Friday, May 29, 2015

Larger class sizes and poor attainment leave UK pupils lagging behind Poles

The fact that Britain has lots of minorities while Poland has almost none might just have something to do with that

British pupils are getting a worse start in life than those in Poland because of larger class sizes and poorer attainment, a report suggests.

Researchers said pupil achievement in the UK was behind that of children in the former Soviet-bloc country, and fewer pupils go on to university.

The report, which analysed 149 countries, ranked the UK at number 36 – behind countries such as Poland, which was ranked ninth, Singapore and Hong Kong.

It was based on class size, enrolment to tertiary education, number of years in education and international test scores.

The study found that while Poland has an average class size of 20, the UK average is 26.

In addition, a higher proportion of Polish pupils go on to study courses after the age of 18.

Britain was ranked 26th in the 2012 PISA tests for 15-year-olds run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – behind Poland which was 14th. The tests in maths, science and reading allow comparison of pupils in different countries around the world.

The report comes amid mounting concern that British children are falling behind those in other countries after years of slipping standards.

The Coalition tried to reverse this trend in the last Parliament by making qualifications harder and taking a tough stance on under-performing schools.

But the report’s results were even more stark when researchers compared recent progress in education in different countries. Britain was ranked 133, while Poland was at 28.

The report, produced by management consultancy firm Boston Consulting Group, said that while the UK was still ahead of many countries, Poland has made more headway in education in recent years.

It said: ‘The Polish education system was reformed in 2009 with changes being implemented over several years.  ‘Education is now compulsory from ages 6 to 18, with alternative education options available from age 16, including apprenticeships. There is also a statutory entitlement to a year of pre-school education.’

A Department for Education spokesman defended the Government’s record, saying its education reforms and ‘focus on standards’ were helping more young people to ‘achieve their potential’.

The researchers also examined economic growth trends and how governments ‘converted’ wealth into well-being – or quality of life – among their populations.

While the UK’s performance was above the global average in measurements linked to well-being, its progress in converting growth into well-being had fallen back relative to the rest of the world.


Arrogant student 'diversity' officer who banned men from meetings and tweeted #killallwhitemen KEEPS her taxpayer-funded job

A university equality officer who sparked outrage when she tweeted 'kill all white men' has kept her taxpayer-funded position.  Bahar Mustafa, 27, student union Welfare and Diversity Officer at Goldsmiths University in London, was caught in the centre of a racism and sexism row after she told white people and men 'not to come' to an event.

She had also used hashtags including #killallwhitemen, as well as calling someone 'white trash' on Twitter.

Students launched a petition calling for her to be removed from the post saying she has 'made students feel intimidated', been 'unprofessional in her public conduct' and 'encouraged or expressed hatred based on an individual's race, gender, or social position'.

Despite building pressure for her to quit or be sacked, Goldsmiths Student Union have said she is to keep her job.

The students union petition, which closed today, had called for a vote of no confidence in Ms Mustafa.  It read: 'The current welfare and diversity officer has used hate speech based on race and gender.

'For example, the consistent use of hashtags such as #killallwhitemen and #misandry, and publicly calling someone 'white trash' under the official GSU Welfare and Diversity Officer Twitter account.'

A spokesman for Goldsmiths Student Union, which pays Ms Mustafa's wage out of a £600,000 grant a year from the university, said: 'Following action taken during the occupation of a university building last month, 165 students signed a petition calling for a vote of no confidence in welfare and diversity officer Bahar Mustafa.

'This represents 1.9 per cent of our 8,000+ members and our rules require three per cent to have signed to trigger a referendum. 'The petition has therefore failed and so a vote will not take place.

'However, we recognise some students and a large number of people outside the organisation are unhappy with the work of our elected representatives.  'We are looking at how we can address those concerns in dialogue with our members and our trustees, who oversee our work.'

The university petition ran for three weeks and was promoted through the Student Union website and social media. Only members of the Student Union were allowed to vote.

A separate petition on to remove Ms Mustafa from office has received more than 21,000 signatures.

