News at a glance

8th May 2015 at 01:00

Top university withdraws design PGCE course

One of the country's biggest universities is to cancel its PGCE in design and technology because of a lack of interest. The University of Manchester will withdraw the course from September 2015 - a year after the University of Exeter stopped offering the same programme. The overall number of applications to teacher training courses in England has dropped by 5,000 since last year. The shortage is particularly acute in design and technology, where applications dropped from 1,900 last year to 1,180. Professor John Howson, an honorary research fellow at the University of Oxford, said: "The number one problem facing the incoming secretary of state for education will be how to ensure that there are enough teachers to teach our children."

Eton explores innovative learning methods

Leading independent school Eton College has opened a new research centre to investigate innovative ways of improving learning. The Tony Little Centre for Innovation and Research in Learning aims to look into new technological developments and advances in neuroscience. Centre director Jonnie Noakes said: "Great strides forward are being made in neuroscience, and new apps and technologies are being created all the time. The Tony Little Centre will play an important role in analysing the latest information." The centre plans to work with other schools around the UK and overseas, and will partner with universities to enable researchers to work in schools.

School leaders offered training in extremism

Headteachers will be given advice on how to stop pupils being drawn into extremism, in response to concerns that young people are being radicalised online. The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has organised a series of seminars in response to "widespread concern over the impact of extremist propaganda on young people" and new counter-terrorism legislation. The move comes after the alleged Trojan Horse plot by hard-line Muslims to seize control of a number of school governing boards in Birmingham. It was claimed last weekend that schools were still facing intimidation after the scandal. ASCL deputy general secretary Malcolm Trobe said the seminars would cover all forms of extremism, including far-right ideologies and Islamophobia.

Syrian schools face threat of `barrel bomb' strikes

Schools in Syria are being targeted in "barrel bomb" attacks, according to a new report by human rights organisation Amnesty International. Barrel bombs are oil barrels or fuel tanks that are packed with explosives, fuel and metal fragments and dropped from helicopters. The report says that from January 2014 to March 2015, three schools in opposition-controlled areas of Aleppo were attacked by government forces in this way. It says that many schools have now moved into basements or underground bunkers to avoid being struck. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has denied that forces loyal to his government had used barrel bombs.

Headteachers condemn `excessive' primary tests

School leaders have hit out at the "excessive" testing of primary pupils. With key stage 2 Sats tests due to start on Monday, delegates at the NAHT headteachers' union passed a motion this week condemning the amount of assessment, which they said was "not good" for young children. Primary pupils also face baseline tests, phonics checks and key stage 1 performance indicators. The motion called on the union's national executive to commission a study into the effects of testing on primary-aged children.

For more on the new phonics test, click here


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