Education News Round Up
Special education needs reforms take effect Reforms aiming to give children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) and their parents a greater say in the support they receive have come in to effect in England with “education, health and care plans” replacing special needs statements. A new legal right allows those with an education, health and care statement to express their preference to attend an academy, free school or further education college, where before the only options were mainstream ofrspecial schools. Councils have to publish a “local offer” which outlines the support available to all children and young people with disabilities and their families and mediation and a new appeals system have been introduced for those who are unhappy with the support they have received. Student leaders ‘shocked’ by cuts to university hardship funds Funding for university students in financial difficulty has been cut. Previously universities had received £2.1 million a year for the Financial Contingency Fund but ministers have now cut this because higher tuition fees should mean that institutions can fund the scheme themselves. The National Union of Students has said that the funding was “vital” to allow students to stay in education but it is believed that £7 million is still available and some universities are said to be launching their own schemes to aid students in financial hardship. Labour calls for technical universities to promote employment boost Labour is calling for the creation of technical universities to reshape the higher education system by creating more options than just traditional degree courses. Technical universities would partner closely with industries and support local enterprise zones creating a ‘hi-tech, high-income economy’. They have called for a variety in the route to entering higher education and include schemes such as “learn-while-you-earn” courses and more use of online courses. Pupils begin tough new national curriculum The Department of Education aims to prepare children for “life in modern Britain” when all local authority primary and secondary schools begin teaching the new national curriculum to children between the ages of five and fourteen. The curriculum has been described as “rigorous, engaging and tough” and has been changed to keep England in line with the most successful education systems in the world with a stronger emphasis on skills such as essay writing, problem-solving, mathematical modelling and computer programming. School receives criticism for not being diverse enough Ofsted has refused to rate a school in Lincolnshire as ‘outstanding’ because of a lack of pupil awareness of different cultures. Although it was a ‘good’ school, reported Ofsted, it did not show that its pupils were sufficiently aware of other faiths, cultures and traditions. The school commented that it was doing a lot already but, because of its location, it did not have the same cultural opportunities as other schools.