News at a glance

Spending watchdog warns of risk to schools

Financial pressure may put more schools in the red and lead to a drop in achievement, the spending watchdog has warned. If schools struggle to contain their costs, they could end up making "inappropriate" cuts that damage the quality of education on offer, a National Audit Office report says. The total budget for schools was planned to increase by 0.1 per cent in real terms each year between 201112 and 201415, the report says, but schools are expected to save around #163;1 billion in "back office and procurement costs" over the same period.

Judicial review on pensions reaches the High Court

The NASUWT's application for a judicial review of the Government's plans to change the index-linking of teachers' pensions from the retail price index measure of inflation to the consumer price index is due to be heard at the High Court on Tuesday (25 October). The claim has been jointly lodged with Unison, Unite and three other public-sector unions, which all claim the change is unlawful. The NASUWT has submitted evidence that claims the change will cost a retiring teacher an average of #163;7,700 over a 10-year period.

300 secondaries to pilot policy on excluded pupils

A controversial policy to make schools responsible for the education of pupils they expel is to be piloted by 300 secondaries, the Government announced this week. The schools, in seven local authorities, will continue to receive funding for children they exclude and will choose what kind of alternative provision they receive. Under the current system, responsibility is assumed by local authorities. Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said he was concerned that the policy could deter schools from excluding children when that was the right course of action.

Allegations of abuse at madrassas uncovered

More than 400 allegations of physical abuse at Britain's madrassas have been reported to local authorities in the past three years, according to figures uncovered by the BBC. The figures have prompted calls for tighter regulation of the supplementary schools, where Islamic children learn about their religion. Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, founder of the Muslim Institute, said there should be a national registration scheme. Of the 420 allegations, only 10 cases went to court, leading to two convictions.

Free parenting classes in bid to boost discipline

Free parenting classes are to be trialled in three areas of the country to explain how to instil good discipline and promote positive behaviour, it was announced this week. The classes will be available to all parents in Camden in north London, Middlesbrough, and High Peak in Derbyshire, with the aim of reaching more than 50,000 people. Children's minister Sarah Teather said it was the Government's "moral and social duty" to support parents.

GTC chair says teachers will rue its demise

The outgoing chair of the General Teaching Council for England has warned that scrapping the body will undermine attempts to improve the quality of teaching and achievement. Addressing the General Teaching Council for Wales, whose future role and remit is facing its own review, Gail Mortimer said the Westminster Government's decision would be regretted by teachers. The GTC in England is due to close in March next year, when its regulatory function will transfer to the new Teaching Agency.

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