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PA's PA 15th August

PA's PA 15th August

Welcome to the PA’s PA in a week which sees the ongoing crises in Iraq and Syria prompting calls for the Prime Minister to recall Parliament and Nigel Farage confirming his intention to become UKIP’s parliamentary candidate in South Thanet.

Europe

Continuing to bust the myth that Brussels shuts down in August, a number of content organisations have written a joint letter to incoming Commission President, Jean Claude Juncker stressing the importance of the cultural and creative industries and outlining the role these businesses can play in delivering his vision for Europe .  Signatories included, amongst others, the Federation of European Publishers, Bertelsmann, Hachette Livre, Bonnier Books and Vivendi. 

Education

With A level results out this week, it appears that, even with results dipping slightly, this year’s clearing process is more one of universities scrambling for students than the traditional students scrambling for places. Many universities, Russell Group establishments included, reportedly have spaces to fill and are accepting students even if they have missed their predicted grades.  Writing in The Telegraph ahead of the results being published, the (still relatively new) Education Secretary commented that a drop in A Level results would not necessarily mean standards in schools were falling, taking the opportunity to  criticise the “ever-higher grades and pass rates” that was seen under Labour.

Tristram Hunt, Shadow Education Secretary, continues to set out Labour’s education policy ahead of next year’s General Election.  In a wide-ranging speech where he attacked the government on issues such as teacher quality, vocational education and social mobility, he notably pledged to overhaul the Government’s planned reforms for A levels which are due to be introduced in 2015. The PA will be raising the impact such a decision will have on publishers with Hunt and the rest of the Shadow Education Team.  Hunt also performed a flip-flop with regards to his views on AS levels.  Having previously criticised them as a waste of time, Hunt is now a convert and confirmed that they will not be abolished under Labour. 

Following the Government’s reform of school league tables, the Association of School and College Leaders and the National Association of Head Teachers have unveiled plans for their own version.  The rankings, which will first focus on secondary schools, are expected to cover GCSE results, extra-curricular activities such as music and sport, the curriculum and other measures such as class sizes and subjects giving, according to head teachers, a fuller picture. 

The British Chambers of Commerce has added its voice to the call for the teaching of a foreign language to be made compulsory for children aged seven to 16.  The BCC believes this is important in order to boost British exports, will help firms in the services sector and instil a global mind-set in people from a young age. 

Curriculum

Science organisations have criticised the new science national curriculum.  Five organisations including the Royal Society and the Association for Science Education believe it lacks coherence and that Ministers have overloaded it with content and failed to ensure progression between key stages. 

And finally…

The Bookseller reports that Scotland’s booksellers are seeing a “huge” boost in sales relating to the impending referendum, with some seeing as much as 40% of their overall sales go on books relating to the subject. However, they also report that, in the “noticeable” lack of literature supporting the Better Together Campaign, most sales have gone on books in favour of independence.

Next week we will be meeting with The Bookseller, Ofqual and the British Council.