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News at a glance

Twigg's big 'middle tier' idea

Labour's education spokesman Stephen Twigg has launched a consultation calling for ideas about a "middle tier" between schools and central government. The move follows an announcement that 1,600 schools have opted out of local authority control by converting to academy status. This has led to concerns that too many schools are now directly accountable to the secretary of state.

Pre-U on the rise in state sector

The number of state schools offering the Cambridge Pre-U, a linear alternative to A levels, has increased by 45 per cent in two years, new figures show. It was most popular in the independent sector, but state secondaries are catching up, with 64 using the Pre-U this year alongside 74 private schools. But ministers' move away from modular A levels, and more university input in their design, could detract from the Pre-U's unique selling point.

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Legal challenge to Catholic secondary

Campaigners against a proposed Catholic secondary are to launch a legal challenge claiming that competition laws about new schools are being ignored. The British Humanist Association and the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign are bringing the action against Richmond upon Thames Council. They claim that the London borough should have invited a range of bids for the school instead of simply choosing the local Catholic diocese.

Prospective teachers to train in PRUs

Student teachers will soon be able to train in pupil referral units (PRUs), the Department for Education has announced. The changes, which are currently out to consultation, would also allow would-be teachers to sign up for employment-based courses in PRUs. "The current situation leaves PRUs at a disadvantage when it comes to the training, recruitment and retention of staff," the consultation document said. The changes, if approved, will apply from September 2012.

A word to the Wise Awards

The organisers of the World Innovation Summit for Education (Wise) have issued a call for entries to the Wise Awards, which aim to reward projects from around the world that "have a transformative impact on education and society". The deadline is the end of May and the winners, who will receive US$20,000, will be announced at the Wise Summit in Doha, Qatar, in November. www.wise-qatar.org

Boarding school bursary for LA pupil

A pupil from a deprived part of Los Angeles, US, will be given a free sixth-form place at an independent boarding school in Somerset, following the fundraising efforts of former British diplomat Bob Peirce, an alumna of Taunton School and LA resident. The bursary will be paid by the Fulfillment Fund, a US charity.

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