News at a glance

22nd March 2013 at 00:00

School spending protected until 2015-16

Chancellor George Osborne announced this week that school spending will be protected until 2015-16 at a time when many other government departments will suffer a 1 per cent cut. The move, which had been widely predicted, comes despite calls from some senior Conservatives to scrap the ring-fencing of the schools budget. But Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, criticised the government, saying that schools will still be subject to cuts after inflation is taken into account. "Schools and colleges have not been protected as the government claims, but have suffered real-terms funding cuts," she said.

New curriculum is 'dumbing down', academics say

A group of 100 education academics have warned that the government's national curriculum proposals will severely erode standards. In a letter published in The Independent this week, the university academics write that education secretary Michael Gove's new curriculum consists of "endless lists of spellings, facts and rules", which will not help to develop children's ability to think or solve problems. The group argue that the plans also betray a serious distrust in teachers. "Much of (the proposed curriculum) demands too much too young. This will put pressure on teachers to rely on rote learning without understanding," the letter states.

Farewell to educational giant Sir David Hart

Sir David Hart, influential general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers between 1978 and 2005, died last week at the age of 72 after losing his battle with cancer. During his reign at the NAHT heads' union, Sir David transformed the association into a major player in national education policy. Baroness Morris, education secretary in 2001-02, described Sir David as a towering figure in education: "a gentle, quiet man" who was "no pushover". His full obituary will run in next week's TES.

'Gaming' of admissions system prompts scrutiny

The Children's Commissioner for England is due to study unfair admissions practices amid concerns that schools are trying to "game" the system and reduce the number of "difficult" children they admit. Maggie Atkinson said this includes attempting to reduce the number of children they receive with statements of special educational needs, or with English as an additional language. Dr Atkinson also heard about parents being dissuaded from applying to schools at information evenings and uniforms costing #163;300.

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