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Pupil boom to put pressure on primary places

The number of children at primary schools is expected to rise by a fifth over the coming decade, official figures suggest. By 2020, there will be 4.8 million state primary pupils - 20 per cent more than in 2011 and reaching levels last seen in the early 1970s, according to statistics published by the Department for Education. The rise in pupil numbers is set to put more pressure on school places, which are already severely stretched in some parts of the country. Figures published earlier this month showed that a fifth of primary schools and a quarter of secondaries were full or had too many pupils last year.

Teachers take strike action against academy switch

Staff at a Birmingham primary school have taken strike action to protest against plans to force the school into becoming an academy. Montgomery Primary School is among 200 primaries that the government aims to convert into academies in a bid to improve their performance. The industrial action, which took place on Wednesday, follows protests at Downhills Primary School in Haringey, north London, which also opposes being turned into an academy. Montgomery's governing body is in favour of the academy plans, but unions are opposed.

Unions consult members on pensions offer

The executive of teachers' union ATL will meet on Sunday to decide its next move in the pensions dispute. The union signed up to the Department for Education's revised offer before Christmas, agreeing to consult members. Having conducted a survey to test the water, executive members will decide whether the improved offer is acceptable. The Association of School and College Leaders, heads' union the NAHT and Voice also agreed to consult their members.

Independent schools face dawn raids from Ofsted

Independent schools could face unannounced inspections in future under a shake-up of the system, Ofsted announced this week. The move would affect about 1,000 independents in England that are inspected by Ofsted and comes after concerns were raised that the quality of teaching is often "competent, but seldom inspiring". At the moment, independent schools are rated on how well their pupils progress, but in future pupils' attainment will also be considered, the watchdog said. Under the current system, independents are given two days' notice of an inspection.

Ministers seek evidence on autism provision

MPs have launched an investigation into whether children with autism receive enough support in schools. The all-party parliamentary group on autism wants teachers and parents to provide evidence for their inquiry. Academics and civil servants will also be called as witnesses by the group. Parents and education professionals can complete an online survey, which can be found at www.surveymonkey.comsJFBVNFM until Friday 10 February.

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