SCHOOLS CALL OUT FOR GREATER CONTROL OVER BUDGETS TO IMPROVE STANDARDS OF EDUCATION

Over 80 per cent of schools claim they would be able to provide a better quality of education if they were given greater freedom over managing their budgets, new research has found.

A study by HCSS Education, a leading education finance specialist, has found that 82% of schools think that more independence to make financial decisions would help to raise teaching standards across the board and reduce the attainment gap.

As a result, 41% of schools are interested in converting to academy status because it will provide them with full financial responsibility so they are able to effectively manage procurement and spend their budget in the best way possible. Another 35% of schools also believed that more money would become available to them if they became an academy. This could also help contribute to a higher standard of education, as it could be spent on providing students with better facilities and teaching materials.

However not all schools think that academisation is the solution, with over half of maintained schools (59%) saying they did not want their schools to become an academy. These findings suggest that while they want greater freedom over managing the budget, they would prefer not to convert to an academy to achieve this.

As part of the survey, academies were also surveyed on the reasons why they decided to make the change and when asked what their main reasons for converting to academy status were, a significant 65 per cent cited greater control over finances as a key consideration.

The survey was conducted as part of HCSS Education’s Academy Futures report, which takes an insightful look into how the education landscape is changing and the impact academisationis having on both teachers and parents. It explores the barriers to conversion, the challenges schools may face when they first convert, and how these issues can be addressed.

Howard Jackson, head of education and founder of HCSS Education, said: “Our survey reveals that a very large proportion of maintained schools (82%) are calling out for much greater independence to manage their own budgets, as they believe that this will help to raise the standards across the board.

“As it stands, it is only schools that have converted to an academy that are given complete control over the budget, as maintained schools’ finances are still overseen by the local authority. For one reason or another, the academy model is not right for every individual school, but the problem lies in the fact that maintained schools are not given the same freedom that academy schools have, unless they decide to convert.

“With this in mind, it seems that schools would be wise to try to work towards a solution with the local authorities to gain more influence over their budgets, as it seems this is in the best interests of both the staff and students.”

 

For more information, please visit http://www.hcsseducation.co.uk/blog/academy-futures-report

Busy Bees response to Save the Children Report

Busy Bees ensures all childcare practitioners are highly skilled and fully trained by its own in-house training academy who provide an ongoing training programme of short courses to supplement the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum framework. Preparing children for school with learning enhancements outside of the curriculum and meaningful planned activities tailored to the individual needs and interests of every child in their care ensures all children are ready and prepared for the next stage in their development.

To further children’s language and communication skills, Busy Bees childcare team has developed an enhancement, Babble to Chatter, for their staff, designed to link theory to practice; the how and the why behind the development of language. The programme focuses upon the core building blocks of language development, which includes attention and listening, play and interaction, understanding language, expressive language and speech. It encourages staff and parents to seize every possible opportunity to support and encourage children by providing practical activities and measurements that can be weaved into day-to-day nursery life.

Every child in nursery is assigned a key person who enables a strong understanding of their individual needs and abilities. Staff also work in close partnerships with parents and, if needs be, outside agencies such as Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs), health visitors, speech and language therapists, and provide daily feedback.  At every opportunity parents are encouraged to provide home observations of their child involved in a special event or an activity ensuring the key person can build upon their key child’s interests from home and nursery, this gives the child the foundations of their care and education development plan.   Preparing children for school or their next milestone will ensure they have the confidence and self-esteem to meet any challenge. 

Lisa Snell, director of early years at Busy Bees, who has been instrumental in the development of Babble to Chatter, explains the driving force behind the launch:

“Effective communication skills are the foundations upon which all other learning rests so we want to make sure our children are given the tools they need to navigate their way through the rest of their lives successfully and happily.”

