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Sector News, 11 - 15 February 2008

Education Guardian 12 February 2008, page 8 “The basic skills parade has passed on” (Alan Wells) 

“I wonder what has happened to the skills press releases claiming amazing success?” 

Alan Wells, former director of the Basic Skills Agency writes a short amusing article which asks what has happened to Skills for Life.,,2255688,00.html

Education Guardian 12 February 2008, page 8 “The stammer busters”  (Joe Clancy)

“There is often poor NHS provision for adults who stammer, but one London college is filling the gap”.  

Overview of the City Literacy Clinic’s (in London’s Holborn) methods of treating stammering.,,2255690,00.html

Education Guardian 12 February 2008, page 9 “Judgment day” (Peter Kingston) 

“Are FE colleges being pushed into offering diplomas by tough new targets for A-level courses?” 

Asks how far is the government prepared to go to ensure that diplomas bed down and take root?  There is suspicion that colleges are being placed in a position where they will have to insist that some prospective A level students will have to take diplomas in future. The suspicion is based upon the Learning and Skills Council’s decision to raise the target for students passing A levels in college from 50% to 75%.,,2255691,00.html

Education Guardian 12 February 2008, page 10 “Professional overkill” (Jessica Shepherd)

Ok the government wants workers to be better qualified, but does every job really require a degree?”

Discussion on the pro and cons of ‘degree chasing’ with particular reference to foundation degrees and their worth.,,2255694,00.html

Times Higher Education 14 February 2008, page 5 

Small article (second paragraph under “The week in higher education”) stating that the Daily Telegraph 6th February had stated that Gordon Brown had given a clear signal that A levels would be axed as he refused to guarantee the future of traditional qualifications.

Times Higher Education 14 February 2008, page 11 “Degree powers come with risks, QAA head tells private firm”. (John Gill) 

“Private companies that gain the power to award their own degrees will join a pond full of piranhas and may be better off working with established universities to provide recognised courses, according to the chief exec. of the QAA”.

Times Higher Education 14 February 2008, page 12 “A further addition to options” (from Campus Round Up) 

University of Arts London has become the third HE institution to secure FE education awarding powers.  New powers allow university offer foundation degrees at a mixture of level 3 and 4.

Times Higher Education 14 February 2008, page 15 “Inappropriate use of outcomes slated” (Melanie Newman) 

“Report identifies bureaucratic craze that fails academics and students”  

“The concept of setting learning outcomes was established by the QAA after the 1997 Dearing Report said that students should have much more detailed information about their studies”.  However, Trevor Hussey of Bucks New University argues that this concept is misused.

Times Higher Education 14 February 2008, pages 31 to 35 “Soul searching” (Matthew Reisz) 

Major article on the purpose of humanities teaching.  Of interest to humanities teachers, needs to be read in full. 

TES 15 February 2008, page 8 “Confidence in A levels at five year high” (Warwick Mansell) 

“Most teachers show faith in the exam system, but a third have worries over marking accuracy” 

Article discussing accuracy of A level marking systems, also of interest is the column headed ”Plot thickens in tale of weird results” (same page) 

TES 15 February 2008, page 9 “Got it tough? You could be right” (Warwick Mansell)

Exams experts are to investigate whether some GCSEs and A levels are harder than others.

TES 15 February 2008, page 30 “Signs of poor literacy can be read early” (Adi Bloom) 

“Why adults can’t read can be traced back to a lack of formal pre-school education.” 

“John Bynner of the Institute of Education in London has tracked the lives of 17,196 people since their birth in 1970.  His latest research examines the obstacles faced by those in the study with poor literacy and numeracy skills”.   Also shown on the page are the Basic skills fundamentals as seen by Ursula Howard National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and numeracy.