A Week in Education

30th May 2008 at 01:00
An influential think tank has said that the long summer holiday should be axed because too many children fall behind in reading

An influential think tank has said that the long summer holiday should be axed because too many children fall behind in reading.

The Institute for Public Policy Research suggested dividing the year into eight terms, with two-week breaks and a month off in the summer. Its report also called for children to be given more opportunities to learn through play.

Sonia Sodha, the lead author, said: "We need long-term reform that better gears our school system around the needs of children."

jim knight, schools minister, said that everyone remembers having at least one underperforming teacher. His comments in The Guardian this week came as the Government develops plans to retrain or remove weak teachers.

"If you spoke to anybody about their experience in school and asked them whether there was a teacher who probably should have been doing something else, probably every one of us would say, `Yeah, we remember that teacher'," Mr Knight said.

He added: "What I don't want is to end up in a massive fight with 400,000 teachers, given that we are told by inspectors that the majority are doing a really great job."

Secondary schools could face league tables on how many pupils they send to university. Steve Smith, vice-chancellor of Exeter University, will make the recommendation to the Prime Minister in July in a report exploring ways to widen access to higher education.

"The proposal is that the Higher Education Statistics Agency database will contain information on what school every student comes from," he said.

The National Union of Teachers criticised the idea for being detrimental to those better suited to vocational study. Page 4

Independent school leaders have written to ministers saying the new under- fives curriculum violates parents' human right to choose how their children are educated.

The Independent Schools Council wrote to Beverley Hughes, the children's minister, saying the early years foundation stage would compromise schools' independence.

The framework becomes law this autumn and will affect 25,000 pre-school providers. It will assess pupils on 69 writing, problem-solving and numeracy tasks. Page 12

A new a-level in popular culture will include assignments that explore the relationship between cinema-going and dating, and the cultural significance of pupils' bedrooms and their friends.

The Daily Mail dubbed it an "A-level in being a teenager". It replaces the AQA's A-level in communication studies.

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