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Hundreds of places unfilled at new Thames Valley schools

Hundreds of places remain unfilled at three brand new schools in the Thames Valley that are at the forefront of a pioneering government education policy. A special investigation by ITV Meridian has discovered that University Technical Colleges in Aylesbury, Reading and at Heathrow have more then 250 empty spaces between them - one is only just over half full. Those in charge of running UTCs - which have strong links with employers and aim to fill the skills gap - say the idea is new and they're confident numbers will continue to rise. Christine Alsford talked to Bev Flanagan, Principal, UTC Buckinghamshire; Paddy Marshall, National Union of Teachers, South Region; and Joanne Harper, Principal, UTC Reading.


Beer to celebrate 150 year of Oxford Brookes

A beer has been brewed specially to mark Oxford Brookes University's 150th anniversary.

Beer named after former principal

The India pale ale was created by former graduate Ed Murray and has been named after the institution's former principal and "spiritual founder," John Henry Brookes.

The beer will be launched this week ahead of the anniversary celebrations in 2015 with just 600 limited edition 750ml bottles available.

"We decided to recreate an authentic 1865 recipe so the beer would reflect what beer tasted like when Oxford Brookes was founded," said Mr Murray, who now runs Shotover Brewing Company, in Horspath, Oxon.

"We did some research and found an 1864 export IPA recipe which we have produced as closely as we can."

Oxford Brookes, which opened in 1865 as Oxford School of Art, officially became a university in 1992.

From the US to Sussex: Taking technology into the classroom

A headteacher from Sussex is working with some of the world's leading experts on how best to use technology in the classroom.

Christine Terrey from a primary school in Newhaven was chosen to attend a special workshop in America.

Now she's putting what she learned there into practice back home. Malcolm Shaw reports.

Hollywood actor teaches tongue-tied teenagers

An actor, who has starred in Hollywood films alongside George Clooney and Brad Pitt, is teaching tongue-tied teenagers at Brighton College to be more confident.

Basher Savage is tutoring pupils at the college to mimic Winston Churchill and Malcolm X's speeches after head teacher Richard Cairns decided they needed a boost when speaking to audiences.

The teacher, who appeared in the films Gravity and World War Z - as well as playing Dmitry in Radio 4's Ambridge Extra, said: "I start the course off by asking the children what they want to do when they are adults.

"The confidence and ability to speak publicly and sound interesting are key to so many careers in the 21st century and it's crucial that children know that tortured tongue-tied appearances in front of an audience will not help their careers at all."

The presentation course for Year 9 pupils will also examine Colin Firth as King George VI in The King's Speech, and copy the physical mouth shapes of Mersey poet Roger McGough.

Reading free school site still undecided

A site bought for £1.2 million for a new free school in Reading may not end up being used. The Education Funding Agency is considering alternatives for the Heights Primary at Caversham after angry objections from residents. Parents setting up the school say the purchased site IS a compromise but they have been assured by the government it's suitable for the much needed school.

There's concern in Reading tonight over more than a million pounds of public money spent on buying land for a new free school that could now end up being built somewhere else.

Work on the Heights Primary in Caversham has been put on hold following anger from neighbours at the residential site who say it's completely unsuitable.

Several alternatives are now being considered but in the meantime children have to travel across town to a temporary location. Our Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford has more.


Parents urged to vaccinate children against flu virus

Parents of young children across our region are being urged to get them vaccinated against flu.

This year, all two to four year olds are being offered a nasal spray to protect them against the virus. Flu is a potentially serious illness and, in extreme cases, can even kill.

But only around half of those most at risk take up the vaccinations. Malcolm Shaw has our report and speaks to Dr Laura Marshall-Andrews.

More than 1000 children pass Medway Test

More than 1,000 children have been told they are suitable for admission to a Medway grammar school after passing the Medway Test.

718 Medway resident children achieved the minimum score Credit: Press Association

This year 2,601 children registered to take the test, with 2,417 children actually sitting it.

Of those children who satthe test, 1,842 were Medway residents and 575 were from out of area.

This year the minimumscore required to be assessed as suitable for admission to one of Medway'sgrammar schools is 525. Last year the minimum score required was 528.

In total, 23% of Medwayresident children who sat the test achieved the minimum score.

Around 60 more pupils mayalso be deemed as eligible following the parental review process, whichinvolves the child's work being reviewed by a panel.

I would like to congratulate all children who took the Medway Test this year.

Moving up to secondary school from primary is a huge step for all children and I wish them every success when they make the move next year.

– Cllr Mike O’Brien, Portfolio Holder for Children Services

Statement from AQA, responsible for half of A-level and GCSE exams

"We are very focused on getting the right result for students and we have a number of quality control systems in place during the marking process. We also carry out detailed analysis to continuously improve the quality of marking. However, unfortunately we don’t always get it right and if a school is unhappy with a student’s results, they can ask us to take another look.

“In most cases where a review leads to a change, the results will go up or down by only one or two marks. Significant increases are more unusual and automatically trigger a process where we look at all the school’s exam scripts in that subject.

“We appreciate how important exam results are to students and schools and we are very sorry if we don’t get it right first time.”

Concerns over GCSE and A-level grades as hundreds are re-marked

Record numbers of GCSE and A-level papers are set to be re-marked because some schools have concerns over the quality of grading.

One secondary in the South is adamant that 90 pupils have been given the wrong English grades - at another, in Sussex, hundreds of marks have been changed after being challenged.

One pupil's mark went up by FIVE grades. The biggest exam board has defended marking saying their processes are subject to strict quality control.

Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford spoke to: Steve Marshall-Taylor, Deputy Head at Brighton College; Brighton College pupils; Heather McIlroy, Executive Headteacher at The Mountbatten School, Romsey; and pupil Emma Rudge.

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