News at a glance
Birmingham primaries vote on academisation
Teachers at 13 Birmingham primaries were balloted this week over plans to turn their schools into academies. Birmingham City Council has said that for schools that have a history of underperformance, becoming an academy may be the best way of ensuring improvement. But the NUT and the NASUWT teaching union have opposed such forced academisation, saying that academy status is not proven to improve schools and could impact on members' terms and conditions.
Call for heads to take the rap for poor teachers
Headteachers who fail to deal with poor teachers should have their pay docked, a leading independent school headmaster was due to tell a conference this week. "Sometimes, of course, we get an appointment wrong. That is human and forgivable. But what is unforgivable is failing to deal with it," Richard Cairns, headmaster of Brighton College, was due to tell his school's annual education conference. "Where headteachers lack the courage to take on a poor teacher, who has been clearly and fairly identified as such, they should themselves be called to account and their own pay should be docked."
98,000 unused school places in Wales, Estyn finds
Local authorities in Wales have made little progress in how they plan provision of school places in the past 15 years, according to a damning report by Estyn. The inspectorate found that, in 2011, there were 58,000 empty places in primary schools and a further 40,000 unfilled places in secondary schools, more than in 2006. No local authority had achieved the Welsh government's recommended target of no more than 10 per cent surplus places.
Music hubs will conduct high-quality education
A network of 122 music hubs will be responsible for ensuring that every child has high-quality music education from September, Arts Council England has announced. Existing music services in England are involved in all of the hubs and will be leading the majority of them, after taking part in a competitive bidding process. The hubs are expected to mean closer working arrangements between music services, professional musicians and other music education providers.
A chance to win a trip to the Big Apple
Pupils have just a few weeks left to seize the chance to win a four-day trip to New York this September in a competition run by the 911 London Project, which aims to educate children about the attack on the World Trade Center. The contest is open to 14- to 16-year-olds and students must write an essay or make a short film about how 911 changed the world. The deadline is 1 June. The entries will be judged by a panel including film producer Lord Puttnam, historian Simon Schama and broadcaster John Simpson. To enter, see http:bit.lyKmr5FL
Chris Keates: an apology
In the TES Editorial dated 20 January 2012 ("Reason has deserted rebels with a cause") it was suggested that Chris Keates, the general secretary of the NASUWT, had "incredibly" failed to attend meetings with ministers regarding the government's pensions proposals because "it was the run-up to Christmas, always a busy time". We should have made it clear that, as part of its well-established strategy, the NASUWT was represented at every such meeting by its deputy general secretary and its pensions specialist while Chris Keates personally attended every meeting with the Cabinet Office as part of the TUC negotiating team. We apologise if the inference was that Chris Keates was not committed to her members' interests on this crucial issue. That was not our intention, and we are happy to set the record straight.