Academy and School News Update August 1-31 2014
Documents mentioned below can be found on http://tonystephens.org.uk
- The raising of the participation age is “at risk of failing” without a radical overhaul of post-16 funding and provision, according to a new report. Last year saw the participation age raised to 17. This means young people must remain in some form of education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17, effectively forcing them to stay in some form of school, college or work-based education or training programme for an additional 12 months. In 2015, the participation age will be raised once more, obliging teenagers to stay in education until their 18th birthday. But a report argues that without extra investment in careers advice and vocational qualifications, the “watered down” policies in place are doomed to failure. When the law was developed by the previous Labour government, a £50 fine was suggested to help deter young people from flouting the law. Businesses, too, were expected to face fines for employing young people and not providing them with training. But these measures were vetoed by the current government, with the DfE claiming that the fines “might act as a perverse incentive, discouraging businesses from hiring 16 to 17-year-olds and so reducing the number of opportunities available for young people”.
“Without legal enforcement, much of the success of the increase in participation age to 18 depends upon the ‘carrots’ on offer,” the report says. “The government must provide the necessary support to ensure careers advice and financial assistance reaches the most disaffected and disadvantaged young people. Any less would represent a missed opportunity at a time when youth unemployment remains a serious problem.” According to the latest figures from the OECD, 78 per cent of 15 to 19-year-olds in the UK are participating in education or training, significantly lower than other European nations such as Spain (86 per cent), France (84 per cent) and Italy (81 per cent). The report argues that, without financial penalties, the higher participation age has become “largely voluntary”, with the removal of the Educational Maintenance Allowance and cuts to local authority budgets making it more difficult for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to remain in education. Further financial support to help students with their transport costs should be made available, it argues. The quality of many post-16 vocational qualifications, it adds, is “questionable”, adding that the “significant” gap between pre- and post-16 spending per head poses further problems for providers. The report also calls for more high-quality, face-to-face careers guidance and better tracking and monitoring of 17-year-olds to ensure they comply with the legislation.
- Councils and schools are being forced to raid existing budgets to ensure that a government scheme to offer free school lunches to infants goes ahead, according to a survey. Under plans first announced by Nick Clegg last year, all five- to seven-year-olds will be entitled to the meals from this September. But a new poll by the LGA, suggests that some local authorities are facing a shortfall in the funding they need to ensure it can be delivered, just weeks before the initiative is due to be introduced. Government funding worth £150 million in total was handed to councils to cover the cost of bringing school kitchens and dining facilities up to scratch. Funding will be provided separately to pay for the dinners. The LGA’s survey of 75 councils found that nearly half (47 per cent) said that they had not received enough money from the DfE to cover the full cost of the work they needed to do to ensure that schools in their area were ready to provide universal free meals for infants. The shortfall across those councils that responded totals around £25.9 million, the association estimated. Of those that said that they did not have enough money, 49 per cent said that the council would help to make up the difference, with just over a third (37 per cent) saying at least some of the cash would come from school funds. Authorities had also reported that money could be taken from general school funding intended for school repairs and maintenance, the association said. The LGA said it had calculated that councils without enough money for the scheme have had to find an estimated £488,000 on average to ensure that pupils will get the meals they will be entitled to. It added that some schools will give pupils packed lunches, and others will use portable kitchens to ensure they can offer the free lunches when the new school year starts, and work will continue on options for providing hot meals.
- Growing numbers of schools and colleges are being forced to use plagiarism software to try to stop students cheating in their coursework. The computer program, called Turnitin, checks students’ work for similarities to already-published material in its database and the company behind it has seen a surge in numbers over the past two years. Figures from Ofqual show that plagiarism, along with failure to acknowledge sources and copying from other candidates, was the second-most common form of malpractice last year – after taking unauthorised material, such as a mobile phone, into the exam room – and had increased by 24 per cent over 2012.
