Campaigners criticise £50m fund for grammar schools expansion

Headteachers and campaigners fighting cuts to special needs education call move ‘sickening’

Damian Hinds
The education secretary, Damian Hinds, said the 16 schools chosen to receive the additional funding had been given permission to expand after setting out clear actions to prioritise access for disadvantaged children. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Making the announcement on Monday, the education secretary, Damian Hinds, said the 16 schools chosen to receive the additional funding out of 39 applications had been given permission to expand after setting out clear actions to prioritise access for disadvantaged children.

“I have always been clear that selective schools will only be able to expand if they meet the high bar we have set for increasing access for disadvantaged children, and all of these schools have done that,” Hinds said. “As a result, countless more children from disadvantaged areas will benefit from places at outstanding schools.”

Headteachers who have been campaigning for months to highlight the funding crisis in their schools described the move as “ill-judged”. Campaigners who are fighting SEND cuts to their children’s education through the courts said it was “sickening”.

“It’s difficult to stomach the backdoor expansion of grammar schools while inclusive schools are being financially penalised and special educational needs funding is in crisis,” said a spokesperson for SEND Family Action. “Attending these schools is simply not an option for many pupils with SEND.”

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, per-pupil funding in England is down by 8% in real terms since 2010, causing real hardship in schools. As a result, headteachers are increasingly asking parents for cash donations, with some schools forced to cut staff, SEND support and pastoral care.

Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said the £50m boost would benefit very few children. “Yet again the government shows its complete lack of understanding of the huge funding crisis in our schools. This will be a huge disappointment to the majority of non selective schools and colleges facing financial hardship.”

Headteachers who marched on Westminster in September to bring the financial crisis in their schools to the attention of ministers also expressed their disappointment. Jules White, the headteacher of Tanbridge House school in West Sussex and leader of the Worth Less? fair funding lobby, which represents 7,000 headteachers across 60 local authorities, said all schools deserved better funding.

“When the Department for Education only ever talks about efficiencies rather than proper investment for schools, we are concerned that today’s announcement is ill-judged. In short, it will cost £12,500 to fund each new place under this capital expansion project.

“It seems that the Treasury and the DfE can always find money for projects that suit an ideological direction. At the same time, when the need to fund each child’s education properly arises, we are told that money is in short supply.”

The opening of new grammar schools is barred by legislation passed under Tony Blair’s government in 1998, but the current government has made plain it is keen to increase the number of grammar school places, and in May Hinds announced the selective schools expansion fund, despite fierce opposition from educationalists and policy-makers.

Critics argue that grammar schools are bad for social mobility. Recent figures showed that little more than 2% of grammar school pupils receive free school meals, compared with about 15% in other state secondary schools.

The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said: “Today’s announcement is a stark reminder that the Conservatives have nothing to offer the overwhelming majority of schools apart from more cuts.

“At a time when the chancellor promises only ‘little extras’ for almost every school, the government are handing out millions to a handful of cherry-picked grammar schools which will do nothing for almost every child in the country.”

The government says the 16 grammar schools who have been awarded the additional funds have pledged to prioritise children who are eligible for the pupil premium for admission – these are children from the lowest income families.

More than half of the schools approved have agreed to lower the mark required to pass the entrance test for pupil premium pupils – Altrincham grammar school for boys says a pass will be 10 marks lower for such children – and Chelmsford county high school says 16% of places (30 pupils) will be awarded to girls eligible for pupil premium.

The schools also had to outline measures to improve outreach to children and families who might not otherwise consider applying to grammar school, including free entrance test materials available online and visits to primary schools and mentoring by sixth formers.

[“source=cnbc”]

Astronauts say look forward to space launch after Soyuz accident

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The launch of the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft is scheduled on December 3, 2018 from the Russian-leased Kazakh Baikonur cosmodrome.
BAIKONUR(KAZAKHSTAN): Astronauts set to board the first manned space mission since an unprecedented accident aboard Russia’s Soyuz, on Sunday brushed aside safety concerns, saying they were ready to take risks.

Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on Monday.

They will head to the ISS after a Soyuz rocket carrying Russia’s Aleksey Ovchinin and US astronaut Nick Hague failed on October 11 just minutes after blast-off.

The pair escaped unharmed, but the failed launch was the first such incident in Russia’s post-Soviet history and a new setback for the country’s once proud space industry.

The crew heading to the ISS dismissed any possible concerns about their safety.

