News at a glance

9th October 2015 at 00:00

It’s the best time to be a teacher, minister claims

“There has never been a better time to be a teacher,” schools minister Nick Gibb claimed this week. Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, he argued that the government’s reforms meant opportunities in teaching were “greater now than they ever have been”. “Teachers now have the opportunity and ability to set up their own schools,” Mr Gibb said, pledging that the Tories would “return teaching to be the pre-eminent profession”. “More top graduates are coming into teaching and I believe the prestige of the teaching profession is increasing,” he added.

German is ‘withering away’, private schools warn

German is “now vulnerable to withering away completely” in schools, a report by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference and the Independent Schools’ Modern Languages Association warned this week. The elite private-school heads say there is a “crisis in modern foreign languages” and a “great danger” of the UK failing to produce enough good linguists. They argue that persistent inconsistencies in grading are part of the problem and that German has been particularly badly affected. The report states that no school was entirely happy with its results this year, with “flawed” grading meaning the most able students were the most likely to be penalised.

‘Enough on our plate’ without breakfast clubs

Headteachers say they already have “enough on their plate” without worrying about parents’ “right to request” that schools provide breakfast and after-school clubs – a plan set out by the Conservatives this week. Prime minister David Cameron said parents will have the power to call for their schools to provide childcare, and that heads should take “reasonable steps” to accommodate it. But Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Many schools already do this. If they get a request, they will have to look at their capacity and carry out their priorities for what they are held accountable for.” An audit by cereal company Kellogg’s last year found that 85 per cent of schools in the UK had a breakfast club.

A space odyssey for young film-makers

An opportunity for pupils to have their short films screened in space for the first time was announced this week. Into Film, a film education charity, has collaborated with the UK Space Agency to invite young people to make short films on the theme of space exploration. A selection will then be chosen to be viewed in space by British astronaut Tim Peake on the International Space Station. The project is part of a wider attempt to capture the educational opportunities of space. The closing date is 15 February and selected films will be shown in April. See www.intofilm.org/space for details.

Apprentices ‘can earn more than graduates’

Young people who take apprenticeships can outstrip the earnings of those with degrees, the Sutton Trust reveals in a report out today. The best apprentices – those with a level 5 qualification, equivalent to a foundation degree – will on average earn £50,000 more in their lifetime than someone with an undergraduate degree from a university outside the Russell Group, according to the report. The trust says only an estimated 30,000 higher apprenticeships have been created over the past two years and it is calling on the government, employers and other providers to create more apprenticeships at level 3 – A-level standard – and above. It also wants a much bigger apprenticeships awareness campaign.

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