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News in Brief

High price of diplomas

Diplomas are likely to cost pound;1,000 per pupil more than equivalant GCSEs and pound;1,500 more than A-levels, but the final cost to the taxpayer is still unknown. The Public Accounts Committee found this week that many teachers are still in the dark about how the new qualifications are being funded. It added that nearly half of the schools, colleges and employers offering the new qualifications had yet to carry out "skills audits", determining how ready their teachers were to teach the new courses. The committee reiterated concerns that the Government had not yet convinced parents, employers and universities of the diplomas' credibility.

Whiteboard friendly

Confidence in teachers' ability to use interactive whiteboards is much greater in primary than secondary schools, a new survey of 1,300 schools shows. The study, by the British Education Suppliers Association, found 40 per cent of primary ICT co-ordinators felt most staff were confident with the equipment, compared to only 7 per cent in secondary. Around 40 per cent of primary and 32 per cent of secondary schools did not have a learning platform, although the Government wants them for 2010. www.besa.org.uk

Strike ballot over pay

Ballot papers have been sent out to around 250,000 NUT members asking them to vote on possible industrial action over pay. The choice is between discontinuous action, which could include anything from a one-day national strike to locally co-ordinated action short of a full walk-out. The outcome will be announced on November 6.

Racism victim recalled

An annual memorial lecture is to be held in memory of a teenager killed in a racist attack. The National Union of Teachers has launched the lecture in memory of Anthony Walker, killed in Liverpool in 2005. Speakers at today's inaugural event will include the equality and diversity expert, Professor Gus John. The event will be held annually within Black History Month.

Events grant enlarged

A grant scheme to help schools organise events for National Science and Engineering Week (March 6-15, 2009) is to be enlarged. The British Association for the Advancement of Science gives money to schools with either a high proportion of ethnic minority pupils, high free school meals or small school in remote areas. Closing date is November 28.

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