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Sector news, December 19 - 23 2011

Short courses help adults to a second career The Guardian, 19 December 2011

The Guardian reports on the rise in demand for specialist short courses from people seeking to make themselves more employable and seeking a portfolio career. They focus on a co-ordinator for an environmental organisation who has taken a series of shoe and boot making courses at the London College of Fashion (LCF) and hoping to start her own bespoke shoe-making business. The LFC has seen the number of its short courses increase from 400 two years ago to 450 now, with student numbers up 6 per cent. Creative courses are booming, but colleges are also reporting a rise in short marketing and commercial courses as hobbyists look to turn their skills into businesses.

GCSE results: more turbulence on the way The Guardian, 19 December 2011

This article looks at how helpful next month’s secondary school league tables will be for parents as they try to choose between schools. The 2011 tables will give up the contextual value-added measure which tried to take account of social factors that shaped performance, but there will be a new measure showing the progress pupils have made, and a measure that compares the exam performance of pupils on free school meals with others. But the tables will continue to emphasise the number of pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades including maths and English. The article suggests replacing this with something that rewards schools for getting the best out of all pupils, wherever they are on the ability spectrum.

No choice but to become an academy? The Guardian, 19 December 2011

Hundreds of primary schools appear to be facing the threat of mandatory conversion to academies under external sponsorship, even if the school and the parents are against it. The article focuses on one primary school which is in this position because the government says its English and maths test results are not good enough.