Monday, May 04, 2015

UK: School heads say too many new teachers are not up to the job, don't have a basic grasp of grammar and can't control their pupils

A damning report by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) found many new recruits are so badly trained that they cannot control a class or properly teach their subject.

The NAHT survey of its members found that the poor quality of applicants was the main reason for a growing recruitment crisis in schools.

Many heads preferred to stick with classroom-hardened supply teachers than risk hiring inexperienced staff.

The report lists a catalogue of failings that heads have witnessed in young teachers, ranging from a weak grasp of grammar to a ‘poor work ethic’.

These findings will disappoint the Government which has been attempting to inject more rigour into teacher training – although experts said its reforms had yet to take hold.

The poor quality of training will also undermine Labour’s insistence that all new teachers must achieve the professional qualification.

The report, published today, found that seven in ten heads felt the quality of new teachers was the same or had declined over the past five years.

Critics say the college and university education departments that produce most of the 30,000 new teachers each year are dominated by academics who are more interested in ‘fanciful’ theories than practical techniques.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, said the Marxism-influenced ‘madness’ that had infected education departments in the past had been replaced by lecturers who ‘have lost touch with what actually works in the classroom’.

He said efforts by the former Education Secretary Michael Gove to reform teacher training might be derailed if Labour wins power.

Under the School Direct programme, groups of schools recruit would-be teachers and provide them with far more hands-on experience than traditional university courses.

Professor Smithers said: ‘There is a risk that Labour will back away from school-based training because it will be pressured to do so by the unions and the education establishment.’

The survey of 1,789 heads last September found there were growing problems recruiting teachers at all levels, including deputy and assistant heads. While a shortage of teachers was a key factor, the top reason given was the quality of applicants.

Many said that while there were plenty of applicants in their area, they were not of the right standard.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said the findings were ‘worrying’ and showed that teacher training reforms were not yet working.


Obama Administration Says Non-Profit Status ‘Going to Be an Issue’ for Religious Schools

Is the Obama administration about to wage war on religious schools?

One of the more startling portions of oral arguments today at the Supreme Court was the willingness of the Obama administration’s Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, to admit that religious schools that affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman may lose their non-profit tax-exempt status if marriage is redefined.

Justice Samuel Alito asked Verrilli whether a religious school that believed marriage was the union of husband and wife would lose their non-profit tax status.

The solicitor general answered: “It’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is it is going to be an issue.”

This should not be an issue. Citizens and organizations that continue to believe the truth about marriage should not be penalized by the government.

Even if the Court says that all 50 states have to recognize a same-sex relationship as a marriage, there is no reason why the government should coerce or penalize institutions of civil society that simply ask to be free—without penalty—to continue to operate in accordance with the belief that marriage is a union of husband and wife.

This line of questioning between Alito and the solicitor general picked up on a theme that Justice Antonin Scalia had started with the lawyer representing the same-sex couples suing the states.

Scalia asked about the religious liberty concerns if the Supreme Court creates a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. When the lawyer replied that we hadn’t seen many religious liberty violations in the states that have democratically redefined marriage, Scalia pounced: that’s his point. Here’s how he explained it:

They are laws. They are not constitutional requirements. That was the whole point of my question. If you let the states do it, you can make an exception. … You can’t do that once it is a constitutional proscription.

Scalia repeated himself, almost verbatim, mere minutes later: “That’s my whole my point. If it’s a state law, you can make those exceptions. But if it’s a constitutional requirement, I don’t see how you can.”

This highlights another reason why it would be wise for the Supreme Court to not disregard the constitutional authority of states to make marriage policy. Not only is there nothing in the Constitution that requires the redefinition of marriage, but a ruling saying that there was could create unimaginable religious liberty violations. These situations are best handled democratically.


Australia does new universities well

Australia has more world-class universities opened in the past 50 years ago than any other nation, with 16 in the top 100 worldwide and seven in the top 50, according to a survey released today.

The University of Technology, Sydney, tops the list of Australian universities, sitting in 21st spot ­internationally, according to the Times Higher Education Top 100 Under 50 2015 rankings.

The ranking compares universities established in or after 1965. UTS, which jumped 26 places from 47th in the rankings last year, leapfrogged the universities of Newcastle and Wollongong and the Queensland University of Technology to claim top spot.

“The ranking shows something really positive, which is that Australia has the Group of Eight up there holding their own in the traditional rankings, but it also has strength and depth further down,” said Times Higher Educa­tion’s rankings editor Phil Baty.

“That is different to the UK and the US, which have the very best universities in the world, but they also have a very long tail of very poor ones. That’s not the case in Australia.”

UTS vice-chancellor Attila Brungs said the improvement in its ranking was “a result of work we started doing around research and international partnerships in 2009. We are bearing the fruits of efforts planted quite a few years ago.”

Australia’s performance has raised questions about the govern­ment’s higher-education reform agenda — which is currently on ice after being knocked back twice in the Senate.

Mr Baty said the apparent strength of the sector called into question elements of the government’s reforms, including tuition-fee deregulation.

“Deregulated fees would put a bigger gap ­between the very best and the rest,” he said.

Linda Kristjanson, the vice-chancellor of Swinburne University, which entered the top 100 for the first time at 65, said the rankings confirmed the strength of the Australian sector. “It should cause us to continue to critically evaluate proposed changes which would radically alter the policy and funding settings on which this success has been built,” Professor Kristjanson said.


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