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Sector News, 21 July - 22 July 2008

Facing a brick wall. Education Guardian, 22 July 2008.

The loss of thousands of jobs in the housebuilding industry, is setting alarm bells ringing across the government's flagship youth training programme. “Persimmon, one of the biggest housebuilders, hired 40 new apprentices last year, but announced that this year it would take none. Barratt Developments also said it was planning to take on no apprentices this September, though last year it recruited 180.”

Remember, the government is not the customer.  Education Guardian, 22 July 2008.

Opinion, Andrew Thomspon, former chief exec. of the Quality Improvement Agency.

Andrew Thompson suggests that the 1988 Education Act which created greater central control of education has created a considerable bureaucracy but has not delivered sound education at local level.

Academics split over value of access funding.  THE, 24 July 2008.

Academic’s views concerning access funding are split roughly into thirds.  One third believing that access funding would be better spent in school, one third disagreeing and one third undecided.  Whilst all generally agree that widening participation is a good thing for universities, there are academics who believe that the money should be spent in schools in order to improve pupil’s readiness for HE.

Cash for new campuses tied to skills drive.  THE, 24 July 2008.

The Government is insisiting that universities must show how they will provide a highly trained workforce for local industries under a scheme to develop 20 new universities.  A recently published document states that HEFCE will not fund bids that are of an insufficient quality and lack proof of the need for ongoing HE in an area.

MPs have a bone to pick with QAA over standards.  THE. 24 July 3008.

A cross party panel of MPs has made plain its concerns over QAA’s lack of ‘teeth’.  The group raised concerns abour the external examiner’s system, QAA’s ability to root out unsatisfactory universities and the sector’s reliance on overseas students.

Beyond classification.  THE, 24 July 2008.

Kevin Sharpe, priofessor of Renaissance studies, Queen Mary, University of London expresses doubts on the level of degree courses.   It is Kevin Sharpe's contention that degrees are no longer what they were.

High flying graduates still bypass the blackboard.  TES, 25 July 2008.

The University of Buckingham have published an analysis which shows that PGCE trainees with the top two degree awards has increased to 54% with primary trainees at 58%.  However, 59.7% of graduates receive either 2:1 or first class degrees.

Masters degrees under fire.  TES, 25 July 2008.

Voice, a union representing 38,000 teachers, considers that the new masters degree for teachers is unneccessary and will undermine professionalism.  Nardia Foster, a psychology teacher at a north London girl’s school took her MA because it was something whe wanted to do.  The new qualification will be something dictated by the government and will act counter to the idea that education is about developing oneself.

Ofsted slams teaching to the test.  TES, 25 July 2008.

Also Teachers test-driven mad by Government stalling and teachers must stick to broad curriculum.

In two pages of articles, the TES this week discusses the recurring theme of “teaching to the exam” (in the context of secondary Sats etc.).  Ofsted blames the teachers, the teachers blame the Government.  Ofsted condems the trend to improving test scores and losing track of the wider issues of education.  Teachers condem the Government for putting them in a position where league tables are so important.

The changing curriculum.  TES, 25 July 2008. 

The story about curriculum change from 1988 to the primary curriculum changes due in 2010, presented in serialised form over two weeks (primarily National Curriculum). 

Twenty contentious years of permanent revolution, discusses the changes that have been made starting with the 1988 introduction of GCSEs and the national curriculum, the 1992 introduction of leagues tables and the introduction of key stage tests and the literacy and numeracy strategies.

‘They took a sledgehammer to crack the nut of a minority of underperforming staff’, expresses the fears held by teachers that the core subjects of English, maths and science would be test dominated.

Why Baker crossed swords with Mrs T, explains the ex-education minister’s fears that the national curriculum would be too narrow.

Practical skills focus narrows courses, is a short article stating that focussing on practical skills narrows an already narrow curriculum even further.

Tories to ‘set colleges free’.  TES, FE Focus, 25 July 2008.

In a green paper on education, the Conservative party have laid out plans for post-16 education which they will bring into operation should they win the next election.  David Willets, Shadow Secretary for Innovation, Universities and Skills is not convinced that the new “quangos” to be introduced will deliver the goods.  The Tories will bring back the FEFC, put funding into adult education and courses to attract teenagers, whether these lead to accreditation or not.

Vocational courses double in five years.  TES, FE Focus, 25 July 2008.

NVQs, Btecs, City & Guilds and other vocational qualifications have increased their uptake by over 50%, to 3.25 million candidates this year.  Colleges are responsible for these courses, but there has been a marked growth in the number of school pupils taking vocational qualifications at 14+.