At a glance headlines: October 10, 2013


Case studies of good maths provision in Wales, research into NEETs and grants for disabled or SEN students going onto university are among this week's SecEd At a glance headlines.

Maths pointers

Welsh inspectorate Estyn has published 10 case studies outlining best practice in delivering secondary maths. It comes as part of a new report – Good Practice in Mathematics at Key Stage 4. The report says that maths remains the lowest performing core subject at key stage 4 in Wales, with weaker progress from key stage 3 to 4 compared with other core subjects. However, inspectors also found teaching to be good or better in many lessons visited for the report. Inspectors highlighted the importance of developing “secure number, algebraic and problem-solving skills at key stage 3” and called for a reduction in the number of early entries at GCSE. They said the Welsh government should review level descriptors at key stage 3 with the view to raising levels of expectation at Level 5. Visit:

NEET benefits

Nine in 10 young people who are not in education, employment or training aspire to be in work, but a third feel they have “no chance” of ever getting a job. A study of more than 1,000 16 to 24-year-olds by ComRes for the University and College Union (UCU) also finds that only one in five believe the Conservative Party proposal to cut benefits for out of work under-25s will help them when seeking work. The main barriers to work according to the study were a lack of experience (47 per cent) a lack of confidence (25 per cent), and a lack of suitable jobs (28 per cent). UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “We have a huge problem with the large number of young people not earning or learning. However, simply labelling them lazy and threatening to take away their benefits will not solve the problem.”

New commissioner

Former headteacher Frank Green has been appointed as the new schools commissioner, charged with promoting the benefits of academies and free schools, recruiting academy sponsors and encouraging school-to-school collaboration. Mr Green, who will serve for two years, has had a 40-year career, has been head of two schools and is currently the chief executive of the Leigh Academies Trust. He said: “I have direct experience of transforming schools that are under-performing and also maintaining that improvement once achieved, so I understand the challenges many schools face in order to perform at the highest level for their pupils.”

Disability grants

Charity AbilityNet is urging students going on to higher education to claim the Disabled Students’ Allowances. These are available to any UK university student with a disability, on-going health condition, sensory impairment, mental health condition, or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia. It is designed to cover the cost of specialist technology or other support to facilitate learning. AbilityNet’s DSA centre can help with applications. Grants can be worth over £5,000 in equipment alone or up to £21,000 for non-medical help such as extra travel costs. Visit:


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