For more information, please visit: www.busybeeschildcare.co.uk

NEW SURVEY SHOWS THAT TEACHERS WANT TO HELP BREAK THE RECRUITMENT CRISIS CYCLE

  • Talk of teacher shortages is self-perpetuating – over a third of teachers said talk about a “recruitment crisis” made them feel more likely to leave the profession

 

  • But teachers want to play an active part in the debate about recruitment. 67% said they would feel more optimistic if they were “treated as partners in the debate, rather than objects of discussion”

 

  • TES Teacher Recruitment Index data shows relative improvement on previous autumn recruitment period, although it’s clear that a large proportion of teachers are looking to leave the profession or work abroad in the next three years

 

London: Thursday 24 March, 2016. A study of 4,000 UK teachers carried out by TES Global – a digital education company that has been supporting educators for over 100 years – shows that the debate around current teacher shortages may be self-perpetuating, with 31% saying talk about a “recruitment crisis” made them feel more likely to leave the profession.

 

Teachers are, however, demanding a greater say in how to fix the crisis and want to play an active part in the debate about recruitment. 67% said they would feel more optimistic if they were “treated as partners in the debate, rather than objects of discussion.”

 

Rob Grimshaw, CEO of TES Global said: “Teachers are putting their hands up to be more involved in fixing the current recruitment challenges and this offers a real opportunity for school leaders and policy makers. Highly-engaged teachers, if given an outlet for their ideas, could play a vital role in key areas such as attracting new entrants to the profession, encouraging other teachers to remain in the classroom, advising policy makers on how to retain teachers and helping stakeholders to understand the causes of the shortages.”

 

Recruitment woes easing up in the autumn, but blackspots remain

The latest data from the TES Teacher Recruitment Index, which tracks schools’ ability to successfully recruit teachers, shows recruitment was slightly easier in autumn 2015 than in the previous year. Some regions saw a marked improvement. In Yorkshire and the Humber, the success rate rose by 17 index points after three years of continuous falls – and there were rises in London, South East England and the West Midlands.

 

However, below the headline finding, there are causes for concern. In all subjects except art and design and design technology, it is harder to recruit now than it was in 2012. In autumn 2015 the recruitment rate was 20 index points below the 2011 level, and some regions are having a particularly tough time.

 

The success rate for teacher recruitment in the East of England fell by 14 index points this year to its lowest-ever level, making the region the hardest place in England to recruit teachers. The East Midlands, North East, North West and South West also saw falls.

 

School leaders expect to be addressing these issues with falling budgets

A TES Leadership Survey, carried out in January 2016, found a sharp rise in school leaders’ levels of concern they would be understaffed next year. Most school leaders expect to be addressing these issues with falling budgets. 69% of primary school leaders and 72% of those at secondaries said their school’s funding was likely to decrease over the next three to four years.

 

Teachers in England don’t feel valued, but they know they would be valued overseas

A Teacher Happiness Survey found just 4% of teachers believed now was “the best time to be a teacher”. Most (85%) said being a teacher “was better in the past than it is today” and 11% said being a teacher would be better in future. And despite teaching having traditionally been seen as a stable and well-respected career path, only 16% of teachers said they would now advise their own children to enter the profession.

 

This loss of confidence has prompted large numbers to think about leaving the classroom. The 17% that said they “don’t have any plans to leave the teaching profession” were outnumbered by the 18% that said they were “certain” to quit teaching within three years – and a further 11% said they were “seriously looking to leave the teaching profession”. This suggests England could expect to lose more than a quarter of its teachers.

 

Most teachers would consider teaching abroad, with a minority (44%) of respondents saying they expect their teaching career to always be in the UK. Just over 5% said they were “certain” that they would be working as a teacher in another country in the next three years, and a further 4% said they were “seriously looking” for a teaching job in another country. In London, teachers are more mobile still: 8% said they were “certain” to be teaching abroad in three years’ time.

