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Sector news, 29 October - 2 November

Maths A-level could include more 'real world' problems to attract pupils Guardian, 30 October 2012

Sixth formers could be asked to work out the chances of their next holiday flight crashing or discuss whether they should trust political opinion polls under plans to persuade more pupils to study maths after the age of 16 through the use of innovative, real world problems. The Department for Education is to fund an education charity, Mathematics in Education and Industry, to suggest ideas for a new maths curriculum suitable for all students who gained at least a C grade in the subject at GCSE. Last year the education secretary Michael Gove argued that the “vast majority" of 17- and 18-year-olds should continue to study maths even if they don't pursue it as an A-level.

Arts leaders voice deep concerns over lack of cultural subjects in Ebacc Guardian, 1 November 2012

Britain's creative economy could be destroyed "within a generation" because of the decision to leave arts subjects out of the English baccalaureate, leading figures in the arts world have said. A number spoke o the Guardian about the impact of excluding creative subjects from the core qualification at 16. The new performance measure depends on pupils' attainment in five subject areas. Pupils who achieve a GCSE grade C or better in English, maths, a language, two sciences and history or geography will achieve the EBacc. Subjects such as music, art, drama and design do not count.

Michael Gove accused of major gaps in draft national curriculum for English Guardian, 31 October 2012

Education Secretary Michael Gove is to introduce a new national curriculum for English that includes no mention of the importance of spelling for 11- to 14-year-olds, and waters down stipulations for reading, writing and speaking skills, according to leaked drafts. The new curriculum is due to come into force in September 2014, and its brevity shows the extent to which teachers are to be left to their own devices. The Department for Education would not comment on a leaked draft, and said the final document may change.

UCU snaps over stress levels TES, 2 November 2012

Widespread industrial action could be on the way in the FE sector after the University and College Union (UCU) warned that mass redundancies have led to increased workloads and rising stress levels for college lecturers. Recently UCU members have taken strike action at several colleges that are looking to implement redundancies or significant changes to lecturers’ working conditions, including Barnfield, Gateshead and K colleges.

Two-thirds of teachers fear for careers advice quality TES, 2 November 2012

Almost two-thirds of teachers and lecturers are concerned about the standard of careers advice on offer in schools, a new survey has revealed, two months after the responsibility for providing careers information to students was transferred from local authorities to individual schools. Research carried out by the Pearson Think Tank says that the failure to provide extra funding for it has led to a drop in the quality of provision. Out of more than 700 teachers in schools, sixth-form and FE colleges, 63 per cent said they worried "a lot" or "sometimes" about careers guidance, while 31 per cent felt the quality of advice available was not adequate. Teachers blamed this on Connexions funding being slashed and advisers not being in tune with developments in the labour market.

Give powers over FE provision to locals, says peer TES, 2 November 2012

Conservative peer and former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine has called for skills funding to be devolved to local partnerships and has suggested that the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) be scrapped. In a report published this week on how to stimulate economic growth, Lord Heseltine called for Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to be granted increased powers to ensure that FE provision is more closely tailored to the needs of the local economy. He also criticised the apprenticeship programme's focus on over-25s already in work, a policy that has been robustly defended by post-16 minister Matthew Hancock and his predecessor John Hayes. The SFA declined to comment.

No such thing as a free lunch in FE TES, 2 November 2012

A campaign by the Association of Colleges (AoC) to rectify what education secretary Michael Gove has described as an “anomaly” over the provision of free meals is gathering political momentum. More than 1.2 million pupils in England receive free school meals but their peers in FE and sixh form colleges are not eligible for the same support. More than 100,000 college students miss out. A debate will be held in the Commons on Tuesday about this, with backing from across the political spectrum.