GCSE and A-level results: it’s not just the grades that matter

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Why GCSE and A Level subject choices matter. shutterstock

Jake Anders, UCL and Catherine Dilnot, Oxford Brookes University. 

A-level results will soon be out, with more than 300,000 students eagerly waiting to find out if they’ve made the grade. Then come GCSE results, with even more students keen to find out how they’ve done.

Whether students are heading to university, into an apprenticeship or straight into employment, chances are they will all be wishing and hoping and dreaming and praying of a set of grades that will reflect their level of academic accomplishment.

For would-be university applicants, there is often a requirement that students take a particular set of subjects at A-level – and achieve a certain grade – to be in with a chance of getting a place on a degree course. To study medicine, for example it’s often required that Read more ›

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Posted in Further higher and lifelong education, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

Brexit: what is at stake for UK universities?

Ludovic Highman. 

UK higher education is about to experience a period of turbulence, as the consequences of the UK leaving the European Union (EU) become clearer. Higher education institutions are bracing themselves for what will no doubt be a period of substantial change, uncertainty and challenge, but also opportunity. This briefing outlines some of the consequences of Brexit for UK higher education institutions.

Why will Brexit affect the UK higher education landscape?

Brexit will affect UK higher education in a major and pervasive way because over the last half century EU institutions have contributed to shaping an open European area for higher learning and research inwhich the UK has become deeply involved. This has translated itself over time into EU law. Articles 165 and 166 of the Treaty on the Read more ›

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Posted in Further higher and lifelong education

Back to teacher development’s big questions: what is education for?

John White. 

The idea of a National Education Service (NES) is gaining speed. It’s described as “a scheme to join up the disparate elements of education, providing free lifelong learning from nurseries through schools to universities and adult education”. This blog is about a small but important part of what it might be.

As well as mastering the details of their craft, teachers have always needed some understanding of what it is and what its aims are. Trainee bricklayers need plenty of experience of specifics, too, but the purposes of laying bricks are reasonably obvious to all. Teaching is different.

From 1839 to about 1989 teacher training in England provided this wider picture. The religious vision that dominated the first half of this period gave way to a scientific one Read more ›

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Posted in Further higher and lifelong education, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

We need to have a big conversation about the nature and purposes of a university or college education

Francis Green. 

Especially since the surge in university and college enrolments around 1990, Britain’s workforce has become very much more educated. The proportion with tertiary (post-school) qualifications has been rising very fast – at roughly one percentage point per year (see diagram).

And we can say confidently that the stock of highly-educated workers is going to go on rising for many years. In 2015 the tertiary education gap between the cohort of 30-34 year-old “millennials” and the cohort of 50-64 year-olds was 21 percentage points. As the older group starts to retire, the overall education level of the workforce is sure to increase.

The question is, if the level goes on rising will our college and university leavers continue Read more ›

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Posted in Employment and skills, Further higher and lifelong education, Social sciences and social policy

Why does Vietnam do so well in PISA? An example of why naïve interpretation of international rankings is such a bad idea

John Jerrim

When the PISA 2015 results were released in December last year, Vietnam was one of the countries that stood out as doing remarkably well. In particular, Vietnam was ranked 8th out of all the participating countries in science, with an average score of 525 test points. This was significantly higher than the average score for the United Kingdom (509), which was positioned 15th in the PISA science rankings.

This is not the first time that Vietnam has apparently excelled in PISA, with a strong performance from this country in the last round, conducted in 2012. Indeed, OECD Director for Education and Skills Andreas Schleicher wrote a whole article for the BBC, discussing a variety of reasons for this developing country’s stunning success.

But does Vietnam’s amazing performance in PISA, given that it is still a low-income Read more ›

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Posted in Evidence-based policy, International comparisons
This blog is written by academics at the UCL Institute of Education.


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