No Deal Brexit a disaster for UK universities

​University leaders warn against No Deal as vital research comes under threat

University leaders have written to politicians and government to warn of the risks for research, staff and students if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

In an open letter to MPsUniversities UK, the Russell Group, Guild HE, MillionPlus and University Alliance – which collectively represent more than 150 higher education providers across the UK – say the impact of a no deal scenario could lead to “an academic, cultural and scientific setback from which it would take decades to recover.”

The letter states:

Our 50,000 EU staff and 130,000 EU students, not to mention the 15,000 UK students studying in Europe, are starting the new year facing significant uncertainty about their futures.

Vital research links will be compromised, from new cancer treatments to technologies combatting climate change. The valuable exchange of students, staff and knowledge would be seriously damaged. And we share the concerns of business about the impact of no deal on everything from supply chains to security and travel.

In their letter, the university leaders say the government needs to “demonstrate the required ambition, put the right measures and guarantees in place, and, crucially, avoid the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal on 29 March.” As a matter of urgency, they call for a guarantee that research funding from which the UK may be excluded at the end of March will be replaced.

European Research Council (ERC) and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) schemes will be worth an estimated €1.3 billion to the UK over the next two years, and fund vital scientific discovery, including in developing new cancer treatments and to combat climate change. The UK is currently the most successful country in hosting ERC grantees, ahead of Germany, but would immediately become ineligible in the event of no deal.

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, said: “We are home to one of the best research systems in the world, attractive to stellar academics, top students and global partnerships, and we must not let this be compromised by a no deal Brexit. Time is running out to make decisions on issues which will ultimately affect the country and society as a whole.

“While we welcome the assurances that the government has already provided about the continuation of Horizon 2020 funding in a no deal scenario, it is critical that similar guarantees are extended, without delay, to cover ERC and MSCA funding.

“Without cast-iron assurances, world-leading academics and researchers may leave for countries where access to ERC funding is not at risk, and those currently considering relocating to the UK may think again.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester, said: “University research is at the forefront of scientific and medical breakthroughs and many are only possible through EU research collaborations, on projects led by UK universities.

“At the University of Manchester, vital and transformative research programmes risk being disrupted, such as our work on proton-beam therapy for cancer patients, which allows more precise targeting of tumour sites and minimises damage to surrounding tissue, and our Nobel-prize winning work on graphene, the strongest, thinnest and most versatile material ever identified.

“Leaving the EU without a deal would be a serious setback for these fields of discovery and many more, from the arts and social sciences to engineering and nuclear research. Researchers who have already spent months or even years preparing funding bids would be left high and dry, including those whose application would be stuck in the middle of the evaluation process.”

Parents refusing RE classes for their kids due to Anti Muslim sentiments.

Mothers and Fathers in Essex are stopping their kids attending RE  lessons on Islam and also preventing them from visiting local  mosques as school trips, a report for the council has found.

This depressing trend has been discovered in the area of Thurrock, a stronghold for Ukip  fans, where a new report warns of “integration issues” within the local community.

The report, from the standing advisory council for RE  (SACRE), a group that advises on RE in schools, calls for a full investigation to understand the full extent of withdrawals.

It says:  “Parents have objected to the teaching of Islam and have taken children from lessons & visits to places of worship. Its so hard to believe “

“The result is that those children, who clearly are those that most need to be taught to understand Islam, are missing out.”

It added: “It is not clear how widespread  this issue is in Thurrock, but what is  clear is that this needs to be investigate.

“Schools have a statutory duty to promote community cohesion.”

Tackling hate crime has always been a priority in Thurrock – where the largest amount of attacks have been against the Muslim community – but still some schools have experienced “tensions”.

Thurrock was  a big supporter of Brexit , it actually was the 4th highest in the UK – with a whopping 72.3%  of the electorate voting to leave the EU in the Brexit referendum.

During the general election campaign of 2017, former Nigel Farage of UKIP  visited the constituency with the party’s then candidate Tim Aker, who is an  MEP.

But all is not rosy in the UKIP garden , in January 2017  all 17 Ukip councillors in Thurrock resigned from the party and formed a new group, Thurrock Independents. They now provides the main official opposition to the ruling  Tory majority.

