News at a glance

Exam results enquiries on the rise

The number of enquiries about GCSE and A-level results rose by 19 per cent last year, according to new figures released by Ofqual.

The exams watchdog said more than 2.5 million A- and AS-levels and 5.8 million GCSE qualifications were awarded in summer 2011 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. There were 204,608 enquiries in 2011, compared to 171,720 in 2010, but Ofqual points out that there was a rise in entries of 38 per cent to 18 million units taken in the same period. There has been significant revision to the exam structure, meaning that the majority of GCSEs are now unitised, which has led to more unit entries. Of the enquiries, 201,514 were looked at again and 38,518 had their grade changed.

'Erroneous' status rules for independents to be axed

Controversial new guidance making it harder for independent schools to justify their charitable status must be partly scrapped following a court ruling, it was revealed this week. The Charity Commission has been told it must withdraw some of its new rules or face having them quashed altogether. The move comes just weeks after the Upper Tribunal ruled that parts of the commission's guidance were "erroneous". The Independent Schools Council had brought the case against the commission, arguing that its guidance was too vague and claiming the commission was guilty of "micro-managing" individual charities. The Tribunal decided that each case depended on its own facts and it was a matter for the trustees of a charitable independent school - rather than the Charity Commission - to decide how trustees' obligations might best be fulfilled.

Union to appeal against pension inflation switch

The NASUWT has said it will appeal against the High Court ruling that allows the Government to switch the way pensions are pegged to inflation from the retail price index (RPI) to the consumer price index (CPI). The RPI includes mortgage interest payments and other housing costs and is generally higher than the CPI. The High Court ruled last week that the work and pensions secretary was able to take this measure, despite arguments from the NASUWT and other public sector unions that the Government had acted beyond its powers.

Study disputes claims of poor pupil performance

Claims that England has been plummeting down international pupil performance tables cannot be justified, a study has suggested.

Ministers regularly cite data showing English children performing comparatively worse in science, literacy and maths when justifying its current reforms of the schools system. England has dropped in the Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) rankings from fourth to 16th in science, seventh to 25th in literacy, and eighth to 27th in mathematics. But an analysis by Dr John Jerrim, of London University's Institute of Education, says this is not hard evidence of performance over time. He said that England's performance is also influenced by the difference between the two samples of pupils, a change in when the tests were taken and more countries taking part.

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