Tuesday, May 23, 2006


A return of that wicked "elitism"?

Pupils who achieve higher than predicted A-level grades will be encouraged to apply for places at better universities under reforms to be announced by the Government today, The Times has learnt. The changes will lead the way to a complete shift to the selection of university places after publication of examination results, in the most radical transformation to the centralised admissions system since it started more than 40 years ago.

The 300,000 students who begin sitting A-level papers this week will have to ditch their confirmed university places to bid for a course at better universities if they achieve higher grades than have been predicted by teachers. But from 2008 a new upgrade week will allow those who do better than expected to seek places at universities that they may not have considered previously for fear of getting insufficient grades. They will be able to hold on to confirmed offers at the universities they had chosen while they seek a better alternative.

The reforms follow concerns that talented state school pupils are missing out on places at the best universities because their teachers tend to predict lower grades than those from the independent sector. Ministers believe that the reform will encourage more students, particularly from poorer backgrounds, to set their sights higher once they realise that they have the grades to compete for the best universities. A-level results would be released a week earlier to give students the time to make fresh applications. Universities would be expected to hold back a proportion of places so that they can consider these candidates.

At least 9,000 students are expected to benefit from the upgrade week. Changes to application forms will also be introduced within two years. Students will apply to five universities initially, instead of six as at present, and will have their AS exam results included alongside predicted A-level grades. Predicted grades, which are inaccurate in 45 per cent of cases, will be removed from application forms if AS grades are shown to be a better measure of students' final results.

Admissions tutors will begin to consider candidates only after the deadline for all applications has passed, eliminating concerns that some students gain an advantage by sending in their forms early.

A partial post-qualification applications (PQA) system will be controversial, however, with the leading universities claiming that holding back places could disadvantage initial applicants and others that it implies they are second-rate. Bill Rammell, the Higher Education Minister, said that the reforms would be much fairer. "I believe these two-stage reform proposals will help us to achieve that."

Members of the Russell Group of 19 leading universities, which are heavily over-subscribed, have been reluctant to endorse the reforms but have been persuaded of the benefits of considering more candidates. They will not be required to hold back a fixed quota of places and all institutions have agreed to participate in the scheme. Both new candidates and students who were rejected at the initial application stage will be able to seek places if their results are good enough.

The CMU group of 31 universities, representing many of the former polytechnics, fears that the new system will rob them of many of their most able applicants, who could drop confirmed places at the last minute because of a better offer.

All sides were convinced to back the reforms by the promise of a review in 2010 to examine their effects, and the prospect of adopting an applications system based entirely on final exam results [How innovative!] two years later. Ministers hope that the changes will break the log jam that has prevented reform of admissions so far.

Schools and universities favour a full PQA system but neither side has been willing to change its academic timetable. By establishing a better match between students and universities, based on results, ministers believe that the reforms will create the momentum to allow all 350,000 applicants to seek places after the publication of exam results


Australian Holy war

Feds heavy a Leftist State government over the teaching of religion in schools

Queensland could lose millions of dollars in federal funding to schools if it changes a century-old law governing religious education. Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop will threaten the state with funding cuts at an education ministers conference scheduled for Brisbane in July if the law is tampered with. "We provide billions of dollars of funding each year," she said. "It is fair enough that we have our say on the issue." Ms Bishop fears witchcraft and other fringe religions could enter the classroom if the Bill is not stopped. And she has accused the Queensland Government of hastening a tide of students moving away from the public system to the private. "Political correctness has gone too far when religious education at school now permits almost any belief system to be taught, including witchcraft and paganism," she said.

But the State Government already appears to be watering down the controversial legislation, which also came under attack from the State Opposition last week. "She's boxing at shadows," Education Minister Rod Welford said yesterday. "We are not planning any substantial changes."

Ms Bishop said the Bill before the Queensland Parliament was a blatant attack on religious education and moral values in schools. She said proposed changes to the state's Education Act got rid of the "opt out" on religious education system where student's parents could inform the school they did not want religious education for their children. The proposed "opt in" system forced parents to provide a school principal with a written notice if they wanted their child to receive religious education.

"The proposed changes also widen the definition of what can be taught to religious or other belief," Ms Bishop said. "This would now allow cults and fringe groups to register and begin teaching their beliefs to Queensland schoolchildren." Ms Bishop said Queensland schoolchildren should not be taught in a moral vacuum "imposed by political correctness gone mad". "The Beattie Government's proposed change to Queensland's Education Act will do two things," she said. "First they will place hurdles in front of parents who want to ensure that their children get some religious instruction at school, and secondly they will open the door to cultish groups to start preaching unacceptable views in schools."

Mr Welford said he would be happy to meet Ms Bishop and listen to what she had to say in July.


American schools are a law unto themselves: "A 13-year-old Highland Student was suspended Thursday for bringing a soft-air BB gun to school. They are called soft-air BB guns but there's nothing soft about them. Chief Mike Klein of Harrison Township Police said the BB's can easily take out an eye, making it a dangerous weapon. The soft-air guns are legal, so the teen can't be charged with a crime [How pesky!]. The student remains suspended pending a school board hearing next week." [You can take an eye out with a stick, too, if you use it carelessly]


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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1 comment:

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