A Week in Education

22nd February 2008 at 00:00
Plans to scrap oral exams in GCSE modern foreign languages and replace them with teacher assessment have provoked another "dumbing down" row. The Government has accepted the measure recommended in the Lord Dearing Review, which considered ways of encouraging more teenagers to take languages.

The current oral test requires pupils to talk to their teacher under test conditions for between seven and 15 minutes at the end of the two-year course. Teachers warned that a new system of assessment could mean more work. Page 4

School-based counselling is to be introduced in south Wales after the seventeenth suspected suicide of a young person in the area surrounding Bridgend. Jenna Parry, 16, was found hanged in woods near her home on Tuesday. The Welsh Assembly said it would be publishing plans in the spring for a national school-based counselling service, as part of a strategy to reduce youth suicides in the principality by 10 per cent. Page 14

Southampton became the first authority to issue all schools with metal detecting wands, as the Government launched its latest crackdown on violent crime.

Police are equipping all 82 primaries and secondaries in the city with the wands to help staff who suspect pupils of bringing knives to school. The move comes despite only two recorded cases of pupils carrying knives last year.

An analysis by the Conservative party revealed that pupils from wealthier backgrounds are more likely to be able to study separate sciences at GCSE.

Fewer than one in three state school pupils has the option of taking physics, chemistry and biology, compared with more than two-thirds in private schools.

But Lord Adonis, the schools minister, said the numbers taking separate sciences in state schools was rising.

A boy was killed on a school skiing trip to the Austrian Alps as he tried to save a friend.

Hayden Waller, 12, died of a broken neck after falling down a 30ft ravine as they walked in woods.

Police said he had fallen as he tried to help a friend who had lost his footing on the edge of the ravine. The friend survived after landing in a tree.

The boys were from the Howard School in Gillingham, Kent, which has been running trips to the Mallnitz resort without incident for 24 years. Page 7

Pupils at a leading independent school have been advised to dress down on their way home, to avoid being mugged by other children.

Police advised Highgate School in north London to allow pupils to remove blazers and ties after it emerged that pupils were being targeted for their wallets, mobile phones and mp3 players.

"When they are on their own they are alert," said Adam Pettitt, headteacher of the pound;13,000-a-year school. "But when they are in twos or threes, it is as if the rest of the world does not exist."

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