Saturday, March 31, 2012

The criminalization of school misbehavior marches on

Schools are not allowed effective means of discipline so calling the cops is their way out

What may have started as the time-honored yet unruly tradition of a high school food fight landed a few students in a place they never expected tossing today’s lunch would get them: the slammer.
WXYZ reports:

"Four juniors and seniors from Jefferson High School in Frenchtown, Mich., walked into a courtroom Wednesday wearing striped jail clothes and handcuffs where they were charged with a misdemeanor for inciting a disturbance in a public building.

All the teens were released to their parents on a $500 recognizance bond, except one whose parent couldn’t leave work so he had to spend a second night in jail.

The local ABC affiliate reports that 16 other students were given 10 day suspensions. Cory Long, 16, who is among those suspended and friends with the boys who were arrested, said he wasn’t sure who started the fight but that “food just started to fly.”

Tina Long, Corey’s mother, is reported as saying the situation is being blown out of proportion by officials:  “Every one of us did something goofy in high school. And now they want to do this to the kids?” said Tina Long.

Superintendent Craig Haugen issued a statement that said the school “will not tolerate this type of behavior.” He said that damage done to the property and potential for student injury is what “caused us to treat this more seriously than just some cafeteria horseplay.”

The Monroe Evening News reported Monroe County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Plath as agreeing that the fight warranted arrest of the students. He called it an “organized event.” Tables and chairs were said to have been overturned and thrown.

All we can assume is that if it were an epic enough food fight to land these boys in jail with a misdemeanor, it had to have been as good as the famous cafeteria food fight scene in National Lampoon’s Animal House.


Let's roll out the grammar (selective) schools across Britain: Call for nationwide expansion after a breakthrough in Kent

New grammar school classes could open around the country after the first major expansion of academic selection for 50 years was given the go-ahead yesterday.

A call went out to ‘roll out the grammars’ after Tory-controlled Kent took advantage of new Coalition rules to announce the expansion of existing schools with ‘satellite’ campuses.

The move is the first significant boost for the pro-grammar lobby since the Labour government of the 1960s launched its still controversial drive to turn the country’s 1,300 grammars into comprehensives.

Campaigners hailed Kent’s decision as a ‘small but important step’ towards the creation of a grammar school in every area where there is parental demand.

Under plans approved yesterday by councillors, a grammar school annexe will open in Sevenoaks under the umbrella of at least one existing selective school located in a nearby town.

The satellite school will cater for 120 first-years students, rising to a full capacity of about 840 pupils.

Laws introduced by Labour still outlaw the creation of entirely new grammars but the Coalition brought in powers in February that allow schools to expand in response to parental demand.

They can operate satellites on separate sites as long as they retain the same catchment area and staff.

    164 grammars remain under the 36 councils that stood firm in retaining selection

    The name comes from 6th century schools that taught Latin grammar to monks

    They exploded in number with the arrival of the nationwide 11-plus exam in 1945

    In their 1950s heyday, up to 1,300 grammars across England and Wales educated the top 25 per cent of pupils, with secondary moderns and technical schools teaching the rest

    Harold Wilson’s Labour government began dismantling grammars in 1965, with education secretary Tony Crosland vowing: ‘If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to destroy every ******* grammar school.’

    The remaining grammar schools were able to protect selective admissions by applying for grant-maintained status under 1988 laws introduced by the Tories which allowed them to opt out of council control

More areas that have retained selective schooling are expected to follow Kent’s lead as competition intensifies for places.

A grammar in Torquay has already looked into expanding and schools in Buckinghamshire are said to be interested.

Sixty-six Kent councillors backed the expansion plan yesterday, with just three against. Councillor Jim Wedgbury declared: ‘We can make history and start the roll-out of grammar schools across the nation.’

Jennie Varley of the National Grammar Schools Association, said: ‘This is excellent news. This may now encourage other grammar schools to do the same.’

Education Secretary Michael Gove has said his ‘foot is hovering over the pedal’ of allowing full-scale expansion of grammars.

Tory MP Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, said: ‘The Government is going some way to satisfying the enormous pent up demand for more selective education.’

But he added: ‘These arrangements will do nothing to improve choice for the very many people living in areas which currently have no grammar schools.

‘Those people, may just wonder why they are not allowed the same kind of choice as parents in Kent. The whole logic of this must really push in the direction of further relaxation of the rules.’

Kent’s announcement follows a three-month campaign by husband and wife Sarah and Andrew Shilling, who highlighted the severe shortage of selective places in Sevenoaks.

The town is served by one comprehensive. More than 1,000 pupils make a round trip of 25 miles a day to grammars in nearby towns.

The Shillings’ petition attracted 2,620 signatures, prompting the council to act. Mrs Shilling, a mother of three, said: ‘This is great news for the children of Sevenoaks.’

Under the plan, two forms of entry for girls and two for boys who pass the 11-plus would be created, either in two separate annexes or one on the same site.

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘The over-riding objective of this Government’s reforms is to increase the supply of good school places so parents have real choice.’


British university drop-out rate soars by 13pc in a year

Record numbers of students quit university courses last year as the higher education drop-out rate soared above 30,000 for the first time, official figures show.

More than one-in-five undergraduates are failing to compete the first year of their degree at the worst-performing universities, it emerged, prompting fears that millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being wasted on unwanted courses.

At some universities, an estimated four-in-10 students will fail to finish the course they started after either dropping out, switching to another institution or graduating with a lesser qualification.

In England, the University of Bolton had the worst drop-out rate with 21.4 per cent of students quitting higher education after just a year. An estimated 45 per cent of undergraduates will fail to complete their full degree course, it emerged.

Drop-out rates were as high as a third at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland and hit almost a quarter at the University of West Scotland.

Across Britain, the number of students dropping out increased from 28,210 to 31,755 last year – a rise of almost 13 per cent.

It was the first time since records began a decade ago that the rate had crept above 30,000, fuelled by an increase in the overall student population.

The rise – in data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency – comes despite the Government spending £1bn on initiatives designed to improve student retention.

The University and College Union warned that the drop-out rate would soar in coming years following a decision to increase the cap on student tuition fees to £9,000.

Sally Hunt, the UCU general secretary, said undergraduates would be tempted to chase places on the cheapest courses, even if they fail to fit their requirements.

“Over the past five years, in England alone, over £1bn has been spent on measures to improve student retention in higher education,” she said.

“Sadly, today’s figures show that too many students, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, are still failing to complete their studies.

