Latest Educational News

Exams must allow young people to risk failure

by Financial Times, August 24, 2005

Today almost 600,000 young people will open their GCSE results, the culmination of 11 years at school. It is a crossroads, with their future resting on the results and their next decision: A-levels and university, vocational training or straight to work?

Record numbers get to university

by BBC, August 24, 2005

The number of UK students given places in higher education so far this summer has increased by 8.5% since the same time in the process last year.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service said 335,912 had been given definite offers, up 26,288.

Of these, 6,226 - a rise of 2,321 - went through clearing, the system in place for those who miss predicted grades in exams or apply late.

Acceptances to study science degrees were up this year.

Schools seek new qualifications

by BBC, August 24, 2005

Schools are casting about for alternative qualifications to replace those which in many cases have brought a dramatic rise in their results.

GNVQs, worth four GCSEs in the league tables, have helped to transform the results of many secondary schools.

But this can cause resentment among teachers of traditional GCSE subjects, who regard it as a "con".

And GNVQs are being phased out, under a government decision taken before they soared in popularity.

Post-16 pupils 'earn more money'

by BBC, August 23, 2005

Young people who stay on in education after their GCSEs could earn up to £4,000 more per year than those without good GCSE results, it is claimed.
The Learning and Skills Council says they can expect to earn an estimated £185,000 more over their careers.

Scholars show they are class A

by Newcastle, August 23, 2005

Students in the North have recorded their best A-level results ever - and out-performed their counterparts elsewhere in the country.

Local education authorities in the region saw their pass rates rise by up to 2.6% last week, well above the national improvement of 0.2%.

There were even higher increases at the top grades, with a number of pupils gaining places at Oxford and Cambridge universities on the back of good A-level results.

And despite the traditional debate about the future of A-levels in an age of an almost 100% pass rate, education chiefs in the region defended the standards of the exams.

College consigns A-levels to history

by London, August 23, 2005

A leading independent school is introducing an international qualification as an alternative to A-levels.

From September, St Dunstan's College in Catford will offer sixth formers the International Baccalaureate.

The two-year diploma involves studying arts, languages, maths, science and humanities.

Jane Davies, headmistress of the school in Stanstead Road, said: "Changes to the A-level programme have led to criticism that they no longer permit universities to identify the strongest candidates.

Two thirds 'oppose' faith schools

by BBC, August 23, 2005

Nearly two thirds of the public oppose faith schools fearing their impact on social cohesion, a poll suggests.
An ICM/Guardian survey found 64% of people opposed the idea of government funding for faith schools.

Tony Blair has said it is "perfectly consistent" in a multi-racial, multi-religious society for parents to want children educated in their faiths.

But Barry Sheerman who chairs the Commons education committee questioned the idea of a "ghettoised" system.

Analysis: primary school tests

by Times, August 23, 2005

Standard Attainment Tests were introduced by the last Conservative Government as a way of measuring performance in the Three R's (reading, writing, arithmetic) and science. Written tests are taken at the ages of 7, 11 and 14, which coincide with the end of Key Stages 1, 2 and 3. The results are gauged against a nationally expected level, on a scale going up to 5. Tests, which are marked by external examiners, include comprehension and written questions, working out simple sums or explaining an experiment. Level 4 us the expected standard for 11-year olds.

This Government brought in national targets as part of its drive to raise achievement, particularly in English and maths. Ministers say that by setting goals they can measure how effectively they are driving improvements.

Degrees of debt

by Guardian, August 23, 2005

Within weeks thousands of students will be living away from home for the first time and enjoying the social whirl of Freshers' Week. But for many, it will be funded by unprecedented levels of debt.
Undergraduate students starting university this year can take out a student loan to cover their living costs. They can borrow up to £4,195 for the first year if they live outside London and £5,175 in the capital. They get slightly less in their final year because it is assumed they are about to take up a job. The loan is assessed by a student's local education authority (LEA) and is usually dependent on their parents' income. Once the LEA has decided what a student is entitled to, it will inform the government-owned Student Loans Company (SLC).

Ulster girl (10) waits for her GCSE result

by Belfast Telegraph, August 23, 2005

A TEN-year-old girl from Co Down was the youngest person in Northern Ireland to sit a GCSE exam this summer, it emerged today.

Helena Clarice Patel, from Warrenpoint, is among 30,000 students across the province due to receive their long awaited GCSE results from local exam board CCEA this morning.

Helena's sister Elysia Nicole, who is just 13-years-old, was also due to find out today how she fared in the GCSE French exam they both sat.

Meanwhile, an 86-year- old woman, who studied at the Belfast Institute, was the oldest student to sit an exam with CCEA this year. Irish language student John McManus, from Glengormley, is the second oldest at the age of 75.

