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Janet Downs: Want to get your teeth into more than mince pies this Christmas? DfE number crunchers want comments about measuring attainment gap. But can it be totally wiped out?

The gap between the achievement of disadvantaged and advantaged pupils is now a key measure of school performance. Schools are supposed to close the gap. I’ve argued before that there are circumstances which can prevent pupils learning. These can affect advantaged and disadvantaged pupils. And they can be worsened by poverty. It’s unrealistic to expect ... read more and comment →

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Janet Downs: LSN Christmas Quiz 2014

Kick off the festive season by having a go at this year’s LSN Christmas Quiz. Score one point for every correct answer. Score 10 points if you answer with wit (you’ll have to be the judge of that – self assessment is allowed). 1 What guide appeared in the Tatler where you’d least expect it? 2 What galloped into city ... read more and comment →

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Melissa Benn: The Bald truth is: it’s selection – stupid!

Below, an important piece, written by Margaret Tulloch, which appears on the Comprehensive Future website this morning and provides a detailed rebuttal of some of the misunderstandings in the current 'let's expand/return to grammars' debate, a debate given fresh and dubious political life by UKIP's ill considered policy in this area. Conservative Home has now joined the fray - following on ... read more and comment →

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Latest comment by Brian: "Very interesting Janet. Of course I don't suppose a being officially told you're a failure at age 11 does much for your future 'resilience.'..."

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David Barry: It aint so…The Whitehall Park School story goes on.

It has been a while since I blogged about the Whitehall Park Free School. For those new to the story, apart from referring you to earlier postings on this site, the current position is this. Ashmount Primary School moved in January 2013 to a new building at Crouch Hill Park. (And a very fine building too. See here for the ... read more and comment →

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Latest comment by Janet Downs: "Thanks Barry for the link and David for the commentary. I didn't know 'Planning Area 1' was the locality until David said. Barry's document says: 'Planning Area 1 is not projected to have a deficit of places for some considerable ......"

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Janet Downs: 50% of sponsored secondary schools were less than Good at their last inspection. But wasn’t sponsorship supposed to raise standards?

Half of all sponsored secondary academies were less than Good at their last inspection, according to data at the end of the latest Ofsted Annual Report. This compares with 37% of local authority maintained secondary schools and 15% of converter academies. It’s the same with primary schools. Nearly half (46%) of sponsored primary academies were less than ... read more and comment →

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Latest comment by kenya smart: "Greetings Everyone My name is Kenya new to the forum.The posts have been very useful in helping decide where we would want out children to acheive. However, the main concerns we have regarding Ofsted reports on 6th form colleges,are that they ......"

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Janet Downs: Don’t forget common humanity when urging pupils to do well at school – achievement shouldn’t be at any price.

I’ve spent the last three Sunday nights watching Remember Me, a modern-day spooky tale set near Scarborough. I was gripped although the Telegraph judged the final episode a ‘damp squib’. I’m not going to write a review. I want to talk about Hannah, the young heroine terrified her young brother will become the next victim of a malign ghost. ... read more and comment →

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Latest comment by Andy: "On first reading I agree that the anecdote creates an awful impression of that particular HMI. However, after that instant response and allowing a calmer approach to take hold, there are other important strands that are missing and these ......"

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Janet Downs: Education Secretary ignores Watchdog’s letter criticising her literacy and numeracy claims

The Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has treated the UK Stats Watchdog's criticism of her use of literacy statistics with disdain. The Watchdog said Morgan’s statement to the Tory Conference that under Labour ‘1 in every third child finished primary school unable to read, write or add up’ was misleading. It was inaccurate to claim Year 6 pupils ... read more and comment →

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Latest comment by Janet Downs: "It's not just Nicky Morgan who has a tenuous grasp on stats and evidence. Nick Gibb repeated his unconditional support for synthetic phonics in a written answer yesterday: 'Our new English curriculum places a renewed focus on the requirement for ......"

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Georgina Emmanuel: Cyber bullying and secondary schools: request for research assistance

My apologies for using this website to request some help from secondary school teachers, policy advisers, researchers and so on. My daughter is writing her MA dissertation on cyber bullying and the role of teachers in secondary schools in meeting this challenge. Unfortunately her dissertation has to be a literature review rather than empirical research. She is not a teacher. ... read more and comment →

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Latest comment by Janet Downs: "There appears to be some problem with posting comments. I'll report it...."

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Janet Downs: Trafford’s selective system is not the ‘social leveller’ its supporters claim

‘Trafford's selective education is a great social leveller - giving opportunities to children regardless of their background.’ Graham Brady MP, Manchester Evening News This argument – that grammar schools give a leg up to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and are, therefore, essential for social mobility – is blown apart by the evidence. Grammar schools nationally have a far lower proportion of ... read more and comment →

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Latest comment by Barry Wise: " Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College, where 85% reached the benchmark in 2013, had just 3% previously low-attaining pupils in the GCSE cohort, for example. In all, seven of Trafford’s eleven moderns had a lower proportion of previously-low attaining pupils ......"

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Peter Martin: Educational ‘class ceiling wastes taxpayers’ money’

The Fair Education Alliance report, highlighted today on the BBC news website, reminds me of the excellent evening spent in Pasi Sahlberg's company, hosted by Lisa Nandy MP (Wigan), May 2012. Now we all know the answer is not 'emulate Finland': but we also know that to 'make equity the focus of our work with your people' sounds about right. ... read more and comment →

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