News at a glance

24th May 2013 at 01:00

Curriculum buckles under 'anti-American' criticism

A state-run curriculum criticised by right-wing activists - including cable television personality Glenn Beck - as "anti-American" has been dropped by the US state of Texas. The online curriculum and lesson planner CSCOPE, used in about 900 schools, was intended to help teachers navigate the state's complex educational requirements. But activists called it a "progressive pro-Islamic curriculum" and denounced exercises such as designing a flag for a socialist country. Thomas Ratliff, vice-chairman of the state board of education, said that the dropping of the curriculum was politically motivated. "This looks like a slippery slope to internet filters, censorship and other limitations on teachers in the classroom," he said.

Performance pay could lead to larger classes

Higher pay for good teachers will lead to larger class sizes, Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of schools in England, has warned. Principals will be able to introduce performance-related pay schemes in their schools from September, when automatic incremental salary rises will be scrapped. But Sir Michael, a former principal, said: "I always said to the staff, 'I want to reward those of you who are prepared to commit yourself to the school and do a good job in the classroom. To do that might mean that we have larger classes.' You can't have small classes - small groups - and a highly paid staff."

Practical concerns over African languages push

South Africa will require all primary school students (aged 5-12) to learn an African language from as early as next year. The country's Department of Basic Education intends for the stipulation to "promote multilingualism" and encourage "social cohesion". School governors welcomed the proposal in principle but warned that the timescale for introduction was too tight, the primary curriculum was already full and too few teachers were qualified in African languages, with most trained in English or Afrikaans. The South African government is trying to address the issue with bursaries for teachers who train to teach African languages.

Confusion reigns over exam names in the UK

The UK is beset by confusion as different sets of qualifications battle for the right to be called GCSEs and A levels. This week, Michael Gove, education secretary for England, wrote to his counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland to warn them that joint regulation of the qualifications should be abandoned because of differing approaches to reform. The letter acknowledges that "markedly different" exams should have different titles, but Mr Gove is committed to retaining the GCSE brand. However, the Welsh government said: "Wales is keeping GCSEs and A levels, as is Northern Ireland. We wish Mr Gove well with his plans to rename these qualifications in England."

Correction

In the "Feats of collaboration" piece in TES on 17 May, which revealed the shortlist for this year's TES Schools Awards, we incorrectly listed the details of one of the finalists for the Headteacher of the Year Award. Patrick Ferguson is principal of the De La Salle Academy in Liverpool, not in St Helens. We apologise for the mistake.

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