Tuesday, March 29, 2016
British headteachers tell staff to use pink ink when they are marking because it is ‘less aggressive’ than red so children will not feel like a failure
Teachers have complained about a ‘ridiculous’ marking system which forces them to use pink ink for negative comments because it is ‘less aggressive’ than red.
The bizarre system is being implemented by some headteachers who believe pink is a softer colour which will make children feel less like failures.
Many are also making staff use up to six different coloured pens to give different types of feedback to pupils as part of a ‘triple’ or ‘deep’ marking strategy.
In one example, a school has asked pupils to respond to teachers’ comments in purple or blue, and if teachers want to give encouragement they have been told to use a ‘positive’ green pen.
It is thought the system was inspired by Marking Matters, a guide from Ofsted, the schools regulator, issued in 2011 but withdrawn last year.
At the conference of the NASUWT teaching union in Birmingham at the weekend, teachers voted to escalate industrial action over the pressures of the marking system.
Chris Keates, the general secretary of the NASUWT, said: ‘Too many schools are continuing to impose marking regimes which pupils and teachers find debilitating.
‘Teachers are being subjected to policies which dictate when to mark, how to mark and even the colours of the pens to be used.’
Michael Parsons, who teaches at Roath Park Primary School in Cardiff, said his school uses a system of pink and green pens for marking.
He said: ‘It’s green for growth and pink for progress. To be honest it’s lost on me . . . and I know it’s lost on the children.’
Lee Williscroft-Ferris, a modern languages teacher from Durham, said that in one school he worked at he had to draw a pink box at the end of each piece and insert positive comments in green ink and suggestions for improvement in pink.
According to a recent survey, primary teachers on average spend 10 hours a week on marking.
The government this weekend accepted recommendations made in an independent report to encourage teachers to give more verbal feedback in lessons.
Teachers have long complained that the complicated marking systems create unnecessary extra work and detract from actual teaching.
It is understood heads have adopted them so that they have written evidence of rigorous feedback to show to Ofsted inspectors. But education secretary Nicky Morgan is against the practise and is working on strategies to reduce teacher workload.
A source close to Mrs Morgan told the Sunday Times: ‘The notion that we expect books to be marked in a particular colour of ink is ridiculous.’
Mass.: At private schools, a surge of Chinese students
EVERETT — Pope John XXIII High School once epitomized the parochial school experience, a concrete building where hundreds of poor Catholic children from Irish and Italian immigrant families sought a new future. For decades, a student from farther away than Malden or Chelsea stood out.
Walk through the same doors now, and the tones of Mandarin Chinese bounce off the lockers. International flags fly between stained glass windows in a chapel-turned-dining hall. In one classroom, a crucifix hangs over a bookshelf with a Chinese dictionary — a reminder that almost half the school’s population hails from abroad. Three-quarters of those students come from China.
Chinese students have flocked to US universities for nearly 40 years. But as that country’s middle class balloons and competition for college acceptance rises, some families aim to jump-start the process by sending children abroad as early as junior high. This influx has spurred a side industry ripe for exploitation and shifted the makeup of secondary schools nationwide, particularly in private-school hubs like New England.
Elite boarding schools have found the surge so great that many are attempting to maintain a balance by accepting fewer Chinese. But many day schools, faced with financial pressures, have seized on the opportunity to enroll full-tuition students through partnerships with recruitment agencies, new dorms, and rejiggered curriculums.
“This school is not the school that was here in the 1980s,” said Tom Ryan, head of school at Pope John XXIII.
Chinese made up 35 percent of the 92,000 foreign secondary school students in the United States in 2015, according to the US Department of Homeland Security, by far the largest group studying here. The number of international students in New England alone rose from more than 9,000 in 2010 to nearly 14,000 last year.
International enrollment at the Newman School in the Back Bay shot up from 29 percent to 36 percent in the past five years, with 70 percent of those Chinese. The MacDuffie School in Granby has more than doubled its international population in the past four years, to 160 out of 297 students total.
Lexington Christian Academy recently acquired a dormitory, largely for international students who pay $61,860 a year for tuition and housing. In 2011, Pope John XXIII officials converted the school’s fifth-floor convent into a dormitory for foreign students. Tuition there is $9,500 annually, plus about $30,000 for room and board.
This new wave of Chinese students, even as they seek educational opportunity, is also more vulnerable because they leave their families at a young age, travel halfway across the world, and juggle the insecurities of teenage years in a country they don’t understand.
Some of these so-called parachute kids sink, but many do master a system of teaching much different than they knew, improve their English, diversify traditionally monochrome campuses, and better situate themselves to attend a US university. And yet the transition can feel jarring.
“The first day I arrived at my host family’s, I shut the door all day and stayed in my room,” said Ran Yixin, who entered George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, Maine, as a hesitant 17-year-old sophomore.
Then the south China native started watching football games with her host father, joined the cheerleading squad, volunteered at a local church, and became a discerning lobster eater. She graduated last year and now attends Bunker Hill Community College.
“You need to be versatile; you can’t be only good at studying,” said Ran, who like many international students, bounced between host families.
The desire to attend a US college often drives families, but, like Ran, many also seek to avoid the rigidity of the Chinese education system.
Most public school students in China focus their academic career on passing a single test, the national college entrance exam, which is taken in their senior year. Students study long hours, and their score on this test, called the gaokao, determines where they go to college and what majors they pursue.
This method, while prized for its rigor, leaves little time for hobbies or self-examination.
“The education system in China is quite harmful for personal interest,” said Ran’s father, Ran Qihui, who paid about $46,000 a year for the US private high school.
Some Chinese parents worry the American approach, which emphasizes extracurriculars and encourages students to follow their passions, fails to instill the same level of academic skills as the Chinese model.
