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Sector news, September 17 - 21 2012

GCSEs are dead: the EBacc is the future, says Michael Gove The Guardian, 17 September 2012

The new English baccalaureate – the EBacc – will eventually replace GCSEs, and get rid of modules which allow students to retake parts of their course, cutting back heavily on the use of classroom assessment and coursework, and returning the emphasis to a traditional end-of-year exam. Education secretary Michael Gove said it would end “grade inflation and dumbing own”. The grades A* to C are likely give way to numeric marks or percentages. The percentages will allow universities to distinguish between top candidates, but could penalise students for the slightest variation. Gove is critical of the way about a third of pupils are awarded A to A* GCSE grades and is keener on numeric grades that could see around 10% of pupils awarded the top grade 1. The overarching English baccalaureate will be made up of individual Ebacc exams initially in English, maths and the option of three separate sciences from September 2015 for examination two years later. Gove wants EBacc courses to be taught from 2016 in history, geography and languages, for examination in 2018. He hopes that schools will prepare for EBaccs by making immediate moves towards the more rigorous international general certificate of secondary education (IGCSEs).

Labour: replacing GCSEs with English Baccalaureate will fail students The Guardian, 17 September 2012

Michael Gove’s Labour counterpart Stephen Twigg said education could not be improved by reverting to a system that was considered out of date 30 years ago. After the Liberal Democrats resisted Conservative proposals for a two-tier system for students of differing academic abilities, Gove said that almost all students in English schools would take EBaccs. Where schools believe individual pupils will struggle with the test, they will be able to apply to defer them until 17 or 18. Labour said scrapping GCSEs and replacing them with a single, more difficult exam would fail students in the 21st century. The shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg, told MPs: "Labour is absolutely committed to rigour and raising standards, but this proposed new system does not reflect the needs of society and a modern economy”, and that ditching coursework was “totally out of date”. Gove said that by getting rid of modules, coursework and controlled assessment, less time would be spent on sitting and resitting exams and more on teaching and learning.

David Willetts: don't cut foreign student numbers to tackle immigration Daily Telegraph, 17 September 2012

David Willets, the Conservative Universities Minister is siding with Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister, who is demanding that the 250,000 foreigners who arrive in this country to study every year be removed from the net migration figures. The move to reduce the number of overseas students was designed as part of a drive by Tory ministers to fulfil an election pledge to reduce net migration to "tens of thousands”.

Residential college places for young disabled at risk The Guardian, 17 September 2012

New funding rules will make specialist college places for disabled young adults even harder to get, and could threaten the colleges’ existence this article argues. It looks at the cases of several young people currently studying in specialist residential colleges, and how the system which funds this will be changing next year. Under the new funding arrangements local authorities will no longer have to “ringfence” funding for school leavers with high levels of need, but will have a budget for all children and young people with high levels of need up to the age of 25. There are fears in the sector that resources will not be directed where they are needed most.

Fifty-year-old network of local training centres could be the key TES, 21 September 2012

The government should plough more money into a local training network established in the 1960s if it is serious about plugging the skills gap currently hampering the country's economic recovery, an independent inquiry has found. A commission led by the University of London's Institute of Education has recommended that greater funding should be handed to Group Training Associations (GTAs), a 50-year-old network of not-for-profits that has been largely overlooked in recent years. The inquiry stops short of recommending whether funding for GTAs should come from the existing FE budget or from an additional pot of money, but calls for more of the organisations to be established across the country.


In this weeK;

Focus on Deptford not Delhi says Ofsted chief

Failed Skills Funding Agency research tender ‘ridiculous’

and in

Group Training Organisations could remedy national skills gap