News at a glance

30th November 2012 at 00:00

Win the wonders of the universe for your class

Schools are being given the opportunity to play host to TV science presenter Professor Brian Cox as he gives a special one-off lesson to one of their classes. TES has teamed up with the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair to stream the lesson live from the winning school on 6 February 2013. The former pop star will present a space workshop, exploring everything from the Big Bang and black holes to extraterrestrial life. For a chance to win, teachers, pupils or parents have to enter the prize draw by registering at www.facebook.comTheBigBang4U

Free school creationism loophole closed

Ministers have tightened safeguards to prevent free schools from teaching creationism as scientific fact. A new clause has been included in the funding agreements (legal contracts) signed by all free schools, stating that they will "make provision for the teaching of evolution as a comprehensive, coherent and extensively evidenced theory". The step was taken following discussions with the Royal Society, which highlighted concerns that free schools could teach creationism as a legitimate scientific theory. "As with all schools, free schools have an obligation to provide students with the best possible scientific education, which must include the teaching of evolution," said Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society.

Number of grade changes hits 45,000

More than 45,000 GCSE and A level grades were changed after appeals this summer, figures have shown. Data released by Ofqual, the exams watchdog, revealed that the number of exam scripts being submitted for remarking after this summer's exams increased by 36 per cent compared with last year, with around one in six exam papers being regraded. The regulator said there is no direct link between the rise in appeals and the marking fiasco surrounding the English GCSE. An Ofqual spokesperson said: "This year there have been well-publicised concerns over GCSE English. Those concerns were around grade boundaries and not the exam board marking."

UK education sixth in world rankings

The UK has the sixth best education system in the world, and the second best in Europe, according to new research. The study undertaken by the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of Pearson, the publishing company that owns exam board Edexcel, ranks the UK as the second-best nation in Europe behind Finland when it comes to education. The report, called The Learning Curve, highlighted the UK's literacy and graduation rates as being among the highest in the developed world.

Faith school row divides the Cabinet

Business secretary Vince Cable has accused his Cabinet colleague Michael Gove of flouting the coalition agreement by allowing two new faith schools to open in West London. Mr Cable has written to the education secretary claiming Mr Gove has undermined the Conservative and Lib Dem deal by intervening to enable Richmond council to approve new Catholic schools, which can select almost all pupils based on faith. The Education Act 2011 stipulates that all new schools must in the first instance be an academy or a free school, which would enable schools to select just 50 per cent of pupils on the basis of their religion. Mr Gove stepped in to say that Richmond is not obliged to follow the academy route. A judicial review also found in the council's favour.

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