“Risk is part of our profession,” crew commander Oleg Kononenko told a news conference at Baikonur, adding they “absolutely” trusted teams preparing them for the flight.

“We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board,” the 54-year-old said.

Anne McClain, a 39-year-old former military pilot, struck a similar note.

“We feel very ready for it,” she said.

Canada’s Saint-Jacques added that Soyuz spacecraft was “incredibly safe,” noting it was “actually reassuring” to witness the October aborted launch from Baikonur.

The accident highlighted the “smart design of the Soyuz and the incredible work that the search and rescue people here on the ground are ready to do every launch,” the 48-year-old said.

Russia said last month the launch of the Soyuz rocket failed because of a sensor that was damaged during assembly at the Baikonur cosmodrome. But officials insisted the spacecraft remains reliable.

Saint-Jacques will be the first Canadian astronaut to visit the space station since Chris Hadfield, who recorded a version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity classic aboard the ISS in 2013.

Canada’s governor general and former astronaut Julie Payette is expected to be among dignitaries to watch Monday’s launch.

Of the trio set to reach the ISS six hours after blastoff, both Saint-Jacques and McClain will fly for the first time. Kononenko is beginning his fourth mission to add to an impressive 533 days in space.

NASA’s McClain was deployed to Iraq and represented the United States women’s national rugby union team in the past.

She has said that training to spacewalk was similar to rugby since it demands “grit, toughness, mental focus, and more”

[“source=forbes]

“Militarisation Of Football”: Army Training, Drills For Chinese Players

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'Militarisation Of Football': Army Training, Drills For Chinese Players

Players being inspected by a soldier during military-style training sessions in Shanghai. (AFP)

Shanghai: 

Chinese national squads and a top league team have packed young footballers off to military camps for drills and Marxist-style “thought education” as a campaign to promote Communist Party values spreads even into the sporting world.

Chinese fans have watched the militarisation of football with a mixture of anger and bemusement after pictures emerged of players getting their hair shaved and throwing themselves bare-chested into the snow.

The Chinese Football Association (CFA) spirited away more than 50 under-25 national squad players in October for several weeks of intensive army drills, swapping their football boots for combat boots and military fatigues.

The move, underlining desperation to improve the perennially underachieving Chinese national side, was particularly controversial because it meant some of China’s finest young players were not involved in the final games of the league season.

A second batch of players was packed off in early November, and this week a national squad of under-19s was set to don camouflage and head to the barracks, suggesting that the boot camps may become a fixture.

Chinese Super League (CSL) side Shanghai Shenhua — home last year to Argentine striker Carlos Tevez — followed suit with its under-19 players, combining football training with marching and other aspects of an austere military life.

Under the watchful eye of the drillmasters of airforce unit 94778, the young players were subjected on Monday to “thought-education”, the club said on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform.

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Players marching with a soldier during military-style training sessions. (AFP)

They “examined propaganda materials, visited the unit’s hall of history, soldiers’ barracks and took part in basic military formation drills”, it said.

The players were also plonked down to watch the evening news on state television — a nightly hymn to the Communist Party — before hitting their bunks.

‘Strengthen ideology’

The CFA has been characteristically coy on the thinking behind the boot camps, but the Beijing Evening News said: “In several previous warm-up matches, some of the national team were criticised for not working hard and having no sense of honour.”

The Beijing Youth Daily, citing the CFA, said that the camps will “strengthen young players’ ideology”.

President Xi Jinping has conducted a broad campaign to bolster the ruling Communist Party that has drawn comparisons to past mass political campaigns under former leader Mao Zedong.

Government departments, businesses and organisations across the country have signed up to the drive by conducting indoctrination sessions focusing on Marxist values and “Xi Jinping Thought”.

Earlier this year, players for the national team began appearing in matches with bandages covering their tattoos, which the Xi government frowns upon in its purity campaign.

But frustrated Chinese football fans accused the CFA of putting politics before football as it took dozens of domestic players out of action for the critical last few games of the season.

Pictures subsequently emerged online of the under-25 players with buzz cuts and wearing military garb as they sat in a whitewashed room watching the senior national team’s 0-0 with India on television.

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A soldier teaching marching techniques to Shenhua players. (AFP)

A red banner at the front of the room exhorted them to be upstanding members of the public.

Soccer News reposted pictures on Weibo said to be of the players baring their teeth and leaping half-naked into the snow.

China’s World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, whose final assignment with the team will be the Asian Cup in January, has not commented on the army-style initiative.