The Census in 2011 revealed that only 2 per cent of the population in Thurrock is Muslim.

SACRE is due to address Thurrock Council as soon as possible  about its fears over Islamophobic parents pulling children out of RE lessons.

A representitive for the Muslim Council of Britain told the Thurrock Gazette: “In an ever increasingly diverse society, it seems obvious that is crucial  to learn about each other’s faith & cultures, to  help develop greater understanding between communities.

“In particular, as hostility towards Muslim communities remains widespread and more young people are brought up with inaccurate views about Muslims, we believe visits to mosques are an important way to help resolve misunderstandings.”

The report comes after teachers warned in April last year that parents were increasingly abusing the right to withdraw their children from religious education lessons due to their prejudices.

The while thing is just hugely depressing.

Student need to be Steadfast & Consistent in their Work.

The world is a highly competitive place for Students  and they  have been warned they need to be steadfast & consistent in their studies, so as to come  up  to the world standards. Decision making must be informed.

A legal practitioner, Mrs. Ariola Awokoya and Senior Manager, Sustainability and Climate, PWC , Mrs. Morries Atoki,  gave the speech during the tenth year anniversary of De Beautiful Beginning School (DBBS), which also featured the unveiling of the school logo.

Speed, diligence and consistency are essential in achieving results in this modern era according to Mrs. Ariola Awokoya , adding that being focused & consistent will  aid them to conquer the  challenges of life.

The story of the “Tortoise and the Hare,” is a good example of the correct approach Awokoya said: “The underlying message of the children story  is that being fast and consistent, slow and steady are good but strategy & team work is best. So, you have to maximise your strength and capacity by applying all you have been learned.”

Atoki, while inspiring parents to guide their kids in the act of steadfastness and consistency, said: “Studies have shown that the first stage of a child’s education is critical to what the child would be. Show me a person  diligent in his career, for he shall stand before kings. So, parents must guide their children well and encourage them even in their choice of career.

Andy Murray’s old school have a job offer for him !!

A pretty nifty tennis player  at Andy Murray’s old school hopes the 3 times grand slam champion might  return as a Physical Education  teacher once he retires.

Dunblane Primary School studnet  Gregor Wood was like the rest of us tennis lovign Brits sad to hear  of Andy Murray’s plans to retire this year due to injury, but immediately says the opportunity for his school and has great hopes he can influence what the tennis star does next.

“He should be a PE teacher here,” Primary Seven  student Gregor said. “I think he would be quite a good one.”

I was disappointed to see him retire , I kind of assumed he would go on forever but the hip seems to have put pay to his future.

Murray is a regular visitor to his old school and Gregor has met him on numerous occasions.  He thinks he is a particular laid back dude who has said he hopes one of the students from his old school may follow footsteps.

Gregor met the three times grand slam winner and  Wimbledon champion three times and feels like he is just one of the lads.

Gregor himself is quite a good tennis player, he credits Murray as been his inspiration.  Gregor understands hard work and determination will be key to any success.

Katie Cullen another student at the school agrees, she too has met Andy Murray and agrees he is an inspirational figure but also a bit of a funny dude as well.

She added: “I was quite sad and shocked that he was  in pain and been forced to retire but still happy that will soon be out of pain and able to relax and take a well earned break.

Headteacher Lorraine Slabbert also got in on the act expressing her disappointment  that Andy is been forced to retire this year as he has been a “huge inspiration”.

She added: “However, with everything we do in Dunblane we talk about a positive spin on that, and actually my next thought  was “what’s next for Andy and what extra impact can he have?”

In Dunblane’s High Street there is a golden post box put there  in recognition of his Olympic win in 2012, and  the court at the local tennis club is rarely without young Wimbledon hopefuls hitting tennis balls, inspired by the two times Wimbledon champion.


Schools budgets feeling the squeeze

Nearly 33% of local authority of schools in the UK cannot cover their daily running costs a study suggests.

This is a fourfold increase in the amount of schools in that position in the last four years according to The Education Policy Institute.

Nearly half a million pounds to the average debt of such schools but the Department of Education states that across all school types nearly 90% of schools are in surplus.