- A-Level results
- The number of A-levels sat this year has dropped by 17,000, and exam board and college leaders have warned that the trend could have been caused by cash-strapped sixth-forms and colleges opting to slim down the number of courses on offer, eg, students taking 3 rather than 4 A-levels. However, the number of AS-level entries increased by 67,000 in the same period
- The proportion of A-level exams awarded the top A* grade unexpectedly rose this year, Results from this year’s exams saw the percentage of A* grades awarded rise from 7.6 per cent last year to 8.2 per cent, the highest percentage recorded since 2011. When A grades are also included, however, the figure dropped for the third successive year to 26 per cent, down from 26.3 per cent in 2013. The A*-E pass rate also went down to from 98.1 to 98 per cent – the first time it has decreased since 1982. A drop in top grade passes at A-level this year may have been triggered by a growth in the number of candidates taking traditional academic subjects, exam boards have suggested.
- Boys have widened their lead over girls at A*, but trail behind in second place when A and B grades are factored in, although the gap has narrowed. This year’s subject choices have also reinforced gender differences. Girls account for 71.8 per cent of English entries, but female candidates make up just 21.1 per cent of those taking physics. Maths has overtaken English for the first time in more than a decade to become the most popular A-level taken this year.
Since June 2010 entries in subjects like maths and the sciences have risen across the board:
- biology is up 10.7%
- chemistry up 21.5%
- physics up 18.5%
- maths up 15.3%
- further maths up 20.1%
This year’s results come against a backdrop of significant changes for schools. Most notably, no January resits took place in England for the first time in recent years, effectively signalling a switch to linear, end-of-course assessment. The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents the main exam boards, said overall results were “very stable”, but warned that individual schools could face some turbulence. “But it is important to remember that standards have been maintained and, despite the changes, are comparable with previous years.”
This year’s cohort of students taking AS-level exams was the first to have been affected by the English Baccalaureate GCSE performance measure. Several EBac subjects enjoyed a surge in popularity, including geography (up 16.9 per cent) and Spanish (up 14.8 per cent).
- The qualification designed to develop sixth-formers’ independent learning and research skills has bucked the trend with its fifth consecutive rise in entries. This year, the extended project was sat by 33,200 students, up 9 per cent from 2013. But this only tells part of the little-known success story: the number of entries has increased six-fold since it was first taken in 2009 by just 5,100 sixth-formers.
On the above website, Documents-latest documents, can be found;
Ofqual summary of 2014 A and AS results
JCQ summary of 2014 A and AS results
- Academies are “just one part of the picture” and are “complemented” by thousands of “excellent” schools in the maintained sector. , education secretary Nicky Morgan has said, in what will be seen as a departure from her predecessor’s line on the country’s school system.
- A coalition of school leaders has launched a new initiative that will allow parents to create their own school performance league tables with the aim of protecting heads from political interference. The new website, (http://www.schoolperformancetables.org.uk/) will publish all data from this year’s GCSE results, and allow users to rank school performance according to criteria of their choice. Controversially, the initiative will ignore the government’s policy of not counting exam resits in performance tables and will include the grades from students’ subsequent attempts. The organisations behind the initiative – the NAHT heads’ union, the Association of School and College Leaders, academy chain United Learning and school leaders’ organisation PiXL – hope that it will eventually expand the data to include other qualifications such as IGCSEs, which will be excluded from official league tables from 2017 onwards. Wider information not related to formal qualifications will also be included, which could see schools judged according to criteria such as class sizes, extra-curricular provision and even how well they teach qualities such as “resilience” and “confidence”. A consultation with parents will be conducted through the Mumsnet website to find out what performance measures they would like to see included. While the final official GCSE results data is published by the Department for Education in January, the new project aims to release the full set of figures in the autumn term by asking schools to supply their data individually.
See Appendix for more details
- The Premier League is looking to strengthen the grassroots of sport with an investment of £10.5 million to help clubs link with their local primary schools. A three-year programme, announced today, comes after a trial last year in which 25 clubs, including all of those in the Premier League, worked with 1,279 primaries to provide lunchtime football, cricket and basketball clubs, as well as general PE lessons. The new scheme will be rolled out through 67 professional football clubs across England and Wales.
- Parents of state school students are facing increasing costs for the education of their children, a survey by the NASUWT has revealed. The survey, which collected responses from over 2,500 parents, assesses the hidden payments requested by schools for equipment, clothing and field trips. Chris Keates, the union’s general secretary, said it was “an unacceptable tax on children’s learning”. The report highlighted the increase in financial discretion handed to schools and suggested that it had contributed to the mounting costs parents now are faced with. This level of “freedom”, it says, has led to a year-on-year increase in parental concern over additional costs, as well as a disparity in the amount of money parents across the country are expected to pay.
