News at a glance

Free-school group recruits for-profit partner

A proposed free school in Suffolk has become the first in the country to recruit a for-profit partner to manage the running of the school in a #163;21 million deal. The parents' group behind Breckland Free School in Brandon has appointed IES UK, an offshoot of a Swedish free-school group, to be its educational provider. The contract is for 10 years, with the money covering all running costs at the school. The formal application for Breckland Free School will be submitted this week, with plans for it to open next September if approved.

Fears over declining FE funding

Declining 16-19 funding will make it "extremely difficult" for school sixth-forms and FE colleges to provide a full range of courses when the compulsory education and training age rises to 18 in 2015, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said this week. The warning comes despite Government plans to fund an extra 34,000 16-19 places in 201213 compared to this year. ASCL welcomed the "positive tone" but said it remained "very worried". Ministers acknowledged that some schools would see drops in their main budget next year, but said they would continue a minimum funding guarantee ensuring none would see a fall of more than 1.5 per cent, excluding sixth-form funding.

A fifth of secondaries offer inadequate ICT teaching

The teaching of ICT is inadequate in a fifth of secondary schools, according to the education watchdog. Pupils' achievement in the subject is hampered by a lack of challenges and poor coverage of key aspects of the curriculum, the Ofsted report said. Half of students reached the age of 16 without adequate foundation for further study or training in ICT in 30 of the 74 secondary schools visited by Ofsted.

Attainment gap hits middle-income children, too

Children from middle-income families are already five months behind their richer peers when they start school, according to new research from the Resolution Foundation think-tank. The study looked at children's vocabulary development and found that higher-income families were able to give children more learning opportunities at home. Vidhya Alakeson, director of research at the Resolution Foundation, said: "Policymakers tend to focus on trying to improve outcomes for children in the very poorest families, but this new study shows the perils of ignoring the low to middle group."

Proof is in quality of teaching in Ofsted judgments

Of the 870 state schools inspected by Ofsted between July and September this year, 13 per cent were judged outstanding, 52 per cent good, a third satisfactory, and 2 per cent inadequate, the watchdog revealed this week. Nursery and special schools were most likely to be judged outstanding, while pupil referral units were most likely to be inadequate. Ofsted found that in 90 per cent of school inspections, the overall judgment matched the judgment inspectors gave on the quality of teaching. Concerns had been raised that too many schools were being given outstanding ratings when their teaching quality did not match up.

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