Ms Mustafa's ban on white people and men from the meeting triggered outrage last month.

She had written on Facebook: 'Invite loads of BME [black and minority ethnic] Women and non-binary people!! Also, if you've been invited and you're a man and/or white PLEASE DON'T COME just cos i invited a bunch of people and hope you will be responsible enough to respect this is a BME Women and non-binary event only.'

Non-binary is a term used to describe people who do not consider themselves exclusively male or female.

Miss Mustafa, 27, added: 'Don't worry lads we will give you and allies things to do', followed by a wink.

The event's online page said it was open to 'self-defining BLACK and ETHNIC MINORITY women and non-binary people with gender identities that include 'woman'.'

She then defended her position by stating that she could not be racist because she is an ethnic minority woman.

A notice about the meeting later appeared to show the ban had been dropped, stating: 'Allies now welcome!'

One student at the university described the exclusive policy as 'patronising beyond belief'.

Ms Mustafa has previously defended her position on her ban in a video clip, where she said in a statement read out to her fellow students that ethnic minority women could not be racist as they 'do not stand to gain' from inequality.

She also accused the media of embarking on a 'witch hunt and shameful character assassination'.

In her response to the no confidence petition, Ms Mustafa admitted that using the phrase 'white trash' on an official account was 'not professional', but said the hashtags had been used as a joke.

She wrote: 'Regarding my use of hashtags: these were done on my personal account, which is separate to my work account. 'However, I still recognise and understand how this can be alienating and troubling to some.

'These are in-­jokes and ways that many people in the queer feminist community express ourselves­ it's a way of reclaiming the power from the trauma many of us experience as queers, women, people of colour, who are on the receiving end of racism, misogyny and homophobia daily.

'These are not political stances. However, in regards to calling someone 'white trash' under my official GSU Welfare and Diversity twitter account, I can accept that it was not professional and I do apologise for this.'

She also said that she had received racists and sexist abuse, as well as death threats, 'since the media storm' over her comments.

Miss Mustafa recently graduated from Goldsmiths with an MA in gender and media studies.

She is understood to live with her mother Nursen, 55, father Ismail, 57, and sister Ipek, 23, in Enfield in a £450,000 three-bedroom terrace.


Is it time to erase erasers? Nut says 'instrument of the devil' should be removed from classrooms

Erasers are an ‘instrument of the devil’ and should be banned from classrooms, an education expert has warned.  Guy Claxton, visiting professor of learning sciences at King’s College London, said rubbers wrongly encourage children to feel ashamed of their mistakes.

Youngsters need to be unafraid of making errors, to recognise and learn from them, the cognitive scientist added.  ‘The eraser is an instrument of the devil because it perpetuates a culture of shame about error,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.

‘It’s a way of lying to the world, which says, “I didn’t make a mistake. I got it right first time.” That’s what happens when you can rub it out and replace it.

‘Instead, we need a culture where children are not afraid to make mistakes, they look at their mistakes and they learn from them, where they are continuously reflecting and improving on what they’ve done, not being enthralled to getting the right answer quickly and looking smart.

‘They need to be interested in the process of getting the right answer because that’s what it is like in the big wide world.’

The academic’s advice was to ‘ban the eraser, get a big road sign with an eraser and put a big, red bar across it and get kids to say you don’t scrub out your mistakes – highlight them because mistakes are your friends, they are your teachers’.

Erasing mistakes does not help children prepare for life’s realities, Professor Claxton said, adding: ‘Out in the big wide world nobody is going to be following you around, marking your work, organising your time for you. In the 21st century you are going to be the designer, the architect, the curator of your own learning.’

He referred to research by Paul Tough – the US author of a book called How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character – showing that both resilience and curiosity help pupils to do better in their exams as well as in life.

‘School should not be just a place for getting right answers to pass tests, it should be a real preparation for all kids to embark on life,’ Professor Claxton said.

‘We should narrow the gap between what learning is like in the real world and the way it is configured in school.’


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