3rd April 2009 at 01:00

Northern Ireland NQTs emigrate to find work

More newly qualified teachers are considering taking jobs in England because of a shortage of posts in Northern Ireland.

A recruitment team from Kent County Council visited Belfast this week to advise graduates.

Education consultant Eddie Ferguson, former president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "There is no lack of interest in training to become a teacher here - we have about 10 or 15 applicants for each place, and PGCE places have been decreasing. Ten years ago, I would've said people were unaware about job prospects, but now they are more prepared to go abroad. It shows the commitment they have to teaching."

Unions warned that proposals earlier in the year to scrap an attractive retirement package for over-50s would worsen the situation because many experienced teachers would stay on in the classroom, leaving about 600 fewer places for new staff.

Steve Wood, Kent's teacher recruitment manager, said: "We are interested in high-quality teachers and we know from experience that people recruited from Ireland have an immediate and positive impact in our schools."

In recent years, Kent has been a favourite for Irish teachers looking for jobs in England. Kent County Council recruits about 700 NQTs each year. MR

Wales PE scheme gets pupils in fitness routine

Almost all secondaries in Wales have signed up to a scheme to give pupils an hour of sport and physical activity five times a week.

The Sports Council for Wales's 5X60 scheme, launched in 2006 with Pounds 7.6 million of Assembly government funding, now runs in 218 secondaries - 98 per cent of the total - it was announced last week.

Each school has an additional member of staff to organise extra-curricular activities.

Richard Bailey, professor of sport and education at Birmingham University, said the scheme's success showed Wales was leading the way in improving exercise among children.

"It's very impressive indeed," he said. "England and Scotland are nowhere near that." But he that warned that disadvantaged pupils could still be missing out on exercise as many have no access to extra-curricular activities.

"School is the only environment where all pupils can access these opportunities," he said. "If this is the first step towards entitlement for everyone to 60 minutes of daily exercise within school, then it's a great start and a really important policy aspiration."

The 5X60 scheme will be piloted in special schools later this year. DE

Bristol New admissions system brings chaos

Schools in Bristol have been told to create more space in their classrooms after hundreds of children were left without a reception place in the city's schools for this September.

Council officials have blamed out-of-date population data for the chaos, which has left them urging schools to expand in time for the autumn.

Despite applications being made on time, 278 children did not get offers because the schools chosen by their parents were oversubscribed and other pupils had priority - mostly because they lived nearer. They have been joined by 244 late applicants.

But there are 518 unallocated places in other schools, mostly in areas not within walking distance for those families without offers.

The council wants to provide an extra 250 places in the east central and north-west areas of the city.

In the past, pupils without a place in their preferred school were sent wherever there were spare places, but the policy was not popular with parents and ended this year. Officers knew this would cause a problem with admissions, but critics say that progress to find extra spaces was too slow. KM

Portsmouth Outstanding for specialist college

A specialist technology college has become the first secondary school in Portsmouth to be rated outstanding by Ofsted.

Inspectors visiting Springfield School said students described it as "a stunning place to be" and praised the way teaching had improved with well-planned lessons and good assessment.

Lynn Evans, the head, was born and brought up in the city and returned to teach there after university. The school was rated satisfactory in 1996, and good in its last inspection in 2006.

Ms Evans said: "We started off by concentrating on English, maths and science. Then we became a technology college in 2003. By that time, we had added ICT into our core list, so all the children were doing English, maths, double science and ICT at GCSE.

"There was also a need to create a learning atmosphere ... Children come here to learn. They take that view and they become teachers' assistants, so they turn round in lessons and say to others who are playing up: 'Let's get on with this.'" HW

Glasgow Hi-tech tour could boost confidence

The treasures of Glasgow's Kelvingrove art gallery and museum are being brought to life for pupils who feel more confident speaking to a computer than another person.

The Centre of New Enlightenment offers pupils aged ten to 14 tasks to complete using handheld computers - from finding a puffin in the St Kilda display to translating Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Kelvingrove conducted preparatory research and set up focus groups with pupils from many backgrounds to find out how they thought the centre should be run.

Professor John MacBeath, chair of educational leadership at Cambridge University, has written a paper on the benefits of the tour.

He suggests children aged 10 to 14 feel more confident discussing issues via a computer rather than speaking face-to-face to a person, and that the handheld device helps children engage with the museum's exhibits in a way that they makes them feel comfortable.

The project is the first of its kind for teenagers at a British museum. HH

Northumberland Fly-fishing offers a new angle

A fly-fisher is teaching pupils to rear salmon to help them learn about the importance of keeping the countryside and rivers clean.

Children from Rothbury First School and Netherton Northside First School in Morpeth had the chance to release young salmon that they had reared from eggs into the River Tyne.

Local fly-fisher Kevin Dawson designed the programme to give children a hands-on learning experience. The schools received tanks of salmon eggs - or alevin - and helped to look after them while watching them grow.

Mr Dawson said: "Children respond much better when they can see a living creature first-hand. This approach makes them responsible for the salmon and whether or not they make it in their incredible journey.

"The kids have loved it. I set up a colouring competition and they've all been colouring in pictures of salmon, and the winner will get to release the fish into the river." RV

Bolton Appetite builds for cut-price dinners

Primary heads in Bolton have welcomed a decision to subsidise school lunches next term, with reception pupils paying a flat rate of Pounds 1 per meal.

Schools believe the scheme will boost healthy eating and improve learning. A two-term pilot scheme which introduced free meals for reception pupils proved popular: 87 per cent of pupils chose school meals. The pilot scheme is now coming to an end, but the council wants to build on its success with further subsidy for meals that usually cost Pounds 1.80 each.

Simon Bramwell, head of Saints Simon and Jude CofE Primary, said: "The scheme was excellent and the offer of a school meal for Pounds 1 is very good value. The impact that healthy eating has on achievement is well-known.

Nick Peel, the local authority's executive member for environmental services, said: "We have analysed the results of providing free school meals and they have been very encouraging in both the uptake and the positive effect that well-balanced meals have on the behaviour and achievement of children." WM

Ipswich Fake Pounds 1 coins cause a ton of trouble

A school has been forced to ask parents for help to combat the problem of pupils paying for their lunch with fake Pounds 1 coins.

Northgate High in Ipswich found that more than Pounds 100 of forged coins had been handed over for meals and trips in just two weeks.

The school wrote to parents about the problem and told them how to spot the counterfeit coins in a bid to cut their use.

"A number of forged Pounds 1 coins are passing through the school," the letter said. "Because significant amounts are involved - more than Pounds 100 in the last two weeks alone - in future all Pounds 1 coins will be checked at the time of payment and will not be accepted if fake."

The school's bank identified the problem and told the school. The money already accepted is now not recoverable.

Head Neil Watts informed the county's school meals service and the police, as well as parents. A spokesman for Suffolk police said it was conducting inquiries.

Pupils have been reassured that if they unintentionally try to pay for lunch with fake coins, they will not be denied food. But they will have to exchange the fake coins for genuine money at the school reception and pay back the money later. DM.

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