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Sector news, 25 - 30 March 2013

Labour warns of teacher shortage Guardian, 27 March 2013

The shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg, is warning of a crisis in teacher numbers, saying a surge in pupils will leave schools short of 15,000 staff by the time of the next election in 2015.According to a report this month by the National Audit Office there will be a shortfall of 256,000 school places in England and Wales for the next academic year. In a speech to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference in Liverpool on Wednesday, Twigg will argue that the average of one teacher per 17.6 pupils, plus more than 500 existing vacancies, amounts to a lack of more than 15,000 teachers. Twigg will spell out Labour’s "new deal" for teachers, including financial incentives to work in more deprived areas and a Royal College for Teachers to assist professional development. A Department for Education spokeswoman said it was ridiculous to talk of a shortfall in teachers.

GCSE exam shakeup could discriminate against girls, say teachers Guardian, 27 March 2013

Coalition plans to return to end of course exams and reduce the amount of coursework in some subjects could discriminate against girls, teachers have warned. The changes will come in from 2015 in English, geography, history, maths and the sciences. Education secretary Michael Gove says the move will make the qualifications more rigorous. But Geoff Venn, a former chief examiner in chemistry from Bedfordshire, told the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' (ATL) annual conference in Liverpool that girls were less confident than boys when faced with end-of-course exams. They have outperformed boys in GCSEs for the last 24 years.

Ethnic minorities ‘less likely’ to gain Russell Group places Times Higher, 28 March 2013

Students from ethnic minorities are less likely to gain places at top universities than white pupils with the same A-level grades, a new study has claimed. Researchers from Durham University examined application data from 49,000 students applying to Russell Group universities from 1996 to 2006 to compare the success rates of different groups of applicants. The results, presented to a Higher Education Academy conference in Manchester on 26 March, also found that state school pupils were less likely to get places than pupils from independent schools. State school pupils “need to be better qualified than their private school counterparts on average by as much as two A-level grades before they are as likely to apply to Russell Group universities”, the study argued. Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, said the problems raised reflected a lack of advice from some schools over their choice of A levels, which were not always the required subjects for an applicant’s desired degree course. For black and Asian applicants, the study says the barrier appeared to be in the admissions process, and this needed to be looked into to work out why.

Report calls for National VET Centre FE Week, 25 March 2013

The creation of a national centre for vocational training has been recommended in a report by the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning (CAVTL), published today. A National Vocational Education and Training (VET) Centre would champion research and development of vocational pedagogy, the report suggested, and would develop a regional network of centres to showcase excellent vocational teaching and learning. The report proposes that any national centre should be developed jointly by training providers, employers, the FE Guild and government, who would work with university and international research experts. Institute for Learning chief executive Toni Fazaeli welcomed the proposal, saying the time was right for a greater national commitment to FE research.

Skills Show aims to take careers on the road TES, 29 March 2013

The Skills Show, the annual showcase for the FE sector that last year drew 70,000 visitors, hopes to launch a network of local and regional events to become the heart of a UK-wide programme of careers education. From surveying parents, teachers and students who went to the show at the NEC near Coventry organisers think their mix of “have a go” events, impartial advice and Q&A sessions with professionals about their careers can provide a new model for careers education.The number of young people interviewed after the show who said they wanted to pursue vocational education was 17 percentage points higher than those interviewed beforehand.

Industry experts are told that they can Teach Too TES, 29 March 2013

A Teach First-style programme should be developed for colleges to encourage industry experts to spend time in the classroom passing on their skills, a report on vocational education recommends. The Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning proposed the programme, which it called “Teach Too”, in its report, published this week. The idea was included in a series of recommendations aimed at increasing the involvement of employers in vocational education. While Teach First encourages graduates at the beginning of their careers to spend at least two years in teaching, Teach Too would allow people with industry expertise to teach their occupation for a few hours a week. The commission proposes that the FE Guild carries out a feasibility study and runs a pilot programme to test the idea.