David Laws, chairman of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said the latest school budget figures, for the term of 2017 to 18, showed a “marked deterioration”.

‘Financial Squeeze’

Geoff Barton the Head teachers’ leader said the study showed funding levels were “not realistic” and many education institutions  were now facing a “financial cliff edge”.

Mr Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union, warned that without much more funding for schools things will just get worse and worse.

Secondary schools present their own unique problems according to the EPI with about a tenth of  local authority secondary schools having budget deficits  of more than 10% of their income.

The government should first ensure they  support schools facing such “excessive” funding difficulties before allocating funds to schools in surplus.

The think tank says it is difficult to establish directly comparable figures for individual academies that are part of multi-academy trusts but 50% of secondary academies have in-year deficits.

The report also highlights the unevenness of funding levels.

All is not bad news, there is many schools running a surplus totaling a whopping 1.8 billion pounds that includes believe it or believe it not 250 million that has not been allocated for expenditure.

Sliding into debt

But the National Education Union says that funding is not keeping pace with rising cost pressures – and that since 2015 the school system has 326,000 more pupils.

They have complained of so called   voluntary contributions  from parents been used to fill the gaps.

They  charge the Department for Education and the Treasury of  sloganeering while schools were drowning in debt.

To add insult to injury schools deep in dept are been asked to provide more and more services in relation to  special needs etc in their schools.

Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner has tried to hold the Government to account in Parliament but Brexit has made progress on any of these issues impossible


The Government’s Industrial Strategy: successfully bringing industry & education together

The 1st  anniversary of the UK  Government’s Industrial Strategy, launched to boost the productivity & earning power of people in the UK has arrived

Due to the increased  demand for STEM skills in the UK reaching a critical point, business and education need to  work together and partner with the  Government by investing in the workforce of the future: raising young people’s skills, aspiration and awareness of STEM careers.

We are the no. 1 provider of STEM support to schools and colleges in the United Kingdom and  are proud to play a crucial  role in bringing business & education together to inspire the future generation of STEM workers.  Thanks to the ongoing generosity of our  industry partners, including Rolls-Royce, BP and Lloyd’s Register Foundation, we will make our vision of a top class STEM education for all young people across the UK a reality.

These companies band together to help finance Project ENTHUSE – an original partnership of government, charities & employers that have come together to bring about inspired STEM teaching through the professional development of teachers and technicians and support staff across the UK.

Head of Community Investment & Education Outreach at Rolls Royce Paul Broadhead states:

“Teachers are the single most important differentiator in a young person’s educational outcome.  Great teachers in STEM are key to inspiring a future generation of pioneers in engineering and technology and hence critical to Rolls-Royce, its customers, supply chain and wider society.  We are therefore thrilled to announce our continued support for Project ENTHUSE.”

Tackling the Great Challenges

STEM Learning is delighted to announce it has been awarded £162,000 by the Dept of Business, Energy and Ind Strategy (BEIS) to inspire young students & those who influence them to focus on the global trends that will transform their future lives, addressing the Grand Challenges highlighted in the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

The Grand Challenges – Our Futures programme aims to increase awareness of the important role the Grand Challenge themes will play in people’s everyday lives and the UK economy. This programme will improve knowledge of future career opportunities, what STEM skills are needed and how young people gain those skills.

The programme will deliver 40 STEM Insight placements to give teachers, careers leads and enterprise co-ordinators the opportunity to experience STEM-related work in industry or university settings.

In addition, STEM Ambassadors, a UK wide network of over 30,000 volunteers from STEM employers, will deliver Grand Challenge themed activities to young people. New learning materials based on the four Grand Challenge themes will support STEM Ambassadors to deliver activities designed to increase understanding of Grand Challenges and future career opportunities.

Yvonne Baker, Chief Executive at STEM Learning said:

“We are delighted to play a part in the Grand Challenges… and to be a key partner in delivering the government’s Industrial Strategy. STEM Learning is ideally placed to provide the support needed to improve the quality of teaching which in turn inspires young people to pursue careers in STEM subjects, thereby bridging the skills gap.”