 

DISCOVERY EDUCATION LAUNCHES ANNUAL US SUMMER INSTITUTE COMPETITION FOR TEACHERS

Teachers from Discovery Education’s UK partner schools are being offered the chance to win a trip to a prestigious ed-tech conference in Chicago this summer, where they will network with colleagues from some of North America’s leading digital schools, and learn about the latest ideas for using technology in teaching.

Now in its 11th year, the Discovery Education Summer Institute is a celebrated week-long professional development and networking event, bringing together teachers from across the US and Canada who are passionate about using digital media in the classroom.

Taking place at Loyola University in Chicago from July 17–22, the event will assemble over 150 teachers from the Discovery Education Community, a global network of teachers and education professionals who work together to share ideas, inspiration and resources.

For the third year running, Discovery Education is offering UK partner schools the opportunity to be part of the Summer Institute, and this year 8 teachers will be selected to make the trip to Chicago. The prize will cover the cost of return travel and full-board accommodation, and the winning teachers will spend an unforgettable week exploring the latest digital technology, hearing from inspirational teachers and sharing with their peers from across North America.

With its lively mix of energetic seminars and interactive hands-on workshops, the Summer Institute is designed to equip teachers with new digital skills to boost pupil engagement and achievement. The lucky winners will return to their UK classrooms with an array of new resources, ideas, and a renewed energy for integrating the latest technologies and digital content into everyday teaching.

Rachel Clark, Deputy Headteacher from St. Georges VA Church Primary in North Somerset, who was chosen to attend last year’s event in Washington D.C. said:

“Participating in last year’s Summer Institute was among the best professional learning experiences I’ve ever had. The event not only gave me the unique opportunity to learn skills I could immediately share with my colleagues, it also renewed my passion for teaching. I encourage all eligible teachers to apply to participate in this amazing event today.”

To apply teachers should visit the Discovery Education website – www.discoveryeducation.co.uk/summerinstitute and submit a two-minute video and written application explaining how they use Discovery Education resources to transform teaching and learning. The closing date is the 15th April and winning entrants will be notified on 22nd April 2016.

Lance Rougeux, Vice President of Learning Communities at Discovery Education said:

“ We are pleased to offer UK teachers the opportunity to attend this prestigious event, as representatives of the vibrant, global community which supports it. The Discovery Education Summer Institute provides a unique opportunity to access the latest resources and ideas for digital learning, while sharing best practice with colleagues from around the world.”

To learn more about the Discovery Education Community and Discovery Education’s other services and initiatives, visit www.discoveryeducation.co.uk

Bookless libraries to sweep education within a generation

Bookless libraries could become common place in UK schools and universities within a generation according to education interior specialist Innova Design Solutions.

Far from a far-fetched concept, the first bookless libraries already exist in America with the education sector leading the charge.

Florida Polytechnic University’s library, which opened in 2014, doesn’t contain a single physical book. It instead offers access to more than 135,000 ebooks. Both the Taubman Library at the University of Michigan and the engineering library at Stanford have followed suit – offering only digital texts.

In the UK, the move towards bookless libraries is gathering pace, with many higher education institutions following a digital first education strategy. Plymouth University has run an award-winning ‘innovative ebooks’ programme since 2013 where students receive free digital copies of core course texts, which can be annotated and shared between students and lecturers.

Melanie Laing, director, Innova Design Solutions said: “It’s clear that the future for libraries is digital, which has huge implications for traditional educational libraries. All the evidence is pointing towards libraries becoming high-tech knowledge centres where students can access digital works. For the next generation, traditional libraries could be something of a novelty – a relic from the past.

“Whether these libraries operate on a cloud basis with digital memberships, loans and returns, or libraries lend security protected physical devices – this more advanced model of accessing library works is likely to be rolled out in public, school and university libraries. We’ve already seen many e-book exclusive releases and we can expect this trend to play a role in the move towards widespread bookless libraries.”