“We have real concerns that the new funding regime with hugely increased tuition fees may force some students onto courses that, although cheaper, do not best suit their abilities.

“That scenario is likely to lead to further drop outs, which will not benefit the student, the university or society.”

Figures from HESA show the number of students dropping out of university each year along with the proportion expected to complete the degree they started.

In all, 8.6 per cent of students quit higher education after 12 months last year compared with 7.9 per cent a year earlier. Some 21.6 per cent are expected to fail to complete their degree.

According to data, the worst performer was Highlands and Islands where 32 per cent dropped out last year and just 48.6 per cent of students are expected to finish the degree course they started.

More than one-in-seven students dropped out of higher education altogether at eight other British universities, including West Scotland, Bolton, West London, London Metropolitan, Swansea Metropolitan, Middlesex, University Campus Suffolk and Salford.

By comparison, Cambridge and St Andrews had the lowest drop out rates last year with just 1.4 per cent of students quitting, following by Oxford at 1.4 per cent.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "Although our student completion rates compare well internationally, we want to reduce the number of students who don’t complete their studies.

“We are improving information for prospective students so that they can make more informed choices and we are committee to a better overall student experience."


Friday, March 30, 2012

Indiana:  Another authoritarian school that thinks it owns its students even after hours

The free speech rights of students on social networks and the extent to which they could potentially be punishable by an educational system for what they say online has been cropping up more and more in local news.

Syracuse University recently discussed expelling a student for a Facebook complaint. In Nov. 2011, a Kansas high school senior was forced by her school to apologize, which she refused to do, after she issued a tweet against the state’s governor. In January, the Supreme Court ruled Pennsylvania school officials could not punish students for fake MySpace profiles they created of their principals.

These are just a few cases, but here’s yet another example out of Garrett, Ind., where a senior has been expelled — just months before graduation — for tweeting the F-word. Indiana News Center has more:
    “One of my tweets was, BEEP [F-word]  is one of those BEEP words you can BEEP put anywhere in a BEEP sentence and it still BEEP make sense,” said Austin Carroll, student.

    Austin was expelled from Garrett High School after tweeting the F-word under his account. The school claims it was done from a school computer. Austin says he did it from home.

    “If my account is on my own personal account, I don’t think the school or anybody should be looking at it. Because it‘s my own personal stuff and it’s none of their business,” said Carroll.

    “I totally didn‘t agree with what Austin said but I didn’t agree with an expulsion either. I mean if they suspended him for 3 days or something, I would be fine with that but to kick him out of school, his senior year, 3 months to go, wrong,” said Pam Smith, Austin’s mother.

According to the report, the school tracks activity conducted on school-owned computers and laptops. But Carroll is saying he didn’t use a school computer to post the tweet:
    “I didn’t post the thing at school but their computer is saying that I did post it, and I shouldn’t be getting in trouble for stuff I did on my own time, on my own computer,” said Carroll.

Journal Gazette columnist Frank Gray reports superintendent Dennis Stockdale saying the school wouldn’t punish students for things they said online on their own computer and time and off the school’s network. The Journal Gazette states that the tweet in question was posted at 2:30 a.m., suggesting it would be outside the school’s jurisdiction if Carroll had done so on his own laptop, as he claims.

INC states that Carroll’s fellow classmates threatened to protest the expulsion.

According to the Journal Gazette, Smith believes that previous conflicts including other tweets that were sent from the school laptop may have targeted her son. INC states that Carroll will be finishing the year at an alternative school and will be allowed to graduate. Still, Carroll said he feels he is missing out of activities he would like to participate in, such as prom.


Pay children to attend top private schools, British Government told

Dozens of top private schools are calling on the Government to provide state subsidies to allow bright pupils to be admitted irrespective of family background, it emerged today.

Eighty schools including Westminster, Manchester Grammar, City of London School and King Edward’s, Birmingham, are urging ministers to fund places for bright children whose parents cannot afford full fees.

The “Open Access” programme – proposed by the Sutton Trust charity – would create a system in which schools operated fully “needs blind” admissions.

It would represent a partial return to the “assisted places” scheme – when local councils provided parents with subsidies to take their children out of state schools – 15 years after the programme was axed by Labour.

Headmasters claimed the move would be cheaper than funding places in the state sector and boost levels of social mobility by allowing pupils to attend institutions with some of the best academic records in Britain.

But the move is likely to be fiercely resisted by teaching unions who claim it would divert cash away from the state education system.

It is also unlikely to be backed by the Conservative-led Coalition for fear of reigniting claims of “elitism”.

But Sir Peter Lampl, the Sutton Trust chairman, said: “Opening up these schools would result in over 30,000 children attending them based on merit who now cannot afford to do so.  “This would transform social mobility at the top.”

In a report, the Sutton Trust suggest that education at a top private day school can be provided for around £11,000 per pupil each year.

Under the plan, it is proposing that the Government provide an average of £5,500 for each pupil to attend – around £500 less than a state school place – and parents pay the remainder.

The subsidy would be higher for the poorest pupils and lower for the very richest families, creating a system in which parents pay sliding fees based on their annual income.

Other schools supporting the programme include Lady Eleanor Holles in Hampton, the Grammar School at Leeds and the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle.

David Levin, headmaster of the City of London Boys’ School, said: “Despite our extensive bursary programme, we have to turn away many highly able students from low and middle income homes who would thrive in our school.

“Open Access would allow us to be truly needs blind in our admissions.”


Australia:  Leftist minister under fire over nanny slur

Stupid woman

CHILDCARE Minister Kate Ellis has been accused of inciting class rivalry after saying the childcare rebate should not be extended to nannies because they were chauffeurs and chefs hired to do the ironing.

Ms Ellis accused Tony Abbott of intending to cut assistance for low-income families by extending the non-means-tested rebate - which allows families to claim 50 per cent of approved childcare costs, with a cap of $7500 - to the unregulated nanny sector.

"I think that when we have a look at nannies we see that they're often chauffeurs, they're often chefs . . . some of them do ironing, some of them do the washing and the household chores," Ms Ellis said yesterday. "Tony Abbott has made clear that any nanny subsidies will come from 'the existing funding envelope'. That means cutting the assistance given to families through the childcare benefit or childcare rebate. The nanny industry is unregulated and there are no quality assurance requirements in place. This new policy is undeveloped and uncosted and will hit hard-working, low-income families who rely on childcare the hardest."

