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Schools vow to back 'Open Access'
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 08:00

 

A large number of independent schools have pledged to open their doors to talented pupils from non-privileged backgrounds if the Government agrees to pay part of their fees.

The high-performing institutions said they wanted to admit bright children regardless of family income, arguing the move would be the "single biggest policy step" towards boosting social mobility.

A total of 80 independent day schools are in support of a state-funded Open Access scheme that would see them match fee subsidies from the Government with money from their own bursary funds.

The programme, in which parents pay a sliding scale of fees according to their means, has been piloted at the Belvedere School in Liverpool over a seven-year period.

Headmasters from 44 independent schools have thrown their weight behind the scheme in a letter to The Times.

The signatories said: "As heads of some of the most successful independent day schools in the country, we would like to admit pupils on merit alone, irrespective of whether their families can afford fees.

"We have a proud history of educating a wide social-mix and we are determined to extend that opportunity.

 
More schools are offering IGCSEs
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 03 August 2012 08:53

 

The number of state schools offering international GCSEs instead of the traditional exams has jumped by more than 300% in two years, according to new figures.

So-called IGCSEs in subjects such as English, history and biology are proving particularly popular with schools, according to data published by University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), which offers the qualifications.

In total, 400 state schools are now teaching IGCSEs compared to 97 in 2010 and 220 last year, the figures show.

Rising numbers of private schools are also using the exams - 500 this year, up from 302 two years ago and 350 in 2011. Overall, UK schools made 50,000 IGCSE entries this year, the exam board said.

CIE said that the rise is down to the Government's decision in June 2010 to open up and fund IGCSEs in the state sector. The exams have long been favoured by many private schools, who argue that they are tougher than traditional GCSEs.

CIE said that they have seen a big increase in demand for subjects like English language and English literature, as well as history and biology. This may be due to the Government's introduction of the English Baccalaureate, which is awarded to pupils who gain at least a C at GCSE in English, maths, science, a foreign language and either history or geography, the board said.

IGCSEs in these subjects count towards the E Bacc.

Peter Monteath, UK schools manager for CIE, said that the "linear" structure of IGCSEs, which means pupils sit exams at the end, rather than throughout the course, is proving popular.

 
Gender reading gap 'not biological'
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 02 July 2012 07:53

Teachers who pick texts that appeal to girls, a lack of books in the home and an expectation that they should be playing outside are all turning boys off reading, new research suggests.

Boys' lack of achievement in reading is not down to "biological differences". Instead there are key factors which lead to them lagging behind girls, according to a report by the Boys Reading Commission.

It says girls are more likely to be given books and taken to the library, while society's expectations and peer pressure can put some boys off. The report also warns that there is a danger that female teachers will unconsciously choose books that are more attractive to girls.

The commission, set up by the all-party parliamentary literacy group, investigated the reasons why boys remain behind girls in reading.

Figures show that at age seven, 7% more girls than boys are reading at the level expected of the age group, the report says. By age 11, this gap has widened to 8% and by GCSE level it has increased even further, with 14% more girls than boys achieving at least a C in their English exam.

At the same time, a study by the National Literacy Trust (NLT) for the commission has found that boys are much less likely to enjoying reading than girls. The report concludes that there are three factors which are associated with boys' under-performance.

It says that the gender gap begins in the home before children start school, with some evidence suggesting that parents encourage girls to read more.

 
Tutor wins damages after cuts march
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 22 June 2012 16:17

A university tutor has won £60,000 libel damages over newspaper stories linking him to the violence which flared during an anti-education cuts demonstration through London.

Luke Cooper, who is completing a PhD in international relations at the University of Sussex, told a High Court jury and Mr Justice Eady that his reputation was "as badly trashed" as the Millbank Tower during the November 2010 march.

After a five-day trial, the 27-year-old assistant tutor was awarded £35,000 over a front page Evening Standard article, which appeared the next day, and £25,000 in relation to a follow-up in the Daily Mail.

Mr Cooper, a member of socialist youth organisation Revolution, complained that the first story meant he was a ringleader who planned with others to hijack a peaceful march while the second portrayed him as one of the "hard core" who organised the riot at the Conservative Party's headquarters.

He complained that the accompanying "out-of-context" picture, which was taken from a photo sharing website and showed him in a pub a couple of years earlier, was chosen to give the impression of a man grinning at the havoc wreaked.

Evening Standard Ltd and Associated Newspapers both denied libel and said their allegations were substantially true. The newspapers were ordered to pay the damages within 14 days plus £450,000 towards costs within 28 days.

After the unanimous verdicts in his favour, Mr Cooper, from Brighton, said: "My only wish throughout these proceedings was the public repudiation of the core allegation made against me after the Millbank occupation. Today's verdict is an important vindication for me personally and means I can draw a line under the affair. The jury's verdict demonstrates they saw through the falsehoods both papers peddled about me and the anti-cuts movement."

 
SQUEEZED MIDDLE is named Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2011
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 29 November 2011 22:56

 

 

Every year, the dictionaries teams at Oxford University Press in the UK and the US put their heads together and come up with a Word (or Phrase) of the Year. This year, for the first time, both the UK and US teams have agreed on a global Word of the Year: squeezed middle.

While squeezed middle is British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband's term for those seen as bearing the brunt of government tax burdens while having the least with which to relieve it, the Word of the Year committee in the US felt it had good resonance in the US, as well. Susie Dent, spokesperson for Oxford Dictionaries, said: "The speed with which squeezed middle has taken root, and the likelihood of its endurance while anxieties deepen, made it a good global candidate for Word of the Year."

