News at a glance

Encouraging poorer students to pursue medicine

Medical schools are to receive guidance on how to widen access to undergraduate degrees for students from poor backgrounds. The Medical Schools Council yesterday published A Journey to Medicine: outreach guidance as part of the Selecting for Excellence Project, which explores how to increase access to medical professions. Professor Tony Weetman, chair of the project's executive group, said: "A candidate's journey to a medical degree starts long before the application is made. The commitment in terms of hard work and academic achievement is of course essential, but before that must come the awareness that studying medicine is an option." Find out more at

Immigrants fuel London exam success, study says

GCSE results in London are higher than in the rest of the country because the capital's schools have a greater proportion of students from ethnic minority backgrounds, according to new research. The study argues that diversity is a key reason for the "London effect", the high levels of achievement and progress among the city's students, which it attributes to greater ambition and hard work among pupils from immigrant families. The study, by the Centre for Market and Public Organisation at the University of Bristol, finds that pupils in London state schools score about eight GCSE grades above their peers in the rest of the country, relative to their results at age 11. This is the equivalent of gaining eight As rather than Bs, or eight Cs rather than Ds.

`I am not Malala' day denounces campaigner

A group claiming to represent private schools in Pakistan has held an "I am not Malala" day, after condemning education campaigner Malala Yousafzai as a Western stooge. The All Pakistan Private Schools Federation held walks, seminars and press conferences to highlight their campaign against the 17-year-old, who won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year. The group criticised the teenager because her recent memoir includes a quote outlining her father's support for the freedom of speech of Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, who was accused of blasphemy against Islam.

How bigger schools foster clique culture

Larger schools with a wide range of academic and extracurricular choices are more likely to foster cliques such as "jocks" and "geeks", new research suggests. According to a study in the American Sociological Review, students in bigger high schools tend to gravitate towards peers with similar characteristics. "As schools become smaller and characterised more by structured interaction, they have more random and egalitarian mixing among students," the study says. But report author Daniel McFarland, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, said children were not necessarily better off at smaller or larger schools.

Condemned: planned maths test for four-year-olds

Maths teachers have called on education secretary Nicky Morgan to drop proposals to test four-year-olds, claiming the assessments are "costly, inappropriate and flawed". The government has announced plans to introduce a baseline assessment for children at the beginning of the Reception year. But the Association of Teachers of Mathematics and the Mathematical Association have jointly written to Ms Morgan to say that the results will be "meaningless". "Reception children will be of significantly different ages when assessed: proportionally, comparing the scores of a four-year-old with a five-year-old is akin to comparing those of a 12-year-old with a 15-year-old, which is obviously nonsense," the associations write.

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