Opposition childcare spokeswoman Sussan Ley accused Ms Ellis of inciting class war and said she was wrong to say the Coalition wanted to deprive women of existing resources. "I'm sure Labor would be delighted to make this some sort of class war; well, it's not, and again proves why Kate Ellis shouldn't be in the job," she said. "The Coalition's call for a Productivity Commission report is simply reading that mood and looking at what real families are saying and doing to care for their kids. What is the minister scared of? Whether it is using a nanny, grandparents or occasional care, parents are voting with their feet to find realistic and affordable options."

Former University of Canberra chancellor and director of McCarthy Mentoring, Wendy McCarthy, said childcare centres did not always meet the needs of working women, citing the 24-hour childcare centre established at Star City when she was a director of the Sydney casino. "We put in 24-hour childcare but we found . . . most people don't want to take their kids to work and pick them up at 4 o'clock in the morning," she said. "I think we should demolish the argument about nannies being just for rich women . . . (It's) such an old argument, it's just horrible. The system assumes that we still live a life of Monday to Friday, nine to five, and I just think you've got to get over it."

Feminist academic Eva Cox said subsidising nannies could lead to calls for cheap labour from overseas.

The director of Melbourne's Leading Nanny Agency and mother of three Annie Sargood slammed Ms Ellis for what she said was inverted snobbery.  "The childcare benefit is actually paying for chefs in childcare centres and cleaners who come in after hours, so why can't a nanny come in and do the same thing in a home environment?" she said.

Mr Abbott yesterday said the Coalition, if elected, would ask the Productivity Commission to consider how childcare could deliver for families in regional and remote areas, and for shift workers.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

NYC madness:  PC student tests forbid dance, dinos & lots more

In a bizarre case of political correctness run wild, educrats have banned references to “dinosaurs,” “birthdays,” “Halloween” and dozens of other topics on city-issued tests.  That’s because they fear such topics “could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.”

Dinosaurs, for example, call to mind evolution, which might upset fundamentalists; birthdays aren’t celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses; and Halloween suggests paganism.  Even “dancing’’ is taboo, because some sects object. But the city did make an exception for ballet.

The forbidden topics were recently spelled out in a request for proposals provided to companies competing to revamp city English, math, science and social-studies tests given several times a year to measure student progress.

“Some of these topics may be perfectly acceptable in other contexts but do not belong in a city- or state-wide assessment,” the request reads.

Words that suggest wealth are excluded because they could make kids jealous. Poverty is likewise on the forbidden list.  Also banned are references to divorces and diseases, because kids taking the tests may have relatives who split from spouses or are ill.

Officials say such exclusions are normal procedure.  “This is standard language that has been used by test publishers for many years and allows our students to complete practice exams without distraction,” said a Department of Education spokeswoman, insisting it’s not censorship.

In fact, sensitivity guidelines recently published by a group of states creating new high-stakes exams also caution against mentioning luxuries, group dancing, junk food, homelessness or witches.  Yet a comparison shows the city’s list, at 50 topics, is nearly twice as long and has fewer exceptions.

The city asks test companies to exclude “creatures from outer space,” celebrities and excessive TV and video-game use — items that are OK elsewhere.

Homes with swimming pools and computers are also unmentionables here — because of economic sensitivities — while computers in the school or in libraries are acceptable.

City officials also specified that test makers shouldn’t include items that are potentially “disrespectful to authority or authority figures,” or give human characteristics to animals or inanimate objects.

Terrorism is deemed too scary. Slavery is also on the forbidden list.

Officials said there isn't an absolute ban on the items, in that they do get included on some exams on a case-by-case basis.

“The intent is to avoid giving offense or disadvantage any test takers by privileging prior knowledge,” said Robert Pondiscio, a spokesman for the Core Knowledge Foundation, an education group.

“But the irony is they’re eliminating some subjects, like junk food, holidays and popular music, that the broadest number of kids are likely to know quite a lot about.”

Columbia University Teachers College professor Deanna Kuhn said, “If the goal is to assess higher-order thinking skills, controversial topics, for example, ones that are the subject of political debate, are exactly what students should be reasoning about.”


Education Animal Farm

Public school education systems, methods and procedures today are bad enough to make George Orwell’s Animal Farm read like a Libertarian themed novel. Any semblance of personal freedom, individuality, critical thinking and human dignity has been thrown out the school house window.  Herewith is just a tiny sample of the proof:

An 11-year-old Lancaster, Pennsylvania girl – 11 years old, mind you -- has been denied her right to participate in her elementary school choir, chorus and orchestra, as well as every other extracurricular activity available to her sixth grade peers, both academic and athletic.

Is that because she’s a vicious unmanageable problem child, a bully perhaps, who presents a clear and present danger to fellow pupils at her school? 

Not at all; it’s solely because she and her parents refuse to allow the statist administrators in her school district to force her to piss into a bottle so they can test her body fluids for the presence of illegal drugs.

They have the temerity to complain that the district’s scheme to randomly drug test students in this manner is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy and a violation of the child’s Fourth Amendment Constitutional rights against unlawful searches and seizures, not to mention her Fifth Amendment due process rights.

But what do local school districts in America today care about constitutional rights? They think they can force kids to attend school and make them give up all their rights in the process. That’s the American way these days.

A ninth grade Australian schoolboy was suspended from classes because he shaved his head as part of an effort to raise funds for a cancer charity and support a friend who is battling leukemia.
Going beyond a "number two" haircut is against the school's uniform and grooming policy, explained his school principal. After his suspension he’ll be allowed back only if he agrees to wear a cap until his hair grows back.

"He took it on himself to shave his head for a very good cause, he didn't go through school procedures and deal with us first," said the statist principal. "I've always told students who wanted to support World's Greatest Shave it was OK, as long as hair length was within acceptable levels -- a number two. Then we can also then support them with publicity."

The kid took it upon himself to decide his hair style. That’s something kids today can’t do without official permission from the educational authorities. I suppose the kid with cancer was suspended too after all his hair fell out from the chemotherapy and he could no longer comply with the “number two” hair code policy.

A Chicago sixth-grade writing and social studies school teacher at Murray Language Academy was suspended for leading a class discussion about the "N-word," race relations and racism.
He explained that, using advice given by the Southern Poverty Law Center to help guide discussions about the word, he turned a bad classroom situation - in which one student wrote a rap calling another student the (n-word) - into "a teachable moment."
The problem here, of course, is that the teacher is a white guy, and white guys are not supposed to utter that word under any circumstances in public schools nowadays. Black teachers, yes; white teachers, no.

