`Huge implications' when free schools fail to open
Councils have called for parents to be given more notice about decisions to postpone the opening of free schools. The Local Government Association said today that in some cases families found out in August, just weeks before their child was due to start at a free school, that it wouldn't be ready to accept pupils in the coming academic year. "When a new free school fails to open on time, it can have huge implications for families," said David Simmonds, deputy chair of the LGA. "Many will have already paid for new school uniforms and organised their transport plans." He added that decisions about postponements should be made public before the national offer day for primary places in April.
Read about free schools' `alarming' GCSE results on pages 12-13
`Big school' fears fail to materialise, poll finds
Half of teenagers say that starting secondary school was less scary than they thought it would be, a survey shows. Reward scheme School Stickers questioned more than 2,000 teenagers about their experiences of the transition to secondary school. More than half (53 per cent) said they were nervous. But 48 per cent said the experience turned out to be less frightening than they had anticipated. Only 7 per cent said it was more scary than they had imagined. The biggest concern was being unable to make friends, which was cited by 41 per cent; 29 per cent were worried about schoolwork and 26 per cent were scared of being bullied.
Don't let fees `spiral', new Wellington master says
Independent schools must not allow their fees to "spiral out of control", the incoming master of Wellington College has warned. Julian Thomas, who will take the helm at the pound;35,775-a-year Berkshire school next week, told TES that his own private education wouldn't have been possible if fees had been as high during his childhood as they are today. Tony Little, the outgoing headmaster of Eton College, said in May that middle-income families were being "squeezed out" of boarding school education by rising fees. Mr Thomas said he wasn't planning to cut fees at Wellington in the short term, but wanted the school to become "needs-blind" in the long term.
Compulsory EBac opposed by 9 in 10 headteachers
Almost nine out of 10 heads oppose the government's decision to make it compulsory for students to take the academic GCSEs needed to fulfil the English Baccalaureate (EBac) performance measure, a poll shows. In a survey by the Association of School and College Leaders, 87 per cent of headteachers disagreed with the policy, which from next month will mean pupils in England have to study English, maths, science, history or geography and a language at GCSE. Ministers have said this will ensure students receive a rigorous academic education that will help them to succeed. More than a third of school leaders surveyed also thought the level of GCSE and A-level reform being introduced this September was "unmanageable".
A deputy head evaluates the EBac on pages 34-36
Resit fines would be an `own goal', critics say
Secondary schools should be fined if their pupils fail to achieve Cs in their English and maths GCSEs, a thinktank has recommended. Policy Exchange said the money raised should be handed to further education colleges, where large numbers of teenagers retake the qualifications after failing to achieve a C at the age of 16. But school leaders have warned that introducing the levy would be an "own goal". Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the "resit levy" would reduce schools' ability to help students pass their exams first time round.