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Sector News, 07 July - 11 July 2008

New diploma training ditched.  Education Guardian, 8 July 2008.

Farnborough Sixth Form College staff are angry at the cancellation of last minute training events run by Edexcel. Training for the IT diploma was cancelled two days before the event.  Teachers are concerned at the lack of training they have had to run the new courses.

Mixing things up.  Education Guardian, 8 July 2008.

The Guardian reports on Oldham’s colleges, seven years after the race riots.  An accord has been reached, where those pursuing academic work will enter the sixth form college and those pursuing vocational courses will enter the further education college.  The accord has its roots in the race riots, when is became clear that schools were fostering divisions.

We won’t get a fair and healthy society this way.  Education Guardian, 8 July 2008. Comment, by professors Andy Green and Lorna Unwin who are director and deputy director of the ESRC Centre on Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge, Economics and Societies at the Institute of Education, University of London.

Andy Green and Laura Unwin believe that that the adoption of choice and diversity through academies and special schools is leading to the downfall of the comprehensive system and an increase in inequality.  They argue that the more egalitarian states, such as the Nordics, Japan and South Korea, have a truly comprehensive system which is non-selective and mixed-ability.

Flagship for teaching has limited effect on practice.  THE, 10 July 2008.

“By the end of the decade, some £315 million will have been invested in 74 centres for excellence in teaching and learning (Celts).”  However, a report by the Higher Education Funding Council states that this has had little effect.

Buckle up for a rough ride, UUK tells sector.  THE, 10 July 2008.

A report by Universities UK paints a depressing scenario for universities.  The report, which looks forward to 2027, projects a loss of student numbers, closure of some universities and a loss of prestige abroad.

Two-year graduate visa gives UK prestige a fillip abroad THE, 10 July 2008.

Almost in contradiction to the previous article, the THE comment that the introduction of longer working visas will attract more overseas students.

MPs ask QAA head to defend degree standards. THE, 10 July 2008.

Against a backdrop of claims that academics are under pressure to inflate grades, the University, Science and Skills Committee has said that it will hold a session with Peter Williams, chief executive of the Quality Assurance Agency.

QAA: do not fear employers’ input. THE, 10 July 2008.

QAA has warned that the Government’s drive to increase employer input must nor be allowed to mask inferior offerings.  In a recent statement the organisation says that universities have always had the opportunity to work with employers and the new drive, handled properly, should be of benefit. 

In the THE this week are two major articles:

The in-betweeners – about middle managers in universities, their roles and issues.

All the privileged must have prizes – A story about the feelings one Harvard lecturer had  teaching in what he describes as a rich students university.

300 more on GCSE hit list.  TES, 11 July 2008

 “At least 300 extra schools can be expected to be subject to special scrutiny under an extension of the National Challenge scheme.”  So quotes the TES this week, who report on minister’s plans to target “coasting schools”.

‘If we were failing to meet targets consistently, I’d be out of a job’.  TES, 11 July 2008.

Interview with Ed Balls, Schools Secretary, where he discusses his ideas for the future of education.

Curriculum must change, say academics.  TES, 11 July 2008.

Alison Wolf, professor of public sector management, King’s College, London. argues that govenrment policy makers have not given sufficient time to consider the purpose of education.  The result is a monolithic, unconnected  and inflexible education system too dependant upon subjects as its base.

How to balance the skills scales.  TES, FE Focus, 11 July 2008. Viewpoint – Matilda Gosling, City & Guilds.

Whilst welcoming the announcement of more funds for Train to Gain, Matilda Gosling wonders whether this is sufficient.  More balancing of skills levels is required to ensure that a surplus of people with skills at similar levels does not occur.