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Admission ballots will help the poorest achieve

by Bea Yeatman-Biggs

An expert on social mobility has called for secondary school admis- sions to be decided by ballot in order to counteract the effects of inequali- ties in the education system. Speaking about social mobil-

ity and education in Britain at the Company of Educators last month, James Turner, policy director of the Sutton Trust, said that while educa- tion can be an “engine of mobility”, it often gives way to inequalities. The Trust aims to improve edu-

cational opportunities for young people from disadvantaged back-

grounds and increase the number of children from deprived backgrounds going on to higher education. Mr Turner outlined ways in

which to tackle inequalities and to prevent talent being wasted. He described the “four As” –

attainment, aspirations, advice and access – stressing that inequalities are not merely about “raw attain- ment” and claiming that life chanc- es should not simply be determined by exam grades. He said: “A young person’s aspi-

rations and their soft skills – such as articulacy, presentation, knowing how to behave in certain situations – also play a part in getting on in

Head qualifications under the spotlight

Special professional qualifications are failing to create more headteach- ers in Wales, according to school inspectors. A new report by Estyn, the educa-

tion inspectorate for Wales, reveals that many National Professional Qualification for Headteachers (NPQH) accredited teachers do not become school heads within three years of qualifying. The NPQH was specifically

designed to create headteachers within three years of candidates becoming qualified but Estyn’s report found that, despite the pop- ularity of the qualification, with around 130 graduates a year and 739 professionals currently quali- fied, the vast majority of accredited NPQH teachers do not pursue a career as a headteacher. The report outlines a number

of factors which have impeded the effectiveness of the NPQH qualifi- cation, including an apparent lack of career opportunities for accred- ited teachers to put the NPQH into practice. It found that data detailing the

number of headteacher vacancies in Wales is unclear and there is a clear lack of other opportunities like secondments or acting headships for NPQH holders. Inspectors also noted that many

candidates who apply for the NPQH programme have no intention of becoming a headteacher, but apply for it because there is no alternative professional development training and qualifications. The selection process relies solely on information on the

application form, meaning that often the most appropriate can- didates are not selected to train for the headteacher qualification as interpersonal and communica- tions skills are not assessed. Finally, inspectors reported that

the NPQH training programme has not been revised to reflect con- temporary education strategies and initiatives such as the School Effectiveness Framework, self- evaluation and financial matters. Concluding its report, Estyn

recommends the creation of a new training programme that mid- dle managers should complete before applying for the NPQH and it encourages local authorities to work more closely with governing bodies to provide more support to accredited teachers. In addition, it states that train-

ing materials should be updated annually and the NPQH train- ing programme reviewed to ensure that current education developments and strategies are addressed. Ann Keane, chief inspector of

education and training in Wales, said: “It is vital that relevant bodies work together to ensure that teach- ers have a relevant, coherent route to develop the skills and attributes needed to become highly effective headteachers.” Government


introduced in 2005, require all aspiring headteachers in maintained schools and non-maintained special schools to hold the NPQH by the time they are appointed to their first headship.

education and the labour market. The quality of the advice and sup- port they receive, as well as the attitudes of those around them and access to networks and contacts are also important. So if we are to positively influence the lives of low-income young people we need to help on a variety of levels.” Mr Turner said the introduction

of ballots and fair banding would allow young people from disadvan- taged backgrounds to continue into secondary education with tailored help. More balanced school intakes, he suggested, would be better for social mobility overall. “At present you have some

schools taking a disproportionate number of poorer students and others taking hardly any – even when they are sited in areas of deprivation.” He continued: “Every admissions

system has winners and losers. But we think that the use of ballots, in conjunction with distance and faith criteria as appropriate, are the fairest way of deciding who gets places at oversubscribed schools. And fair banding can also ensure that schools take a fair share of pupils of differ- ent abilities and backgrounds.” Mr Turner said that the Sutton

Trust has identified a need for pro- grammes to support academically able students from low-income

homes in school. Two ideas on the agenda are one-to-one tuition and more activities led by universities. He also called for better careers

and education advice in schools, saying that students needed to be made aware of university and careers from an early age. He explained: “While it is too

early at, say, age nine or 10 to say who is and is not destined for uni- versity or professional careers, no child should believe these are off limits. This foundation can be built on in secondary school and beyond with more specific advice and sup- port as individual talents and aspira- tions become apparent.”

