ISC Daily News Summary

ISC Daily News Summary 4 December 2023

ISC CEO: 'We know that the cost of living crisis is hitting families hard'

Independent sector

Almost one in three parents who send their children to independent schools are struggling to meet the costs, according to research by charity Parentkind. Parents of children at both independent and state schools who responded to the survey cited school trips, uniforms and additional classroom materials to be among expenses they were worried about. Julie Robinson, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council, said: “This research makes unhappy reading but chimes with the findings of our own survey of independent school parents, showing they often make sacrifices in order to choose the school that is right for their child. We know that the cost of living crisis is hitting families hard and schools are doing what they can to ease the pressure on these families when it comes to school costs – which is why our schools have provided over £1bn in fee assistance in the last year alone.” By Fiona Parker, The Telegraph. 

GCSE pupils not choosing MFL subjects over career fears, research suggests


Increasing numbers of pupils are opting not to study modern foreign languages (MFL) at GCSE because they do not think it will help them in their career, a report by the British Council suggests. Some 131,000 schoolchildren took French GCSE this summer, down from 331,000 in 2003, before the government dropped the requirement for all students to take a modern language after the age of 14. Dulwich College is featured as a school leading the London hub of the School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) programme for modern languages, an initiative run in partnership with state and independent schools to train dozens of new MFL teachers. Dr Joseph Spence, the school's master, explains the programme was born from a desire to tackle the “vexed question” of languages, adding that "this is something which state and independent schools can do as true partners”. Dr Spence added that he hopes to speak to schools minister Damian Hinds to encourage government investment to broaden the SCITT model and encourage more such partnerships. By Nicola Woolcock, The Times. 

Key points on government transgender guidance still being discussed

Gender identity

Elements of the government's transgender guidance for schools are still under discussion, with education secretary Gillian Keegan and business secretary Kemi Badenoch reportedly yet to reach final agreement on the wording. The Times reports there has been an attempt to toughen up the guidance to ensure that parents are kept informed if their child wants to socially transition to a different gender. By Aubrey Allegretti.

UK scores expected to fall in latest Pisa global rankings

International education

UK scores in assessments comparing educational attainment among 15-year-olds across the world are likely to fall when they are published tomorrow, following the pandemic's disruption to learning. One expert has predicted that England’s scores in maths, which markedly improved in the last round of tests, will fall back this year. By Sally Weale, The Guardian.

'There is a strong case for ambitious action and investment focused on children and young people'

Mental health

Writing in Schools Week, two wellbeing and inclusion experts consider the reasons for the decline in children's mental health in the last year, after new prevalence figures suggested the post-pandemic surge in young people’s mental health issues has not subsided. 

Columnist Libby Purves writes in The Times on the mental health challenges facing many students. Pointing to a number of factors behind the crisis, Ms Purves says: "While it is disturbing that so many in further education claim fragility, it is hardly surprising."

Help babies learn by singing to them, University of Cambridge researchers say

Primary education and early years

Parents should talk to babies in sing-song speech to help them learn language, scientists from the University of Cambridge have said. During research, they found infants learn languages from rhythmic information, which is often seen in nursery rhymes. The Telegraph.

Headteachers call for action on school building materials

General education

Findings from a study shared exclusively with iNews have shown almost 1,000 school buildings are believed to contain combustible materials, similar to those used in Grenfell Tower, that are now prohibited in new constructions. The report by Rockwool also states that 120 school projects in England have been built using combustible façade insulation since 2018. By Poppy Wood.

Lessons from the international model of school inspections


Chris Woolf, international director at Wellington College International, writes in Tes outlining how the international model of school inspection works. Mr Woolf refers to the Council of British International Schools (COBIS), praising its reports that "go even further with beacons of practice, so schools in their community know where to turn for support". 

First female head for St George's School, Windsor

Independent sector

St George's School has appointed its first female head in its 675-year history. Emma Károlyi, who will join from Junior King's School in Canterbury, said it would be an "honour" to lead the "unique gem of a school" when she starts in September 2024. By Katie Waple, BBC News.

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