“There is a real danger that some parents could find that the cost of school uniform, curriculum activities and equipment in some schools puts admission to the school of their choice way beyond their financial means,” Ms Keates said. Uniform was a major grievance, with over half of parents revealing that they spent over £100 in fees for their eldest child alone, with two-thirds saying they had to purchase clothes from a specific supplier.
- An increase in the number of pupils in special schools has provided evidence of a reversal of a 30-year trend towards inclusion. The figures have sparked fears that the pressure to raise standards means that mainstream schools are becoming more reluctant to offer places for children with special needs. Since 2007 there has been an increase of 8,475 in the number of pupils in special schools, reaching 101,590 last year, research shows. Although the total number of pupils has also risen over this period, the proportion of all pupils in special schools has also gone up, from 0.75 per cent in 2007 to 0.80 per cent last year, an increase of nearly seven per cent over six years.
- Two academics are claiming that a tick-box approach to teaching science in schools risks creating a climate where misconduct can thrive at university level. Encouraging students to fake results when an experiment goes wrong creates bad habits that can persist into a subsequent scientific career, while schools leave no space to teach about the ethics of research, they argue. “At school we need to start teaching science properly”. “We need to stop bucket-filling and fact regurgitation. The current box-ticking and assessment culture leaves no place for the creative and ethical processes of doing science. “Teachers need sufficient time to teach effectively, to do experiments carefully, more than once if necessary, and to assess why the ‘right’ results aren’t always obtained.”
- Free schools are opening up in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, but their intakes are better off than the average for their local area, according to new research. The study also suggests that many of the primary-age children attending free schools have high levels of previous achievement. The research, by the Centre for Learning and Life Chances (LLAKES) at the University of London’s Institute of Education (IoE) examined the intakes of 88 primary and 63 secondary free schools which had opened by September last year. Around 331 free schools are now open or approved to open. On average, free schools are being set up in disadvantaged areas, the study found, but fewer pupils attending these schools are eligible for free school meals (FSM) – a key measure of poverty. Around 13.5 per cent of pupils attending primary free schools were eligible for FSM, it says, while within the neighbourhoods of free schools, 18.3 per cent of youngsters were eligible. Across the rest of England 15.9 per cent of primary-age children were entitled to FSM. The findings also show that 17.5 per cent of pupils attending secondary free schools were entitled to free lunches, despite 22.1 per cent of young people being eligible in the areas surrounding the schools. “The net effect is that the free secondary school pupils themselves are close to average for all secondary schools, and the free primary school pupils very slightly better off,” the study says. It goes on to show that there is a also “marked difference” at primary school level in pupils previous achievement.
In primary schools, researchers found that white children made up only a third of the free school population, which is less than half the national average in England and well below the proportion of the white ethnic population in the neighbourhoods where the schools were sited. The situation was less marked in secondary schools, where 61% of pupils were from white ethnic backgrounds, still well below the 78% of white pupils nationally and the 66% white population living near the free schools’ locations. The researchers suggested that one reason for the ethnic composition was the number of non-Christian faith schools among the free schools to have opened. “The proportion that are non-Christian is 17% for secondary schools and 9% for primary schools. These compare with under 1% for other schools at either level,” the report says.
- England’s exam system is “Victorian” and “unimaginative”, failing to prepare children for the modern world, the headmaster of Eton College has claimed. Tony Little also said that English politicians should be wary of copying the highly academic model of education systems in the Far East, describing them as “a straightjacket”.
- A Lancashire primary found itself in the media spotlight after its head sent a letter to students telling them not to worry about their test results. Year 6 students at Barrowford Primary were all given a copy of the letter, along with their Key Stage 2 test results. The letter said that the school was proud of the effort they had made. But, it added, tests could not assess what makes every child “special and unique”. The letter then listed a number of talents and abilities that the children possess, and that could not be measured by exam results.
