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Sector News, 22 - 26 November 2010

Teahers improve educational outcomes for care leavers.  Education Guardian, 23 November 2010.

Fewer than one in ten young people in care continue their education beyond sixteen, which compares poorly to the over 60 per cent of other young people.  A major study conducted by researchers from five European countries has also concluded that only 14 per cent of children in care get five good GCSEs compared with 65 per cent of all children.  Sonia Jackson, professor of social care and education at the Institute of Education, who led the team, says that as well as the difficulties faced generally by these young people, the education system mitigates against them.  “Many young people who’ve been in care don’t get their GCSEs at 16.”  Although many want to return later the pathways are not open to them: "In Britain, we seem to have an obsession with education taking place in a chronological pattern – and for young people in care, who have the odds stacked against them, it's unusual to hit the milestones at the same time as others."  Sonia Jackson says that not all of the English system is bad and she points to the great strides made by the last government who managed to change a one in one hundred figure for care pupils entering university to almost one in ten.

Global crackdown on immigration threatens to dam knowledge flow.  THE, 25 November 2010.

State policies around the world on access to work and study could undermine attempts to improve mobility and the work of the academy.  This view, held by many in HE, was reinforced by Theresa May’s announcement of limits to the issuing of visas.  Although the bulk of student visa cuts are targeted at pre-degree level there are concerns that the knock on effect will reduce the number of foreign students in UK universities.

Higher study’s social benefits back case for state funding.  THE, 25 November 2010.

Professor McMahon, a US economist, has warned against England losing sight of the social benefits of study at university.  Profess McMahon says that university graduates on the whole have better health, improved education support for their children and a whole host of other benefits which the government are not considering when making cuts.  Universities are becoming more vocal about social benefits emanating from taking a degree.

Minister’s ‘routes to learning’ are long on goodwill, short on bus fare.  THE, 25 November 2010.

John Hayes, Minister for Further Education, has said that the government wants to see higher qualifications for apprenticeships and routes opened into HE for apprentices.  He also insists that the gap between further and higher education must be closed.  However, attendants at the conference in which Mr Hayes made the statement were not impressed, saying that a change in attitude towards the gap between academic and vocational qualifications would be welcome and scrapping benefits such as the Education Maintenance Allowance was not helpful.

Elite institutions should ‘help create a more equal society’.  THE, 26 November 2010.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts, believes that higher education is important to social mobility.  He advocates that universities do more to assist their local communities and that elite institutions should be forced to recruit students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Europe is told to relearn the ABCs of quality assurance.  THE, 26 November 2010.

The former head of the UK Quality Assurance Agency has called for a radical re-examination of the quality assurance procedures used in Europe’s universities.

Aimhigher brought down by coalition axe.  THE, 26 November 2010.

David Willetts, the Universities and Science Minister, has said that funding for the Aimhigher programme will cease next year.  Whilst admitting that Aimhigher has helped to widen participation in universities, the government wants to speed up social mobility by more than this national programme is capable of.

Features in this week’s THE:

There’s more to a story than facts and figures”; Adam Corner, (research associate at the University of Cardiff) and Alice Bell’s (senior teaching fellow in science Imperial College London) view of the ways that the scientific community should engage with the public.

Achieving critical mass”; embedding critical thinking at the heart of the curriculum is the theme for an article written by Linda Elder, educational psychologist and president of the Foundation for Critical Thinking.

Arts, THE, 26 November.

Mother tongue’s unruly offspring” is Matthew Reisz’s deliberations over whether language evolution can be halted.  Duncan Wu's critique “Existential gangster”, is about the film “The American” which was hailed by The New York Times as the most disliked movie of all times.  Under daytime TV, “Needs must” Gary Day, principal lecturer in English at De Montfort University, looks at the latest round of “children in need”.

Sixth form funding slashed by £120m.  TES, 26 November 2010.

School sixth forms are about to lose £120 million of funding which is the education secretary’s answer to cutting the gap between school sixth forms and further education.  The Association of Schools and College Leaders (ASCL) branded the declaration as a disaster for maintained school sixth forms.

University training outperforms ‘on the job’, finds Ofsted.  TES, 26 November 2010.

Ofsted’s annual report has concluded that university courses provide a higher quality preparation for teaching than does on the job training.   This goes against the opinion of Michael Gove who wishes to place more teachers in schools to do their training.

Call for SEN schools to be handed to private providers.  TES, 26 November 2010.

A Policy Exchange report has suggested that SEN provision should be taken away from local authorities and placed into the hands of private providers.  If this was to be adopted then charities, private companies and schools could take over the running of the provision.

Funding for English classes slashed by half.  TES, FE Focus, 26 November 2010.

Despite pledges to support basic skills, numeracy and English classes are to be hit hard during the cut-backs.  This, despite Vince Cable’s assurances that basic skills will be protected.

Maths and science often ‘uninspiring’, says Ofsted.  TES, FE Focus, 26 November 2010.

In Ofsted’s annual report there are statements to the effect that maths and science teaching in colleges is uninspiring and lags behind other subjects.  Lorna Fitzjohn, Ofsted’s divisional manager for learning and skills, told the TES that there is a gulf in standards of teaching in different subject areas.  She added that teaching in science and maths was often dull.

Ofsted's annual report can be found at

Would you like fries with your degree?  TES, FE Focus, 26 November 2010.

Hamburger University, the McDonalds training centre in London is to offer accredited degrees.  The degrees are offered in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University.  It means that McDonalds, who invest £30 million a year into training, can now offer courses ranging from basic skills to degree level.