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About Schools Week

Schools Week

Schools Week is read widely by headteachers, governors, business managers and the education leaders of the future. Established in 2014, our weekly print newspaper is now read by around 22,000 education managers and sector stakeholders, and 1.4 million unique users visited our website in 2015-16. We have quickly become the “go-to” news source for reliable education journalism, with a formidable reputation for hard-hitting investigations, breaking news and expert analysis.

About FE Week

FE Week

FE Week is the premier news source for the further education, apprenticeships and skills sector, with a reputation for breaking news, investigations and expert analysis that is second to none. Our weekly newspaper is read by over 10,000 education managers and sector stakeholders and over 75,000 people access our website on a monthly basis. Trust is essential, and our readers know that FE Week provides an unrivalled platform for sharing accurate, timely information.

In the News

‘Standard’ and ‘strong’ GCSE pass rates: what is Greening talking about?

Education secretary Justine Greening announced today that a grade 4 will now be considered “a standard pass”, while grade 5 will be called a “strong pass”. So what’s this all about? Laura McInerney explains. Just when you thought the C-grade threshold problem was all but gone in education, Justine Greening decides to drag us all back in. Hurrah! What has happened? For the past few years everyone in education has been primed over the change in GCSE grades. From this year, they will move from being A*-G to a 1-9 grade. The move from an 8-part scale to a 9-part scale was on purpose. The two were not supposed to overlap exactly. Instead, a 4 grade was said to be equivalent to around the bottom two-thirds of a C grade. A 5 grade includes the top of the C grades and those around the bottom of a B. Isn’t that confusing? Yeah, a bit. But it wasn’t supposed to matter much because the old A*-C pass rate was supposed to be defunct. These days, schools are mostly measured on progress measures (Progress 8). One of the main reasons for doing this was to stop everyone obsessing about which kids got...

DfE introduces two-tier GCSE pass rate: ‘standard’ and ‘strong’

The government has abandoned its plan to make a grade 5 the new ‘good’ GCSE pass grade which was aimed at bringing England into line with global competitors. In 2015, the government announced the new grade 5 – due to be awarded for the first time this summer – would be the new “good pass” level. It said the grade would be set at a  standard comparable to that “aimed for by pupils in top-performing countries such as Finland, Canada, the Netherlands and Switzerland”. A standard pass is a credible achievement and one that should be valued as a passport to future study and employment However, the education secretary Justine Greening announced today that a grade 4 will now be considered “a standard pass”, while grade 5 will be called a “strong pass”. The proportion of pupils passing at both grades or above will be reported in school performance tables. The grade 5 “strong pass” will be the benchmark in the goverment’s new EBacc accountability measure. In a letter to education committee chair Neil Carmichael, Greening said she was “determined to continue to raise standards” and would include the new “strong pass” as an accountability measure for schools. However, Greening also said...

Government decides to retain Applied General qualifications

A serious blow has potentially been dealt to plans for a rigid post-16 divide between academic and vocational education, after it emerged the government is retaining Applied General qualifications. The Department for Education had privately briefed stakeholders on the decision, and confirmed it to FE Week this afternoon. Retaining AGs, for example BTECs that lead to university in creative industries, will be viewed by many as a blow to the academic and vocational divide at 16 concept, introduced through Lord Sainsbury’s influential review that inspired the subsequent new skills plan last summer. The apparent change of heart over AGs, which had been widely tipped for the chop, will be welcomed by awarding organisations that provide BTECS. Rebecca Grayson, OCR head of vocational products, said: “OCR welcomes this latest DfE announcement. “AG qualifications, such as Cambridge Technicals, give learners the option of a broader post-16 programme of study, equipping them with the relevant knowledge and skills that they need to succeed in higher education and beyond.” Rod Bristow, president of Pearson in the UK, said: “We are pleased by the support that BTEC and other AG qualifications have received from schools, colleges, universities, employers and Government.  “BTEC AG qualifications provide a broad...

Exclusive: DfE will scrap forced resits for GCSE English and maths

The government will make a major u-turn over the much-derided condition of funding rule, FE Week can reveal. From August 2015 all 16 to 18-year-old students with a GCSE grade D have had to study and resit the GCSE as part of the condition of funding, rather than a functional skills qualification at level two. But once this policy has been scrapped, no student will be forced to resit GCSE English and maths. The latest revelation follows scathing criticism of the policy from Ofsted in December, and publication of a letter from education secretary Justine Greening to Neil Carmichael, chair of the Education Select Committee, advising on changes to the numeric GCSE grading system. The letter revealed very little new, but FE Week has been told by multiple sources that the current policy to force some students to resit GCSEs will be scrapped – so all students can study functional skills, as was the case before 2015. Although not mentioned in the letter, this will be confirmed in the funding guidance for 2017/18, due for publication shortly. It comes just a few weeks after the government finally confirmed another u-turn on the requirements for early years educator apprenticeships. Currently early years learners must achieve at least...