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Ofqual criticises exam focus in textbooks

Textbooks linked to qualifications are too focused on exam preparation at the cost of subject content, according to new research by the exams watchdog. Ofqual's report on potential conflicts of interest between qualification providers and the study aids they produce refers to "a rather formulaic approach" that was resulting in coursebooks that prioritised exam preparation over wider knowledge. The regulator also announced it was launching a review of Pearson, looking at the relationship between its publishing arm and its activities as the parent company of awarding body Edexcel.

Private school plans to axe fees

A private school founded in 1509 has announced that it plans to seek state funding and axe fees. Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Blackburn said it had made the decision after pupil numbers plunged from 1,200 in 1997 to just 478. If it is successful in its bid, it will follow in the footsteps of a number of other private schools in areas of high deprivation, including Liverpool College and Batley Grammar in Yorkshire.

Dark lord's teen adventure is the funniest

A book about a dark lord who unwillingly inhabits the body of a teenager has won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. Jamie Thomson (pictured), a Brighton-based games developer, won the award in the 7-14 age category with his book Dark Lord: Teenage Years. The award is shared with illustrator Freya Hartas. The winner of the prize for books for children aged 6 and under was Rebecca Patterson for My Big Shouting Day. The award was set up by writer Michael Rosen.

Schools need more science specialists, head warns

Teenagers' success at winning top university places is being hampered by a lack of specialist science teachers and practical lessons, a headteacher has warned. David Levin, headmaster of City of London School for Boys, said children were not being exposed to enough practical science lessons to gain the knowledge they needed to study the subject at a higher level. Speaking at a conference organised by the Ark academy chain, he said: "Until the maintained system has a sufficient number of teachers in specialist subjects ... the social mobility debate is not going to be advanced."

Arts figures condemn EBac performance measure

Leaving arts subjects out of the English Baccalaureate could undermine Britain's economy, leading figures in the arts world have said. Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota, architect Richard Rogers and playwright Sir David Hare led a host of cultural figureheads who expressed concern about excluding arts subjects from the core EBac performance measure. Sir David described the policy as "the most dangerous and far-reaching of the government's reforms".

Wales launches review of ICT teaching

The Welsh government has launched a review of the future of ICT and computer science in schools following a big decline in the number of pupils taking ICT at GCSE. Education minister Leighton Andrews will lead a seminar later this month to discuss ways to resolve the issue. Earlier this year education secretary Michael Gove announced he was scrapping the ICT curriculum in England and introducing new courses in computer science to give pupils the skills employers want.

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