LP's blog

Review of the Papers, Thursday 19 July


  • The new Children, Schools and Families Secretary set himself on a collision course with the teaching establishment yesterday by pledging that national testing and school league tables were here to stay. Despite growing pressure from the Government's own examinations regulator and the majority of the teaching profession about overtesting in schools, Ed Balls said that "testing and the publication of results" were the only way to ensure accountability. "It enables us to be able to see as policymakers what is working, who is not performing well and, in the extremes, being able to tackle poor performance," he told The Times. It was necessary also, he said, to help parents to judge the performance of their child's school. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article2100198.ece
  • Leading universities are taking fewer students from poorer areas despite the Government's efforts to persuade them to redress their middle class bias. Teenagers from higher income families and private schools have increased their hold on places at half of the 20 most sought-after universities, according to figures published today. The proportion of new undergraduates from the three lower social classes fell last year at Oxford and Cambridge and declined steeply at Birmingham and Imperial College, London. In figures sure to disappoint the Government, half of the 20 leading universities recorded a drop in the proportion of state-educated pupils gaining places. The drop also helps to explain the plan by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) to give tutors more information from next year about the social background of applicants. Universities are given extra money to reach out to pupils in poor areas. Most top universities in England failed to reach targets for increasing the proportion of poorer students but in Northern Ireland, which still has a grammar school system, Queen's, St Mary's and Ulster far exceeded the targets. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/07/19/nuni119.xml