Displaying items by tag: Education
There is a move to change Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Act, and the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) has recommended removing the right of Christian schools to exclusively hire Christian teachers. They released a Report containing 46 recommendations, four of which relate to religious bodies, one of these recommendations would narrow the 'genuine occupational requirements' so Christian schools cannot require all staff to be Christian. Only certain roles would meet that criterion, like the principal or chaplain. A science teacher, for example, would not be required to be a Christian. This dramatically undermines a Christian school’s ability to fulfil their ethos. Christian schools are places where students practise their faith along with teachers and staff. The idea that staff are not required to live according to the school’s religious ethos is at odds with faith-based learning. The Australian Christian Lobby is encouraging Australians to write to their MPs and the Minister for Education to express their concerns.
There is a shortage of skilled workers in the hotel industry, maintenance and repair, health and safety services, day care centres and schools. Nationwide there are 100,000 child care and 40,000 teacher positions vacant. There are many causes: higher birth-rate, immigration, increase in all-day care services, increasing requirements for social inclusion and language training, and inadequate preparation for the large number of workers from the 1960s baby-boom generation who will retire in the 2020s. Teachers, trainers, educators and carers, under stress due to heavy workloads, are taking time off due to illness. Germany’s education system needs a fundamental overhaul to equip children for life in the coming decades. Many of the teaching methods and educational materials are antiquated and no longer suitable to give children a healthy identity, self-confidence, assertiveness, team spirit, joy and resilience for the demands of the current world.
Scotland's first national school strike since the 1980s has taken place, with a one-day walkout over pay by teaching staff at primary and secondary schools, and also at many council nurseries. A revised pay offer was rejected. Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said that the employers’ offer was fair, with rises up to 6.85% for the lowest-paid. Finding the money to give unions a 10% pay rise would mean some very hard choices for councils and the Scottish government. Teachers said they are asking for 10% to keep salaries in line with inflation - currently 11%. They are feeling the squeeze from this cost-of-living crisis. They think that they are working way beyond their 35-hour week, and the long holiday comes nowhere near making up for the amount of working hours put into the job. Many work during the holidays preparing for the next term. They find their job stressful, and feel the pay isn't fit for purpose.
A report has found recruitment for secondary school RE teachers was 20% below the level required. A Westminster debate was called by Conservative MP Martin Vickers, as many schools deliver the bare minimum of religious education. During the debate Conservative MPs spoke highly of RE and urged the Government to do more to protect it. Stephen Morgan, the shadow education minister, was appalled over government failure to introduce a national plan for RE, saying that an education in religion and worldviews is an important part of the school curriculum. The debate highlighted the importance of RE and the need for more specialist teacher training and recruitment.
Uganda’s education minister has decided to shut all types of schools from 25 November after 23 Ebola cases were confirmed among pupils and eight children died. The virus circulating in Uganda is the Sudan strain of Ebola, for which there is no proven vaccine, unlike the more common Zaire strain which spread during recent outbreaks in neighbouring DR Congo. Ebola is spread through bodily fluids; common symptoms are fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea. Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban settings. Ebola generally kills about half the people it infects. The decision to close all schools came because densely packed classrooms were making students highly vulnerable to infection. On 5 November the three-week lockdown on Mubende and Kassanda districts, which are at the centre of the outbreak, was extended. The measures include dusk-to-dawn curfews, banning personal travel, and closing markets, bars and churches.
Sarfraz wanted to reach Punjabis for Jesus. He worked stuffing balls of moist earth into moulds to make bricks. The gruelling work is done only by Christians, a religious minority discriminated against, doing menial work that nobody else wants. Extreme poverty means even children work in the brickyards. After work, Sarfraz shared the gospel door to door to convert the lost. He launched a church in his house, then rented a building to found a new denomination. He quit the brickfields and worked double shifts as a security guard to pay the teachers at the school he started. ‘We started small. Now we have great churches in different areas’, he says. ‘The children at our school are lucky. Children are our future. If we give them education, they will know who Jesus is. If they live the Bible, then they can understand what is written in the Bible. It is very special.’
Nigel and Sally Rowe took legal action against the Department for Education after they and their six-year-old son were labelled ‘transphobic’ by a CofE primary school for refusing to ‘believe’ in transgender-affirming policies. The Rowes had raised concerns after two boys aged six were allowed to come to school identifying as girls. The school said it did not ‘require formal medical / psychological assessment and reporting when a pupil seeks to be treated as transgendered’ and was working with Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust (TPHT). TPHT has now been shut down over safety concerns for thousands of children who have been referred there. The Government has settled the case after the Rowes won High Court permission for a judicial review of government transgender policies. They believe that ‘a child of primary school age does not have the mental ability to work out what it is to be transgender.’
A headteacher attempted to invoke a UN convention to ban singing Christian hymns at a religiously diverse infant school. A third of students at Poulner Infant School have Christian parents, but humanist head Jo Conner believes singing hymns infringes on the 'human rights' of non-Christian students. All schools must provide an opportunity for wholly- or broadly-inclusive Christian worship to promote spiritual development: however, they may apply for an exemption in particular circumstances. Ms Conner sought an exemption, saying Christian hymns were inappropriate as only a third of students were Christian. The advisory council for Religious Education said any parent had a right to withdraw their child from collective worship, but no withdrawals had been recorded and no parents had complained about worship music. They rejected her application.
Forty schools will use a new virtual messaging tool for pupils to get online help from vetted subject experts in the autumn term to avoid hiring new staff amid a budget crisis. The tool, askOLA, was designed to help pupils study after school but will now be made available during lessons. Over 200 schools are expected to use askOLA by the end of the autumn term, giving 20,000 pupils access during lessons. Pupils connect to an online teaching assistant in less than three minutes, and are coached using a chat box and a virtual whiteboard until they understand. The online teachers start each session by asking the pupil how they are, to assess their mental health and whether they are able to deal with the learning problem.
Parents are facing buying expensive school uniforms in time for the new academicl year. In 2020 the average cost of a uniform was £337 for secondary schools, £315 for primary schools. This year a quarter of parents will try to reuse old school items rather than buying new, according to Barclaycard research. One in five are donating old uniforms to others who cannot afford new ones. Demand for free school uniforms has rocketed recently. Although a new law protecting parents from unnecessary spending on branded items for school uniform costs will come into effect in September 2022, schools have until September 2023 to introduce change. Pray for schools quickly and thoroughly to review their uniform policies to make them more cost-effective sooner rather than later.