The Benefits of Blended Learning

Recently, a school named the Ark Pioneer Academy in Barnet would have seen a plan to develop a Blended learning programme. A blended learning programme would mean that some of the curriculum of a school is taught by teachers whilst other parts are taught by computer software packages. The Education Funding Agency (EFA) and construction company Bowmer and Kirkland’s planning application hoped to build a nursery, primary school, secondary school, sixth form and sports facility, which they planned to open in September 2018. Barnet Council officers recommended that the application should be approved but despite this, its planning committee threw it out.

The school planned to take the “blended learning” model from America where the learning structure was prevalent and Ark has said it hoped the method would make better use of teacher time, further personalise learning and “increase the reach of great teachers”.

So what is the Blended Learning model? And how does it help America’s next generation to find the best pathways to careers? For instance some people might want jobs in Tax Recruitment whilst others may want to find an In-House Solicitor Job. The possibilities of careers are endless in terms of jobs that you can train for, you could even find a Newly Qualified Solicitor Job in London and the blended learning model may or may not give you a head start in that.

blended-learning

What is blended learning?
Blended learning is when education uses both classroom and physical teaching and combines it with media and technology based learning. This means that there is flexibility in when the students can be taught. The students will have some lessons which are based on personal, teacher student contact and some that is delivered in software packages. This flexibility means that it is also useful in professional development groups, not only for children but for adults as well. It is an easy, independent way of learning that means that the student can work at their own pace so long as they reach the deadline. This type of learning would benefit independent thinkers and group sessions alike. Blended learning therefore holds a range of similarities to personalised learning, meaning that the education is tailored to the needs of the individual and gives them more control over their own education. In particular this would benefit those who do not like the routine and structure of the traditional education system.

History
Technology based learning has in fact existed since the 1960’s. Dating back to half a century ago, companies would use technology based training for mini computers and mainframes. Since then the idea of the scale at which blended learning can work has become the prevalent argument for its inclusion in curriculums as the 70s saw video conference calling and the use of technology being a hands on and efficient way of teaching people about just that, technology. Although this was efficient, due to the complex and young nature of the computer systems, was very expensive to maintain for sustained periods of time. CD ROMS then emerged in the 90’s and become the primary source for packaging computer based information. This of course included learning tools. Problems arose again however, as CD ROM based learning could not monitor large levels of results and test scores. This led to the development of learning management systems that had the ability to archive and rank results. Nowadays, blended learning is delivered online for ease of access.

This means that institutions such as the Khan Academy have flourished in the twenty first century. The Khan Academy allows students to learn at their own pace and have an accessible space to study via short YouTube lectures and learning tools for teachers.

Blended learning is thought to be more effective than solely face to face or solely online learning. This is because it instils a balanced mixture of personal human contact in the learning, something that can only be administered from one human to another and independent study and research, allowing students to escape the pressure of an institution and take the reins of their own thinking and learning techniques. What this amounts to is a simultaneous “collaborative and independent learning experience”. Students who have special talents can use blended learning outside of the curriculum to exceed their grade boundaries and therefore reach their true potential, not limited by the restrictions of the classroom and the learning pace of others.

Blended learning as community
Perhaps one of the most important positives to Blended Learning is that it creates an online community which can help and support each other. The Internet is used to connect people from all parts of the world with websites like Facebook and Skype being of great importance in the strive for global connectivity and Blended Learning creates the same, envisaging a future where like-minded people can learn together and give each other tips, increasing our understanding of our world as whole.

Free Places at Private Schools For Students in Low Income Households

There has always been healthy debate between the pros and cons of private and state schools. Private schools, run by a private institution offers smaller classes, better quality of teaching and more focus on the needs of the pupil. State schools have larger classes and are run by the government, leaving it more in the hands of the pupils themselves to pass their exams. Depending on the pupil, each of these types of learning has its benefits but one thing is for certain, the fact that pupils have to pay for a private education means that lower income families are in a worse position if they want their kids to be privately educated.

With this in mind it has recently been announced that the Independent Schools Council (ISC) will pay for low income student’s places, if the government pays £5,550 per place, which is how much it costs in the state system to fund a student. This scheme is estimated to cost up to 80 million pounds.

