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At a glance

#163;20K for training to teach chemistry

Top graduates who train to teach chemistry will be eligible for scholarships worth #163;20,000 from next year, the government has announced. Graduates with a 2:1 or first-class degree can apply for the scheme, which will be led by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). Staff at the RSC will award scholarships to those with exceptional subject knowledge, enthusiasm for chemistry and outstanding potential to teach. It is hoped the scholarships will also encourage chemists to switch careers. Physics trainees are already entitled to a similar scholarship.

Legal alert prompts NUT to delay joint action

The NASUWT teaching union this week stepped up its campaign of industrial action - although NUT members will not be joining in until Wednesday (3 October), after the union was warned of a legal challenge. The unions had planned to start their joint action together, which includes restrictions on lesson observations, report writing and lesson planning. But the NUT was warned of possible court action over the wording of the notices given to employers. "The NUT has taken the decision that rather than get embroiled in a pointless legal row, which could potentially detract from the real issues, we would simply reissue the notices," said NUT general secretary Christine Blower. The unions have not ruled out taking strike action over teachers' pay, pensions and working conditions later this term.

Children's group decries 'teaching to the average'

The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) has thrown its weight behind calls by Ofsted to limit the use of mixed-ability teaching. Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted chief inspector, said last week that mixed-ability lessons could be a "curse" for pupil progress. Denise Yates, chief executive of the NAGC, said: "Children work best when they are being stretched and challenged with like-minded peers or in classes where activities are well-differentiated. Teaching to the average drags everyone down."

Minister to present Labour as the teachers' party

Labour will attempt to position itself as the party for teachers during its annual conference next week. Stephen Twigg, shadow education secretary, will say in his speech on Thursday that Michael Gove has sought to demonise the profession by calling them "whingers". Mr Twigg will say teachers should enjoy the same esteem as doctors or lawyers, while outlining plans to learn from countries such as Finland, South Korea and Japan where teaching is seen as an elite profession.

Wales brings numeracy to multiple subjects

All teachers in Wales will be expected to teach numeracy in subjects across the curriculum as part of a new national programme to tackle underperformance. The National Numeracy Programme, launched by education minister Leighton Andrews this week, aims to raise standards among pupils by improving the confidence and competence of teachers in teaching numeracy. It will be underpinned by professional development and support for teachers, with businesses also encouraged to work with schools to support staff.

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