This year saw a particularly strong shortlist of contenders for Word of the Year. The shortlisted words for the US and UK differ, reflecting differences between more local issues and culture. In alphabetical order, here is the US selection of shortlisted words:

Arab Spring n.: a series of anti-government uprisings in various countries in North Africa and the Middle East, beginning in Tunisia in December 2010. [After Prague Spring, denoting the 1968 reform movement in Czechoslovakia.]

Bunga bunga n.: used in reference to parties hosted by the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, at which various illicit sexual activities were alleged to have taken place.

Clicktivism n.: the use of social media and other online methods to promote a cause. [Blend of click and activism.]

Crowdfunding n.: the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. [After crowdsourcing.]

Fracking n.: the forcing open of fissures in subterranean rocks by introducing liquid at high pressure, especially to extract oil or gas. [Shortened < hydraulic fracturing.]

Gamification n.: the application of concepts and techniques from games to other areas of activity, for instance as an online marketing technique.

Occupy n.: the name given to an international movement protesting against perceived economic injustice by occupying buildings or public places and staying there for an extended period of time. [From the imperative form of the verb occupy, as in the phrase Occupy Wall Street.]

The 99 percent: the bottom 99% of income earners, regarded collectively.

Tiger mother n.: a demanding mother who pushes her children to high achievement using methods regarded as typical of Asian childrearing. [Coined by Amy Chua in her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.]

Sifi n.: a bank or other financial institution regarded as so vital to the functioning of the overall economy that it cannot be allowed to fail. [Acronym from systemically important financial institution.  Pronounced "SIFF-ee", rhyming with "jiffy".]

NOTES FOR EDITORS and FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

About the Oxford Word of the Year

Among their other activities, lexicographers at Oxford University Press track how the vocabulary of the English language is changing from year to year. Every year, a 'Word of the Year' is debated and chosen, with the selection made to reflect the ethos of the year and its lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.

Why did you choose a word that is actually two words? 

From a dictionary-maker's point of view, a two-word expression is called a 'compound' and is treated as one word [a 'headword'] in the dictionary. This is not the first time that a two-word expression has been selected as our WOTY. In 2010, the UK Word of the Year was big society.

 
Hundreds face census prosecution
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 29 January 2012 18:42

Hundreds of people are being prosecuted for refusing to complete the 2011 census because of its links to an arms manufacturer, campaign group Count Me Out has said.

Up to 400 are being chased up for not taking part in the nationwide survey, which the group said was believed to be due to Lockheed Martin being used as a technical consultant by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It said 120 people have already been found guilty, a huge increase on the last census in 2001, when only 38 people were prosecuted.

Count Me Out spokeswoman Kat Hobbs said: "Ten times more prosecutions than the last census shows that people are really angry about the involvement of an arms company.

"The Office of National Statistics can no longer deny that giving the census contract to Lockheed Martin was a mistake when so many people are being prosecuted as a result of it."

She said one of those to be taken to court is conscientious objector John Voysey, 82.

 
University applications down 12.9%
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 28 November 2011 13:33

 

Universities are facing a massive slump in entrants, with overall applications down 12.9%, official figures show.

With fees set to treble to a maximum of £9,000 in 2012, applications from UK students alone are down by 15.1%, according to statistics published by Ucas.

But while fewer UK students are applying to university, the number of applicants from overseas, outside of the EU, has risen by 11.8%, the data shows.

In total, 23,427 fewer people have applied to start degree courses at UK universities next autumn than at the same point last year.

The statistics also show that 13,665 fewer women have applied so far this year, compared to 9,762 fewer men.

Shadow universities minister Shabana Mahmood said: "These latest figures show that the Tory-led Government's decision to treble tuition fees is continuing to put people off applying to university.

 
Immigration policy 'great mistake'
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 19 October 2011 10:34

 

Labour has accused the Government of "rank populism" for adopting immigration policies they claim will harm the country's economic prospects.

Lord Liddle, an Opposition foreign affairs spokesman, said ministers were creating "crucial new obstacles" in the way of a successful economic relationship between the UK and India.

In a House of Lords debate on links between the two countries, Lord Liddle told peers: "The number of applications from Asia to Russell Group universities is falling very fast.

"How can any nation so comprehensively shoot itself in the foot simply in order to fulfil a stupid populist policy that was included in the Government's manifesto in terms of immigration? It is simply shooting our future prospects in the foot for the sake of rank populism."

And Labour academic Lord Parekh said the Government had made "a great mistake in restricting post-study work visas".

He added: "Under the current scheme students coming here after graduating or post-graduating can work for two years. This allows them to gain experience and to contribute their skills to this country. It benefits both sides.

 
Free parenting lessons trialled
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 16 October 2011 10:49

 

Some 50,000 families are to be given free parenting lessons as part of the coalition's drive to make society more responsible.

The classes are being piloted for mothers and fathers with children aged under five in Middlesbrough, High Peak in Derbyshire, and Camden.

They will be offered £100 vouchers to pay for the sessions, and organisations will bid for contracts to provide them.

Issues covered are likely to include communication, managing conflict, discipline, and creating routine and boundaries.

Children's minister Sarah Teather said the trials would start next summer and run for two years. The scheme will cost £5 million for the vouchers plus set-up costs.

"The overwhelming evidence from all the experts is that a child's development in the first five years of their life is the single biggest factor influencing their future life chances, health and educational attainment," she said.

 
Headteachers to vote on strike
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 22 September 2011 10:11

 

 

The union representing headteachers is to hold its first-ever strike ballot in the row over public sector pensions.

Members of the National Association of Head Teachers will vote from September 29 on whether to strike for the first time in the union's 114-year history.

 
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