News at a glance

28th March 2014 at 00:00

Premature children more likely to struggle in maths

Children who are born prematurely are more likely to experience difficulties when learning maths, according to research. Young people who were born at less than 32 weeks' gestation are three and a half times more likely to have difficulties with the subject than those born after reaching full term, the study says. Professor Dieter Wolke from the University of Warwick, who co-authored the paper with academics at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, said: "The further you go down the gestational age, the more likely they are to have maths problems. As maths is very important for success in life, it is important to intervene at an earlier age."

Strike action closes thousands of English schools

Thousands of schools in England and Wales were fully or partially closed by a national teachers' strike this week. Members of the NUT teaching union walked out on Wednesday to protest against wide-ranging changes to pay and working conditions, including the introduction of performance pay. Marches and pickets took place across the country, with the union describing the strike as a "last resort". Further one-day strikes during the summer term have not been ruled out.

Sweden pledges to invest in language skills

The Swedish government has announced plans to spend 1.8 billion kronor (pound;170 million) on helping students from foreign backgrounds to improve their Swedish. The government said that the proposals - which will come into force if the administration remains in power after the next election - would also create more jobs for teachers. "If you're going to learn all the other subjects in school then you're going to have to master Swedish first," said education minister Jan Bjrklund, online newspaper The Local reported.

Italian cardinal attacks `dictatorship' of equality

The Archbishop of Genoa has claimed that plans to tackle discrimination in Italy's schools amount to a "true dictatorship" that undermines the role of parents. Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference and an opponent of same-sex marriage and abortion, said that the government's anti-bullying education programme and "gender equality" were turning schools into "re-education camps". "In reality they seek to instil in children preconceived ideas against the family, parenting, religious faith, the difference between father and mother," he told L'Espresso magazine.

Common Core cracks as Indiana scraps standards

The US state of Indiana has become the first to withdraw from the controversial Common Core State Standards in reading and maths. Governor Mike Pence said in a statement that he believed Indiana's students were best served by education decisions made at state and local level. Indiana has subscribed to the Common Core since 2010. The standards, which have been adopted by 45 states in recent years, set out what students should be learning in maths and reading at each grade level. Some conservatives have since criticised the initiative as a top-down takeover of local schools.

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