In a recent report for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which promotes policies that improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world – the organisation’s director for education and skills, Andreas Schleiche, said school systems needed to find more effective ways to integrate technology into teaching and learning to provide educators with learning environments that support 21st century pedagogies, adding that technology is the only way to dramatically expand access to knowledge.

Professor Simon Handley, dean of Plymouth University’s Faculty of Science and Technology has claimed that even the best stocked libraries cannot have room for enough books to cover every student on every course at peak times, and argued that ebooks can help overcome that problem and free up library space for valuable supplementary text and resources.

Elsewhere in the UK, Queen Mary University London now provides core texts as free ebooks and has reduced its textbook budget by 20 per cent.

Speaking about the changing face of UK libraries, Melanie added: “Bookless libraries will remain peaceful places to study a text away from the classroom, but a reduced or eliminated need for physical books will free up additional space.

“As such facilities will feature computer terminals, desks, interactive study areas and comfortable spots where people can absorb their digital texts. Academic libraries, like high street book shops, could also adapt to offer new services, such as cafés, that improve the user experience and entice students.

“It’s also worth bearing in mind that the transition to digital is a greener solution. Reading an ebook does not necessitate the depletion of resources in the same way that printed books do – so as universities, colleges and schools look to reduce their carbon footprints they may look towards increasing digitisation as a viable strategy for achieving this.”

For more information about Innova, please visit www.innova-solutions.co.uk or call 0161 477 5300.

Day of Excellence for Fennies Nursery Staff

Around 220 employees from Fennies Day Nursery and Preschool will get together for a Day of Excellence at the home of Crystal Palace FC on Thursday (24th March).

Staff from Fennies’ eight nurseries located across south London and Surrey will spend a day celebrating the company’s achievements and hearing from expert and inspirational speakers.

The event will take place on Thursday 24th March and will feature talks by Dr Jools Page from the University of Sheffield and food writer Annabel Karmel MBE.

Dr Page carried out a study with Fennies into what she has dubbed ‘professional love’ and will talk about the importance of encouraging early years professionals to express affectionate and caring behaviours towards the children in their care.

Annabel Karmel is currently working on a new menu for Fennies and will be inviting the company’s staff to try some dishes from the new menu as well as giving a talk on how she started her career and the importance of never giving up.

She will also be passing on some tips on healthy snacks and talking about the new Fennies menu.

The day will conclude with the presentation of the Fennies Awards of Excellence, including the Apprentice of the Year award.

“In the past 18 months Fennies has taken great strides, opening three new nurseries in Bromley, Epsom and Horley, and we are continuing to expand and grow,” said John Warren, Director of Childcare Services at Fennies.

“We regard our employees as part of the Fennies family and we are always looking for ways to encourage them to work together even though they may be based in nurseries in different parts of London and the south-east.

“Our Day of Excellence will be an opportunity to bring our staff together, to inspire them and to encourage learning and the sharing of great ideas. We’re really looking forward to the day!”

Fennies has nurseries in Croydon, South Croydon, Purley, Bromley, Epsom, Horley, Sanderstead and Beckenham.

The Day of Excellence runs from 9.15am until 5pm on Thursday 24th March at Selhurst Park, home of Crystal Palace FC, London SE25 6PU.

Viking Adventures at the British Museum – London Grid for Learning develops new resource for Key Stage 2 Pupils

Captivating illustrations of Viking life, rituals and death are captured in the new online resource from the London Grid for Learning Viking Adventures at the British Museum, created in partnership with the British Museum to educate Key Stage 2 pupils about this significant period of history. Primarily designed as a history resource, Vikings meets national history curriculum criteria for pupils to study the “Viking and Anglo-Saxon struggle for the Kingdom of England to the time of Edward the Confessor”. The resource is also suitable for cross-curricular use in Computing, Design and Technology, English and Geography. Viking Adventures at the British Museum is available to all schools connected to the National Education Network.