Unless parents can afford to accompany their children, it also tears families apart at the child’s most formative age.
“It’s like they start college four years earlier,” said Tracy Ren, a Beijing mother whose son went to Choate Rosemary Hall, the same Connecticut boarding school President John F. Kennedy attended. “If you want to send [your kids abroad] at 14, they’re gone.”
Ren helps run a parental support group on WeChat, a popular Chinese social media app, that translates to “Circle of Moms who want to Send their Kids to the US.” It has 50,000 followers.
Many of these are parents like Robby Yang, caught between keeping a child nearby and encouraging them to leave. Any reservations the Chinese father had about sending his son abroad ended when the boy started elementary school in Beijing.
He noticed that parents were asking the teacher what supplemental material they should buy for their 7-year-olds, in addition to after-school English classes and regular homework.
Yang tried to ignore the intensity of his son’s kindergarten, where some of the kids could read novels. But the child would cry because he couldn’t list addition tables or write as many Chinese characters as the others.
“This kind of competition is everywhere,” said Yang, who works on the investment side of Pearson, a multinational education and publishing company, and commutes three hours a day so his son can attend a well-regarded school.
Schools acknowledge that revenue from these full-paying students motivates their recruitment. Many also hope to cultivate affluent international families into donors.
But administrators also say the influx is reshaping classrooms that historically have lacked diversity.
“We’re going to end up with a population of students who maybe aren’t so interested in putting a wall around their own country,” said Steven Griffin, head of school at the MacDuffie School.
An entire industry, both in the United States and China, has sprung up to funnel young foreign students to American prep schools.
Fees can run as high as $50,000 for an agent to guide a family through the admissions process. Many of these businesses make additional profit by housing students in makeshift dorms or placing them with host families.
Schools use agents because they believe it lends legitimacy to students’ applications. But it also makes for unusually close partnerships between admissions officers and businesses, with money as a primary incentive.
“International students are a very lucrative market,” said Xi Zhang, founder of Boston-based FindingSchool.com, a website that provides information in Chinese about US secondary schools. “Although they can claim ‘I want to make sure our student body is diverse,’ lots of schools are doing this for the money.”
The MacDuffie School finds 80 percent of its international students through agents, Griffin said. The school pays agents a cut, 10 percent of the $51,000 tuition that schools receive from the family the first year, and 5 percent in subsequent years.
Sparhawk School, an Amesbury day school, requires students from China, Vietnam, and Korea to apply through the Cambridge Institute for International Education, a recruiting company whose affiliate operates the school’s new dormitory in nearby Haverhill. The Waltham-based company, founded less than a decade ago, partners with more than 200 private and public high schools and universities, one of the largest agencies of its kind.
Although third-party companies assist many families with the unfamiliar process, some also manipulate naive parents eager to see their children succeed.
While the surge in international students brings more diversity of thought, it also threatens to shift the demographics too far in one direction, Upham said. His association has started a national campaign to encourage boarding schools to enroll more domestic students — 2,020 more by the year 2020.
Meanwhile, the region’s elite prep schools, with their larger endowments, face less pressure to recruit international students.
Enrolling too many foreign students can backfire, said Chris Blondin, associate admissions director at Governor’s Academy in Byfield, which has 17 Chinese students out of 400 total. Chinese families aren’t attracted to schools that look too much like home, he said.
In coming years, the Newman School aims to reverse strategy and recruit more US students.
Headmaster Harry Lynch is proud of Newman’s global reputation, but he frequently hears that the school is not well-known in Boston.
Lynch sat in his office one recent afternoon surrounded by stacks of American textbooks. The bell rang and students from around the world raced past his open door to class. “When I look at the future of the school,” Lynch said, “it has to rebalance.”
Australia: Federal Labor party MPs Lobby Sydney University To Maintain Antisemitic "Centre"
Pressure is mounting on the University of Sydney to back away from planned changes to its Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), with Federal Labor MPs writing to the University and urging it to reconsider.
In a letter seen by New Matilda, three Federal MPs and four of their state counterparts have implored the institution not to “downgrade” the Centre into a mini-department.
The CPACS is headed by Associate-Professor Jake Lynch, and has campaigned outside of the classroom on a number of issues. Lynch and others involved in the Centre are concerned the changes to its structure will threaten that side of its operations.
So too are Federal MPs Melissa Parke, Maria Vamvakinou, and Laurie Ferguson, who along with state MPs Paul Lynch, Julia Finn, Lynda Voltz, and Shaoquett Moselmane have signed a letter protesting the restructure and sent to the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Professor Barbara Caine.
“CPACS’s efforts to promote debate on issues like accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka, West Papua, Palestine and human rights generally provide the Australian and the global community with a sophisticated, alternative voice on topical and difficult issues, as reflected in acclamations for CPACS’ work by the likes of Dr Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu,” their letter says.
The letter goes on to urge the University to reconsider changing the Centre’s status.
“It cannot be good for our democracy and academic reputation to attenuate such voices. It would be particularly disturbing if a prestigious institution like Sydney University, by the simple expedient of withdrawing resources from CPACS, is seen to supress reflection and debate on important, even controversial, matters.”
The move follows similar action from NSW state Greens MPs, who wrote to the University earlier in the week warning the changes to the Centre could look like a ‘politically motivated attack’ to the broader community.
After being contacted for comment today, a spokesperson for University said they did not comment on correspondence with MPs. The University has previously argued the changes to the Centre are due to falling enrolments, but that has been disputed by Lynch.
Lynch has previously been the subject of controversy thanks to his support of the Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions campaign. MPs who signed the letter, including Federal members Melissa Parke and Maria Vamvakinou, have been among Labor’s most outspoken supporters of Palestine.
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