News at a glance

18th October 2013 at 01:00

School league tables revamped in England

The way in which England's schools are held accountable for their students' educational performance is to undergo dramatic changes under plans announced by ministers this week. The biggest difference in the new system will mean that schools are no longer judged on the number of students securing five A*-C grades at GCSE including English and maths. Currently, league tables rank schools on the proportion of students gaining this minimum set of grades. But this has led to an overemphasis on C-D borderline students, it has been claimed, often at the expense of low- or high-achievers. From 2016, league tables will focus on performance across eight subjects, including English and maths.

Brazil protests turn violent

Riot police and protesters clashed in two of Brazil's biggest cities this week after demonstrations involving thousands of teachers who were calling for better pay. Around 4,000 demonstrators in Rio de Janeiro gathered on the country's national Teachers' Day to show support for teachers who have been on strike for more than two months. Most of the crowd dispersed after largely peaceful protests, but the situation turned ugly when masked demonstrators began hurling gasoline bombs, rocks and bottles at police. Similar scenes were played out in Sao Paulo. The latest violence comes after protesting teachers clashed with riot police in Rio earlier this month.

Teacher claims classes left him a `shell of a man'

An Australian teacher is suing his local government, claiming that he was intentionally given classes with the "most unruly and challenging" students. Peter Doulis is seeking damages after he suffered a psychological breakdown while teaching at Werribee Secondary College in Victoria, leaving him a "shell of a man". Mr Doulis believed he was allocated the worst classes as he had got on the "wrong side" of the assistant principal in charge of the school timetable. Other teachers taught only bright students, while he was forced to teach the lowest- achieving classes, he claimed.

London mayor calls for Mandarin lessons for all

UK students should be taught compulsory Mandarin lessons in order to better understand China, London's mayor Boris Johnson said this week. Mr Johnson, who is halfway through a trade mission to China, said it was important for schoolchildren to have the basic skills to work with the country as its influence grows. Mr Johnson also revealed that he is studying Mandarin, as is his 16-year-old daughter. When asked whether all students should learn it as standard, he said: "Absolutely. My kids are learning it, so why not? Definitely."

Charter schools `could lead to poorer education'

A major credit rating agency has warned that the rise of charter schools in the US could lead to lower funding for public schools and a poorer quality of education for the country's students. According to a report released this week by Moody's, states are increasingly being forced to determine funding using student population. Lower funding for public schools caused by the migration of students to charter schools could damage their quality, the report claims. "While the vast majority of traditional public districts are managing through the rise of charter schools without a negative credit impact, a small but growing number face financial stress due to the movement of students to charters," it says.

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