News at a glance

8th February 2013 at 00:00

Foundations laid for school building scheme

Building work on between 20 and 25 dilapidated schools will start by the end of the year under the Department for Education's priority building scheme. The announcement by schools minister Liz Truss comes a year after education secretary Michael Gove said that 261 schools would receive funding for repairs. Planning applications were due to be submitted in the next few weeks, with construction beginning in the summer, she said. But shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg criticised the fact that work had still not started for 90 per cent of the projects identified by Mr Gove, warning that "children face being condemned to unsuitable school buildings".

Film adaptations steal the show from classic books

Classic children's books such as Matilda, The BFG and The Jolly Postman have dropped out of the top 10 most popular books, according to a poll. The survey of more than 300,000 children aged 5-16 by Renaissance Learning in the run-up to National Libraries Day found that many of the top 10 books have been made into films, including the Harry Potter books and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Barbara Band, vice-president of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, said: "The popularity of books that have seen success on-screen is very encouraging in the sense that TV and film is proving to be yet another route of engagement for children to get into reading." The most popular book was Glass Houses: The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine.

Local authorities to come under Ofsted's gaze

Councils that are failing to raise school standards will face inspections, Ofsted has confirmed. The move comes amid concerns from the inspectorate that millions of children are still not receiving a good enough education. Under the proposed framework, Ofsted will evaluate how effectively local authorities discharge their school improvement functions, particularly in areas where schools are not yet good or are not improving quickly enough. The watchdog will also look at local attainment levels and the number of complaints received from parents. Chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said: "If England has any pretensions to be a world-leading education system, we must have higher ambitions and be absolutely committed... to doing something about the wide variations in standards across our country."

Heads' union launches shared services scheme

The NAHT heads' union is launching a service to provide schools with shared functions that local authorities can no longer afford to supply. The scheme, called NAHT Assure, is offering to supply services such as payroll, human resources and health and safety. The venture will initially focus on schools in Yorkshire, Wales and the West Midlands. If the pilot is successful, it could be rolled out nationally. NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby said: "We will take on the function of quality assurance, using our national 'clout' to ensure that services are delivered in the interests of each school and its students."

Sign up pupils for Kelly Holmes' mentoring scheme

Teachers have been invited to nominate their pupils for a mentoring scheme run by athlete and Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes. Exam board AQA has teamed up with the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust to create the Unlocking Potential programme. Teachers can nominate pupils who they feel would benefit from one-to-one mentoring at: bit.lyXNITP3. The children will then spend seven months working on a social action project. Nominations must be submitted by 1pm on Wednesday 13 February.

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