A Week in Education

20th June 2008 at 01:00
Each primary school is to have a trained specialist to champion maths
Each primary school is to have a trained specialist to champion maths. Selected teachers will receive pound;8,000 over five years if they train to become one of the 13,000 new specialists. The proposal was one of several that ministers accepted from a review of primary maths, led by Sir Peter Williams. It also recommended catch-up lessons for struggling pupils, which could taught in small groups or in one-to-one sessions. Pages 16-17

A head who turned around the performance of a London comprehensive school has been knighted in the Queen's birthday honours list.

William Atkinson, who leads Phoenix High in Hammersmith, west London, was honoured for his services to education and community relations. The Jamaican-born head, who was described as "an inspirational figure" by his local authority, was one of 15 heads to feature in the honours list. Page 18

The Liberal Democrats called for the scrapping of national tests for seven- and 14-year-olds. Nick Clegg became the first major party leader to call for the abolition of the tests at key stages 3 and 1, although the latter are already based on teacher assessments rather than an externally marked exam.

He also called for a dramatically slimmed-down version of the national curriculum to give teachers more freedom. All schools should get the same freedoms as academies to choose what they teach, he said.

Parents are being forced to pawn Rolex watches and sports cars to raise the money they need for private school fees, it was reported.

High-end pawnbrokers have reported a surge in business from professionals needing quick money to get them through the credit crunch, the Financial Times said. Diamond rings, designer watches and even an Aston Martin car have been used as collateral to raise money.

Ministers announced that schools would be given a list of espionage, ghost and thriller books to help engage boys in reading.

The selection, aimed at five- to 11-year-olds, was put together by the pound;5 million Primary Boys into Books scheme, which has also urged fathers to read to their children. Traditional childhood favourites, such as Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton, have been left off the list to make way for Japanese-style Manga comics.

Pupils need to do more experiments in science lessons to improve stalled standards in the subject, school inspectors said.

The testing regime and teachers sticking too closely to the national curriculum are creating repetitive lessons that fail to engage pupils, according to Ofsted.

Teachers need to abandon text books and give pupils freedom to carry out their own investigations, inspectors said. But they also found that teachers, especially in primary schools, need more training to develop their knowledge. Page 18.

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