So forget about his First and Fifth Amendment rights to freedom of speech and due process of law; white people are prohibited from using the n-word even when it is done in language and social studies class for the purpose of teaching students why the n-word is bad.

I myself don’t even feel comfortable articulating that particular word in my blog for fear that the American language police will come crawling down my back. I’m white and that word is a no-no for me.

Republicans in the United States Congress are proposing a new School Lunch Bill in which pizza and French fries would stay on school lunch lines, and they’re fighting the Obama administration's efforts to take “unhealthy foods” out of schools.

The bill aims to circumvent Agriculture Department school lunch standards limiting the use of potatoes, putting new restrictions on sodium and boosting the use of whole grains. It would also keep counting tomato paste on pizzas as a vegetable.

Are all these die hard statist politicians doing this out of caring magnanimity, and altruistic desire to enhance the health and welfare of all the little school bunnies of America?

Hell, no! They’re doing it because American food companies that produce frozen pizzas for schools, the salt industry and potato growers requested the changes and have lobbied Congress. You see, school lunches in America that are subsidized by the federal government must include a certain amount of vegetables, and USDA's proposal could have pushed pizza-makers and potato growers out of the school lunch business.

The USDA and congress have taken on the responsibility to reduce childhood obesity and thereby future health care costs. The government wants to decide what kids can eat at school. Tomorrow it will be decisions about what they can eat at home if the politicians have their way.

"While it's unfortunate that some members of Congress continue to put special interests ahead of the health of America's children, USDA remains committed to practical, science-based standards for school meals," sniffed a USDA spokesperson.

Meanwhile, a group of retired generals, called Mission: Readiness, advocating for healthier school lunches, also criticized the bill, calling poor nutrition in school lunches a national security issue because obesity is the leading medical disqualifier for military service.

"We are outraged that Congress is seriously considering language that would effectively categorize pizza as a vegetable in the school lunch program," the director of the group, said in a letter to lawmakers. "It doesn't take an advanced degree in nutrition to call this a national disgrace."

Yes, French fries and pizza in school lunches is a matter of national security these days – not because the little school prisoners are adversely impacted – but because if they get fat they won’t qualify for military service. That’s truly a national disgrace. America wants its slaves when they’re kids, and later when they’re adults too. It wants its slaves for all their miserable lives. That’s why the government is telling us what we can eat.

If all this isn’t enough, now there are several school districts all across the U.S. suing their respective state governments, asking courts to order more spending on public education, and contending they face new pressures as states cut billions of dollars of funding while adding more rigorous educational standards.

In Washington State, the Supreme Court recently ordered the state legislature to come up with a plan for additional funding. Democrat Gov. Christine Gregoire agreed, explaining that without ample funds it is "difficult for students to gain the skills and knowledge needed to compete in today's global economy."

School districts everywhere need more and more cash so they can perpetuate the statist Education Animal Farm.


British trainee teachers facing harder three Rs tests in bid to root out applicants not fit for the job

Trainee teachers face tough new tests in the three Rs to root out those unable to do the job.  Ofsted inspectors found some staff, particularly in primary schools, have a poor grasp of subjects, leading to gaps in children’s knowledge.

Ministers fear entrance exams are too easy and allow trainees with a poor mastery of English and maths to slip through.

While new tests are being devised, the pass mark for existing tests in literacy and numeracy will be raised in September with fewer resits allowed.

One in five trainees fails to pass either literacy or numeracy first time around while one in ten trainees has to take the numeracy tests three times or more.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb announced yesterday that an expert panel will review the current tests with a view to devising new-look assessments.

‘International studies show that rigorous selection of trainee teachers is key to raising the quality and standing of the teaching profession,’ he said.  ‘It helps ensure trainees are committed to becoming teachers.

‘Strengthened trainee tests and an end to constant re-sits will mean parents can be confident that all teachers have the basic skills needed.’

The review will be led by Sally Coates, principal of Burlington Danes Academy in west London, and will report back to ministers by June, to allow the new tests to be introduced in September 2013.

From this September, the pass mark for the current tests will be raised.  Trainees who fail one or both of the tests at the first attempt will be limited to two resits for each test.  They will also have to pass the test before starting their course, so those without the right skills cannot start the training.

The Coalition has already announced plans to give out bursaries worth £20,000-a-year to students with first-class degrees who train to teach so-called shortage subjects such as maths and languages.  Lower bursaries will be available to students with 2.1s and 2.2s.

Heads are also being handed tough new powers to sack incompetent staff.

The skills tests were introduced by Labour amid concerns that teacher training did not guarantee a thorough grounding in literacy, numeracy and comprehension.  Passing the numeracy test has been a requirement of Qualified Teacher Status since 2000, and literacy the following year.

Students currently sit the online tests during their teacher training.  They were originally allowed only four or five attempts to pass the tests.  But Labour scrapped the rule in 2001 and gave trainees unlimited resits.

The numeracy test lasts 48 minutes and contains 12 mental arithmetic questions to be completed without the aid of a calculator.  Candidates are allowed to use pen and paper.

There are also longer questions involving interpreting statistical information and working out basic percentages and ratios.

The 45-minute literacy test is in four parts - spelling, grammar, punctuation and comprehension.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

French call for boycott of homework

Children would be better off reading a book rather than doing tasks at home which are useless and tiring, parents and teachers say.

A group of French parents and teachers have called for a two-week boycott of homework in primary schools, saying it is useless, tiring and reinforces inequalities between children.

They say homework pushes the responsibility for learning on parents and causes rows between themselves and their children. And they conclude children would be better off reading a book.

"If the child hasn't succeeded in doing the exercise at school, I don't see how they're going to succeed at home," said Jean-Jacques Hazan, the president of the FCPE, the main French parents' association, which represents parents and pupils in most of France's educational establishments.

"In fact, we're asking parents to do the work that should be done in lessons."

Homework is officially banned in French primary schools and has been since 1956. But many teachers ignore this and send children home with exercises.

Catherine Chabrun, president of the teachers' organisation Co-operative Institute of Modern Schools, says homework also reinforces inequalities.

"Not all families have the time or the necessary knowledge to help their offspring," she said.

The protesters calling for the ban say no one is contesting the idea of children being given "devoirs" - or exercises - just that they should be done during the school day and not at home. "Teachers don't realise the unbelievable pressure they are putting children under," Mr Hazan said.

The question of whether young children should do homework has been a matter of fierce debate and disagreement in France since 1912. The anti-homework campaigners stand little chance of banning it, even for two weeks, but their blog, which has already had 22,000 visits in the past fortnight, hopes to put the perennial controversy back on the political agenda.

