Ofsted is the latest organisation to review special educational needs provision. The Government has asked inspectors to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the current SEN framework and the ways children are assessed. Ofsted's report, due next summer, will give case studies of good practice and recommend ways to make improvements.
Parents lobby No 10
Parents protesting against Medway council's plans to close schools took their quest to Downing Street. Families handed in a petition to the Prime Minister's office on Wednesday opposing cuts at St John's Infant, St Peter's Infant and Ridge Meadow Primary. The Kent council plans to spend Pounds 11 million on primary schools over the next three years, but is reviewing the future of those less than three-quarters full. It plans to amalgamate 16 infant and junior schools into eight primaries and close three others.
New chapter for books
Schools and public libraries need to develop better relationships with each other to give children a love of books and reading, according to Roy Clare, chief executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. Mr Clare thinks children should have easy access to books, either in school, or via their local public library. At the Campaign for the Book conference in Birmingham, Mr Clare said his council will be working with the School Library Association to write a charter outlining what constitutes an excellent school library service, including better links with public libraries.
Pounds 750,000 grant
Monks Park School in Bristol will become the South West's first National Challenge Trust foundation school from September, governors have confirmed. The new designation for the 830-pupil school in Horfield will attract an extra Pounds 750,000 government grant.
The school will be supported by Trust in Learning, whose partners are the University of the West of England, City of Bristol College and Bristol City Council. The trust will appoint the majority of governors to the school.
Monks Park is one of seven Bristol secondary schools included in the National Challenge programme. City of Bristol College and the university are already working with the council in partnership at the Bridge Learning Campus in Hartcliffe.
Models of creativity
Twenty-six schools with innovative approaches have been selected as Schools of Creativity, elite representatives of the Creative Partnerships programme. Each will receive Pounds 40,000 over the next two years, as well as assistance from an education consultant. Many of the 26 serve disadvantaged communities and use creative initiatives to raise behavioural and academic performance.
New voice for children
A communications champion is to be appointed by the Government to help improve facilities for children with difficulties. The new post is part of a Pounds 12 million plan to help tackle the problem. The champion will highlight communication issues and lead the national year of speech, language and communication in 2011. In addition, 16 pilot areas will identify good practice, in order to develop a national programme. And Warwick University will examine the cost-effectiveness of intervention projects. Communication problems can lead to bullying, low achievement and even criminality.
Good food for thought
Eating healthy lunches in modern dining rooms can improve pupils' behaviour and concentration by almost 20 per cent, research by the School Food Trust has found. Improvements were made in dining halls at seven secondaries in England. Researchers found of pupils were 18 per cent more likely to concentrate and focus on their learning than pupils in four schools used as a control group.
Violence against girls
A new government committee will meet for the first time next week to examine the role played by schools in preventing violence against women and girls.
The advisory group will look at how personal, social and health education lessons can demonstrate that violence has no place in relationships, and consider how to prevent sexist bullying. The group will be chaired by Gill Frances, who heads the teenage pregnancy independent advisory group. It includes two deputy headteachers, as well as many PSHE and anti-bullying specialists.