Skip navigation |

ISC Daily News Summary

Friday 30 March 2012

University admissions

Top universities 'admitting fewer state school students'

Figures show the vast majority of top research institutions turned more places over to pupils from independent schools in 2010/11 and fell dramatically short of Government admission targets. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, some 88.7 per cent of university places were awarded to pupils from state schools last year, down slightly on 88.8 per cent a year earlier. Amid an unprecedented scramble for degree courses, it emerged that around two-thirds of universities belonging to the elite Russell Group recruited proportionally fewer state school students. Alternative figures showed just over half of top universities also recruited fewer pupils from the very poorest families.

Back to top

Grammar schools

Secret plans for generation of new grammar schools by the back door

Plans for the most significant expansion of a grammar school in England for 50 years were given the green light yesterday. Conservative-controlled Kent County Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of a plan to set up a "satellite" grammar school in Sevenoaks – the only town in the county without its own selective secondary school. Grammar schools elsewhere in the country are now expected to follow suit. Under existing government legislation, approved in 1998, it is illegal to set up a new grammar school. However, a new school admissions code introduced earlier this year makes it easier for any existing school – grammar, academy or local authority maintained – to expand.

Back to top

Higher education

More than a fifth of university students fail to finish their degree

More than a fifth of students are failing to finish their degree courses as university drop-out rates worsen despite a £1billion crackdown. Nearly 82,000 students who started their studies in 2009 will fail to graduate this summer, the Higher Education Statistics Agency says. Some 22 per cent of starters that year have failed to finish the courses they began, rising to more than half at some universities. Some students switched to other universities or colleges or opted to pursue lesser qualifications instead but most will drop-out of the system completely. But drop-out rates vary wildly across universities.

Back to top

Politics

Ministers accused of ‘hollowing out’ FOI act

Ministers have been accused of trying to “hollow out” the Freedom of Information Act after Michael Gove mounted a legal challenge against a ruling that called for the release of government data from a private email account. The education secretary’s move is the latest result of a Financial Times investigation that revealed he used his wife’s email address – the so-called “Mrs Blurt” account – for government business. He has refused to disclose official data held within it in response to FoI requests. Campaigners and lawyers said the appeal, if successful, would weaken the FoI act by creating exemptions that could be used to prevent official documents from being released to members of the public.

Back to top

General education

Middle class blamed for rowdy pupils

Middle-class parents who "over-indulge" their children are blamed today by a teachers' leader for poor behaviour in schools. A survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers revealed that one in three of their members had to deal with physical violence by pupils in the past year. Behaviour has worsened in the past five years with pupils kicking, punching and pushing school staff, the poll of more than 800 teachers reveals. Teachers pinned much of the blame on poor parenting and problems at home. Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the union, said: "This can apply as much to over-indulged middle-class children as those from challenging homes."

Back to top

General education

Guardians of teaching standards slink away

The General Teaching Council for England will officially cease to exist tomorrow after being formed a decade ago with major ambitions. It would, we were told, drive up teaching standards while simultaneously maintaining public confidence in the profession. However, in the 10 years that it has been in existence, just 231 teachers have been reported to England’s General Teaching Council because of incompetence, new figures show. Figures released recently show that in total 6,832 teachers were investigated for conduct, competency and other offences between 2001 and the end of February 2012. However, just 89 teachers ended up facing disciplinary hearings because of incompetence during that time.

Back to top

General education

Funding reform is off the agenda

Local authorities representing the worst-funded schools in the country have accused education secretary Michael Gove of “bottling it” over plans to bring in a fairer funding system that would eliminate financial inequalities between schools. Last year, the government launched a consultation to radically reform how schools were funded by 2013-14 in an attempt to deal with disparities that have led to similar schools being funded at drastically different levels. Mr Gove admitted that he has been forced to drop any plans to rush through a new settlement within this Parliament due to the sheer complexity of the current system and the size of the existing inequalities.

Back to top

International Baccalaureate

IB sets pupils on a journey of discovery

Comment piece by Mary McCarney, first grade teacher and grade level leader at Atlanta International School in the US, in which she suggests the freedom of the International Baccalaureate may be perfect for primary schools.

Back to top

General education

Is it time to scrap school holidays?

Feature article on UK school holidays. Helen Rumbelow considers the threatened strike by members of the National Union of Teachers, and looks at schools who have already rearranged their academic year.

Back to top

That Friday feeling

National Trust calls on grandparents to help get kids outdoors

Grandparents are being called on to teach children how to skims stones and climb trees as part of a new National Trust campaign to get "housebound" youngsters outside. A report commissioned by the Trust found children today spend fewer than ten per cent of their playtime in wild places. In comparison their grandparents spent more than half their time outside, often playing unsupervised for the whole day. The ‘roaming radius’ for children has declined by 90 per cent in the last 30 years. Fiona Reynolds, the Director General of the National Trust, said grandparents, who are now spending more time with children because of early retirement and absent parents, could reverse the trend.

Back to top
 
Sign up for our daily news summary

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Independent Schools Council website. To find out more about the cookies, see our privacy policy.