ACT - The Association of Christian Teachers

for Christians working in education

The week
News items from the week’s daily and education press, covering the major education news stories of the week.

Sultan of Brunei hands back honorary degree.

The Sultan of Brunei has handed back an honorary degree after Oxford University raised concerns about his country's strict new anti-LGBT laws.

Introduced in April, they initially made sex between men and adultery punishable by stoning to death.

But Brunei backtracked on enforcing the laws after a global outcry, boycotts and celebrity protests.

The university said it opened a review "in the light of concerns about the new penal code".

In a statement a spokeswoman said it was informed the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah would be returning his degree after it wrote to him last month.


More than 118,500 people have signed a petition calling on the university to rescind the honorary law degree, which was awarded in 1993.

Read more.

Mental health helpline for staff takes record calls.

A record number of calls have been placed to a helpline for teachers and other education professionals with mental health problems in the last 12 months.

Counsellors at the Education Support Partnership, a charity that helps education staff with their mental health, dealt with 9,615 cases between April 2018 and March 2019 - a 28 per cent rise from two years ago.  



The number of callers clinically assessed to be at risk of suicide also rose by 57 per cent in a year - from 357 in 2017-18 to 561 in 2018-19, the charity said.  

Read more.

Protests about relationships and sex education spread.

Schools across England have received letters opposing the teaching of relationships and sex education (RSE) and LGBT equality, the BBC has learned.

Protests started in Birmingham and letters, predominantly from conservative Muslims, have been sent to a number of schools elsewhere.

One campaigner said relationship lessons due to start in schools in 2020 "proselytise a homosexual way of life".

Supporters of the lessons said there was a "lot of misinformation".

Letters opposing the lessons have been sent to schools in Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Croydon, Ealing, Manchester, Northampton and Nottingham, BBC Newsnight has discovered.

Read more.

Learning about work motivates higher GCSE results.

Teenagers taught about the world of work are more motivated to get higher GCSE results, say researchers.

A careers charity study found pupils who heard directly from employers about the realities of getting a job went on to get better grades.

It also seemed to provide the incentive for increased revision.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds says it shows the value of telling students how subjects taught in school are "relevant in later life".

The research, on behalf of the Education and Employers charity, examined the progress of a group of about 650 secondary school pupils in England in the year before their GCSEs - with some given careers talks and meetings with employers.


'Authentic' influence

Those pupils who had careers sessions with employers, and had seen the direct implications of their exams, were slightly more likely to exceed predicted GCSE grades, says the study.

Read more.

College at risk of 'insolvency'.

A struggling college has requested to be put into educational administration, in the first application of its kind.

The Hadlow Group, which runs Hadlow College in Kent, is being investigated over financial irregularities.

If the request is granted next week, the college - which has more than 2,000 students and 454 staff - would be the first in the UK to go through the new education insolvency regime.

A spokesman for Hadlow College said it was deemed "necessary".

'Business as usual'

The application follows a review of the college's finances by government agencies, which found "immediate financial challenges".


The Education Secretary applied to the High Court directly.

Read more.

Pray for schools fortnight.

Pray for Schools Fortnight

 12th – 26th May 2019

The vision of Pray for Schools fortnight is to bring together people to pray for schools in their area.

The vision of Pray for Schools fortnight is to bring together people from local churches and others involved in education – parents, students, teachers, governors, staff and volunteers – to pray strategically for schools in their area and those involved in them.

For Pray For Schools Fortnight this year we have again worked with Thy Kingdom Come

Lord, teach us to pray!

Even though our God is awesome, holy and almighty we can still to come right into His presence – when we come in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Prayer has to be one of the most amazing gifts God gives us – what an incredible privilege it is to talk with Him about the issues on our hearts. And know He hears and answers!

The Lord’s Prayer – we know it so well! Recited it by heart since we were small. Seen books about it, heard so many sermons!

And yet, these ageless words still come across as living and active so that’s why we’ve chosen them for this year’s Pray for Schools Fortnight.

Download our resources here Lord teach us to pray 2019


Over the last few years Pray for Schools fortnight has become widely known with other organisations with a heart for young people choosing to pray with us.

It’s easy to get involved!

Get together a planning group to organise an event. Then please register your event – we will advertise it on the website and our Facebook page

Inspection outcomes.

Management information
Policy area: State-funded   school inspections and outcomes
Theme: Education,   children's services and skills
Published on: 10   May 2019
Coverage: England
Period   covered: Table 1. Most   recent inspections at 30 April 2019 (published by 30 April 2019)
  Table 2. Full   inspections in the 2018/19 academic year at 30 April 2019 (published by 30   April 2019)

Table 3. Short inspections in the 2018/19 academic year at 30 April 2019 (published by 30 April 2019)

Read the full report.

Y2 tests boycotted.

A class of primary school pupils will not sit Sats tests after their parents chose to boycott the exams.

All 15 parents of children in Year 2 at Bealings School near Woodbridge, Suffolk, said "over-testing was ruining the pupils' education".

Heather Chandler, one of the parents, said it was "far too early" for the children, aged six and seven, to be tested.

The school said it did not want to comment.

Chair of governors Rick Gillingham said they would not stand in the parents' way and "over-testing is certainly something we wouldn't go along with".

Ms Chandler said the Sats were unnecessary and a waste of time.

Read more.

Is extremism getting worse?

There is a widely-held narrative that we are living through a time of worsening intolerance in the UK, with people becoming more vitriolic and polarised.

But Dr Julian Hargreaves, an adviser to the government's Commission for Countering Extremism, challenges the evidence.

He wants research to produce a better-informed debate - systematically mapping levels of intolerance, looking at how labels such as "Islamist extremism" can skew the picture and asking whether there are other ways of looking at patterns of extremism.

For instance, instead of looking at religious groups for warning signs of extremism, should we examine links with addictive, obsessive behaviour, such as drug addiction?

Should there be attention to personality types as well as political beliefs?

The commission, set up in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena terror attack, has the task of assessing the scale of extremism and finding ways to tackle any support for such violence.

Read more.

£80 fine for dropping litter at school.

School pupils at all East Ayrshire high schools will face an £80 fine if they are caught throwing rubbish.

But the penalty will be withdrawn if the child attends a supervised litter pick.

The scheme was signed off by councillors following a recent trial programme at Loudoun Academy in Galston.

The campaign was spearheaded by Rubbish Party councillor Sally Cogley, who has hailed it as a UK first.

Ms Cogley said: "East Ayrshire will be doing something that has never been done in the UK before. It has changed behaviour at Loudoun Academy.

"The litter in schools initiative is a no brainer and will make a difference. We have tried and tested it."

Read more.


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