The Patel sisters were tutored for their exam by their mother Daxsha, a fluent French speaker and teacher.

Coaching plan to boost black boys' exam results

by Guardian, August 22, 2005

'Catch-up' coaching and personal mentoring for boys at risk of school failure are to be introduced nationwide, amid evidence they can narrow the gap between the sexes in the classroom.
Fears over the underachievement of black boys in particular, who traditionally lag not only behind girls but behind their white peers, have prompted calls for drastic measures including the creation of black-only boys' schools to an assault on 'gangsta rap' culture.

Tougher test might not mean GCSEs

by BBC, August 22, 2005

Schools might be able to maintain league table places using skills tests, instead of GCSEs, to show teenagers have "functional" maths and English.
The government has promised to tighten the system so the benchmark of "five good GCSEs" includes maths and English.

Exam marking out of date, says national watchdog

by Financial Times, August 22, 2005

The marking system for school examinations is not yet fit for the 21st century, the head of the national testing watchdog has said.


The latest pass rates for seven and 11-year-olds in reading, writing and maths tests, to be published on Wednesday,and GCSE results, due on Thursday, are likely to renew the debate over whether improved results reflect a genuine rise in achievement. But Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, said he believed the national tests were rigorous and had been developed to an “absolutely Rolls-Royce” standard.

Boy sues public school over expulsion

by Financial Times, August 22, 2005

A father’s legal bid to prevent the leading public school Marlborough College from expelling his son was postponed today.



Property restorer Russell Gray, 49, from Knightsbridge, central London, is claiming that the action taken by the Wiltshire school against his 15-year-old son Rhys is unlawful.

He says the school, attended by Princess Eugenie, is kicking him out to protect its standing in the league tables rather than in Rhys’s best interests.

Exam board under fire over GCSEs 'marked by secretaries'

by Daily Mail, August 22, 2005

Teachers criticised a leading exam board today for using secretarial staff to mark GCSE papers. Edexcel, one of the three main boards in England, defended its decision to employ its own administrative staff to mark religious education exams.
As nearly 600,000 pupils wait to receive their GCSE results on Thursday, Edexcel insisted that the office staff used to mark the papers were trained graduates.

It was reported that the board was forced to use its own office staff because of a shortage of specialist Religious Education markers.

One senior examiner, who did not want to be named, told The Guardian newspaper: "I'm concerned for the candidates who sat these papers and really I'm outraged that it's being done in a secretive manner.

"It's the first time in 20 years I've heard of clerical staff being drafted in to mark papers."

Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "It is not reasonable to expect people who do not have the appropriate qualifications and therefore training to take such a role."

Tough financial times for young Britons

by London, August 22, 2005

So what is the problem with the youth of today? It is hardly a new question, but rarely has there been more cause to ask it.

First born do better at school

by Guardian, August 22, 2005

Younger children do less well in terms of overall educational attainment than their older brothers and sisters, new research reveals today.
A first child is typically at least a year ahead of a third-born brother or sister at the equivalent stage at school, it shows. At the same time, it suggests that parents with limited financial resources may invest more time and money in the education of their eldest child.

The findings are claimed to represent the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of family composition on educational achievement. They will influence the long-running debate about why first-born children are typically more successful than their younger siblings.

GCSE papers marked by admin staff

by Guardian, August 22, 2005

An exam board is under fire after admitting that it was so short of experienced examiners in a GCSE subject this summer that it drafted in its own office staff to help mark the papers.
Edexcel, one of the three main exam boards in England, employed its own administrative and secretarial staff to mark the religious education GCSE papers this year under pressure to deliver the results on time, the Guardian has learned.

GCSE kids cannot do sums

by The Sun, August 22, 2005

Thousands will celebrate good grades in GCSE maths this week — but still won’t be able to add up, experts warn.

Nearly 600,000 pupils will get GCSE results on Thursday and a record number are expec ted to achieve an A to C grade in maths.

But the government-funded Basic Skills Agency warned passing GCSEs no longer means pupils are proficient in subjects amid fears the exam has been dumbed down.

Private schools to drop 'easy' GCSEs

by Telegraph, August 22, 2005

Independent schools are set to abandon GCSEs because they fail to challenge the brightest students, the chairman of the Independent Schools Association said yesterday.



David Vanstone said that the exams had been "dumbed down" to meet Government targets, leaving schools with no choice but to abolish them for the sake of the most able 14 and 15-year-old pupils.

With almost 60,000 teenagers due to receive their GCSE results this Thursday, Mr Vanstone attacked the Government's refusal to replace the exam and A-levels with a continental-style diploma.

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