Category Archives: Practice

University Applications ‘Recovery’?

With the UCAS deadline a mere 11 days away, it would seem potential students have simply left it later than usual to apply.

Fears that the higher fees for 2012 entry had led to decreased demand for UK higher education by UK home students now appear unfounded.

Figures from Anglia Ruskin University claim that the level of applications for full-time undergraduate courses is now only 1.98% below the same point last year – representing a big recovery from the 12.5% dip reported in the autumn.

“Lies, damn lies and statistics”

Though critics point out that the dramatic statistics presented in the media this year were derived as a comparison of last year’s university applications figures, which were unusually high.

The fee change encouraged students in a position to apply to university last year to get on and apply.  Gap years were cancelled and indecisive potential students finally bit the bullet and joined in too.

This time last year, it was up 11.7% and today it is down 12.9% [as recorded in November 2011].  Could this be more of a re-adjustment and cancellation out of last year’s anomalies.

Moreover, as illustrated in the post Is University Still Worthwhile?, some universities have now decided not to charge the full £9,000 to incentivise prospective students to apply.

What do you think?

Were the figures misleading? Are students just applying later? Are UK universities really under threat from reduced demand from UK home prospective students?


The End Of Textbooks?

How do you get your information?

Thousands of school pupils and university students are curled up this Christmas with warm drinks, cosy blankets and a well-thumbed copy of the latest textbook prepping for impending January exams.

But this may become a vision of the past as the development of electronic alternatives takes over the good old-fashioned printed book of knowledge.

The incoming president of the Girls’ Schools Association, Louise Robinson, has spoken out in favour of smartphones, e-readers and tablets as more inspiring and magical than textbooks.

She also suggested that these technologies, which can be accessed anywhere anytime give the pupils more control over their learning than if reliant on classroom-based textbooks.

What do you think?

Do e-readers make learning more enjoyable?  Given the widespread nature of the internet, would simply accessing it on a mobile device really change the way pupils prepared (don’t prepare) for lessons?  Do e-readers give more control?  Is this a vision State schools can afford to get behind?

Woolf Inquiry

An inquiry into the LSE’s links with Libya and lessons to be learned

It’s out!

Are Teachers Right To Help Students Cheat?

Roger Pope, principle of Kingsbridge Community College, Devon, wrote in the Times Education Supplement:

So governments and schools end up playing a bizarre game of snakes and ladders.  We play every trick to climb up the ladder.

We bribe kids to attend revision classes over half-term.  We warp the curriculum so that as soon as kids get maths they drop English and vice versa.  Govey knows what we are up to and sends us slithering down a snake by introducing the EBac, and on down another snake by slashing the value of easy vocational qualifications.  And heads collude with exam boards in seedy bars, plotting how to subvert his aims and climb back up the ladder again.

Mr Pope goes on to say that the government “sneaked ahead”again by doing away with coursework after the “naughty teachers” wrote it for their students and replaced it with controlled assessments.

Controlled assesments?  These teachers have been working with students to draft and re-draft pieces that are simply copied out under the so-called controlled conditions.

Mr Pope’s verdict? Single terminal exams.

Do you agree?

Single terminal exams may be the most fool proof.  But what are we trying to get out of school education? Presumably literacy and numeracy.  Some kids need more coaching than others to get those skills.

Having a single terminal exam won’t entirely curtail cheating.  Teachers will still teach the exam.  All teachers everywhere, I hasten to add, if they have any sense.

Perhaps the fault of the system lies in the emphasis of exams and results.  Okay, we need them to identify failing schools and poor standards but Ofsted does this as well – doesn’t it?

Is there some reason the state can’t rely on Ofsted rather than results to gain an accurate picture of our school system?

What do you think?