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Sector news, 19 - 23 November 2012

Business leaders criticise slipping standards of 'exam factory' schools Guardian, 19 November 2012

Business leaders have called for a radical rethink of England's schools system, including abolition of GCSEs at 16 and a break from the “exams factory" of the national curriculum and league tables. Before its annual conference, beginning on Monday, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has released a manifesto of proposed changes to every layer of the school system, from pre-school to 18. CBI director general John Cridland said employers sought school leavers who did not have a clutch of exam passes but were “rounded and grounded”.

NUS warns of 'epidemic of dropouts' Guardian, 20 November 2012

Before Wednesday's national demonstration, expected to draw thousands of young people to London, student leaders are warning of an "epidemic of university dropouts". The National Union of Students (NUS) reveals that 42 per cent of the students it surveyed recently said they have seriously considered leaving their course. Of these, almost half (49 per cent) said money worries were a key factor in considering whether to drop out. Students were concerned about being tens of thousands of pounds in debt and were worried about the prospect of graduate employment. The scrapping of the education maintenance allowance, EMA, had also had an impact the NUS said.

Vince Cable to announce 'earn or learn' scheme for school leavers Guardian, 21 November 2012

Coalition plans to make it more difficult for 18- to 21-year-olds to go straight on to benefits after school, and instead require them to work or study, are to be announced by the business secretary, Vince Cable. He will hint at the new "earn or learn" plans, being discussed as a possible centrepiece of a new coalition agreement, in a speech to the Association of Colleges. At the moment 18.5 per cent of boys aged 18 and 15.3 per cent of girls are Neets – not in education, employment or training – a total of 115,000.