Latest Educational News

Independent schools are ready to axe 'easy' GCSEs

by Times, August 22, 2005

GCSEs were condemned as “stultifyingly boring” yesterday amid warnings that many private schools are poised to abandon them.
The threat was made despite promises by Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, that she will make mathematics and English GCSEs harder to pass.



Head teachers of independent schools are so concerned at how easy GCSEs can be to pass that many are considering entering their 14-year-old pupils for AS levels instead.

They have continued to use the present system in the knowledge that the Government has asked Sir Mike Tomlinson, the former head of Ofsted, to review secondary level qualifications.

Education: Clearing special: A-level disaster? Don't panic . . .

by Sunday Times, August 21, 2005

You needed an A and you have ended up with a B. You have not hit the grades the university required, and, come October, you are not going to be packing your bags to start that course you have been dreaming about.
If you are struggling to digest what might seem to be the worst news of your life, I know how you feel. It is 40 years ago now, but I can still remember that sense of incredulity as the news sank in that Cambridge did not want me. Surely, I thought, they must have made a mistake. Had I misread their letter? Sadly, no, it was all too true. I had to start rethinking my future.

CBI: school leavers lack core skills

by DeHavilland, August 21, 2005

Many people leaving school are doing so without having mastered the three core skills, reading, writing and arithmetic, a new report has indicated.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has stated that nearly half of the employers it surveyed, 42 per cent, were unhappy with the reading, writing and numeracy skills of their employees.

Lies, damn lies and Government research

by Daily Mail, August 21, 2005

Far too much Government research is commissioned or cited to confirm the views of Ministers who already know what they want, but need respectable camouflage for their policies.
Like so many Government initiatives on education, the scheme was more gimmick than policy, an attempt to make things look better and smarter without actually ...

Independent schools may drop GCSEs

by Manchester, August 21, 2005

Independent schools warned today that they are poised to abandon GCSEs because the exams have been dumbed down to meet Government targets.

David Vanstone, chairman of the Independent Schools Association (ISA), said the Government's refusal to replace GCSEs and A-Levels with a diploma system had left schools "in limbo".

Many independent schools are on the brink of deserting GCSEs and teaching 14 and 15 year-olds AS-Levels to stretch bright pupils, he said.

Does a degree still pay?

by London, August 21, 2005

The price of a university education is rising. Students will each spend an average £6,100 on living costs in the next academic year. That's £9.6bn on rent, food - and drink. Not to mention £1,200 on tuition fees. For the average student, it adds up to a crushing debt of £13,500 on graduation, up 12% on last year.

Oxford to turn away child prodigies

by Guardian, August 21, 2005

Yinan Wang, the 14-year-old Chinese boy who clinched a place at Oxford University last week, will be the last child prodigy to study there under reforms being considered by admissions tutors.
Despite an almost perennial flurry of headlines on children barely in their teens being offered places, the university is considering an unprecedented blanket rule on minimum ages for undergraduates.

'The admissions executive is in discussions around whether we should introduction a minimum age of 17 for undergraduates,' confirmed Ruth Collier, a spokesperson for admissions to Oxford. 'We have been pushed to consider it, not because of concerns about whether it is psychologically healthy for children to study here, but because of child protection laws which have come into play this year for the first time.'

Oxford is the only university in Britain that currently accepts undergraduates who are under the age of 17. Individual colleges decide which candidates they will accept as undergraduates, but Collier confirms that age is rarely, if ever, a factor.

Private schools urge rich old boys and girls to fund charity ...

by Scotsman, August 21, 2005

SCOTTISH private schools are targeting their most affluent former pupils in an unprecedented attempt to raise cash to fight off potentially disastrous charity law reforms.

Prince Charles and his niece Zara Phillips are among the products of Scottish education who will be asked to contribute towards bursaries for children from ordinary backgrounds.

Private schools hope the millions raised will prove their benefit to the public and prevent them being stripped of their charitable status - a move that would remove rate relief and send fees soaring.

GCSE maths passes hit record high

by Telegraph, August 21, 2005

A record number of teenagers will achieve a good grade in their maths GCSE this week, despite growing concerns that they are leaving school unable to add up.

Results to be published on Thursday for the 600,000 pupils who sat GCSEs this summer will show a rise in the proportion of candidates achieving A* to C grades in the subject, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

Highers pass A-levels as Oxbridge gold standard

by Sunday Times, August 21, 2005

England’s top universities now regard Scottish Advanced Highers as more valuable qualifications than A-levels.
Oxford and Cambridge universities say they consider the Advanced Higher as a more testing qualification and will accept students with lower grades than in equivalent A-level subjects.



It is a further indication that the A-level, once regarded as Britain’s “gold standard” qualification, has been discredited.

