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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.

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.

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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.

Two-thirds of teachers 'not ready for new curriculum'

Some 62% of teachers have admitted they are not ready for the new curriculum being implemented across England's schools this September, a survey from their union found.

Basic fractions, such as half or a quarter, will be taught to five-year-olds. Credit: PA

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers said even more (81%) of teachers felt they had not been given enough time to implement the targets.

Changes include the requirement for pupils to learn their 12 times table by the age of nine, and students between the ages of 11 and 14 to have studied two Shakespeare plays.

Almost half of teachers voiced concerns over plans to introduce computer coding lessons - some 58% felt their school had not been given enough support to implement the syllabus.

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Over half of parents 'unaware of curriculum shake-up'

More than half of parents with children in the English education system did not know there would be a huge shake-up in what their child was taught this year, a poll for Good Morning Britain has showed.

11-year-olds should be spelling Credit: PA

Some 56% of parents did not know children as young as seven would start learning a foreign or ancient language, under the Coalition's education policy.

One of the biggest changes - the introduction of coding classes to IT - three-quarters (75%) of parents were unaware of.

Most parents expressed a sense of disengagement with what went on in schools; of the 2000 parents who took part in the survey, 62% felt they did not have a say in their child's education.

Number of overcrowded infant classrooms 'spiralling'

Nearly 100,000 infants are in primary school classes larger than the planned maximum, Labour claims.

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said the number of five to seven-year-olds in classes of over 30 children has "spiralled by 200% since 2010 - to nearly 100,000 infants".

By diverting resources away from areas in desperate need of more primary school places in favour of pursuing his pet project of expensive free schools in areas where there is no shortage of places, David Cameron has created classes of more than 40, 50, 60 and even 70 pupils.

– Tristram Hunt, Shadow Education Secretary

Government 'working to keep class sizes down'

The Government says it is "making every effort" to prevent class sizes increasing, despite an "unprecedented increase in pupil numbers".

A Department for Education spokesperson said £5 billion had been given to councils to spend on new school places over the course of this Parliament - prompting the creation of 260,000 new school places in shortage areas, "with more planned".

"We have also confirmed a further £2.35 billion to support councils to create the places needed by September 2017, and are allowing good schools to expand without the restrictions and bureaucracy they faced in the past."

The spokesperson added that children are only allowed to join classes of 30 or more in "exceptional cases", adding that the proportion of primary pupils in classes over 36 in size had fallen since the coalition took power.

Parents fear 'supersize primary schools', poll suggests

More than half of parents said they wished their children's primary school classes were smaller. Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

Parents are worried about the impact increased primary school class sizes could have on their child's education, a new poll indicates.

A survey of more than 1,700 parents by Netmums found that more than half (52.7%) wish their children were in smaller classes.

Almost a quarter (23.9%) said they were worried their children would suffer academically because of overcrowding in classrooms.

Among the concerns raised by parents were fears of a lack of equipment, a negative impact on discipline and children not receiving enough attention from staff.

Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard said: "Although some kids will flourish in a busier environment, many parents feel that increased class sizes and number of classes leads to their child being 'forgotten' - and to parents feeling less involved in this vital time of their little one's life."

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