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News in Brief

Pay talks halted

Union pay talks have stalled with the country's biggest group of academies, United Learning Trust, after it offered support staff less than their colleagues in other state schools. The trust employs 860 support staff in 13 academies. It has offered to match the local government 2.45 per cent pay offer, but not the Pounds 100 one-off payment for the lowest-paid staff. Unison called the trust's offer "insulting". But the trust said it would match and backdate the local government deal when it is finally agreed.

Software agreement

Microsoft has agreed to let schools use its software alongside competitors' technology after being taken to the Office of Fair Trading. Becta, the education technology agency, complained that Microsoft had used its market position to force out competitors. British schools will be able to pilot a new Microsoft licensing system within six months, and to use the Open Document Format (ODF) within Office 2007.

Disability survey

Nearly half of secondary pupils want to learn more about disability, according to a survey of more than 1,000 11 to 18-year-olds. Over three- quarters of those questioned had never met a disabled person; a third said they would feel apprehensive if they did. The survey was carried out by St Dunstan's, a charity that supports visually impaired ex-servicemen and women.

Top technologist

A researcher who has investigated how pupils use websites such as Facebook and has played a key role in producing guidance on cyber-bullying has won the individual award at the Technologist of the Year Awards. Josie Fraser was presented with the award at the Association for Learning Technology's annual conference for her "wide-ranging, influential, and sustained contribution in the learning technology field".

DVDs for KS3 maths

Every secondary in England is to be sent five free DVDs with ideas for key stage 3 maths. The 18 case studies include some projects on solving real world problems, such as using spreadsheets to examine data from speed cameras. Others are based on fantasy, such as one in which students try to avoid capture by aliens and rescue their teacher. The DVDs were created by the Bowland Trust, which was set up to improve education. The pound;4 million cost of the project has been split between it and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

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