Pension wrangles continue past Treasury deadline
The Treasury's deadline for the teaching unions to confirm their final stances on its pensions offer came and went on Tuesday without any resolution to the dispute. The unions told the Department for Education that they would need more time to consult their members and thrash out the outstanding details. The NUT and the University and College Union are consulting members about a proposed strike on 28 March. And the NASUWT announced on Wednesday that it is launching a legal bid for a judicial review over the government's failure to carry out a valuation of the teachers' pension scheme. General secretary Chris Keates argued that the government is obliged to carry out a review at least once every five years and the last one took place in 2006. "The failure to provide the valuation has deeply angered teachers," she said.
Ofqual chief executive takes on regulator role
MPs on the Commons Education Select Committee have approved the appointment of Glenys Stacey as Ofqual's chief regulator. The lawyer, who led the government's response to the 2007 foot and mouth outbreak, has been Ofqual's chief executive since last year. But a legal change was needed to bring the roles together. The committee's pre-appointment report said that Ms Stacey had "amply demonstrated her suitability for the post".
'Staggering' spend on Welsh reading tests criticised
The Welsh government has come under fire for spending #163;2.37 million on reading tests for pupils aged 6-14. The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) will develop the tests, which the first pupils will sit in May 2013. Teaching union the NASUWT said that it was "shameful" to spend such a "staggering" amount of money on tests when the four regional consortia will receive only #163;480,000 to help improve their lowest-performing schools. But ministers insisted that the tests offer value for money because they are being developed in both English and Welsh and will ensure consistency of approach across schools.
Fund honours teacher's lifelong love of France
A new fund, set up in memory of an Essex French teacher, is offering pupils and trainee teachers the opportunity to study on the other side of the Channel. Ann Dodgson, who taught at Saffron Walden County High for more than 20 years, died in November last year. The fund established in her name will encourage gap-year students and young language teachers to share her lifelong love of France. Others will be given the opportunity to visit and study at the United Nations offices in Geneva. For more information, or to donate to the fund, email Jackie King at firstname.lastname@example.org
Judging of science book prize opened up to children
Children are being asked to help judge the winner of this year's Royal Society Young People's Book Prize, which celebrates the best books that communicate science to young people aged up to 14. The award will be given to an author who has made the subject exciting. Textbooks and encyclopaedias are not eligible, but the books can be factual or fictional. Children who want to be part of the judging process have been asked to enter in groups. Applications must be received by Monday 30 April 2012. For more information see www.royalsociety.orgsciencebooksyoung-peoplejudges.