There would be some cases where the students would be tested for their academic ability which is how many private schools run, with common entrance exams. But a lot of the places would be given not just to the brightest pupils but the pupils who would benefit from a private education the most. Many students who score well in exams do just as well in a state school whilst the fact the private system, with its rigorous focus and attentiveness to its pupils may benefit those who thrive on a more tailored education. Another benefit to the scheme is that it will diversify classrooms, leading to a more vibrant and stimulating classroom.

However, some believe that more could be done. Chief inspector of schools Sir Michael Wilshaw for instance, said the plan was not enough. There is more that could be done to help those from low income backgrounds. The proposal came after an announcement was made that there would be a government consultation on the future of education and that as part of the ISC’s response, this proposal would be put forward, a scheme which would be open to children in both primary and secondary education. The scheme however, is still in the throes of laying out the plans intricacies and so it may take a while before the government approves the idea.

Currently it costs an average of £30,000 to send a pupil to board and £15,500 for a day school for a year. This is astonishing, with the average earner making under 16,000 pounds. The independent school system is definitely weighed to favour those from a more privileged background and this in itself can damage independent schools versatility and uniqueness.

Testimonies
There are many cases in the past of pupils being assisted with their tuition fees at schools. Many of these students sing the praisdes of the school for getting them out of trouble and for bettering their life chances. For instance Dominic Hill, from Lytham St Anne’s, “thoroughly enjoyed” his years at a local private school where his fees were assisted. He told reporters that due to the fact that some of his friends who did not go to private school ended up getting in trouble when they were older made him think that perhaps if he hadn’t been privately educated, that he could be in a very different position in his life. This help has meant that many people have been able to achieve their dreams, for instance gaining that much sought after Law Job or Tax Job.

Cuts to State Schools
It seems that this assistance being proposed by the International School Council is counter balanced by cuts to the state school sector. This year could see cuts of up to 3 billion being made to state schools. This means that by 2019 state schools will have to find a way of saving that amount of money due to government cuts to education. The National Audit Office says that Schools face 8% budget cuts and about 60% of secondary schools already have deficits. This means that there is much work to be done and to ease the transition those schools which are losing money are only having cuts of 1.5 percent. There are around 10,000 schools that will be losing money but on the other hand, another 10,000 school swill gain funds. This means that schools that have been neglected in the past, for instance in areas like Barnsley and Plymouth will be gaining funds as they are not given as much as schools in places like Hackney and Coventry.

This is to try and rebalance the scales, as many schools are being under funded and need to be addressed. Schools will begin to be funded on the needs of the pupils on an individual basis, not by the general needs of their area.

Progress 8 – What You Need To Know

Introduction – 100
Until recently, school exam results have mainly been judged on how many pupils attained A* to C grades. Anything under this was deemed as a failure, leading to what could be seen as putting more of a focus on those below the threshold. Often extra effort from teachers was put on those below the C grade band to help them attain higher grades which some critics say, meant less effort was put on the pupils already retaining B grades and above to achieve their highest potential. Continue reading “Progress 8 – What You Need To Know”

Academies Are Spending More Than They Are Earning

Academy schools are funded by the state and are directly funded by the Department for Education and independent of local authority control, each school having its own individual terms of agreement discussed with the state itself. Most Academies run as secondary schools but there are exceptions to the rule, having a few be primary and middle schools. Academies are governed by their own body and therefore draw comparisons to grammar and private schools. These schools can also gain funding support from individual funding bodies who may want to invest in the school or give money out of good will, essentially treating it like a charity. The schools do not have to follow the national curriculum but have to ensure that they are creating a broad and balanced curriculum which includes core subjects such as mathematics and English.

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In 2010 there were 203 Academies in England and the Academies Act 2010 was established so as to convert any school that wished to do so into an Academy. This meant that since then more schools have converted due to the benefit of gaining more government funding and also being able to get cheaper supplies due to the incentive scheme laid out by the government. As of 2014 there were 3444 Academies, the numbers having risen exponentially in the four years since the introduction of the Act. This is due to the fact many schools were attracted to the Government’s incentives to convert and gave them more freedom to create their own curriculums with less interference from the local councils.

