News at a glance

Cuts predicted to be the biggest since the 1950s

Schools and universities are facing the largest cuts to public education spending since the 1950s, according to figures released this week. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said public spending on education in the UK would fall by more than 13 per cent in real terms by 201415. This represents the largest cut in education spending over any four-year period since the 1950s, a spokesman said. Spending on schools will see the smallest real-terms cut of about 1 per cent. Education spending on 16 to 19-year-olds and early years will both see cuts of around 20 per cent.

See FE Focus, pages 48-49

Marked growth in 'special considerations' for exams

This summer's exam season saw a 12.5 per cent increase in the number of cases where extra A-level or GCSE marks were awarded to candidates disadvantaged by everything from minor illness to family bereavement. The rise in "special consideration" requests approved - to 354,170 - came despite a 4 per cent drop in the number of exams taken compared with 2010. Figures from exam watchdog Ofqual also show an 11 per cent fall in detected cases of cheating. Bringing mobile phones and other electronic devices into exams was the most common offence. Plagiarism came next, but the number of penalties given for copying has more than halved since 2007.

Excluded children's role in summer riots

More than a third of youngsters involved in this summer's riots had been excluded from school in the last year, official figures show. Those involved in the looting and violence which swept through English cities in August were younger, poorer, and had achieved lower grades than average, showed detailed analysis of the histories of those charged over the disturbances. But gangs "generally did not play a pivotal role", officials said, and most police forces found that fewer than one in 10 of those arrested were gang members.

See Stephen Jones, page 50

Welsh bullying guidance tackles homophobia

Teachers in Wales are to be given detailed new guidance on the best ways to tackle bullying in school, including for the first time homophobic and transphobic bullying. The Welsh Government document gives advice on preventing, responding to and recording bullying, including examples of good practice. Although levels of bullying have fallen in Wales in the last five years, statistics last year revealed that 30 per cent of children aged between 10 and 12 admitted having been bullied during a two-month period, which the Government called "unacceptable".

Ofsted's knight-to-be due at the Palace

Former Ofsted chief inspector Sir Chris Woodhead (pictured) was due to receive his knighthood from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace this week. Sir Chris, who was named in the Queen's birthday honours in June for services to education, held the chief inspector's role for six years until 2000. At Ofsted, he famously declared that there were 15,000 incompetent teachers. He disclosed two years ago that he is suffering from motor neurone disease.

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