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Sector News, 7 - 11 April 2008

You’ve got to hand it to apprenticeships. Education Guardian, 8 April 

Some young people only discover the joy of learning through the vocational route.  Alasdair Craig featured in a BBC World series which looked at the value put on vocational learning in China, Germany, India, Japan, the UK and the US.  Other countries see the value of practical learning more than the UK.  Often companies wish to run apprenticeships but are put off by Government bureaucracy.

Confused? You will be.  Education Guardian, 8 April 

Further comment on the possible loss of some vocational qualifications to meet Government ambitions to simplify the qualifications system.

Show questions in advance to cut exam stress, say advisers. THE, 10 April

“Paper argues that such a move will help universities to conform to disability law”.  The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), supported by recent legal judgements, expects that students with disabilities will be given reasonable adjustments to cater for their special needs.   The DDA recommends a portfolio approach to assessment which allows students to demonstrate their abilities.   However, the University of Gloucester’s plans to scrap first year exams and reduce exams in other years were put on hold after staff and students objected.

Total recall, and Exploding the myths. TES Magazine, 11 April

The two articles explore ways of improving memory (Total recall) and the argument for exercise as way of improving learning (Exploding the myths). 'Total recall' gives “Tips to ease your memory” (e.g. mnemonics) and argues that memory is closely tied to senses.  'Exploding the myths' discusses “Brain Gym” and argues that whilst the popular exercise routine for re-balancing your brain is severely criticised, exercise nevertheless does improve your ability to learn.

Quadruple training for teachers.  TES, 11 April

An influential think tank believes that English schools need better teachers.  It will recommend to the Government that all teaches receive 20 days in-service training per year.  It also wants to see teacher pay rises linked to the levels of training.  This in addition to existing proposals to make teaching a masters-level profession.  The plans will anger unions who feel that teachers are being made scapegoats for problems in the education system.

Exams caught on camera.  TES, 11 April

The Examination Officers’ Association (EOA) is considering the use of CCTV in exam halls to protect invigilators against unfounded complaints, to check on students misbehaviour or cheating.

 GCSEs will change to modular style.  TES, 11 April

AQA and Edexcel have announced that new courses will be modular whilst OCR has stated that its courses will be offered in two formats.  This is according to a draft proposal issued this week showing that most courses next year will be modular.

More school turn their back on A-levels as rivals gain ground.  TES, 11 April

International Baccalaureates are gaining in popularity at the expense of main stream provision such as A levels and 14-19 diplomas.

Colleges line up for exam powers.  TES, 11 April, FE Focus

City College Norwich has won permission to devise its own courses and qualifications for the financial services.  Now colleges are competing for billions of pounds worth of business following on the example Norwich.  See also,  Comment (Long live the powers to award) where Roshan Doug, English Lecturer in Birmingham writes in favour of the approach.