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‘Level playing field’ for non-maintained special schools? May 28, 2012

Posted by Jonathan Barnes, editor in Special Educational Needs.
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According to a report in the Times Educational Supplement, parents of children with special educational needs (SEN) may soon have more power in choosing schools in the independent sector.

The TES reports that ministers are considering giving families the right to formally demand that local authorities pay for their children to be educated at non-maintained special schools.

The Department for Education has already announced that parents will be allowed to express a preference for SEN academies or free schools over council-run special schools – and it’s believed that right could be extended to private non-maintained schools.

As it stands, parents can make representations for their children to be sent to private special schools, which generally provide for children with the complex and profound needs, but local authorities have the final say.

Parents have told the DfE that they have faced challenges in securing suitable school places for their children, prompting officials to give serious thought to strengthening parental power in the selection process. The DfE is currently overseeing a major review into SEN provision.

Claire Dorer, chief executive of the National Association of Independent Schools and Non-maintained Special Schools, told the TES  her members would welcome the chance “to be on a level playing field” with local authority schools, free schools and academies. “If we went on parental preference, the majority of our schools would be full or oversubscribed,” she said.

Whether the legislation is revised or not, it clear from our latest SEN publication – Which School for Special Needs? 2012-13 – that there are many excellent independent schools focused on meeting the most challenging needs. Anything that helps them to continue their provisions for helping those young people most in need is to be welcomed.

For more information about the 2012-13 guide, see this earlier post, or visit our bookshop. You can also visit our online directory at www.specialneedsguide.co.uk

Winner and runners-up of gap-year guidebook and gap-year.com photography competition revealed May 25, 2012

Posted by Jonathan Barnes, editor in the gap-year guidebook.
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We’ve been mightily impressed by the standard of entries to the gap-year guidebook’s 2012 Travel Photography competition.

It’s been a hard job picking a winner, but we’ve just about done it. There were so many great shots we’ve selected several more which we would like to use in the 2013 edition of the guidebook.

But first things first: the winner. We really liked this picture of a Sadhu (holy man) at Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal. It was taken by Sophie Porritt, from Fetcham, in Surrey.

So well done, Sophie. Your picture will feature prominently in the 2013 edition. Here it is:

We thought we’d let to have a look at some of the other entries too, who are all runners-up. We intend to use their work too. You can click on them for a closer look…

We loved this next picture. It was taken by Aleksandra Durdyn, of Szczecin, Poland, and was taken in Jodhpur – the ‘blue city’ of India.

This stunning shot was taken by Mark Lashmar on top of Table Mountain, looking over Cape Town, South Africa.

This quirky photograph of a buffalo was taken by Romek Fornalczyk, from Opole, Poland, on the island of Koh Rong, Cambodia, in May 2011.

This great shot was taken by Iselin Shaw of Tordarroch, Norway, at a school in Old Ningo, Ghana. Iselin was volunteering there through Projects Abroad and ‘received the most amazing welcome I have ever experienced’.

Soumalya Kumar De, of Kolkata, India, sent us this striking photograph, called In The Lap of Mother Nature…

Sergio San Martin, of Navarre, Spain, sent this picture of a school in Tanzania…

Finally, have a look at this shot from Susan Stephanie, from Bandung, West Java, Indonesia, taken in Inwa, Mandalay, Myanmar…

Thanks to everyone who took part in the competition. We really enjoyed looking at your photographs.

For any enquiries relating to the 2013 gap-year guidebook  – if you are an advertiser, want to contribute some editorial or to let us know about your gap-year adventure  – please contact me at jonathanbarnes@johncatt.com

Wellington College outlines ‘enormous’ success of academy project – Academy Magazine May 24, 2012

Posted by Jonathan Barnes, editor in Magazines.
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The third issue of Academy Magazine – turning the spotlight on academies and free schools in the UK – is now available in both print and online.

The magazine, which was launched last year, has overseen rapid growth in the past year, mirroring the sharp increase in the number of schools opting to convert to academy status.

We feel it is an invaluable source of advice and opinion and the perfect forum for headteachers and governors to share their experiences in this new era for the education sector.

This issue features Wellington Academy on the cover, a comprehensive school that was taken over and rebranded by the independent Wellington College in 2009.

Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College, writes about the innovative partnership, how it has worked in practice and how such link-ups could bring about ‘a very different and far more cohesive education landscape’.

Here is an extract from Anthony’s article:

“When I was Head of Brighton College, I tried for three years to start Brighton College Academy in the relatively deprived East End of the City, at the opposite end from ‘posh’ Hove.

