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Sector News, 02 June - 06 June 2008

Government’s education policy is self defeating, academics warn.  The Independent, 2 June 2008.

Richard Garner, Education Editor, reports that four senior academics have condemned the Government’s education policy saying that it has now reached a stage where the measures being introduced are counterproductive.  They comment that offering pupils greater choice of schools has simply led to middle class parents competing for places and increasing the differentials between these and school in less privileged areas.  Citing the new flagship schools, the ability of these schools to remove unruly pupils has further exacerbated the attainment gap between schools. 


Reforms have increased the gap between rich and poor. The Independent, 5 June 2008.

Richard Garner comments that our top universities are well behind government benchmarks for taking in state school applications.   He further comments, that league tables and other measures of accountability have widened the gap between suburban and disadvantaged schools.

State school pupils still being ‘ignored’ by top institutions.  The Independent, 5 June 2008.

Top universities are not meeting government targets in admitting state school pupils.  The Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that 93 per cent of children are educated within the state sector.  At Oxford just 53per cent and at Cambridge 57.6 per cent of students come from state schools, despite expectations that this should be around 75 per cent.

Is the government missing its own point?  Education Guardian, 3 June 2008.

Ministers have ‘played-up’ the importance of the creative industries but seem unwilling to give funding for training.  The prime minister has said that the creative industries are an important growth sector of the UK economy and committed the government to 5,000 creative apprenticeships by 2013.  However,  John Denham’s department has omitted creative industries as on of the five strategic sectors that have been awarded £200m of extra support.

Could this be the end of college hospitality?  Education Guardian, 3 June 2008.

Changes to catering qualifications may have the effect of closing some college training restaurants.  The restaurants are popular with the public and offer students a good experience of food preparation and food services.  In future the learning and Skills Council will only fund students for one qualification, currently they take two covering kitchen and front of house.  Under this new regime, most students are likely to opt for food preparation.

The gift of surprise. THE, 5 June 2008.

Tara Brabazon explains why in an educational system obsessed with control she is surprised at the creativity of students.

Missing the mark for originality. THE, 5 June 2008.

A somewhat humorous reflection on the difficulties of essay marking and plagiarism.

Successful seminars.  THE, 5 June 2008.

Students and lecturers combine to give hints on how to run seminars.  Asking questions  and having an ability to get students talking are amongst the advice given.

Hits and misses.  THE, 5 June 2008.

There is a conflict of methodology with HE (history) circles.  Traditionally historians would study archives, visit libraries and use any other documentation to form what they considered a reasoned conclusion.  However, computers have created (it appears) a generation of quick fix researchers who lack the creativity of the traditionalists.

Diploma on shaky ground.  TES, 6 June 2008.

The compulsory work experience element of the new diploma does not have to be in a relevant industry.  This idea of generic work experience is threatening the standing of the new diploma.

Fears over generic work experience.  TES, 6 June 2008.

QCA argue that it never was the purpose of the diplomas to provide on the job training.  Diplomas were to be a middle path between the academic route of GCSE and A-level and vocational courses.   A building partnership commented that the fear is you might be able to tick the box marked work experience for an engineering diploma by doing ten days in a travel agency.

Just improve A-levels, says professor.  TES, 6 June 2008.

Professor Alan Smithers of Buckingham University has called for the government to scrap its new diploma which he considers ill thought out and confusing.  The comment comes six weeks after Jerry Jarvis, managing director of Edexcel exam board, commented that the diploma was at risk of being worthless to pupils.  Professor Smithers holds the view that vocational qualifications are a mess and A –levels are not doing what they should, the answer, he says, is to sort out the A-level provision rather than invent a new qualification.

We’re losing 6 Canary Wharfs.  TES, FE Focus, 6 June 2008.

A nearly completed £5 billion project of new buildings will result in the loss of 70,000 square metres of floor space.  Lecturers say that the new buildings are leading to a loss of staff room space and a rise in ”hot desking”.  The LSC calculates that the new buildings will have 20 to 35 per cent less floor space because students receive less face to face teaching.

£65m for companies to boost job skills.  TES, FE Focus, 6 June 2008.

DIUS (Department for Innovation Universities and Skills) and Semta have stuck a deal to provide training for workers who need to add vocational skills to their qualifications.  The deal aims to meet a shortage of 324,000 workers in the science, engineering and manufacturing sectors between now and 2014.  The £65m will be set aside from the Train to Gain programme.

Semta is the sector skills council that represents companies involved ion science, engineering and manufacture.

It’s a steal.  TES, magazine, 6 June 2008.

Plagiarism, from the internet, is a serious problem which can be difficult to spot.  Pupils need to learn how to analyse and extract information from articles rather just copying them.  Phil Thane looks at mind mapping software which could help pupils develop these skills and help teachers discover the sources students have used for essays.