September 2013 news update

Change in school leaving age

From September 2013 the education leaving age in England will rise to 17 and from 2015 it will rise again, to 18.

Education after 16 doesn’t just mean staying at school full-time: a child can stay at school, go to college, or take up an apprenticeship or a part-time training course.

Delay in reforms to exams

Delays to the reforms to GCSEs and A-levels have been forced upon the Government by the exams regulator Ofqual as they are not be ready to be introduced.

The new exams were intended to be brought into schools in September 2015, but new A-levels in Maths and further Maths will be put back and introduced a year later, while at GCSE level only the core subjects English and Maths will stick to the original timetable outlined earlier this year.

The reforms will see change of emphasis in the exam syllabuses, with the end of almost all coursework and a focus upon a one-off course exam.

Independent schools fees increase

Dean Associates’ annual survey of private school fees in the UK saw a modest rise of just over 2%, a little lower than last year.

Exam results update

At both A and GCSE level there has been a drop in the proportion of GCSE exam entries awarded top grades

At GCSE, about two-thirds of exam entries were graded between an A* and a C – a fall on last year and the proportion getting an A* or an A fell from 22.4% to 21.3%.

For A Level, there has been a fall in the proportion of A-levels awarded top grades for the second year in a row, after years of steady increases. Just over a quarter of exam entries – 26.3% – were given A or A* grades, a slight fall on 2012’s figure of 26.6%.

Latest research trends:

Start school later?

A group of 130 education specialists insist that children should not start at school until after the age six or seven.  They are argue a “too much, too soon” culture undercuts the long-term value of learning through play.

Keen readers do better at Maths.

Children who read for pleasure are likely to do better in maths and English than those who rarely read in their free time, research by the Institute of Education, London University suggests.  The report concluded a wide vocabulary helps children absorb information across the curriculum.

Councils releasing grip on school admissions

A number of councils in England are returning control of in-year state school admissions back to individual schools.

For the last few years, all admissions have been handled centrally by individual councils, lifting the administrative load from school offices and providing relocating families with a single point of contact for school admissions.

However, in practice, the system can falter. Families have endured long delays in receiving response from council offices after posting applications and occasionally places have been offered that do not exist, the so-called “ghost seats”.

Those councils who are now starting to loosen their grip on the admissions process include Camden in central London and Hertfordshire.

Research into school places will become more labour intensive for relocating families, however, once a place has been identified, there should be a much shorter turn-around allowing children to start promptly.