At a glance headlines: November 28, 2013

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Yet more criticism of an academic bias in careers guidance, a warning over asbestos in gas masks, and teachers' pay in Jersey are among the SecEd At a glance headlines for November 28, 2013.

Careers crisis

Young people are not being given information about Apprenticeships and vocational routes, a survey of 2,000 14 to 25-year-olds has found. The survey, by Barclays’ LifeSkills Youth Barometer, found that just 26 per cent received information on Apprenticeships while 17 per cent were told about vocational options. Schools were forced to take over responsibility for careers services in September 2012 after funding for the national Connexions centres was cut, but the CBI said that careers guidance is “facing a crisis”. Its director for employment and skills policy, Neil Carberry, said: “Careers guidance in England’s schools is heading towards a cliff-edge. Advice is scarce for young people not interested in being funnelled towards A levels and university and exciting, potential life-changing career alternatives are being lost. There is a worrying shortage of skills in some of our key industries and if we don’t give young people the information they need this will only get worse.”

Gas mask warning

Schools have been warned that “most” Second World War gas masks contain asbestos and should not be handled or worn by students. The warning has come from both the Department for Education (DfE) and the Asbestos in Schools campaign group. A DfE ebulletin to schools, sent last week, states: “The Health and Safety Executive advice is that it does not think it appropriate for children or teachers to wear or handle a gas mask unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the particular mask does not contain asbestos.”

Jersey pay victory

Teachers on Jersey have welcomed the guarantee of a four per cent pay uplift, which has been made by the chief minister. Both the National Union of Teachers and NASUWT had voted for strike action earlier this year, and a campaign of industrial action short of strike action has been ongoing. NASUWT chief Chris Keates said the decision “represents many weeks of hard work and discussion”. She added: “Their reasonable and measured approach and support for constructive dialogue with States officials has secured not only this positive outcome on pay, but also a mechanism through which progress can now be made on other issues relating to conditions of service.”

Toilet standards

With almost half of students admitting that they avoid using school toilets, schools are being urged to improve facilities. The call has come from children’s continence charity ERIC (Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence) as World Toilet Day took place earlier this month. ERIC points to Scottish research involving 2,154 pupils which found that 46 per cent avoid using toilets and 10 per cent don’t go at all. ERIC also warns that one in 12 children has a bladder or bowel condition and that teachers who restrict access to toilets can unwittingly compound such problems. ERIC runs the School Toilet Awards. Visit: www.eric.org.uk


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