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Shorter, more frequent inspections for good schools

Shorter but more frequent inspections of good schools and colleges will be introduced from September, Ofsted has announced. In a consultation on the watchdog's planned reforms, almost two-thirds of respondents backed plans for schools rated good in their previous inspection to be visited every three years. At present good schools are often visited only every five years, rising to six years in the further education sector. Despite some calls for outstanding schools - which are currently exempt from routine inspection - to also receive shorter monitoring visits, Ofsted has no plans to alter its system as this would require a change in the law.

Labour pledges `zero tolerance' on homophobia

A Labour government would demand "zero tolerance" of homophobic language and bullying in England's schools, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has said. Mr Hunt has published a plan to end lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) bullying, which would require training for all teachers and make "age-appropriate" sex and relationships education compulsory in all schools. Launching the plan at a school in Ilford, Greater London, Mr Hunt said: "The use of homophobic language and other forms of homophobic bullying is damaging the life chances of so many young people. It has a daily effect that limits learning, and causes people long-term damage."

Take on `exceptional' pupils, private schools urged

Private schools should offer more scholarships to young people with "exceptional" academic and sporting prowess, the Independent Schools Council has said. Launching its manifesto ahead of May's general election, the ISC said its schools should widen access to the fee-paying sector and provide more bursaries for students with special educational needs as well as academic or sporting aptitude. The ISC said its members educated more than 41,000 children on bursary places, while more than 5,300 pupils paid no fees at independent schools. In an opinion piece for the TES website, ISC chair Barnaby Lenon argues that "social immobility is not `caused' by the success of independent schools". Read the article at

Majority of support staff work overtime, poll finds

Three-quarters of school support staff work more than their contracted hours, a survey reveals. More than one in five (21 per cent) work between four and six extra hours a week, with 11 per cent regularly clocking up at least seven extra hours. Of those working more than their contracted hours, seven in 10 never receive extra pay. In the survey of 1,600 members of the ATL teaching union, more than half (53 per cent) of respondents also said there was no difference between their duties and those of a supply teacher.

Ethnic bias uncovered in university admissions

Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi students find it harder to get into university than their classmates even when they have the same grades, a report claims. The university admissions process should be overhauled to reduce the current bias in the system, according to the study by racial-equality thinktank the Runnymede Trust. Applicants should be identified by numbers rather than names to help reduce discrimination, according to report author Dr Vikki Boliver, a senior lecturer in sociology at Durham University.

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