So how does it look today?
According to figures coming directly from the government, it seems that half of academy trusts have been spending more than what they are earning. The figures seem to show that 363 – or 52.5 per cent – of multi-academy trusts spent more than their income in 2014-15. This is compared with just 25.2 per cent two years previously. These same figures also show that 53 per cent of single academy trusts have spent more than their income in 2014 to 2015. This is a rise from 42.6 per cent in 2012-13. However, this does not mean that the schools are in debt. They could very well have been using money that was stored up in their reserves. This is not known for sure though. Lord Nash, schools minister has pointed out that the figures referred to in-year funding and that just 113, or 4 per cent, of academy trusts reported a cumulative deficit at the end of 2014-15.
Although this looks bad right now, it is possible that the Academies are not doing too badly. This is an annual report, not one that is accumulated over time and if there is any worry then it will take a few years before enough data and enough of a shift in standards becomes prevalent. Either way there are pros and cons to the Academy conversions.

Financial Benefits
Academies receive extra funding and this means that they can invest more in what they believe their students need the most. This gives schools more control over their own destiny and in the right hands this can only be a good thing. For instance, when it became an Academy in 2011, Morley High School in Leeds gained £280,000 a year additional income for its 1,600 students. Some of this money goes to acquiring services outside of the local authority whilst some of it is still used within the city of Leeds. There may also be benefits to Tax Jobs, many Academies finding it easier to be taxed less.

Local Authority relationships
Many Academies have been reported to have no worse a relationship with their city council than they did before converting. This could be because they now act as two different bodies of power as opposed to one which had control over the school itself. This takes some of the pressure off the schools and means that more mature and respectful relationships can grow out of the ashes of the last relationship.

Contracts and admission rules
One of the major fears about the conversion of schools into Academies was that the schools would have more power over admissions and their teacher’s contracts. This means that some of the schools, if they so wished, could have manipulated and taken advantage of the contracts of the teachers and could have become less inclusive in the pupils they took in. Whilst some Academies have kept contracts and admission rulings the same as before so as to ensure stability, others have changed them to include primary schools from further afield so as to be even more inclusive in their yearly intake. More popular Academies may want to open their each further in terms of their catchment areas as more students will mean more funding.

There are many more benefits and worries to using Academies but it does seem that even though they seem to have had a rough year in terms of over spending, that the schools themselves are remaining stable and positive.

Time Saving Tools for Teachers

As a teacher, your time has to be managed very carefully. Not only do you have lessons most periods in which you must focus all of your attention on teaching, but there is a whole shed load of extracurricular paper marking that you must undertake. To make things easier for teachers, and for increased efficiency, we have compiled a list of apps and tech tools that can really take the pressure off for teachers. Continue reading “Time Saving Tools for Teachers”

The Best Movies for Teachers To Watch

We all know teaching is nothing like the movies. The idea of Robin Williams’s class of way too attractive and articulate high schoolers in Dead Poets Society standing on their table and pledging their allegiance to their English teacher is probably a daydream of many a teacher. The reality is that they are probably looking back at you, dull eyed to the point of you being unable to tell if they’re actually awake or not. Continue reading “The Best Movies for Teachers To Watch”

How To Achieve A Hassle Free Career Change

Whether we’re sick of that bar tending job or tired of the stress of being a CEO, we always want more. Our needs as a person change as we get older or work in one job for a long time. This means that our wants and needs change as our lives do. It is not surprising then, that many people at some point in their lives feel like a career change may be necessary. This is not only a profession change but you may seek a different role within the same sector. For instance some people who have a tax manager job may realise that they want a tax job in commerce. The idea of job jumping may feel daunting, which is why we have compiled a list of ways in which you can find a new career in a stress free fashion.

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Network
Before you change career, find out a bit about that role. You may want to do some background research to make sure that you know everything you can before jumping ship and onto another. Talk to people who work in the role you see yourself working in and research the companies you would like to work for and the specifications of the jobs they have going. In short, be prepared and know what to expect and before you make the decision to leave your current employment, work out if this is truly the career change for you. There are many networking events for the wide variety of careers out there and it may be beneficial to hear a professional talk about how they cracked into the industry. If nothing else, this might provide comfort, there are others like you looking for the same sorts of jobs.