Despite having a backer who was prepared to put up the £2million one then needed to sponsor an academy, the old Labour council fought off the plans, putting every kind of obstacle in our way.

The result was that our backer and the school lost interest, and the Whitehawk estate, where we sought to take over the failing school, was deprived of a purpose-built new one, which would have done so much to revive the whole community.

When I came to Wellington College in 2006, I was determined not to fail a second time. The Department for Schools suggested that we take over a comprehensive in Wiltshire which was experiencing difficulties, which we duly rebranded as Wellington Academy in 2009, opening in a new building in April 2011 with Andy Schofield as Head.

The relationship has been an enormous success for both sides, and we are excited about how much closer we will grow in the future.

Turning round the performance of a school clearly takes longer than two or three years, which is why it is important to us that the relationship will continue in perpetuity. Wellington now has plans to open more academies at both secondary and primary level.”

To read the full article and the whole magazine online, go to www.academymag.co.uk

If you have a comment to make about Academy Magazine, which is published three times a year, or wish to contribute to a future issue, please contact the Editor at editor@academymag.co.uk.

If you’re interested in advertising you can contact Madeleine Anderson at manderson@johncatt.com.

For subscriptions to Academy Magazine, visit our bookshop.

New C&CR magazine questions future of Common Entrance May 18, 2012

Posted by Jonathan Barnes, editor in Independent Education, Magazines.
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The new issue of Conference & Common Room is back from our printers and being distributed to independent schools across the UK.

The magazine, produced by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), is packed with articles and opinion from leading educators.

Among the issues tackled in the 49th issue is the future of the Common Entrance, which has been a hot topic for many years.

Graeme May, deputy head academic at Abingdon School, asks the question, and considers a suggestion that the CE should become the Common Assessment (CA).

Here’s an extract from his article:

“If we can for a moment separate CE (the course) from CE (the exam), then problem number one is the fact that, in the era of pre-testing, CE results are largely an irrelevance. Rarely, very rarely, are we surprised by a sudden poor performance. We have pre-selected our preferred candidates and they have chosen months and months ago whether they are coming to us or going elsewhere. Barring utter disasters, about which we will usually have been warned, the candidates are coming to us anyway.

This leads to a pretty dispiriting week for senior school heads of department (HODs) who face the onerous task of turning the marking around very quickly without any sense that their work is at all relevant. We all know how demotivating it is to work under these conditions. I am not at all surprised when HoDs fail to fill out ISEB questionnaires immediately following the exam – they’re so exhausted and demotivated by the whole business. Why would they want to spend time doing more of it?

And as for coursework projects in geography and history? Well, I’m sorry to say that, though they are no doubt excellent in principle and, I am sure, often in practice, the reality is that senior schools can have no real guarantee as to their provenance or the circumstances under which they were completed, so they play almost no part in the assessment process. Better for prep schools to issue their own project grade and append it to the CE results sheet, given that they are much better placed to know just how much of the project is the pupil’s own, properly independent, work.

We feebly defend the marking of CE on the grounds that ‘it’s useful for setting’ but the evidence I have from my HoDs is that CE exams are so unreliable in that regard that major resetting is required in maths and MFL within the first term and complete resetting happens at the end of the year as the pupils move on to GCSEs.”

The full article can be read online at www.candcr.co.uk

C&CR is published three times a year, at the start of each school term. If you are interested in contributing to the magazine, you can contact Editor Tom Wheare at tom@dunbry.plus.com. Potential advertisers can contact Madeleine Anderson at manderson@johncatt.com.

To subscribe to the magazine, visit our bookshop by clicking here.

New gap-year guidebook – how to get involved May 16, 2012

Posted by Jonathan Barnes, editor in the gap-year guidebook.
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We have started work on the 2013 edition of our gap-year guidebook, which will be the 21st edition of this popular publication.

We’re keen to hear from potential advertisers and contributors who may be interested in getting involved in next year’s book.

The guidebook provides useful, informative and unbiased advice for anyone considering a gap-year, year out or career break and was described by The Sunday Telegraph as ‘a must for anyone taking a year out’. It has an accompanying website at www.gap-year.com.

Our aim is to make the 2013 edition better than ever, so please do get in touch. We, of course, welcome any feedback – anything we need to include, focus more (or less) on and generally any thoughts on the 2012 edition, which is available to buy from our bookshop or from the Apple iBookstore. If you have a gap-year or career break story you’d like to share, then tell us.

To get in touch about any of the above, email me at jonathanbarnes@johncatt.com.

