Latest Educational News

Heads must have power

by Telegraph, August 16, 2005

Not the least of the ways in which independent schools make such a valuable contribution to our education system is that they keep their standards firmly aloft when others have abandoned theirs in the contemporary bog of anything goes. Marlborough College is a case in point. Its head, Nicholas Sampson, gave notice three months ago to Russell Gray, father of 15-year-old Rhys, that he would not admit the boy into the sixth form next month allegedly because - savour the clarity of the headmaster's words - he had not worked hard enough and his behaviour had been poor.

Huge majority backs A-level reform

by Guardian, August 16, 2005

The vast majority of the public wants the government to introduce further, radical reforms to A-levels, even though it is broadly split on whether the "gold standard" exam has become easier over time.
Nine out of 10 respondents to a Guardian/ICM poll published today back changes which include increasing the number of subjects studied in the sixth form to give teenagers more breadth and to avoid specialising too early - as proposed in the Tomlinson report last year which was largely rejected by the government.

Could your grades be wrong? George Turnbull explains how to get a ...

by Guardian, August 16, 2005

Those lazy, hazy days of summer will be soon forgotten for students who fail to achieve the grades for that coveted university or college place. Many a place has been taken at an alternative university or college in such circumstances - and led to better choices and better careers. But could the examining board have made a mistake in assessing your grades, and if so, what can you do about it?
Well, yes, a mistake could have been made - especially as one mark might make the difference between an A and a B, or any other grade, if you are at the top of the grade band.

Oxbridge image 'puts off pupils'

by BBC, August 16, 2005

Many comprehensive school teachers think students are put off applying to Oxford and Cambridge by their social image, a survey says.
Of 101 teachers interviewed, 54% said students were often discouraged by the universities' "social context", while 45% said this happened occasionally.

Grammar school and college students were less wary, the National Foundation for Educational Research found.

Parents to know admissions test results

by Yorkshire, August 16, 2005

Parents who want to send their children to Yorkshire grammar schools will be allowed to know the results of the admissions test before choosing where they go, after a major U-turn by the Government.
Current rules mean parents have to choose a school for their child before they know whether their son or daughter has scored high enough in the grammar school test to get a place.
Ministers had argued that to do otherwise was unfair on parents who only wanted to send their child to a non-selective school. However, new draft guidelines on school admissions say "it is good practice for parents to be able to know the outcome of selective tests" before the closing date for applications.
Grammar schools in Calderdale have argued their authority was making the problem worse by using a system – known as first preference first – which forces parents to prioritise which school they want their children to go to.

Call to scrap exam upgrade scheme

by BBC, August 16, 2005

Campaigners have called for the scrapping of a scheme which gives thousands of Scottish pupils higher grades than their exams marks merit.
Concerns were voiced that the derived grades procedure favours schools from richer areas.

The Scottish National Party raised questions about the scheme at a meeting with the Scottish Qualifications Authority on Tuesday.

Parent sues school over son's exclusion

by Guardian, August 16, 2005

A father is taking a prestigious independent school to court in an attempt to prevent his son being excluded from the sixth form in what is being seen as a test case for parents' rights.
Independent schools reserve the right to bar pupils who do not perform well enough at GCSE and the pressure of league tables has led to suspicions that this is happening more frequently.

State schools too are becoming more selective about which pupils they allow to stay on after 16 in an effort to boost their A-level results, so next week's scheduled hearing about a 15-year-old at Marlborough College, Wiltshire, could have widespread ramifications.

Father sues school over refusal to let his son enter sixth form

by Telegraph, August 16, 2005

The father of a pupil at Marlborough College is taking the school to court over its refusal to allow his son to proceed into the sixth form.

He claims that the £22,000-a-year independent school attended by Princess Eugenie has wrongly rejected his son in reliance on "vague and unreasonable" terms in its contract with parents.

The school claims that its decision was influenced by the boy's alleged poor disciplinary record and not his academic ability.

Father challenges Marlborough over expulsion of son

by Times, August 16, 2005

A parent has threatened to sue Marlborough College for expelling his 15-year-old son for bad behaviour.
Russell Gray is seeking an injunction against the prestigious boarding school in Wiltshire to prevent the expulsion. The £21,900-a-year school, at which Princess Eugenie is a pupil, informed Mr Gray in May that it would not be allowing his son Rhys to return next month due to his “exceptionally poor” disciplinary record.

Class Rebel

by Anorak, August 16, 2005

AFTER yesterday’s story about how any student with a pen, or at least the intention of one day owning one, is given an A-level comes more news from the confused world of education.
No smoking at Marlborough
While we will have to wait a while to hear the annual tales of how some northern girl scored nine A grades in her A-levels and was still denied a place to study at Oxbridge, we do get to hear of 15-year-old Rhys Gray.

