Tes 19 November 2021

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in this issue

3 min

My phone rings. A friend is searching for a school for his daughter. He has read all the Ofsted reports of the local contenders and wants to talk them through. “What is the difference between ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’?” “How reliable is the judgement on behaviour?” “What if the head leaves? Does the judgement still count?” I wait patiently for his threads to unravel. It’s clear that his choice will be based on these reports. And yet it is also clear that his understanding of the context of those reports, and how they compare, is minimal. “Have you visited?” I ask. “I mean, outside of the official open day. Have you chatted to teachers, parents and the head?” The question wasn’t meant as a criticism. Instead, it was more of a plea. I have had so…

2 min
‘spiteful and nasty’ tiktok videos targeting teachers

Social media has been the source of so many pastoral concerns in schools over the past decade that teachers are now experts in dealing with the various trends as they emerge. However, the latest is proving a unique challenge: the “in” thing at the moment is turning the focus of online abuse away from fellow pupils and on to teachers. Last week, headteachers raised “deep concerns” over TikTok videos in which teachers and school leaders are being impersonated using pictures pulled from school websites. Some of the videos are “highly insulting” and contain homophobic abuse, according to Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL). His union is trying to get the videos taken down immediately, but ASCL says TikTok has taken no action. “Imagine how [teachers] feel…

2 min
‘back to normal’? avoid it at all costs, says mitra

Sugata Mitra is one of education’s most divisive characters. His suggestion earlier this year that a PhD-style viva oral test should replace exams was met with plenty of enthusiasm in some quarters. However, he admits his essay “The end of knowing” was roundly criticised here in the UK. The latter, he says, was misinterpreted as “Sugata Mitra saying that knowledge is obsolete”, which is not what he meant. “What I was saying is: you don’t need to stuff your head for 12 years with things that you might need,” Mitra clarifies. “Who needed that kind of education? In my essay, I wrote that the last person to need that kind of education was Robinson Crusoe.” The kickback against this view and others does not seem to have deterred the professor emeritus at NIIT…

7 min
10 questions with… rebecca boomer-clark

Rebecca Boomer-Clark, currently the chief executive of one of the country’s biggest multi-academy trusts – Academies Enterprise Trust – has been at the forefront of the academies movement for most of her career. She became one of the youngest principals in the country at a pioneering early academy in the 2000s and has been a regional schools commissioner, as well as having stints working with some of the biggest MATs. She tells Tes about the privilege of turning around schools in disadvantaged communities and explains why she is concerned that the education system is becoming too polarised. 1. Who was your most memorable teacher and why? I was in Year 8 and our class had a new teacher. On her first day, she swept into the room in what became a trademark flamboyant…

6 min
what the new pupil premium template examples mean for schools

In April, the government announced it was introducing template forms for schools to explain how they were using pupil premium (PP) money and that schools would have to use “research evidence” to justify their plans. Schools would have to have this done by 31 December and publish them on their website – doing so is now a condition of funding. Some welcomed this plan for bringing clarity to something they believe has been too vague in the past; others saw it as more government control and paperwork. Either way, the plan went ahead with the forms published on 6 September – and many schools no doubt set to work dutifully filling in the new templates. Then on 1 November – almost two months later – the Department for Education published three examples of…

2 min
schools told to assess in ‘exam-like conditions’ in case tags needed

Schools have been told to assess students in “exam-like conditions” to make sure that evidence for teacher-assessed grades is produced fairly in case next summer’s GCSE and A-level exams are scrapped for the third year in a row. The Department for Education says that schools should plan assessment opportunities to secure evidence that can be used to inform TAGs, including in the autumn term. It has insisted it is “firmly committed to exams going ahead in summer 2022”. However, the DfE is putting contingency plans in place for “the unlikely event that exams have to be cancelled again”. Exams have been cancelled for the past two years, including in an announcement in January of this year at the start of a new national lockdown and with no back-up plan in place at that…