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Grading row may not move on before Christmas

Thousands of pupils whose schools argue they have been given incorrect GCSE English grades may not learn until Christmas at the earliest whether their legal challenge to August's results has been successful, it has emerged. This week an alliance of teaching unions, academy chains, local authorities and more than 100 schools reached the next stage of their battle with Ofqual and the Edexcel and AQA boards, applying for a High Court judicial review into the grading. The alliance is hoping the court will grant them a speedier hearing than normal. But a spokesman was only "hopeful" that this would be before Christmas. More than 45,000 pupils caught up in the grading row are to retake their English GCSEs next month. But heads' leaders, who say that for as many as 30 per cent of schools the proportion of A*-C grades in the qualification dropped by more than 10 per cent, argue that it is unfair that they are having to opt for the extra free-of-charge resits.

More 'rigorous' tests for teachers to be introduced

Prospective teachers will have to reach the equivalent standard of a GCSE grade B in new English and maths tests in order to enter the profession, the government has announced. Candidates will also be tested on their verbal and numerical reasoning as part of reforms to the professional skills tests, which they need to pass in order to start teacher training. The new tests, introduced next September, will be more "rigorous". Candidates will no longer be able to use a calculator. The changes have been recommended by an independent review group of leading headteachers and education experts.

Cambridge maths dons to stretch sixth-formers

University of Cambridge academics have begun to develop a new more advanced maths curriculum for sixth-formers, emphasising topics such as trigonometry and combinatorics. But the dons are not, as was reported this week, setting new A levels. They say their five-year project will take place "in the context of existing A levels", although the work could eventually "feed into" the development of new ones. Universities, as TES revealed last week, have rejected ministers' call for them to take ownership of A levels.

Former superhead to appear in court

A knighted former "superhead" and five of his ex colleagues and governors were due to appear in court today in connection with a #163;2.7 million fraud at a north-west London comprehensive. Sir Alan Davies was suspended from Copland Community School, Wembley, in 2009 after allegations of serious financial mismanagement at the secondary. He has been charged with conspiracy to defraud and was expected to enter his plea at Southwark Crown Court today. Also due to appear were his former deputy head Dr Richard Evans, chairman of governors Indravadan Patel, former bursar Columbus Udokoro, former human resources manager Michele McKenzie, and former deputy chair of governors Martin Day.

Don't rush pre-schoolers, say researchers

The idea of rushing young children into formal learning of literacy and maths is misguided, a new report from Tactyc, an early years training organisation, has said. The report on school readiness by David Whitebread and Sue Bingham of the University of Cambridge points out that there is no agreement on the definition of "school readiness" and that there is increasing research evidence that in order to be successful pre-school children need to learn how to concentrate and solve problems by themselves. They recommend that this approach is used and the pressure to introduce more formal learning resisted.

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