job. The move comes off the back of a report by the headteachers’ associations, JCQ and other exam boards, which warned thousands more examiners are needed to meet extra demand from GCSE and A-level reforms. The report, due to be published on Monday, found that each summer 34,000 examiners set and mark 8 million qualifications for 2 million 15 to 19 years olds in the UK. It said that while the move from modular to linear general qualifications may reduce overall demand for examiners as resits and multiple entries decrease, there is increased demand for examiners during the summer period. Authors added that national challenges with teacher recruitment may have a knock-on effect on examiner recruitment, as well as heavy workloads which puts teachers off becoming examiners. As a result, 7,000 more examiners are needed by 2019 to cater for the growing demand, the report warned. JCQ’s proposed awards scheme is intended to act as an extra incentive for teachers to take on examiner roles. Individual awards will be given...

It’s official: Schools to employ apprentices, but BBC and Parliament let off

The government has confirmed today that schools will be included among public sector bodies expected to employ apprentices – although larger organisations such as the BBC and Houses of Parliament are handed exemptions. The move comes despite schools expressing concerns about the affordability of paying for new apprentices, as well as “practical difficulties” in employing them because many teaching roles require a degree. The government today confirmed that at least 2.3 per cent of the workforce in English public sector bodies with more than 250 employees will have to be apprentices. The policy is part of a government drive to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 – a Conservative party manifesto pledge. Ministers chose to include schools and multi-academy trusts in the rules, despite exempting larger public bodies including the BBC, Channel 4, the Post Office, and the Houses of Parliament. Malcolm Trobe (pictured above), interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was unfair to exclude some commercial companies but include schools. He told Schools Week: “It is inappropriate that we have a national education service which has not been exempt in any way from this target, whereas a number of other organisations which...

‘Refuse, retract, resist’ school nationality data collection

Parents can choose not to be complicit in building border controls in our playgrounds – and so can schools, says Martha Spurrier. The spring school census started this week. For the second time this academic year, parents and guardians have been asked to share their children’s nationalities and countries of birth with the state – another seemingly innocuous tick-box on another official-looking government form. But parents aren’t legally obliged to hand over this information. And – if they believe classrooms should be about learning, growth and hope for the future rather than fear and division – they absolutely should not. This is not an attempt by the government to better acquaint itself with the educational needs of our children The intentions behind this new data-harvesting are about as sinister as they get. This is not an attempt by the government to better acquaint itself with the educational needs of our children. It is, and always has been, a thinly veiled bid to aid Home Office deportation, to bring border controls into our classrooms by building “foreign children lists”. When parents were first asked for this information in the autumn, campaigners immediately saw the move for what it was – the...

Tests for sale makes a mockery of selection

Where, exactly, is the line of “this has gone too far”? That’s a question teachers have to consider almost constantly. When is a pupil “too” loud? When is a short skirt “too” short? One of the main reasons schools have so many rules is to try to avoid the psychological energy needed for such decisions. If skirts are banned, they can’t be too short. If pupils are silent in corridors, then even a whisper is too loud. But let’s take a thornier issue. How far should a child’s ability in exams affect their access to an education? The banning of new grammar schools in 1998 followed a general view that children shouldn’t have different access to education at the age of 11. Yet, across the country, pupils are placed into a variety of “top” and “bottom” sets on the basis of exams they sit at that age and no one seems to bat too much of an eyelid. Swindon academy has taken that approach further by putting its highest-attaining pupils into their own stream, from where they can access specialist teachers and extra-curricular activities at a nearby private school. Or, to put it another way, simply because those children achieved...