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Sector News, 18 - 22 August 2008

The chance to live a full life.  Education Guardian, 19 August 2008. 

A government white paper, called “Valuing People”, published in 2001, promised greater rights, inclusion, independence and choice for young people with learning difficulties.  Research carried out in 2002 suggected that a fifth of young people had left schools without a transition plan and almost half had little or no planning in their future.  A prediliction to assume low standards for those with disabilites means that many talents are not being given the opportunity to develop.


Which road will you take?  Education Guardian, 19 August 2008.

A short article on the options open to young people after GCSEs.


The magic of face-to-face teaching. THE, 21 August 2008.

A look at the growing world of iTunesU, the university arm of iTunesStore.  Here, most member institutions provide lectures, study skills assistance and public speeches free of charge.


Grades slashed to fill science courses.  The Independent, 21 August 2008.

“Some of Britain's most prestigious universities have been forced to slash A-level requirements for science degrees by up to four grades as they struggle to fill unpopular courses.”  So reports the Independent, who claim that five out of the twenty Russell Group universities have had reduce grades in order to fill what are deemed unpopular courses.


Private schools boycott 'meaningless' league tables. The Independent 2008.

A number of prestigious public schools, including Eton and Westminster are refusing to publish their GCSE results as they consider leagues tables do not compare like with like and have instilled a kind of "educational poison" into the system.


GCSEs

All the papers have their comments on today’s GCSE results.

The Independent’s headline is Teenagers notch up record GCSE results, reporting that overall 20.7% of grades were at A+ or A, a 1.2% increase on last year.  In addition  65.7% achieved grades A to C, up from 63.3% last year. Under the banner GCSE results reveal 'two-tier' schools, the Independent also comments that too many pupils are still leaving with no GCSE grades and that some schools are switching from academic subjects to vocational subjects in order to boost their results profile.

The Guardian led with GCSE results: One in five achieve top gradesGCSE results: Make or break day for named and shamed schools”, discusses the impact on schools of the Governemnt’s “name and shame policy” for what it perceives as failing schools.

Sharp fall in number of GCSE entries”, is one of The Times inputs, where the paper suggests that whilst the number of pass grades has increased it is against a background of a falling entry to GCSE.  The Times also reports on the pressure on “failing schools” by showing a table of “at risk” schools (GCSE results of ‘National Challenge’schools in danger of closure).

The Daily Express has “Top grades for Britain’s GCSE pupils”. In a plethora of stories the Telegraph leads with “GCSEs: Pupils taking fewer exams”.

"GCSE results the best since 1990" heralded the TES on the 22 August.  However, they echo the concern of language teachers who have seen a further drop in their subjects' popularity.
A level languages ditch literature. TES, 22 August 2008.

A-level languages will, from next month, no longer include a written component on literature.  Instead students wil be given the opportunity to talk about a piece of literature of their own choice as part of their oral examination.  See also “An A* in language A-levels – with no literature studies”, in which ministers claims that the new exam specifications will stretch teenagers are called into question.


10,000 entries not counted in results.  TES, 22 August 2008.

Results from last weeks A-levels appear not to include students who fail to “cash in their grade”, nor do they include students who failed to turn up for their exams.  Of 837,053 A level entries this summer, only 827,737 grades were published.  If these results had been included it would have had the effect of depressing the success rate of A levels.


Is this the dawn of a real education revolution?  TES, 22 August 2008.

In a major article headlined as 'The Changing Curriculum', the TES investigates the current state of the new 14-19 Diploma and what possible effects it may have on our education system.


Hail the golden apprentice.  TES, FE Focus, 22 August 2008.

Whilst “A week in education” (in the 22 August TES) remarks that state schools are failing our olympic dream, (it seems that most of the medal winners were from public schools), the above headline remarks on the success of the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE).  The scheme, it is claimed, is responsible for nurturing the talents of six of the British team in Bejing.