A week in

26th February 2016 at 00:00

Ministers have moved back the deadlines for the submission of teacher assessments by primary schools until the end of June, after complaints about the new system from heads and classroom unions. The NAHT headteachers’ union had issued an ultimatum warning that if the Department for Education did not make a “dramatic change” its members would “act to protect pupils and schools”. Now, schools minister Nick Gibb has written to the association saying he will “for one year only” relax the deadlines for submission of teacher assessments. Instead of falling on 13 June for key stage 1 and 22 May for key stage 2, the deadline for both will be on 30 June.

For more on this story, read Nick Gibb’s comment piece on pages 22-23

A gala performance of the play War Horse was held in London this week for 1,000 children who have visited the Farms for City Children charity, founded by the author of the book, Michael Morpurgo, and his wife Clare. The event marks the 40th anniversary year of the charity, which offers urban children the opportunity to live and work for a week on a real farm. Since the first group from Chivenor Primary School in Birmingham arrived at Nethercott House – the charity’s first farm in the north Devon village of Iddesleigh – back in January 1976, nearly 100,000 children have taken part in a week of farming.

A new study shows that enabling children to learn in their mother tongue in the early years can help to reduce drop-out rates later on in school. The paper, If You Don’t Understand, How Can You Learn?, from Unesco’s Global Education Monitoring Report, highlights the fact that 40 per cent of world’s schoolchildren do not have access to education in a language they speak or understand. The research finds that in some countries that have invested in bilingual programmes, children from linguistic minorities perform better. It calls for education systems to recognise the importance of children learning in their mother tongue, especially in the first years of primary, and recommends at least six years of mother-tongue instruction to ensure that gains from the early years are sustained.

The Harry Potter books still dominate the most popular reads for primary children, according to the latest annual study of British children’s reading habits – although author J K Rowling has missed out on the top slot. The most popular book among primary children in 2015 was Diary of a Wimpy Kid: the long haul, the ninth book in the series by Jeff Kinney. But the Harry Potter series took second, third, fourth, sixth and eighth places in the survey, which was published by Renaissance Learning. The research also finds that the most commonly read book in primary school was The Twits by Roald Dahl.

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