Special needs support for kids in UK schools taking too long

The BBC has learned that children in England with special educational needs are having to wait far too long for an education, health and care plan.

The EHC plans set out a child’s needs and the support to which they are entitled and so is a vital first step in setting the children on the right path.

Once a plan is asked for requested legally it needs to be delivered within 20 weeks.

Thanks to Freedom of Information requests, we have learned that 40% are taking longer than that.

12 Month  delays

BBC asked 152 councils in the UK  about the time they took to issue EHC plans.

They got detailed replies from 65 councils provided comparable data for the last four academic years, starting in 2014-15.

During that time  a whopping  twenty six and a half thousand applications took longer than 20 weeks to complete – including more than 6,000 last year alone.

Presentational grey line

The list of Shame – Councils with the longest waits

  • Suffolk: 1,023 days
  • Tower Hamlets: 1,014 days
  • Isle of Wight: 1,005 days
  • West Sussex: 973 days
  • Liverpool: 945 days
  • Dorset: 924 days
  • Haringey: 915 days
  • Havering: 898 days
  • Southend-on-Sea: 871 days
  • Worcestershire: 870 days
Presentational grey line

Suffolk has the dubious honour of been top of the list for delays when on applicaton took 1023 days to finalize. Yes you read that correctly , nearly 3 years.

They where quicker with their excuses for this delay. They highlighted 2 delaying factors, first  an increased demand for EHCPs had proved particularly challenging – as this took place at the same time as the transfer from the old system of Statements of Special Educational Needs (SEND).

The council’s cabinet member for education & skills Gordon Jones, stated: “Our priority is to ensure every child gets the correct help and support they need to prosper and develop.

“The increase in demand for education, health and care needs assessments for children and young people in Suffolk is a matter that I am taking very seriously.

“The development of our SEND strategy is driving improvement across SEND and all agencies involved in Suffolk.”

52  councils told us that they had taken more than 52 weeks to finalise an EHC plan for at least 1 child.

With thousands of families are still waiting longer than 20 weeks for a finalised plan, the data suggests the average waiting times are getting better at many councils.

Applications on the rise.

Thanks to better diagnosis the number of applications for EHC plans is on a steady upwards curve.

Records show 61 councils provided data on how many applications they had been receiving.

Between them, they were just short of 17,000 applications  for a needs assessment in 2014-15, but that figure rose to nearly 29,000  in the following year – a whopping  70% increase.

West Sussex County Council told the BBC it had seen nearly  a 50%  jump  in the amount  of EHC applications it received over the  last 4 years.

Funding from central government has not kept up with this growth in applications

“The national funding formula has not kept up with the increase in costs councils face as a result of more requests for EHCPs and specialist placements,” the council said.

Parents not taking this lying down.

The number of parents taking legal action to challenge them at various stages of the EHCP process nearly doubled over the four years – up from 1,041 in 2014/15, compared with 1,988 in 2017/18.

Fifty-eight councils provided comparable data on these appeals.

Judith from Hastings appealed when East Sussex County Council decided not to assess the needs of her daughter, Hope, who has autism.

“I submitted papers to a tribunal, by myself, I didn’t get any legal help. At that level it’s a paper tribunal, so you’re not ‘in court’ as such. But you still have to get your words in right.

The whole thing was very stressful but I had to fight for my child and her needs.



Spending in schools on teacher training has dropped for 1st time in 10 years due to budget pressures

Schools’ expenditure on teacher training in the UK has fallen for the 1st time this decade despite  the profession having a major retention problem, research finds.

Budget constraints  are forcing schools to cut their staff training  budgets, a report says.

Analysis requested by the education charity Teacher Development Trust, established that budgets for teacher training have reduced by and eight or 12%  in secondary schools and 7 per cent in primary schools.

Across the UK  investment in continuing professional development  varies massively from county to county.

Lets look at a school in Bury. They allocate less than £165 per teacher but secondary schools in Barking and Dagenham allocate 5X that amount of money on teacher training.

Other  schools starved of funds  have cut spending on books, pens , paper , computers and other  L & D resources  in an effort to try and fund training  for teachers, the research found.