 

This striking resource began life as an educational film screened in cinemas around the UK. It not only includes original footage from the film, but also new, exclusive LGfL footage of curators handling Viking artefacts in the British Museum, plus high-resolution images of real-life Viking artefacts and a comprehensive glossary of Viking terms and words. The resource is split into 8 modules; Archaeology, The Viking Ship, Raiders and Conquerors, The Vikings in Britain, Social Life, Looking Good, Trade and Industry, and Magic and Religion, allowing students to easily access specific topics and information.

Resources for teachers include curriculum mapping which allows filtering by topic, key stage and subject. Explanatory texts and cross-curricular lesson activity plans are also included along with a resource bank which can be used by specialists to design their own learning pathways or by non-subject specialists to supplement existing knowledge.

Commenting on the new resource, Patricia Wheatley, Head of Creative Broadcast at the British Museum said, “The British Museum is delighted to have worked with the London Grid for Learning on Viking Adventures at the British Museum. Viking Adventures at the British Museum will bring the stories of the Vikings to life through unique objects from the British Museum’s collection and share them with a wider audience that may not be able to see these objects anywhere else. Through this partnership, the London Grid for Learning has created an exciting new resource that helps make it possible to communicate and share our collection with teachers and schools in a variety of ways.”

Northern Parade Infant and Junior School completes solar PV installation in a bid to become more sustainable

Portsmouth primary school works with renewable energy investor, Low Carbon and the Land Rover BAR sailing team to reap benefits of renewable energy technology

PORTSMOUTH, UK – Tuesday 22nd MARCH 2016 – A primary school in Portsmouth has become the latest to lead the charge for sustainability by completing an onsite rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) installation, in partnership with several local organisations. The project at Northern Parade Infant and Junior School in Hilsea, Portsmouth means that the school will not only reduce its carbon emissions, but will also benefit from the use of free renewable electricity that will be generated by the panels. This will significantly reduce the running costs of the school buildings, and will allow budgets to be allocated to other key projects within the school.

The project was facilitated and funded by UK-based renewable energy investment company Low Carbon, in collaboration with local America’s Cup sailing team Land Rover BAR and its charity, the 1851 Trust. Portsmouth County Council has also offered support for this project.

The solar installation is comprised of 240 solar PV panels and has an expected annual production of 64,754 kWh – enough to power 21 homes. This equates to a total of 30 tonnes of CO2 being saved by the school every year. There is a tremendous opportunity for this school to help mitigate the negative effects of climate change while helping to educate school pupils as to benefits of renewable energy technology.

The project demonstrates how all key stakeholders are acting as responsible members of the community and are passionate about driving change within their local area. Not only will this installation save the school money and help reduce its carbon footprint, but it will also help engage the next generation and the wider community in the importance of renewable energy in the ongoing fight against climate change.

Low Carbon is a renewable energy investment company whose portfolio includes solar, wind, anaerobic digestion and concentrated solar power. Low Carbon has been working with Portsmouth-based sailing team Land Rover BAR, captained by Sir Ben Ainslie, for several years, most recently on the team’s sustainable HQ located on The Camber. The team is keen to be an active and engaged member of the wider community, which in doing so supports the aims and goals of the team’s charity – the 1851 Trust. This charity aims to inspire and engage a new generation through sailing and protecting marine environments, providing young people with the education, skills and training to become innovators of the future and stewards of the marine environment. To support the goals of the charity, any subsidy revenue generated from the installation at the primary school will be recycled into the 1851 Trust.

Roy Bedlow, Chief Executive and co-founder of Low Carbon, and Trustee of the 1851 Trust, commented: “Low Carbon and Land Rover BAR share the same goal of mitigating the negative effects of climate change. Being part of this project presents a strong opportunity for us – to drive community involvement and engagement with renewables, and to educate the next generation as to benefits of renewable energy. This is the key to unlocking greater adoption of renewable energy across other schools, businesses and households across the country. If the recent Paris Climate Change conference (COP21) taught us anything, it is that all levels of industry, sectors and individuals can play their part in the fight against global warming”.

