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Sector News, 01 - 05 September 2008

My message: ‘Anybody can learn’.  Education Guardian, 02 September 2008.

The lead story in the Guardian this week is about the language guru Michel Thomas.  Michel Thomas was the teacher who claimed (with apparently some considerable success) that he could teach people a language in a weekend.  He taught woody Allen, Grace Kelly and Fancois Truffaut from his institute in Beverly Hills.  However, most people in this country would probably know him from a BBC documentary, The Language Master in 1997.  Here he astounded staff at a school in London by teaching a group of teenagers in one week an amount of French that would normally take five years to learn.

Ready for the crunch?  Education Guardian, 02 September 2008.

Over the last two years some £1.5m of adult learning places have been lost.  Whereas the last recession brought adult learners flocking to college courses, this time things are different.

Worth their weight in gold.  Education Guardian, 02 September 2008.

The Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) has largely catered for professional sports such as football and rugby.  Bejing could change all that, three out of six athletes on the apprenticeship scheme obtained medals in Bejing, Rebecca Adlington is one of them.  Now AASE wants to widen its remit to cover more’ if not all’ of the sports in the Olympics.

From soft skills to hard job offers.  Education Guardian, 02 September 2008.

Teaching skills such as team work and communication are not new, so many universities would argue.  However, industrialists complain that there is all too often a mismatch between what universities teach and what industry wants. Max Robson, a graduate of Portsmouth University, is the epitome of what the Government wants in terms of qualifications and employability, it seems industry think so to.

Can money get you into Oxbridge?  Education Guardian, 02 September 2008.

Although admissions procedures are becoming fairer, both Oxford and Cambridge still attract insufficient state school students.  Both universities admit that there is room for improvement in their selection and interview processes.

Staff fears about ‘quackery’ lead to review of alternative health courses.  THE, 04 September 2008.

The University of Central Lancashire is to review its courses in alternative medicines.  Although the university denies that mounting criticism over the courses is not the reason for the review, the criticism has nevertheless taken its toll.

Errors that truly merit derision.  THE, 04 September 2008.

Reducing higher education to a series of experiences that employers want and putting a price per head on student achievement does little to foster intellectual stimulation or develop the skills to enhance life in general.  In the US higher education has been reduced to little more than a shopping mall and has stopped nurturing the civic social and moral values of students.  Here in the UK things are not much better.

Shake up urged in art teaching. THE, 04 September 2008.

The Group for Learning in Art (GLAD) has called for a major ‘shake-up’ of art teaching.  In a review which contains contributions from fifty academics, GLAD comment that unless the teaching of art and design subjects evolve, the subject will stagnate.  It recommends a move away from the single subject approach to a multidisciplinary approach more suitable for today’s creative industries.

Marking system is failing.  THE 04, September 2008.

Having a supposedly rigid marking system does not remove subjectivity, according to Martin Luck, associate professor of animal physiology at the University of Nottingham.  Alan’s opinion is that the present marking system does not work well and needs overhauling.

Students in colleges have no one to complain to – so is it time for a watchdog? The Independent, 04 September 2008.

Talks began this week on a scheme to introduce an independent ombudsman for further education to handle student conmplaints. There is support for the scheme from the student’s unions, the Association of Colleges and from a number of further education establishments.  If successful the blueprint for an ombudsman could become part of the further education sector’s rules for self regulation.

Leave politics out of science.  TES, 05 September 2008.

Constant political interference and knee-jerk reactions have done nothing to increase the take up of post 16 science according to a report by the Royal Society.   The Society have produced figures showing that the take up in single subject science and mathematics has fallen steadily as a percentage of total entries between 1997 and 2007.

Colleges warn of funding folly.  TES, FE Focus, 05 September 2008.

“Colleges fear handing £7billion of funding for teenagers to town halls will mean more bureaucracy and harm the quality of education”.  An analysis of the response of colleges to the Government initiative, show that 28 out of 61 responses were against the change and only 13 for.

Low skilled want training.  TES, FE Focus, 05 September 2008.

According to a poll by the Trades Union Congress the country is not meeting the training needs of adults with low skills.  The survey suggests that there is a high demand for training courses and those with the biggest appetite to learn are those who most need it and who face the largest barriers.