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Boris probes `low expectations' culture

Too many London pupils are studying "soft" subjects because their teachers have "low expectations" of them, according to Boris Johnson. The mayor of London this week launched an inquiry that will investigate how more children in the capital can be given the chance to study "tough academic subjects", and how schools can better tackle bad behaviour. The 10-month inquiry will look at how more pupils can be encouraged to study at Russell Group universities and how schools can improve the way they deal with discipline and exclusion. "If we want to avoid riots happening again, we need to invest in good schools, stretch children and be tough on discipline and behaviour," said Munira Mirza, the mayor's youth and culture adviser. "There are still schools in London where there is not sufficient attention paid to discipline."

Extra cash for specialists choosing primary sector

Maths, science and languages graduates will be given extra government funding if they choose to train for the primary sector, education secretary Michael Gove announced on Tuesday. Specialists in these subjects will get financial incentives from 201314. From next year the Department for Education will also allocate more places to specialist primary training courses rather than generalist ones. Schools will also be able to train their own specialist primary teachers. Mr Gove said he thought there were currently "woefully low numbers" of maths and science specialists in primary schools. "In the Harris chain of academies there is a specialist primary teacher who works across their primary schools - that sort of innovation is critical. I'm hoping more people now opt for specialist PGCEs."

Bedtime reading attributed to developed language

Primary teachers say they could see a clear difference between those children who are read with at home and those who are not, a survey commissioned by Booktime has found. The survey of 200 primary teachers found that 72 per cent of teachers attributed developed language skills and more advanced reading levels to those children who regularly enjoy shared book time with someone at home. Almost all teachers (98 per cent) thought some children did not have enough stories read to them at home and a parallel survey of 1,000 parents found almost one in five parents said they were too stressed to enjoy reading with their child. But despite time pressures, reading time is up, with parents now reading for one hour and 26 minutes a week - up from one hour and 18 minutes two years ago.

Research makes schools `less likely' to accept edicts

Schools that take research seriously - both their own and published studies - are less likely to accept edicts from central bodies and more likely to trust their own judgment, according to Research Engagement for School Development, a book published today by IOE Publications from the Institute of Education. Author Raphael Wilkins, an assistant director at the IOE, said: "Practitioner researchers tend not to adopt unquestioningly something that someone else has labelled as `best practice', unless there is ample empirical evidence to support that claim, and ample reason to suppose that the practice is transferable."

Charity urges rollout of phone risk campaign

Campaigns highlighting the risks of mobile phones on young people's health should be rolled out in school across the country, a report has said this week. According to the study, published by UK charity MobileWise, research shows further evidence linking mobile phones with serious health problems such as cancer, particularly among children. The charity is calling on the Government to support a safety campaign stressing the risks of mobile phones in schools and doctors' surgeries.

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