EdCo News Round Up March 2020

Warnings over predicted increase in number of families denied first choice of secondary

Many families were left disappointed last Monday when they received word on whether their child had secured a place in their preferred secondary school. On National Offer Day, families in England are told whether their child has received a place in their first choice of school.

Due to a rise in pupils, among other issues, school leaders are warning that levels of disappointment are only set to increase. Birth rates have been on the up since 2002, and this means the number of children embarking on secondary school age is growing. Last year saw a 10-year high with almost 1 in 5 pupils denied their first choice. With applications in Kent at an all-time high, over 22 percent of pupils missed out. Almost half of all applicants were unsuccessful across some London boroughs.

Figures show an increase in other areas across England, indicating the likelihood of securing their first choice will vary, depending on location. 90 percent of pupils in North East Somerset and Bath got their first choice, up from 88 percent previously. School standards minister, Nick Gibb, said: “Last year more than nine in ten pupils received a place at one of their top three preferences of secondary school, with the majority offered their top preference.”

“Pupils are also significantly more likely to be receiving a place at a good school than they were 10 years ago – with 86 percent of schools rated good or outstanding now compared to 68 percent in 2010.” The official figures will be released in the summer.

National Offer Day 2020: Number of families denied first preference could increase, headteachers warn (The Independent)

More children than ever will miss out on their first choice of secondary school TODAY - because of teacher shortages and 'bulge' in pupil numbers (The Daily Mail)

Applications for Kent secondary school places at an all time high (Kent Online)

Relationship and sex education to be made compulsory across secondary schools this year

Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) will be made mandatory across secondary schools in England from September this year. The Department for Education will provide guidance for teaching staff; however, the content of the course will mostly be defined by governors, headteachers, and parents.

This has raised concerns amongst the LGBT+ community, as homophobia and transphobia are still rife in many places, the fear is one of lack of inclusivity and poor understanding from those who are neither educated nor qualified to make decisions on what should be covered in the lessons.

One academy chain has already faced criticism after a document regarding their RSE policy appeared on their website. The policy stated “the promotion of homosexuality or bisexuality” was not permitted.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “The guidance makes clear that pupils should receive teaching on LGBT+ relationships during their school years."  

“Secondary schools should include LGBT+ content and primary schools are strongly encouraged and enabled, when teaching about different types of family, to include families with same-sex parents.”

The Department for Education recently updated its guidance for the first time in 20 years.

There is no compulsory requirement for primary schools to address LGBT+ content, with guidance stating they should cover the topics if they believe it is “age-appropriate to do so”.

'Homophobic': Academy chain's sex education policy bans 'promotion of homosexuality' (The Independent)

Sex education: 'We can't let teachers perpetuate a homophobic to transphobic narrative' (The Guardian)

Most LGBT youth hide their identity to protect themselves from bullying, glaringly obvious study finds (Pink News)

Oxford University professor condemns exclusion from event (BBC)

Climate change awareness among pupils is on the rise?

England is falling behind in the acceptance of the climate crisis, reports claim, as climate change awareness remains a non-compulsory topic in lessons.

Pupils across England are calling for change as thousands attended the Global Climate Strike protests in February.

The awareness among young people on the devastating effects of climate change has grown in recent years, due in part to the popularity of teenage Swedish environmental activist, Greta Thunberg. The ‘Attenborough Effect” has also been cited as another reason today’s students are keen on changing school policy and legislation.

Student-led campaigns in some areas have managed to force schools to ban plastic bottles and straws amongst other unnecessary waste. Pupils as young as 5 have presented to their schools on the climate crisis and the growing need for awareness and change.

Sustainability remains untaught in many schools, but the pressure is mounting for legislation to be created and the ecological crisis to be addressed in lessons.

Scotland has already implemented legislation in education which has resulted in colleges and universities reducing their carbon emissions significantly.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said the national curriculum already includes topics related to climate change and sustainability in science and geography, however, students are calling for more to be done.

Teach the Future, “a youth-led campaign to urgently repurpose the entire education system around the climate emergency and ecological crisis” is gathering support from young people to be active in making change happen.

Teach the Future state on their website: “It’s not good enough that sustainability is restricted to a few subjects and that most of our teachers and lecturers don’t know enough about it. Our education system must teach the truth and prepare us for the future because we are the future.”

Founder member, Joe (17) says that although “ministers agree that it is vital that pupils are taught about climate change, schools are failing to prepare them for a climate emergency.”

How climate-conscious children are forcing their schools to be more eco-friendly (The Independent)

Colleges cut carbon footprint by 10% in a year (TES)

Climate change: Schools failing us, say pupils (BBC)

How to make your curriculum eco-friendly (TES)

Climate strikes: School children protest over climate change (BBC)