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Sector news, 9 - 13 January 2012

The Guardian is running a Digital Literacy campaign to upgrade science and IT in schools, and these two stories are run under that banner:

Technological innovations could revolutionise classroom learning The Guardian, 10 January 2012

A series of technological innovations in the classroom, including a game that requires players to solve quadratic equations, is set to change the way subjects such as music and maths are taught in schools. The Department for Education is looking at a pilot scheme which is currently running in nine schools in England, which uses computer programmes to teach maths. There are maths games, and classroom animations, which come from an initiative imported from the US. The article also covers the use of motion capture technology in a music class.

 'Geek' perception of computer science putting off girls, expert warns The Guardian, 10 January 2012

According to one of the world's leading computer scientists, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, girls are increasingly shunning her subject at school and university. She said the problem was getting worse despite huge efforts form the scientific community to address the issue. She said girls still saw computing to be “for geeks” and this was a cultural obstacle it had so far been impossible to overcome, and that the teaching of computing in schools, to produce spreadsheets, presentations and other documents, was dumbing down and led girls to think if they study computing they are going to become secretaries. The proportion of female students on undergraduate computer science degrees in the UK has fallen from 19 per cent in 2004 to 16 per cent in 2009. Only 148 girls took the AQA’s computing A level last year compared with 2,123 boys.

Ofsted: nurseries to be marked down if children don't make friends The Telegraph, 9 January 2012

Ofsted will put a greater emphasis on children’s personal development and early education as part of new-style system used to assess the quality of nurseries, pre-schools and childminders. A new proposed inspection framework will reduce the number of areas subject to official judgments from 18 to five. Nurseries will no longer be given separate ratings on health and safety, or how much they promote healthy lifestyles. The new emphasis on personal and social development follows fears that too many children start school at four or five without the skills they need to succeed. Nearly half lack basic social and language skills.

Length matters as apprenticeships face extension TES, 13 January 2012

More than half of all apprenticeships taken by those aged under 19 will have to be extended after the announcement by skills minister John Hayes that all the qualifications must last a minimum of 12 months, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) has said. Last year 51.8 per cent of apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds were completed within 12 months, meaning about 65,000 apprenticeships would need to be extended each year, creating concerns from providers about funding.

Adult education is for all, unless you have autism TES, 13 January 2012

A charity is campaigning to improve opportunities for autistic people in the FE sector. Parent-run group Ambitious for Autism said 70 per cent of children with autism study in mainstream schools, but that falls to about 20 per cent in FE. The charity is calling for the right to specialist support to be extended to the age of 25, and for an autism specialist to be placed in every college after many FE teachers said their training had left them unprepared.