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June 2006
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August 2006

Confused Thinking about Coursework

I've actually heard teachers suggest that coursework should be done under "exam conditions" which does rather miss the point of coursework...

GCSE pupils should be prevented from taking coursework home as part of efforts to stamp out cheating, the exams watchdog for England has advised.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority warns that copying from the internet and help from parents pose "a threat to the fairness" of GCSEs.

Ensuring more work is done at school rather than at home will also reduce the burden on students, it adds.

Link: BBC NEWS | Education | Coursework plan to halt cheating.

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Critical Thinking vs Drug Classification

This would be a move in the right direction - Policy supported by Evidence...

The designation of drugs in classes A, B and C should be replaced with one more closely reflecting the harm they cause, a committee of MPs has said.

The Science Select Committee said the present system was based on historical assumptions, not scientific assessment.

BBC News has seen details of a system devised by government advisers which was considered by former Home Secretary Charles Clarke but is now on hold. The new system, which rates some illegal drugs as less harmful than alcohol and tobacco, was based on the first scientific assessment of 20 legal and illegal stimulants used in contemporary Britain.

Alcohol was rated the fifth most harmful drug, ahead of some current class A drugs, while tobacco was listed as ninth. Cannabis, currently rated a class C drug, was below both those legal stimulants at 11th

Link: BBC NEWS | Politics | Drug classification rethink urged.

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Critical Thinking vs 'Right and wrong' lessons to end

Poor reporting on many fronts here - and lots of knee-jerk responses from the Church, the Unions, etc - many of whom were presumably put on the spot by a cold-call from a journalist looking to build a story.

Pupils will no longer have to be taught the difference between "right and wrong" under draft plans put forward by England's exams regulator.

Instead, 11 to 14-year-olds should learn the importance of "secure values and beliefs", the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority says.

The new wording states that young people should become 'responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society'.

It also identifies the need for young people who 'challenge injustice, are committed to human rights and strive to live peaceably with others.'

So presumably what is being done is to reword the curriculum to ensure that there is some clarity in the definition of "right and wrong" - failing which we can presumably expect any interpretation to be fair game for faith schools.

Link: BBC NEWS | Education | 'Right and wrong' lessons to end.

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Hi-tech ink perfects egg boiling

Brilliant. And wonderfully obvious once you've seen it...

The age-old argument over the best way to cook the perfect boiled egg could be a thing of the past thanks to a new hi-tech ink logo going on shells.

After cooking begins, an invisible, temperature-sensitive thermochromic print appears in black to indicate when an egg is soft, medium or hard-boiled.

The technology has been brought to market by UK assurance scheme Lion Quality.

Link: BBC NEWS | UK | Hi-tech ink perfects egg boiling.

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A-levels.

John Clare answers the question "How many A-level pupils achieve three or more A grades?"

In England, 25,000, nearly double the number 10 years ago.

Over the same period, the proportion of A-levels awarded an A grade has risen by nearly half.

Those are two indicators of the gross grade inflation that has driven academically selective schools and universities to explore a burgeoning array of additions - such as the American Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) - and alternatives - such as the International Baccalaureate and the Cambridge Pre-U (effectively "old-fashioned" A-levels) - to what is becoming a sadly discredited exam.

Link: Telegraph | Education | Any questions? .

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Out-of-hours clubs 'help schools'

Further obvious improvements to follow no doubt...

Schools which open late and offer out-of-hours clubs are good for children's self-confidence, a survey by the education watchdog Ofsted suggests.

Link: BBC Education.

Meanwhile perhaps I can recommend that the Secretary of State for Education spend a few moments this summer reading the "Dangerous Book for Boys" by Conn and Hal Igguiden.

Next up on the DfES agenda: Grammar might be a good thing...

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Character Building

For those of us that think our characters are quite sufficiently developed...

A cricket team which lost without anyone scoring a run is blaming a "dodgy wicket" for its failure.

Statisticians are checking the record books to see if Goldsborough Seconds' dismal performance against local rivals Dishforth is the worst ever recorded.

The team scored a total of five in their Nidderdale Amateur League clash at Dishforth, North Yorkshire.

But all the runs were extras and none of the batsmen troubled the scorers - with 10 ducks and a nought not out.

Goldsborough chairman Henry Webster defended his team, saying the wicket was terrible and pointing out that the league-topping opposition also struggled.

He added that there were a number of youngsters in the side and he hoped the experience would be "character-building".

Link: BBC NEWS | England | North Yorkshire | Row of ducks bowl cricketers over.

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Gifted Children

The approach taken to gifted children will, inevitably, depend on where the dividing line is drawn.

The old grammar school system tended to isolate the top 20-25% for special treatment.

By contrast, the National Association for Gifted Children says this category should only apply to the top 2%. That would be more like one child in a year group rather than one per class.

The government has drawn the line at 5%, although its recent White Paper, which spelled out the plans for the national register, did not explain why.

Of course, the question of how to measure intelligence is one of the more fraught issues in English educational history. Just think about the debates about IQ testing and the old 11-plus examination...

BBC NEWS | Education | What constitutes a gifted pupil?

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