In brief

1st May 2009 at 01:00

Primary problem

Sharp reductions in education aid for developing countries threaten to undermine plans to achieve universal primary education by 2015. According to the latest report from Unesco, aid for basic education declined from $5.5 billion (Pounds 3.7bn) in 2006 to $4.3bn in 2007 - a fall of nearly 22 per cent. But Unesco estimates that at least 30 million children will still be out of school by 2015. "Aid to basic education has played a vital role in training teachers, in building classrooms and in other tangible results," said Koichiro Matsuura, Unesco director general.

Heartfelt debate

The importance of emotional intelligence and its effect on exam results will be debated next week. The event, organised by Cambridge Assessment, which owns the exam board OCR, will also look at whether emotional intelligence can be improved through training programmes. The event will be broadcast live:


Free knowledge

More than 1.4 million free books are to be given out to all four- and five-year-olds in England this September. The Booktime programme, managed by reading charity Booktrust, will provide a copy of Mr Big by Ed Vere for every child. It tells the story of a kind gorilla who struggles to make friends because people are unwilling to see beyond his size. Children will also receive an abridged version of The Puffin Book of Fantastic First Poems.

Clever tactics

Good sportsmanship is no longer an inherently British trait, but has to be taught in schools. A new survey, commissioned by MCC and the Cricket Foundation, reveals that more than half of primary and secondary pupils regularly see unfair play during games lessons. To combat this, the two organisations have launched lessons in sportsmanship. The two-hour Chance to Shine lessons will be taught in 3,000 primaries and secondaries during the summer term in an effort to encourage pupils to win fairly.

Pets protected

Feeding pets regularly, cleaning them and not pulling their tails are among the skills taught to pupils by a new classroom resource. The free pack, produced by the RSPCA, uses quizzes, video clips and cartoon characters to emphasise to primary pupils the importance of caring for animals properly.

Working together

Teachers are eligible for grants of up to Pounds 500 to support projects enabling pupils to work together with members of the local community. The grants, allocated by the Royal Geographical Society, are intended to help teachers explore issues of identity, diversity and citizenship through school subjects such as geography and history. Applications should be sent to Harpreet Sanghera:

Every point counts

AQA, the largest of the three main exam boards, has continued to lose GCSE market share, falling by a percentage point to 47 per cent in 2007-08, continuing a five-year downward trend, Ofqual figures published this week show. At A-level, the board remained constant at 41 per cent. OCR climbed a point to 21 per cent in GCSE but remained constant at 26 per cent in A-level. Edexcel lost a percentage point in both areas, falling to 21 per cent at GCSE and 24 per cent at A-level.

Literature loses out

About one in four teenagers does not take English literature GCSE, the Conservative party said this week. Twenty-eight per cent of pupils did not sit the exam last year, equivalent to 185,789 teens. And more than a third of England's poorest children do not sit the exam. Across the country, fewer children are taking the GCSE than did so five years ago. Michael Gove, shadow schools secretary, said it was "shocking" that the subject was in decline.

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