News in Brief

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Student of the year

A student who was one of the first to gain the AQA's Baccalaureate qualification was this week named as the exam board's A-level student of the year.

Grace Chesterton, of Richard Huish College in Taunton, Somerset, a state sixth form college, gained A grades in law, English literature, religious studies and history, to go with AS-level A grades in critical thinking and biology. She also came joint top among 800 students taking the AQA Bacc this year.

The Bacc gives credit for taking a range of A-levels plus an extended project, AS-levels in citizenship, critical thinking or general studies and "enrichment activities" such as community work.

Game for a daily diary

A website has been set up to help children to discuss their daily activities and come up with an alternative answer to "Not much" or "Nothing" when asked what they did at school. The site poses questions about their day, which they answer in writing. As a reward for completing the questionnaire, children are given access to an interactive game, which changes daily.

The aim is not only to provide an update of each day's work, but also to offer a safe forum to report bullying, or other school-based problems. Each bulletin is automatically emailed to parents.


Assessment reviewed

An academic who specialises in educational assessment is to advise the Government on its plans for new school report cards and ways to measure pupils' progress.

Jo-Anne Baird, of Bristol University's graduate school of education, has been appointed a key adviser to an expert group set up by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. The group is examining ways to assess pupils' work between key stages 1 and 3 and make schools accountable, including report cards similar to those given to schools in the United States.

Dr Baird said: "Our assessment and accountability systems have a huge impact upon teachers and learners, and it is essential that the likely implications of new systems are understood."

The Government will set out detailed proposals on report cards for consultation with schools, parents and the public by the end of this year, leading to a White Paper next spring.

Poor geography

Most people do not know how many countries make up Britain or which is the world's most widely spoken language, a survey to mark Geography Awareness Week found. The national poll of 2,000 adults found 51 per cent wrongly believed that English is the most common language, with 37 per cent correctly identifying Mandarin Chinese. Only 22 per cent correctly identified England, Wales and Scotland as making up Great Britain. It also found that almost a quarter of people wanted to be an explorer, but many have trouble identifying where cities such as Leeds and Sheffield are in England.

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