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News in Brief

Pre-U pips A-levels

The Cambridge Pre-U, the A-level alternative launched in around 50 schools this term, has been deemed by the Ucas admissions service to be slightly more valuable to students than its rival. The top grades of the new qualification have all been given more Ucas points than their A-level equivalents. For instance, while an A-level A* grade is worth 140 points, the equivalent Pre-U grade will be worth 145. The Pre-U, which includes traditional exams and a research project, is seen as likely to appeal to more academic students, but its backers said this week that the point scores showed it catered for the full ability range.

Bid for bursaries

Independent schools will come under pressure to offer more places to children from poor homes, under guidance issued by the Charities Commission. New rules, to be introduced next year, mean private schools will have to prove they operate for the "public benefit". They can do this by offering means-tested bursaries or doing outreach with state schools.

Toying with playtime

Ofsted will be asked to check the quality of playtime at schools as fears grow that children are being kept inside for too long. As well as the checks, the department is considering research into how playtimes have changed. The moves were announced in the national Play Strategy.

Bonus to share site

Schools that agree to share sites with health and social services when they are planning new buildings or refurbishments could gain a share of Pounds 200 million. Ministers hope the "co-location fund", announced last week, will encourage more children's services to work together.

Strikes called off

Union officials and the head at the centre of a row over her management style have agreed that there will be no further industrial action after a walkout last week. Teachers at St Julie's Catholic High in Liverpool were protesting against "excessive classroom observations" introduced by the school's head.

Wrong number

The TES Magazine last week incorrectly listed the NUT membership figure as 250,000. The official figure for paying members, comparable with that listed for the other unions mentioned, is 292,238.

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