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Memory exercises linked to higher test results

Giving pupils exercises to strengthen their memory and reasoning skills can have a significant effect on exam performance, research suggests. Academics from Maastricht University in the Netherlands split a history class of 92 secondary pupils in two. Half were given training to enhance their working memory and reasoning strategies - for example, they were presented with four historical pictures and asked to identify the odd one out. When the pupils sat official school history tests, those who had received the training performed significantly better than those who had not, even 16 weeks later.

UTCs need `more robust' oversight, trust admits

The body that runs the university technical college programme has vowed to make its intervention process "more robust" after a damning Ofsted report revealed a catalogue of failures at one institution. The report on Black Country UTC, published last week, grades the institution as inadequate in all areas; the college has announced that it will close in August. The Baker Dearing Educational Trust, which oversees the 14-19 institutions, called the report "very disappointing" and said it took the issues raised very seriously. "In this case, we accept that our interventions needed to have been more robust and plans are now in place that enable this to happen in the future," it said.

Wilshaw: `Have we got enough good heads?'

Ofsted's chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has backed plans to replace headteachers at underperforming schools, but he warned that there may not be enough experienced school leaders to take their places. The Education and Adoption Bill, announced in the Queen's Speech this week, includes powers to speed up the process of converting failing schools to academies and changing their leadership. In his first interview since returning to work after an operation, Sir Michael pointed out that 30 per cent of schools were rated less than good. "Have we got enough really good headteachers who can take over those schools in federations and clusters?" he asked.

Deprived nations granted $235m for education

Grants totalling up to $235 million (pound;153 million) have been awarded to Bangladesh, Mozambique, Nepal and Rwanda by the Global Partnership for Education to drive up educational standards. The $59 million allocated to Nepal was determined before the recent earthquakes but can be used to meet emergency needs resulting from the disaster. Grants for the other countries are linked to how effectively they spend the money, with 30 per cent of the funding dependent on hitting targets to help children receive an education. Chief executive Alice Albright said: "The Global Partnership incentivises partner countries to spend more domestic funding on education and the funding model focuses on concrete achievements in quality of learning, equity and efficiency."

Faith school bus service wins legal reprieve

A local authority has been ordered to reinstate free transport for faith school pupils in a landmark legal ruling that could have implications for local authorities across the UK. Swansea Council had planned to stop providing pupils with free transport to faith schools if a mainstream school was nearer to their home. But Mr Justice Wyn Williams ruled that the policy would indirectly discriminate against ethnic minority children, who were disproportionately likely to attend faith schools. He noted that the council offered free transport to 12 Welsh-language schools, whose intake was overwhelmingly white.

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