Sir Ben Ainslie, Team Principal and Skipper of Land Rover BAR, four-time Olympic medallist and America’s Cup winner, said: “Sports teams such as Land Rover BAR can play a powerful role in inspiring the next generation, educating individuals about the need for greater sustainability and driving positive change. We hope this project will not only help Northern Parade Infant and Junior School deliver on its sustainability goals, but also provide inspiration to schools across the country on the opportunities that renewable technology installations can bring to students, staff and the wider community”.

Cllr Neill Young, Cabinet Member for Children Services and Education said: “The installation of these solar panels as part of the work to expand Northern Parade School is great – the school is more energy efficient and the creation of renewable energy will help reduce the school’s running costs. It’s also good for the pupils to see technology and renewable energy in action on their school.”

Enfield school wins London Region Public Speaking Competition

St. John’s Senior School beat off competition from 90 London schools to be crowned the regional winners of the Churchill National Public Speaking Competition.
Held at the HQ of the world famous English Speaking Union, Dartmouth House, St. John’s team had qualified for the London finals following an impressive debating display in the local rounds.
St. John’s team consisted of students Ryan Boroughs, Elizabeth Jonscher and Vraj Bhatt who were guided and coached by teacher Antigoni Efstathiou.
Headmaster Mr. Andrew Tardios accompanied the team to Dartmouth House and was immensely proud to see his students win the ‘London Cup’.
“Ryan (Speaker) was eloquent, informative and smart. He answered questions thrown at him from the challenging team, from the audience and even from one of the judges, with good sense, clarity and, what counted a great deal, with sincerity,” explained Mr Tardios.
“Elizabeth (Chairperson) was responsible for keeping the participants and the proceedings on track and then to summarise, succinctly, the main points made by each side. She had an aura of natural sophistication and spoke with courtesy and dignity throughout. Vraj (Questioner) had the task of probing the opposing speaker’s speech with questions that would demonstrate to the judges that he had the ability to think fast on his feet in order to test the basis of the opponent’s argument.”
Following feedback from the judges and photographs with the trophy, the team made their way back to the nearby Ritz Hotel, where they enjoyed refreshments and celebrated their success.
They will now prepare to take on the winners from other regions in England and Wales for the National championship, which will be held on the 30th April 2016 at Churchill College, University of Cambridge.

Enfield school wins London Region Public Speaking Competition

St. John’s Senior School beat off competition from 90 London schools to be crowned the regional winners of the Churchill National Public Speaking Competition.
Held at the HQ of the world famous English Speaking Union, Dartmouth House, St. John’s team had qualified for the London finals following an impressive debating display in the local rounds.
St. John’s team consisted of students Ryan Boroughs, Elizabeth Jonscher and Vraj Bhatt who were guided and coached by teacher Antigoni Efstathiou.
Headmaster Mr. Andrew Tardios accompanied the team to Dartmouth House and was immensely proud to see his students win the ‘London Cup’.
“Ryan (Speaker) was eloquent, informative and smart. He answered questions thrown at him from the challenging team, from the audience and even from one of the judges, with good sense, clarity and, what counted a great deal, with sincerity,” explained Mr Tardios.
“Elizabeth (Chairperson) was responsible for keeping the participants and the proceedings on track and then to summarise, succinctly, the main points made by each side. She had an aura of natural sophistication and spoke with courtesy and dignity throughout. Vraj (Questioner) had the task of probing the opposing speaker’s speech with questions that would demonstrate to the judges that he had the ability to think fast on his feet in order to test the basis of the opponent’s argument.”
Following feedback from the judges and photographs with the trophy, the team made their way back to the nearby Ritz Hotel, where they enjoyed refreshments and celebrated their success.
They will now prepare to take on the winners from other regions in England and Wales for the National championship, which will be held on the 30th April 2016 at Churchill College, University of Cambridge.