- Unions representing more than 350,000 school support staff are to hold another one-day strike in October. GMB, Unison and Unite will hold a day of action on Tuesday 14 October in their ongoing dispute over pay, after rejecting a 1 per cent pay rise. The unions have already held a strike on 10 July alongside the NUT. The NUT has promised to consult its teacher members in the autumn term before deciding whether to hold further strikes.
- The number of primary school pupils suspended for attacking teachers has risen, official figures show. Students aged five to 11 were suspended 9,080 times for physical assault against an adult in the 2012/13 school year, up from 8,630 in 2011/12, according to DfE figures. Additionally, 210 pupils were permanently excluded from their primary schools in 2012/13 for physically attacking an adult – including teachers – which amounts to more than one every single day of the school year. However, the total number fixed period exclusions fell in secondary schools for the sixth year in a row to 215,560 the figures show. The total number of state pupils being permanently expelled from primary and secondary school has also fallen, from 5,080 in 2011/12 to 4,570 last year. Boys are still three times as likely to be permanently or temporarily removed from school as girls.
- Figures show a 200% increase in the number of infants taught in classes with more than 30 pupils since 2010. This has increased from 31,265 pupils in January 2010 to 93,665 in January this year. DfE figures show that 40,000 primary school children are being taught in classes of more than 36 pupils. More than a third of these are being taught in classes of over 40; 5,817 are in classes of over 50; 2,556 are in classes of over 60 and 446 are in classes of over 70.
- The Observer alleges that three schools in Norfolk, all overseen by Dame Rachel de Souza, knew of impending visits by inspectors days, and sometimes weeks, before Ofsted arrived. One school was even able to draft in teachers who had never previously taught there to perform in front of inspectors, according to whistleblowers. Another, keen to make good on the advantage, was said to be a “hive of activity” in the days directly leading up to the inspection. By law, schools can only be given half a day’s notice of an inspection. Former education secretary Michael Gove has previously argued that schools should get no notice at all, to ensure that they do not evade proper scrutiny. Ofsted is investigating these allegations
- Record numbers of British 18-year-olds – including rising numbers of women and students from deprived areas – are on their way to university this year, with more selective universities taking in greater numbers of undergraduates. The increase in applications comes despite a fall in the overall number of 18-year-olds, meaning that the proportion of sixth formers going into higher education is on the rise. The government has this year lifted the cap on the number of places that universities can offer by 30,000, leading to increased competition between institutions and more places on offer.
- Published Ofsted reports on the AET academies inspected in June show it has fared better than expected in the recent series of “co-ordinated” Ofsted inspections (triggered when there are concerns about an academy chain). It appears that that eight schools were judged good, with the remaining six deemed to “require improvement”.
- The country’s leading science education body has criticised England’s new national curriculum in the subject, accusing ministers of overloading it with content and failing to ensure progression between key stages. Score (Science Community Representing Education), a partnership between five organisations including the Royal Society and the Association for Science Education, repeatedly refers to a lack of coherence. It says this is down to the “piecemeal manner” in which the review had been carried out. “It makes little sense for new A-levels to be being launched before pupils have had the chance to sit new GCSEs in the subject”, says Score in its response to the most-recently launched aspect of curriculum reform. Their response also questions the coherence of the curriculum between key stages 3 and 4, identifying two topics where it says there is repetition in what pupils must study. “Higher standards in education are not achieved merely by the introduction of new content,” it warns.
- Labour says it will overhaul the A-level reforms of the Michael Gove era if it wins power next year. The shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt, is poised to announce that Labour would put on hold all A-level reforms due to be introduced next year and scrap the central plan to detach AS-levels from A-levels. Labour sources said that elements of the new A-levels would be retained, but that a delay is needed to consult and give schools the opportunity to embed the new GCSEs.
- An academic study has criticised the statistics used by the DfE to justify its decision to downgrade AS-levels. The DfE had claimed AS-levels were unreliable in predicting higher education success. But a team of academics re-examined the DfE’s figures and said it had distorted and misapplied the data. The researchers found that scrapping AS-levels meant that one in five students would be deprived of showing their academic improvement during their first year in sixth form, meaning that many of those capable of getting into top universities might not be given the chance. Those children are more likely to be from comprehensives than from selective and private schools.
