Latest Educational News

No choice in schools

by Times, August 15, 2005

Anyone disinclined to trust this Government may see a despairing but clever plot behind what will reportedly be the “best ever” crop of A-level results when they are published this week. It is now so easy to pass these exams, officials will be able to mutter, that there is no need to find a better school. No need, in short, to exercise the parental choice that Tony Blair has repeatedly insisted is at the heart of his plans to transform state secondary education. Such a plot may be implausible, but it would be far more so if Mr Blair’s efforts to make that choice a reality were not in woeful disarray

Calls for A-levels to be tougher

by BBC, August 14, 2005

The government is facing calls to make A-levels harder amid predictions that a record number of students will gain top grades this year.
More than 260,000 students get their results this week and experts predict the pass rate will rise to nearly 97%.

Fresh call for A-Level reform

by Manchester, August 14, 2005

Ministers faced fresh calls to reform A-Levels today amid predictions of another record number of students scoring top grades.

As more than 260,000 students prepared to receive their results this week, headteachers called on the Government to replace the "gold-standard" exam with a new diploma.

One expert predicted another rise in the overall pass rate this year, with even more teenagers getting grade A.

We don't need graduation

by Daily Mail, August 14, 2005

t's that time of year when hearts race and palms grow sticky. With the A levels results out on Thursday, many a teenager is praying for the grades that will get them that coveted place at university. Yet, a significant minority have no intention of swanning off to college - even if they score top results. And far from 'dropping out', they're making a financially savvy choice.

Many young people don't want to start their working life owing money; the average student debt is £13,500, predicted to increase to £20,000 for students starting this September. What's more, recent research shows that the level of increased earnings that graduates could expect over a lifetime, as recompense for doing a degree, has fallen sharply.

Ten years ago, degree holders would earn about £400,000 more in a lifetime than those without a degree; today the estimate is that they will earn just £150,000 more. Manual jobs no longer necessarily mean a lower wage - it is not unheard of for some plumbers to enjoy a starting salary of £70,000.

Fresh calls to reform A-level exams

by Daily Mail, August 14, 2005

Ministers face fresh calls to reform A-Levels amid predictions of another record number of students scoring top grades.
As more than 260,000 students prepared to receive their results later in the week, headteachers called on the Government to replace the "gold-standard" exam with a new diploma.

One expert predicted another rise in the overall pass rate this year, with even more teenagers getting grade A.

A-level pass rate nears 97 per cent

by BBC, August 14, 2005

The A-level pass rate is expected to increase for the 23rd year in succession, reaching almost 97 per cent this year.

Of the 265,257 students who sat examinations for the "gold standard" of Britain's examination system this summer, more were awarded A to E grades year-on-year.

Why streaming must be condemned as utterly... unhelpful

by Scotsman, August 14, 2005

NO SUCCESS, please, we're Scottish! If ever there was a classic example of how much the consensual establishment (that's Civic Scotland, to you) detests any form of achievement, it was last week's response to the spectacular exam results at St Paul's High School, in the Glasgow area of Pollok. The school recorded a 19% improvement in academic performance.

Beyond that, it hauled itself up by its boot-straps from the bottom third of Glasgow secondary schools to the second-top position. This school is the sixth most deprived in Scotland: 47% of pupils qualify for free meals, compared to a Glasgow average of 35%. Yet its Standard Grade results showed a 7% year-on-year increase in the number of pupils attaining the top 'credit' passes for five or more subjects.

Call for cap on 'too easy' A-levels

by Guardian, August 14, 2005

The debate over the true value of A-levels, the gold standard of British education, will be reignited this week amid demands to cap the number of pupils gaining top grades.
With record numbers of students expected to score A grades when results are published on Thursday, David Cameron, the Tories' education spokesman and contender for the party's leadership, will call for the setting of a fixed percentage who can get top marks to preserve the integrity of the exam system and halt the so-called 'grade inflation' of year-on-year rises in achievement.

The move comes as a high-level Commons inquiry is set to be launched into the academic rigour of the university degree system, including whether the traditional classification system, from firsts to thirds, should be dropped in favour of publishing actual marks - and whether masters' degrees are worth the money.

Education minister questions his own department

by Telegraph, August 14, 2005

An education minister has challenged his own department over its policy on children with special needs, which parents claim is leading to the closure of special schools across Britain.

State schools outshine grammars over GCSEs

by Guardian, August 14, 2005

Clever children who attend comprehensive schools achieve better GCSE results than those at grammar schools, a six-year study has revealed. The improvement only holds true, however, where there are 20 or more highly intelligent pupils in the same year, with a sharp fall-off in exam results schools with fewer than 12 such pupils.
The research by the Specialist Schools Trust (SST) shows that 'very able' state-school children, defined as those whose results were in the top five per cent in their Maths and English Key Stage two tests taken in 1999, scored an average of 6.65 A* and A passes per pupil at GCSE. This was better than the grammar school pupils surveyed who achieved an average of 6.28 A* and A grades.