John Catt at COBIS conference this weekend May 11, 2012

Posted by Jonathan Barnes, editor in Conferences, International education.
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John Catt Educational will be at the annual conference of the Council of British International Schools (COBIS) this weekend.

The 31st annual conference has a theme of Unity in Diversity and takes place at the Park Plaza hotel in London from Saturday to Monday.

COBIS is committed to serving British international schools of global quality. It supports its members and represents their interests in Britain and overseas, particularly with educational associations, educational authorities and governments.

Executive director Colin Bell and his team have lined up a host of leading educators and experts to give speeches and take seminars, and there will be more than 50 exhibitors.

Please do come and visit us at Stand 10, where I’ll be on hand with a selection of our publications, particularly those with a focus on international education.

We hope you like the look of the conference programme too – we designed it.

For more information about COBIS, visit www.cobis.org.uk

How IT presents new challenges, opportunities and dangers to prep schools May 9, 2012

Posted by Jonathan Barnes, editor in Independent Education, Magazines.
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IT is the focus of the latest issue of Prep School magazine, which has arrived back from our printers today.

The summer term issue features examples of the impact that technology is having in the classroom.

Our cover stars are pupils from Sedbergh Junior School, pictured with iPads that were introduced to lessons at the start of the school year. Headmaster Scott Carnochan outlines how the school has benefitted from the investment.

Elsewhere in the 74th issue, Stephen Lockner, Deputy Head at The Mead School in Tunbridge Wells, looks at the concept of ‘flipped classrooms’ and how he is using a blog and YouTube videos to supplement lessons.

But the magazine also sounds a warning about the use of IT. Dr Emma Bond, from University Campus Suffolk, and Dr Martin Hine, of St Joseph’s College in Ipswich, explore the risks posed to children online.

Here is an extract from their article, which is entitled Protection, participation and pornography: shifting boundaries for prep schools:

“…what impact do current technologies and their associated risks have on children’s lives? It is unrealistic and unhelpful to simply ‘blame the technology’ and we should avoid deterministic approaches that undermine the diversity of children’s lived realities. Not all childhoods, after all, are the same.

We need to understand the complex relationships between children, technology and their everyday lives. Although recent technological developments have changed the landscape of risk in relation to childhood, they also offer unprecedented opportunities for children to learn, socialise and participate in the knowledge economy.

Interestingly, it is the children from wealthier families who have earlier and more personalised access to new media environments – ever more frequently unsupervised, who can be at increased risk.  Furthermore, the boundaries between offline and online worlds are becoming blurred.

The internet, mobile and interactive technologies are not, however, going to disappear and it is essential to understand how children and young people navigate new digital environments, develop critical digital literacy skills, manage and negotiate risk and behave appropriately and responsibly in online environments.”

To read the magazine online, go to www.prepschoolmag.co.uk

To contribute to a future issue of Prep School magazine, email editor@prepschoolmag.co.uk. For advertising enquiries, call Madeleine Anderson on 01394 389855 or email manderson@johncatt.com. For all subscription enquiries, visit our bookshop.

Government’s special educational needs reforms – where are we now? May 3, 2012

Posted by Jonathan Barnes, editor in New releases, Special Educational Needs.
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We were very keen that the latest edition of Which School? for Special Needs – which has just been released – gave readers a progress report on the government’s plans to reform health and education support for children and young adults with special educational needs.

So we were pleased that Lorraine Peterson, chief executive of SEN organisation nasen, agreed to give her thoughts on the ongoing proposals, first revealed in the Green Paper Support and Aspiration: A New Approach to Special Educational Needs and Disability, in March 2011.

In an extract from her article in the 2012-13 edition of Which School? for Special Needs, Lorraine outlines the proposal for a single statutory assessment from age 0-25:

“The Statement replaced by an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan is currently being trialled by a number of Pathfinder local authorities. The proposal is that all pupils currently with a Statement will transfer to a plan which will have statutory duties to ensure that all support indicated in the plan will be in place. What will make this different is that the health and social care commitments embedded in the plan will be a legal requirement which will ensure a complete support package for the child and their family. This requires full co-operation from all three sectors – if this is not forthcoming then it will be no different to the current Statement. It is very clear that the Education, Health and Care Plan will be very effective for those children and young people who are identified with a SEND at birth or in very early childhood.

The move to a single school-based category for SEN to replace School Action and School Action Plus should reduce the bureaucracy, make schools more accountable and ensure that resources are targeted at the most vulnerable young people. However, the single assessment process will need to be very carefully managed within a setting. There will need to be some very clear national guidance, a revised SEN Code of Practice, clearly setting out the process for schools to access additional support through an EHC Plan.

