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Sector news, 25 - 31 August 2012

GCSE results: angry headteachers demand total re-mark of English papers Guardian, 25 August 2012

The controversy over GCSE exam marking this summer has reached a new height, with headteachers across the country demanding a “total re-mark” of all English papers taken by their students. The plan to deluge exam authorities with marking demands comes as optimism grows in the profession that thousands of pupils will in the end be awarded higher grades than they originally got. Anger among pupils, parents and teachers has risen after it emerged that more than 4,000 GCSE students expecting a grade C in English were downgraded to a D – meaning many will struggle to get on to college courses or into apprenticeships next month. On Saturday night, as threats of legal action mounted, the exams regulator, Ofqual said it would look again at GCSE gradings. Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg welcomed Ofqual's announcement but said it had to address "the unfairness of similar work getting a C in January and a D in May." An independent cross-parliamentary inquiry was still also necessary, he said.

'Admissions market' puts the squeeze on new intake at second-tier universities The Independent, 27 August 2012

Many middle-ranking universities have suffered a drop in new student numbers as a result of controversial "market-based" government reforms to admissions, an Independent survey has revealed. Some have suffered falls in numbers as the elite universities take advantage of reforms that allow them to expand to take more pupils who scored a minimum AAB at A level. Brunel University is expecting a shortfall of around 200 this year, and Chichester, one of the smaller universities in Britain, is down by about 30. Academics believe higher education could be witnessing the beginnings of a long-term trend in declining numbers for non-elite universities, as the country's best institutions expand. In the long run, some observers believe institutions may have to merge to remain viable.