Class action

by Telegraph, August 14, 2005

Not long after her appointment as Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly told The Sunday Telegraph that "children are not being stretched and challenged in the way I would like them to be". She indicated that exams would be made harder, and that she would respond to the fears of employers and university admissions tutors about "grade inflation" - the suspicion that the standard required to achieve high grades at GCSE and -A-level has fallen over the years.

As we reveal today, the proportion of -A-level candidates achieving pass grades has risen yet again this year and is approaching 97 per cent. Ms Kelly will rightly congratulate teenagers on their results: it cannot be emphasised too strongly that any flaws in the system are not the fault of candidates.

Schools ‘cull pupils to lift A-level rank’

by Sunday Times, August 14, 2005

Many of the country’s leading schools appear to be artificially bolstering their reputations by refusing to take weaker pupils in the sixth form and replacing them with high-flyers from other schools before their A-levels.
Extensive research by Ralph Lucas, editor of the Good Schools Guide, shows that while some top schools show great loyalty to the children they select at 11 or 13, others appear to be boosting their chances of getting good A-level results by quietly advising pupils at 16 to take their A- levels elsewhere.

Lucas, who obtained the data from the Department for Education and Skills using the Freedom of Information Act, suggested the study showed that parents could no longer rely on schools retaining children at 16 even if they were capable of achieving reasonable A-level results.

Government ditches biased grammar school entry code

by Telegraph, August 14, 2005

The Government has been forced into a U-turn on grammar school admission and has dropped the "cruel and idiotic" rule that parents must choose their preferred schools before they know whether their child has passed the 11-plus exam.

In a tacit acknowledgment that the arrangements, imposed last year, have caused chaos for many families, officials have rewritten the code on school admissions. The draft now states that parents should be informed of the test results before they apply.

A-level pass rate heads for all-time high of 97 per cent

by Telegraph, August 14, 2005

The A-level pass rate has risen to almost 97 per cent this year, increasing the prospect that all candidates will soon pass what was once described as the "gold standard" of Britain's examination system.

Results for the 265,257 students who sat A-levels this summer, to be published this week, are expected to show a further rise from the 96 per cent of entries awarded A to E grades last year. The pass rate in 1982 was 68 per cent.

Ruth Kelly pledged to make A-levels harder
The fresh figures will fuel claims that A-levels are continuing to get easier, and may further undermine confidence in the system.

What proportion of those who achieve three As at A-level are at independent schools?

by Telegraph, August 13, 2005

Last year, fee-paying pupils accounted for 38 per cent of the 24,000 who achieved three As. However, of those who achieved three As in sciences and maths, 42 per cent were at independent schools and of those who achieved three As in sciences, maths and languages, 43 per cent were at independent schools - a point that university admissions tutors who are under political pressure to "widen access" should bear in mind. Another interesting fact: although the number of pupils who achieve three As has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, they are still a tiny elite: just 3.6 per cent of all 17-year-olds.

When Brent met Windsor

by Telegraph, August 13, 2005

A unique summer school gives north London comprehensive pupils the chance to broaden their horizons and see how the other half lives at Eton College, reports Alexandra Buxton

Matthew Weinreb and Dominic Self, both 16, have been locked in a philosophical debate over the past few days. Their conversation hinges on what is called the mind/body problem, and it dates back to Plato. Matthew believes that he "has a body" while Dominic argues that he "is a body".

Brent pupils enjoy boating at Eton

Matthew and Dominic go to Queens Park Community School, a north London comprehensive where almost a quarter of the pupils are entitled to free meals and ethnic minorities make up three-quarters of the roll. They took their GCSEs this summer and will return to Queens Park next month to start A-levels. For a week they are attending a summer school at Eton, the alma mater of saints, explorers, prime ministers and royals.

Exams testing educational methods

by BBC, August 13, 2005

Two experiments in Scottish schooling have borne fruit in this year's exam results. But they are causing controversy. People have been known to lose the will to live when listening to an explanation of the exam system. Stay with us.

Class left teacherless for nearly a year

by London, August 13, 2005

A class of children with learning difficulties was left without a qualified teacher for almost a year.

Lisa Mills' five-year-old son Robert attends the Specialist Opportunity Unit (SOU) at Midfield Primary School in Orpington.

Budget cuts 'destabilising education'

by Belfast Telegraph, August 12, 2005

Highly publicised budget cuts are having a destabilising effect on education provision in Northern Ireland, it was claimed today.

The shocking cost of vandalism in schools

by Belfast Telegraph, August 12, 2005

Northern Ireland's cash- strapped education boards ran up losses totalling almost £1.4m during the last financial year, it emerged today.