A statement from the FCPE said: "Either a pupil has understood the lesson and succeeded in doing the exercises in class, in which case homework is a waste of time and stops them reading, for example, or they haven't understood and it's not at home in the absence of a teacher that they're going to do better."

Not all parents agree. Myriam Menez, general-secretary of PEEP, another school parents' association, told Le Parisien giving primary school children homework prepared them for secondary school.


British schools earn more money from students taking media studies than maths

Schools and colleges receive more money if their A-level pupils take subjects such as media studies or psychology instead of maths, MPs will be told today.

Maths is losing out in  ‘subject premiums’ worth hundreds of pounds per pupil, Tory Elizabeth Truss will tell the Commons during a debate on the crisis in England’s maths education.

It comes at a time when the number of sixth-formers studying maths in England is the  lowest in the OECD group of advanced nations.

Under a sixth-form funding  formula known as ‘weighting’,  lessons in less traditional subjects such as media studies receive 12 per cent more funding.

Calling for an overhaul of the system, Mrs Truss said: ‘Britain has a serious issue with maths education.

‘Government funding should reflect the value of mathematics and the difficulty of recruiting teachers into the subject.’

The MP for South West Norfolk, who has previously written a report on academic rigour and social mobility, added: ‘I would argue subjects like media  studies should not be getting  an extra weighting at all.’

Mrs Truss said the subject  premium should instead be applied to maths and further maths in an attempt to boost numbers of pupils studying the subject. Students at comprehensive schools are half as likely to study maths as their privately-educated peers but considerably more likely to study media studies.

Mrs Truss added only half of comprehensive sixth-forms offer further maths, which puts  thousands of students out of contention to study science and maths at top universities.

Under the funding formula, each sixth-form pupil attracts a basic sum of £2,920. This is adjusted upwards or downwards depending on the subjects studied and factors including the school or college’s location.  A-levels in media studies and psychology and lab-based  sciences such as physics  and biology receive 12 per cent more than maths, English or foreign languages.

A pupil studying three A-levels in the higher funding bracket would attract £350 more than a classmate taking three in the lower.

Non A-level subjects with practical content – such as floristry and bricklaying – are given even higher weightings.

The Young People’s Learning Agency, which funds sixth-form subjects, said the reason for the weightings is that some subjects involve buying more equipment or are taught in smaller groups. But Mrs Truss points out that schools are forced to pay  significantly more to secure good maths teachers than in the  subjects with higher weightings.

She said maths should be given a 30 per cent higher weighting and further maths 50 per cent.

Her call came as plans are being drawn up for a range of maths qualifications to be made available to sixth-formers to encourage almost all youngsters to study the subject until the age of 18.

Teenagers would be able to pick from an ‘a la carte’ menu of qualifications including the traditional maths A-level and other courses which are more demanding than GCSE maths but short of a full A-level.

A recent report by Professor Alison Wolf found those holding a maths A-level, at any grade, go on to earn ten per cent more than their peers who do not.

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘We consulted on changes to 16-19 funding at the end of last year, and we are considering the responses.

‘We are undertaking a root and branch review of how maths is taught in schools, attracting the best maths graduates into the profession by offering bursaries of up to £20,000, and strengthening training through our network of specialist teaching schools.  ‘We are also overhauling GCSEs and A-levels to make sure they are robust and in line with the best education systems in the world.’


Australia: Expert argues university degrees overrated

HAVING a university degree may be "grossly overrated", a leading education research body says.

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research wants to debate the merits of university degrees because it will advance thinking around expanding the tertiary sector.

It is partnering with St James Ethics Centre to bring the live debate, Intelligence Squared Australia, to Adelaide in July to debate the idea that "having a university degree is grossly overrated".

Managing director Dr Tom Karmel said the purpose of the debate was to tease out the issue, because while there were many benefits to having a university degree there were other paths to consider as well.

"Are we looking at credentialism, where everyone will have a degree when they don't really need one," he said.  "There are many jobs around you do not need a degree for and wouldn't want a degree for."

The Federal Government wants 40 per cent of Australians aged between 25 and 34 to have a bachelor degree by 2020.

Skills Australia has estimated that in the five years to 2015 Australia will need an additional 2.1 million people in the workforce with a vocational education qualification at Certificate III level or higher.

"When the Government make these decisions you always have to check against reality and make sure people are getting a good return from their degree," Dr Karmel said.

"(But) as we expand the number of people with degrees, on the whole, the return is holding up."

National Tertiary Education Union assistant secretary Matthew McGowan said degrees were very important for Australians to compete intellectually on an international stage but that did not mean everyone needed one.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Texas mom plans to sue school district after she says daughter with cerebral palsy is told to ditch her walker‏

No prizes for guessing that the underlying agenda is to get a handicapped kid out of the school. Spasticity is unsightly

The mother of a child with cerebral palsy is preparing to file a lawsuit against a school district after she says a special education director told her that her five-year-old daughter can no longer use her walker at school.

Kristi Roberts, the girl’s mother, reportedly recorded the conversation with the director Gary Lemley and uploaded it to YouTube. She said she did so as a last resort after two years of arguing with the district about her daughter's care.

"Basically she can't use the walker because we don't think it's safe," Lemley is reportedly heard saying on the audio recording.

Lakay Roberts, 5, has been using a walker at Kings Manor Elementary School in Houston for the past two years. She recently fell in the parking lot when the equipment collapsed.

"How many kids fall down at recess? Do you make them take their shoes off and buy new ones?" asked Roberts. "No ma'am. They're not using walkers," Lemley said, according to the report.

The school district, New Caney ISD, issued a statement to that said its main goal is to protect students. It cited student privacy laws and would not comment further on this particular issue. "While a parent may choose to share information about his or her child, we cannot."

The statement goes on, "It is important to know that the video and audio recording at issue was not sanctioned or authorized by the District to be released for public dissemination. Furthermore, the District does not agree that the recording at issue here is a complete recounting of the entire underlying confidential discussion and is therefore neither representative nor accurate towards explaining the District's ongoing efforts to serve its students."

The recording, meanwhile, has been clicked on more than 10,000 times, and Roberts says support is pouring in online in the form of comments. "The ones I read really touched me, that strangers care about this," she said.

Ana Calvo, president of the Ms. Wheelchair Texas Foundation, was born without arms and legs. She said, "The law states she has the right to go to school in the least restrictive environment, and if it's a walker that's her accommodation to get from point A to point B then that is what she needs.”


