Tagged: University of Sunderland

Teachers ‘make lessons dull’ to keep Ofsted inspectors happy, claim Sunderland researchers

Teachers are making their lessons dull on purpose to impress Ofsted inspectors, claim Wearside researchers.

 A report from the University of Sunderland claims teachers have to make their lessons dull and mechanical during Ofsted inspections in an attempt to be judged outstanding.

Instead of making the lessons enjoyable and creative, the report claims teachers are constrained and the push for conformity is hindering progress in deprived schools.

The report, ‘Supporting outstanding pupil progress in schools in an area of social and economic deprivation, focused on a cluster of schools in disadvantaged areas and what behaviours make an outstanding teacher, contributing to outstanding student progress.

Ofsted is a key barrier for students to learn because of its insistence on having objectives at the start of the lesson, which does not always work with each student, the report reveals.

It adds that creativity should be harnessed and encouraged in learning, as well as making it more personalised.

The report states: “The push for conformity can hinder progress. More risk is needed at times, more ‘off-the-wall’ activities and more enjoyment.

“Doing things the ‘Ofsted’ way, you can sometimes lose sight of the love of learning.”

Several staff interviewed said that always having the objectives at the start of the lesson goes against ideas of discovery and student-centred learning and can make lessons dull and mechanical.

The report said the Pupil Premium is inadequate to counter disadvantages, and decisions about educational policy are made, for the most part, by very rich and privileged people who have never understood such levels of deprivation.

Researchers concluded that in disadvantaged areas, learning needs to be more personalised and students need more motivation.

Professor Bridget Cooper, director of the Centre for Pedagogy at the University of Sunderland, who led the report, said: “It is obvious from this report that schools in socially and economically deprived areas need more generous and more appropriate funding.

“Those in power need to understand and take into account the effort teachers in those schools have to make to counteract the multiplicity of needs of their students for their entire school lives.

“It is completely unfair and irrelevant to compare these schools, teachers and children throughout their academic life unfavourably with schools which do not have to meet such great need as the teachers have to work even harder.”

Source –  Sunderland Echo,  03 July 2014

St Annes by-election, Sunderland city council

By-election under way to replace  Labour councillor Lisa Smiles, after her resignation  following a benefits fraud conviction  left the St Anne’s ward a member down.

Four candidates – representing the Green Party, UKIP, Labour and the Conservative Party – will compete for the role  on March 27.

Voters have until Tuesday to register with Sunderland City Council, while applications to vote by post must be received by 5pm on Wednesday

Emily Blyth will contest the seat for the Green Party. The 30-year-old full-time University of Sunderland student and community musician has lived in South Hylton all her life and says she is proud of the area.

She said: “My main priorities would be doing what I can to protect our most vulnerable residents from cuts to vital services, and likewise seeking to support an inclusive community for people of all backgrounds.

“At times of economic difficulty it’s all too easy to scapegoat the poor, the disabled, the migrants, and there are plenty of voices doing that, when in reality such groups are the hardest hit by the destructive cuts agenda.

“I’m also passionate about keeping the NHS in public hands, and for our public transport system to be run in the best interests of passengers, not corporations.”

UKIP candidate Aileen Casey, 58, is a mum-of-two, who lives in Springwell. She is a youth worker who is passionate about supporting young people.

Aileen said: “Labour councillors have held their safe seats for decades. Many people don’t vote because there hasn’t been a real choice or they vote the same way as their parents or grandparents have done.

“Things need to change in Sunderland. Voting for UKIP is the only way to bring about these long overdue changes and to ensure that the wishes of the local people are carried out.

“The current Labour administration just follows the diktats of their London based Party leaders. Elected UKIP councillors always put local residents before Party doctrine.”

Labour’s Jacqui Gallagher lives in Thorney Close. She is a life-long trade unionist who has represented Unison at Sunderland City Council for more than 10 years.“I have worked in children’s services my whole career, dealing with some of the most difficult cases and making a positive difference in some families lives, that has held me in great job satisfaction.