Gray is no star pupil. Indeed, the sullen yoof has just been expelled from the £21,900-a-year Marlborough College, the same school attended by Princess Eugenie, as the Times thinks it right and proper to point out.

Gray’s crimes are many, and are said to include such rebellious and daring capers as, er, chewing gum in class, forgetting his books and smoking a cigarette.

Exam jitters

by Guardian, August 16, 2005

All around the country, this year's A-level students are trying to keep their cool. The priority is to avoid thinking about Thursday, when they will open the envelopes containing the results of two years' hard work and that tension will break in an orgy of gossip. Who's going to which university, who's battling through Clearing and who's doing re-sits.
Then, as quickly as it came, the gossip - along with the inevitable headlines about dumbing down, and the triplet geniuses headed for Cambridge - will die down and life, whether they've passed or failed, will go on.

That's if nothing goes wrong. It's three years now since the row over grade boundaries in the first year of the new A-level curriculum plunged the exam system into the biggest crisis of its history.

Aspiration for all

by Guardian, August 16, 2005

Don't ask whether A-levels are getting easier. Ask what education is doing for the aspirations of all pupils

A-level results leave parents stressed

by Reuters, August 16, 2005

A fifth of parents suffer from an increase in stress when they have children waiting for A-level results, a study released on Tuesday said.

Research from the University of Hertfordshire found that 23 percent of mothers and 16 percent of fathers suffered physical or emotional symptoms in the run-up to results day.

Parents whose children were waiting for results this year were even more stressed than their predecessors, with three in ten saying it had affected them, and four percent reporting they had suffered from depression.

A-level results are due out on Thursday with media reports suggesting pupils will achieve a record number of passes and top grades.

A-level science slump 'must end'

by BBC, August 16, 2005

The decline in numbers of students taking A-level physics, chemistry and maths must not be allowed to continue, the Royal Society says.
In 1991 43,416 students sat A-level physics compared with 28,698 in 2004, a decrease of 34%, with the other subjects also losing popularity.

Teachers condemn 'annual abuse' of A-levels

by Guardian, August 15, 2005

teaching leader today demanded an end to the "carping and criticism" of A-levels amid increasing calls for the exam system to be reformed.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers, launched the defence of the work done by 260,000 A-levels pupils awaiting their results this week and condemned the "annual abuse" of pupils and teachers who make up this year's A-level cohort.

"Carping and criticism will once again cast a shadow over the outcome of the years of hard work and dedication of youngsters and their teachers. Anecdotal comparisons by those who left school years ago are regularly trotted out as 'evidence' that exams have been dumbed down."

Exam results: what happens next?

by BBC, August 15, 2005

Exam results on a mobile phone straight from the exam board computer may still be wishful thinking for most of the million students who took 26 million A-level and GCSE exam papers.

As the Scottish Qualifications Authority showed with its limited experiment, the technology exists.

Schools are forced to set up financial recovery plans

by Belfast Telegraph, August 15, 2005

More than half of Northern Ireland's schools have been forced to set up financial recovery plans in a bid to get their spending under control, it can be revealed today.

The latest figures obtained by the Belfast Telegraph show that 632 schools across the province ran up significant surpluses or deficits - over 5% of their delegated budget - during the 2003/04 financial year. Over 20 schools went more than 30% over budget

New fall in numbers of A-level language pupils

by Independent, August 15, 2005

A-level results out on Thursday will show a further decline in the number of pupils taking foreign languages, particularly in German, The Independent has learnt.

The trend emerged as business leaders said the drop-off in the number of students taking science and languages was a national disgrace. Many candidates are opting for what have been termed "softer" subjects, such as such as media studies and psychology.

CBI warns of decline in A-level courses

by Financial Times, August 15, 2005

The sharp fall in the number of pupils taking A-levels in languages and science is a blight to the economy, business has warned.


The CBI employers' group is urging the government to reverse the slide in subjects which it says are crucial to competitiveness after calculating that the number of students taking A-level physics fell by 55 per cent and A-level chemistry by 33 per cent between 1984 and 2004.

A-level results to add pressure for university entrance tests

by Times, August 15, 2005

Universities are coming under mounting pressure to adopt admissions tests to distinguish between the best candidates as record numbers of A-level students are forecast to gain top grades this week.
With almost a quarter of girls predicted to achieve A grades, it has emerged that the Government is preparing to back nationwide trials of a generic university entrance test, as early as next month.

The move indicates that Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, has understood universities’ concerns that the examinations are no longer a sufficiently reliable gauge of pupils’ intelligence.

Over the past 22 years, the percentage of pupils achieving grade As at A level has risen from 8.9 per cent in 2002 to 22.4 per cent last year. At the same time, the pass rate has gone up from 68.2 per cent to 96 per cent.