News at a glance

3rd August 2012 at 01:00

Rise in state schools offering IGCSEs

The number of state schools offering IGCSEs has shot up in the past year, new exam board figures show. Use of the Cambridge International Examinations version of the O level-style exams has risen by 82 per cent, from 220 schools in 2011 to 400 this year. Edexcel has also seen a large state sector increase in the use of its IGCSEs, rising from 447 schools in 2011 to 724 this year. State schools were allowed to offer the exams, originally designed for the overseas market, from 2010. That year saw 97 maintained schools offer IGCSEs, after starting to teach the courses early in anticipation of the change.

Plan to scrap Ucas points system gains support

The points system used by students applying to higher education is likely to be scrapped after the move gained widespread support from universities and schools. About two-thirds are in favour of proposals to axe the Ucas "tariff system", according to a report by the admissions service. Instead, universities will ask would-be students to gain specific qualifications and grades when offering places on degree courses. The proposals were put forward for consultation by Ucas earlier this year. In total, 63.5 per cent of all of those who responded were in favour of the plan in principle, the report shows.

Second Welsh authority put in special measures

A second Welsh local authority has been placed in special measures after its education services were judged to be inadequate by inspectors. A recovery board has been put in place on Anglesey after a report by Welsh inspectorate Estyn, which education minister Leighton Andrews described as "highly damning". It found that standards were below those expected at all key stages, attendance rates in secondary schools were unacceptably low and the school improvement service was inadequate. Blaenau Gwent became the first local authority to be put in special measures last year.

Free meals for all 'narrows the attainment gap'

Providing free school meals to every pupil can help close the attainment gap between rich and poor, research released last week said. In areas such as Newham and Durham, where a pilot was carried out to give all primary pupils free school meals, children made between four and eight weeks more progress over a two-year period than children in other areas. The research carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), NatCen Social Research and Bryson Purdon Social Research said significant effects were achievable if every child was given free school meals. Ellen Greaves, research economist at the IFS, said more research was needed in the area as the policy would be "expensive to roll out and may disproportionately benefit children from middle and higher income families".

Young people predict another riot

Teenagers believe more rioting will occur this summer, according to new research. A total of 38 per cent of 12- to 18-year-olds who took part in the survey said disorder could happen again because the government has failed to listen to their needs. The research was commissioned by staff at StreetChance, an inner-city cricket initiative run in partnership by the Cricket Foundation and Barclays Spaces for Sports. The programme was set up to divert young people away from youth crime and anti-social behaviour. Some 1,000 took part in the survey.

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