Weekly highlights: Differentiation, pensions and tutors

A round-up of the key content published by Tes this week, from school leader wellbeing to the collective worship debate

Tes Reporter

Tes weekly highlights: Differentiation, teacher pensions and collective worship in schools

News

The government has talked about lots of potential ways in which pupils will be supported to catch up on learning time that has been lost during the pandemic. But what is now clear, thanks to Tes news’ exclusive coverage of an Ipsos MORI poll, is what parents want – and what they don’t want. The research shows that more than half say extra tutoring and support for wellbeing are their preferred ways for schools to help pupils recover after the crisis.

The poll also reveals that only one in five want to see longer school days to help their child catch up, while only around a quarter would choose shorter half-term holidays – unlike education secretary Gavin Williamson, who advocated a longer school day and shorter holidays as part of his “transformative” catch-up plan last month.

Later in the week, we reported that schools will be investigated if the Department for Education is "informed" that they are "in breach" of a "requirement" to have a daily "collective act of worship", after schools minister Nick Gibb submitted a written parliamentary answer setting out the government’s approach. He said schools found to be in breach would be reminded of the “requirement” and advised on how they can comply.

On Wednesday, we looked at the question of what schools "should" be doing when it comes to "mock" exams ahead of grading students for GCSEs and A levels this year. Our analysis shows that schools and colleges are responding to the guidance in vastly contrasting ways, leading some to ask how the system could be fair for all students this year.

Returning to an ongoing issue of concern for many teachers and schools, especially in the independent sector, we reported that teachers at two independent boarding schools are taking strike action over their schools’ proposals to withdraw them from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

Finally, back on the Covid catch-up theme, we revealed that experts are concerned that there is a "risk" of teachers "flooding the market" in the wake of a recruitment boost sparked by the pandemic, but that the influx of extra teachers could turn out to be a "good thing" if the new recruits are deployed to help with the government's catch-up efforts.

Features

There’s still a lot of talk about 21st-century skills, despite us being 21 years into the century already. But the endless arguments about using new approaches to boost creativity ignore the successes of the past, wrote Mark Enser.

The trad vs prog debate is another that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon, but one international school leader explained how the two teaching approaches are being combined successfully in China.

Revealing to the school community that a teacher is pregnant is a happy occasion but one where treading sensitively is important, too. School leader Matt Payne offered some advice for getting it right.

With schools now focused on bridging lockdown learning gaps, differentiation is arguably more important than ever before. But many teachers aren’t using it properly and see it as a source of extra workload, expert Carol Ann Tomlinson told Helen Amass. 

Putting students first is a laudable goal for a school leader but not if it means being a workaholic, said headteacher Mark Leppard. He explained why those who prioritise their own needs instead are, in fact, likely to be happier, more productive and more capable of bringing out the best in others.

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