John Collier, director of teaching and learning for St. Bart’s Academy Trust in Stoke-on-Trent, has cut back on stationery and books to fund teacher development. He warned: “If funding continues to get tighter, we’ll struggle to fund professional development at the current levels.”

David Weston, CEO of the Teacher Development Trust said: “Schools are facing significant funding issues, which are forcing them to spend less on CPD for teachers. This is a great concern, particularly at a time when teacher retention and job satisfaction are big issues.

“We know that CPD is linked to improved results for pupils, plus better staff morale and retention.

“Funding pressures are clearly showing on schools – first they’ve been cutting glue sticks and computers and now headteachers are having to cut investment in staff.”

Teacher’s Unions are up in arms about this, they point out that there is more teachers leaving the profession than entering it and at the end of the day it is students who will suffer.

For more information on this check out his article on Teacher Training in The Independent newspaper

Travel while getting paid

Traveling broadens the mind but it can be hard to get time to travel when holding down a full time job. OK teaching allows you to have good holidays but even 2 months free every summer may not be enough to satisfy your travel bug. You can of course take a few years off and travel the world but that costs.

Lets be clear , when we talk about traveling we are not talking about 2 weeks in the Costa Del where ever !! When we talk about travel we are talking about spending enough time in a country to really soak up the culture, meet the locals and ok get a really good tan as well.

As I said it can be very hard to do this while only having a few month off a year.

What to do ?

Well one of the advantages of been a teacher is you can of course teach while traveling. Teaching English in a foreign country is a very popular option taken by many people who want to travel and earn money while doing it.

If for example spending a year in Vietnam appeals to you then you can go there for a year and teach English. Teaching in Vietnam allows you plenty of time off, the money you earn is more then enough to allow you to explore the country and live well.

Teach to Beach is a company who will organise work for you in Vietnam, you need the follow qualifications

  • You must be a native English speaker
  • Any bachelor’s degree.( Very few exceptions). Does not have to be teaching related.
  • Completion of TEFL/TESOL online course. We will advise on the best path here.
  • Some teaching experience is helpful but not a necessity.
  • Clean Criminal record.
  • Good health ( There will be an extensive health examination on arrival).

So what are you waiting for , there are many other teaching options available to you while working abroad.

NI Schools feeling the pain due to No government in Stormont

Northern Ireland has been without government for nearly 2 years now. While on the outside things appear to be moving along as normal under the hood the stains are starting to show.

One headmaster has reported that families already cash strapped are having to find hundreds of pounds to plug funding gaps so school supplied can be purchased.

These contributions are called “voluntary” but they are anything but voluntary. They are essential contributions and parents are put under pressure make these voluntary contributions.

Stormont has been mothballed since Martin McGuiness pulled the plug on the power sharing arrangement with the DUP when funding for Irish language training was withdraw.  An agreement was nearly reached between SF and the DUP to get Stormont up and running again but again it foundered on the issue of the Irish Language.

The impasse has created a decision-making logjam – and now parents are buying around £60 worth of supplies per school child every month to plug an education funding gap, a principal has said.

The president of the  National Association of Head Teachers in Northern Ireland Geri Cameron said: “It is totally unsatisfactory, parents have had a very strong voice in telling us that it is not sustainable.”

Schools budgets  has reduced by about 10 per cent in real terms over the past 6 years. “Schools are now at crisis point,” Ms Cameron added.

Charlene Brooks, chief executive of Parenting NI, a family support organisation, added that families were expected to buy extra items like stationary and contribute to the cost of particular lessons.

She said: “Parents have made it very clear that this has had an unwanted additional financial and emotional strain. They talk about a voluntary contribution but if one parent does not make it does that mean that their child is left out of a lesson and is more vulnerable to being picked on?

“Does that mean that that child stands out from the group? There appear to be much greater expectations on parents to pay towards things that they would not have to in the past.

Schools are not the only thing effected by the Stormont shutdown.  Loads  of pubs have also shut due to unreformed red tape and taxation. Critical road building projects and Casement GAA Ground development  have  also been delayed following the power-sharing collapse at Stormont.

The region currently holds the world record for the longest period without a sitting government, which it passed after 589 days.

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