Friday, July 24, 2015

Secondary school crisis looms as pupil numbers soar by 20% in the next decade fuelled by immigration and baby boom

England's secondary schools risked being overwhelmed according to government predications that the number of pupils will soar by 20 per cent in a decade.

The Department for Education expects there to be half a million more pupils by 2024 compared today, push the figure to almost 3.3million.

Unions said schools are already 'stretched to their limits' and will struggle to cope with more children as triggered by a rising population and immigration.

The number of children in secondary schools has been falling since 2005 as a result of a drop in birth rates a decade ago.

But official forecasts drawn up for Education Secretary Nicky Morgan show that from this year the trend will be reversed, and numbers will start to rise from the 2.74million enrolled in 2015.

Over the next 10 years it will rise every year, according to the projections, reaching 3.287million, up 20 per cent in 2015.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: 'We want every parent to have access to a good school place for their child.

'Despite rising pupil numbers, 95 per cent of parents received an offer at one of their three preferred schools.

'But we recognise that as the population grows, the demand for new school places increases.

'That is why we doubled the funding for school places to £5bn in the last Parliament, which has helped create almost 500,000 new school places.

'A further £7bn has already been committed to create even more places over the next six years.'

The numbers are rising faster than expected. A year ago the projected number of pupils in state-funded secondary schools in 2024 was 20,000 lower than the latest data.

Under various scenarios used by the government, if net migration is at its highest it would add an extra 35,000 students to secondary schools.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT said: 'The number of children in education is still rising but the government lacks a coherent plan. Some schools are already stretched to their limits.

'The current system is fragmented and free schools are an inefficient and insufficient way of meeting the numbers. NAHT believes that some local agency should have the strategic role in the planning of places, able to commission new schools and places in both the academy and maintained sectors.

'Schools are also running low on money. The government is not taking account of pensions, national insurance, cost of living, increments, living wages and – crucially – the cost to schools of picking up on cuts to other public services. An increase in pupil numbers is an added pressure on schools at a very difficult time.'

The data also shows that the number of primary school pupils will rise by 6 per cent to 4.376million.

'The peak annual rate of increase is expected to be seen in 2016, with a projected 2.4 per cent increase in the population at state-funded primary schools,' the DfE said.

'The increase is then expected to reduce, as the population is affected by the lower birth numbers in 2013 and other factors.

'By 2023, the rate of increase is projected to have dropped to 0.1 per cent, followed by a small decrease of -0.1 per cent in 2024.'


We Must Break Teachers Unions, Get School Choice

By now, a good portion of America knows that Planned Parenthood engages in trafficking of organs obtained from the unborn infants they destroy in their abortion industry.

Planned Parenthood’s director of medical research, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, was captured on tape describing, in a most matter-of-fact way, these gruesome activities as she sipped wine and forked salad at a fancy Los Angeles restaurant. She discussed how doctors use ultrasound to guide their deadly hand such that valuable tissue is not destroyed as they kill the unborn child.

It is sad commentary on the dismal state of the American soul that we need revelations like this to wake up the nation to what so many now accept as part of American life – the butchery and dehumanization of legal abortion-on-demand.

But the issue is not where we are, but understanding how we got here, and deciding where we are going.

And here we must talk about education.

In my travels I hear so many people express disbelief that this nation, which they still see as free and under God, is willing to allow hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to flow annually to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. They are in disbelief that so many accept Planned Parenthood calling what it does “reproductive health” and that its president can, in the same breath, talk about ethics while referring to her organization’s trafficking in body parts of destroyed children.

So many are incredulous that fellow citizens are comfortable with the shattering of traditional values that sustained us for so many generations. They wonder how a large percentage of our population see no moral problem with redefining marriage; the collapse of the American family; the fact that almost half our babies are now born to unmarried women.

Many Americans are asking, “What happened?”

One answer to that question is that attitudes so prevalent today, particularly among young Americans, reflect what recent generations have been learning in school.

Most teachers in our public schools belong to the large teachers unions – the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

Looking over the websites of both these organizations, it is readily apparent that their idea of education goes well beyond reading, writing and arithmetic. They view “values” as part of education, but not what many churchgoing, God-fearing, Christian Americans call values.

Both these big teachers unions promote abortion and same-sex marriage, support Planned Parenthood politically and financially and engage actively in legal proceedings supporting these “values.”

The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, is an open lesbian. She, of course, is free to live as she chooses. But Ms. Weingarten doesn’t support the same freedom of choice for parents who don’t share her values – parents whose children attend schools where her union members teach.

Her organization fights, and has fought, bringing education choice and charter schools to low-income minority communities where her union has a stranglehold on public schools.

With today’s obsession regarding race and crime and violence in poor minority communities, most do agree that this is traceable to the collapse of black families. And the collapse of black families is traceable to the massive intrusion of government into the lives of these communities.

Minority children, 70 percent of whom are born into single-parent homes, must have the choice to go to schools where traditional values are taught. But the teachers unions do everything to make sure this cannot happen.

No Child Left Behind is now being re-authorized, but without a provision to allow parents to choose to send their child to any public or private school they want. This is an enormous mistake.

America’s future, and restoration of the morality and decency on which freedom depends, requires school choice and ending the power of teachers unions over our children.


Universities wasting public money on 'pointless' research, says think tank

British universities are wasting time and public money carrying out ‘pointless’ research projects to get funding and push themselves up the rankings, a think tank has said.

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) argues government funding to higher education institutions, representing 4 per cent of the total universities receive, should be scrapped because it generates “perverse incentives”.

Instead, it is calling for this funding to be given to local education councils, so that they can manage the money and allocate it where they see fit.

The IEA’s research highlights “serious shortfalls” in the so-called Research Excellence Framework (REF), which represents £1.5 billion of funding or roughly one fifth of the total amount the government hands to universities.

Despite being a comparatively small amount, the think tank argues the funding “seriously distorts the behaviour of universities and leads universities to try to game the system in very damaging ways”.

The report argues the government funding is a misallocated resource, that comes with high bureaucratic costs as well as distorting academic priorities.

Len Shackleton, one of the authors of the report, told the Daily Telegraph: “The REF determines the allocation of a relatively small amount of money – less than £1.5 billion – and yet it involves huge costs for universities and distorts priorities.

“The REF leads to the dog of university teaching, scholarship and research to be wagged by the tail of particular types of research activity.

“Academics focus on getting papers in specific journals rather than genuine scholarship. At the institutional level, universities spend disproportionate amounts of resources trying to raise their REF ranking very often trying to game the system.”

The IEA also made a strong point for reducing funding for universities in general.

The report added: “More generally, there is a strong case for reducing the total amount of government subsidy for research and expecting universities to generate their own support for research and scholarship or support it by reducing overhead costs.

“In many disciplines research has a value largely in developing academic understanding which should feed primarily into teaching. The current system leads far too many academics to focus on research as a substitute for teaching, to the detriment of students.”

Universities in the past have come under criticism for funding research that some argue is “pointless”. Previous research has included why cookies crumble, why don’t woodpeckers get headaches and how to make the perfect toast.

University and College Union general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "The IEA are not alone in criticising what we also consider a flawed process when it comes to the REF, and we have outlined the need for a fundamental overhaul of the research system.

"However, we want to see better funding that expands our research base, covering more institutions and more diverse areas of research. History has taught us that some of the biggest breakthroughs have come from speculative research and it would be foolish to try and measure projects purely on their economic potential."


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