The week before the majority of schools break up for the Easter half-term brought with it some important education news.
In the first instalment of this recurring news round-up, education finance software company HCSS Education briefly summarises the week’s most important news stories for school leaders.
Apprenticeship Levy takes effect
The Apprenticeship Levy, a 0.5% on wage bills in excess of £3 million, took effect on April 6. The NAHT, NUT and ATL all raised concerns about the impact of the charge on schools, warning that the Apprenticeship Levy will push some school budgets to “breaking point”.
Jeremy Corbyn promises free primary school meals for all pupils
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that he wanted to extend the free school meals programme to all primary school pupils in England, a policy that would be funded by charging VAT on private school fees.
Corbyn also suggested that a Labour government could review the charitable status of private schools, which gives them certain tax advantages. In support of their argument, Labour quoted research showing that universal access to free school meals boosted attainment, but a body representing private schools said that the increased fees would hurt hard working families.
Supreme Court rules against term-time holiday parents
A father, who refused to pay a £120 fine after he took his daughter out of primary school on a term-time holiday, lost his legal challenge against the Isle of Wight council.
Judge Lady Hale said that such unauthorised absences had a disruptive impact on the children involved as well as their classmates and teachers. A DfE spokeswoman welcomed certainty on the issue and said that head teachers should continue to decide “when exceptional circumstances allow for a child to be absent”.
Head teacher defends offering staff a ‘duvet day’
In the midst of a teacher recruitment crisis, one head teacher at a rural school in Lincolnshire defended his decision to give all staff members an extra day’s ‘no explanation necessary’ holiday.
Dubbed a ‘duvet day,’ the head teacher said that the extra leave was necessary to recruit and keep good teachers. He also said that the extra £3,500 cost, which he drew from his annual budget, was cheaper than the £4,000 it cost to recruit staff in rural schools.
Schools should teach “problem solving” to address engineering shortage
In a report, the Royal Academy of Engineering said that schools should focus less on ‘subjects’ and more on teaching problem solving skills, if the country is to overcome its shortage of engineers.
Their report was partly informed by some pilot schemes, which found improvements in science and maths skills, artistic abilities and confidence, when pupils were encouraged to learn through ‘playful experimentation’ and allowed to make mistakes by teachers.