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Teachers 'at sea' with English grammar, says top head

Many able teachers are "completely at sea" with aspects of English grammar, a leading headmistress has claimed.

Alice Phillips, who heads St Catherine's private girls' school in Surrey, said teachers educated in the 1990s and 2000s had no formal grounding in grammar.

Ms Phillips said many teachers were not equipped to teach English grammar. Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Writing in the Times Education Supplement, Ms Phillips said:

Many of our brightest, most enthusiastic teachers have little or no grounding in English language or grammar - through no fault of their own - and are completely at sea with many aspects of proper usage

– Alice Phillips

Ms Phillips, who also head the Girls' School Association, also hit out at English teachers' apparent lack of knowledge of pre-20th century literature.

She said some teachers were "frankly, unversed in much pre-20th century literature" despite the new English curriculum calling for a greater emphasis on this area.

Clegg: Not 'necessary' for schools to 'plunder' budgets

It is "not necessary" for local councils to "plunder other educational budgets" to pay for the Lib Dems flagship free school meals scheme, the Deputy Prime Minister has said.

Nick Clegg dismissed claims the scheme was too expensive and told Good Morning Britain: "You say that it's easy to find schools that have problems - I simply don't think that is right."

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Free school meals give 'vital support' to 160k children

Approximately 160,000 extra children will be given "vital support" by the Government's free school meals scheme, a children's charity has found.

Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children's Society, said:

The extension of free school meals to all infants in the country is a positive step in the fight against child poverty. Our analysis shows that about 160,000 more children in poverty will be getting this vital support as a result of this historic move. It shows that the Government recognises the hardship that thousands of families are facing.

– Matthew Reed

Free school lunches begin for two million infants

Almost two million primary school children will be entitled to a free lunch under a flagship Lib Dem scheme, despite protests from local councils that the £1 billion programme costs too much.

Nick Clegg announced the scheme during the Lib Dem party conference last year. Credit: PA

The Deputy Prime Minister pledged a free lunch to every five to seven-year-old in England's 16,500 state primary schools last year.

Ministers said the move would save families £400 per year and improve the health and education of pupils.

However, local councils claimed they have had to raid budgets in order to pay for the scheme.

Earlier this year, the policy sparked a coalition row over the expense of the reform, with former education secretary Michael Gove and schools minister David Laws later writing a joint article insisting they were both behind the scheme.

Faith schools 'can give priority when oversubscribed'

The Government has said faith schools can only "give priority to children of their own faith if they are oversubscribed" as they weigh into a proposed shake-up from religious leaders.

The Accord Coalition wants admissions standards for faith schools to be relaxed so children of different religions can join.

in a statement the Department of Education said:

Existing faith schools can choose to give priority to children of their own faith if they are oversubscribed. We are clear however that all newly-created faith free schools and academies may only prioritise half their places according to faith if they are oversubscribed. Where places are available, faith schools must offer them to all children who apply, regardless of their faith.

– Department of Education Spokeswoman

Religious leaders call for shake-up of faith schools

A coalition of religious leaders are calling for a "rebalancing" of faith schools, including making sure parents do not use religion to try to gain a place at a popular school.

The Accord Coalition says it is also concerned that some faith schools are "blinkering children's educational experiences".

We write as religious leaders from a broad spectrum of faith groups who are united in our concern over the way faith schools currently operate - both because of their impact on the children that attend them, and their effect on society at large,"

– Accord Coalition

Among the measures in their six-point manifesto is making sure state-funded schools are only allowed to select 50% of pupils on the basis of their religion.

Among the other points is ensuring teachers are not employed on the basis of their faith and doing away with compulsory collective worship in schools.

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Minister criticises 'unfortunate' union leader remarks

The Education Secretary has hit back at claims from the leader of a major teaching union that the Government's schools policy is leading to a "survival of the fittest" culture.

Nicky Morgan rejected the criticisms from the new head of the ATL union. Credit: PA Wire

Nicky Morgan said the new head of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Mark Baker, should instead be celebrating the "tremendous progress" schools have made.

"In this context I think it's unfortunate that Mr Baker has started his leadership of the ATL in this way," she said.

Union leader attacks 'survival of fittest' schools policy

The new leader of a major teaching union says children will lose out because the Government is pitting schools against each other in a policy based on "survival of the fittest".

Mark Baker, the new president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) also claimed schools were being "encouraged to act like businesses...with children as the products".

Mr Baker hit out at what he called a "tick list culture" which meas teachers are issued directions by their schools, rather than being allowed to get on with their jobs.

In numbers: Privately-educated people in public roles

The number of people in senior jobs that were educated at fee-paying schools has been outlined in a new report.

The study from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission found the following proportions were privately educated:

  • 71% of senior judges
  • 62% of senior armed forces officers
  • 55% of permanent secretaries (most senior civil servants)
  • 53% of senior diplomats
  • 45% of public body chairs
  • 44% of the Sunday Times Rich List
  • 43% of newspaper columnists
  • 35% of national rugby teams
  • 33% of the England cricket team
  • 26% of BBC executives

Report: 'Elitist' Britain dominated by privately-schooled

Britain is still "deeply elitist" with privately-educated pupils and Oxbridge graduates continuing to dominate top roles in society, a major new report warns.

Graduates from Oxford (pictured) and Cambridge Universities are still dominating society, the report warns. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Archive

Many of the nation's judges, politicians, armed forces chiefs, journalists, TV executives, public officials and sports stars attended fee-paying schools before going to to study at Oxford and Cambridge, it suggests.

This stark lack of diversity means that many of Britain's key institutions are not representative of the public they serve, and the people running them may not understand the daily issues facing people from different backgrounds, according to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.

The study analysed the backgrounds of more than 4,000 individuals holding top jobs in British society.

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