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Sector News, 4 - 8 February 2008

Education Guardian 5 February 2008, page 4, Opinion "Negative Reaction" (Peter Mortimore)

“The benefits of streaming are a myth.”

As title suggests opinion is against streaming.  The Author cites a 1970s study from Banbury schools which states that mixed ability classes did not hold back the most able but did help the less able.  Scottish Council for research in Education stated that the council found “no consistent and reliable evidence of positive effects of streaming” and the author refers to Finland who have abolished streaming in all its lower secondary schools.,,2252159,00.html

Times Higher Education 7 February 2008, page 4 “Academy lacks credibility with HE chiefs, review shows”  (Rebecca Attwood) 

“National teaching-skills body has yet to prove its worth, say some v-cs.” 

Lengthy article on the Higher Education Academy which is charged with improving university teaching.  Many vice chancellors feel the it has yet to demonstrate the case for continued existence.  There are those who feel that it has yet to achieve its full potential and that it needs to ‘push’ much harder to get outputs into institutions.

Times Higher Education 7 February 2008, page 7 “Minimum English standard is set too low, tutors say” (Melanie Newman) 

“Study reports poor language skills can leave foreign students floundering.”  

Criticism of IELTS (International English Language Testing System) stating that threshold scores are set too low ensuring that some students are ill equipped to cope with the demands of their course.

Times Higher Education 7 February 2008, page 8  “Further education colleges’ HE provision lauded by QAA”  (Rebecca Attwood) 

“Review praises substantial good practice despite limited resources.”

Judgements on the quality of teaching an learning in FE colleges are overwhelmingly positive according to QAA report.  Comments on highly supportive learning environment, concern about lack of resources and some concerns about focus on student technical ability rather than knowledge and analytical skills.

Times Higher Education 7 February 2008, page 9 “Elites must teach better, says v-c”  (Tony Tysome) 

“Russell Group institutions have neglected students, Manchester’s Gilbert admits.” 

Comment from Alan Gilbert, president of the University of Manchester. “Research universities have presided over a decline in the quality of undergraduate teaching [..]”  “Universities are fundamentally about the education of students, both degree and undergraduates [..]”  

Times Higher Education 7 February 2008, page 26, Opinion “Old school values for news” (Tim Luckhurst) 

“Our future fourth estate needs core skills taught in sciences and humanities, not media studies.” 

Argument against skills taught in media studies and a return to the credible sourcing of information. (About reporting skills)

Times Higher Education 7 February 2008, page 28, Opinion “The cruellest con of all” (Patrick Ainley) 

“We keep blaming ourselves for trying to achieve the impossible with widening participation”.  

Discusses the perceived effects of widening participation on increased numbers in universities, teacher training, resourcing, ‘creaming off’ elite students along with changes in polytechnics and FE.

TES 8 February 2008, page 4 “Uncertain take-up for vocational diplomas” (Warwick Mansell)  

Concern expressed over: a) how many secondary schools will run the new courses despite two thirds of them applying to do so and b) how popular the qualifications will be with pupils.

TES 8 February 2008, FE Focus, page 1 “You’d be hired, Sir Alan”. (Joseph Lee) 

“Lifelong Learning UK to recruit entrepreneurs and dynamic bosses as a catalyst for change in colleges and training services”.  

“FE bosses are searching for 75 leading entrepreneurs, such as Sir Alan Sugar or Sir Richard Branson to take over as college principals and heads of training providers.” See also: “Aspiring leaders can find room at the top”(pg 3)“Rising to the challenges of leadership” (pg 4) 

TES 8 February 2008, FE Focus, page 5, Opinion “End this vocational skills snobbery” (David Fairhurst) 

“Education should be a revolving door, enabling people to move freely between training and academic study”.   

David Fairhurst, senior vice president and chief people officer for McDonald’s argues that vocational excellence is every bit as challenging to achieve as academic excellence. He believes that current educational debate overlooks the needs of young people.  Furthermore, he cites McDonald’s employment statistics as evidence of putting the company in a good place to assess the impact of all levels of education.

TES 8 February 2008, FE Focus, page 6 “Industry link is key to best colleges” (Steve Hook)  

Ofsted research (based on agriculture, horticulture and animal care) suggests that the best vocational training is that which has links to industry.  The 22 colleges investigated were those with inspection grades of good or above.