There are currently some concerns in terms of funding for those children who are identified within this single assessment process. The education funding reforms being proposed only appear to address the funding support for those children with High Needs (those with a current Statement). The Government has invested very heavily in supporting those children from disadvantaged backgrounds (in receipt of free school meals) through their Pupil Premium but not all of those will have identified SEN and what happens to those who are identified as having SEN but are not in receipt of free school meals? Schools will need to show how they have used their Pupil Premium to raise the attainment of their disadvantaged groups. Those schools who use this money in an innovative and cost-effective way should be able to see progress for many of their pupils currently identified within the categories of School Action and School Action Plus. It is those who need more specialist and targeted support that are a concern at the moment.”

The new edition of Which School? for Special Needs also features articles from a number of other leading educators and SEN experts. For more information, have a read of this earlier post.

To buy a copy of the book, click here and visit our bookshop.

New issue of Academy Magazine set for launch – read it online now May 2, 2012

Posted by Jonathan Barnes, editor in Magazines, New releases.
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The third issue of our hugely popular Academy Magazine, produced in partnership with FASNA, is now available to read online.

Printed copies will find their way to schools and subscribers very shortly.

Since its launch last year, Academy has proved a runaway success, reflecting the high numbers of schools converting to academies and the growth of free schools. As the Editor points out in the summer issue, more than 50% of secondary school pupils are now educated at academies.

The new, 68-page issue offers practical advice for Headteachers, governors and staff and provides important insights into what ‘becoming an academy’ actually means and entails, which will interest anyone involved in the school community.

Wellington Academy, a school rebranded by the independent Wellington College, features on the cover, and offers a shining example of how independent and state schools can work in partnership.

Other contributors include FASNA chairman Tom Clark, who looks at changes in school governance; Steve Munby, chief executive of the National College for School Leadership; educational consultant Barry Featherstone, who argues the case for vocational subjects; and Chris Healy, Head of Balcarras School in Cheltenham, who outlines its bid to becoming a teaching school.

The Department for Education also provides financial advice for academies; while the Education Funding Agency explains the opportunities it can provide. Plus much more, including a focus on the achievements on a number of newly-converted academies.

You can read Academy Magazine online now – as well as previous issues – at www.academymag.co.uk.

The magazine is published three times a year. To contribute to upcoming issues, contact the Editor at editor@academymag.co.uk. Potential advertisers can contact Madeleine Anderson at manderson@johncatt.com.

For subscriptions to Academy Magazine, visit our bookshop.

New release: Which School? for Special Needs 2012/13 May 2, 2012

Posted by Jonathan Barnes, editor in Independent Education, New releases, Special Educational Needs.
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The 2012-13 edition of our leading title Which School? for Special Needs is now being distributed and on sale from our bookshop.

We’ve given this authoritative guide a new look for its 21st edition, but it continues to offer a comprehensive picture of the independent and non-maintained schools in the UK that offer services for young people with special educational needs.

More than 80 schools are profiled, while fully revised and up-to-date details are provided of every school that provides for children and young adults with sensory or physical impairment; learning difficulties; social, emotional and behavioural difficulties; and autistic spectrum disorders. The schools are categorised and placed into sections for make the book as easy to navigate as possible. The guide also includes details of hundreds of maintained special schools across the UK.

We have also assembled editorial from leading educators and associations within the SEN sector. The 2012-13 edition includes contributions from:

● Lorraine Petersen, chief executive of SEN organisation nasen, on the progress of the Government’s proposals to reform health and education support for young people with SEN;

● The British Paralympic Association, on the build up to the 2012 Games;

● James Allen, from Riverston School in London, on inclusive education and how ‘bespoke’ learning for pupils is shifting the focus from examination results;

● Dr John Steward, from Chelfham Senior School in Devon, warning against the dangers of generalising special educational needs;

● Ty Gwyn School in Cardiff, on a state-of-the-art school building development in partnership with SpaceKraft;

● The Down’s Syndrome Association, which outlines its educational services;

● The RNIB, on its pioneering new Pears Centre in Coventry;

● The National Autistic Society, on the sensory world of people with autism;

● Educational psychologist Ruth Birnbaum, offering advice on choosing a school for your child; and

● Katie Emsley, of Langley Wellington LLP Solicitors, on the legal aspects of Statementing and the special educational needs and disability tribunal.

There is also a detailed classification of special needs. To buy a copy of Which School? for Special Needs 2012-13, click here. For more information, please feel free to contact us.