Fear can be stifling
As stressed before, the idea of changing jobs can be daunting. It can mean that you end up paralysed by the magnitude of the task and this can lead to a vicious cycle in which you will be unsatisfied and frustrated. Many people stay in a job they don’t like because of the financial and personal risk they have to put themselves through. Job hunting in a new marketplace leaves you feeling vulnerable so instead of screaming to high heavens “but I won’t be able to pay my rent” when asked when you will be making your career change, instead tell yourself “I will find a way to pay my rent.” Turning all your hurdles into new challenges will lead to less fear and more self-betterment. The challenges ahead will themselves be character building.

Following your passion vs following what you’re good at
Everybody wants to follow their dreams but there is a difference between following unachievable goals and following what you’re good at and makes you happy. Many people want to work as a film maker but if what really draws you towards that role is the creativity of it then you can find many other roles where you are using your skill set and knowledge that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be in that specific role. You can cultivate your passion in many different roles and fields and therefore you should never restrict yourself to one unachievable field where you can find yourself trapped in a nigh impossible job search.

Motivations
It is always good to take a step back and really consider your motivations for leaving your current role. Often people will have bad or stressful days; an argument or a heavy workload may mean that you are frustrated with your job and may feel an impulse to throw in the towel. However once you take a step back you can really weigh up the long term effects on you of staying where you are against your leaving your job. A considered and tactical approach always leads to a more satisfying end result.

You may realise that your skill set is actually being wasted on your current role and only when you really identify your strengths will you be able to see this. This is why you will always benefit from reflection before making the plunge into the unemployment pool.

Finances
Money isn’t everything but you need to make sure you can survive when unemployed. Don’t quit your job if you’re in a rocky financial position. Make sure that you can find a way to keep afloat whilst unemployed and this may mean that you have to spend a period of time saving up or paying off those debts that you owe. If you are in a position where you feel like you need the money you are making from your current job then maybe right now isn’t the best time to quit. You want to be in a relaxed position when you leave your job, not an anxious one.

Why Taxologists Are So Important

Anyone looking for Jobs in Tax who is tech savvy may want to consider a job as a taxologist. The market is changing rapidly. In the last five years there has been more of a change in the way taxes are delivered than there has been in the past thirty. Part of the reason for this is the mass of changes that have occurred in the past five years in terms of the way that tax is regulated and delivered. Technology has played an increasing part in tax so the need for people who are both adept in terms of working with technology as well as having a stellar understanding of the business and most importantly, the tax world has never been greater. There is always another company looking to hire a taxologist and it is becoming an ever more lucrative market with computer programmes and applications surpassing Microsoft Excel and becoming more and more important in the world of tax.

So what is a Taxologist
A Taxologist is a person who works in tax that maximises the function of technology in the industry. They may find ways of maximising potential in the sectors of data quality, automation and efficiency. This is increasingly important as the world becomes more and more tech orientated and reliant in many aspects of business and trade. The systems put in place can include databases, automated management systems and devices that can quantify research findings. The Taxologist, or Tax Technologist has a unique role which bridges the customer relations and management roles. They will work both as somneone who will maximise efficiency but will also understand the customer’s needs and how to deal with them. Many Taxologists may come from a more client based tax role or from a technological background, often from a mixture of the two or at least with a strong background in one and an interest in the other.

The Changing Tax world
The G20 is made up of some of the most powerful world economies and businesses. Its role is to act as a forum for the world to engage, debate and work out the best steps forward in terms of the global economy. They discuss policy, financial stability and address issues that transcend that of a single government or business. In 2013, the G20 started a discourse with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

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Here the two organisations talked about what they believed to be inequities and inconsistencies in the tax landscape of the world. Here they created an outline for what became the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Actions. Since then, the G20 has supported the OECD’s 15-point action plan to reinvigorate the basis underlying today’s international tax landscape and to create a solid structure for countries to base their tax landscapes on.

The BEPS sets out to make sure that tax is never mismatched and to make sure that all income is taxed appropriately. There is also an agenda to align profits with value creation and a push to increase levels of transparency within the tax authorities. This is so that the world of finance is deemed fair and can be assessed by those outside of its complicated sphere and so that changes can be coordinated in an organised and efficient way.

With all of this being pushed forwards in the last four years, it’s no surprise that new jobs are opening up for those working as tax technologists. With all of these new agendas being put into place, people need to find ever more efficient ways of organising and comparing data so as to create a fairer tax world. The use of machines is becoming even more important therefore, and people with the required knowledge of technology as well as an understanding of business are becoming ever more important in the fight against tax avoiders and a fair economy.