- Between 2010 and 2013, the proportion of primary school pupils taking part in after-school music activities had fallen from 55% to 36%, with a drop in theatre and drama from 49% to 33% and in dance from 45% to 29%. The slump in cultural and artistic activities among ethnic minority children was even more marked, with participation in music falling by 44%, in drama by 41% and in dance by 51% over the same period.
- The Government announced the introduction of 40 new employer-designed apprenticeships in a range of occupations from engineering, hospitality, law, accountancy and journalism to offer a gold-standard alternative to a university place to today’s young people.
- The number of fines issued to parents for their children’s absence from school has risen by around 70 per cent since term-time holidays were banned last year. Just under 64,000 fines were handed out between September and July, compared to 37,650 in the previous academic year.
- Almost 40 leading academics, peers and clerics are backing calls for a sweeping inquiry into the role of religion in British schools in the wake of the Trojan Horse scandal. The signatories, ranging from prominent atheists to Christian and Jewish clergy, say parts of the education system are becoming “insular and divisive” and that clear rules about how far faith groups should influence schools are now urgently needed. They say that despite a stream of education reforms in recent decades basic questions about the place of religion in the classroom have not been properly debated for 70 years. The alliance is calling for a royal commission or public inquiry to re-examine issues such as compulsory worship and the place of Religious Education on the curriculum as well as deeply controversial questions such as selection rules for faith schools. They say that unless a new “consensus” is reached, scandals along the lines of the Trojan Horse affair, involving hard-line Muslim groups attempting to take control of schools in Birmingham, could become more and more common.
- A quarter of early years providers have not been inspected for at least four years, despite Ofsted requirements, according to an investigation. Out of a total 77,509 nurseries and childminders, 19,204 had been waiting for four years or more for an inspection. This is despite Ofsted requirements which state that all early years providers must be inspected at least once within 47 months.
- Ofqual is to review the number of state and private school pupils being given extra time in exams. It announced that it would collect data on the tens of thousands of pupils who are being allowed additional time to complete tests because they are judged to have special needs. The regulator said the move was intended simply to help create a clearer picture of how “access arrangements” are implemented for those with dyslexia and other conditions which qualify them for special treatment, as well as to improve “risk analysis”. However it came amid warnings that children in need of such arrangements, including extra time in exams, may be “more likely to be noticed” at independent schools than at state schools. Last year the number of pupils benefiting from up to 25 per cent of added time in their exams exceeded 107,000 – thought to be around 7 per cent of the overall number of candidates.
The Government has issued a guide to parents about the new arrangements from September and a leaflet for young people. There is also a guide for schools and academies. These documents are available on the above website, Documents-Latest documents
An evaluation of the pathfinders has also been issued. This is available on the above website, Documents-Misc documents relating to achievement-SEND
The Council for Disabled Children has produced an Early Support app which enables children and young people with special educational needs to upload details about their condition and the support they are receiving to share with people closely involved in their life, such as teachers and doctors. This is presently only available for tablets, see http://www.councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/earlysupport/app
In summary, the new system will;
- replace SEND statements and learning disability assessments with a new birth-to-25 education, health and care plan – setting out in one place all the support families will receive
- require better co-operation between councils and health services to make sure services for children and young people with SEND and disabilities are jointly planned and commissioned
- give parents and young people with education, health and care plans the offer of a personal budget – putting families firmly in charge
- require councils to publish a ‘local offer’ showing the support available to all disabled children and young people and their families in the area – not just those with educational needs
- introduce mediation for disputes and trial giving children and young people the right to appeal if they are unhappy with their support
- introduce a new legal right for children and young people with an education, health and care plan to express a preference for state academies, free schools and further education (FE) colleges – currently limited to maintained mainstream and special schools
- A new package of pupil assessment methods, developed by teachers for teachers, has been unveiled by the government. The new methods, one of which will use in-class apps, will help schools chart pupils’ attainment and progress so they can provide effective, targeted support where it is needed, and will give parents clearer information about their child’s performance and progress. The 8 packages were chosen by an independent panel after the DfE launched a competition in December encouraging schools to develop and share innovative new assessment methods for other schools to use. Details can be found on; https://www.gov.uk/government/news/schools-win-funds-to-develop-and-share-new-ways-of-assessing-pupils
