News at a glance

12th July 2013 at 01:00

Universities urged to back mathematics free schools

Universities in England could follow tougher rules on widening access to higher education by helping to establish a national network of specialist post-16 mathematics free schools, the government said this week. Education minister Elizabeth Truss told the annual conference of the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education in London that too few children, particularly girls, from low-income backgrounds were studying mathematics, and called on universities to do more by backing the movement of independent, state-funded free schools. Two free schools specialising in mathematics are to open in 2014, sponsored by the University of Exeter and King's College London.

Classroom gun plan falters in US

US schools considering arming their teachers in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, in which 20 children and six teachers were killed by a gunman at an elementary school in Connecticut, could face losing their insurance coverage. Seven states have enacted laws allowing teachers to carry firearms in schools, but the decision has led to insurance companies threatening to dramatically increase their premiums or drop their policies altogether. According to reports, EMC Insurance Companies, which covers 90 per cent of schools in Kansas, warned that it would not cover teachers who carry concealed weapons as the state's new law came into effect last week.

Royal award for technical excellence

A royal award has been created to recognise technical and vocational students in university technical colleges (UTCs) in England. The Duke of York Award for Technical Education was launched as Prince Andrew agreed to become patron of the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, which promotes and supports UTCs across the country. Bronze and Silver Awards will be based on achievements in GCSEs or equivalent technical qualifications, while the Gold Award will be based on A levels or equivalent technical qualifications. The awards will be presented to successful students at Buckingham Palace later in the year.

Private schools to receive A$1 billion boost

Australia's private schools have signed up to a A$1 billion (#163;600 million) deal with the government as part of sweeping reforms to the country's education funding system. The Gonski plan will increase average funding in all schools amid concerns that they are under-resourced. The extra money for the Independent Schools Council of Australia will be phased in over the next six years.

Holocaust memories live on in students

A programme designed to provide students with a more detailed historical knowledge of what happened during the Holocaust was launched this week. The Holocaust Educational Trust will equip student "ambassadors" who have taken part in its programmes with the tools and information needed to inform their peers and communities about what happened during the Holocaust. Regional ambassadors have been appointed across 10 areas of England, Scotland and Wales. The appointments recognise those students who have shown the most commitment to ensuring that the lessons of the Holocaust are never forgotten.

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