Will Your University be Subject to a Conscience Tax?

There’s been quite a bit of talk recently about new federal regulations requiring employer and student health care plans to pay for abortion inducing drugs, as well as contraception and sterilization. Most religious universities – including faith-based schools and para-church organizations – will be required to provide things like abortion-inducing drugs to their employees and students – even if it conflicts with the religious beliefs and teachings of the school. Any school that is open to students of all faiths and doesn’t just teach religious subject matter is governed by this mandate. Those who refuse for religious reasons will be be fined approximately $2,000 per employee and/or student, per year. This is effectively a Conscience Tax.

Obviously, many faith-based schools, food pantries, hospitals, and other community service organizations are threatened by this disregard for religious freedom because they are open to everyone. Some commentators have opined that this isn’t a very big deal, and is just about making sure women have access to contraception. But if the federal government can force religious schools and other faith-based organizations to act in a way that is completely contrary to their religious beliefs, it can punish religious students who act according to our religious convictions by doing such things as refusing to have student fees fund abortions, objecting to sexual immorality in class, or seeking exemptions from course work that requires them to act contrary to their faith.

All students and school administrators need to be very aware of how this new mandate will affect them. You can learn more about it here. And if you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact us here at ADF by logging on to, or calling us at 1-800-TellADF.


Australia: Catholic schools to educate more non-Catholics

THE Catholic Church will spend more than $1 billion over the next 20 years buying land and building classrooms across NSW to expand its network of schools.

The Sydney Catholic Education Office intends to offer more places to non-Catholic families who have become increasingly dissatisfied with the performance of public schools.

A budget of $50 million every year for the next 20 years has been allocated to opening new schools and expanding the grounds of established schools across the inner west, south-west and eastern suburbs.

Taxpayers will fund some of the new schools, with all Catholic schools eligible to apply for federal government building grants.

Dr Dan White, executive director for the Sydney archdiocese schools, said more than 2000 prospective students were turned away from schools in 2012 simply because there was no room for them.

Bigger grounds were needed at most schools to accommodate extra classrooms for growing student numbers, Dr White said.

Cardinal George Pell described the proposed expansion of the Catholic education system as a healthy outcome for the Church and said much of the demand came from non-Catholic families.

"It is a healthy outcome for us. The demand for places in Catholic schools is high. They are happy communities, in literacy and numeracy they are almost invariably above the national average," he said. "I think the biggest compliment is the number of non-Catholics who would like their children to attend a Catholic school.

"We hope the Catholic school system will reinforce the faith and good work of the students. It certainly does make them socially aware, keen to contribute to society and strengthen their faith also."

Principals across Sydney Catholic schools have been directed to look for vacant land or houses for sale close to their schools. "Catholic education in Sydney is going through an unprecedented period of growth," Dr White said. "Our enrolments have grown by over 1000 children every year for the past three years.

He said many parents were taking their children out of public schools because they believed Catholic schools provided a better quality education.

"We find parents are looking for a school that has a spiritual base to it and provides a real values-for-life framework for their children," he said.


Monday, March 26, 2012

College education economics

For previous generations, the dream of a college education for their children was a primary motivation. Gaining access to the teachings of higher learning is certainly a laudable objective. While this goal still holds true, there is a systemic disconnect from attending institutions that cost a king’s ransom and having marketable skills to earn a generous income in the post industrial economy. When government employment becomes the most sought after occupation, the economic future of the country sinks into deep decline. The old correlation with the higher your education, the greater your income, is no more.

Proof for such a conclusion is provided by the following list, Shocking Facts About Student Debt And The Great College Education Scam.

1) Americans now owe more than $875 billion on student loans, which is more than the total amount that Americans owe on their credit cards

2) Since 1982, the cost of medical care in the United States has gone up over 200% but that is nothing compared to the cost of college tuition which has gone up by more than 400%

3) The unemployment rate for college graduates under the age of 25 is over 9%

4) There are about two million recent college graduates that are currently unemployed

5) There are about two million recent college graduates that are currently unemployed

6) In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees

7) The Project on Student Debt estimates that 206,000 Americans graduated from college with more than $40,000 in student loan debt during 2008

8) In the United States today, 24.5 percent of all retail sales persons have a college degree

9) Total student loan debt in the United States is now increasing at a rate of approximately $2,853.88 per second

10) Total student loan debt in the United States is now increasing at a rate of approximately $2,853.88 per second

11) There are 365,000 cashiers in the United States today that have college degrees

12) Starting salaries for college graduates across the United States are down in 2010

In 1992, there were 5.1 million "underemployed" college graduates in the United States. In 2008, there were 17 million "underemployed" college graduates in the United States

13) In the United States today, over 18,000 parking lot attendants have college degrees

14) Federal statistics reveal that only 36 percent of the full-time students who began college in 2001 received a bachelor's degree within four years

15) According to a recent survey by Twentysomething Inc., a staggering 85 percent of college seniors planned to move back home after graduation last May

The incurring debt that saddles students is unsustainable. The Business Insider reports in The $100 Billion Student Debt Bubble May Finally Blow, "As it stands, no matter how deep borrowers find themselves buried in student loan debt, they can't discharge it in bankruptcy court – all because it doesn't qualify as an "undue hardship." As the economy struggles and minimum wage employment becomes the norm, how can attending college retain its glow?

The cost of college is not uniform. The College Board reports,
"In 2011-12, 44 percent of all full-time undergraduate college students attend a four-year college that has published charges of less than $9,000 per year for tuition and fees.

At the other end of the spectrum, approximately 28 percent of full-time private nonprofit four-year college students are enrolled in institutions charging $36,000 or more yearly in tuition and fees."

The value of attending a prestigious private institution especially has a real harsh impact, if student loans are necessary to pay for that experience. "College tuition increases about 8 percent annually or doubles about every nine years, according to" The continual increase in college costs is the persistent dilemma that challenges the ultimate benefit of attending university.

America has become a society for elites. The embodiment of success, sold under the mantra of achieving degrees of higher learning, no longer works. For all the "so called" professionals that act as gatekeepers for the establishment, the rewards from the system flow, as long as their loyalty, to the corporatist institutions remains. However, for all the ordinary college graduates that seek a better life through hard work, the prospect of entering the inner circles of the "golden parachute" is elusive.

Earning your way to the top may motivate the most competitive of type A personalities, but the survival of the most ruthless is no standard for a free society. The wisdom that college is supposed to share is not valued much in global business.