- Thousands more places offering specialist, technical education are to be created after proposals for 7 new university technical colleges (UTCs) and 4 new studio schools were announced by the Government. The new schools, backed by local businesses and universities, will provide more than 5,000 places (when full) for 14- to 19-year-olds. The schools will offer a more technical or vocational based education using curriculums developed in partnership with universities and employers. This will aim to ensure students are developing the skills needed in a particular region or sector. The latest approvals mean that all open UTCs or studio schools, or those approved to open, now offer in total places for more than 50,000 young people, allowing them to train for careers such as engineering and science. The new schools will work with more than 40 major national and local employers including Jaguar Land Rover, Dyson and Kew Botanical Gardens. In addition, 7 universities will work alongside the new UTCs to provide the next generation of school leavers with the technical knowledge and other skills that industry demands. The proposed institutions are;
Bromley UTC; Crewe UTC; Leeds UTC; Scarborough UTC; Sheffield Human Science and Digital Technologies UTC; South Durham UTC; WMG Academy for Young Engineers, Solihull; The Studio @ DEYES, Liverpool Grange Studio School, Bristol; The Mendip Studio for Electronic Engineering and Bioscience, Radstock; Plymouth Studio School
· Revised guidance for Ofsted inspections of maintained schools and academies
Ofsted has significantly reduced, by over 275 pages, the amount of guidance it publishes for inspectors, schools and other stakeholders. Many elements of previous guidance are now included in a new training programme for inspectors.
There are now just three guidance documents: The framework for school inspection; the School inspection handbook; and Inspecting safeguarding in maintained schools and academies.
These documents can be found on the above website, Documents, Latest documents
Inspectors will use this new guidance for the inspection of maintained schools and academies from September 2014.
The revised School inspection handbook incorporates guidance and briefings for inspectors that were previously spread across a number of documents. The exception is in the area of inspecting safeguarding, where guidance is set out in a separate document.
While there is no fundamental change to inspection methodology, inspectors will from September 2014:
- make graded judgements for early years and sixth form provision, following our consultation earlier this year;
- no longer record on evidence forms a grade on the quality of teaching for individual lesson observations;
- pay even greater attention to a school’s curriculum to ensure that it is appropriately broad and balanced to help prepare young people for life in modern Britain.
Guidance has also been revised to support inspectors in making judgements following the phased removal of National Curriculum levels from September 2014.
Schools previously judged to be good will no longer receive an interim assessment letter in the third year after their last section 5 inspection to inform them that they will not be inspected in the forthcoming year. Ofsted’s inspection selection policy for ‘good’ schools remains unchanged.
The inspection handbook makes clear that the most important role of teaching is to promote learning and the acquisition of knowledge by pupils and to raise achievement. It reiterates Ofsted’s stated policy that they have no preferred teaching style; it is up to the classroom teacher to determine how they should teach.
There is clear guidance for inspectors on the duties and responsibilities of school governors.
- GCSE Results
The crackdown on early and multiple entries seems to have led to the first rise in “good” GCSE grades since 2011, today’s results reveal, but serious concerns have already been raised about a significant drop in the pass rate for English. The proportion of exam entries achieving A*-C grades rose overall from 68.1 per cent last year to 68.8 per cent this year, although the A* pass rate fell slightly, and the overall A* to G pass rate went down from 98.80 per cent to 98.5 per cent. But despite exam boards insisting that national results remained “relatively stable”, figures show that the A*-C pass rate in English dropped considerably from 63.6 per cent to 61.7 per cent in the past year. Individual schools have reported even bigger swings in the proportion of pupils securing good passes in English. Results in English are likely to have been affected by the change in assessment, which has resulted in speaking and listening being graded separately and not being counted in students’ overall grade for the subject.
Moves to scrap resists and only count a student’s first sitting of an exam in school performance tables led to the overall number of GCSEs sat this summer falling by more than 220,000. While some subjects, such as ICT, computing and business studies recorded significant growth, the number of English entries dropped by more than 215,000. Among 15-year-olds, the number of maths entries dropped by a massive 76 per cent, from 170,357 down to 39,292. Overall, the number of entries by students in Year 10 and below dropped by 40 per cent.
