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Sector news, 5 - 9 September 2011

Going for gold in floristry at the skills 'Olympics', Monday, 5 September 2011

The Guardian takes a look at the biennial Worldskills competition, which takes place in London next month and which brings together young people from across the world to compete against each other in their chosen skill, such as hairdressing, floristry, or car mechanics. The competitions take place against the clock in front of a live audience, and each competitor has had months working on personalised training programmes under the watchful eye of a coach to prepare.

Cuts to school buses force pupils on to roads, Monday, 5 September 2011

Council cuts to school transport mean many pupils will no longer be able to catch a bus but will face long walks, some on 60mph roads without pavements. A coalition of children’s charities, teaching unions and poverty campaigners has sent an open letter to Michael Gove calling on the education secretary to change the guidelines on what constitutes a safe route to school.

Future of entire STEM disciplines in question Times Higher Education, 8 September 2011

A report from the Higher Education Funding Council for England shows that the growth in international students taking up postgraduate places in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects is far outstripping that among their UK counterparts. The number of international students taking postgraduate STEM courses has almost doubled in eight years, but the rise for home students was just 1 per cent. HEFCE warns that if overseas numbers fall in the future it could threaten the viability of courses, and there may be a risk in relation to the UK’s future workforce.

Be ready to hit brakes on reforms if necessary, new UUK head tells ministers Times Higher Education, 8 September 2011

The new president of Universities UK, Eric Thomas, will call on ministers to slow down their higher education reforms if the changes produce too many problems. Prof Thomas, vice-chancellor of the University of Bristol, said that although he felt institutions would rise to the challenges they face, there would need to be “very astute observation and analysis” before any more changes.

Bursaries for top graduates risk robbing primaries of talent, say campaigners TES, 9 September 2011

Top graduates could be tempted more towards teaching in secondary schools than primaries because of new bursaries on offer, the director of the Campaign for Science Education has warned. Imran Khan said students will be entitled to far higher bursaries if they sign up to train as a secondary-school teacher rather than in a primary school under proposals from the Department for Education. The difference is up to £20,000 if they sign up to do a secondary PGCE compared with £9,000 for a primary PGCE under changes to be introduced from September 2012. In 2009/10 only 10 people with physics degrees and 40 with chemistry degrees went on to train as primary school teachers according to figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Inclusion is still a novelty for teacher trainers TES, 9 September 2011

Lani Florian, chair of social and educational inclusion at Aberdeen University, has written this comment piece about the difficulty of achieving inclusive education. She says many teachers report feeling unprepared for inclusive education, and she says new thinking about teacher training is needed to meet the challenges of today’s classrooms and their increasing cultural, linguistic and developmental diversity, and the pressure to achieve high academic standards for everybody.What is needed is an exploration of the ways practising teachers and schools have become more inclusive of children who might have found learning and participation difficult in the past.

Reprimand for trainee teacher arrested in pub TES, 9 September 2011

A trainee teacher who was arrested for being drunk at a pub while looking after a child has been reprimanded by the General Teaching Council for England (GTC). Caroline Ellis was given a police caution after being reported by a pub landlord while she was celebrating her birthday with her partner and a child at a pub in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. She was completing the teaching practice part of a PGCE and was forced to take a leave of absence from the course, and has not qualified as a teacher following the incident in January 2010. She told the GTC that she was "deeply ashamed and remorseful". The reprimand will stay on Ms Ellis’s file for two years but the GTC said it should not stop her finishing her training, should she wish to.