Some will conclude that only practical disciplines like engineering, accounting or medicine have pragmatic worth. Nevertheless, the systematic dismantling of the domestic economy is intrinsically responsible for the lost opportunities that can benefit from a work force of college graduates. Look no further than to the study of law for a primary reason for the sharp delineation in the lower ing of living standards.

The economics of college do not work for most students because the costs of the educational electives are void of entrepreneurial content. Transacting business commerce is still the fundamental activity in earning a living. As with any economic deal, both parties need to come away from the undertaking with a sense of satisfaction. Where is the gratification from flipping burgers in order to make your student loan payment?

The knowledge gained from the university exposure of classic studies is invaluable in the life of any adult. However, the cruel costs many colleges charge for that experience, have more to do with inflated institutional egos, than teaching developing intellectual minds.

As long as college graduates are prime victims of declining middle class prospects, the indebtedness of tuition bills will burden their futures. The solution is to grow a domestic economy based upon independence in manufacturing and self-sufficiency. Attending college on loans is a very bad decision. The money spent for a useless degree is better spent on buying or starting a business.


University Under Fire For Forcing Students to Choose Between Celebrating Religious Holidays & Going to Class

Students and faculty who embrace personal faith at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York, are in for some tough decisions when it comes to observing faith-based holidays that fall during school hours: Either attend school and forget observance of religious holidays or skip school and risk missing important work and information.

The public university has decided to ditch days off on these special days (aside from Christmas, causing some to charge anti-Jewish bias), leaving students and faculty, alike, with the aforementioned dilemma. Earlier this month, The Jewish Week reported:

"To hear some parents, students and faculty members tell it, Stony Brook University’s new academic calendar in September is withdrawing the “welcome” mat to Jewish students. [...]"

To ensure that some religions are not given preferential treatment, he said, the university is discarding the previously prepared calendar for next year and replacing it with one that keeps school open on Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Passover and Holy Week. The discarded calendar had the spring vacation coincide with Passover and Holy Week, wherever possible; the new calendar is crafted to have the spring break divide the second semester in half, no matter when Passover and Holy Week occur. As a result, the break next year occurs one week before the holidays.

Arthur Shertzer, president of United University Professions, which represents 2,500 faculty and staff, said he is mystified by the university’s actions. “The logic is that if we celebrate no one, we honor everyone,” he said.

Now, a debate is heating up both on the Stony Brook University campus and off of it. Norman Goodman, a sociology professor at the university, for one, didn’t hold his opinions back on the matter when asked to weigh in:

“It stinks. It was done without any input except from the administration — and it was done in secret,” he said. “It does not take into account the variety of needs of faculty and students, and it shows no respect for religion. I’m concerned that fellow faculty members and students who are observant will be put at an unnecessary disadvantage.”

But the school’s vice-provost, Dr. Charles Robbins, defended the decision as an element that would bring increased fairness to the entire student body. He also pledged that students who did take off for religious holidays would not be penalized for practicing their beliefs, going on to say that officials will ”…make sure that no exams or papers are due on these religious holidays.”

“Our goal is to maximize available class time for all of our students and to really make a calendar that’s predictable and standardized that makes the most sense academically,” Robbins said.

In a follow-up article, also published in Jewish Week, Robbins penned his own response to the original pieces, calling it “rife with inaccuracies.” He wrote, in part:

"Indeed, the need to redesign Stony Brook’s academic calendar became obvious after the university’s administration received numerous complaints in the Spring 2011 semester when there was only one week between the end of classes and finals due to spring break being scheduled to coincide with Holy Week. The calendar was redesigned to provide maximum instruction time for students in a way that did not favor or punish any religious groups. Stony Brook has always been respectful of all religions, and we embrace and celebrate our diversity. [...]

The bottom line is that religious observance is, and must always be, a personal choice, not an institutional mandate."

Robbins claims that Christmas is off due to a union contract provision.


Schools are 'last bastion' of traditional values in Britain

Feeble though they are

Schools are the "last bastions" of traditional values in a culture where children are increasingly faced with poor role models, school leaders said today.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said that today's youngsters need to be taught to sort out their differences in a "rational and restrained" way.

At the same time they are surrounded by TV programmes, such as soaps, that show people constantly shouting at each other and reality shows that suggest there are "quick" ways to become successful.

Speaking at ASCL's annual conference in Birmingham, general secretary Brian Lightman said: "Children are faced with a lot of different role models these days, not all of which are the most positive. They see examples on TV, in celebrity culture, of people not speaking the right way and not interacting in a way we would expect people to.

"In many ways schools are the last bastions of those traditional values. "We do assert old fashioned standards of discipline and we do that unashamedly because we do see it as our job to educate children in that way."

He said that soap operas show "people shouting at each other, using very, very emotive language, everything's very dramatic, histrionic."

Schools try to teach pupils to "understand people's differences in a much more rational and perhaps restrained way," Mr Lightman added.

In her speech to the conference, ASCL president Joan McVittie suggested that schools are teaching many pupils good values because they are not learning them at home. "Many young people learn their values in schools," she said.

"Sadly some of their parents are unable to provide guidance and often the values provided by their peer groups takes precedence over all else. "This is a huge responsibility for all of us and top of the responsibility of educating.

"It is a great deal to ask of us, and not neatly pinned down and packaged in sound bites and performance tables. "And yet this is what we constantly try to do and for which - perhaps the most important part of our job - we gain so little credit."

She added: "So not only do we have to teach about values and responsibility; we have to try and understand the context in which our young people are living and help them back on to the right path when they fall by the wayside."

Mrs McVittie raised concerns that TV talent or reality shows promote a "quick fix" in terms of how to be successful.

"We've run an assembly looking at statistics of how many people are successful on the X Factor and then at the same time running the statistics on the relationship between attendance in school, how that impacts on overall GCSE results, and how that then leads on to earning power later on in life.

"We try to work students through the fact that, actually, it's mostly through hard work that you're successful and attain the things that you need. "Very few people are actually able to walk on to the X Factor and achieve that instant success."

As well as running assemblies on values, many schools also teach lessons where pupils work through various scenarios and discuss how they would respond to them.

Mrs McVittie, who is headteacher of Woodside High School in Wood Green, north London, close to where rioting took place last summer, said: "When we talk to our students about rights and responsibilities, what they have to remember is that their rights are not entitled to override those of everybody else - they have a responsibility to think of other people."

Mr Lightman said pupils have to learn that sometimes they have to "restrain your feelings, that you can't just sound off every time you're a little bit angry".

