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Schools prepare for 'variable' GCSE results

Teenagers are today waking up to their GCSE grades amid indications that some schools are seeing major changes to results.
Teenagers are today waking up to their GCSE grades amid indications that some schools are seeing major changes to results. Credit: PA

Schools preparing to receive their GCSE results today have been told to expect "variable" grades.

There are particular concerns among some headteachers about English and maths grades, according to initial reports.

The potentially unpredictable results are said to be due to significant alterations to the qualifications this year.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, which represents a large proportion of secondary heads, said: "We are getting some individual reports of volatility, but we don't know about overall trends yet.

"Some schools have seen surprises. Some schools have seen results which are lower than expected."

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'Shortfall' in funding for free school meal scheme

School lunch
Government funding to improve school kitchens and dining facilities has been insufficient, according to a survey Credit: PA

Councils have been forced to raid existing budgets to deliver a Government scheme to offer free school lunches to infants, new research has found.

All five- to seven-year-olds are entitled to the meals from September, under plans announced last year by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

However, of the 75 councils that responded to the Local Government Association (LGA) survey nearly half are facing a shortfall in funding for the initiative and 37% of those said they would use cash from school funds to make up the difference.

The LGA estimates that the councils without enough money have had to find £488,000 on average to make sure the scheme goes ahead.

Councillor David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA's children and young people board, said:

There's no doubt that dishing up a nutritious lunch for every young pupil will improve the experience of school and help them concentrate in lessons.

But it cannot be right that for some councils, money set aside for maintenance has instead had to be spent plugging the shortfall in money which government should have provided for meals.

It is councils and schools who are picking up the bill for this work, at a time when budgets are already squeezed and tough decisions are being taken.

– David Simmonds

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Iranian is first woman to win 'Nobel Prize of Maths'

An Iranian mathematician has become the first female recipient of the Fields Medal - the highest recognition in the discipline.

Maryam Mirzakhani, a professor at Stanford University in California, won the prize for her work on “the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces.”

Mirzakhani was born in the Iranian capital Tehran and won gold medals in the International Math Olympiad twice as a teenager, before moving to the US for her doctorate.

Her former tutor, Curtis McCullen, praised her "fluency in many disciplines, which is unusual in the modern era, when considerable specialization is often required".

The Fields Medal, awarded by the International Mathematical Union since 1936, is sometimes referred to as the "Nobel Prize of Mathematics".

Govt 'takes steps' to make league tables 'clearer'

Government league tables are only published after robust checks, a Department for Education spokesman said, after it was announced that headteachers would release an alternative version.

We agree that information about school performance should be freely available to parents. That's why we have taken steps to make our league tables clearer and, in addition to our data, all schools must publish extensive information on their website - including pupil progress.

Our tables are only published after robust checks so parents know the information we are giving them is accurate.

– Department for Education

Richest students '2.8 times more likely' to go to uni

English school leavers from the most advantaged backgrounds are 2.8 times more likely to go to university than those from the poorest areas, according to new research.

The study by the Independent Commission on Fees, based on official Ucas data, also found:

  • 46.7% of wealthier students start a degree, compared to 16.9% of more disadvantaged youngsters.
  • English 18-year-olds from the wealthiest neighbourhoods are 9.5 times more likely to go to one of the 13 most prestigious universities.
  • Richer students are 6.8 times more likely to enter one of the 30 leading UK universities.

Richer students 'more likely to attend top uni'

Uni
Those from poorer backgrounds are still less likely to study for a degree, a new study has found. Credit: PA

Top universities are still the preserve of students from more affluent backgrounds, according to new research.

The study by the Independent Commission on Fees reveals those from the richest neighbourhoods are three times more likely to go to university than those from the poorest areas.

Wealthier students are also 10 times more likely to attend a leading university.

These gaps are slightly narrower than four years ago, but "remain unacceptably large", the report concludes.

The findings are based on analysis of data from Ucas, the university admissions service.

Read: Ucas report reveals huge drop in new students

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