A Week in Education

17th August 2007 at 01:00
WITH A-LEVEL and key stage 3 results published this week, the media was predictably dominated by arguments over slipping standards.

The Daily Telegraph led the charge, reporting that thousands of children make no progress during the first three years of secondary school. It quoted an analysis by the Conservative party, which compared results in English, maths and science by 11-year-olds to 14-year-olds' scores.

The Observer claimed that pupils sitting A-levels in arts and humanities subjects, such as English and history, were taking an easy route to university. Mathematics in Education and Industry, the independent curriculum development body, claimed that maths and science subjects were much more challenging for sixth-formers.

A NEW A* grade will be introduced next year to help identify the most talented pupils. But newspapers are already beginning to reveal flaws in the system.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that a disproportionate number of pupils gaining the "supergrade" are likely to come from independent or grammar schools. And The Sunday Times suggested that it would merely lead to more disappointed pupils as increasingly higher offers are made by universities.

SIXTH-FORMERS hoping to escape the exam frenzy and head overseas were not spared criticism either. Gap-year volunteers have been accused of "voluntourism", taking part in aid projects that are more help to the participants than the recipients.

Voluntary Service Overseas said increasing numbers of schemes are springing up across the developing world, but are often badly planned and do not benefit the communities they purport to serve. The charity said gap-year students would be better off simply travelling the world and enjoying themselves.

SCHOOLS WERE this week ordered to stop restricting sales of uniforms to a single supplier. Kevin Brennan, the children, families and schools minister, said the practise can significantly increase their price.

A full uniform at a state secondary can easily cost pound;300, even for schools in relatively poor areas.

Mr Brennan said headteachers should ensure uniforms are affordable and widely available or face action by the Office of Fair Trade.

A REPORT has suggested car exclusion zones should be set up around schools to force pupils and their parents to walk to school. The aim is to help tackle childhood obesity, as well as benefit the environment.

The Institute for European Environmental Policy claims 38 per cent of all journeys are shorter than two miles and could easily be walked.

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