Where to find tax technologist jobs
The market is growing for taxologists. This means that there are more and more countries looking for people who are engaged in the profession. Russia, Eastern Europe, Latin American, and the US are all great places to look for jobs. These are countries where tax laws are becoming more and more tight and therefore more people working within the industry are becoming more necessary.

What do you need to be a Tax Technologist?
There is a wide range of possible skills that a tax technologist may find useful when applying for these roles. A strong understanding in Tax legal, direct and indirect Tax, transfer pricing, supply chain, finance and accounting, strategic planning, project and application governance, business process mapping, solution architecture, data modelling, team leadership, specific product knowledge, design/configuration, implementation, IT, ERP, organizational adoption, change management, skills matrices and RACI, technical writing, content management, justification, analytical. Not only this, but applicants find it useful to have skills involving communication and management, especially in client interfacing.

Making Your Resume Stand Out: The Skillsets to Focus On

Once upon a time – actually not so long ago – the job marketplace was dominated by roles for skilled labourers. Now, while such positions are still sought and so certainly still exist, they’re hardly the runaway majority. In today’s world, they’ve been usurped by roles that ask of their seekers data savviness and familiarity with tech; the world’s becoming ever more digitised and the job market has inevitably, undoubtedly moved with it.

Continue reading “Making Your Resume Stand Out: The Skillsets to Focus On”

Could A Job in Tax Be The Key To Climbing The Corporate Ladder?

Heads up, candidates out there interested in a career in tax – or already pursuing one – because making it to Head of Tax in a company may stand you in good stead to make it to the top of the corporate tree; that is, to Chief Financial Officer (CFO). So a recent study suggests.

The research, carried out among Heads of Tax (HoTs) of 100 FTSE companies, found they felt their tax departments were becoming ever more integrated into their businesses (especially in terms of finance) and were now less of the outlier department they’ve traditionally been thought of. The result of which, a good number felt, could mean better career opportunities for tax practitioners as they progress in companies.

The stats don’t lie?
Indeed, nearly half (43%) of the HoTs surveyed claimed to ‘feel more important’ in their company than they had just one year earlier – surely a huge jump in just 12 months. A large number of them too suggested they now enjoyed ‘responsibility and leadership involvement’ in the Finance, Treasury, Pensions or HR realms of their organisations – or more than one of these. Moreover, they believed that highly regarded qualities like ‘judgment, leadership and communication’ had become critical components of their jobs, while even overseeing an effective tax rate (ETR) had fallen behind ‘reputational risk’ and ‘stakeholder management’ capabilities in importance.

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All this also suggests something else – the nature of the HoT role is changing or, rather, evolving. It appears to be less of a technically-driven job than it used to be; the swing of the pendulum in favour of managing risk and stakeholders suggests it’s moving more in line with other roles of seniority in the corporate sphere. Therefore, one of the many jobs in tax and then, in turn, Head of Tax could indeed prove a likely stepping stone to a Chief Financial Officer role in the near future.

A blurring of boundaries
Tax professionals who move up through their departments then are likely to develop a more commercial – or broader – set of skills than has been the case in years past. However, this works the other way; while HoTs may be better positioned to take on CFO roles, other finance-based professionals are likely to be well placed to move across into tax manager jobs, including HoT roles. The blurring of the boundaries – the shared commercial skillsets between those in both departments, rather than the more technical-only skillsets of the past – ensuring opportunities to move horizontally across companies as well as vertically.

But don’t discount technical expertise
That said, tax professionals appear keen to point out that the world of tax is an ever moveable feast, none more so than right now, with a big debate going on in both the corporate and legislative worlds – and between them – over tax transparency and risk management. In this short-term climate then, tax specialists with creditable knowledge and expertise will remain very highly valued; their technical expertise setting them apart in the job marketplace and securing them roles in the tax sphere ahead of those more suited to, say, the finance sphere. In short, it may not be all change just yet.

And yet, the long-term trend may well be that tax professionals see their skillsets aligning more with those of other employees within their organisations, opening them up to a wider spectrum of career progression. The world of tax is changing and, within it and within businesses and companies, the roles of tax professionals.