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Headteachers voice concern over infant testing

Headteachers have voiced their concerns today over the intended introduction of new literacy and numeracy checks for infants.

Delegates at the National Association of Head Teachers annual conference said they were "deeply concerned" over the changes which are set to come in force from September 2016 and agreed to call on the government to "stop imposing external, educationally questionable tests on our youngest school children."

Infants aged between four and five-years-old could face literacy and numeracy tests as soon as they start school Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Under the outgoing government's reforms children aged four and five will be expected to undergo literacy and numeracy checks just weeks after they start in reception. The tests are optional but teachers say there will be pressure on school leaders to adopt them.

Naht delegate Judy Shaw warned the conference one of the main problems with the tests would be that children vary in age in a school year and so the results may not be a true reflection of their abilities.

She said: "They're harmful to child well-being. Children's ages, on entering the English schooling system can vary by as much as 12 months. Boys and the summer-born are likely to be particularly disadvantaged."

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Councils face squeeze on primary school places

In some areas four and five-year-olds will not got the place they wanted at a primary school. Credit: Thomas Eisenhuth/DPA/PA Images

A Press Association survey of local councils suggests that in some areas around one in 10 youngsters have not been offered their first choice of primary school, while in others, the figure is around one in six.

More than 500,000 four and five-year-olds are finding out today where they will be attending primary school from this September.

Initial figures show that in Kirklees, 90.4% of youngsters have got their first place, along with 90% in Oldham.

In East Sussex, 84.68% got their first choice, while in Southampton the percentage was 85.4%.

And in Kent it was 85.81% - this was up from 84.9% of infants in the county who got their top preference last year.

The results below show the proportion of children in each area of England who have secured a place at their first preference of primary school for September:

  • East Sussex - 84.68%
  • Southampton - 85.4%
  • Kent - 85.81%
  • Solihull - 87%
  • Manchester - 87.3%
  • Brighton & Hove - 87.8%
  • Leicester - 88%
  • Sandwell - 88.45%
  • Leicestershire - 88.7%
  • Wigan - 88.7%
  • Sheffield - 89.69%
  • Oldham - 90%
  • Kirklees - 90.4%

Parents await news on primary school placements

500,000 four and five-year-olds will find out where they will be going to primary school. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Families across England will find out today whether their child has been placed at their preferred primary school as concerns grow over 'supersized' classes.

Councils will send out details of where more than half a million four and five-year-olds will be attending school from this September.

But while for many parents 'National Offer Day' will bring joy and relief, others are set to experience disappointment.

A continuing squeeze on places - particularly at primary level - fuelled in part by a rising birth rate in recent years, combined with the effect of immigration in some areas - means that some parts of England are still struggling to accommodate every child.

Patrick Leeson of Kent County Council said: "Our schools admissions team has been working hard, as usual, to ensure that as many pupils as possible get a school from among their preferred choices and we are pleased to see that the number of both first and second choices has increased.

"However, we will not lose sight of the fact that four per cent of pupils have not been given a school from their preferences.

"While many will secure places through waiting lists and reallocation, I am aware that this will be a difficult time and we will do what we can to offer a good outcome.

Last year, 87.7% of youngsters were were awarded a place at their first-choice school, according to national figures for England, indicating that about 76,600 children lost out on their top pick.

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NUT to hold strike ballot after the election over cuts

Schoolchildren could face disruption before the end of the year after teachers voted for a post-election ballot on national strikes over education funding cuts. Delegates at the National Union of Teachers annual conference in Harrogate backed a resolution effectively giving the next government a six-month deadline to come up with a fresh plan to protect school spending, or face industrial action, including walkouts.

NUT to hold strike ballot after the election over cuts Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

They warned that the looming funding cuts currently faced by schools and colleges will damage pupils' education, lead to job losses and hit teachers' pay, pensions and workload.

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