Scan of Ed News: UK

To follow up on our most recent post with Toby Greany discussing the development of academies in England, we did a quick scan of recent education news from the UK.

Recent reports included a review of funding in England’s free schools (a type of academy), concerns about some schools (particularly faith-based schools) “demanding” money from parents, and questions about whether a plan to extend free childcare to 30 hours a week could end up leading to cut backs in the number of children who can be served.

In Northern Ireland, where %92 of students attend schools with students largely of a single faith, debates have focused on a major report on shared and integrated education. While the government education committee issuing the report said that “every school in Northern Ireland should take part in some form of shared education, as The Belfast Telegraph reported the committee could not resolve all the issues relating to shared and integrated education.

Assessment was in the news in both Scotland as Wales. In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that she did not want to create “crude league tables”, but plans to introduce new standardized tests in primary and lower secondary schools (national testing for five to 13-year-olds was eliminated in Scotland in 2003). In Wales, the focus has been on the launch of new “Wales-only” qualifying exams in secondary schools. Among other things, those GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) exams will have “a greater stress on the functional aspects of language with reading, writing, speaking and listening skills” all counting towards the final grade. Relatedly, in Ireland, the Central Application Office (responsible for overseeing the application process for most undergraduate places) will be making changing in the points system it uses. At least in part, the change is designed to reduce the number of applicants tying on same score.

Recent news also includes concerns about a teacher shortage in Northern Scotland and as well as questions about the value of “exporting” Irish teachers to the UK. As The Independent put it, “It has cost the Irish taxpayer millions to educate them but last week hundreds of Irish teachers began their careers – in British classrooms….” 


The 60% extra funds enjoyed by England’s free school pupils, The Guardian

Schools ‘demand money from parents’ – BBC News

Free childcare scheme ‘could backfire’ in schools – BBC News


Shared education: Northern Ireland Assembly committee backs expansion –BBC News

Stormont report urges increase in shared education, Belfast Telegraph

Authors propose 35-year road map to prosperity and social justice in North, The Irish Times


Scottish education: The return of standardised testing? BBC News

Northern Scotland suffering teacher shortage with 300 posts unfilled, The Guardian


Overhaul of CAO points will see average scores drop for school leavers, The Independent

Educated for export: young Irish teachers making a buck in UK, The Independent


‘Exciting’ new Wales-only GCSEs are launched, BBC News

First Minister praises new education plan, The Barry Gem

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