A new level, from A to T
Tony Blair may not be exactly everyone’s flavour of the month these days, but his attempt to put “education, education, education” at the top of the political agenda was manna from heaven for all us passionate believers. However, like some of his other enterprises, this has not been an easy ride, and successive governments have successively fiddled whilst the system has been close to catching fire.
The stated aim is always simplicity but existing systems and the need for continuity inevitably appear to frustrate the potential reforms and the outcome is, usually, just yet more entries in the scholastic dictionary. AS- levels and S- levels have bitten the dust, and now we are about to have T- levels. At least, the chancellor mentioned them in the Autumn Budget, so they do look firmly on the cards.
T-levels are intended to cover all the technical skills required to embark on careers as diverse as beauty and construction with each course requiring 900 hours of teaching each year, 50% more hours than those given to academic students. Further Education colleges will be the main providers, but this also will cause a problem due to the capital investment needed to make them fit for purpose, in addition to the £500 million per annum that the government has earmarked for running this scheme.
The radical decision to reduce 13,000 technical qualifications to 15 is intended, as the government describes, “to be the biggest overhaul of post-school education in 70 years”. Unsurprisingly, this is no easy task, and the first two routes have already been delayed from 2019 to 2020 with the remainder, hopefully, still on course for 2022.
There remain serious concerns about even this timing of their implementation and the general secretary of the Association of Schools and Colleges voiced his fears, stating “we are concerned that there is a lack of joined-up thinking from the government over technical education”. From a different angle Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers welcomed the development but said, it is essential that “the curriculum and qualifications are world leading and stand the test of time”, another obvious cause for delay.
This desire to teach and administer technical courses so that they are on an equal footing with academic work is admirable and necessary if we are to catch up, in this field, with countries such as Germany and the United States. However, steering this truck is going to require a mammoth co-ordinated effort from both government, educational bodies and awarding organisations
Some special needs are easy to spot, others are only determined once a child has experienced considerable difficulties, frustrations or social and emotional problems.
Over the years, diagnosis of and provision for SEN have improved, but both can still be a minefield.
Identifying different kinds of special educational needs
Few children fit a condition perfectly – if they do, we tend to say they are a ‘classic’ case. Most will not be straightforward: perhaps a dyslexic with dyspraxia and a touch of ADD, or a child with ASD who also has Down’s syndrome.
Just as special needs are hard to…
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There are currently around 164 state funded grammar schools located in 36 English local authorities, with around 167,000 pupils between them. There are a further 69 grammar schools in Northern Ireland, but none in Wales or Scotland. Almost half of these are considered 'selective authorities' (eg Kent and Buckinghamshire), where around one in five local children are selected for grammar school entry based on ability. The others are areas such as Barnet or Kingston, with only a few grammar schools.
How to find a state grammar school
Word of warning: not all selective grammar schools have 'grammar' in their…
As proud parents, we all know our children are unique. They're smarter than anyone else's, funnier, certainly more attractive, better behaved and above all bursting with the kind of talent that would leave Daniel Radcliffe or Charlotte Church standing. And sometimes, just sometimes, parental pride is justified.
If you think your child would benefit from a boarding school education, but are put off by the high fees and consequent limited social mix of a typical independent boarding school, you may find that a state boarding school is the answer. Read more...
State grammar schools
Counties such as Kent or Buckinghamshire are ‘selective authorities’ and most families will have at least one grammar school close to where they live. Elsewhere, for example in Reading or Kingston-on-Thames, there are just one or two grammar schools and competition for places at these is ferocious. Grammar schools are located in 36…