"I think that these things are desperately important in terms of employability skills. Because you're going to have to work with all kinds of people, to learn how to work with people who you may not want to have as your best friend."

In her speech, Mrs McVittie told delegates she had experienced behaviour similar to that seen in last summer's riots when she worked in Moss Side, Manchester, in the 1980s.

"The 2011 riots had a very different feel to them," she said. "Watching television and seeing young adults looting and carrying home their spoils made me wonder what has happened in our society."

She added: "I was worried in case my own students had been caught up - perhaps affected by peer pressure and carried away with the intoxicating excitement of the moment.

"Fortunately I discovered that none of my students had taken part. The local area was devastated and the impact mostly on our young people had been to frighten them."

Mrs McVittie also warned that it has become "fashionable to criticise school and college leaders for all the ills in society".

"This is wearing and risky: if we aren't careful it will drive good people out of the profession." Mrs McVittie said there have been "many times" that she has almost walked away from teaching because of such criticism. "We must support our colleagues, particularly when they are experiencing hard times," she said.

Mrs McVittie also told delegates: "Nothing short of walking on water is expected of us on a daily basis.

"Expectations - whether they be from the Government, the media or the Chief Inspector - have never been higher. And the price of failure has never been greater.

"And yet... school leaders are right up there with doctors at the top of the list of people trusted by the public, while our political masters languish at the bottom with estate agents and bankers."


Sunday, March 25, 2012

NJ Middle School Now a Hug-Free Zone?

A New Jersey school superintendent says there’s no policy against hugging in the district, and says the issue of middle schoolers being told by their principal not to hug each other anymore is being blown out of proportion.

The district says Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School Principal Tyler Blackmore made an announcement that its 900 students were in a “no hugging school” following some “incidents of unsuitable, physical interactions.”

School Superintendent David Healy said the district has the responsibility to teach children about appropriate interactions. But he said no one would be disciplined for hugging.

“There is no policy specific to hugging, and we have not, nor will we be, suspending students for hugging,” he said in a written statement. “It is unfortunate that there are those who find purpose and humor in sensationalizing such a routine school-related issue at the expense and inconvenience of our children and our school community.”

The superintendent said he believes the principal acted responsibly in making the recent school announcement regarding hugging. The district’s Board of Education does have policies in place to address bullying, inappropriate relationships and inappropriate conduct, he added.

Students range in ages from 11 to 14 in grades six to eight.

This isn’t the only instance of schools trying to ban behavior that might be perceived as affectionate. The New York Times reported on a trend in 2010 of educators trying to discourage the idea of “best friends.” This trend has recently found real-life expression in the United Kingdom, where teachers have been outright telling students not to have best friends.


US education mediocrity threatens national security

The U.S. education system’s mediocrity threatens national security and economic prosperity, concludes a report out this morning from a task force co-chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and former New York City Chancellor Joel Kline.

“The State Department and intelligence services lack sufficient linguists and analysts for critical regions,” the report says. “By almost every measure, U.S. schools are failing to provide the kind of education our society will need to ensure American leadership in the twenty-first century.”

While many people know how education system failure impacts the economy, few consider its impacts on national security, the Council on Foreign Relations report says. It claims 75 percent of young adults don't qualify to serve in the military because they are physically unfit, have criminal records, or an inadequate education.

The report cites many statistics illustrating the country’s increasing deficiency: Nearly a quarter of students do not graduate from high school in four years, only a quarter rate proficient on the national civics exam, less than a quarter rate college-ready on the ACT.

Its recommendations to remedy this problem: incorporate national-security-essential subjects into national and state education requirements, increase school choice, and “launch a national security readiness audit.”

Well, items one and three sound dubious. The first requires expanding the Common Core set of grade-level education standards, an enterprise manipulated by the Obama administration and of dubious legality. And the “national security readiness audit” the report writers envision would hold “educators and policymakers responsible for meeting national expectations in education.” Not sure what that would look like, but as with the Common Core, it’s illegal and unconstitutional for the federal government to interfere with curriculum, and experience with No Child Left Behind indicates trading federal money for state testing requirements is a loser.

School choice, though, is a worthy and long-ignored idea.

“It’s an American solution to an American problem,” Klein told Bloomberg. “Competition and choice have the greatest potential to stimulate innovation.”

Little in the report is truly new. Its innovation lies in linking a decline many have observed for decades to American life and limb. This, and the obvious ties between education and the economy, is another reason education policy needs to become more prominent in the presidential and national discussion. We cannot solve national security and economy problems without solving the education problem.


British Nursery workers so illiterate they struggle to read stories aloud

Nursery school workers and childminders are being allowed to look after children despite having such poor literacy skills they would struggle to read a story aloud, a Government-commissioned review has found.

Childcare qualifications often don’t insist on basic numeracy or literacy skills while pupils with the poorest academic records are pushed towards working with children as an alternative to hairdressing.

And some nurseries are taking on staff without any qualifications at all, according to the Nutbrown Review’s interim findings which were published last week.

Anne Longfield, the chief executive of 4Children, the national charity that campaigns for children’s services, said that the findings were a “wake-up call”. “This is a shocking oversight that parents would be very unhappy about. It is shameful that you need higher qualifications to get into hairdressing or animal care,” she said.

Dr Hilary Emery, National Children’s Bureau chief executive said, 'The report echoes what our networks are telling us, that there is much confusion and concern over the level, quality and variation of child care qualifications.”

Cathy Nutbrown who wrote the report concluded that the profession was seen as “low-status, low-paid and low-skilled” and was a turn-off for the brighest pupils. Professor Nutbrown said there needed to be well taught courses leading to reliable qualifications.

“Expectations of learners in terms of literacy and numeracy are unduly low,” she wrote.

“The 'hair or care’ stereotype still exists for many considering a course in the early years, yet many other sectors have raised their expectations in relation to enrolment.”

She added: “My interim report sets out the shared concerns among the workforce about their qualifications system.”

Prof Nutbrown will set out her recommendations in the summer but has suggested raising entry requirements for courses and bringing a licence for nursery workers similar to that of nurses.

Mrs Longfield, added, “'The suggestion of introducing a licence to work in early years is brave and forward thinking and we fully support this. The care and education of our children is of utmost importance and it seems only right that we provide children and their parents with the kind of assurance of quality that we have come to expect as a norm in other professions and positions of trust.

Children’s minister Sarah Teather said, 'I welcome Professor Nutbrown’s interim report. We know the earliest years of a child’s life are so important to their development so it’s vital we have a workforce with the right knowledge and skills.’