“Over this time I have gained a great insight into how the council works and still have many connections at the city council. I feel that this experience and my training and knowledge of representing people as a union rep gives me a unique advantage over the other candidates in this election to represent the people of St Anne’s ward on the city council.

“I would ask for votes because having brought my family up on a large council estate using the local services myself, I have a clear insight into benefits or problems associated with our way of life. If I am trusted with the community’s vote I promise to work tirelessly for the people within the St Anne’s ward.”

Former opposition leader Tony Morrissey will contest the seat for the Conservatives. The 42-year-old, who lives in Hendon, came to Sunderland from County Cork in the 1990s.

Tony served in the Territorial Army and saw active service in Iraq during the Gulf war. Until 2012 Tony represented the Barnes ward.

“I’m running to give residents a serious alternative to Labour,” Tony said. “The council needs a wake-up call. With the help of the voters of St Anne’s I intend giving them exactly that.”

•Anyone who is not registered or would like further information, should call Electoral Services at Sunderland City Council on 0191 561 1144 or contact elections@sunderland.gov.uk.

> No Lib Dems ?  Still maybe not their strongest area ( in 2008 their candidate finished last, behind the BNP) and they probably don’t want any more humiliations right now.

You’d think it’d be a fairly safe Labour seat, but it’ll be interesting to see how UKIP fare.

I’m not 100% sure of the boundaries of St Anne’s ward, but only the Green Party candidate actually seems to live in it.

Source –  Sunderland Echo,  10 March 2014

Government threatens support for deprived students

Universities and colleges in the North East could be stripped of millions of pounds in funding used to give students from poorer backgrounds a fairer chance of getting a degree.

The cash is at risk because the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which is responsible for higher education, needs to make savings of £1.4bn.

Teesside University currently receives £5.9m each year, the University of Northumbria at Newcastle receives £3.5m, University of Sunderland receives £3.3m, University of Newcastle upon Tyne receives £1.1m, University of Durham receives £660,000, Newcastle College receives £959,00 and New College Durham receives £637,000.

The money, known as Student Opportunity funding, is allocated to universities and higher education colleges which succeed in attracting students from neighbourhoods where few people have traditionally taken part in higher education.

It also goes to institutions which succeed in retaining students who would statistically be more likely to drop out, and to those that recruit students with disabilities.

Leaked documents have revealed that the Department for Business is looking for ways to save £570m this year and a further £860m after the election.

Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, is reported to be pushing for Student Opportunity funding to be abolished, while Business Secretary Vince Cable and Higher Education Minister David Willets are lobbying to keep it.

Asked to comment on the reports, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said in a statement: “The Department is going through the process of allocating budgets for 2014-15 and 2015-16 and will set out plans in the usual way.”

Prof Peter Fidler, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sunderland, was one of nine university leaders across the country to write a public letter warning: “The removal of this fund will damage economic growth and have a wider impact on sectors beyond higher education.”

The letter said that axing the fund “suggests that the Government is willing to abandon the cause of social mobility in higher education.”

The future of the fund was raised in the House of Commons by Labour’s Shadow Higher Education Minister Liam Byrne as MPs discussed funding for engineering students. He said: “On top of the huge cuts for educating 18-year-olds in college, we now hear rumours that the student opportunity fund that helps poorer future engineers will be completely axed.

“Will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to promise the House that he will not sacrifice social mobility to pay for the chaos in his Department’s budget?”

In reply, Business Secretary Vince Cable highlighted £400m in funding for science, technology, engineering and maths courses – but did not comment on the future of the Student Opportunity Fund.

The National Union of Students has launched a campaign to preserve the funding.

Toni Pearce, NUS president, said: “Cutting the Student Opportunity Fund is an absolute disgrace and, in the wake of cuts to the National Scholarship Programme, looks like the Government is backtracking on its commitment to support social mobility in favour of balancing the books on the backs of the poor.”

Mr Byrne said: “The Department for Business budget is a complete mess because high paying students at private colleges got access to the state student loan system. Now it looks like help for poorer students will be axed to pay for it.”

Source – Newcastle Journal, 25 Jan 2014