Friday, April 21, 2006

Internet safety survey

A new survey was opened today relating to Internet safety. The aim of the survey is to gauge your attitudes towards this subject and to identify what Internet facilities your centre makes available to students. It's a short survey that shoudld take a few minutes to complete. You'll find it here.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Curriculum for Excellence - update

The Scottish Executive has recently published a progress report [PDF] on the Curriculum for Excellence [PDF] project. A Curriculum for Excellence seeks to re-define the curriculum for young people (aged 3-18) within Scotland. It's the most important educational initiative of the decade.

This latest report outlines developments to date and proposes several important changes to the curriculum within primary and secondary schools - including six levels of attainment (page 13) and eight subject areas under which all existing subjects would fall (page 14). The impact on schools could be significant.

The report provides a timeline for change (page 25) and seeking feedback on the ideas contained within it.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

ICT and learning

The Guardian online has collected a number of interesting reports on the impact of ICT in learning. I was particularly interested in the one about why so few teachers use ICT in their everyday teaching.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Skills in a global economy

The man in charge of City & Guilds (Chris Humphries) recently outlined his views on education and training in an interesting paper [PDF] entitled Skills in a Global Economy. The paper covers demographics, skills shortages, education systems, future working patterns - and proposes some solutions to current problems.

It's an interesting (if quite long) read and I learnt a great deal from it (for example, that 3% of employers are responsible for 72% of employees). But, in my opinion, he focuses too much on low and intermediate level vocational skills and doesn't say much about the effect of the Internet on learning and working.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Internet safety qualification

SQA, in conjunction with other national and international agencies, is developing a new qualification relating to Internet safety... and there's a dedicated blog to record progress.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

GCSE Difficulty Varies

A BBC story reports on research that has found taht GCSEs vary 'substantially' in their difficulty.

Science Splits Boys and Girls

The University of Leeds is taking part in a global study called the Relevance of Science Education. A survey of more than 1,200 pupils in England as part of the research has found that the sexes are split on what interests them in science. Report author Edgar Jenkins said that the differences are common to most of the developed world. ‘We have had a generation or more of promoting gender equality but the differences exist and I raise the question as to whether we should teach the two sexes separately for some of the time.’

The Effects of Class on Education

A recent article in the Guardian newspaper reports on research that claims that the most influential factor in educational outcomes in England is the pupil’s social background.

Meanwhile, on a related note, research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council has suggested that education policy by itself contributes little to the rate at which people move between social classes; ‘comprehensive school is neither less nor more effective at promoting social mobility than a selective system’. The researchers from the University of Edinburgh point out that if changes to the structure of schooling could have an effect, then it would show in Scotland, where all selective schools in the public sector were abolished by the mid-1970s. Instead, the reforms had no impact on social mobility.

QCA Work

Recent months have seen many new QCA developments and strands of work. In March, they issued their annual regulatory reports relating to the summer 2005 examinations in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The reports available include ones on: the performance of awarding bodies; the number of enquiries about results and appeals; and reviews of standards in French, Computing and ICT, Mathematics, and Sociology.

Meanwhile, Ken Boston, QCA chief executive, has said that he is pushing for the overall burden of assessment in England and Wales to be reduced. He said, ‘The assessment load is huge. It is far greater than in other countries and not necessary for the purpose.’ Under QCA plans, from September 2008, pupils will take four papers for most A level papers, instead of the current six.

QCA has also been consulting on the development and implementation of functional skills. The new functional tests will be incorporated into English, Maths, and ICT GCSEs from 2008. Ken Boston, QCA Chief Executive, recently gave a speech on Maths education to the Commons Advisory Committee on Education. He said, ‘Every young person, with the right programmes and effective teaching, can master at least the functional level of mathematics necessary for life and work…mathematics now underpins even the most basic operations in areas such as food processing, health care, packaging, pharmaceuticals and tourism, just as much as it does the more traditional areas of engineering and electronics.’ The new functional skills will exist as stand-alone qualifications, but models of integrating or incorporating them into GCSEs are still under discussion.

Also in his speech on Maths education, Ken Boston welcomed Ruth Kelly’s announcement of the introduction of a Further Maths GCSE intended to ‘challenge the more able, engaging them in mathematical studies from a more abstract and structural perspective’ and emphasised that he thought that the new specialised diplomas would ‘provide an opportunity to drive up the level of performance in mathematics, especially for many young people who otherwise might not engage at all’.

Evaluations and Initiatives

Schools-Business Alliance
Ahead of the publication of the Scottish Executive's NEET (not in education, training, or employment) strategy, Jack McConnell announced a new strategy focusing on disengaged youngsters.
Click here for more details.

National Priorities
HMIE has published a Report to SEED on the Delivery of National Priorities.

Improving Scottish Education
HMIE's presentation from the launch of Improving Scottish Education is available.

A Curriculum for Excellence
The Curriculum Review Programme Board has published its Curriculum for Excellence: Progress and Proposals paper. The purposes of the paper are given as: to describe progress and the main findings of the activities so far; to provide a narrative on the direction of travel, outlining recommended features of the curriculum in the future; to outline aspects where more thinking is required; and to stimulate the next stage of professional discussion and reflection, as part of the continuing process of shaping and influencing the curriculum.

Determined to Succeed
The Scottish Executive has recently published an evaluation of the first phase of the Determined to Succeed strategy.

Adult Literacy and Numeracy Strategy
The Scottish Executive has published the final report of the evaluation of the Scottish Adult Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. The report analyses the views of adult learners and the views of tutors in order to assess the impact of participation on individuals' lives and any perceived wider benefits.

What Motivates Adult Learners?
The Scottish Executive has published Looking to Learn: Investigating the Motivations to Learn and the Barriers Faced by Adults Wishing to Undertake Part-Time Study. Click here for the research.