Entries were also down in science subjects for the first time in more than a decade. Entries for GCSE science were down by 16.9 per cent. Overall results in the subject, however, improved with the A*-C pass rate rising from 53.1 per cent to 59.1 per cent. Serious concerns have been raised following the sharp decline in entries for separate sciences at GCSE. Each of the single sciences suffered significant falls in entries compared to last year, with biology down by almost a fifth (18.6 per cent), and chemistry and physics dropping by 16.8 per cent and 14.6 per cent respectively. The number of entries in computer science rose to more than 16,000 this year, compared with just over 4,000 in 2013.
In maths, the proportion of A*-C passes increased from 57.6 per cent to 62.4 per cent. While entries by younger students dropped, the results of those who did sit GCSEs early were significantly higher. The A*-C pass rate among 15-year-olds across all subjects rocketed from 58.1 per cent last year to 68.2 per cent. The proportion of A*s among the younger age group went up by more than half, from 4.3 per cent to 6.2 per cent, with the proportion of A*s and As rising from 14.2 per cent to 19.2 per cent. Accordingly the gap between the results of 15- and 16-years-olds narrowed considerably, from 12.8 per cent last year to 1.9 per cent this time around. The exam boards have argued that the swing was caused by schools only entering their strongest candidates a year early, with weaker performers being given an extra 12 months in the classroom before sitting their exams.
Spanish will soon become the most commonly-taught foreign language in UK schools, the head of one of the country’s biggest exam boards has said. The prediction by Andrew Hall, chief of executive of AQA, comes after the subject bucked the national drop in GCSEs taken this summer to record a record number of entries. While French and German declined in line with the overall cohort, there were 93,028 Spanish entries, up almost 2,000 from last year and more than 20,000 from 2012. French remains the most popular language in schools with 168,042 entries, but this dropped from 177,288 in 2013. The number of German entries also went down, from 62,932 last year to 59,891.
Despite fears that the new focus on the end-of-course exam might disadvantage girls, the gap in the proportion of boys and girls getting a pass grade widened in girls’ favour. This year 73.1% of girls got at least a grade C, compared with 64.3% of boys. But among high achievers, the gap between girls and boys narrowed marginally. This year 8.1% of girls achieved an A*, compared with 5.2% of boys; previously these figures stood at 8.3% and 5.3% respectively.
A teaching union has launched a study after signs that the wild swings in Thursday’s GCSE results have hit schools in disadvantaged areas hardest. Brian Lightman, general secretary of ASCL warned of an “emerging pattern” whereby schools in poorer neighbourhoods have been most affected by the volatility in grades. “We’ve got some schools that are 10 or 12 percentage points below their expected pass rate. Some are reporting it in one subject such as maths or English. One school I’ve got, which is an academy, had predicted it would get 44% 5 A*-Cs and it has got 30%,” he said. “A range of schools have had unexpected results,” Lightman said. “But certainly the pattern appears to be that schools with a high number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds have been affected more. There are big risks to social mobility here and opportunities for those young people.”
Another view is that a “significant number” of schools saw their GCSE grades plummet following Michael Gove’s toughening up of the exams system. Some schools’ grades dropped by up to 20 per cent in just a year after a crackdown on exam resits combined with a reduction in coursework tasks and bite-sized modules. An analysis of English results carried out by Ofqual, the exams regulator, revealed that schools that made the most use of resits saw their C grades drop three times as fast as other secondaries this summer. Schools that previously relied on modular exams – rather than entering all pupils at the end of the course – saw results decline almost five times as quickly, it emerged.
On the above website, Documents-latest documents, can be found;
Ofqual summary of 2014 GCSE results
JCQ summary of 2014 GCSE results
- Sexual abuse in British classrooms is increasing fast, according to official figures that reveal a 40 per cent increase in reports of rape in schools in the past three years. A total of 2,865 sex-crime reports have been recorded by police between 2011 and 2013 – and more than half of them were committed by other children. The figures showed that 320 alleged rapes were reported in schools in the last three years, with the NSPCC saying that pupils’ easy access to online pornography has likely driven the surge in online child abuse. Last year alone, there were 1,052 alleged sex offences reported in schools, of which 134 were reported as rape.
