Saturday, November 19, 2011

No more 'pew jumping': Affluent British parents who adopt religion to get children into faith schools is unfair practice, says watchdog

A pathetic interference in the life of the church. The school's criteria are clearly religious

Middle-class parents were told yesterday they may no longer be able to ‘pew jump’ to get their offspring into the best schools. The warning follows an admissions watchdog judgment against a South London secondary accused of ‘selecting’ affluent pupils.

Coloma Roman Catholic convent school in Croydon gives priority to girls who, along their parents, attend mass and help out at church. It also requires its pupils to have been baptised within six months of their birth.

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator said the practice was unfair and the school should, instead, cater for pupils who live the closest. The OSA accused the school of falsely claiming its ‘parish life criteria’ ensured it served disadvantaged members of its community.

The investigation was triggered, in part, by the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark, which claimed the school’s policy was unfair and counter to its guidance.

Paul Pettinger, of the Accord Coalition, which campaigns for non-denominational schools, said: ‘There is no doubt that many faith schools are socially selective – this may force many to stop.’

Faith schools, which routinely get the best GCSE and A-level results, may now have to ditch faith-based criteria, such as the number of times applicants attend mass. That means parents will be less able to ‘pew jump’ – adopt religion for the sake of their child’s schooling.

Critics of faith schools say faith- based criteria enable affluent parents to secure places because they can afford to spend time helping their church.

In another blow for faith schools, the Education Bill, which became law on Wednesday, makes it much easier to trigger an investigation into school admissions.

Admissions for non-faith schools are dealt with by the local council. However, faith schools are in charge of their own admissions.


British nativity plays are threatened by teachers' work to rule

Militant teaching union members are threatening a return to the sustained industrial action of the 1980s that caused havoc in schools for years.

Teachers and teaching assistants will refuse to hold nativity plays, put up Christmas decorations, photocopy hand-outs for class or supervise out-of-hours games sessions.

They will not prepare lessons, mark homework, write reports, chase up truants, track pupils’ progress or stream youngsters. And they will work a strict 6.5-hour day, a 32.5-hour week and a 194-day year, and refuse to cover the class of a sick colleague.

The move is the outcome of the latest ballot for industrial action by hardline teachers’ union the NASUWT. The results, due tomorrow, are expected to show the majority voted in favour of a two-pronged assault on the Government – to work to rule as well as to strike. Other unions voted only for a rolling series of strikes.

The action could cause a ‘catastrophic’ deterioration in school standards for weeks, months or even years, putting the education of millions of pupils in jeopardy. It is also likely to spoil Christmas fun in schools as staff refuse to make an effort to mark the festive season. And it comes as education standards in England are slipping in comparison with the rest of the developed world.

Nick Seaton, of the parent pressure group the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘This could be catastrophic for the pupils and most parents will find it totally unacceptable. ‘Duties such as lesson preparation are absolutely fundamental to good teaching. They should always form part of a teacher’s working life.’

NASUWT members are taking action over a row about changes to their pension scheme and a dispute over conditions and working hours. The union’s 227,500 balloted members work in two-thirds of schools, the majority of which are in the secondary sector.

The action could herald the return of militant union activity in schools on a scale last seen in the 1980s when, for two years, between 1984 and 1986 the NASUWT went on strike and worked to rule.

In a letter to members, Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT said it is ‘critically important’ that they vote in favour of action and called for a repeat of the 1980s. She said: ‘NASUWT members supported a combination of action short of strike action and strike action in the 1980s/90s. ‘This secured from the Conservative Government contractual changes…’

If members of the NASUWT vote in favour of action they will be free to take part in the TUC’s national day of action on November 30.

They will join other public sector unions including four representing teachers and heads. It will mean that more than 200,000 heads, deputy heads, teachers and teaching assistants could strike in addition to dinner ladies, cleaners and admin staff who belong to the other unions such as Unison.

The combination will result in massive staff shortages that will make it impossible for most schools to open, for practical or health and safety reasons.


Australia: Higher English hurdles for foreign teachers

This should apply at the university level too. There was a case a few years ago where the University of Qld. hired a law lecturer from China that the students could not understand. The usual stupid "affirmative action", I guess

FOREIGN teachers will have to be better speakers and listeners before being allowed into Victorian classrooms under a registration overhaul.

The State Government has ordered higher English language hurdles for overseas teachers from next year - with the biggest crackdown on verbal communication.

All teachers from non-English-speaking countries, including South Africa, will have to prove their skills with higher scores under the International English Language Testing System.

The new standards will apply only to new applicants and build on previous minimum standards.

Australian-born teachers are exempt from the IELT test, along with their counterparts from the US, UK, New Zealand, Ireland and Canada.

Minister for the Teaching Profession Peter Hall said the higher standards for verbal communication, to be introduced in April, would also be applied nationwide.

Teachers with overseas qualifications made up 13 per cent of the 6000 people registered since June.


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