News at a glance

The Ebola resources debunking playground myths

Thousands of information packs designed to "dispel the myths" surrounding the Ebola outbreak have been sent to UK schools. Charity ActionAid decided to distribute the packs after reports that schools were cancelling visits from people from Africa and postponing teacher exchanges. The charity said it had also heard anecdotal reports of Ebola-related playground bullying. Chris Parker, ActionAid's schools team manager, said: "Our teaching resources focus on facts rather than playground myths about the disease and explain why Ebola is having such a devastating effect on Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. They also reassure children that the risk of Ebola in the UK is low and [explain] how well-equipped our hospitals are to deal with any cases that we may see here."

`Step up to the plate' on preschool, minister urges

A child's life chances are decided before they have "knotted their tie and fastened their laces" for their first day of school, childcare minister Sam Gyimah has said. Early education gives children a boost throughout their lives, he argued, with children who attend preschool likely to gain better exam results and earn about pound;27,000 more during their careers than those who do not. In one of his first major speeches as childcare minister this week, Mr Gyimah called for more schools to "step up to the plate" and offer nursery education. "We know that before they have knotted their school tie, fastened the laces on their shoes and headed off for their first day at school, a child's life chances are already being decided," he told an event held by thinktank Policy Exchange.

New York gets tough on segregation in schools

New York City is to introduce legislation to crack down on growing racial segregation in the city's schools. The lack of racial and social diversity has placed some school districts among the most segregated in the country. Under the new laws, schools will be expected to publish data on the number of students they have of a certain race or socio-economic level. It is the latest response to growing concern among education experts and policymakers over increasing segregation by race in US schools, despite it being 50 years since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was introduced, which aimed to promote greater inclusion in schools.

MP blames sex education for teen pregnancies

Sex education in schools can actually increase teenage pregnancies, a Conservative MP has suggested. Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, West Yorkshire, made the comments when a Commons bill was introduced calling for lessons about sex and relationships to become compulsory. Prompting an angry response in the House of Commons, Mr Davies said: "We have been having sex education in schools for more than 40 years. The problems it was meant to solve - teenage pregnancies, unwanted pregnancies - most people would think the more sex education we have had the more teenage pregnancies we have had. They might want to look at the evidence and try less sex education, or none might be better." He added that sex education was not an issue for schools, but for parents.


In the article "Can anti-dyslexia game boost poor pupils' reading?" (17 October 2014), we stated that Professor Usha Goswami of the University of Cambridge said existing phonics programmes failed disadvantaged children. In fact, Professor Goswami said that current phonics programmes did not address all the difficulties experienced by struggling readers and that these children would benefit from additional techniques. We are happy to clarify that point.

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