A-level results released last week showed pass rates rising for the 23rd consecutive year to a new high of 96.2%. Almost 23% of candidates are now awarded an A grade. The Advanced Higher pass rate stands at 74.5%, an increase of just 1% since the exam’s introduction in 2000.

I don't think I'm badly behaved

by Telegraph, August 20, 2005

Rhys Gray does not immediately strike one as an out-of-control tearaway. "Hello, nice to meet you," he says as soon as he opens the door to his father's Knightsbridge mews house in west London. "If you wouldn't mind taking your shoes off before you go upstairs, thank you."

Bosses say school-leavers can't read, write or count

by Guardian, August 20, 2005

Too many school-leavers arrive at work without the basic skills they need to succeed in business, CBI boss Sir Digby Jones warns today, as thousands of pupils await their GCSE results.
In a scathing attack on the school system, Jones said companies resent having to pay for teenage workers to be taught reading, writing and maths. 'Too often bosses have to pick up the pieces and the bill, with many resorting to basic training to compensate for the shortcomings of an education system they have already contributed to through business taxes,' he said.

Selection in the school system

by Times, August 20, 2005

Any grammar school would be rightly proud of these schools’ educational record. However, there are some things that could not be compared with a grammar school, such as: the camaraderie of a future Oxbridge high-flyer and a peer with learning difficulties representing the school in the same sports team; the lessons in responsibility gained from a group of children having to help a child with severe learning needs to ensure that he or she is included socially.

Maths genius scoops A-level at age of 10

by Leeds, August 20, 2005

Child genius Mohamad Musa has made the grade once again.
This time the primary school pupil has scooped a maths A Level he sat at the tender age of 10.
And the football mad youngster was only two per cent short of scoring an A in the test, usually sat by students aged eight years older than him.
Proud parents Jaafar and Amna are thrilled by the result, but Mohamad, now aged 11, had set his sights higher.

Top class, but still no place at university

by Guardian, August 20, 2005

A student awarded four straight As in her A-level exams, including 100% in at least one paper in each subject, has failed to get a place at university, it emerged last night.
Leah Gorodi, who wants to study medicine, has got work experience in an Alzheimer's clinic and in a hospital, but was turned down by four universities without interview.

And, despite phoning every medical school in the country after she received her results on Thursday, the state school pupil from north London has been unable secure a place.

"I have done everything I can think of," said Leah, 18. "I changed my subjects because the university websites said they preferred students with a broader range, including both sciences and social sciences.

State schools celebrate bumper performance

by Guardian, August 19, 2005

State schools celebrated a bumper crop of A-level results yesterday, with some comprehensives boasting that they now outperformed their local grammar schools.
The Essex state comprehensive with the best results of any in the country notched up an average point score of 384, with a 99.8% pass rate.

The top-performing mixed comprehensive - born from the merger and relocation of separate boys' and girls' secondary schools in Bow, east London, in 1971 - has the rather grand name of the Coopers' Company and Coborn School in Upminster, but is commonly known as Coopers Coborn.

Fears for the economy as pupils go for 'soft' options

by Yorkshire, August 19, 2005

A glut of students taking "soft" A-levels threatens to damage the British economy, business leaders warned last night, as it emerged that media studies had become more popular than physics.
Thousands more pupils also took religious studies and sociology this year while traditional subjects such as German, French and Geography joined physics among those seeing large falls.
And more than 50,000 young people took A-level psychology – now the fifth most popular subject – as students increasingly focus on giving themselves the best chance in the fight for university places.

Viewpoint: Coming up trumps at A-levels

by Belfast Telegraph, August 19, 2005

As the inevitable debate rages over whether A-Level exams are getting easier, nothing should be allowed to tarnish the achievement of all those sixth-formers in Northern Ireland who have come up trumps this year.

As anyone who sat the exam can testify, securing an A-Level pass still requires an intensive amount of study, preparation and academic ability. Those who have savoured success deserve to celebrate their achievement.

Students count multiple A grades

by BBC, August 19, 2005

An 18-year-old student in London has accumulated 10 grade As.

Li Yan took maths when she was 16 and physics a year later, when she was living in Norwich.

She then studied biology, chemistry, economics and government and politics at City of London School for Girls, getting her results this year.

In her spare time she also taught herself further maths, statistics and general studies and, in just one month - for a challenge - law.

Grammar schools lead the way as record numbers get top grades

by Telegraph, August 19, 2005

Schools were celebrating record A level results yesterday, reflecting the overall increase in both the pass rate and the proportion of entries awarded the top grade.
More than 90 per cent of the A levels sat were classed A or B at the two schools leading this year's table - Queen Elizabeth's, the boys' grammar in Barnet, north-west London and St Olave's and St Saviour's, the co-educational grammar in Orpington, Kent.

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