Tuesday, September 02, 2014

OH: Pols say schools should be anti-suicide propagandists

 A bill is being proposed in Ohio that would require community colleges and universities to have suicide prevention programs on and off campus.

The proposal calls for access to mental health programs and crisis intervention, such as a hotline. Colleges would need plans for telling students about prevention activities and communicating with students, staff and parents after the loss of a student to suicide.

The Board of Regents and the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services would post free materials online to help schools meet the requirements.

Rep. Marlene Anielski (ahn-yel-SKEE') co-sponsored the measure. She lost her son to suicide in 2010.

Anielski, a Republican from Independence, says students need to know that programs and help are available to them should they find themselves struggling.


British pupils facing tough new curriculum as school year starts: Foreign languages will be compulsory at primary schools and children will learn computer programming in biggest shake-up for a decade

After six weeks of summer  holidays, children can find it quite a shock to be back at school.  But when term resumes this week, it may be even tougher than usual.  For the country is about to undergo the biggest education shake-up in a decade with a new, tougher national curriculum.

And further changes are planned, with Education Secretary Nicky Morgan saying the Conservatives will pledge at the next election to make every pupil study five core academic subjects until they are 16.

Under the new curriculum, children aged five will have to recite poetry by heart,  11-year-olds will sit maths exams without calculators and teenagers will study at least two Shakespeare plays.

Computer programming will be taught from five to 14, and foreign languages will be made compulsory at primary school.

There will be a new emphasis on spelling and grammar, and history will focus on the story of Britain.

The more traditional curriculum is the culmination of a four-year campaign started by Michael Gove. His successor Mrs Morgan has pledged to continue the drive.

But many parents have been left in the dark and teachers say they are not ready to teach the material.

Two-thirds of parents are totally unaware of the changes, a survey of 1,000 by the tuition firm Explore Learning found. And six out of ten teachers say their schools are not prepared, a poll by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers showed.

The curriculum was finalised last September – which eight out of ten teachers said left too little time to make changes. In the survey of 618 teachers, nine out of ten labelled the Department for Education’s approach ‘chaotic’ or ‘flawed’.

Nansi Ellis, of the ATL, said: ‘The Government has rushed through the biggest change to the national curriculum in a decade.   ‘Children . . . face an uncertain time as their teachers are still trying to make sense of the new curriculum. It is extremely unfair to jeopardise young people’s education through what seems to be national mismanagement of change.’

Carey Ann Dodah, of Explore Learning, said: ‘The curriculum is a response to fears that England is slipping behind international competitors and there are some drastic changes.’ Meanwhile, Mrs Morgan said the Tories will press for more reforms if they win the election.

She laid out plans yesterday for all pupils to study GCSE English, maths, science, one language and either history or geography.

Schools that do not teach the five subjects – which together make up an ‘English baccalaureate’ – will not be eligible for a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted, she said.

‘We want students to be able to keep their options open for as long as possible,’ Mrs Morgan added.   She said that while students in wealthy areas already learn these subjects, ‘that is not always happening in less advantaged areas’.

A Department for Education spokesman said teachers had time to prepare for the changes, adding: ‘We will not stand by and allow pupils to lose ground with peers in countries across the world.’


British private schools dumping GCSEs for tougher O-level-style tests that are seen as better preparation for A-levels

Private schools are ditching GCSEs in record numbers in favour of tougher qualifications based on the old O-level, figures published today show.

They are increasingly turning to International GCSEs, which are seen as better preparation for A-levels despite government reforms to conventional exams.

The number of independent school entries for IGCSEs leapt by 18 per cent this summer to 152,170 – accounting for 38.7 per cent of Year 11 exam entries. In 2010, just 11.1 per cent of private school exam entries were for IGCSEs.

GCSE entries, in comparison, fell from 274,183 last year to 242,181, according to exam data from 552 members of the Independent Schools Council.

More than 400 ISC schools had pupils taking at least one IGCSE.

The country’s top private school for GCSEs this year, North London Collegiate School, has ditched English literature GCSE altogether in favour of an AS-level in the subject.

Deputy head Matthew Shoults said the school always wanted students to ‘take the specifications that are not going to hamper them intellectually and not going to make them jump through hoops’.

At Cheltenham College, pupils study IGCSEs in maths, English language and literature, science, history, geography and modern languages alongside GCSEs in other subjects.

This year, the 111 pupils passed 34.9 per cent of exams at A* and 64.5 per cent at A or A*. Six pupils achieved ten or more A* grades.

Duncan Byrne, the school’s deputy head, said: ‘We believe that the specifications for IGCSE are more academically rigorous.

‘IGCSE, particularly in mathematics and sciences, contains content which is more challenging, and which prepares students better for further study.’

IGCSEs were primarily developed for schools overseas. They became favoured by private schools in the UK because they featured less coursework and more emphasis on exams taken after two years, like the old O-levels.

Their format was echoed in former education secretary Michael Gove’s reform of conventional GCSEs which featured less coursework, bite-sized modules being replaced with traditional end-of-course exams and new curbs placed on resits.

English GCSEs were also subject to major reform, with scores in speaking and listening tests no longer added to the final grade to combat inflated teacher assessment. In the next three years, entirely new GCSEs will be introduced, existing A* to G grades replaced by numbers 1 to 8 and league tables completely revamped.

Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, said there had been a period of ‘turbulence’ for GCSEs, and schools ‘felt confident sticking with what they knew, less affected by some of the changes’.

He said schools may also wait and see what the reformed GCSEs were like, adding: ‘But, obviously, if the new GCSEs are felt by independent schools to be rigorous and a good preparation, there’s no reason why schools won’t switch back.’

The ISC statistics also show that 32.7 per cent of papers were awarded A*s, up from 32 per cent last year. Some 60.6 per cent of entries were graded A* or A, a rise from 60.4 per cent last year.

More than 100 leading schools – including Eton, Harrow and Westminster – have opted out of the ISC tables amid claims they distort education and give parents an incomplete picture.


No comments: