The week

28th August 2009 at 01:00

Remember the press grumblings last week about A-levels - standards slipping, pupils going for "softer subjects" and so on? Well, replace "A-levels" with "GCSEs" and that's much of this week's education news covered. Even the scramble to ensure students get the next courses they wanted has been replicated. The Guardian reported that the comparatively late publication of GCSE results would cause problems for schools and colleges, as some would only have a few days to assign sixth-form places. Turns out the delay was a knock-on effect of the late Easter this year - so the fault lies with a group of 4th-century bishops.

Concerns grew over the increased number of students missing out on university places. The numbers applying were up by 56,000 on last year, and by the middle of the week an average of 32 prospective students were competing for each remaining place. The Conservatives accused Labour of "blocking the path to university for A-level students" - a bizarre thing to claim since, up to a recent u-turn, the main ones opposing the target for raising participation in higher education were ... the Tories.

The Express summed up key stage 1 results with the headline: "Blow as more seven-year-olds fail at maths". Optimists might point out that the one percentage point drop in those getting level 2 in maths was balanced by a one percentage point rise in those hitting the writing target. Overall, though, the results were much the same as the last two years. That's potentially embarrassing for those who saw synthetic phonics as a magic bullet; it's been compulsory for two years now and the reading results haven't changed at all.

The Liberal Democrat economics guru Vince Cable had a pop at fat kids and school sport in the Daily Mail. He complained that "one in three children leaves primary school obese" (actually, it's 18.3 per cent) and that "a third of children do no sport at all outside compulsory games in school" (a more accurate figure would be 7 per cent). So it's his statistics that are, well, bloated.

The week's most staggering revelation? That the journalist Toby Young is hoping to open a "comprehensive grammar" school in London in 2011. Given some of his exploits on Vanity Fair - smuggling cocaine into the Groucho Club, hiring a strip-o-gram to visit the office on bring-your-daughter-to-work day - we can't wait to see what the behaviour policy looks like.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today