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Janet Downs: Teaching is an intellectual activity – so teachers need high-quality training to do the job properly

The chances are you’ve never heard of Winifred Mercier (1874-1934). I hadn’t until I read Teacher Education through Active Engagement*. Mercier had been Vice Principal of the City of Leeds Training College when she clashed with the College management over her enlightened ideas for teacher training. She resigned in 1915 and nine women colleagues gave notice in ... read more and comment →

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Latest comment by Roger Titcombe: "I live near one of England's last shipbuilding towns. The main product now is submarines. Would anyone trust a submarine or a ship designed by a team that did not thoroughly understand the counter-intuitive Principle of Archimedes? The science and psychology ......"

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Janet Downs: Zero tolerance policy, backed by Gove, turns Colditz Academy around, says Times, but was the previous school really as bad as claimed?

“Welcome to Colditz Academy” was The Times Magazine headline introducing a four page article praising the principal, Alison Cowell, for her hard-nosed approach to discipline which earned the school its nickname. Ebbsfleet Academy, previously Swan Valley Community School, was anarchic before Cowell took over in 2012 alleges The Times. The long-serving and popular previous head, Nigel Jones, was, according to ... read more and comment →

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Latest comment by Janet Downs: "Just stumbled on this: "...a person not involved in teaching will get an unbalanced picture of what goes on in most classrooms. The voices that suceed in making themselves heard - and that, commercially, are worth encouraging - are rarely ......"

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Janet Downs: New Schools Network warned by Charities Commission about the need to be impartial – again.

The New Schools Network (NSN), the taxpayer-funded charity given the job of promoting free schools, has been warned by the Charities Commission about appearing to support a particular political party. An article, now removed, was published in the news section of NSN’s website with the title Tories are fighting for the people Labour has abandoned. It was in fact a ... read more and comment →

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Janet Downs: Outcomes for disadvantaged pupils vary significantly between and within chains, says Sutton Trust. Someone tell Tristram Hunt.

When sponsored academies were first introduced in 2002 they were promoted as the best way of improving outcomes for disadvantaged children. Twelve years on the number of sponsored academies and chains has grown. The present Government allowed schools to convert to academy status thereby increasing the number of academies to around 4,000. “The expansion of the academy programme has ... read more and comment →

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Janet Downs: Trojan Horse – Clarke found “determined effort” of activists to take control of some B’ham schools

It’s hard not to feel anger when reading Peter Clarke’s report into allegations arising from the Trojan Horse letter: heads hounded out of office; careers wrecked; teachers undermined; children denied their right to a broad, balanced education; women marginalised; non-Muslims abused; the promotion of “grossly intolerant” views… Clarke provides evidence – transcripts, emails, witness statements – showing a “determined effort” to ... read more and comment →

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Latest comment by FJM: "The weapon wielded against those who are critical of Islamic extremism is the word 'Islamophobia', a word invented to slander those with concerns as being mentally unbalanced, as a phobia is an irrational fear. We are about to see worse ......"

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Janet Downs: Trojan Horse – all “Five Steps” found in four schools, says Kershaw

All Five Steps* listed in the Trojan Horse letter were present in four Birmingham schools: Golden Hillock, Nansen Primary School, Saltley School and Moseley, Kershaw found. Moseley School had not been inspected during the Trojan Horse swoop and the evidence is historic. For this reason, Moseley acts as a useful case study because it had problems ... read more and comment →

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Janet Downs: Trojan Horse – Kershaw finds no evidence of take-over plot but says concerns about behaviour of some men promoting “certain Islamic principles” need immediate attention

SUMMARY The issues raised by the Trojan Horse letter do not “significantly affect” the majority of the 437 Birmingham state schools, Ian Kershaw found. It was important to keep this context in mind, Kershaw cautioned. There were elements of the “Five Steps” listed in the Trojan Horse letter* in a large number** of the sixteen schools investigated. Patterns of ... read more and comment →

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Latest comment by Andy: "Janet, thank you for sharing that. I note that Khalid and Ms Morgan had spoken prior to the comments in the chamber and can only hope that this means action will follow...."

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Janet Downs: Selection, administrative blunders, feeder schools and faith – just some of the ways in which schools flout the Admission Code

How do schools dodge the Admission Code? A look at School Adjudicator rulings since 26 June reveals gives the answer. SELECTION Selection of pupils is allowed in grammar schools and on grounds of aptitude (up to 10%) in specialist schools. But sometimes schools go too far. Camden School for Girls, a Voluntary-Aided (VA) school, was censured for auditioning pupils ... read more and comment →

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Latest comment by Janet Downs: "Roger - heads in academies are on the governing bodies so would be complicit in drawing up dodgy criteria. I'm not suggesting all violations are deliberate although the complexity of some suggests an intentional desire to discriminate for or ......"

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Roger Titcombe: Why are hundreds of schools failing to enter students for A Level maths and science?

This is the question asked by a Guardian article of 17 July. "Hundreds of schools and colleges in England are failing to enter any pupils for science and maths A-levels, official figures show. "The data has been published by the Department for Education (DfE) for the first time as part of a government bid to encourage young people to take science and ... read more and comment →

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Latest comment by Roger Titcombe: "Martin - I am certainly not criticising all of the schools in Henry's list or regarding them all as being in a style of behaviourist learning (in maths) category based on their level of improvement. The problem for your son with ......"

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Francis Gilbert: It’s the Blob Wot Won It

Did the Blob get Michael Gove the sack? The mainstream media seems to think so. The Sun’s editorial said: “The Left-wing hate campaign against Michael Gove was hysterical, absurd and undeserved. Sadly, it worked. The teachers’ unions established the Tory Education Secretary as a wicked pantomime villain hell-bent on the destruction of a system which they reckoned was ticking along ... read more and comment →

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Latest comment by Janet Downs: "Barry - then why hasn't the Durham evaluation been published? It appears Teach First gets preferential treatment and is more expensive (see here). Teach First was last inspected in 2011 but the regime has now been tightened up. I ......"

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