A Week in Education

6th July 2007 at 01:00
IT WAS all change at the Department for Education and Skills as the Prime Minister announced the department would be split in two. Ed Balls, one of Gordon Brown's closest allies, will now lead the new Department for Children, Schools and Families.

The new brief means Mr Balls will take charge of a wide range of issues from schools to childhood obesity and youth policy. John Denham has re-entered the cabinet to become Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, looking at post-19 education.

The shake-up was quickly followed by rejigging of the other parties. Former Times journalist Michael Gove will now be shadowing Ed Balls for the Tories, as will David Laws for the Liberal Democrats. The present shadow ministers David Willetts (Conservative) and Sarah Teather of the Lib Dems will both move to cover DIUS.

Powerhouse policy, page 16

government curriculum advisers warned this week that the new 14 to 19 diplomas could falter, because of the high number of teenagers who cannot handle basic English and maths. Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, said "significant numbers" could fail the new exams because of the requirement that pupils master functional literacy, numeracy and computing. He said pupils might even be put off taking the courses altogether.

hannad hasan, a schoolboy, was convicted of murdering the promising footballer Kiyan Prince this week. Hasan, 17, stabbed Kiyan, 15, outside the London Academy in Edgware, north London, in May 2006. Hasan, from Colindale, north London, grabbed Kiyan in a headlock and stabbed him with a penknife. Kiyan, who played with the Queen's Park Rangers youth team, had been trying to break up a "play fight" outside the school gates.

Phil Hearne, principal of the London Academy, said: "Someone, somewhere has to take the lead on knife crime. Where is that leadership coming from?"

children with disabilities can feel as happy as their able-bodied classmates, researchers have found. Academics at Newcastle university say adults' feelings of pity and sadness towards children with cerebral palsy are misplaced because they experience life much the way other children do.

The researchers studied 500 children in seven European countries using measures such as psychological well-being, self-perception and social support and satisfaction.

Professor Alan Colver, who published the article in the medical journal The Lancet, said the findings could be useful to parents whose children have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

plans for the Cambridge "pre-U" qualification which aims to stretch the very best pupils have been submitted for accreditation.

This, and the boom in schools opting for baccalaureate courses, has left commentator Simon Heffer wondering whether normal A-levels are for "intellectual dwarves only".

In his Daily Telegraph column he joked that his wife's dog is planning to sit several of the exams next year because the pass rate is now so high.


Exam candidates will have to score 90 per cent to achieve the new top grade in A-Levels. The Daily Telegraph


This refers to the new A* grade being introduced next year to stretch the best candidates.

But the process that takes place between papers being marked and graded means candidates may not have to achieve a full nine out of ten to come top.

Each year, examiners decide how candidates' percentage scores translate into grades, depending on factors such as how hard the exam questions are that year.

Using their professional judgment and statistical evidence, examiners then calculate the grade boundaries.

There would be nothing to stop a candidate with 85 per cent getting the A* in a given year. Likewise, it would be possible to score 90 per cent or more and fail to achieve an A*.

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