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Underperformance notices affect eight academies

The government has issued eight academies with formal notices to improve standards, it emerged this week. Education secretary Michael Gove said that the "pre-warning notices" were given because of severe underperformance. He added that warning notices and further action could follow at the unnamed academies. Mr Gove also said that he was "all in favour of more tests" but not necessarily "more nationally set tests". He was speaking after an Education Select Committee hearing in which he said that, if there was too long between statutory tests, "there is a chance that things may drift". He pointed out that the issue had been raised by the national curriculum expert review panel, which suggested splitting key stage 2 in two. But Mr Gove said: "That doesn't necessarily mean that you introduce tests halfway through key stage 2."

Anti-gay-marriage letter branded 'disgraceful'

The Catholic Education Service has written to hundreds of state-funded Catholic schools in England and Wales urging them to draw attention to a campaign against gay marriage. The letter was sent to at least 359 Catholic secondary schools last month to highlight Church opposition to gay marriage and to draw attention to a petition against it, Pink News reported. Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said that the move was "disgraceful" and encouraged "bigotry".

NASUWT involves itself in Bahraini Arab Spring

The deputy general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union visited Bahrain earlier this week to call for the release of two leading teacher trade unionists. Patrick Roach met the country's deputy prime minister to urge him to drop all charges relating to Mahdi Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, president of the Bahrain Teachers' Association, and vice-president Jalila al-Salman, who were both arrested when campaigning for greater democracy last year. Supporters of the two unionists say that they have been subjected to brutal and inhumane treatment by the authorities.

Link between aspirations and attainment tested

Few programmes set up to raise children's aspirations have improved pupils' attainment, according to new research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Three reports published by the foundation this week challenge the view held by successive governments that raising aspirations and changing attitudes to school are a key way to improve attainment of poorer children. In addition, researchers found that not all children from low-income households have poorer educational outcomes because they have low aspirations. They discovered that most young people attach "great importance" to education.

Intervening in failing schools made easier

New legislation in Wales will make it easier for the government and councils to intervene in failing schools. The School Standards and Organisation Bill, laid out this week by education minister Leighton Andrews, outlines a number of proposals to make schools more accountable and improve standards. But teaching unions questioned whether local authorities were capable of using the new powers constructively.

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