• Navigating the new landscape of GCSE’s
    Navigating the new landscape of GCSE’s

    Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan have come and gone but the impact of successive Secretaries of State for Education on examination reform may only just be becoming apparent to parents and pupils. GCSE reforms have been introduced piecemeal and it is now the responsibility of schools to navigate a clear path for pupils through the still choppy waters of curriculum change.

    New linear GCSEs in English Language, English Literature and Mathematics were introduced in September 2015. The new syllabuses for the remaining GCSE subjects (with the exception of Design Technology, Latin and Classical Civilisation) will be first taught in September 2016. Many schools, particularly independent schools, will continue to offer IGCSEs, some graded 9-1 and some A*-G.

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  • The Thorny Issue of Tutoring
    The Thorny Issue of Tutoring

    Articles in the press have been lamenting the pressures put upon children by excessive tutoring for 11+ entrance examinations to private schools.

    This is a really challenging issue for parents as the pressure to provide your children with the best possible life opportunities by getting them into the ‘best’ school and pushing them to achieve the ‘best’ grades in public examinations seems relentless. Social pressures and the dinner party circuit can lead parents to believe that tutoring is something that every set of parents is paying for, on top of their school fees, in order to ensure that their son or daughter can compete on a level playing field.

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  • Here Come The Girls…
    Here Come The Girls…

    Richard Cairns, Head of Brighton College, East Sussex, recently claimed that “girls in single sex schools are at a huge disadvantage. Despite their clutch of A*s and degrees they can’t meaningfully converse and communicate with male colleagues”.

    He’s worried that girls need to be in a class with boys if they are to learn to socialise with them and hold their own with boys in university and the world of work. Kindness is “something much more common to schools that educate both boys and girls”, he asserts.

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  • Smaller Catchment; Big Choices
    Smaller Catchment; Big Choices

    Like once comfy woolly jumpers accidentally sent through a hot wash, the catchment areas for the best primary schools have been shrinking at a disconcertingly rapid rate.

    As National Offer Day approaches on 18th April 2016, newspapers publish with gleeful relish ever more dramatic stories of catchment areas which have shrunk to a handful of city streets.

    In 2015, ‘The Telegraph’ ran a live ‘As it happened’ blog giving the allocation of primary places to half a million infants coverage akin to that afforded to the Football Transfer Deadline Day, helpfully reminding already anxious parents that ‘experts are warning of a “crisis” in primary school places.’ Frequently quoted as the most dramatic example of the squeeze on admissions for top state Junior Schools is that of the sought after Fox Primary School in Kensington and Chelsea. The school, which numbers Darcey Bussell and Nathaniel Parker amongst its famous alumnae, last year took most of its intake from within a 300m radius of the school’s entrance. So competitive is the entry that parents are expected to send copies of Land Registry documents to prove ownership of their home when they make their application.

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  • Creative Calm after the Twitter Storm
    Creative Calm after the Twitter Storm

    The excellent ‘Your Life’ website pursues its mission to encourage all young people to choose STEM subjects with a refreshingly direct approach.

    ‘If you want to ensure you will get a job that is exciting, well-paid, allows you to travel and offers amazing opportunities to shape the world, choose Maths and Physics at A Level.’

    For all the articles that have been published in the educational press on the subject of girls and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), the topic has only become headline news thanks to poor, beleaguered Tim Hunt.

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