- Figures show that in the second quarter of 2014 (April to June) compared to the same period in 2013 the proportion of:
- young people who were NEET had fallen by 1.9 percentage points to 13.6%, down 125,000 to the lowest number and rate since 2005
- 19- to 24-year-olds who were NEET had fallen by 2.2 percentage points to 16%, a reduction of 104,000
- 16- to 18-year-olds who were NEET had fallen by 1.1 percentage points to 8%, which is down by 22,000
- The DfE has issued a school complaints toolkit offering advice to schools
This can be found on the above website, Documents, Latest documents
- Independent schools’ desertion of the GCSE in favour of its international counterpart is continuing to snowball, figures released today reveal. Nearly two-fifths of Year 11 exam entries from England’s major private schools are now for IGCSEs rather than the GCSEs, according to the Independent Schools Council (ISC).
- Results of 2014 KS2 SATs tests
Percentage of pupils reaching level 4 or above
|Spelling, punctuation and grammar||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||74||76|
Note: From 2012, writing teacher assessment replaced writing tests. The spelling, punctuation and grammar test was introduced in 2013.
The gender gap narrowed slightly this year with 82 per cent of girls achieving the expected standard in each of the tests compared to 76 per cent of boys. Last year there was a seven percentage-point gap.
- Most schools are not ready for the new national curriculum, a union survey suggests. More than six out of 10 teachers said their school was not “fully prepared to teach the new curriculum” – which is supposed to be introduced this term – in the poll of 618 primary and secondary teachers carried out by the ATL
- Local authorities have been forced to cut back school repairs, cancel building projects and borrow money to plug a £1 billion black hole in funding for school places, it has been claimed. More than three-quarters of authorities in England say they have not received enough money from the government to create the extra school places needed in their area in a five-year period to 2016/17, according to a poll by the Local Government Association (LGA).
- Tutors in India are to give English pupils one-to-one maths coaching in an experiment to assess the potential of remote learning. The large-scale trial will see 600 children in 60 primary schools have a weekly online session with tutors based almost 5,000 miles away. Nesta, the charity running the research, said the project aimed to see if the benefits of individual tuition could be replicated if it was done remotely.
- FE Colleges have always worked with under-16s from local schools on a part-time or day-release basis. But a rule change that came into effect last September means they can now enrol them directly and teach them full-time. But only six colleges opted to do so last academic year. Nine further colleges have informed the DfE that they are ready to teach under-16s from next month. Whether or not they will run courses depends on the numbers they can attract. Colleges hoping to recruit younger students must be rated as either good or outstanding by Ofsted, or show that they are improving. They are also required to have a dedicated area and special leadership team for younger students. Alongside their vocational studies, students should be taught English, maths and science, and have lessons in religious and sex education. So few colleges are taking on these students because they see too many risks and expenses are involved
- All children should study a “core” of five traditional subjects until the age of 16 under plans to be set out in the Conservative election manifesto. State schools will be urged to enrol all pupils for GCSEs in English, maths, science, a language and history or geography. Head teachers who ignore the system will be penalised by Ofsted. The education watchdog will be banned from awarding its higher ratings of “good” and “outstanding” to any school that refuses to comply with the drive to boost traditional academic subjects.
- GCSE and A-level exams will become even tougher and more academic over the next few years, according to the head of one of the big three exam boards. Rod Bristow, the president of Pearson, the exam board that offers Edexcel and BTEC qualifications, says: “The bulk of the reforms to make the content of exams tougher won’t flow through into results for at least another two years.
- Ofqual is hosting a number of consultation events in September, to find out what you think of their assessment proposals for new GCSEs and A levels. The list of subjects included in the consultation is as follows:
GCSE: art and design; computer science; dance; music; physical education
A level: ancient languages; dance; mathematics; further mathematics; geography; modern foreign languages; music; physical education
The 12 free events will take place throughout September, in London and Birmingham, and will last for a maximum of 2 hours; spaces must be booked in advance using booking system. For details see http://ofqual.gov.uk/news/new-gcse-level-assessment-consultation-events/