Tes 8 October 2021

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United Kingdom
Tes Global Ltd
51 Issues

in this issue

3 min

Professional development in journalism can feel a little brutal. In my first job, I got up to speed on headline writing by being routinely looked at as if I were a moron every time I filed a page. Later, one manager improved my grammar by glowing red with rage and laughing maniacally at any misplaced punctuation. And my feature writing? I once rushed to WH Smith to buy a magazine I had written for, and then spent an hour and a half trying to work out if a single word was in the order I’d filed it (it wasn’t). Things have definitely moved on, but “teaching” the skill of journalism and then helping someone hone that skill remains incredibly difficult. Partly, this is because there is a sense among those who…

3 min
a risk a day helps kids work, rest and play

The mix of high accountability, an increasingly litigious culture and a pandemic hasn’t exactly created fertile ground for risk taking in schools. And yet, as mental health challenges rise and the focus of “catch-up” skews towards wellbeing, it may be that a little risk taking would do us all some good. Helen Dodd is a professor of child psychology at the University of Exeter, and has a particular interest in what she terms “adventurous play”. Her 2020 article “Adventurous play as a mechanism for reducing risk for childhood anxiety” draws on existing research on the factors that influence childhood anxiety, and suggests that activities that produce excitement in children can help them to cope with mental health issues in the future. So, what exactly do we mean by adventurous play? “Adventurous play is…

3 min
ofqual’s new chief ‘on a mission’ to quell doubts about exam fairness

Well, Ofqual left it late. It had promised news by the end of September on exams in 2022 and only just kept that promise, announcing the guidance to teachers on the last day of that month. And the person having to announce and field the questions about the decisions made and the delay in telling teachers about them? It was the new chief regulator, who was just two weeks into the job. Jo Saxton was recruited from the Department for Education, where she was a political adviser to former education secretary Gavin Williamson. Before that, she had run two multi-academy trusts. The reaction to Saxton’s first calls on behalf of the exams watchdog were decidedly mixed. Grade distributions for GCSEs and A levels next year will be pitched at a mid point between pre-pandemic…

6 min
10 questions with… donna stevens

As the chief executive of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), Donna Stevens is passionate about promoting gender equality. She talks to Tes about the importance of ensuring that women are as likely as men to become decision-making politicians or scientists, why she believes that work in independent GSA Schools to promote sport among girls could be beneficial in the state sector, too – and how she manages to run a weekend drama school for 100 children on top of her day job. 1. Who was your most memorable teacher and why? My maths teacher at my comprehensive school in south Wales. She was memorable but maybe not for the right reasons because she was scary. Luckily, it didn’t put me off maths and I went on to study it at Oxford. Secondly, my sixth-form…

5 min
could doubling up on ppa time boost outcomes for poorer pupils?

Children from families with low incomes leave school with fewer qualifications than those from wealthier families. And, as a report by the Office for National Statistics – titled Child poverty and education outcomes by ethnicity – revealed last year, children eligible for free school meals (FSM) make less progress in school, too. This is a problem that is only getting worse as more students are classified as disadvantaged and requiring FSM – with the proportion rising from 17.3 per cent in 2020 to 20.8 per cent this year. Of course, not every school has a neat 80:20 split. The actual proportion of FSM in each school varies hugely. What is the reason behind this difference? The answer is often location. The Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI, 2019), which measures the proportion of all…

2 min
how tags ‘plan b’ will work if pandemic disrupts 2022 exams

Once again, the government has started the academic year determined that exams should run as normal next summer. But, unlike last year, this time it has a plan B in place in the event that Covid leads to another cancellation. If exams cannot go ahead, the plan is to return to the system of teacher-assessed grades (TAGs). Ofqual and the Department for Education (DfE) are running a consultation, which closes next week, on whether and how TAGs should be used if needed. They say they considered if grades could be awarded in a “better way” in the event that exams are cancelled in 2022 but have decided that using TAGs again is the best solution. But they also intend to learn lessons from the way they were carried out earlier this year.…