As part of Xi’s efforts to make the country a footballing powerhouse, China made the 70-year-old Italian one of the best-paid coaches in the world when they hired him in October 2016.

[“source=ndtv”]

How to encourage your new hires to be creative

Image result for How to encourage your new hires to be creative

In today’s work environment, you need more from an employee than just strong technical skills. Sure, software engineers need to be familiar with the appropriate programming language, and data analysts need to know their way around a spreadsheet. But these things alone won’t make them effective. They need to know how to think outside the box.

But how do you cultivate creativity, and keep it growing among your new hires? After all, good ideas don’t just come out of thin air. Here are some practices that you might want to try.

1) Explain your thinking style

Not everyone will think the way you do–and when you work with people, you need to be clear about how everyone works. If you are a backward thinker, you begin at the end and work backward to the beginning. You define your goal clearly and you focus on that exact goal and move forward in well-defined steps.

If you are a forward thinker, on the other hand, you begin with a rough idea, and you move forward by reacting and correcting until you arrive with something concrete.

You’ll avoid frustration when you explain how you think. I once hired a talented young researcher. Every time she brought in her work, I responded by asking her to look at the problem another way. After her third presentation, she said to me, “I can’t work with you anymore. You don’t know what you want. I’m quitting.”

That was a wake-up call for me. From that point on, I make sure to explain my thinking style to everyone that I work with–and that meant going back and forth until we get there. When I do this, I create a platform for creative collaborations–by enabling others to work in a way that suits their thinking style, while making sure that they understand mine.

2) Make sure to challenge different creative muscles

In Lateral Thinking—a book about unleashing creativity–physician and psychologist Edward De Bono likened creativity to pouring hot wax into a block of wax. The first time you pour, you create a new hole–the second time you pour, your wax goes into the same hole, only deeper.

Sometimes it takes experimentation to elicit creativity, and that means pouring new holes into the wax. Don’t just ask your new hires to come up with three versions of a marketing plan. Ask for a strategic roadmap or ideas on making your website user-friendly. This gives your new hires a chance to exercise a different creative muscle, and they can learn what it takes for them to come up with a great idea.

3) Focus on what’s missing, not what’s wrong

When you watch yourself on video, you will most likely fixate on a particular flaw. You may obsess about how your smile seems crooked, how often you blink, how many “ahs” and “ers” you say in a minute. So what happens as a result of this kind of analysis? You pause, you clamp your jaws, you pop your eyes open, you have long, empty pauses. Focusing on flaws doesn’t work.

You have to look instead at what’s missing. If you speak with too many “ahs” and “ers” what’s missing is a connection between your speaking and your breathing, not that you’re stopping too much. You need to adopt the same kind of mind-set with your team’s creativity. Don’t focus on what they’re doing wrong. Instead, give them ideas on what they can do.

Whether you’re giving feedback or delivering a message, you have to approach it in a more–not less– perspective. As one of my clients explained, “When my boss asked us how we were going to cut costs, my colleagues presented their cost-cutting plans. I told him how I was going to sell more.” That client is one of his company’s top sales leaders.

4) Give feedback at a concept level

When you’re giving feedback to a new hire, you have to leave room for them to solve the problem. For example, suppose you walked into a room that had a fireplace at one end and two chairs against the back wall. When you say, “That’s ridiculous. Why don’t you move your chairs closer to the fire?” you’re jumping into solution mode.

Supposing instead you said, “I’d like you to consider how to optimize the experience of being in this room.” Now you’re challenging someone to think about what to do, and empowering them to come up with their own solutions. Your team might find the answers from the get-go, and you might need to tell them so. That’s okay, as long as you give them the space to be creators and problem solvers, not just doers.

5) Expect mistakes

Years ago, I was working with a leader from Toyota. He was talking about a discussion he’d had with a visitor from Ford, “I told him we have a system when employees notice a problem, they stop the line. We had 47 stops last month.” The Ford leader was impressed with the Andon process and adopted it right away. Then he came back a month later and proudly announced to my client, “We only had seven problems last month.”

My Toyota client explained that he’d missed the point. When you focus too much on avoiding mistakes, you’re actually blocking your creativity because you operate from the position of fear. You need to think of mistakes as a chance to fine-tune and improve the process. After all, creativity often comes from trial and error and you need to give your team the psychological space to do that.

Creativity doesn’t happen in a linear fashion. Often times, it requires trying different things before landing on something that works. Expect the same when it comes to your new hires. Be patient with the process, and you might just end up with something amazing.

[“source=medicalnewstoday]