Guidance produced to help bereaved pupils

Characteristics of bereaved children in the school

environment: • Nine out of 10 had mood swings

• Seven out of 10 saw a drop in performance

• Six out of 10 struggled to join class discussions

• Half showed increased shyness and vulnerability to bullying

Source: Amy & Tom Project (survey of 100 schools)

An average of two children per school lose a close relative every year, and yet four out of every five schools do not have a policy on how to support them, it has been revealed. A survey of 100 schools carried

out by the Amy & Tom Project, an initiative run by the road safety charity Brake and Co-operative Funeralcare, also found that of the 20 per cent of schools with a writ- ten policy on helping bereaved chil- dren, three quarters did not provide comprehensive advice for teachers. To tackle the problem, the

organisation has produced free guidance to be distributed to 11,000 teachers across the UK. Helping Suddenly Bereaved

Children aims to give teachers an insight into children’s understand- ing of sudden death, how they may react, and how they may express their grief. Mary Williams OBE, author

of the guide, said: “A suddenly bereaved child always needs love, support and care to enable them to grieve and have the best chance of a full and happy life.” Elsewhere, a West Midlands

undertakers has also produced its own handbook to help teachers in local schools work with bereaved children. Daniel Ross Funerals in Sutton

Coldfield has also produced post- ers to assist schools in a range of scenarios, including telling students when a member of the school dies and informing staff when a student dies. For more on the Amy & Tom

Project, visit www.amyandtom. org and for information about the Daniel Ross resource, visit

Innovation group aims for ‘broader and deeper education’

The emphasis on testing and pass- ing examinations is “squeezing out” other skills that are just as impor- tant, a new campaign and innova- tion group has claimed. Last month, 14 high profile

education innovation organisations, which between them run projects in 5,000 schools, including three quarters of all secondaries, came together to celebrate the launch of Whole Education. The new group is chaired by Dr

John Dunford, who stands down this summer as the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. It aims to bring together a range of educational projects that seek to

SecEd • June 10 2010

provide a “broader and deeper edu- cation” for all young people. Partners include the RSA, which

runs the Opening Minds “real- world skills” curriculum in around 200 schools, and technology inno- vators Futurelab, which runs the Education Futures programme pre- paring students to cope with evolv- ing technology. Whole Education also intends

to lobby government. Dr Dunford told the launch: “At a time when the school curriculum has become dangerously narrow, it is especially important to emphasise the need for a broad education which embraces not just the essentials of English, maths and science, but a much

broader range of knowledge and a set of skills that will really equip young people for life and work in the 21st century.” The launch has been supported

by employers including BT and Waitrose, and other partners include Oxfam, UK Youth, ASDAN, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Campaign for Learning. Speaking at the launch, Christina

Bush, learning and development manager at Waitrose, claimed our current learning systems “demoti- vate” students. She said: “It’s just so complicated to learn and that’s one of the things we are struggling with, how to uncomplicate learning.” Dr Dunford added: “The projects

coming within the Whole Education umbrella provide immense opportu- nities to enrich the education of young people and it is our aim to ensure that people know about these projects and can see the advantages of bringing them into the curriculum.” It is expected that more organisa-

tions will join in the coming months and the group is to host three regional exhibitions of its partners’ projects in Manchester on June 24, London on July 5, and Bristol on July 12. Schools and others want- ing to get involved should email or visit To book an exhibition place, con- tact Charlotte on 020 7451 6837.

NEWS In brief Serif winner

Oasis Academy in Southampton has won SecEd’s latest ICT giveaway. The competition, run in conjunction with Serif, was to win a 50-user Serif Design Suite site licence worth £2,199 and 10 Wacom graphics tablets worth £40 each. The winning entry was submitted by Adrian Thomas, community and business liaison officer at the school. Look out for more ICT competitions in SecEd, including our next giveaway with Texas Instruments, which launches next week (June 17).

Make a difference

An assembly resource that highlights the life of Anne Frank’s father, Otto, has been launched by the Anne Frank Trust UK. The resource is aimed at years 6 and 7, and has been created to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of Anne Frank’s house. It encourages pupils to think about how one person can make a difference. Visit: annefrankday

Adopt an Actor

Globe Education at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre has launched the 2010 Adopt an Actor programme, enabling students to interact with cast members. The programme gives students the chance to engage with the Globe’s actors through regular bulletins, rehearsal notes and audio podcasts. More than 150 actors from 42 different productions have taken part since the scheme began, with their contributions archived online. Visit:

Out and about

The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom has launched its third annual awards for Excellence and Innovation, sponsored by TUI- Student Division. The Council focuses on raising achievement through hands-on, practical approaches to learning. The awards recognise the work that educational establishments do in providing novel and inspirational approaches to learning beyond the classroom walls. Nominations are open until July 16. Visit: and-events/LOtC-Awards-2010

Theatre CPD

National Drama has launched a CPD website for educators, offering opportunities for teachers to develop good practice. Working with the Training and Development Agency for Schools, the website showcases units that have been written by drama teachers and practitioners. They include subject leadership; pedagogic resources; subject knowledge and skills; and teaching through drama and theatre. Visit: uk/cpd/index.cfm

DVD launch

Whole Education: Chairman Dr John Dunford says the curriculum is too narrow

A DVD that aims to help schools cope with children who have been diagnosed with syncope (fainting) has been launched by the STARS charity. The charity helps children and families who are affected by blackouts, syncope and reflex anoxic seizures, and is responding to requests from anxious parents on how to deal with these conditions. The free DVD provides advice on managing syncope at school. Visit: www.


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