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News at a glance

Zooming in on the impact of technology

Academics are to test the impact of digital technology in education, by using iPads in lessons and sending text messages to parents, for example. The research is part of a pound;3.5 million UK-based project funded by charities the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Nominet Trust. Researchers from Harvard University in the US and Bristol University in south-west England will evaluate the impact of using text messages to increase parental involvement. This follows the success of a similar scheme in the US. "These exciting grants will help identify the most effective ways to use digital technology to improve learning for the most disadvantaged pupils in our schools," EEF chief executive Dr Kevan Collins said.

Home-schooling `asylum seekers' face deportation

A German family who moved to the US in order to educate their children at home may be deported. Home schooling is illegal in Germany, with parents at risk of being fined, imprisoned and even having their children removed. Uwe and Hannelore Romeike moved to Tennessee in 2008 and applied for political asylum, claiming that they were being persecuted by the German government. They were initially successful, but the decision was overturned and they now face deportation unless the Supreme Court decides to intervene. "Parents should have the right to choose the best education for their children," Mr Romeike said. "That's what's lacking in Germany."

China football project gets Real Madrid onside

Spanish football club Real Madrid has struck a deal with the Chinese government that will lead to the sport being taught across China's state schools for the first time. In a pilot study, expected to start next year, football classes will be introduced in Shanghai and Xiamen, before being rolled out across the country. The project is being funded by a group of businesses and public institutions from China and elsewhere. "Real Madrid is a universal entity and fully aware that we have to respond to the affection and regard we receive from anywhere in the world," club president Florentino Perez said.

Ex-Australian PM speaks out in defence of tests

Former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has called on educationalists to embrace testing and avoid getting sucked into "infantile" debates about accountability. Speaking at the World Innovation Summit for Education in Qatar last week, she gave a passionate defence of her Labor government's record on transparency in education. She said it was impossible to know how schools were performing without "rigour in measurement", adding: "If our tests are sophisticated and diagnostic we shouldn't worry about teaching to the test." She also stressed the importance of providing sufficient funding for schools, saying: "Yes, great teachers can teach sitting on the ground under trees - but we shouldn't ask them to."

Abuse-reporting proposal is branded `ill-conceived'

Teacher leaders have warned against adopting a recommendation that failing to report child sexual abuse should be made a criminal offence in the UK. Keir Starmer QC, former director of public prosecutions, said it should be mandatory for professionals to report allegations. He called for a "clear, direct law that everybody understands", such as the system in place in Washington DC in the US. But Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL union, said the plans were "ill-conceived", while Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers' union, said that fear of making a false accusation could make teachers less likely to report suspected abuse.

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